October Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1947)

Scared to Death 1947 movie posterWhat could 135,000 bucks buy one in 1947? It could buy 79 Ford Super Deluxe automobiles at base sticker price; 11 houses at the median home value; yearly tuition for 257 students at Harvard University; or one shitty movie, filmed in glorious Cinecolor.

Scared to Death, from screenwriter Walter Abbott and director Christy Cabanne, is a poverty row flick that got picked up by Screen Guild Productions for distribution. If that name is unfamiliar to you, dear shitty movie fan and loyal reader, just know that a year after this film was released, Screen Guild changed its name to Lippert Pictures, after its founder, Robert L. Lippert. And, if that name is unfamiliar to you, then you need to watch more shitty movies.

Scared to Death is more notable as being the only starring role from Bela Lugosi filmed in color. If one could call it color.

Technicolor’s much cheaper (and also more practical) competitor, Cinecolor is like looking at the world through a pair of barely effective sunglasses. In a film as old and poorly cared for as Scared to Death, it looks as if the world is in the middle of a solar eclipse. But, bad prints of old films can add much charm to a dog of a movie. And this flick is a mangy mutt. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1947)”

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: Project Moonbase

Project MoonbaseProject Moonbase, the 1953 film from Lippert Pictures, is among the worst movies I’ve ever seen. That wouldn’t be surprising considering it’s from the Lippert stable, but this flick was written by Robert A. Heinlein, who used to hoover up Hugo Awards for his writing. Indeed, Heinlein threw in some smart stuff, but I’m not letting him off the hook for the rest of the garbage in this screenplay. Lest Heinlein take all the blame, Richard Talmadge was in the director’s chair, and he contributed much to this film’s failure.

It’s the future! 1970! Humankind is on its way to conquering the stars. But first, it must conquer the moon. An orbital mission of the moon is launched. Its objective is to survey the surface of the moon to locate suitable sites for a base. Leading the mission is Donna Martell as Colonel Briteis (pronounced ‘bright eyes’). Her second in command is Major Bill Moore (Ross Ford). Rounding out the crew is Dr. Wernher (Larry Johns), who is in charge of the actual surveying, as Briteis and Moore’s primary roles are as pilots.

Briteis may be commanding the mission, but this is a b-movie from the 1950s. While the filmmakers took the progressive step of making a woman the mission commander, they couldn’t quite escape the gender roles of the day. Briteis is whiny and emotional, and passes responsibility down to Major Moore with ease whenever it’s time for a man to make a decision. I’ve written many times in reviews about how it’s folly to impose changing social mores on the past, but this flick is outrageous. What a relic. Continue readingShitty Movie Sundays: Project Moonbase”

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”

October Hammershow: The Quatermass Xperiment, aka The Creeping Unknown

The Curse of Frankenstein may have been the first huge payoff for Hammer Film Productions after they made the transition to horror, but it was The Quatermass Xperiment (released in the United States as The Creeping Unknown) that started the company down the path to becoming a legend in the horror genre. Continue readingOctober Hammershow: The Quatermass Xperiment, aka The Creeping Unknown”