Giant Monstershow: The Deadly Mantis

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow returns to the land of giant insects with today’s flick. From 1957, The Deadly Mantis is an early directorial effort from Nathan Juran, who had an Oscar-winning career as an art director before becoming a director. It was written by Martin Berkeley, who also had a screenwriting credit for the execrable Tarantula. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Deadly Mantis”

October Horrorshow: Devil’s Pass

Renny Harlin has had a long career directing films. So long, in fact, that he has been nominated for a golden raspberry award for worst director an astounding five times over the course of three decades. I’m honestly impressed. How many other filmmakers would have been afforded the opportunity to spread such cinematic misery over such a long time? And I do mean misery. It is a miserable experience to watch Cutthroat Island or Driven. But, to be fair, it’s not all bad. Harlin made Deep Blue Sea, after all, which is one of the most sublime shitty movies one will ever see. What to make of Devil’s Pass, then, his found footage horror film from 2013? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Devil’s Pass”

Giant Monstershow: The Beast of Hollow Mountain

This is a strange movie. It spends most of its runtime as an operatic western, a tale of ranchers in Mexico and forlorn love — like a 1950s version of All the Pretty Horses — but then a frickin’ dinosaur shows up to the party.

From 1956, The Beast of Hollow Mountain was directed by Edward Nassour and Ismael Rodriguez, from a story by legendary effects man Willis O’Brien (using the bizarre pseudonym El Toro Estrella). Apparently, O’Brien was also on tap to do the effects for this film, but for one reason or another that didn’t happen, and the duties passed to inferior substitutes. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Beast of Hollow Mountain”

Giant Monstershow: Tarantula

For a giant monster flick, there isn’t a whole lot of giant monster in 1955’s Tarantula, the film from director Jack Arnold and screenwriters Robert M. Fresco and Martin Berkeley. An adaptation of a Fresco teleplay for Science Fiction Theatre, the main action in the original plot surrounded the efforts of scientists to develop a synthetic nutrient. Not happy with the progress of the experiments, the scientists tested the nutrient on themselves, with horrific results. I’m not sure of the process involved, but at some point in the mid-1950s, someone involved in the production thought, “Hey, what if we took that TV episode we made a couple of months back, and added a giant tarantula?” Continue readingGiant Monstershow: Tarantula”

October Horrorshow: Castle Freak

According to the internet, so it must be true, filmmaker Stuart Gordon was in producer Charles Band’s office when he noticed a poster for a film called Castle Freak. There was no film, as yet — just a poster. But, if Gordon wanted the project, Band said, he could have it, as long as the film he made had a castle and a freak in it. It’s a scene straight out of Ed Wood, so who knows how true it is. True or not, Gordon took the idea and ran with it, making a horror film that was…unique. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Castle Freak”

Giant Monstershow: It Came from Beneath the Sea

Ray Harryhausen is a Hollywood legend. In a time of painstaking manual effects work, his skill as a stop-motion animator was in high demand for those films requiring the fantastical. But, what happened when such a talented worker was called on for a flick with only $150k in its budget?

It Came from Beneath the Sea exemplifies just about everything common in 1950’s b-monster fare. There’s a gigantic monster that was created by American nuclear testing (of course); a square-jawed hero in the form of Commander Pete Mathews of the United States Navy (Kenneth Tobey, making his second appearance in this year’s Horrorshow); a scientist-in-residence who provides useful exposition in Dr. John Carter (Donald Curtis); and a plucky love interest who challenges, but still resides in, 1950s Hollywood sexual mores in Professor Lesley Joyce (Faith Domergue). Add all these ingredients, stir in some scenes of wanton destruction and much fretting in a laboratory, and one has a monster flick. It’s as easy as that. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: It Came from Beneath the Sea”

Giant Monstershow: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow continues. Half b-movie, half decent monster flick, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is a typical example of 1950s giant monster fare. Coming from 1953, the film was directed by Eugène Lourié, and is based, in an extended fashion, on The Fog Horn, a short story by Ray Bradbury. Continue readingGiant Monstershow: The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms”

October Horrorshow: Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Films like Birdemic: Shock and Terror exist on a rare plain where traditional criticism and traditional standards of film quality no longer apply. There is no way possible that I could point out, any more effectively than the film itself, just how God-awful it is. This is, without a doubt, the single worst movie I have ever seen. There is nothing in it, at any point, that appears to be the result of a professional film production. It has a staggering amount of ineptness in everything — from pacing, plot, dialogue, cinematography, editing, sound, direction, acting, or anything else I can’t be bothered to name. Possibly the costumes were passable, but I’m not going back to double check. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Birdemic: Shock and Terror”

October Horrorshow: Alien: Covenant, or, An Endless String of Stupid Decisions: The Movie

Every artist reaches, and then passes, their creative peak. It happens to everyone involved in creative endeavors should they survive long enough. Bands grow stale, the words of authors lose their ferocity, and auteurs show their viewers passable films where once there were epics. Declaring an artist as being past their prime is a bit like writing an obituary while a person is still alive, but those are the feelings that are evoked by watching a film like Alien: Covenant. It’s gorgeous to look at, and is still obviously the construction of a master filmmaker, but the deft touch and tight focus that made Alien a classic is all gone. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Alien: Covenant, or, An Endless String of Stupid Decisions: The Movie”

October Hammershow: The Abominable Snowman

The Abominable Snowman, director Val Guest’s film from 1957, has sort of fallen through the cracks. Well, most Hammer films have fallen through the cracks in one way or another, but this flick is the most obscure of those I have seen so far this month. Hammer has a legendary reputation when it comes to their horror. Much of the films aren’t great, but Hammer was persistent and fertile, never going more than a few months before bringing audiences something new. But their catalogue has been mistreated, much of it only available on out of print, and thus hard to find, DVDs and VHS tapes. The big flicks are available in places like Prime and iTunes, but if one wishes to watch something like The Abominable Snowman without searching for physical media, the options, and quality, are very limited. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Abominable Snowman”