October Horrorshow: Nightbeast

Blood, gore, low production values, a little gratuitous nudity, and charm out the wazoo. That’s Nightbeast, the 1982 sci-fi/horror flick from b-movie filmmaker Don Dohler. It’s a simple film with a simple idea: an alien passing by Earth runs into a stray asteroid and crashes in rural Maryland. It’s an angry beast, and it wastes no time slaughtering the locals with its laser gun.

Trying to stop the massacre are the cops and the good citizens of Perry Hall, led by Sheriff Cinder (Tom Griffith). That’s all the plot one really needs to know. There’s very little setup to this flick, and very little character development. That’s a good thing, as Dohler didn’t round up the best talent for his opus. Besides Griffith, there’s Karin Kardian as Deputy Lisa Kent, Jamie Zemarel as local Jamie Lambert, and Don Leifert as local tough guy and murderer Drago (it’s a subplot). None of these performers, or the others listed in the credits, had much work outside of Don Dohler films, and none of them seemed like professionals. But, their lack of acting chops only adds to the appeal. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Nightbeast”

October Horrorshow: Invasion from Inner Earth, aka Hell Fire, aka They

Invasion from Inner Earth movie posterOnce upon a time, in the far distant past, AD 1974, filmmaker Bill Rebane asked a simple question. “What if I made an alien invasion movie without the aliens?” I’m joking, but at some point during production, Rebane (who has graced the Horrorshow in the past) had to have noticed that all the action in his film was taking place hundreds of miles away from the plot. What we’re left with are five 20-somethings in an isolated cabin in northern Manitoba, whiling away the time by playing with a ham radio and eating beans. It turns out that it’s important for a filmmaker to place their characters near the action in a film, so that something, anything, happens to ease the pain of the audience. Who knew?

Working from a screenplay by Barbara J. Rebane, Invasion from Inner Earth (also released as Hell Fire and They — titles that make as little sense as Invasion from Inner Earth) starts off slowly, and that’s how the whole thing goes. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Invasion from Inner Earth, aka Hell Fire, aka They”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising

What a bottom-feeding pile of garbage. This reviewer has seen many bad movies — enough bad movies that I’ve ruined any arthouse bona fides I may have had — yet, sometimes, I’m still surprised that something so amateurish manages to get made. This is one of those shitty movies where no one involved, even the professionals, seemed able to capitalize on their work.

Alien Rising, from 2013, is a direct-to-video shitfest brought to viewers by screenwriters Michael Todd and Kenny Yakkel, and director Dana Schroeder. This was Schroeder’s second directing effort, and, if his IMDb page is any indication, it will be his last. Thank goodness. We shitty movie fans may be into flagellation, but everyone has limits. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Alien Rising, aka Gemini Rising”

Shitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress

How do I know China is a superpower? Besides the massive economy, the massive military, the massive population, and China’s massive effect on world politics? It’s because the Chinese are now making alien invasion movies where they save the day. That is when a nation truly arrives at the forefront — when they can make jingoistic popcorn cinema of the world-saving variety. And, like most American forays into such material, it stinks.

Shanghai Fortress is an adaptation of the sci-fi novel by Jiang Nan, wherein, in the near future, a new energy source called Xianteng has been brought back to Earth by astronauts. It’s a self-replicating energy source, and clean. A new day has dawned for humanity. Except, some aliens get wind of us having Xianteng, and a gigantic spaceship arrives, Independence Day-style, to rain hell on the earth. After five years of conflict, only one major city remains: Shanghai. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Shanghai Fortress”

It Came from the ’50s: It! The Terror from Beyond Space

When is a shitty movie not a shitty movie? When it’s super cheap, but also good. Such is the case with It! The Terror from Beyond Space, released in 1958.

We wrap up It Came from the ’50s with the movie that was the supposed inspiration for Alien. The story is similar. A spaceship from Earth sets down on another planet and picks up a stowaway alien with a thirst for blood. How the human spacefarers rid themselves of the alien is also similar. How the two films differ is in the small details. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: It! The Terror from Beyond Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Plan 9 from Outer Space

This flick has quite the reputation. Search the internet for lists of the worst movies of all time, and this film will most likely be on it, and could very well be at the top. Its writer, director, and producer, Ed Wood, is a legend among shitty film fans. Not many people get a biopic made where the focus is on their ineptitude, but it happened to Ed Wood. And he earned it. But, I have disappointing news for any Ed Wood fan that happens upon this site. Plan 9 from Outer Space is not the worst movie I have ever seen. It doesn’t even crack the bottom 10.

From 1959, Plan 9 tells the story of an alien invasion of Earth. That’s the broad view, and the only part of the plot that makes sense. The details of the story are a nonsensical jumble of graveyard scenes and whatever footage Ed Wood managed to shoot of Bela Lugosi before the latter’s death in 1956. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Plan 9 from Outer Space”

It Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast

Night of the Blood Beast is barely a movie. That shouldn’t be any surprise to viewers familiar with its pedigree. It comes to us via American International Pictures, and was produced by not one, but two, members of the Corman clan. Despite there being twice as much Corman as audiences would usually get, this flick looks as if it had half the budget.

From 1958, Blood Beast plays out like an updated version of It Conquered the World, only with all the fat trimmed. That’s quite a feat carried out by screenwriter Martin Varno and director Bernard Kowalski, because that flick didn’t have any fat to trim. It was a test of an audience’s patience, and so is Blood Beast. It amazes me that a film like this could have such a short running time, at 62 minutes, and the filmmakers had trouble filling that up. It’s as if Roger Corman would hire writers to pen a half-hour long episode of The Twilight Zone, and then tell his directors to stretch it out as much as they could. I wouldn’t be surprised if Corman paid his writers by the page, and thin screenplays were his way of pinching ever more pennies. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Night of the Blood Beast”

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)”