It Came from the ’50s: The Monster That Challenged the World

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 readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Monster That Challenged the World”

It Came from the ’50s: The Incredible Shrinking Man

I’m not sure if I like film titles that are such a literal description of the plot, but the title of this flick promises a shrinking man, and that’s just what viewers get.

The Incredible Shrinking Man was a hit back when it was released in 1957. It wasn’t a darling of the critics, but it has increased in reputation since, owing to some clever filmmaking from director Jack Arnold, and an above average screenplay by Richard Matheson, who was adapting his own novel. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Incredible Shrinking Man”

It Came from the ’50s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

For today’s entry in It Came from the 1950s, we have a film that tries its best to resemble its poorer cousins, but the overall sheen of competence cannot be hidden.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers comes to us via director Fred F. Sears and screenwriters Bernard Gordon and George Worthing Yates. Released in 1956, Saucers stars Hugh Marlowe and Joan Taylor as Russell and Carol Marvin. Russell is a scientist in charge of Project Skyhook, which is a series of unmanned research rockets launched into orbit. Carol is his wife and assistant. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers”

It Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us

Universal had a hot property in The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and they understandably wanted to cash in on it some more. That led to a lazy sequel in Revenge of the Creature, and a silly mess in today’s ’50s flick, The Creature Walks Among Us.

Coming along a year after Revenge, in 1956, The Creature Walks Among Us is the first film in the series not to be directed by Jack Arnold. He had ambitions beyond directing b-flicks, if the internet is to be believed, so bowed out of the project. Directing duties were handled by John Sherwood, from a screenplay by Arthur A. Ross. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: The Creature Walks Among Us”

October Horrorshow: The Blood Beast Terror

Hammer wasn’t the only production company making gothic horror films in England in the mid-20th century. Amicus productions dipped a few toes into the waters, as did Tigon, the company behind The Blood Beast Terror.

Released in 1968, Terror is all-but indistinguishable from contemporary Hammer productions, all the way up to its star, Peter Cushing. The only thing I could find that really separates this film from a Hammer production is that this film had a lower production quality. Hammer didn’t exactly break the bank when it came to financing their pictures, and one has to have a strong suspension of disbelief to watch them. Those familiar with Hammer films will know to what I’m referring. For everyone else, this film’s production issues are apparent in the questionable quality of the film stock, the poor sound quality of the rerecorded dialogue, and the plainness of the set decoration. It never feels as if this film inhabits the distant past, especially in moments when horse-drawn carriages trundle over asphalt pavement. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: The Blood Beast Terror”

It Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

Regular readers know that we here at Missile Test love us some schlock. Especially the ’50s kind, with its cheap sets, hammy actors, ridiculous monsters, and short ties. At first glance, 1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers would fit right in. But, this flick ain’t schlock. Oh, no.

Directed by Don Siegel (who directed some excellent movies — including Dirty Harry), from a screenplay by Daniel Mainwaring, adapting Jack Finney’s novel, Body Snatchers tells the tale of a small town in California whose residents are being replaced by impostors. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)”

It Came from the ’50s: Revenge of the Creature

The folks at Universal Pictures must have been surprised when their 1954 schlock monster flick, Creature from the Black Lagoon, turned out to not only be good, but also a moneymaker. Turnaround was quicker back then, so just a year later producer William Alland and director Jack Arnold were able to premiere a sequel.

From a screenplay by Martin Berkeley, Revenge of the Creature follows another scientific expedition to the black lagoon. Nestor Paiva returns as Captain Lucas, the skipper of the boat the team takes. This sequence is brief. The creature is captured quickly and taken to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida, to live out the rest of its days as the star attraction. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Revenge of the Creature”

October Horrorshow: Pieces

At first glance, Pieces, the 1982 slasher flick from shitty auteur Juan Piquer Simón, is just like every other bottom-feeding Italian film that flooded the American market in the 1980s. Except for one thing. Pieces is not an Italian flick. It’s from Spain. All the hallmarks of a Lucio Fulci or Enzo G. Castellari film are present. The cast is from all over the map. Many read their lines in their native tongue, everyone was dubbed in post, and there was a cavalier attitude towards making sure if any of it synced. The production is low rent, but there’s lots of blood, and it’s so bright one could use it to see by night. And, while it takes place in the United States, it was very clearly filmed in Europe. So, just why does this film have the appearance of cheap Italian cinema of the day? Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Pieces”

It Came from the ’50s: Robot Monster

Robot Monster, the gloriously stupid movie from screenwriter Wyott Ordung and director Phil Tucker, is legendary amongst shitty movie fans. And it’s for one single reason. This is the monster:

The gorilla-bodied robot monster.

 

It’s a robot, but it doesn’t look like any robot that viewers know. Shot in a matter of days for somewhere around $16,000, there wasn’t enough time or money for the crew to come up with a decent robot costume. According to the internet, so it must be true, Tucker hired a friend of his, George Barrows, to play the robot, partly because he had a gorilla suit they could use. This has the smack of apocrypha, but it’s the type of guerilla filmmaking (heh-heh) I love. Whether this story be truth or fiction, what ended up on the screen cannot be denied. That is one of the most ridiculous movie monsters there has ever been. Continue readingIt Came from the ’50s: Robot Monster”

October Horrorshow: Entity

Entity, the 2012 horror film from writer/director/producer Steve Stone, threatens to be a found footage flick early on. Thankfully, it’s not. Back when it was made, found footage horror films seemed to come out once or twice a week. But, even though Stone only flirts with the technique, he chose to use its tropes heavily.

The film opens with security footage shot in the green tint of night vision, so familiar from its overuse in found footage horror. The shot is of a spartan room in what looks like an insane asylum. There is an iron bed with thin mattress, a sink, a bucket, and a huddled figure who won’t look at the camera. Over the course of this sequence experienced horror fans will witness trick after trick that was used to better effect in earlier films. Continue readingOctober Horrorshow: Entity”