Monday, December 29, 2008

December's Monster Movie of the Month - Reptilicus [Danish Version] (1961)

Rubber puppet lays waste to Denmark, turns attention to U.S.


This little film has been much maligned by... everybody. There are actually two versions of it out there - Danish (1961) and American (1962). I think it's generally the American version collecting the poor marks.

I can't say yay or nay on the American take, but the Danish didn't do SO bad. I mean, sure, the monster was a rubber marionette. And the film did include two "WTF" musical numbers. And... the monster was only on screen for maybe 10 minutes.

But gosh, those Danes had heart.

No subtitles for the print I (ahem) obtained, so I can't comment on how smart the dialogue was. But the characters seemed credulous enough. (Maybe a little stiff during line delivery at times, but who among us hasn't experienced that?) I got a kind of "gee, these guys are really giving it their all - bless their hearts" feeling, as I watched.

Anyway. The monster here was a big old flying dragon who, at the beginning of the film, was just a dragon tail--dug up by oil drillers. When this mysterious tail thawed out, it grew from a dragon tail into a full blown dragon. You know, like a lizard can grow a new tail if it loses the old one; this tail could grow a new dragon when it... needed to. Wow. I felt my I.Q. drop just writing that.

So. The dragon regenerates, starts breathing, gets loose, eats one farmer, a few cows and some houses. Then the army sets it on fire (those guys, always settin' stuff on fire!) and it scurries into the ocean. Because it's an amphibious dragon.

Army says: "if we can't burn it we'll blow it to pieces with depth charges!", and then does blow it into at least two pieces, since one of the dragon's little legs tears off and floats down to the seabed. (And I'm thinking "oh, that's gonna be the movie's parting shot" because, as the scientists then remind the army - if you blow the dragon to pieces, each piece could regenerate into a whole new dragon to worry about.) So the army, with sheepish grins, stops dropping depth charges.

So the scientists and the military go back to the lab and discuss a lot of things in Danish for awhile, work together, and come up with this: "Let's shoot a poison filled bazooka shell into the monster's mouth!" And so, they shoot it into the dragon's mouth and it dies.

But THEN! Just before the credits roll, we get a shot of the dragon leg on the seabed (Dan nods knowingly here). And it's toes are twitching....

Niiiiiice....

So it's true the dragon was brought to "life" as a puppet. By a puppeteer. Not a very gifted one. Well, that's not fair. I guess the puppeteer did the best he could with what they gave him.
The real lameness of the puppet was in it's design - little feet that didn't move when it walked and came waaay off the ground every time the dragon looked upward, since they were attached directly to it's neck. As in no legs. Just feet attached directly to it's neck.

And the gaping rubbery mouth that just hung open and kind of jiggle-jaggled when the dragon moved.

And the garish carnival-painted-on eyes. You know the type.

And those puppet strings were really, really obvious in some shots.

And listen. I don't know too much about the Danish mindset--maybe over there musical numbers are a can't-miss addition to any film.

There's a scene where a handyman walks outside the lab, sits on a park bench, and starts singing about the dragon. And if that's not weird enough, he's not even through the first line and about ten little kids - girls in frilly dresses and boys in pressed short pants - gather around him to listen and dance.

Where'd they come from? Did the lab have an on-site daycare for it's staff? Weird.

The movie's other musical number at least involved a couple of characters on a date - they listened to some nightclub singer do "Tivoli Nights". So it kind of fit into the story. No--"fit the story" is a little strong. But it did make more sense as a scene that didn't particulary fit the story.

My brain worked overtime trying to convince me, as the credits rolled, that this wasn't a monster movie at all, but a romantic drama/comedy/musical with some monster footage added to it. Now I know that's not true - the writer/director really did set out to make a monster movie (allegedly the then recent Godzilla films - big money makers in Japan - were it's inspiration).

Speaking of writers and directors, did you know this movie was written by the same guy who wrote and directed LAST month's MMOTM - The Time Travelers (1964)? Ib Melchior is his name. Apparently he's quite the celebrated fellow amongst B Movie aficionados. (Yes, I said aficionados.) Some of his other credits are Death Race 2000, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, Angry Red Planet and (I modestly note) another MMOTM, Planet of the Vampires. Crazy. And he's still kicking around; 91 years old.


Right. That about wraps up the film - Danish version anyway. The movie(s) was/were a co-Danish/American project so they filmed it twice, with the Danish actors doing it once in Danish and again in English. But when the American print made it's way back to the US, studio suits thought the actors' accents sounded ridiculous (and they probably did). So they had the film dubbed with American actors (mistake #1). Then they decided the story itself was just lame and reshot a bunch of the movie with some additional American actors (mistake #2).Then  they just kind of put it in the blender and let it go.

So the movie (which was not awards material to begin with) got sliced and diced into something-not-of-this-earth. The flying Danish dragon became a non-flying American dragon, who spits cartoony goo from it's mouth to melt things (and people). Sigh. I am not a fan of our studios "improving" on foriegn movies before releasing them here. (coughgojiracough)

It's a one brain movie, but I've always had a soft spot for it in my heart. So it gets

TWO AMPHIBIOUS DRAGON BRAINS.

Oh, and in what I can only surmise as an attempt to boost film sales, the American version was released with a little softcore-porn novelization of the film alongside (which, I swear, was purchased in complete innocence by yours truly many a year ago), taking all the major characters - quite chaste in the movie(s) - and having them jump each other's bones throughout.

Nothing explicit, mind you, just that cheesy 1960s stuff: "Expertly she guided him, her body accommodating itself to the savage lance of his manhood while the world spun around them in a riot of sensation". And yes, that's a direct quote from the book.

Savage lance. Heh.



The Trailer






The Details

Cast
Carl Ottosen ... Gen. Mark Grayson
Ann Smyrner ... Lise Martens
Mimi Heinrich ... Karen Martens
Asbjørn Andersen ... Prof. Otto Martens
Bodil Miller ... Connie Miller (Danish version)
Bent Mejding ... Svend Viltorft (drilling crew chief)
Povl Wøldike ... Dr. Peter Dalby
Dirch Passer ... Dirch Mikkelsen
Ole Wisborg ... Capt. Brandt (Royal Danish Guard)
Birthe Wilke ... Herself (nightclub singer)

Director
Poul Bang (Danish)
Sidney W. Pink (American)

MPAA Rating
Denmark:A
USA:Unrated

Runtime
Denmark:92 min
USA:82 min

Taglines
Invincible...Indestructible! What was this awesome BEAST born 50 million years out of time?

See a mighty city trampled to destruction! See missiles and atom bombs powerless! See civilisation rioting with fear!

Language
Danish | English

Link(s)
Reptilicus at IMDB
Reptilicus at Wikipedia

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Audition (1999) Uncut Version

Man uses trickery to attract wife, loses leg for his trouble




The Review

Well.

At the behest of Patrick Galloway, author of Asia Shock: Horror and Dark Cinema from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, and Thailand, I finally watched this movie. I'd been avoiding it. Didn't know much about the story-line, except that it had some reportedly graphic torture scenes.

Now, I'd been avoiding it because - well, I'm just not into torture. Giving or receiving. (Or watching.)

Sure, I like a creepy ghost story as much as the next guy. And I like seeing bad guys get what's coming to 'em (I love that). I even like the occasional over-the-top-never-happen-in-real-life-bloodbath-spectacular (supernatural or not).

But watching Human Being "A" gleefully saw off Human Being "B"s limbs, while Human Being "B" is tearfully pleading for his life - that's just not entertainment. (To me.)

"Torture-porn", I believe is what they're calling it, and it's become quite a mainstream hit these days.

Anyway, the plot itself is pretty run of the mill - lonely guy finds perfect girl who turns out to be homicidally unbalanced. What people say sets this one apart is that we get to watch said perfect girl saw off various body parts from various persons while those persons are restrained and awake. Using piano wire. In bone-crunching, blood-spurting, agonized-screaming detail.

From what I hear, many in the audience walked out during early screenings, causing the director to make some (minor) cuts before general release. There were even a couple of cases of mild shock, with one audience member being briefly hospitalized. And, both John Landis and Rob Zombie, over-the-top horror directors themselves, said they found the film extremely difficult to watch. I know! (A word of caution following this link - some of the video is pretty graphic, although the worst bits have been cut.)

I actually thought the movie itself was quite good - most graphic of the torture aside. As far as lonely-guy-perfect-girl-homicidally-unbalanced movies go, it did it's job with verve most others lack. The movie slowly builds an excruciating sense of tension, which never lets up for a second. And the story unfolds so that it increasingly reveals, a bit at a time, how horrifyingly screwed up this girl is - and how much trouble our hero is really in. The plot's been done a hundred times, but this movie steps it up a notch.

But the most graphic of the torture distracted me from the story's climax.

So. (Shakes fist angrily) TAKE THAT, PIANO WIRE SAW GIRL!

I do have to say that, while I'm still no fan of torture-porn, that girl really sawed and gouged with gusto and panache. Even as I winced at what she was doing, I had to admire her enthusiasm.

THREE TORTURED BRAINS

Oh, and that book by Patrick Galloway is really good, by the way. It's got some films I'd rather pass on, but a lot of great unknowns (at least to western audiences) to put on your list. I pulled about 20 movies out of it that are now on MY list.




The Trailer






The Details

Title
Audition aka: Ôdishon

Cast
Ryo Ishibashi ... Shigeharu Aoyama
Eihi Shiina ... Asami Yamazaki
Tetsu Sawaki ... Shigehiko Aoyama
Jun Kunimura ... Yasuhisa Yoshikawa
Renji Ishibashi ... Old man in wheelchair
Miyuki Matsuda ... Ryoko Aoyama
Toshie Negishi ... Rie
Ren Osugi ... Shimada
Shigeru Saiki ... Toastmaster
Ken Mitsuishi ... Director
Yuriko Hirooka ... Michiyo Yanagida
Fumiyo Kohinata ... TV station presenter
Misato Nakamura ... Misuzu Takagi
Yuuto Arima ... Shigehiko as a child
Ayaka Izumi ... Asami as a child

Director
Takashi Miike

MPAA Rating
Unrated (for violence/torture and sexuality)

Runtime
115 minutes

Tagline
She always gets a part.

Language
Japanese with English Subtitles

Link(s)
Audition at IMDB
Audition at Wikipedia

Friday, December 12, 2008

Blood Tide (1982)


James Earl Jones battles Rubber Monster Puppet, both lose in the end.




The Review

I counted 31 different releases of this movie for sale on Amazon.com - 28 on DVD and 3 on VHS. I'll bet that's about the number of folks who've actually watched it, too.

The movie's in the public domain, which explains the prolific number of releases - it's free for the taking. All a company has to do is pay for production costs, recover those through sale or shipping price and - Whallah - 100% profits.

You can find the film with a Google search for "download blood tide". If you want to. But if the folks who made it didn't bother to renew their copyright when it expired, well... that oughta tell you something.

I watched it because it was free. Right after I got my iPod, I went through this download-everything-free-whether-it's-good-or-not phase. So it's on my iPod.

The movie is an early-80s-feels-like-late-70s horror flick that was shot in Greece. Boils down to some treasure hunter (James Earl Jones) who accidentally lets a monster loose, and the locals start sacrificing virgins (actual virginity encouraged but not required) to keep it at bay.

And that's pretty much it.

James Earl Jones can usually be counted on to make anything he's in at least watchable. Not this time; even James couldn't carry the weight. If you took everything even remotely "plot-ish" from the film, and spliced it together, you'd have a movie that lasts, maybe, 15 minutes.

The other 67 minutes is just filler: beach-and-surf cavorting people, mysterious nuns, nighttime scuba divers, dark church hallways and scary-unseen-monster-music. And lots of stern looking villagers who glare at "outsiders", then turn and glare at each other.

There's a lot of glaring in this movie.

Oh, and a side-plot with some guy trying to find his sister before she sacrifices herself (?) to the monster. Even though (we learn) she's not a virgin.

Interestingly (kind of), during my Amazon.com count, I noticed a new (2008) reissue of the film on DVD boasting an MPAA rating of "Unrated" and a runtime of 125 minutes (as opposed to the usual "R" and 82 minutes). I can't imagine what the extra 43 minutes consists of....

So. James Earl Jones blows up the monster at the end. But, through a lack of planning, he also blows up himself. (Oh, um, belated Spoiler Alert....)

Bottom line - even though it's free, this movie's likely not worth your time to watch. Unless you're in bed with a cold, or recovering from having your wisdom teeth pulled or something.

Maybe then.

ONE FISH-FED BRAIN



The Trailer

Couldn't find an online trailer for the film, but here's a little Earl Jones magic to demonstrate the film's flavor. And I apologize in advance, because Mr. Jones really is a fine actor....






The Details

Cast
James Earl Jones: Frye
José Ferrer: Nereus
Lila Kedrova: Sister Anna
Mary Louise Weller: Sherry Grice
Martin Kove: Neil Grice
Lydia Cornell: Barbara
Deborah Shelton: Madeline Grice
Sofia Seirli: Sister Elena
Despina Tomazani: Lethe's Mother
Rania Photiou: Lethe
Spyros Papafrantzis: Dionysis
Irini Tripkou: Virgin
Annabel Schofield: Vikki

Director
Richard Jefferies

MPAA Rating
R (for some language and a topless virgin or two)

Runtime
82 minutes

Tagline
The myth is alive!

Language
English

Link

Sunday, November 30, 2008

November's Monster Movie of the Month - The Time Travelers (1964)

Scientists inadvertently step into future, find that future sucks


The Review


I couldn't find hardly anything to make fun of here. Well... of COURSE there WERE things to make fun of - I could find fault with a stump if I put my back into it. But this little movie has a way of making you just sit back and enjoy watching it, warts and all.

The story goes like this: three scientists and an electrician (read "electrician" as: "comic relief guy") are sitting around the lab one day, working on their window-into-the-future machine. I'm not sure what the big draw is for a window-into-the-future machine; seems like a full-on Time Machine would be cooler and more useful. Maybe these particular scientists have seen enough time travel movies to know you can really screw the pooch messing around with that stuff, so they thought they'd just Look but not Touch.

Anyway, Dr. Conners (Handsome Scientist Man, played by Philip Carey)


gets all worked up during the machine's test run and turns the dinkety-hoo-hah dial up ALL THE WAY, causing things to start smoking and sparking. All of a sudden, the time viewer screen goes all wonkey and then settles into an image of this barren, rocky landscape (looking eerily like the 20th century outskirts of Barstow, California where the movie was filmed).

So. While everybody's running around putting out fires and punching buttons, Danny (Comedy Relief Electrician Man, played by Steve Franken)


walks up to the time viewer and sticks his arm right *through* it, discovering it's no longer JUST a viewer. It's become an actual portal to wherever/whenever is on the other side. So he decides to hop on through and go exploring. (Not the brightest bulb; guess that's why he's only an electrician.)

So the other three jump in after him to get him back before the machine totally fries, but then it fries before any of them can get back through. So now they're stuck in... ( ? )

Well, ( ? ) turns out to be about a hundred years into the future and mankind has pretty much toasted the earth with nuclear warfare. Earth has become uninhabitable (except for all the poor saps who were above ground when the big one hit and have all since turned into big scary ugly mutants).


There's a couple of hundred regular folk living underground, putting their time and energy into building a spaceship to get the hell out of Dodge before those mutants bust in and tear them all to pieces. But time is short, as we can see by these super-gee-whiz electronic time displays that are all over the place:


And even though these folks have to live in caves they've got some pretty cool stuff to play with, including their very own Android Factory, a Tanning Salon and Spa, and a LOVE MACHINE that lights up and plays music and doesn't really do anything else.

yon androids are always ready to help
time traveler has pink bits tanned at spa
the LOVE MACHINE in use

Well, even with the no-budget special effects and some cheesy dialogue, it's actually a pretty good story, with some interesting twists and a totally unexpected ending, so I won't spoil it. (Sigh.)

But if YOU watch it you can find out if the regular folk really get away in their rocket.

And if the time travelers really get back to their own time.

And if the mutants and the regular folk all put down their weapons and decide to make LOVE MACHINE, not war.

So, yeah. This one's worth the price of admission.

THREE TIMELY BRAINS

The Trailer



The Details


Cast
Preston Foster: Dr. Erik von Steiner
Philip Carey: Dr. Steve Connors
Merry Anders: Carol White
John Hoyt: Dr. Varno
Dennis Patrick: Councilman Willard
Joan Woodbury: Gadra
Delores Wells: Reena
Steve Franken: Danny McKee, the Electrician
Berry Kroeger: Preston
Gloria Leslie: Councilwoman
Mollie Glessing: Android
Peter Strudwick: The Mutant
J. Edward McKinley: Raymond
Margaret Seldeen: Miss Hollister
Forrest J Ackerman: Square-frame technician
Wayne Anderson: Android

Director
Ib Melchior

MPAA Rating
Not Rated (but probably a "G")

Runtime
82 minutes

Taglines
Step Through "The Time Portal" beyond the crack in Space and Time where the fantastic world of the Future will freeze your blood with its weird horrors!

SEE women who use the Love Machine to allay the male shortage!

You are in the Future before it happens!

Language
English

Link(s)
The Time Travelers at IMDB
The Time Travelers at Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Kekko Kamen (2004)

Masked Vigilante bares all, Keeps Students' dreams Alive




The Review

Okay, I'll just say it like it is:

This movie is about a Naked Female Ninja (Kekko Kamen) who protects students at an all-girls school from their lecherous teachers. She wears a red mask, boots, gloves and a long scarf (that dutifully hides her pink bits).


As near as I can tell, "Kekko Kamen" translates to "Wonderful Mask". (Kamen is a word that refers to any Japanese masked hero, and Kekko, meaning Wonderful, refers not to her mask but to her... body. Indeed. Her deal is that she stuns her opponents with the beauty of her body, and then, POW! (Right in the kisser!)

Oh, and she has magical powers. And rides a red scooter through the school's hallways. And she can really bust a move with her nunchaku.

Um, I'd go on to expand upon the film's finer points... but that's really about it.

I was offered this movie by my good buddy Automated-Netflix-Man, "based on [my] interest in Films from Japan". And - let's face it - after reading the synopsis I wasn't gonna NOT give it a try.

This particular film fits somewhere in the midst of a long string of movies (and cartoons), all with more or less the same plot and all based on a Japanese comic book series (also all with more or less the same plot) by a guy named Go Nagai.

(What?? A character like this, written by a man??)

I know.

So anyway, it turns out the movie was... HIL-AR-I-OUS.

...In an over the top we-know-we're-being-sexist-but-we're-just-having-fun sort of way, it was just funnier than a wailing banshee. I mean, we've got dialogue-gems like

(Miss Keiko, who needs to "change" into her Kekko Kamen persona, to a student)
"You'd better leave now, for your own safety and to further the plot."

and

(Kekko Kamen to a villain, whose costume and mask consist of stolen women's underwear stitched together)
"Panties are sacred to a woman. Putting them on your head is unspeakable!"

How could you not stifle a grin?

So. Yeah. There really isn't anything else to say about this one. Oh, except Kekko Kamen usually K.O.s her enemies by putting their necks in a leg scissor lock until they pass out. It's called the "muffocation" attack. You know, like "suffocation" but with an "m". As in being suffocated by her m....

True story.


FOUR PINK BRAINS



The Trailer

video



The Details

Cast
Shino Saito (Keiko Natsuwata / Kekko Kamen)
Juri Inahara (Mayumi Takahashi)
Moa Arimoto (Wakana Nakai)
Ren Suzuki (Kyoichi Furusawa)
Nao Yuasa (Jun Takenochi)
Hiromi Nagayama (Akira Oshima)
Hiromitsu Suzuki
Kenjiro Ishimaru
Hideo Sako (Kajiro Suto)
Satoshi Wada (Shatai Osuo)
Nao Eguchi
Fang Suzuki
Keiko Kubo (Mizuho Sakuragi)
Go Nagai (as himself)

Director
Takafumi Nagamine

MPAA Rating
Unrated (but would be a mild R, I think.)

Runtime
70 minutes

Tagline
Nobody knows her face... but everybody knows her body!

Language
Japanese with English Subtitles

Link(s)
Kekko Kamen at IMDB
Kekko Kamen at Wikipedia

Sunday, October 19, 2008

October's Monster Movie of the Month - The Wasp Woman (1960)




This is yet another cult favorite from Roger Corman, who gave us the likes of "Attack of the Giant Leeches", "The Beast with a Million Eyes", and "The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Sea Serpent".

It goes like this:
  1. A BEAUTY QUEEN is getting old.
  2. She doesn't like that.
  3. She knows a SCIENTIST experimenting with age reversal.
  4. He has a POTION with wasp venom in it.
  5. He gives her some.
  6. She gets a little younger.
  7. But it's going to slow, so BEAUTY QUEEN steals the POTION.
  8. And injects it. She gets a lot younger.
  9. But then BEAUTY QUEEN has a problem.
  10. Her head turns into a WASP HEAD and her hands turn into WASP HANDS.
  11. Now she is young, but very ugly and scary.
  12. And she can't stop killing people.
  13. Some people find this out and she tries to kill them.
  14. But those people kill her instead.
  15. The SCIENTIST decides using wasp venom is a bad idea.
The movie's tag line is "A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN BY DAY - A LUSTING QUEEN WASP BY NIGHT!"

We all know what a booming industry Wasp Porn is....

TWO VENOMOUS BRAINS


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September's Monster Movie of the Month - Planet of the Vampires [Terrore nello spazio] (1965)



Well, this movie was... interesting. More a horror film with a sci-fi setting, than sci-fi per se.

I liked it, but the whole thing felt a little... removed... as it played out. It's like I was visiting with some fellow, and he was relaying some intense experience he'd had to me - versus me being right in the middle of the experience myself. The social worker in me says This movie had a flat affect.

Visually, though... I thought the film was beautiful. This thing was made quickly for less than a hundred thousand bucks and the sets are cheap as cheap can be, but the way in which the film was shot makes them seem a lot more than they are. The colors are deep and vibrant - almost to the point of distraction - but they (somehow) manage to keep to the creepy-darkness of the plot-line.

Anyway, The movie's got a great premise taken from an Italian short story, about the "horrific experiences of the crew members of two... spaceships that have crash landed on a forbidding, unexplored planet. The disembodied inhabitants of the world possess the bodies of the crew who died during the crash, and use the animated corpses to stalk and kill the remaining survivors" (stolen from Wikipedia).

Below, a couple of possessed corpses rise from the grave with murder on their minds.


Creepy, huh?

So. For me, the film managed to be interesting and a little dull at the same time. Great story, really nice camerawork and cheesy unconvincing dialog. Although, to be fair, the version I watched was dubbed English - which almost always turns out cheesy and unconvincing. But I think it's worth a look just for the visuals.

Oh, by the way, those giant beast-like menace-ers on the poster only appear as long dead skeletons in the movie.

(And this is the end of my story.)

TWO ATMOSPHERIC BRAINS

Friday, August 1, 2008

August's Monster Movie of the Month - Mothra [Mosura] (1961)



So the amazing thing I found out about this movie was that it's based on a novel.

(i know! Me too!)

It seems a fellow named Takehiko Fukunaga wrote a book called "The Luminous Fairies and Mothra", which this movie was then taken from.

That is SO interesting! (Really!)

So I Googled it but got nothing on the book - Couldn't find out when it was written or if it was ever translated into English.

I did find a blurb on the author from the "Japanese Literature Publishing Project" website:
Takehiko Fukunaga(1918-1979)

Takehiko Fukunaga was a novelist and poet. In college he was fond of Baudelaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, and Lautréamont, and was especially influenced by Baudelaire. With Shin’ichiro Nakamura, Shuichi Kato, and other writers of his generation, he formed a literary coterie called Matinée Poétique. While striving to introduce the latest European literary trends, he wrote experimental novels such as Fudo (Climate) and Meifu (The Nether World). He also wrote detective novels under the pen name Reitaro Kada.

Major Awards:
1961 Mainichi Publishing Culture Prize, for Gogyan no sekai (Gauguin’s World) (critical biography)
1972 Japan Literature Grand Prize, for Shi no shima (Death Island)
So now I totally want to read that book. Or anything else by the guy.



But anyway. The movie is... well, pretty much everybody knows about Mothra - the big giant moth that attacks Tokyo because the little Barbie-sized faerie twins from it's island have been kidnapped and it's coming to rescue them.

I'd only seen this as a kid and thought it was just okay - you know, give a kid a choice between a radioactive dinosaur and a big moth....

But reading about it now (on Wikipedia), turns out the film (and I presume the novel) was actually a commentary on the evils of western capitalism and there was some pretty interesting stuff hidden under it's surface.

Who knew? Not me as a kid.

So It'd be fun to watch it now to see what I think.

THREE WINDSWEPT BRAINS

Thursday, July 31, 2008

July's Monster Movie of the Month - Invasion of the Saucer-Men (1957)



Okay, this movie is kind of fun (-ish).

It's played pretty tongue-in-cheek, which is what keeps it fun (-ish) and saves it from going completely down the toilet. A B-movie in the truest sense, it's got no budget, unheard of actors, way-less-than-special effects.... So.

Plot goes like this: Couple of horny teens (Johnny and Joan), decide to go make-out in the woods outside their little town of - ahem - Hicksburg. (They plan to elope afterward, so they can finally get further than second base.)

In the midst of their pre-wedding fondling, Joan spies a couple of wee little spacemen running about. When these wee spacemen try to kill the two teens, it's decided they're malicious and Johnny calls the cops. But the cops (surprise) don't believe Johnny, so the plucky kids will have to fend for themselves.

"Fending" then, becomes comprised of:
running over little green men (LGMs) with their car;
trying to avoid being killed by a drunken bull;
running to and from and to and from the cops;
trying to kill LGMs, which nothing seems to work;
et cetera, et cetera, et cetera....


On the production side of things, the little green men are played by little human men in big scary masks and little black jumpsuits. (Note the forbidding size of the Saucer-Men on the movie's poster above. That's a trifle misleading.) Apparently there were more big scary masks on hand than little black jumpsuits, because sometimes you can see little green men wearing little black leotards and sneakers instead of little black jumpsuits.



Anyway, the movie did clear up a childhood mystery for me.

I've had this memory, ever since I was a little kid, of watching a scene from a black and white movie where a man and woman are driving in a car, and in the back seat is a severed hand (with an eyeball just behind the knuckles) slowly crawling up the seat back toward the girl's neck. Very creepy. So I've watched about every severed hand movie I could find (surprising how many there are) but have never found the movie that matched my memory.

Well then, what do I see in the middle of this movie? Why, one of the LGMs gets his hand torn off (yes, torn), and instead of just lying there - it grows an eye and scurries off to hide in our hero's car!

I know!)

And later, sure enough, it shows the hand crawling up the seat back toward the girl's neck. (With creepy music and everything.)

Huh. How about that.

Below, a "gigantic" Saucer-Man menaces our heroine, but has to stand on a box to do it. And Saucer-Men relaxing between takes (including one in a leotard and penny loafers).




This is also a movie with some great lame-o dialogue:

JOAN: (as she and Johnny run through the woods with LGMs hot on their trail) "Oh, I wish we'd stuck to the road; these shoes just aren't made for hiking!"

JOAN: (as she and Johnny speed away from the LGMs in Johnny's car) "I expected to be frightened on my wedding night, but nothing like this!"

COLONEL ARMROUGE: "Our job is to prevent a possible nationwide panic by keeping the information from the public."

SERGEANT: (with bullhorn) "Answer me! You in the spaceship! We have you surrounded!"

BETTY: (as she and Chuck are making out in his car) "I've been thinking...."
CHUCK: "I've got a cure for that - have some more beer."

COLONEL ARMROUGE: "Makes you proud, doesn't it Lieutenant?"
LIEUTENANT WILKINS: "What does, Colonel?"
COLONEL ARMROUGE: "Being part of a show like this, protecting our country from alien invaders."

Yep. Pretty good stuff....

TWO TEENAGE BRAINS



Tuesday, June 17, 2008

June's Monster Movie of the Month - The Fly (1958)



The scariest thing about this movie is that I knew what year to put in the review's title without checking anywhere. The movie itself was just so-so.

And while the movie poster warned "FOR YOUR OWN GOOD WE URGE YOU NOT TO SEE IT ALONE!", it wasn't really designed to be scary. Or even creepy. Just kind of sad (you know, because it's sad when you get turned into a flyman and then your life totally goes to hell).

This is your basic "do-gooder-science-type-tries-to-benefit-humanity-but-destroys-self-instead" movie. Here, brilliant but kindly scientist Andre Delambre has invented a teleportation device, that he first tries out on the family cat. Things don't go well for the cat and so, having no more pets, Dr. Delambre tries his invention on himself. (I know! That's what I thought.)

Well, unbeknownst to the good doctor, a wee housefly has zipped into the teleportation chamber with him. So... as - BZZZT * FWEEEP * BINNDDT - the process completes and reintegration chamber door slowly opens, out steps...

Dr. Delambre wearing an unconvincing rubber fly-head mask and a shiny plastic fly-claw over one of his hands! But, of course, in the movie it's a real fly-head and claw. The Doc has been mushed-melded with the fly (and the fly with him) so they've swapped body parts. (Yes, there is also a wee fly sporting a human head and hand buzzing around the house.)

Now from here, the Doc doesn't go out on a rampage scaring and eating people. He doesn't trap his wife and son in the house and terrorize them. He just spends the rest of the film trying to find the fly with his head so he can try to put himself back together. Reasonable, really.

Well, he can't find that fly, even with his wife's help. (She screamed pretty loud when he showed her his head - that's her on the poster.) And to boot, he realizes his human brain - inside his fly-head? - is slowly turning into a fly-brain and so he asks his wife to kill him by smooshing him under a machine press. And she does.

And that's it really.

TWO BUZZING BRAINS

If you wanna see a scary, creepy AND sad movie, you should get the remake with Jeff Goldblum from 1986. Same Fly-Premise, totally different Fly-Story.

Sweet.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

May's Monster Movie of the Month - The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)



Indeed, it's more Brain Silliness. (See Donovan's Brain for previous BS.) But this BS was a bit more enjoyable, insofar as BS goes.

Not that it's a great film, by any means. It's just a little more fun than Donovan's. And because I'm still months behind on my self-imposed schedule, this review will be quick and dirty as well.

It goes like this:
  1. Crazy Surgeon (CS) has learned how to keep people's brains alive after they're dead.
  2. CS's Fiance get decapitated (thanks to CS's crazy driving).
  3. CS puts Fiance's head on a table in THE LAB and sticks some wires in it.
  4. Fiance is (was) a nice girl but, just being a head now, goes a little crazy.
  5. CS heads out to find Fiance a new body. He settles on an Art Model (AM).
  6. While CS is gone, Fiance develops a friendship with THE MONSTER that CS created.
  7. CS drugs AM and takes her back to THE LAB, so he can kill her and plug her body into Fiance's head. (Sick!)
  8. Fiance asks THE MONSTER to kill CS, which THE MONSTER does.
  9. In the struggle, THE MONSTER starts a fire, and burns himself up, along with Fiance and CS.
  10. AM wakes up and runs away. She is safe and all the bad guys are dead.
(cue end credits)

FOUR BODILESS BRAINS

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Savage Planet (2006)

THEY CAME TO THIS WORLD LOOKING FOR A NEW HOME.

WHAT THEY FOUND WAS TERROR.




Or giant prehistoric bears, to be exact. And not very convincing ones, either.

I actually watched this awhile ago, and I'd've given it three-and-a-half stars. But since it definitely wasn't a FOUR star movie, three'll have to do.

The REASON I'd've given it three-and-a-half stars is not because the acting, effects, plot or filming deserved three-and-a-half stars, but because I thought - in spite of all these things being so blatantly sub-par - the movie had heart.

And by "heart" I mean that somebody - the actors, maybe a director and a crew member or two - decided they were gonna play it straight and play it hard and do what they could with what they'd been given (which wasn't much).

The actors' lines were insipid, but they were delivered earnestly; the special effects were laughable, but someone had worked hard to make them the least-laughable possible.

And besides, the film was unintentionally funny. I smiled a lot and laughed more than a little. That gives it points right there. Definitely low-grade B-Movie fodder, but... well, I kind of enjoyed myself with it.

It had all the cliche scenes for a teleport-across-space-and-time movie: the "Man Materializes Part Way Inside Tree" (or wall or ground or whatever) scene, the "I Can't Believe The Tech Gadget We Need To Get Home Is Busted" scene, and so on.

And the BEARS! Oh man, they were classic. It was stock footage (3 or 4 bear shots that the producer doubled by using them once and then reversing the film so bears could come in from opposite angles. Tricky.)

And there was, I think, one real bear on set, but it was kind of a short, overweight, friendly looking bear (think if I was a bear - it looked like that). When it growled and menaced the cast, it just looked like it was begging for a peanut.

Here's a little hoo-hah on the plot:
Planet Earth has been rendered inhabitable due to decades of toxic pollution and ecological disaster, and as a brave team of scientists venture out into space in search of a new home, they discover that the only habitable planet in range is home to a carnivorous, man-eating mutant. Mankind has abused their planet beyond the point of no repair, and now Mother Nature is wheezing out her final, strained death rattle. Perhaps if space explorers could just find a planet with a similar atmosphere to Earth, there would be hope for mankind yet. Upon landing on a planet lush with abundant foliage, it appears as if the human race will indeed continue on. But the deadly secret lurking just beneath this otherworldly paradise is enough to make their scorched home planet look like an island resort. Suddenly forced to choose between returning to a dying planet or fighting for their lives in the farthest reaches of space, the crew struggles to make a decision as the ranks begin to thin and hope starts to dwindle. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide
It's funny 'cause that almost makes the movie sound kind of good.

Huh.

THREE FURRY BRAINS


Saturday, April 26, 2008

April's Monster Movie of the Month - It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)



Ah yes. Only four months behind on my self-promised Movie Monster of the Month reviews.... And to get caught up, these next few will be quick and dirty.

Suffice it to say that this film, made in 1958, is one of those little gems from that decade that stands out - in that it's actually pretty watchable today.

It sits alongside the likes of "THEM!" (1954), "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (1951), "Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)" and "The Thing from Another World" (1951).

Of course, special effects 60 years ago were nothing like they are today, and even more so for a B-Movie. But if you can get past the hokey "space rocket dangling from a string" stuff, the story and dialog are pretty good - for this and the other movies mentioned.

And, to boot, this movie was the inspiration for 1979s ground-breaking science-fiction horror film "Alien". Which you can really see as you watch the original.

FOUR DEEP SPACE BRAINS


Friday, March 14, 2008

March's Monster Movie of the Month - Donovan's Brain (1953)



A DEAD MAN'S BRAIN IN A HIDDEN LABORATORY TOLD HIM TO

KILL... KILL... KILL... KILL... KILL...


This is the March movie on my Monster Movie of the Month calendar.

Although its not really about a monster, per se, its about a brain. Donovan's brain.

Donovan is a beastly, selfish, egotistical millionaire who dies in a plane crash just as the movie starts. Fortunately (for the movie - otherwise it would have been a really short one), the crash occurs just a stone's throw from the laboratory of a fellow (Dr. Cory) who's experimenting with keeping monkey brains alive after having removed them from their monkey bodies.

Successfully experimenting, I might add.

So, no big surprise as to what comes next: Mr. Donovan's still living brain gets plucked out of his dead body, by Dr. Cory, and kept alive in a tank of electrified saline solution. Dr. Cory (and his plucky wife) can tell the brain's alive because they've got it hooked up to an EEG machine. And besides, it keeps getting bigger and glowing and pulsing and stuff. (This is a sure-fire way to tell if a brain is still alive....)

Now, stealing a dead man's brain is illegal, so Dr. Cory and his wife are keeping this thing a secret. But a "nosy reporter" finds out and starts blackmailing Dr. Cory.

Big mistake!

Why? Because Dr. Cory's body is slowly being taken over by THE BRAIN. (Insert creepy and alarming music here.) Now, Cory's wife and the couple's "affable drunkard friend" can see this is happening (Dr. Cory begins speaking and acting and LOOKING like Donovan did when he was alive.). But they decide not to interfere (What?), since the the whole brain experiment thing is so important to Dr. Cory.

Well, all sorts of trouble ensues, including the eventual demise of said reporter at the hands of Dr. Cory/THE BRAIN. And Donovan, in Cory's body, starts flying around the country, gathering his fortune, blackmailing people and being generally nasty while figuring out a way to keep his brain safe (he's going to have a special life support vault made and keep it in there).

Anyway, now that somebody (nosy reporter) has been killed, the wife and drunkard friend decide it really IS time to end this experiment. But - surprise - THE BRAIN has grown too powerful to stop!

How will THE BRAIN be destroyed? Can THE BRAIN be destroyed? Will Dr. Cory's wife have to live the rest of her life married to a SCIENTIFIC ABERRATION?

Watch and see.

The movie is actually based on a novel (with the same name) by Curt Siodmak. I read the novel, but so long ago I don't remember if it was any good or not. Actually, Siodmak wrote two sequels - "Hauser's Memory" and "Gabriel's Body" - and I read the last book. Then went back and read the first one. When I was a kid.

So the movie wasn't bad enough to be laughable, but it wasn't really good enough to be... well, good. But it was watchable - a decent way to spend an hour and a half.

Bit of trivia: Dr Cory's wife was played by a gal named Nancy Davis, who later married a fellow named Ronald Reagan and became First Lady of the US.

How about that?

THREE PULSING BRAINS

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Bug (2006)



I totally hated this movie, and I'll tell you why.

I thought it was a GIANT BUG movie - you know, gimantic mutant killer bugs munching on helpless humans.... But it turned out to be a psychological drama about two people spiraling down into insanity--they think invisible bugs are living inside their bodies.

GIANT BUGS are fun to watch, because I know they're fake and I know everybody's acting and no one really dies or gets hurt - GOOD CLEAN FUN.

But when a movie is about regular people who are sad and lonely and hurt inside, it just makes ME feel sad and lonely and hurt inside. And that's what this movie was about - two sad lonely hurting people who tried to save each another but just ended up destroying each other in the end.

ONE EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED BRAIN

I watched about 45 minutes of the movie and then turned it off.

And put in a really scary GHOST MOVIE.

Now THAT'S fun....


Tuesday, February 5, 2008

February's Monster Movie of the Month - AOTCM (1957)

Attack of the Crab Monsters



Oh. My. GOSH! This movie was so much fun!

Now you gotta keep in mind, when I rate things, I'm just saying how much I enjoyed them (or didn't) and why.

So when I give an incredibly bad movie (like this one) such a high rating, I'm not saying it's an Oscar winner... or even remotely watchable by anyone else. I'm just saying that, for me, it did it's job and did it well.

And this movie - in the "So Bad It's Good" category - is so terribly, tragically bad... that it's amazingly, fantastically good.



So. I started my "AOTCM" experience by watching the trailer. These huge popup titles are on the screen as it plays:

SHUT YOUR EYES! COVER YOUR EARS!

ON A NIGHTMARE ISLAND... THE MOST TERRIFYING HORROR...

...EVER LOOSED ON A SHUDDERING EARTH!

"ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS"

A TIDAL WAVE OF TERROR FROM UNDERNEATH THE SEA!

"ATTACK OF THE CRAB MONSTERS"



"That's a great beginning", I think. So I start the movie. It begins with these funky opening titles - wet-watery music, twisted-oceanic-wreckage drawings and funny looking bulgy-eyed-monster things (never seen in the movie).



After the credits are done, I get some ominous scrolling paragraphs - putting "ME" in the story (so I'm sure to take things seriously):

YOU are about to land in a lonely zone of terror... on an uncharted atoll in the Pacific!

YOU are part of The Second Scientific Expedition dispatched to this mysterious bit of Coral reef and volcanic rock. The first group has disappeared without a trace! YOUR job is to find out why!


There have been rumors about this strange atoll... frightening rumors about happenings way out beyond the laws of nature....




Next I get stock footage of atomic tests - to get me thinking about man's arrogance which surely cannot forever go unpunished....




Next is a shot of stormy sea with black clouds (more stock footage), and a very doom-ish sounding voice intoning (from Genesis 6:7):

And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.




So, after being soundly warned by Narrator, Mother Nature and God... THEN the actual movie starts.
Is that great or what?!




The actual storyline of the film is this: 


Some scientists arrive on an island to investigate what happened to the previous team - observers of atomic bomb tests - who disappeared without a trace (hmmm). The island is empty of all human and animal life, except for a few land crabs (ominous music here).

Just as the group arrives on the island, one of the navy crewmen falls out of a boat and comes up with his head missing (could it be foreshadow of what's to come?). Then the navy plane that flew them there mysteriously blows up right after it takes off, leaving them stranded and unaccounted for.

They find the journals of the previous team, but there is no explanation of what happened. Soon they start hearing the voices of members of the previous team (who are dead), calling to them in the night. Then "something" breaks into the area where they're living and sabotages their radio.

Finally, the group is lured into the caverns (by the voices of dead team members) where the real menace is hiding -- gigantic, bloodthirsty mutated land crabs that communicate telepathically and have all of the knowledge and intelligence of the team members they've eaten!

(I know!)

One by one, all but three people are killed off and their minds/memories are absorbed by the mutant crabs, who also have the power to focus radiation into destructive beams that they're using to gradually smash the island into bits, so they don't have to chase the people around to kill them. (Never mind where the LAND Crabs will live after they've smashed all of their LAND).

Well, by the end, a giant crab has cornered the survivors on the only remaining bit of land just a few dozen yards across. Will the hapless scientists survive?!

You gotta watch it to find out.




The movie is also FULL of the funnest, most ridiculous dialogue. Just a couple of examples:

Martha Hunter: But Doctor, that theory doesn't explain why Jules' and Carson's minds have turned against us.
Dale Drewer: Preservation of the species. Once they were men. Now... they are land crabs.



Crab Monster: So, you have wounded me. But I must grow a new claw. Well and good, for I can do it in a DAY! But will you grow new lives when I have taken yours from YOU?!




I'm totally buying this movie.

FIVE BONE-CRUNCHING BRAINS.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What's a sampasumb?

Here's the thing. When I was a kid, I was really into the whole comic book/superhero thing. Had the box of comics under the bed, those little Mego superhero dolls, and when I thought I was alone I'd imagine tossing cars (and bad guys) around with my superhuman strength.

Huh. Actually, I still have the comics and Mego dolls. Very little tossing of cars and bad guys going on these days, though.

Anyway. In 1978, which put me about 11 (not quite to the "I'm too old/cool for comics" phase), Pocket Books came out with a bunch of novels featuring Marvel Comics characters. The series was called (....wait for it....) the "Marvel Novel Series", and there were 11 books in the set:
  1. Mayhem in Manhattan (Spider-Man)
  2. Stalker from the Stars (the Incredible Hulk)
  3. Cry of the Beast ( the Hulk)
  4. Holocaust for Hire (Captain America)
  5. Doomsday (the Fantastic Four)
  6. And Call My Killer . . . Modok! (Iron Man)
  7. Nightmare (Doctor Strange)
  8. Crime Campaign (Spider-Man)
  9. The Marvel Super-Heroes (an anthology of four short stories, featuring the Avengers, Daredevil, the Hulk, and the X-Men)
  10. The Man Who Stole Tomorrow (the Avengers)
  11. Murdermoon (Spider-Man and the Hulk)
Being a resourceful kid, I managed to get my hands on most of the books as they came out, and read 'em like there was no tomorrow. (Hey, one of the books was The Man Who Stole Tomorrow. Get it?) Anyway, to my 11 year old brain, the books were high art. I really wolfed 'em down.

Well.

Having re-read most of the books as an adult, I'm here to say they were not fine literature. Truth be told, they were pretty bad. See, these were a bunch of comic book writers trying their hands as full-fledged novelists. Bit of a stretch from a 32 page picture book to 200+ pages of settings, plot and theme. I'm not saying any of these guys didn't go on to write a best seller later - maybe they did. But these books were not them.

So. All that said and done, Cry of the Beast was the very best of the lot, hands down. (That the Hulk happened to be my favorite character, was just green icing on the cake.)


Ah, the Hulk.... I still remember that tagline from the top of each comic issue's first page:
Caught in the heart of a nuclear explosion, victim of gamma radiation gone wild, Doctor Robert Bruce Banner now finds himself transformed in times of stress into seven feet, one thousand pounds of unfettered fury - the most powerful creature to ever walk the earth - The Incredible Hulk!
Great stuff.

Which brings us to my long overdue point. In Cry of the Beast, the word "Sampasumb" is mumbled by Bruce Banner as he's slowly returning to consciousness, having just "Hulked out" and kicked a bunch of bad guys' butts.

And I always liked the sound of it.

So, as your special treat for reading through all of the above - here's the sampasumb excerpt in it's entirety:
"Bruce...Bruce, please wake up."
Banner felt like tiny sheets of flypaper were stuck onto his eyes. With an effort, he tore them open.
"Oh, thank heavens. Are you all right?" the voice asked.
His body felt like a sack of dirty socks and his head felt like the wicker hamper they'd been thrown in.
"Sampasumb," he replied with lips of lead.
What's not to love?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Reincarnation [Rinne] (2005)



This movie has it all:
  • Creepy Ghost Face in Mirror? ...Check.
  • Dark and Deserted Library Ghouls? ...Check.
  • Bloody Walking Dead Zombies? ...Check.
  • Terrifying Self-Animated Talking Doll? ...Check!
  • THE... MOVIE... ROCKED!
I LOVED it! I don't know if you will, but I thought it was the creepiest horror film I've seen in a long time. After I rented it and watched it, I bought it (at least, it's on the way from Amazon).

What's not to love?!
From DreadCentral.com: "The premise of the film is that big-time Japanese director Matsumura is making a horror film about a real life mass murder that took place in a nearby Osaka hotel. He casts fresh young actress Suguira as the female lead and final victim. As soon as Suguira joins the cast, she begins experiencing memories of the night of the murders, as if she had lived through the events herself.... But which victim was she?"
FIVE CREEPY DOLL BRAINS