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: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

For today’s entry in It Came from the 1950s, we have a film that tries its best to resemble its poorer cousins, but the overall sheen of competence cannot be hidden.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers comes to us via director Fred F. Sears and screenwriters Bernard Gordon and George Worthing Yates. Released in 1956, Saucers stars Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor as Russell and Carol Marvin. Russell is a scientist in charge of Project Skyhook, which is a series of unmanned research rockets launched into orbit. Carol is his wife and assistant. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers”

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)”

It Came from the ’50s: Killers from Space

Killers from SpaceThere’s something that must be gotten out of the way before getting to the review proper. This film features an early scene with an Air Force jet flying around. Its call sign is “Tar Baby 2.” Yep. Tar baby is one of those terms that the people who use it insist is not racist. But, come on. It’s a very evocative term. I bet it was evocative in 1954, when this film was released, as well. Whatever the context and whatever the time, hearing it will make a modern viewer’s head turn, and is yet another surprise look into grandpa’s casual bigotry that these old flicks provide. Anyway…

Killers from Space is producer/director W. Lee Wilder’s follow-up to the terrible Phantom from Space. At least this flick doesn’t have the FCC driving around trying to save humanity. In this flick, that responsibility falls to Peter Graves, as Dr. Douglas Martin. He’s on the aforementioned racism jet as it circles a nuclear test in Nevada. All of a sudden, the plane crashes. Martin is given up for dead, but later he comes stumbling into town in a tattered flight suit. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Killers from Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Robot Monster

Robot Monster, the gloriously stupid movie from screenwriter Wyott Ordung and director Phil Tucker, is legendary amongst shitty movie fans. And it’s for one single reason. This is the monster:

The gorilla-bodied robot monster.

 

It’s a robot, but it doesn’t look like any robot that viewers know. Shot in a matter of days for somewhere around $16,000, there wasn’t enough time or money for the crew to come up with a decent robot costume. According to the internet, so it must be true, Tucker hired a friend of his, George Barrows, to play the robot, partly because he had a gorilla suit they could use. This has the smack of apocrypha, but it’s the type of guerilla filmmaking (heh-heh) I love. Whether this story be truth or fiction, what ended up on the screen cannot be denied. That is one of the most ridiculous movie monsters there has ever been. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Robot Monster”

It Came from the ’50s: It Came from Outer Space

Today’s flick, an aliens-in-the-desert sci-fi cheapie, is about as thin as one of these 1950s flicks can get. It features barely more than three locations, and one of those is a hole in the ground. But it is notable for being the first 3D picture that Universal released, if the internet is to be believed.

From 1953, It Came from Outer Space originated as a story treatment by Ray Bradbury, which was subsequently turned into a screenplay by Harry Essex. Jack Arnold was the director. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It Came from Outer Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Phantom from Space

It is possible to make a decent movie with a miniscule budget. But it takes, at least, a decent filmmaker to do so. W. Lee Wilder, unlike his brother, Billy, was no decent filmmaker. W. Lee Wilder, if Phantom from Space is any indication, was a corpse propped up in a chair.

Released in the spring of 1953, Phantom from Space looks super cheap. There are special effects in the opening scene showing a UFO descend upon the San Fernando Valley. It’s about the least convincing effect I’ve ever seen in a movie, and this reviewer has seen a lot of bad special effects. The effects in this flick are as bad as early Bert I. Gordon flicks. The only effect that really works is a floating space helmet, but that’s getting slightly ahead of things. There is a plot that needs explaining. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Phantom from Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Invaders from Mars (1953)

What a gloriously stupid movie. Invaders from Mars, from screenwriter Richard Blake and director William Cameron Menzies, is a rather prototypical example of the films featured in this month’s Horrorshow. It’s cheap from the first frame to the last, and lacks self-awareness. What do I mean by that? The filmmakers took a look at how the bad guys were costumed — in skin-tight green fleece onesies — and decided that was acceptable. Seriously, that is what passes for aliens in this flick. But that’s not all. They also have faces painted green to match, with gigantic prosthetic noses and snow goggles. Tall men were cast in the roles, and Menzies had them run around the set like toddlers with arms held unmoving at their sides. It’s so silly that it becomes part of what makes this film memorable. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Invaders from Mars (1953)”

It Came from the ’50s: The Man from Planet X

It’s the autumn, again, but one wouldn’t know it here in the American Midwest. It’s October and there has only been the barest whiff of fall weather. The forecast for today is 91 degrees (that’s 32 degrees for my legion of overseas readers). Global warming used to be something that was far off — a part of the distant future. Well, we’re in the future, now, and global warming has arrived right on schedule. The implications for the future of the human race are dire. Horrorshow level, in fact. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Man from Planet X”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Alien Warfare

I love that movies like Alien Warfare are still being made. It’s a true action bottom feeder. With the rise of streaming, I had been concerned that the ready availability of good content would leave shitty movies like this without an audience. But, I shouldn’t have underestimated capitalism. Good movies cost more for streaming services to license, and the proliferation of streaming services means that there’s a good chance the movie one wants to watch is on a service to which they do not subscribe. And on top of that, all these streaming services are desperate for content, to make them stand out from each other. All this means there is still a market for cheap schlock. The rights holders’ overprotectiveness and over-monetization of their good properties means the shitty movie lives on. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Alien Warfare”