30 Apr 2009

Presenting John Agar

DeadlyMovies.com salutes another icon of 50s monster movies. This man has battled the Gill Man, the Mole People, the Pupet People, a giant brain, and a giant spider. This is a man for whom no horror was too great, presenting John Agar:

Revenge of The Creature (1955)
Tarantula (1955)
The Mole People (1956)
The Brain From Planet Arous (1957)
Attack of The Pupet People (1958)

29 Apr 2009

Letdown Of The Week

Orca (1977)

What it has going for it: A good cast in Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling, and Bo Derek. Hot on the back of 1975s Jaws this is a cash in yes, replace shark with killer whale and Robert Shaw with Richard Harris, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Jaws was fantastic, with this cast, Orca could be too. There are plenty of good 'masked killer stalks teen' films or 'monster trashes city' films. So why not another good 70s 'big fish chases boat' film?

Why it’s a letdown: The worst thing about this film is just how mean spirited it is. Including an abject scene of a whale miscarriage which rather than acting as a narrative device just makes you hate the humans, the filmmakers, and the film. We didn’t need to see the shark in Jaws undergoing emotional drama to accept that it was just a mean-bad-ass and we certainly don’t need to see this. Then there’s the very silly nonsense like the whale causing explosions and houses to collapse (all on land!). I like to think that the dead killer whale on the beach in Jaws 2 (1978 – one year later), lying there with a big shark bite taken out of it, was a symbolic gesture from team Jaws of just how poor this film is.

Trivia: Italian producer Dini Di Laurentiis, the 'brains' behind the 1976 King Kong, was at one point considering a kong sequel that would pitch King Kong vs Orca.

28 Apr 2009

Deadly Movie Connections

Janet Leigh and Jamie Lee Curtis. 

The ultimate mother and daughter act. Both Janet and Jamie have been leading women in seminal horror classics. Janet played Marian in Hitchcock’s 1960 classic Psycho, while Jamie was cast as a second generation slasher leading lady in 1978s Halloween. Jamie would go on to complete further 80s horror filmsThe Fog (1980), Prom Night (1980), Terror Train (1980), and Halloween 2 (1981), before returning to the genre and to the Halloween franchise in Halloween H20 (1998) followed by Virus (1999) and Halloween Resurrection (2002). Jamie and Janet can be found starring together in The Fog and Halloween H20. H20 lovingly refers to Janet’s role in Psycho in the subtle use of the Psycho score and the use of the car driven by Marian on her fateful journey to Bates Motel.

Its as if these two women are destined to dance with the bogeyman forever. And indeed they both too met their fate at the hands of iconic bogeymen, Janet as Marian in the forever famous shower scene in Psycho, brutally stabbed by Norman Bates, and Jamie’s long suffering Laurie Strode finally meets her doom at the hands of Michael Myers (at the fourth time of asking) in Halloween Resurrection.

Jamie Lee can proudly sit upon here thrown as ‘Scream Queen’ with eight horror films under her belt, four of which Halloween films, not to mention the almost unknown and uncredited voice over (as curfew announcer and telephone operator) in Halloween 3: Season of the Witch 1982). Jamie’s role in Halloween cemented the legacy of the ‘final girl’ for decades of movies to come. That, and of course, she happens to be the daughter of Slasher’s ‘First Lady’.

A Horrible Way to Start?

I bet you didn’t realise just how many acting careers were launched by the types of films loved by Deadly Movies. Although these are films often frowned upon you’d be amazed just who started off as a bludgeoned victim, an alien meal, or on the wrong end of a giant tentacle.
Who: Clint Eastwood
Played: Lab Technician
Film: Revenge of the Creature (1955)
Fate: Survived

Who: Steve McQueen
Played: Steve Andrews
Film: The Blob (1958)
Fate: Survived
Who: Jamie Lee Curtis
Played: Final Girl Laurie Strode
Film: Halloween (1978)
Fate: Survived. Even came back for Halloween 2 (1981), Halloween H20 (1998), and Halloween Resurrection (2002) where Laurie finally kicks the bucket.
Who: Kevin Bacon
Played: Jack
Film: Friday The 13th (1980)
Fate: Dies. Arrow through the neck from under the bed.

Who: Tom Hanks
Played: Elliot
Film: He Knows You're Alone (1980)
Fate: Survived. Rumour has it that Hanks’ character was scripted to die, and they even shot the death scene, only to remove it from the final cut due to his cuddliness. 
Who: Holly Hunter and Jason Alexander
Played: Dave and Sophie
Film: The Burning (1981)
Fate: Both survivors

Who: Johnny Depp
Played: Glen Lantz
Film: A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Fate: Dies. Dragged through bed in one of film’s greatest ever blood baths. Did make a (dream?) cameo appearance in Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare (1991)
Who: Jennifer Anniston
Played: Tory Reading
Film: Leprechaun (1993)
Fate: Survived.

Who: Renee Zellwegger andMatthew McConaughey
Played: Jenny and Vilmar
Film: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre The Next Generation (aka The Return of The TCM - 1994)
Fate: Zellwegger survives, McConaughey (it implies) dies by aeroplane propeller.
Who: Paul Rudd
Played: Tommy Doyle
Film: Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1996)
Fate: Survived.

25 Apr 2009

Hate Spiders, Love Spider Films

They may be fairly small, even the biggest ones ever recorded may only reach the size of a dinner plate, but spiders make for great creature feature bad guys. Not only are spiders an innate fear for many of us, they are physically perfect for movie monsters. Compared to any other insects, mollusks, crustaceans, or amphibians of a similar size, spiders are fast, clever, carnivorous,and most importantly scary-looking. Therein they also successfully lend themselves very well to mutation and giantism,where others look slightly more ridiculous (check out the giant chicken in Food of The Gods 1976) So whether they be standard house spiders, tarantulas, or genetically mutated; spiders are a formidable filmic foe.  

Hate Spiders, love spider films? Try Tarantula (1955), Spider aka Earth vs The Spider (1958), Kingdom of The Spiders (1977), Arachnophobia (1990)

Friday Midnight Movie

Slugs (1987)
This is perfect midnight viewing on every level; cheesy, gory, unbelievably 80s, and acting so mediocre it can only be described as adequate soft-core porn. Slugs is a film that comes way way way down the line in theJaws inspired nature revenge films of the 70s and 80s. Not that there has ever been a lack of killer animals in Hollywood, but 1975s Jaws really whipped producers everywhere into a quick-buck frenzy. By this point, some eleven years after Jaws, we’ve had killer sharks, worms (Squirm 1976), ants (Ants 1977), spiders (Kingdom of the Spiders 1977), whales (Orca 1977), piranhas (Piranha 1978), bees (Swarm 1978), alligators (Alligator 1980), dogs (Cujo 1983), and rats (Rats – Night of Terror 1983). You get the idea.

Let's get onto the slippery suckers in question. For some reason these slower than slow ‘mutant slugs that like meat’ (that’s about as much science as you’ll get in this one) start attacking small town folk. You get loads of real slugs, rubber slugs, and one money shot that features a little animatronic slug that bites someone’s finger, that’s right a finger, a finger bitten. Ouch that’s sore.

Unlike many Slasher movies of the same period our victims here are not horny teenagers, but rather insanely horny adults. They’re all at it…., The teacher, the county sanitation supervisor, the local health inspector, and the property developer. That’s right, all the sexiest industries are on show here. Not only that, but they’re at it to sexy music. The captain bizarreo score is a good enough reason alone to watch this. Think Columbo meets Psycho.

Now the best bit of all, the gore. These slugs can eat you, get inside you, and even blow your house up. But what this film really loves is eyeballs. You get dissolved eyeballs, eaten eyeballs, and best of all exploding eyeballs. Mix the gore, sexy times, daytime TV acting, and dialogue so appalling it becomes ludicrously enjoyable, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a Deadly Movies Midnight Movie.

Where? Ashton (the armpit of America)

Why? Soft-core porn actors eyeballs exploding

What? Mutant slugs

23 Apr 2009

Why Didn't They Make That?

Fans of horror, sci-fi, and monster movies know all too well that feeling of ‘why are they making’ or ‘re-making that’? Most of the movies we adore, for better or worse, are sequeled and remade on an endless cycle. But what of those films that slipped through the producers net or have been damned to an eternity in development hell? The films that really deserved, more so than others, a sequel or a long running franchise. Take a look at the following Deadly Movies nearquels:

Gremlins 3: Doesn’t make any sense why this didn’t happen. Great films and great title characters. Yes Gremlins 2 was a send up parody of Gremlins, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t have gone in a different direction for a part 3. Plus the great thing is you're not reliant on the humans; so if the original cast wouldn’t or couldn’t return then audiences would still turn out to see Gizmo and his dysfunctional relatives.

The Burning 2: This 1981 slasher gem has everything going for it: Tom Savini special effects, a great killer (Cropsy), awesome kills, and it came out right at the dawn of the slasher explosion, so there was plenty of time and room for sequels. Cropsy could easily have become as synonymous as Jason or Michael; he had a trade mark look (trench coat and hat, throw in the burns of Freddy, who it pre dates by the way) and a signature weapon, hedge shears. Cropsy does meet a rather definitive end during the film’s finale, but when has that ever stopped the rejuvenating world of horror?

My Bloody Valentine 2: As above really. Fantastic looking killer in the shape of the Miner, and the ending is left very open. Considering how films like Sleepaway Camp (1983)Prom Night (1980), and Slumber Party Massacre (1982) managed to generate seven sequels between them, it’s hard to imagine how these two more solid efforts did not.

Predator 3: Why oh why oh why did we never get a P3? Such great sci-fi monster movies are parts 1 and 2 that a part 3 seemed a no brainer. Instead of this, and instead of an Alien 5, we got a very tame AVP (2004) and the extremely poor AVP2 (2007). The Predator is a standout iconic creature (creation of special effects Icon Stan Winston); as it proved with P2, it can survive the loss of star with the magnitude of Arnie. Audiences will go and see the creature no matter which human meals are laid before it.

Want to chew on some more nearquels? Wrap your mouth around these ideasJurassic Park 4 (why not? Part 3 was good), The Thing 2 (it’s a shape shifter so you can go anywhere with it), The Preying Mantis 2 (had to get a 50s one in there), Freddy vs Jason 2 (why not? Admit it, it is fun. This time with Kane Hodder as Jason), Relic 2 (Another explorer mutates and goes loco somewhere), Alien 5 (reasons above). 

22 Apr 2009

Letdown of the Week

The Last Starfighter (1984)

What it has going for it: Undisputable 80s charm, that comforting sense of adventure that only 80s films seemed to have without the need for 90s cynical scientific over explanation. A great lead in Lance Guest who has that Luke Skywalker boy next-door quality. A premise that should work wonders for a family adventure, a teenager chosen to be a starfighter to go on a space mission, all based on the criteria of arcade game skills…, It’s a narrative device that brings together the dreams and aspirations of little boys everywhere, with a hobby they can all relate to, video games. 

Why it’s a letdown: Two major problems with this film. Firstly it opted for CGI just a little too early in the processes development, it really does look awful. Other films of the same time who were using models and stop motion hold up much better today. The model work in other 80s films like The Never Ending Story (also 1984), for example, really add to the sense of fantasy and mystique. This is all the more disappointing given that the practical sets and makeup effects are, in places, fantastic (check out Dan O’Herlihy’s awesome lizard-like makeup). A bigger letdown however is the lack of a real exhilarating finale, a massive epic battle to compete with the likes of Return of the Jedi (1983). Meaning that, in the end, the all-conquering heroism of Luke or Indy is a little lost on Alex. 

18 Apr 2009

Big In Japan?

King Kong vs Godzilla (1962)

Back in the early 1960s producer John Beck sold the rights to make a new King Kong film to Japanese Godzilla outfit Toho. The ‘man in suit’ brigade then set about putting a plot together whereby their new acquisition could face their stable money maker Godzilla. Aside from the film being a total balls up and making Kong look like an ass clown in a rubber suit (rather than stop motion, a feat of stupidity matched again by Dino De Laurentiis in 1975), it also got one massive Kong factor wrong, his height. For a moment here let’s get our geek on. In the 1933 movie Kong was either 18 feet or 24 feet tall, let’s go with 24 to give the big guy a break. In the 1954 original Japanese film the radioactive lizard is 164 feet tall. So at best Kong is lacking some 140 feet. You’d need to drink a lot of Saki to make that error in calculation. Oh yeah -  and he looks like a monkey with severe brain trauma and alopecia who can’t stop smiling the whole time…, that’d be the Saki.

Like Kong looking like a stupid moron? Also see: King Kong Strikes Again (1967), King Kong (1976), and King Kong Lives (1986)

Friday Midnight Movie

Every Friday Deadly Movies will post a suggested Midnight Movie to kick off your weeked and say goodbye to that crap week at work or school. This week Deadly Movies has selected this little gem from the vaults for your viewing pleasure: 
Q: The Winged Serpent (1982)

What a film to start your midnight movie watching with, fantastically peculiar on every conceivable level, genuinely funny (intentional? You decide), and a great genre creature. I first watched this with my housemates, crashed out on the couch with some beers, and laughed out loud all the way through. That’s not to say your laughing at it but its genuine eccentricity is a joy to behold.

Plot wise you have a bodged store robbery (a Jewellery store called Neil Diamonds! Yes!) culminating in one of the thieves hiding out in the roof of the Chrysler Building (for no conceivable reason at all) where he bumps into a yellow skinned Aztec giant serpent bird. Meanwhile said resurrected bird (some kind of subplot involving sadistic Aztec New Yorkers or something) fabulously picks off poor old Manhattan roof dwellers. Watch in awe as they think up ways to get people on roofs and the ingenious reasoning for why the monster is never seen even though it only attacks in broad daylight. Brilliant.

But the monstrous featherless cirrhosis suffering bird isn’t the predominant reason for recommending this, it’s the outrageous cast performances that make this film a Deadly Movies hit, lead in spectacular fashion by the absolutely barmyMichael Moriarty who ambles his way through the script and delivers an adlibbed virtuoso performance worthy of Crispin Glover on a crack bender. Moriarty staggers blindly along the narrative like a drunk swinging a bucket of toads.  Surrounded by a supporting cast who are equally clueless, including the spectacularly misplaced casting of Malachy McCourt as the Police Commissioner who’s rough tough lines are delivered with a camp sparkle akin to Kenneth Williams on a banana cruise.

An utterly charming creature feature, made on the fly by Larry Cohen that makes the most of the Chrysler Building, a beautiful piece of architecture often overshadowed in movies by its big brother the Empire State Building . In the words of Michael Moriarty ‘Stick it…, Stick up your brain. Your tiny little brain!’

Where? New York City

Why? Michael Moriarty

What? Giant flying mythical Aztec serpent 

17 Apr 2009

Silver Medals

Deadly Movies loves franchises.  Those of us who love monsters, creatures, and bogey men just cant help it; we’re a hungry bunch for whom lust, greed, and gluttony are not deadly sins but rather unquenchable desires for more. More kills, more ghouls, more masks, more more more. So here’s the Deadly Movies list of great number two’s, and being Deadly Movies don’t expect to see Empire, The Dark Knight, or Spidey 2.

Son of Kong (1933): Made almost before Kong’s body hit the asphalt on 5th Avenue, this was one of the films I wanted to track down more than any other. Its saving grace is the return of the outstanding Robert Armstrong as one of film’s greatest man-explorers Carl Denham. That in itself is a good enough reason to watch this Part 2, and if anyone tells you different they can jog right back to Skull Island. That aside, we get a baby Kong, some more dinosaurs, and another sombre ending.

Jaws 2 (1978): As far as I’m concerned, 1975’s Jaws is the greatest movie ever made. The sequel most certainly isn’t…, but it is solid. French director Jeannot Szwarc brings some good scares and some interesting new approaches to the shark’s POV including riding bare back, camera in hand, behind the famous wake breaking fin. The late great Robert Shaw and Richard Dreyfuss are noticeable by their absence; you really miss the chemistry that sizzled between the three men in the original. But if you can get past that you basically get a teenage slasher film here; replace Jason with shark.

Friday 13th Part 2 (1981): Easy, one word…, Jason. Two words…, Jason Voorhees. Three words…, Jason F**king Voorhees! Regarded by many as the best entry into the series this not only gives us Jason as the killer (not a bad idea by someone) but also provides some great (funny?) kills, including wheelchair guy heading off down the stairs, and maintains a link to the events of Part 1, even if the timeline makes no sense at all.

The Invisible Man Returns (1940): Basically a retread of the first one, but this is no bad thing when your Invisible Man is now Vincent Price whose unique voice is at times extremely chilling. And then there’s the increasingly impressive special effects, especially when objects are being moved, used, rode, and thrown.

Like Silver Medals? Also see: Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Revenge of The Creature (1955), Aliens (1986), Psycho 2 (1983), Predator 2 (1990), Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (2004), The Devils Rejects (2005).

Coming soon: The worst Part 2’s and the Best Part 3’s!

16 Apr 2009

The Look of Future Space

Thunderbirds creator Gerry Anderson (along with Sylvia Anderson) wrote, produced, and of course created the miniatures for the 1969 Sci-fi film Journey to The Far Side of The Sun. Now for me this film has faults way beyond that of the realisation of the future, but it was this particular movie future that got me thinking; How best to represent the future on film? In Anderson’s film, for example, never has the future looked more like 1969. Complete with knee high boots, bob haircuts, mini skirts, egg chairs, and plenty of psychedelia. Now of course films should be watched in the historic, cultural, and social context of which they were made, and Journey to The Far Side of The Sun certainly isn’t the only culprit when it comes to pimping the present out as the future. Take the greatness of Arnie’s Total Recall; great film but set in a future that’s more Walkman than Ipod. That’s what I’m getting at, you could pull up multiple examples from the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Don’t get me wrong outdated technology is often part of the charm, but what can really throw a phaser in the works is if the fashions of the day (or fifteen minute phase) are so sewn into the visual fabric of the film that it acts as a distraction rather than a compliment. And that was indeed the case with Journey to The Far Side of The Moon.

While it’s easy to point the finger at previous attempts at (re)creating the future, you have to remember that these films were once cutting edge and that our contemporary takes on what lies ahead may well one day seem laughable. But this doesn’t mean that filmic representations of the future are doomed to ridicule. There are shining beacons of visual hope, path blazers of concept and set design that achieved the almost impossible by creating a future that, to date at least, for the new viewer cant be dated by hair-do’s, fashions, furnishings, slang, or pop references. They are the sci-fi films who’s directors, cinematographers, set designers, costume designers, and conceptual artists have given us timeless settings by which we can bathe in a film that could be a glimpse of tomorrow. Look at Fritz Lang’s timeless Metropolis (1927), or the simple lines and neutral colours used in Alien (1979) likewise the amazing sets seen in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)  or the mixing of cultures, periods, and ethnic design in Blade Runner (1982). These visual wonders have kept things simple and not of the period. Yes characters may smoke and there may even be the odd perm or flattop, but the effort and understanding was there that to be of the future the film must have a healthy distance from the present. 

10 Apr 2009

Outstanding Contribution to Leading Men in 50s Creature Features

Before Arnie, Chuck, Sly, and Bruce, hell even before Clint, there were the men of the 50s Creature Feature. True men. Real men. Men for whom no octopus had too many tentacles. No alien was in too bad an outfit. And no dinosaur was made of too much play dough. These men said it like it was, kicked ass, destroyed every marvel of science and nature, and always managed to get some tang along the way. I give you the leading bad-asses of 50s Sci-Fi:

Richard Denning:
Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954), 
Target Earth (1954), 
Creature With the Atom Brain (1955), 
The Day the World Ended (1955), 
Black Scorpion (1957). 
Battered 5 different beasties / aliens.
Kenneth Tobey:
The Thing From Another World (1951), 
The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), 
It Came From Beneath The Sea (1955), 
Vampire (1957). 
Kung Foo’d 4 different beasties / aliens.

Richard Carlson:
It came From Outer Space (1953), 
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954). 
Beat up 2 different beasties / aliens.

If They Only Had A Brain

Scarecrows (1988)
Don’t you just love those movies you just happen across? The ones you had absolutely no idea existed. They weren’t recommended to you, you didn’t read about them in a magazine or online; they just pop up from somewhere. On TV one night when you cant sleep, on the shelf of the video store, or in a clearance basket of a petrol station.  For me it was the latter, I first stumbled across Scarecrows whilst filling up my car at a countryside petrol station in Mid Wales and, whilst I didn’t buy it there-and-then, the cover art stayed with me, and within weeks I had tracked it down online and made a purchase. And what a great little sleeper this is, very creepy, tense, and at times genuinely scary.

A group of high tech robbers have pulled off a big heist and made their getaway in a military plane when one of the gang opts for mutiny and parachutes off with the cash causing the remaining bandits (and two hostages) to make an unscheduled landing amongst the rural pastures below. The adage that crime doesn’t pay is rammed home here as the criminals find themselves on farmland inhabited by possessed scarecrows who practice the Atkins Diet with some vigour. Like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz these chaps too only want a brain, and some lungs, and some small intestine, and maybe an eyeball or two.

The joy of this film comes in the pitch darkness in which it’s presented. Both characters and audience are plunged into the black of the cornfields where the night vision goggles become a handy ally. Props also go to the design of the scarecrows themselves whose expressionless emotionless faces will fill you with dread when you attempt to go to bed afterwards. A great little find.

Like terror in the fields? Try Jeepers Creepers 2 (2003), Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981), and if your really desperate try Night of the Scarecrow (1995)

9 Apr 2009

Guilty Pleasures

Deep Rising (1997)
This one of my clear favourites when in comes to modern creature features. Now lets be upfront and honest from the get go; The CGI is ropey, the acting in places is awkward, and the characters are for the most part irritating like bum rash.

 However! The set up is great, big monster on a cruise ship. The source material draws on modern genre success stories like Alien, Aliens, and Jaws with a nod to old classics like It Came From Beneath the Sea. And perhaps best of all director Sommers succeeds in the execution of a good solid monster film, keeping the star attraction under wraps until the end, and using the claustrophobic nature of the ship’s mazy layout and general sense of isolation to realise the film's maximum potential.  What’s more there are some good kills, plenty of the red stuff, and proof that modern day monsters don’t need to be destroying New York to be interesting. And while Treat Williams’ catch phrase ‘Now What?’ is more annoying than it is clever and rememberable, he’s a solid lead whose rapport with leading lady Famke Janssen is just feisty enough. Plus there’s a little nod to King Kong at the very end, which has been misread by many as a sequel ending, rather this is a wink to creature feature fans and an in-joke that, in this film, the protagonists will never escape the world of (movie) monsters they have found themselves caught up in.

The Judge of the Court of Deadly Movies presiding, his verdict: Like a third topping on your burger, I find you, Deep Rising, guilty but good.

There's Something In The Mist!

The Mist (2007)

Buy it:The Mist Special Edition DVD or Blu Ray. It’s a great film, but best of all the SE comes with a Black and White version. Now you can be a cheapskate and turn the colour off on your TV, but that’s not Black and White that’s shades of gray. This version of the film is presented in dazzling clear digital Black and White. Not only does this make the sequences of wandering about in the mist exponentially more taught and intense, but it also covers up some of the CGI’s shortcomings in the colour version.

8 Apr 2009

Letdown of The Week

Every week i'll post one film that for one reason or another was a major letdown. Now let me quantify this. A letdown here is a film that you had expectations of, not a film that you already knew was going to be a bit crap. So here we go with Deadly Movies' first Letdown of The Week:

Outland (1981)
What it has going for it: A great concept (space sheriff sorts out a space mining colony), a great space sheriff (Sean Connery in space with a handle bar tach? Yes please), Jerry Goldsmith redoing his Alien score (give a toss..., that score works, this score works too), and loads of brilliant 80s sci-fi sets (you get it all, planet externals, miniatures, the corridors we all love, and some good future tech).
Why it’s a Letdown: Because all the ingredients are there for everything you want from a 70s / 80s gritty sci-fi film; the high concept, the star, the music, and the sets. But it has absolutely no sense of threat, no monster, no impending disaster, just some pissed off miners. But it's not enough, its not bad, but it is a letdown.
Next Week: The Last Starfighter (1984)

Disco Dinosaurs

Planet of Dinosaurs - 1978

Stop motion dinosaurs and lycra disco pants, oh yes its Planet of Dinosaurs. For too long Dinosaurs had never laid eyes on fat 70s men with bushy taches and beer bellies, and in 1978 Director James K Shea put these wrongs to right. I love this film for two reasons:
  1. It marks the end of stop motion animation in creature features. OK it may not be the last ever time in was used (they almost used stop motion in Jurassic Park) but it is an example of a film nearing the 80s where creatures were loving crafted in stop motion. It's worth taking into account that, way before this, stop motion had been dropped by most film companies in favour of the far less time consuming, but total crap, man in suit or puppet. While not on Harryhausen's level these creatures are way better than a lot of their 70's counterparts.
  2. It reminds you that there was a time when not all producers were big headed Hollywood types. Back in the day many producers were rich clergymen, oil barons, and/or local tycoons who simply wanted to have their name attached to a movie. and if you could make it in less than a week, for under $100,000, and could find a leading role for their eldest son then the money was yours. I mean how else could Disco Pimps Meet Dinosaurs, i mean Planet of Dinosaurs get made?
Plot goes out of the window as you laugh your ass off at these clowns in Disco gear battling awesome plasticine beasts. Good Job.
Like Discos and Dinosaurs? No other recommendations required.

The Deal Breaker

The Beast With a Million Eyes / Phantom From 10,000 Leagues - both 1955
These are two incredibly dull 50s ‘creature’ (and I use this term lightly) features that, like I did, you can grab of on a double disk. Wow are these two films extremely exasperating. There’s a deal breaker with all of these movies, and that’s the creature. You get a good one (A Harryhausen one would be nice) and your onto a winner, no matter how shoddy the script or acting. Get a bad one and you’ve lost the audience, because lets face it most of these genre films have by the number plots and a casts of unknowns. We the audience are here for our love of the formulas and most of all our love of the creatures. Spectacularly these two don’t really have creatures at all! And when they can be bothered to ‘reveal’ it to us the creature is in fact utter bollocks. So our creature in the Phantom from 10,000 leagues (who by the way would struggle to reach a league) is a man with a lizard hat on, and our beast with a thousand eyes, well for most of the films we're teased with sub plots involving the guy next door and Sandy's dog, only to discover the beast is indeed a metaphor! Thats right, this one really grinds your gears by giving you no creature at all, not even a man in a lizard hat. Now don’t get me wrong the lack of budget and polish isn’t the issue with low budget b-movies, it’s the lack of imagination that lets these two down. These are two efforts trading on the great titles of the genre and the era, the ‘It Came Froms’ the ‘The Terror Froms’. They have fantastic titles and awesome poster art, but that’s about all I’m afraid. Ebay the posters, Youtube the trailers, forget the movies.

Like b-movies? Try almost anything else but these. If you know of worse than the 'Metaphor With a Million Metaphoric Eyes' please let me know!

The Atomic Submarine - 1959

A real odd one this. Certainly a case where black and white isn’t good enough to cover up very poor model making and miniature effects, certainly not one of the better 50s sci-fi creature features. In a nutshell a military submarine investigates strange nuclear goings-on in the arctic seas. What they find is, fairly hilariously, an underwater flying saucer. The laws of physics are dealt with fairly loosely by the submarine crew whose vessel’s interior is immune to movement as the outside gets battered pillar to post, and the less said about under water pressure the better! However one note of pop culture joy for fans of The Simpsons is the reveal of the alien during the film’s finale. Without doubt this chap is the forefather of Kang and Kodos (He even has the Bob Dole deep voice!). It's OK 50’s pulp fun, definitely a late night one to fall asleep to, sadly it lacks that essential charm that the better creature features sustain to this day.

Like under water creature films? Try The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953), The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954), and even Roger Corman's Monster From The Ocean Floor (1954).