October Horrorshow: The Alligator People

If one ever wanted to know what would happen if a cheesy 1950’s monster flick had a respectable budget, this is it. The Alligator People is an obscure film that, if one were to judge by its well-worn theatrical trailers, was shot in 4:3 aspect ratio with cheap film stock and lenses. Nope, it’s right there at the end of the trailer in the title card. This sucker was shot in glorious 2.35:1 CinemaScope. Academy award-winning director of photography Karl Struss, who was getting set to wrap up his long career in Hollywood, made sure everything looked great. It was way more than this movie deserved.

Directed by Roy Del Ruth from a screenplay by Orville H. Hampton, The Alligator People tells the desperate story of Joyce Webster (Beverly Garland). Told in flashback in a totally unnecessary framing story (but useful to get this flick to 74 minutes in length), Joyce relates how, while traveling on honeymoon, her husband receives a mysterious wire while their train passes through the bayous of Louisiana. Her husband, Paul (Richard Crane), hops off the train at a lonely station in the middle of nowhere, leaving Joyce frantic as the train leaves the station. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Alligator People”

October Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)

This is the fourth evening in a row that the Horrorshow has featured a low-budget monster flick from the 1980s. I don’t know if this is a burden or a blessing upon you, dear readership. What I do know is that the combined budgets of these past four films, each adjusted for inflation, are less than the cost of a median home in the most prosperous counties of California. I’m not joking. Some quick calculating puts the total cost of these four films — Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, Creepozoids, Inseminoid, and Scared to Death — at roughly $1.3 million. That means that, should one wish to make four b-movies, it would be cheaper to do so than purchase a single median-priced home in Marin, San Francisco, or San Mateo counties. Trust me, I got my data on the internet. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Scared to Death (1980)”

October Horrorshow: Inseminoid, aka Horrorplanet

A common theme one will find on the internet about Inseminoid is that it rips off Alien. Sure, it does. Lots of movies have. And Alien ripped off It! The Terror from Beyond Space. That shouldn’t stop one from considering the film on its own merits. It succeeds and fails all on its own, with no credit or responsibility laid at the feet of Ridley Scott or Dan O’Bannon. The similarities to Alien are many, but with a budget of £1 million versus Alien’s $11 million, there were going to be some cuts made.

Inseminoid was directed by Norman J. Warren, from a script by Nick and Gloria Maley. On a far away planet, scientists studying ruins of an alien civilization are attacked by a monster. One of them, Sandy (Judy Geeson), is inseminated by the alien, and will soon give birth to twin monstrosities. In this, Inseminoid tracks closest to Alien. The much lower budget meant that much of the atmosphere that defined Alien was not possible in this flick. The budget also affected the alien costume, which is very subpar. Warren and company made the right decision to not feature the monster that much. As a result, most of the terrorizing in this flick is done by Sandy and not the monster. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Inseminoid, aka Horrorplanet”

October Horrorshow: Creepozoids

David DeCoteau might be the most prolific b-movie director of all time. As of this posting, he has 161 non-porn directing credits on his IMDb page. During his career he has treated film production as a volume business. Art? What’s that? Budget? If you can make a movie for less, we’ll match it! TV movies? Direct-to-video movies? Horror? Sci-fi? Comedy? Hallmark movies? DeCoteau will direct it. He can’t direct every movie that’s released in a year, but he can sure as hell try.

The second feature of DeCoteau’s career, Creepozoids was commission work from Charles Band’s Empire Pictures, the predecessor of his long-running house of schlock, Full Moon Features. The film was written by DeCoteau and Dave Eisenstark. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Creepozoids”

October Horrorshow: Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, aka Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell

Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake movie posterWay back during the Giant Monstershow in 2018, I wrote of Bill Rebane’s Giant Spider Invasion, “Great films have been made with bad film stock, cheap lenses, and muddled sound. This ain’t one of them.” Not too long afterwards, I saw a restored print of the movie, and was reminded that often there is a big difference between a VHS transfer formatted for CRT televisions, and what was new when it actually hit theaters. The difference between the restored print and what Mike and the bots screened on MST3K is night and day. Still, restoring it was only polishing a turd.

I bring this up because this evening’s film is Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, also from Wisconsin-based auteur Bill Rebane. Like The Giant Spider Invasion print that I watched in 2018, this print looks and sounds like garbage. The picture is mud and the sound is AM radio-quality. Specs for the film are sparse on the internet, but I suspect this film has been treated with the same lack of archival care as Rebane’s earlier film. At some point, someone is going to make the bad decision to restore this film, as well. Until then, the poor quality print only adds to this film’s shitty bona fides. That, and because it was distributed by Troma. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, aka Croaked: Frog Monster from Hell”

October Horrorshow: The Lake (2022, Thailand)

There haven’t been many films from Thailand here in the Horrorshow, despite there being a nice little industry for the horror genre in that country, going back decades. Ghost and supernatural films seem to be de rigueur. Today’s film, though, is a monster flick that was done in by its storytelling and some bargain basement dubbing.

The Lake, from writer/director Lee Thongkham, tells the story of a pair of monsters that emerge from a lake and begin terrorizing the surrounding village and city.

In the opening scene of the film, audiences see some villagers out on the lake at night, and a big monster appears. It’s not kaiju-sized, but it could give a real life Tyrannosaurus fits. But, that’s not the only monster. The next day a more human-sized scaly biped emerges from the lake, and that’s the beast that wreaks the most havoc. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Lake (2022, Thailand)”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Panic, aka Bakterion, aka Monster of Blood

Horror flicks from Italy are some of the most beloved films the genre has to offer. They have a style that is instantly recognizable. Names of auteurs — Argento, Bava, et al — are known and discussed with reverence by fans. But, like film industries all over the planet, there is a fair amount of chaff among the wheat. Case in point: Panic, a bottom-feeding horror flick released under a number of titles, including as an entry in the confusing Zombi series of films.

From screenwriters Victor Andrés Catena and Jaime Comas Gil, and directed by Tonino Ricci, Panic is quite a departure from other films featured in this year’s Horrorshow. It’s not gothic, nor is it a descendant of giallo. There are no supernatural elements and no lip service to the Catholic Church. If anything, this film, in tone and style, is reminiscent of 1950s and early 1960s British science fiction, along the lines of the Quatermass films. In other words, it’s talky. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Panic, aka Bakterion, aka Monster of Blood”

October Horrorshow: Forbidden World

Roger Corman has caught a lot of heat in these pages for being a cheapskate. The man was, and still is, ruthless in his pursuit of efficiency in his productions. This has often been a detriment to his films. As a filmmaker, Corman could make better movies if he loosened the purse strings ever so slightly, but he always seems to err on the side of budget over art. That said, the man’s contributions to cinema, and shitty movies, cannot be overstated. Forbidden World, a Corman production from 1982, encapsulates just about everything that makes a movie shitty, and is an excellent example of the Corman style. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Forbidden World”

Lo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Tentacles

One could be forgiven if, at first glance, Tentacles appears to be a spurious addition to the lineup of Italian horror flicks in this year’s October Horrorshow. The first five names in the credits are not Italian names. In fact, they are prominent names in Hollywood. The first is Samuel Z. Arkoff, who was very much an American producer. Even the director, Oliver Hellman, doesn’t seem to be of Italian extraction. But, this is all misdirection.

Arkoff and his company, American International Pictures, were not the producers of this film — they were the distributors in the States. Oliver Hellman is a pseudonym for Olivio G. Assonitis. And as for all those prominent names at the start of the film? Well, everyone in Hollywood, no matter how big, eventually slums it for an easy paycheck. Continue readingLo spettacolo dell'orrore italiano: Tentacles”

October Horrorshow: The She Beast

Young director Michael Reeves only had three directing credits to his name before he overdosed on booze and pills. His final feature, Witchfinder General, aka The Conqueror Worm, is a true classic, gracing many ‘best of’ lists on the internet. A couple of years before, Reeves cut his teeth on Italian/British production The She Beast, which he also co-wrote with F. Amos Powell, longtime Hollywood TV actor Mel Welles, and b-movie legend Charles B. Griffith, all uncredited. Welles also has a substantial role as a sleazy innkeeper.

The She Beast tells the story of a small town in Transylvania that had been plagued by a demon known as Vardella, or Bardella, depending on the source (Joe ‘Flash’ Riley in a lot of makeup). She would kidnap locals and feed on them. One day the townsfolk had enough, tracked Vardella to her layer, strapped her to a ducking stool and drowned her in a local lake. The locals had been warned that this was only a temporary solution without a true exorcism, but their blood was up and they weren’t listening. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The She Beast”