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Dude, you obviously have a real love for the genre and you have put a LOT of work into your movie review page. BUT... That is just simply NOT a review. It is a line by line synopsis of the film. A transcription of it.
There is no commentary from you about the quality of the film; no comments about how it is done or how well it is put together or how entertaining it is.
Sorry to write you to tell you this, but I EXTENSIVELY read movie reviews to see what I wish to, uh, 'acquire' for my collection. And there are a number of people just like you that all they do is the EXACT same thing. If you would rather READ the film than watch it, fine. But these kinds of sites should NOT be advertised as 'Reviews' because there is NO review involved.
Best of wishes to you and yours though!
A.M.: Hi Jaime, Sorry this site isn't what you had in mind as a review site. Good luck compiling your monster movie collection!
From Michael (re: Horrors of Spider Island)
Loved your synopsis of one of those fun and surreal 50s sci-fi flicks where men talk strangely and are terrified of giant plush, stuffed toys that look like spiders, and all females ware mini-skirts so short they could double as a belt, and look like less than one percent of the total population (hey, wouldn't that qualify them as freaks… or mutates…?!?!?).
Your blow by blow synopsis was better than the actual movie, one of the best I've read, and had me in stitches…! I usually find these web plot summaries a tedious read (I'd rather watch the movie!), but I ended up wishing the movie was as entertaining as you made it sound…!
A.M.: Thanks so much for your kind e-mail. I'm especially pleased to read compliments over my writing given the fact that I'm not a writer by any stretch of my limited imagination. But it's been so much fun over the years trying different writing styles to grab the reader's attention.
My first review (The Alligator People) reads much differently than my last (The Brainiac). Sometimes I find it fun to just talk about whatever I want to and try and tie it into the movie. It's hard to please everybody so all I've ever done is to try and make myself laugh. And I figure if I'm laughing then maybe someone else will too.
I just want to note the passing of a cinematic legend, Ray Harryhausen. I realize words will not convey the sadness that grips the sci-fi community, but one must try.
My youth, my life has been in richened by Mr. Harryhausen. The fantasy world he drew me into was filled with wonder and amazement. As a youth, I would scan the newspapers for any and all of his movies that would make the matinee round.
I would scrounge bottles and serve newspapers to pay to see them. I would sit through two or three showings of his work only to walk out and wish I could go right back in and watch it all over again. What drew me in most was his attention to detail. In an era where the strings attached to the rocket ships were visible, his stop motion figures seemed alive. His work was always unmistakable and perfection seemed to be his creed.
I have passed on my love of Mr. Harryhausen’s work to my daughter and know people will still be enthralled by his mythical characters well into the future.
I remember when “Clash of the Titans” came out, I was married by then and full into adulthood but still desired to see anything with his hand in its making. My wife and I were waiting in line for the theatre to empty. Out of the door comes what appeared to be about an eight year old boy. His face was lit up and the person in front of us asked him how was the movie? The child made a fist and swung it around in a gesture of pure joy saying it was “Great”. I thought to myself, I am in for a real treat and Mr. Harryhausen has made a new generation of fans.
Rest in Peace Ray, you will live in this man’s heart until he takes his own last breath.
A.M.: You continue to top yourself, Kent - thanks for another great letter.
From Daniel (re: Review of IT! Terror from Beyond Space)
So, letting all of the air out of the rocket ship suffocates the creature, but evidently living on Mars minus any breathable air doesn’t. LOL.
A.M.: Nicely done, my friend!
A.M.: I received this kind e-mail from Kent, a long-time friend of the Dead Letter Office, on the topic of my maintaining a website and being a busy, family man. So I thought I'd share:
I understand - I raised three kids myself and did the soccer, football, karate, and ballet dance for many a year. I still run the chains at my kids old high school every fall. You will find it gets a little easier every year. Don't give up the site! I enjoy it too much and I am very selfish with whom I correspond. You are generous to compliment me and suggest a blog but I don't have a clue of the who what and how of blogging. I am not a real techno guru, in fact, I just bought a 1965 MGB to restore and the best thing about the car is it does not have one stinkin computer in it, I can actually work on it and not feel that my kids or grandkids can run circles around my mechanical prowess.
You also have a gift for humor, which is a rare commodity is this day and age, but you need to exercise it to keep it. Fatherhood is very rewarding and should not be shirked as so often happens but you need a balance twixt and tween. I am sure you will find a happy medium and balance between the both.
Good luck and thanks for getting back to me I thought you had died or had to give up the site for other reasons. Please keep in touch and I would greatly appreciate your continued care and feeding of your special web site.
From: Rich (re: Review of It Came from Outer Space)
I just finished watching it came from outer space. this movie was really very well done. i thought one of the telephone linemen looked familar. i kept racking my brain and finally got it. he is russel johnson. he was the professor on gilligans island! i'm always checking to see if i recognize actors in these movies. so far i got george fennerman from you bet your life with groucho marx he was in the thing from another world. i like your new website.
From: 50's Kid (re: Review of The Deadly Mantis)
This is the funniest damn thing i've ever read. Many thanks to the writer, and a good writer. I saved this site. I've got all the 50's stuff. Great times, great movies. Watch them all the time. Best therapy in the world. Many thanks!!
From: Bob (re: Missile to the Moon)
I saw this at a drive-in when it came out, (the second movie of a double feature with Frankenstein's Daughter). I was seven, and every bit of it seemed real and/or possible at the time. What memories, reading through your recap of it. Just had to let you know.
A.M.: And I'm glad you did, Bob - thanks!
From: Don (re: Horrors of Spider Island)
I love the site, it's hilarious! Whenever I get a chance to watch one of the movies you've reviewed, I jump at the chance to get a good laugh.
Regarding Horrors of Spider Island, Joe isn't just a coward, but an idiot too. It cracks me up that he tells the girls he's going back to the cabin for ammunition and promptly forgets how the got there! If he went straight back to the cabin, as he did after the monster attacked him on the cliff, he'd have never run across Bobby's corpse - or the monster for that matter.
The professor's pose in the web was also ridiculous. It's like the guy didn't just walk into it, but jumped in like he was doing some kind of drunken fratboy dare.
And why does the monster walk into the quicksand with his hands constantly up in the air? Was he under arrest or something? Were the claws rentals and they were afraid to get them dirty?
One point that always has me wondering - have you ever thought that this movie could have (at least partially) inspired the creation of Spider-Man? Both Spider-Gary and Spider-Man started out with bites from radioactive spiders. Granted, their careers went different ways after that... It's an interesting coincidence that Spidey debuted in 1962 and this movie was released in 1960...
And on a final note, I always feel a little sorry for the ballerina - after bringing in her own demo record and dancing for a really long time, she doesn't get the job - or her record back! That's just mean.
Okay, keep up the great work, here's to at least another 12 years of fun!
A.M.: Thank you for your terrific letter, Don - sorry it's taken so long to get it posted!
Stan Lee has gone on record claiming he dreamed up the idea of Spider-Man after reading the pulp hero "The Spider: Master of Men." However, if you think about it, maybe he did get the idea from this b-movie because after all who would admit to seeing Horrors of Spider Island?
On a side note, as some of you may have noticed by now, the Atomic Monsters homepage with the nifty, black and white monitor is no more. This is because Steve Jobs, in his infinite "wisdom" decided that apple products would no longer support Flash technology (my homepage and cartoon animations being just a few.)
So as much as I loved my little design, I came to realize nobody with an i-pad or i-pod could read any of my reviews. So I came up with a homepage that, while not nearly as pizzazie, seems to work better on smaller devices. So hey, next time you're on that long trip, you will now be able to read Atomic Monsters on the go. No hard feelings, Mr. Jobs (may you be forced to watch a loop of Beast from Haunted Cave for all eternity.)
From: Lenny (re: World Without End)
Please, where can I buy a copy of this movie? This was one of my favorites when I was young.
A.M.: Thanks for visiting, Lenny! Well, nowadays you can buy it online almost anywhere but if you'd like to patronize a mom and pop monster video business that also puts on a great annual Monster Bash in northwest Pennsylvania, please check out Creepy Classics!
From: Alex (re: The Brainiac)
I've been reading your review of The Brainiac, a movie I've never seen completely except in un-subtitled Spanish, which I don't understand, so those excerpts from the dubbed version were entertaining. (Oddly enough the "Grand Inquisitor" sounds a little like Gary Owens, so hearing that scene is a little like listening to a Laugh-In routine.)
If you watch Spanish TV that includes earlier movies, it seems like Abel Salazar (the Baron) was in practically every other Mexican movie for a while, between horror films and others.
There was a very good site devoted to those Mexican horror films that were imported and dubbed by K. Gordon Murray (like The Brainiac), but I've lost track of it, so I hope you do more of them.
A.M.: Thanks, Alex - That's a hilarious observation you made of the voiceover guy who sounds like Gary Owens. Regarding the Mexican films, I have to admit that up until a few years ago, I had no idea there were b-movies made in Mexico in the 50s. In my enclosed American environment, I had always assumed it was purely an American phenomenon.
From: Kent (re: Monolith Monsters)
Glad to see some action on the letter page!
The Monolith Monsters is by far one the best fifties films ever shot. And to think it does not involve any radioactive waste or fallout, the monsters are mindless rocks that have taken the giant step towards life by being able to procreate.
One of the best things about the movie is the musical score. It delivers suspense when needed and gives a sense of malevolence to the rocks when they first appear. As the expendable assistant picks one up for the first time, I remember thinking that's not a very smart move on his part and it is all due to the background orchestration. It's almost like a precursor to Jaws, when you hear the tuba, you know the shark will not be far behind!
The use of the iron lungs in the movie also lends an interesting view into the fear and scare that polio once held on our country. I can remember not being allowed to go to the neighborhood pool because it was thought that polio was easily caught in those environments, didn’t matter that they dumped enough chlorine into the water to bleach your hair. I had several friends come down with it and I still can hear that god awful rhythmical beat of the pump and how everyone in the room would start to breath at the same rhythm as the lung. The movie also captured the randomness of polio. Some areas were unscathed by the disease while in others whole families were devastated.
The best message of the era to come out of this movie is the rugged individualism that is exhibited by Grant Williams, in the face of adversity he just grimaces and trudges forward. While everyone else is waiting for the governor to give his approval in the destruction of the dam ol’ Grant just grabs the bull by the dynamite lets it rip. He has the perfect sense of American right and wrong and the initiative to act on that sense. He knows what has to be done and does it, damn the consequences. He exemplifies the generation that lived through the depression and fought fascism.
I have always loved fifties B Sci-fi movies but as I get older I am starting to notice that I love them for more than just the cool special effects and movie wizbangitry, I now love them for the window they give me to look back on a bygone time and era. Or it could be a simple case of nostalgia.
A.M.: And that's the reason I love the Dead Letter Office, Kent. I thank you and everyone who's contributed to this letters page for offering your insights to classic sci-fi movies and sharing your own, unique experiences!
From: Richard (re: Monolith Monsters)
Wow! I can't believe I missed this movie when I was a kid. My older brother said he saw it, but it must have been after I had to go to bed. What a great plot! The special effects were really good and a good storyline to boot. Don't miss it!
The Incredible Shrinking Man - This is just one for the books! Absolutely (after 50 years) still a GREAT movie! The special effects are second to none! Just flat out WOW! If you like 50's sci-fi, you're going to be flattened out by how good this is.
Now onto the MASTER'S ( B-Monster Movies Main Man) recommendation - 'Mega
Piranha.' This is unbelievably Mega Fun. I never ever thought of 60-foot
piranhas before, but I will NEVER get these out of my head.
Not a great special effects movie, but the monsters come across effectively. This is a special forces romp between Greg Brady, his #1 special forces man, a Venezuelan bad guy and his right hand man who does every thing from meeting people at the airport to flying helicopters to doing laundry and jungle hunts (wish I
had one) and a very fast-growing school of pissed-off piranha.
Warning! Do not think you are safe just because you are in a highrise 2 blocks from the beach. This is a good 90-minute raw meat extravaganza. I did not understand how they got them all in the end, but the helicopter eating piranha was just too much. Nice jump! Another thing I missed was how the hero took a liking to the fat gal? Anyway, Lots of mindless fun.
A.M.: I recently watched Monolith Monsters for only the second time and liked it more than I did the first time. I must not have watched the whole movie in the past because I remember thinking, "Well if they're falling, then just...y'know...move out of the way." I didn't realize they were multiplying every time it rained. I don't know what size the monolith miniatures were for those scenes but when the pieces fell, they really seemed to have some weight behind them.
From: Richard: Lucky for me, I rented Monolith Monsters on DVD and would rewind (cheating) in order to catch what went by too fast. I had the same thoughts about that. Just walk away! The crashing down on the farm house was very cool! Even when I paused to take a close look - the miniatures were great.
I just saw one last night that is fairly new but done in a 50's fashion with corny acting and everything - Zone Troopers. I do not want to give it away but it was a fun one - you should like it. The crashed spaceship is really neat.
Now are you going to go find 'Day of the Triffids' 60's or do I have to send it to you?
Big Thanks for Mega Piranha - I am still laughing about that!
Can even the legendary Bigfoot stand up to the combined power of a Brady AND a Partridge? The outcome will astound you.
A.M.: I think I have Triffids around here somewhere - just have to get off my b-butt and find it.
Hey, if you enjoyed Mega Piranha, you would've loved the SyFy channel's latest movie I saw a couple of weekends ago.
Now, again - keep in mind that in my opinion most of their new movies are too horrible even for me to watch, but one that's a hoot is Bigfoot (2012.)
It stars not only Barry Williams but the Partridge Family's Danny Bonaduce!
From: Kent (re: Incredible Petrified World)
I can say one thing in favor of this movie — It's about the only "lost world" movie I can think of where a two foot-long lizard actually plays a two foot-long lizard instead of posing as a dinosaur.
A.M.: Like my favorite — the rhino-iguana from the 1955 film, "King Dinosaur."
What do you mean, "Do you know you've got something on your nose?" I have monocular vision - eyes on the side of my head - OF COURSE I don't know there's something on my nose!
Here it is — the end of May — and another of my all-too-frequent birthdays has come and gone.
This year brought a very pleasant surprise from my better half and get your minds out of the gutter for a second! I woke up to find a plethora of b movies awaiting me. I now am the proud owner of the 1968 Toho classic The Green Slime.
What a hoot this movie is! From the awful opening song, to the women relegated to late sixties mini dresses. The hair helmets both sexes wear are very reminiscent of my junior high school teachers and the biting suspense doesn’t get any hammier than what we find in this movie. The effects are pure Toho, from the miniatures to the rubber suited aliens. To think it came out at the same time as 2001: A Space Odyssey just boggles the mind and senses.
I also got a DVD copy of Tarantula with my heart throb Mara Corday. She is still around and you can get a hand signed poster from this movie at her website. I guess I am not the only baby boomer with unrequited desires for Miss Corday.
I also received a copy Curse of the Demon circa 1957, starring Dana Andrews. The best scare flick out of England during the fifties with top of the line effects for the day.
And, what birthday would be complete without a copy of a Godzilla movie, this one is my favorite — Godzilla 1984 with Raymond Burr reprising his role as Steve Martin. Classic Toho and the Russians really put the chill into cold war theatrics. Can’t wait until I get another year older!
From: Fred (re: Man from Planet X)
After 10 minutes of the super bowl I chose to watch another obscure flick, "The Man From Planet X". The Man from Planet X in no way is a big budget flick. Its cost was estimated at $50,000, shot at Hal Roach Studios in Culver City, CA and took about 6 days to film. To save a couple of bucks, the film was shot on the same sets as "Joan of Arc." The producers added fog to give the film more mood.
The plot: Scientists discover a planet (X) will be passing close to earth soon near an observatory in the Scottish moors. When the planet passes naturally there will be earthquakes, tidal waves, etc etc etc.
So you have Professor Elliott, played by Raymond Bond, and a reporter friend from America John Lawrence, played by Robert Clarke who goes to the professor's observatory in the moors. Lawrence meets pretty Margaret Field, professor's daughter who he knew a few years earlier as a young teen. Naturally now she's older in her twenties and he's smitten for her and she reciprocates.
So off they go into the moors ( hmmmm ) and Enid and Elliot discover what looks to be a small missile.This turns out to be a space probe. Later on the professor's daughter discovers that a spaceship has landed with an alien creature in it. Naturally she is distraught and goes back to the castle where the professor and the reporter go looking for the spaceship. They find it and discover a small creature which seems to be in distress. They try to help and communicate. Their help of turning the air supply up to the creatures helmet works, creature couldn't reach the Ace Hardware oxygen valve behind him, communication with the lil' guy still didn't work. An alien race can build a space ship to travel through the inner galaxy but can't figure out where to put a valve on his helmet so the lil' alien can reach it ???
At any rate, the lil' creature follows them back to the castle where Dr. Mears, played by William Schallert, finds a way to communicate. Dr. Mears is a bit of a whack job and way too ambitious. He wants the formula to the spaceship's metal (figures he'll have power and make money) and there was little luck at doing that so he tried to kill the alien by shutting that damn Ace Hardware valve off. Thinking he did, he told the professor communication was hopeless.
Naturally the Professor has a good looking daughter who the reporter likes. People start going missing including Mears, they were found working under some sort of hypnotic ray ( flash light ) from the space ship from the creature. Whom I might add is a bad shot with his ray guy. Special effects in this movie are so bad that you almost don't realize that there are any effects at all and that is actually part of the charm of this lost gem of a movie. Somehow the awful special effects seem to blend right in and aren't noticed by the viewer.
So now there's no communication with the outside world and things start going to hell quickly. Well the professor and reporter finally get ahold of the authorities by radio and, at some point, the authorities show up to destroy the space ship, which was intended to be a wireless relay station to planet X. I guess that super duper metal the spaceship is made out of doesn't do well again simple earth had guns and small rockets.
If you take the time to watch this movie, which is actually pretty entertaining in it's own humble way, you'll probably feel sorry for the lil' alien who nobody till this day knew who played the part but you'll see that before the mysterious dying planet passes earth all ends pretty well; space ship gets destroyed by military and police inspector , naturally guy gets girl, earth is saved, bad guys die, etc etc etc.
After watching a few hundred sci fi flicks, did you ever notice that all the chicks in these flicks were pretty good looking? I guess big bugs and aliens don't like run-of-the-mill earth chicks.
Foot note: If you really want to see a great Sci Fi Spoof Flick get your hands on this little known film "Destination Mars". This has become my all time favorite - you'll really think this is a 50's film.
From: Mike (re: La Nave de los Monstruos)
Your review was fantastic, thanks! Ship of Monsters was mesmerizing even without English dubbing or subtitles, but your analysis cleared up some minor questions for me.
Except the mystery of Zok, that is. The last time we saw him was during the ambush, when Laureano's horse is killed. Uk is carrying Zok in his arms, and then just drops him on the ground, perhaps in annoyance.
Maybe Zok's still out there, lying in the hot Mexican dust beside that felled tree, delivering long-winded, grandiose threats and boasting of his terrible wrath... Or maybe he found true love with Laureano's horse's skeleton?
Whatever the case, you definitely aren't the only one crying out for closure in this matter.
From: Roderick (re: Caltiki)
I saw this movie as a 10 year old and was terrified by the flesh-eating monster. The devious behavior of Max was noted, but not understood. His demise was really gruesome and one the reasons I still remember this film.
From: OzBob (in Australia!) (re: The Giant Claw)
My favourite part was the B-25 diving on fire with the smoke coming out forward of the aircraft, then it sort of goes up backwards for a bit before continuing the dive. The studio shots of the pilots in the cockpit are a DC-3/C-47.
This definitely takes the #1 spot on my list of all-time worst movies on so many different levels. If you set out to make a spoof of 1950s science fiction movies – it’s already been made!
From: Fred (re: Night of the Blood Beast)
In between all the holiday insanity I decide take some down time and go through my movie collection and pick a flick I haven't seen in awhile. When I came across "Night Of The Blood Beast" I stopped right there and said this is the one. A good old Rodger Corman $68,000 seven-day quickie B movie.
Some of it was shot at the Charlie Chaplin Studios and at a TV studio on Mt. Lee in Hollywood ( visuals for high antennas and stuff to make it look like a science lab ) and Bronson Canyon where many of the "B" movies were shot. Here's an interesting tidbid about filming at the TV studio on Mt. Lee: Los Angeles charged a fee of $8.00 per actor to shoot there but the crew could be any size.
As for the actors, Michael Emmet played the astronaut John Corcoran who crashes to earth after a jaunt in space. Ed Nelson played Dave Randall a space agency tech. The HOT Georginna Carter played Donna Bixby. Then you had another hottie, Angela Greene, who played physician Julie Benson who was also the astronaut's fiancee! The plot thickens. Lastly, scientist Dr. Alex Wyman (played by Tyler McVey) and another tech, Steve Dunlap, played by John Baer.
Evidently, there was a lot of controversy as to whether Rodger Corman or another guy named Martin Varno really wrote it. Varno wrote a movie called "Creature from Galaxy 27" and he claims Corman ripped him off and used that plot for the blood beast movie. Naturally there was litigation, and the plot thickens even more.
OK, back to the flick: Like most of Corman's movies, to save a buck the beast's costume was from another movie called "Teenage Cave Men". Seems there was some controversy about the size of the beast's nose saying it was to ethnic ?....... talk about politically correct in 1958 but the plot even thickens more... so it was shortened a bit by the prop guys.
The long and shorts of this movie are simple: Astronaut crashes to earth, he's found to have some sort of crazy living organisms in him which just happens to sorta look like little sea horses under the microscope.
Meanwhile, people are getting mutilated and finally the crazy beast appears which is killing people brutally, this is where the title comes from...lots of blood. So naturally everybody looks for the beast, trying to find a way to lure it in so they can kill it. He finally gets cornered somewhere in Bronson Canyon but captures one of the hot chicks (or maybe she captured him).
The guy in the beast suit has a hard time grabbin' the chick. All through this flick the two hot chicks are running around screaming and if you're a guy and have one red blood cell in your body, you'll forget the plot of this stupid movie when you take a good look at Georgianna and Angela. With ease, they both could be pin-up models of the 50's... actually they did some modeling.
At the end, the beast captures the astronaut and..... I don't want to spoil the ending of this obscure Corman movie, as if you couldn't figure it out. But it's well worth buying the movie because it's kind of a cool flick.
Post Script: If you take a good look at the movie flyer, a Corman double header, under the name of the place "Grand" it says it's "Scientifically Cooled " I think it's called A.C. these days.
From: Kent (re: Caltiki)
After spending last week watching bad movies, I was just wondering if anyone else noticed the similarities and differences between “The Blob” and “Caltiki”? They are both killed by a temperature difference from the outside environment. The Blob was dispatched by carbon dioxide fire extinguishers which froze it and Caltiki was killed by fire, which of course, carbonized it.
It appears very apropos that Caltiki, being from the Latinized areas, would succumb to heat and the Blob, being from the northern half of America, would be moved into cold storage for the duration. Does Caltiki’s end speak of hot Latin blood being reflected in the movie? Does the end of the Blob also mirror the chilly Nordic/Teutonic personality we all know and love? Just Wondering.
From: Alexander (re: La Nave de los Monstruos)
I really like your review of La Nave de los Monstruos, although I can’t agree with the comment on Spanish telenovelas, which can be very entertaining even if (like me) you don’t understand the language.
If you were to do a search for the name Andrea Guzman, it would give a very good idea why. In fact, now that I think of it, Andrea Guzman would fit very well into a remake of this movie as one of the comical femme fatale space women.
From: Fred (re: Kent's letter)
Kent, If you would have given an arm for a "GOAT" (GTO) then you'll probably have a heart attack when I tell you it was a GTO Judge Ram Air , factory rated at 366hp ( low estimates of HP due to Fed's Law at the time of HP not exceeding ci ) but in reality it was close to 400 HP. And that sir was one bad ass muscle car, if only I had it today, I'm still a GM man and still will only own a GM V-8 not a Jap rice burner that sounds like a turkey fart going down the road.
At any rate when that orange Judge came down the street it was an attention getter and a chick magnet. It sounded like a man's car especially when you could bypass the mufflers with a pull of a knob on the dash ( Factory Equipment, even more HP when ya did that ) and naturally when the ladies herd that rumble it was off to the drive-in later in the evening with the pick of the litter.
The management of the drive-in didn't get pissed at us for littering but did get very annoyed when we left beer and wine bottles. He wanted us to take them home so one night I told the dork "Look if I bring empty wine and beer bottles home my old man's going to kill me"....he said "if you don't bring you crap home I'll tell your mother your doing the neighbors daughter"... So after a night of popcorn and Brenda, I had to stop in town to throw away the empties in the trash can on the corner of 3rd and Bellview... but guess what.. then the local cops were on our butts for under age drinking, just no winning that one. Someday I'll have to tell you about the 4 corvettes in a snow storm and why one chick was bungee corded to my vette's luggage rack on the way home that night... naturally beer and wine were involved at the movie before hand.
John & Mara... John Agar, as I said, I loved in those old flicks and I had no idea he was married to Shirley Temple...wow. Now when it comes to Mara Corday in the "Tarantula" today I still think she's sizzling hot. Do you know that Clint Eastwood's first acting job was in that movie for a few seconds as a jet fighter pilot at the end? Do you remember the "Black Scorpion?" Mara was in that flick also and once again a lil' sex pot in it.
Actually The Black Scorpion is still one of my favorite flicks, for its day some interesting special effects and stop-action and it looked like the producers spent a few bucks to make it. There were a few scenes with the overlay of a real scorpion footage that sucked but it sucked so bad it was acceptable.
Invisible Invaders...yep a very cool movie -- watched it a few times but the California hill scenes are used in so many of those types of flicks.
Attack of the Mushroom People... was never personally high on my list of movies but being a collector I do have it.
The H Man... Kent, as hard as I try, I just can't get into that movie.. because I'm laughing so hard at it's stupidity. Hell if it makes me laugh I guess I do like it.
Have you eve seen Night of the Blood Beast (1958) with Michael Emmet, Angela Greene and Georgianna Carter? One of those two chicks was a blonde in the movie and she's knocking on Mara's door in the "hot" department and the movie isn't that bad either.. actually a want-to-see-again movie. Now the beast itself looks like something from Loonie Tunes and it's one of those "captured girl is holding beast, not beast holding the girl" thing... again shot in the foot hills of California.
So that Kent is the way it was and there's so much more. You sir are a man after my own heart and probably cut from the same cloth. Those truly were the good ol' days!
From: Kent (re: Fred's letter)
Fred, It’s good to see that someone is reading my missives!!!
A '68 goat!!! I would have given my right arm to have one, I spent the 60’s tooling around in either a '64 Galaxy or a '66 bug. The Galaxy had a huge back seat and was perfect for the drive-in, but the VW…. not so good but with concerted effort on both partners. The only money I got was what I earned serving the venerable Washington Post. I can remember many a cold winter morning, getting up at O dark thirty make my route before school started. I also remember collecting at the end of the month and getting a lesson in what had priority in people’s lives, and I can tell you paying the paperboy was not on top of their list.
I was not sure I wanted to share my other reason for loving the drive-in but since you went there I will also traverse that road. It was perfect for a date - cheap, secure, and dark! The buck to get in and the two bucks for Boone’s Farm apple wine for my date left enough for snacks and prophylactics. If that did not take care of what ails a teenage boy I don’t know what will.
John Agar was also one of my all time favorite actors from that era, were you aware that he was married to Shirley Temple in the fifties? I enjoyed him in “Invisible Invaders” which is considered the first walking dead movie of the ilk like “Zombieland” or even “Night of the Living Dead” but I am not a real fan of that genre. The crash scene in the movie was lifted directly from a movie about running white lighting, and you will also find the name Karl Neuman spelt two different ways in the movie, in the credits one way and on a newspaper clipping another. I have seen that name used in other fifties flics, could be an inside joke or just more borrowing.
I liked John Agar best in “Tarantula” because he started with Mara Corday and in “Revenge of the Creature” because the creature movies are just so fifties. You also mentioned that you found the effects in “The Giant Behemoth” lacking. Willis O’Brien, of King Kong fame did the effects and it was his last movie. He died of his alcoholism in 1962 only three years after Behemoth, I am not sure whether it played into how bad the effects were but it surely did not improve them.
Now onto “The H Men”, my tastes are bad but I know a good B movie when I see one and “The H Men” is up there with my favorites. I remember walking about three miles to the Kaywood theater to see this movie paired with “King Kong vs. Godzilla” one Saturday afternoon and coming out knowing I had just seen two good movies. I love the Japanese gangsters and cops. Who could not love such hammy acting?
The dancers and nightclub singer were just extra icing for this twelve year old. It could have been an overdose of milk duds, but that movie stuck with me and I did spend the outrageous amount of $7 to buy it at the video store and have not regretted it since. I usually pair it with “The Giant Claw” for an evening of excellent B movie watching.
Have you seen “Attack of the Mushroom People” yet? That movie gave me the creeps and I refused to eat mushrooms until I was in high school. The movie is a wonderful metaphor for the us/them mentality of the cold war.
From: Fred (re: The drive-in movie)
Wow, Kent, talk about fond memories of the drive-in. Mine were just a tad different than yours. Ours ( The Circus Drive-In ) didn't have all the neat stuff yours did just a concession stand with some God awful food, bathrooms ( no comment ) and a small area, a very small area, for kids to play in. My parents were so broke by giving me a good home and an education in a private school they couldn't afford to go to the movies so I had to wait till I got my drivers license.
But once a month Dad took me and Mom to Ponderosa Steak house, eleven bucks total for 3 steak dinners with all the fixings! I lived in a small N.J. farming community and it was the mid 60's and muscle cars were all the rage and naturally after you picked up a chick on the main drag on Friday or Saturday night it was off to the drive in. A buck a car load was the tab. Actually for five bucks you could put gas in the car, go to the drive-in, eat and have between .50 to a dollar left at the end of the night...that is if you didn't buy condoms....then you went home broke but HAPPY.
I went from a '65 Impala to a '68 G.T.O. and then to a '69 Corvette...this car you did not want to take to the drive in, it defeated the purpose of the condoms but at least you got to see the movie. The Impala was the best of all, a very large back seat and the front buckets folded forward. The G.T.O. was marginal but it worked and it was a street rocket.
One Saturday night I remember in particular, the feature was Zontar, the Thing from Venus and I was with a natural blond hair blued eye German chick named Brenda (name changed so as not to embarrass the woman ), she was a hot "older woman", I mean really hot, I was 18 and she was 21. Well for some stupid reason that night I wanted to watch this ridiculous movie because I liked the lead actor, John Agar, who did a lot of sci fi movies and I just thought the guy was cool even in this crappy movie, but again isn't this the reason we watch this stuff? I think Brenda got a little pissed cause I didn't want to play till the movie was over... oh well.
Alas the old Circus Drive-in was abandoned as you'll see in the photo below but the memories will live on forever. I love the one flyer from the Circus, if you look closely the feature was Carmen Baby "the total female animal". Well in 1967 this was a forbidden movie featuring a German actress, Uta Levka, the catch was seeing her stick out her tongue in a close-up shot and what a bod! Let me tell you if you were a teenage male you had to go see this movie. Talk about raising your blood pressure. But by today's standards, it's nothing more than a commercial on TV for a burger.
So there you have it, the old drive-in movie, fogged-up car windows, car heaters that were an accident and law suite waiting to happen, concession food that could possibly poison you, restrooms so bad that even your female date used the woods. But I wouldn't change a thing and would do it all over if I could in a heart beat. After all, for under five bucks you could be entertained the whole evening with really bad movies and had a very good chance of getting lucky with your date. But the real luck was if you didn't eat the concession food, you didn't have to visit the E.R.!
From: Fred (re: Kent's letter - 4 letters down)
Well, Kent, I have watched The Deadly Mantis, The Giant Behemoth and The H Man. How I ever forgot the The Deadly Mantis in my list is embarrassing. I often equate that movie to Them with the tunnel scene and all. I think much was taken from Them as a guideline for the plot.
As far as The Giant Behemoth, well for a Brit movie it wasn't bad and I liked the blond chick in it. Although the special effects were not so special but then again isn't that why we watch this stuff?
She's got legs
She knows how to lose them.
I mean...USE them.
Now The H Man, that movie really should have been on my hit list but now that I think about it, it was so confusing watching those Asian neighbors of ours run around town like a flock of gofers I forgot I had the flick.... thank God. Seems they invented green slime before the toy makers did. The only salvation for the movie were the cute Asian women, a good diversion from a bad movie. In my mind, it was so bad I wouldn't spend two bucks for it and waited till it was on Turner and I recorded it.
Now since we're on the subject of strange flicks there's one more movie that for some reason I have to watch occasionally... it's a 1960 Spanish flick called "Ship of Monsters". O.M.G. is it funny! Two very busty space women come to earth with yep... you got it... a ship of hilarious monsters. Even though the movie's in Spanish it's a must see and you'll figure out the dialog without too much trouble. Actually, the movie is a sci fi, western, comedy, drama! That's what makes it funny.
Re: My Son the Vampire
This movie came on TV in North Carolina today. Station 46.2 - This Sunday classic horror movies will be on all day on that station. I enjoyed it because it was really diffrent for that time period. A man dressed in drag fighting the scary bad guys ha ha ha. I heard the word "fag" used - wow- yes, rotten yet fun.
A.M.: You lucky duck. I can't believe you get this on your TV. I'M SO JEALOUS!
I've gotta tell you that your website is just about the all-time greatest, funniest, most entertaining, time-wasting resource that I have ever stumbled across in my many years of aimless web browsing. Your review of "Killer Shrews" actually impelled me to download and watch the accursed thing. Now I'm watching "The Giant Claw" and wondering why I never heard of this world-historical cinematic marvel before learning all about it on "Atomic Monsters."
I had to print out your hilarious tirade against the mice who invaded your lawnmower and pass it around to my co-workers. In a dark world, your sense of humor shines forth like a giant radioactive bug from outer space.
I burned "Killer Shrews" to a DVD yesterday and fired it up while my g/f was sitting around playing video games, and after a short time we were both totally into it and busting our guts laughing. She's convinced it's the worst movie ever, but I had to say, inspired as I was by your website, "Maybe we should increase our sample size before we jump to any rash conclusions."
And of course I'm following you on Twitter. OMFG, this is good stuff!
Yours in B-Movie Creatureliness,
A.M.: Bill, thanks so much - you've got me blushing like the Bride of the Atom!
From: Rich (re: The Thing from Another World)
I just watched one of my favorite movies — The Thing from Another World. I thought one of the doctors looked a lot like Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver. But upon further research it turns out he is George Fennerman from the Groucho Marx show You Bet Your Life. Do you remember that show?
I have watched this movie about ten times and never noticed that. Just goes to show you can learn something new every time you watch a movie.
A.M.: I never noticed that - good catch! And of course if you're ever in the mood to see Ward (Hugh Beaumont) Cleaver, you can watch The Mole People or Lost Continent. Actually, you're probably better off just watching an episode of Leave it to Beaver.
From: Kent (re: Drive-in memories)
Hmmm tales of the times I had at the old Queens Chapel Drive-in Hyattsville, Md. I lived about two blocks from the drive-in. As a kid, we would pile into the old 50's "bulge mobile" and take in a Saturday evening of movies.
This rare newspaper clipping is the only image I could find of the Queens Chapel Drive-in on the world wide web.
At first, I was more interested in being able to ride the "train" around the perimeter of the drive-in and play on the playground that was right in front of the giant screen (in my pajamas by myself) than in the movies themselves — a great thrill of independence for any eight-year-old.
The "train" was in reality a duce and a half surplus army truck which, when not pulling the train, would ride around the drive-in with a huge fogger on the back spewing out DDT by the gallons. I can clearly remember running behind the truck in the fog pretending to be 007 and attacking communists — cold war, you remember.
As the sun set, I would catch the train back to the car and settle on the roof for the cartoons and the usual two feature films plus coming attractions. The drive-in was situated next to a tributary of the Anacostia river, which if you know your B flicks is mentioned in the "Deadly Mantis," and also had a small private airport on the other side. It was interesting to see Piper Cubs come in with landing lights on during the middle of a feature. Being next to a river also gave the place an inordinate amount of mosquitoes.
The pivotal point in my childhood relationship with the drive-in came one Saturday evening when, once again with the family (we were there to watch "The Longest Day" and there came on the screen a coming attraction for "Caltiki." I remember them showing the immortal monster in the glass aquarium and pushing on the top in order to escape. I had, by this time, acquired a taste for 50s science fiction and was determined to see that movie next week.
My parents, on the other hand, did not share my desire. I whined all week, and schemed and plotted on how I could get in to see this flick. I had a friend who also shared my love for bad movies and together we came up with the plan of telling our parents that we were spending the night at each other's house.
The drive-in had bleacher seating by the snack bar, which resembled a machine gun pill box more than anything else. We were too stupid to sneak into the movie through the hole in the fence so we paid at the front gate. It's a good thing too because no sooner had the show started when the projectionist came out of the top of the pill box and demanded everyone on the bleachers to show their ticket stub. We had ours, but some did not and got thrown out. Lesson learned: Always scrounge for a ticket stub after climbing in through the hole in the fence!
After the movie, we hung out and rode the Washington Post truck down to 15th Street to look at the hookers and help load up the Sunday Post (by that time I had a paper route.)
Again, not the Queens Chapel, but a cool photo nontheless. Note how close the playground is to the screen at top, right.
Through the early 60s we would sneak in and find a stub and watch whatever was showing that summer night. Our drive-in also stayed open during the winter by offering in-car heaters which were nothing but glorified hot plates that you could hang on your window and were almost hot enough to light cigarettes on.
During this time my friends and I refined our love of cheap cinema, including the usual sci-fi offerings and some T and A movies, which would be considered mild in this day and age. I often wondered if the owners figured out our ploy and just let us alone. We wore a fairly deep path through the hole in the fence and they would attempt to fix the hole every once in awhile to no avail. This continued until I got a drivers license and discovered girls.
Here the stories become cliché and the last good movie I saw at the Queens Chapel was "Night of the Living Dead", that got both mine and my girlfriends attention. The drive-in was torn down and subdivided for industrial use in the mid 70's. When I married in 1979 and moved to the northern part of the county, I rediscovered my love of cheap cinema at the Laurel Drive-in. There my wife and new family saw "Close Encounters" and "ET". But soon, it too was sold and subdivided and now is a Red Lobster and an Olive Garden.
It's a real shame that the drive-in is gone — it played an integral part in my life and I hoped my children would have those experiences, but it was not to be. Now they have restaurants that have drive-in themes — I don't know whether to cry or laugh at the notion.
I’ve been away from here for a while, but I’ve meant to write. The letter by Beerme interested me, because I haven’t seen the recent version of The Spirit, but I have seen the 1987 pilot for a TV version, which decided to make it a “camp” version. I know that’s been done a lot since Batman, and often people resent it when it’s done with a serious character, but I think it was handled pretty well. (I found it on YouTube a few months ago, but I’m not sure if it’s still there.)
A.M. Oh, it's there, Alexander, thanks! This is what I love about the Dead Letter Office - you never know what someone's going to "dig up." Sorry, that joke was a bit to Munster-y. (The graveyard scene in this movie clip looks so cheap it could've been used in Plan 9.)
I finally got to see Missile to the Moon early this year by getting the Rifftrax version (though I keep wanting to see this colorized one). It was so entertaining to see the delinquent actor from “Teenage Crime Wave” playing the Gary character. Somehow that rocket in the back yard always seems less to me like something out of a ‘ 50s space movie and more like something out of one of those “Steampunk” stories like First Men in the Moon, the way it feels like the husband and wife could just stroll over to the thing and take off.
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