It Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World

It Conquered the WorldRoger Corman was a better director than Bert I. Gordon. That’s obvious, of course. Roger Corman is a Hollywood legend, while Gordon is known only to us poor souls who like trash cinema. Corman’s reputation has been burnished by all the successful filmmakers that came through his stable, but he could trash it up with the worst of them. I mention Corman and Gordon in the same breath because today’s It Came from the 1950s entry is almost indistinguishable from the crap Gordon used to turn out. The only major difference is that Corman knew how to end a scene before things got too boring.

It Conquered the World was released in 1956, and was directed and produced by Corman from a screenplay by Lou Rusoff, who penned the execrable Phantom from 10,000 Leagues. This flick is miles better than Phantom, and it still stinks.

It stars Peter Graves as Dr. Paul Nelson, who works on a project launching America’s first satellites into orbit. One of his friends is Dr. Tom Anderson (Lee Van Cleef), a scientist disillusioned with the state of mankind. How fortunate for Dr. Anderson that he finds a friend in an alien being from Venus, one of the last of his race. The alien communicates with Anderson through a radio set in Anderson’s house. The alien is giving Anderson instructions to help pave the way for a Venusian takeover of Earth. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It Conquered the World”

It Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Regular readers know that we here at Missile Test love us some schlock. Especially the ’50s kind, with its cheap sets, hammy actors, ridiculous monsters, and short ties. At first glance, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers would fit right in. But, this flick ain’t schlock. Oh, no.

Directed by Don Siegel (who directed some excellent movies — including Dirty Harry), from a screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, adapting Jack Finney’s novel, Body Snatchers tells the tale of a small town in California whose residents are being replaced by impostors. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

October Horrorshow: The Cured

Should a filmmaker decide to make a zombie flick these days, they will have to contend with oversaturation and viewer weariness. The 21st century has been awash with zombie flicks. And should film not sate one’s desires to see the undead tear apart human flesh, there is the media juggernaut that is The Walking Dead, still lumbering along after fifteen years. That franchise has done more to make people tired of zombies than anything else. The degree of difficulty for a filmmaker to make something interesting in the zombie subgenre of horror, then, is very high. There are basically two options. One: come up with a new idea that shakes up the unwritten rules of zombies. Two: go conventional, but do it well. Both of those are easier said than done. The Cured, the 2017 zombie flick from writer/director David Freyne, tries to do a combination of both. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Cured”

Stallone Month: Rocky IV

This film is, without a doubt, peak Rocky. Gone is the working class Joe with the wicked left. In his place is a warrior for not just the American way, but for the Reagan era. It’s a stunning character transition, and also makes for spectacle of the highest order. Just sit back and say “wow” whenever it feels appropriate. But first, viewers must endure Paulie’s birthday party scene. Continue readingStallone Month: Rocky IV”

The Empty Balcony: Gojira & Godzilla, King of the Monsters!

Gojira is a very serious film. To watch it is to glimpse how grievously Japan was traumatized by World War II. Released only nine years after the end of the war, the film is heavy on imagery meant to invoke memories of the destruction that swept Japan’s cities. The origins of the monster Gojira are a pricking of the wounds left over from the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the firebomings that destroyed almost all large Japanese cities. What we see in this film is a generation of people still trying to cope with events from a decade past. At times, in scenes that take place in overflowing hospital wards or on streets where characters are surveying the devastation, I was struck by the realization that these people on screen were drawing from their own memories in their portrayals. Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Gojira & Godzilla, King of the Monsters!”

October Horrorshow: 1408

For about half the film, Mikael Håfström’s 1408, based on the Stephen King short story of the same name, is creepy and frightening. By then, the viewer has grown used to Mike Enslin’s (John Cusack) predicament, and the film has no other alternative than to fall into convention. That’s unfortunate, because if Håfström had been able to sustain the atmosphere of the first half throughout the film, it would rank among the best ghost films of all time. A lot can be said for a film with potential like that. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: 1408″

The Empty Balcony: Robocop (1987)

Dystopian future societies are the stuff dreams are made of. They are what grow from the seeds of our own decadence and shallowness. The moral bankruptcy, and sometimes outright horror, of the settings of films like Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, THX 1138, Escape from New York, and Soylent Green wouldn’t be possible if writers and directors didn’t look around them and see the lightning speed with which we throw ourselves into unknown futures, sometimes without regard for so many of the present realities which work so well and don’t need change. The ever-present message is that change, sometimes jarring change, is inevitable. Films that look to the future warily revolve around placing the viewer in the role of Rip Van Winkle. When the theater lights dim, the familiar world of today dissolves into the freak show of tomorrow. The overriding questions always being: Why are the people onscreen comfortable with this? Why doesn’t everybody see how wrong things are? Continue readingThe Empty Balcony: Robocop (1987)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Starship Troopers 3: Marauder

Starship Troopers 3: MarauderI’ve never met a movie I wouldn’t watch. That must be the reason I looked at this dog there in the iTunes store, staring really, wondering, was I really going to do it? Was I really going to spend $2.99 of my hard-earned cash to rent Starship Troopers 3? I wish I could write that watching my hand move the mouse and click on the ‘rent’ button was like an out of body experience, one over which I had no control. But really, I just said to myself, “Aw, fuck it. Why not?”

The first Starship Troopers seemed to have a mission to try and be everything to everyone. Big budget blockbuster, b-movie extraordinaire, sci-fi/horror bloodfest, social/political commentary, etc. It excelled as a movie, it stunk as a film. The bad acting could melt glass, the hot bodies could fire sagging libidos. It was a ridiculous film, and I have no clue how I feel about it. The first sequel was an Alien rip-off that just wanted to cash in on a name. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Starship Troopers 3: Marauder”