It Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus

Beware a promising title, especially when it comes to shitty movies. There’s a good chance that a shitty movie won’t live up to its title, and could even be a bait-and-switch. Monster from Green Hell, from 1957, isn’t that most egregious of shitty filmmaking sins, but it is not nearly as good as the title.

The Green Hell of the title is a stretch of African jungle surrounding a volcano. The Monster which emerges from the Green Hell is a gigantic wasp, mutated by space radiation. It all began back in the states, in an isolated rocket science lab in the west. Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis, of Dallas fame), and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are conducting experiments to determine the effects that exposure to space will have on future human space travelers. They do this by sending just about every animal they can find into space aboard rockets, then studying the animals after the rocket returns to Earth. There is a concern that all that radiation shooting around up in space will mutate those who are exposed to it. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus”

It Came from the ’50s: The Snow Creature

The Snow CreatureThis isn’t W. Lee Wilder’s first film in this year’s Horrorshow, but I am getting sick of him in a way I never did with Bert I. Gordon during last year’s Horrorshow. Wilder’s films are no less tedious than Gordon’s, but unlike Gordon, Wilder showed no progress as a filmmaker. His films, in fact, seemed to grow more resistant to artistic growth with every one he made, and he still had eight more feature films to go before he called it quits.

The Snow Creature is an abominable snowman flick from 1954. Paul Langton plays botanist Dr. Frank Parrish, and Leslie Denison plays photographer and adventurer Peter Wells. The two of them lead a small expedition to the Himalayas to gather and study unknown plant species. With them are a Sherpa guide, Subra (Teru Shimada), and a group of porters.

One may notice that ‘Teru Shimada’ is not a Nepalese or Chinese name. It’s Japanese. In fact, all the Sherpas in this film were played by Japanese actors. They even speak their lines in Japanese. I wouldn’t categorize this as shitty filmmaking, but it’s definitely cheap, and perhaps lazy. I don’t imagine there were a whole lot of Sherpas available for a Hollywood casting call in the 1950s, but there has to be a better solution than just subbing one group of Asians for another and not caring if anyone notices. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Snow Creature”

It Came from the ’50s: Creature from the Black Lagoon

This one is a classic. From 1954 comes Creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s the story of a newly-discovered species of humanoid fish and man’s efforts to hunt it down and kill it.

Directed by Jack Arnold from a screenplay by Harry Essex and Arthur A. Ross, Creature follows a small scientific expedition that sets off up the Amazon River in search of fossils.

The exhibition began at the behest of Dr. Carl Maia (Antonio Moreno), a geologist who discovered the fossilized remains of a hybrid fish/humanlike appendage. It’s a revolutionary scientific discovery. Maia needs support, however, to search for any further remains. He finds that support in Dr. Mark Williams (Richard Denning) and Dr. David Reed (Richard Carlson), a pair of ichthyologists. Joining them on the expedition are another scientist, Dr. Edwin Thompson (Whit Bissell); Reeds’ assistant/fiancé Kay Lawrence (Julie Adams); boat skipper Captain Lucas (Nestor Paiva); and a gaggle of fodder for the monster. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Creature from the Black Lagoon”

It Came from the ’50s: Lost Continent (1951)

Robert L. Lippert, shitty film producer extraordinaire, once said of himself (in the third person, no less), “Lippert makes a lot of cheap pictures but he’s never made a stinker.” That is a bunch of bullshit. For proof, one need look no further than 1951’s Lost Continent. It stinks.

Directed by Sam Newfield, brother of another one of the film’s producers (career shitty movie producer Sigmund Neufeld), Lost Continent tells the story of a military expedition that discovers an island of prehistoric flora and fauna in the Pacific while searching for a lost rocket. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Lost Continent (1951)”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse

Jan-Michael Vincent is dead. He passed mostly unnoticed on February 10th, his death remaining unknown to the media for almost a month. He was, once upon a time, a middling star. His looks were better than his talent, but that’s just what Hollywood wants. His career was derailed by age and substance abuse, as happens to so many in the entertainment industry. He had many roles in mainstream films, but I will always remember him for his contributions to shitty cinema and television. In remembrance of Jan-Michael Vincent, here’s a review for a Vincent star vehicle, that also happened to be a pretty good shitty movie. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Damnation Alley, or, RVing the Apocalypse”

Giant Monstershow: Monsters

And so we’ve reached the end of the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow. For the last month, we’ve seen giant apes, giant dinosaurs, giant insects, giant arachnids, giant men, giant lizards, giant gelatinous masses, giant leeches, giant rats, giant rabbits, giant birds, and even giant shrews. We’ve seen so many giant creatures of so many shapes and forms that the word ‘giant’ has become subject to semantic satiation. It’s become a mere shape in the text, devoid of all but intrinsic meaning. Still, we soldier on until the job is finished. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Monsters”

Giant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)

The 1976 remake of King Kong might be peak Dino De Laurentiis. The legendary Italian producer’s films whipsaw back and forth between the grandiose, the absurd, the exploitative, and the just plain shitty. King Kong is a prime example.

Clocking in at an interminable 134 minutes, this King Kong is meant to be an epic retelling of a cinema classic. Everything about this film, directed by John Guillermin, seems meant to showcase how film has improved and grown in the forty years since the original film was released. The original King Kong was severely limited by what was possible at the time, yes, but it never felt like a failing. Nor is this film an indictment of what came before. But this film does live and die on an implied promise that it will be a better technical film than that which came before. Other than making money, there really isn’t much more reason for this film to exist. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: King Kong (1976)”

October Horrorshow: Matango, aka Attack of the Mushroom People

Forget the original title of Matango. It was the Americanized title of Attack of the Mushroom People that grabbed my attention. People that look like giant fungi on the attack? Sign me up. I’m not naïve about movies like this. I know, before ever seeing it, that a title like that promises more than it can deliver, but I’m okay with it. Should the film be dragged out and the mushroom people only make significant appearances during the last few minutes, that’s just fine by me. I wanted this movie to be bad, after all. And it is! Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Matango, aka Attack of the Mushroom People”

Giant Monstershow: The Cyclops

Exactly one month after Beginning of the End was released in 1957, another epic Bert I. Gordon schlock-fest hit theaters. Both written and directed by Gordon, The Cyclops is about as worthless a film as this terrible filmmaker ever made…for half of its Spartan 65-minute running time. But then the titular cyclops finally appears onscreen, and all is forgiven. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Cyclops”

Giant Monstershow: King Dinosaur

One of the things we love here at Missile Test is a short running time. We praise filmmakers who are able to reign in their desire for epic grandiosity and who can tell their stories in a reasonable amount of time. Sure, we wouldn’t want Francis Ford Coppola to do any further trimming of The Godfather, but we’re still holding out hope that Paul Thomas Anderson will come to his senses and take a hacksaw to Magnolia. And then there’s shitty film auteur Bert I. Gordon’s first feature film, King Dinosaur. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: King Dinosaur”