What a pair of movies this turned out to be. Day the World Ended is an early Roger Corman flick from 1955, while In the Year 2889 is a made-for-TV remake from 1969 that used an almost identical script. Only the names were changed to protect the innocent.
Written by Lou Rusoff, that script tells the story of a small group that survives a nuclear apocalypse. World War Three has ravaged the world, silencing the cities of Earth and bathing the planet in radioactive fallout. But not in an isolated patch of rugged Southwestern landscape. Former Navy officer Jim Maddison (Paul Birch) has spent the last decade preparing for nuclear war. He has built his house nestled in between hills containing lead ore, which helps block radiation. Winds sweep through nearby canyons, creating a cushion of air that fallout can’t penetrate. I don’t know if any of this holds up to scientific scrutiny, but considering this is a 1950s sci-fi b-movie, I doubt it. It doesn’t matter, anyway. Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: Day the World Ended & In the Year 2889″
This is a bad movie. A bad, bad, very bad, awful, barely coherent waste of 70 minutes. The good news is, for we gluttons of substandard cinema, this flick is in the public domain, so it won’t cost anything to rent. Just head over to archive.org, and there it is, ready to ruin one’s evening for free.
From screenwriter John W. Steiner, and directed by shitty movie auteur Jerry Warren, The Incredible Petrified World tells the story of four intrepid explorers walking around in a cave. That’s about it. Oh, important plot point: the cave is at the bottom of the ocean. And that is it. Oh, wait, there’s also a guy in the cave, wearing, perhaps, the most hilarious wig and fake beard ever seen in film. And that, really, is it.
John Carradine plays Millard Wyman, an inventor who has convinced four souls to descend to the ocean floor in his experimental diving bell. Wyman won’t be joining them, because by 1959, when this flick was released, Carradine was already finished with roles that took effort. The four suckers he tricks into risking their lives for his glory are Craig Randall (Robert Clarke), Dale Marshall (Phyllis Coates), Paul Whitmore (Allen Windsor), and Lauri Talbott (Sheila Noonan). Continue reading “Shitty Movie Sundays: The Incredible Petrified World”
The Information Age is a wonderful thing. As long as it keeps its filthy hands off of democracy, anyway. What I mean is, all a person needs to make a movie these days is a smartphone and an idea. That’s pretty much all Nigel Bach has, and that guy just made his seventh horror flick in three years. Besides that, countless people have been shooting small moving snapshots of daily life that are creating a pastiche of culture to pass down to the ages that is unrivaled in human history. But that doesn’t mean that the world of film was completely closed off to everyone outside of Hollywood or New York in the days of analog. Sometimes, someone on the fringes of the entertainment biz — someone along the lines of Herk Harvey or Harold P. Warren — would get it into their heads to make a movie, and, despite all the obstacles of a time when one couldn’t carry a film crew in their back pocket, managed to make it happen. Such was the case with The Dungeon of Harrow, the 1962 gothic horror flick from writer/director Pat Boyette. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: The Dungeon of Harrow”
There is more content out there than one can possibly experience, and this was true in the days before the web, as well. That’s how an odd psychological horror flick like Crucible of Horror can become largely forgotten, its prints left to decay, its copyright allowed to lapse. The film hasn’t been completely forsaken by the entertainment biz, however. There is a fully restored Blu-Ray version out there, but most versions consist of dismally cared for prints on VHS and older DVDs, formatted for CRT televisions, and with much footage missing. The version I watched for this review had the picture and missing footage restored, but is a 1.33:1 print cropped to widescreen. Maybe someday the version used in the Blu-Ray will become available to stream, but for now this less-than-perfect version is the best streamers can get. Continue reading “October Horrorshow: Crucible of Horror, aka The Corpse”
What a boring, plodding, nonfrightening, trope-filled mess we have with The Screaming Skull, from 1958. There was a promising film in here, somewhere. After all, an uncountable mass of pulp fiction and comic books (especially EC Comics in their heyday) used the exact same plot, with the exact same ending. If they couldn’t be competent, then the least director Alex Nicol and company could have done was be enjoyably shitty, but they couldn’t even manage that.
At the beginning of this film, viewers are treated to an announcement from the film’s producers promising a free coffin should anyone die of fright while watching the movie. It’s not the worst marketing ploy of the time, and the producers could sleep easy about ever paying it out. This is amongst the least-frightening horror movies I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: The Screaming Skull”
Having done The October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow last year, and now It Came from the ’50s this year, I have become more familiar with 1950s monster flicks than I ever thought possible. For good or bad, I know the differences between a Bert I. Gordon flick and a W. Lee Wilder shitfest. I’ve seen short ties and high waists. I’ve seen an endless procession of Stepford Wives clones, and a fair amount of casual misogyny. I’ve seen the arts of stop motion photography and papier-mâché used, abused, and taken to their absolute limits of usefulness. I’ve also seen the same plot and character tropes used over and over and over again. By the time today’s film, The Monster that Challenged the World, was released, in 1957, it looked as if these films were done by rote, with no regard for originality. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: The Monster That Challenged the World”
If one is going to make a shitty movie, don’t be a burden on the audience. Get in and get out before people start getting bored. Running time can often be the difference between an amusing jaunt through the world of substandard cinema and a hateful experience. In general: the shorter the better. Other filmmakers should take a lesson from writer/director Curt Siodmak. He went to the extreme with his 1951 flick, Bride of the Gorilla. It tests that general rule about running time, for Siodmak and company brought this sucker in at an astounding 66 minutes. That’s a long episode of Game of Thrones, not a feature film. Yet, I watched the damn thing, and it did indeed pass in little over an hour. And, believe it or not, that was all the time it needed. This is a shitty movie, without any doubt, but Siodmak did make a tidy little package. Continue reading “It Came from the ’50s: Bride of the Gorilla”
Ray Kellogg returns! Just a day after the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow featured Kellogg’s magnum opus, an ode to Bert I. Gordon entitled The Giant Gila Monster, we feature The Killer Shrews, also directed by Kellogg. In fact, it was filmed either immediately before, or immediately after The Giant Gila Monster (the internet is unclear on which, and I won’t be digging deeper to find out), and was released on the same day in 1959. This film is sibling to The Giant Gila Monster, but that doesn’t mean the two are identical. Well, they’re almost identical. Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Killer Shrews”
Of all the shitty monster movies that I’ve watched so far for the October Horrorshow Giant Monstershow, The Giant Gila Monster might be my favorite, just for how bumbling the whole thing is. It wallows in everything clichéd and bad about the giant monster subgenre of horror flicks from the 1950s. It does away with the expository scientist, sure, but replaces that tired trope with a hip teenager and his girl, following the lead of The Blob.Continue reading “Giant Monstershow: The Giant Gila Monster”
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 reading “Giant Monstershow: The Beast of Hollow Mountain”