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”

October Horrorshow: The Pyramid

Sometimes I curse The Blair Witch Project for loosing found footage horror flicks upon the movie-watching public. And I curse Rec, as well, for its creepy night-vision climax that has been used over and over again in just about every one of these ripoffs. There is now a whole pile of these films, and it’s hard to find one that doesn’t default to the techniques and gimmicks of these two films.

The Pyramid, from 2014, saves all of its originality for setting and place, while delivering a film identical in tone to any number of horror flicks where a group of people find themselves lost underground and are being stalked by…something. In fact, this is the fourth such film to be featured in this year’s Horrorshow, after Gonjiam, Derelict, and Creep. It’s a cheap way for filmmakers to use the same darkened hallway or tunnel set in many different shots and scenes, creating the illusion of a vast maze. The only problem with this is, these films very clearly use a small set, so it’s left up to the viewer to pretend that the filmmakers aren’t trying to fool us. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Pyramid”

It Came from the ’50s: Return of the Fly

I’ve seen some embarrassing cash grab sequels in my many decades as an avid shitty movie fan, and this one is among the more shameful.

From writer/director Edward Bernds comes Return of the Fly, the sequel to The Fly, released in 1959. The first thing viewers of The Fly will notice is that, unlike its predecessor, Return was not shot in color. I cannot recall another sequel in film history that has gone from color in the original to black and white photography in the sequel. There are a couple examples the other way, notably The Hustler and The Color of Money. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Return of the Fly”

October Horrorshow: C.H.U.D.

I’ve seen C.H.U.D., the 1984 mutant monster flick, a number of times since its release. Each time, its objective quality, in my estimation, continues to fall. Each time, whatever spark and flare the movie had when I was young fades even more, and it becomes a more disappointing watch. But that’s only because in that old memory of my first viewing from was when I young, this was a good movie. Oh, boy, was I wrong. It’s not a good movie, but, it sure is shitty. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: C.H.U.D.”

It Came from the ’50s: The Manster

With a name like The Manster, it has to be shit, right?

From 1959 (but kept on a shelf until 1962), The Manster is a shitty American monster flick that looks like a joint American/Japanese production. But, it’s not. The Manster is a 100% American production that just happened to be shot in Japan, with many Japanese actors and crew. I made a point while watching this flick to go into the tubes and find out if there was a Japanese-language version of this flick shot side-by-side with the American release, à la Dracula, but there was not. That feels like something of a missed opportunity, as Japanese shitty movie fans would enjoy this piece of trash, I’m sure. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Manster”

It Came from the ’50s: The Tingler

Gimmicks present unique problems when it comes to film, or art, or anything. Gimmicks may be useful for an initial draw, but people tire of them. Gimmicks are also used to disguise, or make up for, a lack of funds or competence. That is why William Castle, despite throwing some interesting gimmicks into his films, is remembered for being a shitty movie director as much as an innovator.

The Tingler, from 1959, was Castle’s most ambitious foray into gimmickry. Besides producing, Castle directed, from a screenplay by Robb White. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Tingler”

It Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus

Beware a promising title, especially when it comes to shitty movies. There’s a good chance that a shitty movie won’t live up to its title, and could even be a bait-and-switch. Monster from Green Hell, from 1957, isn’t that most egregious of shitty filmmaking sins, but it is not nearly as good as the title.

The Green Hell of the title is a stretch of African jungle surrounding a volcano. The Monster which emerges from the Green Hell is a gigantic wasp, mutated by space radiation. It all began back in the states, in an isolated rocket science lab in the west. Dr. Quent Brady (Jim Davis, of Dallas fame), and Dan Morgan (Robert Griffin) are conducting experiments to determine the effects that exposure to space will have on future human space travelers. They do this by sending just about every animal they can find into space aboard rockets, then studying the animals after the rocket returns to Earth. There is a concern that all that radiation shooting around up in space will mutate those who are exposed to it. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Monster from Green Hell, or, Deus Ex Mons Igneus”

October Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!

Before today, I never once considered what it would be like to be trapped in a basement crawlspace with ravenous alligators during a category 5 hurricane. Now, I know. It’s pretty scary.

That’s the setting for Crawl, the creature feature from earlier this year from screenwriters Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, and director Alexandre Aja.

The film follows Kaya Scoladerio as Haley, a swimmer at the University of Florida. A hurricane is bearing down on the area, but neither she, nor her sister up in Boston, have been able to get ahold of their father, Dave (Barry Pepper). There’s some family drama and token sappiness involving Haley and her father, but regardless, Haley decides to head down to the family homestead to check on the old man and make sure he’s still alive. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Crawl, or Go Gators!”

It Came from the ’50s: Fiend Without a Face

Once upon a time, I would have been impressed by seeing the Janus Films and Criterion Collection logos before the start of a film. But that has been dashed by the reaction I had to The Blob. Could Fiend Without a Face be another classic film with an inflated reputation? In short, yes. But, this film doesn’t have near the same disparity between reputation and actual quality as does The Blob. It’s just a b-movie, through and through. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Fiend Without a Face”

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”