Frogs, the 1972 environmental horror flick from screenwriters Robert Hutchison and Robert Blees, and director George McCowan, has a misleading title. There are indeed frogs in Frogs, and they do indeed pose a menace to the characters in the film, but there are also plenty of toads, snakes, geckos, iguanas, tarantulas, scorpions, and other creepy-crawlies lurking about. The title Frogs gives short shrift to all the other swamp beasties that make an effort to murder the film’s protagonists.
Sam Elliott, in an early role, stars as Pickett Smith, a freelance photographer taking pictures of the effects of pollution and littering in a swampland environment. It’s not pretty, as Smith finds civilizational detritus everywhere he looks. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Frogs”
What a classic drive-in schlockfest. From the Roger Corman stable, Piranha could have been just another cheap Jaws ripoff, à la The Last Shark. But Corman hired filmmakers with some genuine talent to write and direct. He was way too tight to give them a budget, but their skills allowed them to weave some shitty gold.
John Sayles wrote the screenplay and Joe Dante directed. This was very early in both their careers, and they have since gone on to greater things. But I wouldn’t call this a humble beginning. By 1978, when this flick was released, Corman had been in business for decades. The flicks he produces are not humble — they are just cheap. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Piranha (1978)”
Ah, the early 1990s. It was a time of transition. The neon styles of the ’80s were losing their cool, and the plaid drabness that supplanted it was crossing over into movies and television. In the cities, violent crime reached its peak, and gentrification was an idea that had yet to find its execution. The ’90s as a whole were a time when the rough edges still existed, but the polishing was underway.
I bring this up because one would be hard pressed to find a movie that looks more 1990s than Ticks. Released in 1993, Ticks comes to viewers via director Tony Randel and screenwriter Brent V. Friedman. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Ticks”
The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow carries on with one of the most ridiculous premises one can come across in film. Night of the Lepus, a terrifying tale of nature run amok after the arrogant interference of man, is about a plague of giant rabbits. Cute, cuddly, merciless and carnivorous rabbits. No matter how serious those involved treat this material, it’s impossible to get around the fact that the bad beasties in this flick are bunny rabbits. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Night of the Lepus”
The b-monster flick Beginning of the End marked the start of an epic year for filmmaker Bert I. Gordon. He directed not one, not two, but three giant monster movies in 1957. I’m impressed, but would be even more so had any one of these films looked like it took more than a week and a half to shoot.
Beginning of the End, from a screenplay by Fred Freiberger and Lester Gorn, tells the tale of a plague of giant locusts that descend on Chicago. For you readers in the American Midwest and points nearby, that’s ‘locusts’ as in real locusts, aka grasshoppers — not the colloquial locusts, aka cicadas. Either way, the bugs are about the size of city buses, with murderous appetites. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: Beginning of the End”
Sometimes horror films can be a downer. In preparing for this month of reviews, I watch a lot of horror. For every film that makes it to the Horrorshow, I probably watch two others that didn’t interest me enough to write about. That means I spend a lot of evenings listening to young women scream in terror, watching grievous bodily injury, and living in a state of general anxiety brought about by all that scary stuff on the screen. Sleep is no respite, as we tend to dream about things that are on our minds. It’s not uncommon for me to watch yet another gory horror film followed up by a night of dreaming about the zombie apocalypse or a demonic presence in my home. Good grief. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Eight Legged Freaks”
The woods can be a scary place for some people. The strange noises, the closeness, the environment being the antithesis of cities or suburbia — being in the woods can be weird. Maybe that’s what makes the woods a great setting for horror films. That, or the woods is just a convenient setting when budget dictates plot and cast have to be small. Either way, the forest primeval is an oft-used setting in the horror genre, in both good and bad films. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Hallow”
I can’t believe I watched this movie. Actually, I can. After all, I’ve never met a movie I wouldn’t watch — for at least fifteen minutes, anyway. But not only did I watch Zombeavers, I made it through all 77 minutes. Thank goodness for short runtimes. Are you paying attention, Peter Jackson? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Zombeavers”
One of the reasons I like films in other languages is the subtitles force a viewer to pay attention. I’m just as bad as anyone else at juggling their technological experiences in the 21st century. I’ve been conditioned by products and my own indulgences to never be satisfied with just sitting still and watching one single thing. While watching football games or movies in English, I can keep up the pretense that multi-tasking is possible, as my attention wanders to whatever device is at hand. I can convince myself that listening provides the same experience as watching, even while my attention shifts completely to a website or messaging app. But not with a movie that has subtitles. If I want to have any sort of understanding of events on screen, I have to read those little lines of translated dialogue or I’m completely lost. Idea: watch movies in English with the sound down so low I have to use captioning. That should keep me interested, right? Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Blood Glacier”
What a putrid mess. It’s been awhile since I’ve seen a cheap 1950s monster flick. They have a certain amount of kitsch to them that paid quite a lot of dividends back in the decade of above ground nuclear tests and Leave It to Beaver. Stylistically non-offensive but at the same time strangely subversive, a good monster flick can be a commentary on the creeping destructiveness of American power, the precarious balance of post Word War II peace, and the boring homogeneity of typical Hollywood cinema. All of this can be contained in a film that looks like it cost about five bucks to make. Yep, 1950s monster cinema was great.