Friday, October 31, 2008

The Devil and Daniel Webster

The Devil and Daniel Webster is a 1941 horror film based on Stephen Vincent Benet's short story by the same name. The story can be read online here. This adaptation is directed by William Dieterle, who starred in Waxworks and Murnau's Faust. I particularly noted Simone Simon, who starred in Cat People, and Gene Lockhart, who is in Algiers and is Mr. Cratchit in the Reginald Owen Christmas Carol. We have the Criterion edition.

You can watch it online at this link. Here's a trailer:

Modern Witches Flying

Video of modern witches actually flying:

HT: BoingBoing

Wanna Buy a Ghost?

House of 1000 Muppets

A Rob Zombie pick for favorite spooky videos.

A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead

a music video by the Zombeatles:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yongary, Monster from the Deep

Yongary, Monster from the Deep is a 1967 South Korean monster movie.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
It is the natural impulse of a rational mind to try to make sense of what’s put before it. I don’t advise doing that with Yongary, Monster from the Deep— you’ll only hurt yourself.

The She Beast

The She Beast is a 1966 horror movie starring Barbara Steele (Nightmare Castle). This British/Italian film was directed by Michael Reeves, who died in 1969 at the age of 24.

DVDTalk advises being particular about the copy you watch, saying,
Fairly unwatchable pan-scanned copies have been floating around ever since the Sinister Cinema VHS days, but in this intact, restored Cromoscope version, the show comes across as an accomplished low budget effort.
Slant Magazine opens its review with this:
likely to draw more attention as an auteurist's footnote than a mutually exclusive spookfest, The She-Beast will primarily be remembered as the inchoate, if crudely artful, feature-length debut of British l'enfant terrible Michael Reeves.
The Guardian has an article on the director. BFI's ScreenOnline has a short overview of his life and work and some links.

Nightmare Castle

Nightmare Castle is a 1965 Italian horror film starring Barbara Steele. Mario Caino directs. The music is by Ennio Morricone, an Academy Award-winning composer who did the music for the Man with No Name trilogy and others.

1000 Misspent Hours doesn't like it but doesn't know whether to blame the film itself or that particular DVD. Images Journal has an article examining this film. BrainEater discusses the background, saying that "Nightmare Castle does a credible job of bringing together different elements of Gothic horror."

7/2/2009: WTF-Film has a review.

Hands of a Stranger

Hands of a Stranger (no Wikipedia entry) is a 1962 horror movie, a remake of the 1924 French film The Hands of Orlac. The music for this film is by Richard LaSalle, who will have his 91st birthday in January.

The Atomic Brain

The Atomic Brain (or Monstrosity) is a 1964 horror movie. "Can Death be outwitted?"

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a whacked-out, sleazed-up variation on the venerable mad doctor theme". is packed with interesting tidbits of information including some still shots. Weird Wild Realm says, "If you're the sort to enjoy truly bad sci-fi, this one will prove truly bad enough & enjoyable."

2/21/2010: SFSignal features this in the Sunday Cinema post today.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Terror

The Terror is a 1963 horror film produced by Roger Corman and starring Boris Karloff and Jack Nicholson. Ronald Stein (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, Dementia 13) did the music.

1000 Misspent Hours says, "All things considered, The Terror turned out much better than it had any right to, which is to say that it’s not totally unwatchable." So not bad enough to be good? Ouch. Moria has a bit more of a positive review, saying that "For such a hurried whim with so many cooks in the broth, The Terror is a surprisingly good film" but adds that "The plot eventually does become increasingly improbable".

Dementia 13

Dementia 13 is a 1963 horror film produced by Roger Corman. It was Francis Ford Coppola's first mainstream directorial effort. The music is by Ronald Stein, who did Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

I don't like gory movies as a rule, and this one has multiple axe murders. Not many, but still, there are multiple axe murders. This one is a grim film.

1000 Misspent Hours concludes their review by saying this:
Go in expecting the cult classic that its reputation would seem to suggest, and you’re likely to be disappointed. What you’ll be getting instead is a promising beginning to a career, but not much more than that.
Moria says,
In truth Dementia 13 is simply an enjoyable B-movie, one of the numerous psycho-thrillers that were being made around the time by Hammer and William Castle. Coppola is clearly copying the success of other psycho-thrillers ... Considered in itself, Dementia 13 is only a fairly minor entry in this genre.
The New York Times review from the time of the film's release says,
Under the stolid direction of Francis Coppola, who also wrote the script, the picture stresses gore rather than atmosphere, and all but buries a fairly workable plot.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls is a 1962 cult horror film. If not for the organ score more than half of this movie would be silent. Criterion has this in a 2-disc set.

Entertainment Weekly notes that director Herk Harvey
never directed another feature after Carnival of Souls. But what this beautifully restored version of his near masterpiece demonstrates is simple: They really don't make 'em like this anymore. And they should.

This is a must-see, an eerie film of isolation and loneliness. Buy it. Or watch it online and then buy it:

1000 Misspent Hours considers it "one of the all-time great cinematic variations on the theme of the haunted person". Roger Ebert's review says it "still has an intriguing power." Moria calls it
one of the real sleepers of 1960s fantasy cinema. While highly acclaimed, none of the people involved ever worked in the industry again and it was little seen until a major revival in 1988
and Moria especially likes the female lead, saying, "Candace Hilligoss is excellent in the part. Perhaps one of the great crimes of the age is that Hilligoss never went on to become a major Hollywood star". Criterion Confessions has a review as part of their ongoing posts on Criterion films.

1/23/2009:Arbogast asks if this is a ghost story.

10/19/2009: I watched this today with The Daughter, who hadn't seen it before and likes it, and The Younger Son.

A Shriek in the Night

A Shriek in the Night is a 1933 comedy/horror/mystery film starring Ginger Rogers, Lyle Talbot (Plan 9 from Outer Space and many other films and tv shows) and other well-known actors.

The New York Times review from the time of the film's release says it "is a well-handled picture, intelligently directed and acted, and with a story several notches higher than is usual for such productions" and calls it "an agreeable surprise". TCM has an overview.

The Brain That Wouldn't Die

The Brain That Wouldn't Die is a 1962 horror film starring Jason Evers, who has a Star Trek connection.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
There is almost nothing you could ask for in a late-50’s mad scientist movie that The Brain that Wouldn’t Die doesn’t deliver, and as if that weren’t enough, it throws in a bunch of other stuff that you’d never think to ask for in the first place.
and concludes by saying
Small wonder that it has become one of the world’s few legitimate cult classics.
Moria has a short review. has plot information and still shots from the film.

4/29/2009: Radiation Cinema has a review.
9/6/2009: SFSignal is featuring it (from youtube) as their Sunday Cinema post.

The Devil's Messenger

The Devil's Messenger is a trio of horror tales created from 3 episodes of a never-aired tv series tied together using the addition of a frame story with Lon Chaney, Jr. as the devil.

Reviews are scarce.

Creature from the Haunted Sea

Creature from the Haunted Sea is a 1961 horror parody film directed by Roger Corman. The music is by Fred Katz, who also did The Wasp Woman, Little Shop of Horrors and Bucket of Blood.

The Internet Archive has it online:

1000 Misspent Hours has a review. calls it "screen garbage in its purest distillation". TheSpinningImage says it is "amusing enough, and doesn't take anything seriously". Benevolent Misanthropy says "This movie kicks ass. Really, need anything more be said?"

Monday, October 27, 2008


Bloodlust is a 1961 horror/thriller film.

1000 Misspent Hours says, "Bloodlust! is no big deal, really, but it is reasonably well made for a quickie drive-in horror film, and it should reward those who come to it with a forgiving attitude." The Video Graveyard says it is "certainly nothing special and the entire thing is pretty silly, but it makes for a mild diversion and running at a mere 68 minutes it doesn't get as tiring as if it was, say. 90 minutes".

The Beast of Yucca Flats

The Beast of Yucca Flats is a 1961 horror movie. It is less than an hour long but too dreadful to warrant even that little amount of time. Boring and incoherent.

1000 Misspent Hours and Monster Hunter have reviews. Neither recommends it.

5/25/2010: 366 Weird Movies says, "The paradox of this film is that, while Beast is boring, it’s boring in an interesting way."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Wasp Woman

The Wasp Woman is a 1960 Roger Corman science fiction/horror movie. The music is by Fred Katz, who also wrote scores for Little Shop of Horrors and Bucket of Blood.

1000 Misspent Hours says that "Corman and screenwriter Leo Gordon somehow managed to turn it into something startlingly serious and mature" and closes the article by saying "If it weren’t for the generally shoddy production values and that pitiful, pitiful monster suit, I’m quite certain this would have become one of the most respected horror films of its era."

Moria says, "It is a passably well-made B movie but there is absolutely nothing remarkable to it."

7/14/2009: Classic Sci-Fi Movies has a post.


Tormented is a 1960 horror film directed by Bert Gordon (The Cyclops) and starring Richard Carlson (Creature from the Black Lagoon). Academy Award-winner Ernest Laszlo (D.O.A.) was the Director of Photography. Albert Glasser did the music.

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a pretty decent film" but says,
The awkward structure and heavy reliance on overreaching and ridiculous visual effects are most unfortunate, because they have the effect of distracting the viewer from what is honestly a fairly well-crafted ghost story.

The Lovers

The Lovers is a 1960 episode of the One Step Beyond TV series.

The SFSite review calls this episode "touching".

The Amazing Transparent Man

The Amazing Transparent Man is a 1960 science fiction/horror movie directed by Edgar Ulmer, who also directed Detour, Bluebeard and others.

1000 Misspent Hours likes this one best of all Ulmer's films and says it "makes for an enjoyable change of pace from the run of the invisible-man mill". Moria, on the other hand calls it one of Ulmer's "relatively undistinguished" films unlike The Black Cat and Detour. The New York Times offered this on the movie's release: "The word for "The Amazing Transparent Man" is pitiful."

Tales of Frankenstein

Tales of Frankenstein is a 1958 pilot episode from a TV series that was never aired.

Weird Wild Realm says it's
not a bad little piece, directed by Curt Siodmak who was kind of a genius at B horror whether feature films or television episodes, giving Tales of Frankenstein something of the look of an old Universal Frankenstein movie.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 90

1 Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Horror Hotel

Horror Hotel, the U.S. title for City of the Dead, is a 1960 horror movie starring Christopher Lee.

This one does have lots of atmosphere and tells its eerie horror story without lots of blood and gore. That makes it a good choice for me.

1000 Misspent Hours:
Horror Hotel is a highly effective film, and it’s amazing to me how aggressively it deals with its subject matter. Remember that movies about devil worshipers were strongly frowned upon by the Board of Film Censors during the 1960’s

Moria says,
City of the Dead was the first film to patent the theme of reincarnated witches, Satanic covens and sinister New England towns where the inhabitants mutter portents and run before nightfall. The film sets up a lot of what would later become the cliches of the genre
for all its rather pedestrian script, City of the Dead is a triumph of atmosphere

10/7/2009: Cinema Styles likes it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers is a 1978 science fiction/horror film remake of the 1956 film by the same name. Both movies are based on Jack Finney's 1955 novel The Body Snatchers. The 1978 version stars Donald Sutherland, Veronica Cartwright, Leonard Nimoy, Jeff Goldblum and Brooke Adams.


Moria says,
this is one example where a remake does manage to stand up as almost as good as its predecessor – had it not stood in the shadow of its progenitor Invasion of the Body Snatchers 78 would have probably been hailed as a near masterpiece, one suspects.
1000 Misspent Hours thinks that
Philip Kaufman’s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of these masterworks, surpassing even its already impressive 1956 prototype.
The New York Times has a review.

I thought it was too slow. It's a (maybe) 90-minute movie stretched into 2 hours. I liked the actors, but I never felt the menace. I couldn't figure out any logic at all to the pod peoples' hunting down and attacking the remaining humans since the problem is over as soon as the humans fall asleep. It's just an awful lot of energy expended on something that'll happen in a day or so anyway. I also do not understand Matthew's continuing trust of authority figures. He keeps calling the police and others with civil authority long after it ought to be obvious that that is a losing plan.

It Came from Beneath the Sea

It Came from Beneath the Sea is a 1955 monster movie featuring special effects by Ray Harryhausen.

You can watch it online at this link. Here's a trailer:

1000 Misspent Hours says the film "is a reasonably entertaining flick if you go in not asking too much of it" but adds that it "would be pretty damned forgettable if it weren’t for Ray Harryhausen, and it is from his colossal octopus that virtually all of the movie’s entertainment value derives." Moria loves Harryhausen's special effects but says, "The problem is that one has to plod through three-quarters of the film to get to the monster sequences."

The Revenge of Dr. X

The Revenge of Dr. X (aka Venus Flytrap) is a 1970 horror movie written by Ed Wood.

Wild Realm Reviews says it
has some of the most laughably bad acting in any film ever. Such acting is perfectly suited to one of the most ridiculous screenplays. The wonderful stupidity of the film is explained by the famous name attached to the script: Ed Wood of Plan Nine from Outer Space fame wrote this obscure but fabulous turd; not many folks seem to know he wrote more films than he directed.
Dread Central concludes its review by saying,
This movie is the antithesis of good. It has no shortage of bad directing, bad dialogue, bad acting, and hammy overacting, not to mention plenty of dull lulls where you’re waiting for the story to actually progress. Plus, it’s loaded with almost as much stock footage, stock music, and excess padding as most of the movies Ed Wood himself directed. However, The Revenge of Dr. X (or whatever other title you may find it under) is simply one of those movies you need to see just so you can say you’ve seen it. Even then, you probably won’t believe you actually saw what you just did.
Bleeding Skull calls it "a truly cracked film that exists in a reality unknown to everyone but the filmmakers themselves".

The Last House on the Left

The Last House on the Left is a 1972 horror film. It was Wes Craven's feature film debut.

1000 Misspent Hours opens with this:
If there is any one movie that can be taken to symbolize the trend toward utterly unapologetic viciousness in the horror films of the 1970’s, Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left is probably it.
and calls it
the movie that proves that in the right hands, torture, rape, murder, and relentless psychological brutalization can in fact be kind of boring.

Moria says it
inspired a genre of films that this author has nicknamed the Backwoods Brutality cycle reports that
this film has some good points, but it cannot counter-act with the overall incompetence of the whole film.
and suggests skipping it entirely in favor of
the beautifully filmed Ingmar Bergman original, The Virgin Spring, starring a young Max Von Sydow, based on an old Scandinavian wives’ tale. Or if you’d prefer something just a little sleazier, I would suggest Aldo Lado’s Last House Italian rip-off, The Night Train Murders.

Embedding is disabled, but the movie can be seen on youtube in 9 parts. Part 1 is here. I'm skipping this one; I have the Criterion edition of The Virgin Spring in the stack waiting its turn.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Crypt of the Living Dead

Crypt of the Living Dead (no Wikipedia entry) is a 1973 horror/vampire film starring Andrew Prine, who has Star Trek connections.

Braineater tries to find something salvageable: "inside this terrible little movie is a mediocre movie, struggling to get out." I don't think it's that bad. I've seen worse. I've seen much worse. I've seen much worse this week.

Horror Express

Horror Express is a 1973 horror/zombie/science fiction film starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas. says "it would please fans of the Hammer film era." Moria has some good things to say: "And in exactly the spirit it was conceived, Horror Express proves highly entertaining," and "It’s not exactly a subtle film, but then it doesn’t need to be."

My favorite quote:
Dr. Wells: Miss Jones, I shall need your assistance.
Miss Jones [looking over at Wells' young dinner companion]: Yes, well at your age I'm not surprised.
Dr. Wells: With an autopsy!
Miss Jones: Oh, well that's different.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Terror in the Midnight Sun

Terror in the Midnight Sun is a Swedish science fiction/horror film from 1959. I'm having trouble finding reviews. There are still shots and information on the plot here.

I really like this one. The location photography is wonderful, with scenes from planes and lovely shots of ice skaters and skiers. Just beautiful. And the music was a treat. The movie does build slowly and the tension and edge-of-your-seat feeling is completely missing, but it's an interesting trip throughout with an intriguing resolution.

Teenage Zombies

Teenage Zombies is a 1959 horror film. Reviews of this one are scarce. Slow. Incredibly, painfully slow. The choreography of the fight scenes is slow. The dialogue is slow, with responses lagging. Oh, so slow. And the teen actors seem not to know quite what to do with their hands. There is a lot of posing.

On the other hand, there's a gorilla.

This is available online, if you want to bother,

but honestly, why?

The Killer Shrews

The Killer Shrews is a 1959 horror film directed by Ray Kellogg and released as a double feature with his Giant Gila Monster movie.

I found the giant shrews more believable than the duck walk to the shore.

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "one of the last great monster movies of the 1950’s" and says
Hiding beneath the bargain-basement special effects is an extremely economical, shockingly suspenseful movie, with unexpectedly complex characters, a fast-moving, engaging story, and quite a bit of imagination.
BMovieGraveyard has a page devoted to this movie that includes character sketches, a plot overview and walk-through of the film, still shots, and lots of commentary.

The Hideous Sun Demon

The Hideous Sun Demon is a 1959 monster movie produced and co-directed by and starring Robert Clarke. There's a fascinating article about Clarke here.

4/3/2009: The Classic Sci-Fi Movies blog has a post on this film.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Giant Gila Monster

The Giant Gila Monster is a 1959 monster movie. This voice-over narration graces the film's beginning:
In the enormity of the West there are still vast and virtually unexplored regions -bleak and desolate- where no human ever goes and no life is ever seen. It is as though the land had been posted by God. It is in these lonely areas of impenetrable forest and dark shadows that the gila monster still lives. How large the dreaded gila monster grows no man can say.

1000 Misspent Hours points out "an especially perverse display of youth-culture cluelessness" but concludes "The Giant Gila Monster spends most of its time being exactly what it sounds like, and at that it does a pretty respectable job."

Images Journal has an article that says the film "works to exonerate teenagers from the label of juvenile delinquent by illustrating that they are the virtuous alternatives to authority figures who are at best clueless and at worst willfully corrupt" and says that "One moral of the movie is that authority figures should learn to stop suspecting monstrous acts among teenagers and should look for the real threats in their society."

A Bucket of Blood

A Bucket of Blood is a 1959 Roger Corman horror/comedy film. The movie stars Dick Miller, a character actor with Star Trek credits.

1000 Misspent Hours says it "is quite effective for what it is". Moria says it is
a gleeful black comedy which happily jibes at the pretence of the Beat Generation. It’s amusing, although the script is told with a minimalist economy that brings a smile rather than a real laugh.
5/13/2010: Great Old Movies blog calls it "an effective black comedy".

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a 1958 opposite to the 1957 Incredible Shrinking Man. A monster movie of sorts, the Woman in the title grows increasingly larger and seeks vengeance on her philandering husband and his girlfriend. Aliens are responsible. They need diamonds.


Moria calls it
a bad film with an incredible notoriety, something that has of course perversely gained it a cult of admirers. It is not really a very good film – in fact is an extremely bad one with little in the way of the redeemingly bad.
and says it
is fascinating to watch for the complete lack of conviction the special effects have.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Five Scariest Films

Philip French has listed the 5 Scariest Films:
Frankenstein (1931)
The Blair Witch Project
Pan's Labyrinth
La Zona

Of these, I've never seen The Blair Witch Project and never heard of La Zona. I've seen that Frankenstein numerous times, Psycho 3 or 4 times and Pan's Labyrinth once.

Our lists are much different, of course. The individual lists below are in no particular order.

The Husband's list of 4:
The Exorcist
The Invisible Man with Claude Rains (the first time he saw it)

The Elder Son's list of 6:
The Blair Witch Project
High Tension
The Descent
Dead Silence
American Psycho

The Younger Son's list of movies that scared him most when he first saw them:
The Birds
The Hound of the Baskervilles (Jeremy Brett, probably)
Night of the Living Dead
Toy Story
Godzilla vs. Megalon

My list of movies that scared me most when I first saw them:
The Wizard of Oz
The Birds

HT: GreenCine

Attack of the Giant Leeches

Attack of the Giant Leeches, co-produced by Roger Corman and his brother, is a 1959 monster movie that comes in at barely over an hour.

1000 Misspent Hours has a negative review and seems not to find anything good to say about this one. has a positive review, saying "it celebrates all that’s funky about B-level creature features.".

5/31/2009: Radiation Cinema has a review.

7/10/2009: Classic Sci-Fi Movies blog has a review.

The Incredible Shrinking Man

The Incredible Shrinking Man is a 1957 science fiction film based on a book by Richard Matheson, who also wrote I am Legend.


1000 Misspent Hours says, "the special effects in this film are extraordinary....But most impressive of all is the forced-perspective trickery, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen equaled." Moria calls this movie "one of the real Golden Age classics" and says it "has a greatness and stature that stands it head and shoulders above (or perhaps considering the theme below) the others" of the "miniature-sized adventure films".

11/30/2008:1001 Flicks has a review.
2/1/2009:Only the Cinema has a review.
2/25/2009: says it "is considered one of science fiction's best films".
10/14/2009: Bright Lights After Dark has links on the director's work in celebration of his birthday.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Screaming Skull

The Screaming Skull is a 1958 horror film that guaranteed funeral expenses for anyone who died from fright during the movie. They were never called upon to make good on the promise.

1000 Misspent Hours says the cast saves it from utter disaster: "The cast can’t make The Screaming Skull into anything worth getting excited about, but they do at least keep it on its feet for the most part."

I Bury the Living

I Bury the Living is a 1958 horror movie.

1000 Misspent Hours says it's a fine film until the final reel when it's dreadful. Moria agrees that the ending doesn't fit but says, "The film’s intensity and atmosphere however is really quite memorable."

Transylvania 6-5000

Transylvania 6-5000 is a 1963 Merrie Melodies Bugs Bunny cartoon.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers is a 1956 science fiction film starring Hugh Marlowe (The Day the Earth Stood Still). Fred Sears directed the movie. He lived in Memphis for several years in the early 1940's and was, I had understood, a director of Memphis' Little Theater, though the Theatre Memphis site does not mention him in its abbreviated history section.
Earth vs. The Flying Saucers is probably best known for the special effects contributed by master craftsman Ray Harryhausen. This is the movie in which saucers demolish the flower of democracy's architecture.
Although overshadowed by this imagery, the film is quite solid on its own. It's full of 1950s standards, like splashy shots of plot-point-specific newspaper headlines and a Walter Winchellesque introduction, but it's got some original material as well. The plot twists slightly at a few junctures, and while they're not hairpin turns, they transform a plain movie into an interesting one.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
This movie’s creators set out to make a flick about aliens kicking human ass until they get their own asses kicked in return, and that— and nothing else— is precisely what they did. And for that very reason, or so it seems to me, this movie is one of the best beloved classics of 50’s science fiction.

Earth vs the Flying Saucers is almost an archetypal 1950s alien invasion film.
Part of the fun to be had with Earth vs the Flying Saucers is the inventivity that has gone into the script (which comes partly from prolific B-movie hack Curt Siodmak). It comes packed with all sorts of novel inventions and devices – forcefields, room-sized computers, a device that indexes all the information inside a human head, the aliens in their blank metal suits with helmets that are revealed to operate by amplifying the senses, rayguns and flashing Van Der Graaf accelerators, even a muddled suggestion of relativity theory at one point.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 99

1 The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.

2 The LORD is great in Zion; and he is high above all the people.

3 Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.

4 The king's strength also loveth judgment; thou dost establish equity, thou executest judgment and righteousness in Jacob.

5 Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.

6 Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.

7 He spake unto them in the cloudy pillar: they kept his testimonies, and the ordinance that he gave them.

8 Thou answeredst them, O LORD our God: thou wast a God that forgavest them, though thou tookest vengeance of their inventions.

9 Exalt the LORD our God, and worship at his holy hill; for the LORD our God is holy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Walt Kelly

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1973 of cartoonist and socio-political satirist Walt Kelly, creator of Pogo. There is an official Pogo site. There is a biography here and a fan club here. There is a Facebook group.

"We have met the enemy and he is us."

The photo at the top of the post is from Lynn On Vacation's Flickr photos.

The Cyclops

The Cyclops is a 1957 monster movie. Like The Beast of Hollow Mountain it takes place in Mexico, but The Cyclops is not an ancient creature but a radioactivity-warped giant. TCM has a page with a detailed plot synopsis. Lon Chaney, Jr. is in this movie. Gloria Talbott also stars. I remember her best from We're No Angels. Paul Frees does special voice effects.


10/1/2009: Great Old Movies likes it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Mole People

The Mole People is a 1956 Universal monster movie starring John Agar (whom I just saw in Tarantula), and Hugh Beaumont.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
Cool idea, inept execution. The unimaginative directorial style works against the movie at every turn. The script asks a lot of our disbelief-suspenders, and doesn’t give them much to work with. The acting is particularly shabby
we all know why we really watch these movies— we want to see cool rubber-suit monsters. And The Mole People has a veritable army of them. It’s not enough to make it a good film, but it’s enough to make it suitable entertainment for an otherwise unoccupied Saturday afternoon— which, after all, is what it was really designed to be in the first place.

There's a lengthy examination of the characters, plot, etc. here.

The Beast of Hollow Mountain

The Beast of Hollow Mountain is a 1956 monster movie about an American cowboy whose Mexican cattle ranch is being ravaged by a legendary dinosaur. This was remade as The Valley of Gwangi in 1969 with creature effects by Ray Harryhausen.

Internet Archive has it online:

Night of the Living Dead

Night of the Living Dead is a 1968 black and white zombie movie directed by George Romero. This was Romero's first feature-length film. It has been influential in the horror genre and is a must-see in my opinion.

I was surprised that, having been made in 1968, the film would have been so sexist. The women are no use at all, helpless in the face of every trial, meekly following the direction of the men or causing trouble when they act on their own. The movie was shockingly disappointing in that respect.

1000 Misspent Hours has a review as does Moria.

10/27/2008:GreenCineDaily has an article in observance of the film's 40th anniversary.
3/20/2009: Only the Cinema: "It's an uncompromising, brutal film, from its tense, moody opening to the casually bloody irony of its conclusion."


Tarantula is a 1955 Universal monster movie starring Leo G. Carroll and John Agar. Wikipedia reports that
Among other things, the film is notable for the appearance of a 25-year-old Clint Eastwood in an uncredited role as a jet pilot at the end of the film.

1000 Misspent Hours says that "Technically speaking, the movie is comparatively good," calls it "a pretty well-made flick" and says, "you could definitely do worse than this for mindless entertainment on a Saturday afternoon." Moria says that "As a monster movie goes Tarantula is quite good".

7/7/2009: Only the Cinema has a review.

The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues

The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues is a 1955 sff/horror film starring Cathy Downs and Kent Taylor.

via Youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours:
Not content to create one of the least impressive monster movies of the 1950’s, screenwriter Lou Rusoff and director Dan Milner (who also co-produced The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues with his brother, Jack) went the extra mile to deliver simultaneously one of the decade’s least impressive spy flicks.
Moria says
Even as cheap 1950s monster movies go, The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues is rather dull.
DVDTalk calls it "a grindingly unimaginative hackwork job that shows its monster but probably shouldn't have bothered."

Oasis of the Zombies

Oasis of the Zombies is a 1981 Jesus Franco film. This is the 2nd film I've seen lately that combines zombies with Nazis. There was both a French version and a Spanish one. The American release is apparently an English dubbing of the French release.

1001 Misspent Hours calls the movie "by turns boring and charmingly dumb". I missed the charming part. The Projection Booth begins its review with this:
Oasis of the Zombies deserves some sort of eternal recognition in the annals of cinema if only for it's brilliant alternate title, Blood Sucking Nazi Zombies (take that, Snakes on a Plane!). The film itself, however, largely fails to live up to such kitschy promise, and for the most part is a fairly typical entry in the legions of cobbled-together B-movie horror films.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Theatre Memphis' Sweeney Todd

My familiarity with the Sweeney Todd story is strictly limited to the 1936 film, so I've been curious about the musical version and have been looking forward to seeing what Theatre Memphis would do. The Younger Son and I went tonight for Friends & Family night. There was a good crowd.

Christopher Blank has an article (no review yet) at that emphasizes the "contemporary" touches used in creating the set.

I loved this show. It was grim and disturbing, perhaps because I was familiar with one incarnation of the story but not this one. Definitely not this one. The actors were great, especially the 2 leads, and, though I'm not a voice critic, I thought the voices were wonderful. I thought the set and costumes were perfect. Except for the fact that the shrill, ear-piercing whistle was over-used and too loud I've got no complaints, and I can usually find something to complain about. This is perfect Halloween fare -a bit of lightness mixed with despair and desperation. If it wouldn't cost me $28 bucks I don't have, I'd go see it again!

It! The Terror from Beyond Space

It! The Terror from Beyond Space is a black and white 1958 horror/sff film written by Jerome Bixby, who has some Star Trek credits. The narrator names the year as 1973, which was only 15 years in the future at that point. Ambitious of them to think we'd have manned missions to Mars by then. We haven't managed that yet, and sometimes I wonder if we ever will.

You get to see "It" fairly early. The actors here that I'm most familiar with are Dabbs Greer and Marshall Thompson.

This movie is said to have been the inspiration for the film Alien.

part 1:

part 2:

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "an extremely solid film". Moria says this film "really invented the concept that Alien turned into a subgenre – of aliens stalking crewmembers through spaceship corridors." ClassicSciFiMovies says it
holds its own as far as a story goes. The very spartan-ness of the set and costuming in It keep such accessories from getting in the way of the story.

SFSignal has featured this film in their Sunday Cinema post.

R.I.P. Tom 2

Mediaverse reports that the Memphis Tigers mascot was put to sleep yesterday. He was 17 years old and had cancer. The Tigers site says:
A memorial is planned for the Tigers' Homecoming game versus Southern Miss on October 25. The Tiger Guard asks that any memorials be sent to the Highland Hundred via the Tiger Football office at 136 Athletic Office Building, Memphis, TN 38152.

The Daily Helmsman has this story.

The Deadly Mantis

We've been seeing a Praying Mantis on the patio for the last several days and have been enjoying her sojourn among us, so this 1957 Universal film The Deadly Mantis, more "preying" than "praying", is offered in her honor. The movie stars William Hopper.


1000 Misspent Hours has this to say:
And of all the dubious films in the genre to bear the Universal imprint, perhaps none is so eminently worthy of its creators’ shame as The Deadly Mantis.
The damn thing is only 78 minutes long, for God’s sake, but it seems to take at least three times that because so little of that time is spent moving the plot along. But it has a really cool, really crappy monster, and ultimately, that’s all that matters.
Moria calls it "predictable" and "fairly routine".

The Salaryman's Wife

The Salaryman's Wife by Sujata Massey won the 1997 Agatha award for best first novel. By the end of the book I didn't care who did it. I didn't care about the victim of the crime or any of the characters except, perhaps, for the protagonist. I didn't care enough about her, though, to seek out any of the others in this series. This is just another mystery novel. OK, I guess, but not a stand-out for me.

from the back of the book:
Japanese-American Rei Shimura is a 27-year-old English teacher living in one of Tokyo's seediest neighborhoods. She doesn't make much money, but she wouldn't go back home to California even if she had a free ticket (which, thanks to her parents, she does.) Her independence is threatened however, when a getaway to an ancient castle town is marred by murder.

Rei is the first to find the beautiful wife of a high-powered businessman, dead in the snow. Taking charge, as usual, Rei searches for clues by crashing a funeral, posing as a bar-girl, and somehow ending up pursued by police and paparazzi alike. In the meantime, she manages to piece together a strange, ever-changing puzzle--one that is built on lies and held together by years of sex and deception.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Curse of the Demon

Curse of the Demon is the name under which the 1957 British horror film Night of the Demon was released in America. Dana Andrews stars in this, and Dana Andrews is always worth seeing. It was directed by Jacques Tourneur, who directed Cat People.

1000 Misspent Hours praises it and sums up by saying, "In short, this is an immensely satisfying film." Moria also likes it, saying, "This is regarded as one of the genuine classics of the genre. And it’s not hard to see why". DVD Journal calls it "a modest but effective gothy thriller of necromancy and deviltry that's a high point in British cinema".

There's a quote from Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in the film:
Like one who, on a lonely road,
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And, having once turned round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.

I'm surprised this one isn't better known.

10/3/2009:House of Mirth and Movies has a post.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Creature with the Atom Brain

Creature with the Atom Brain (no wikipedia entry) is a 1955 horror/SFF movie about a Nazi scientist who uses zombies to help a mob boss exact revenge. At just over an hour, it had its theatrical release on a double bill with It Came from Beneath the Sea.

1000 Misspent Hours likes this one, as does Daily Film Dose.

2/25/2009: has a review.
3/21/2010: Arbogast on Film says, "it's all in good fun and at 69 minutes the film's flaws are far from fatal."

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Day of the Triffids

The Day of the Triffids is a 1962 British science fiction film very loosely based on the John Wyndham novel with the same name. It stars Janette Scott (Crack in the World) and Kieron Moore (Crack in the World).

Foster on Film discusses its influence on the horror genre. Moria notes that "This film of the John Wyndham novel is mostly – and rightly so – lambasted for the complete demolition job it does of the book." DVDTalk declares they have "always loved The Day of the Triffids - there's something wonderfully real about the post-apocalyptic menace in John Wyndham's 1951 novel." 1000 Misspent Hours opens with "This is another movie that I like a great deal more than I can really defend."

StompTokyo says,
As a post-apocalyptic survival story, The Day of the Triffids scores surprisingly well, with a number of horrific developments that come about from mankind's sudden collective blindness.
Classic Sci-Fi Movies calls it "one of the big B sci-fi movies of the early 60s." Need Coffee offers it as part of their 32 Days of Halloween series.

The Eyes of the Mummy

The Eyes of the Mummy is a 1918 silent film.

via Youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours says that "the director’s unwillingness shows in Eyes of the Mummy’s every second," but Silents are Golden has some background information that indicates director Ernst Lubitsch wanted to move from the short comedies he was known for into more dramatic films. There is more information on the film at the web site of Pola Negri, the female lead, including hints on how to approach the film:
The first thing most people think when they see the title The Eyes of the Mummy is that the movie will be an old-time horror film. But when watching The Eyes of the Mummy, the first thing you need to do in order to best appreciate it is to not expect a horror film. Forget every horror picture you’ve ever seen and let the picture tell its own story. Keep in mind that this is 1918, and the horror film as we know it today had not been invented yet. The Eyes of the Mummy is really a drama picture with supernatural and horror elements

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is from a story by Ray Bradbury and has Ray Harryhausen's creature effects. This movie has a credit in Cloverfield. Cecil Kellaway plays the elder paleontologist Dr. Thurgood Elson. I guess I first saw this actor as the head of the sanitarium in the film Harvey, but he was in quite a few of the old movies and is delightful here as the dedicated scientist.


from 1000 Misspent Hours:
it isn’t necessary to dig below the surface to appreciate The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, which works perfectly well as a straight-up monster flick. Technically speaking, this is one of the four or five best-made movies of its type that I’ve seen.
and closes by saying this:
the animation of the Rhedosaurus is some of the smoothest ever filmed, making it by far the most believable of all Harryhausen’s frankly fantastic creations (by which I mean to exclude such things as the giant crab in Mysterious Island and the chess-playing baboon in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger). Beyond that, the design of the monster has an elegance— even beauty— about it that has rarely been equaled since; apart from its excessive size (it looks to be about 150 feet long from snout to tail), the Rhedosaurus has the appearance of an animal that might really have lived at some point during the Earth’s prehistory. Even if the nuclear angle hadn’t made it the first representative of an idea whose time had come, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms probably would have spawned imitators solely on the strength of its own inherent quality.

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 106
verses 1-6; 19-23

1 Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

2 Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?

3 Blessed are they that keep judgment, and he that doeth righteousness at all times.

4 Remember me, O LORD, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation;

5 That I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.

6 We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.


19 They made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the molten image.

20 Thus they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass.

21 They forgat God their saviour, which had done great things in Egypt;

22 Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and terrible things by the Red sea.

23 Therefore he said that he would destroy them, had not Moses his chosen stood before him in the breach, to turn away his wrath, lest he should destroy them.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

From Dusk till Dawn

The Offspring are watching another one I've already seen, so I'm skipping a second viewing of From Dusk till Dawn.


This 1996 vampire movie is full of violence and sleaze, with the New York Times review calling it "violent, gory, sexist and exploitative in ways that, for all its facetiousness, are real." Roger Ebert gives it a thumbs-up in his video review.

Killers from Space

Killers from Space, starring a very young Peter Graves, is a 1954 alien invasion movie that includes an atomic bomb test.

I liked the pneumatic tube messaging system. I got quite tired of him running his hands through his hair while he stared at the "giant" creatures. He stares, then runs his hands through his hair... over and over...

via Youtube:

1000 Misspent Hours says, "Killers from Space is a film which, in other hands, might have turned out exceedingly well."


Cloverfield, a 2008 monster movie, seems inspired by Godzilla.

/film gives it an 8 out of 10 and closes its review with this:
Cloverfield is a fun movie. Plain and simple. It’s sit back, relax and go. It’s a roller coaster ride. JJ Abrams wanted to make an American monster movie, and he has done just that. Cloverfield is not a Godzilla rip-off, it’s the reinvention of the monster film. This is the story about characters trapped in a monster film. They aren’t the characters that would be in the big Hollywood blockbuster version, or even an D-level take by The Asylum or Troma. These characters are the people running away from Godzilla. They have no urge to defeat the monster, they just want to get away and reconnect with their loved ones. This is a human story which just happens to take place during this gigantic moment of fear.

Roger Ebert says,
Mercifully, at 84 minutes the movie is even shorter than its originally alleged 90-minute running time; how much visual shakiness can we take? And yet, all in all, it is an effective film, deploying its special effects well and never breaking the illusion that it is all happening as we see it.


You can see a South Park spoof of this movie here. (HT: /film)

The Satanic Rites of Dracula

The Satanic Rites of Dracula, R-rated for nudity and violence, is a 1973 horror film. It is the 8th Hammer Studios Dracula movie and stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

Moria says that with this film "The whole Hammer cycle was about milked to an end." StompTokyo closes with this: "It turns out the one thing that kills vampires for good, however, is bad moviemaking." Weird Wild Realm says "It has the feeling of a film with no script, just made up before each day's shoot."

Friday, October 10, 2008


The Offspring are watching Underworld tonight, but since it's so late and I've seen it I'm skipping it and going to bed. It's a 2003 horror film about warring vampires and werewolves.

The New York Times says, "Len Wiseman's ''Underworld,'' which opens nationwide today, achieves only loudness, aggressive confusion and one of the silliest head-splittings in film history."

The Slate reviewer didn't like it much either:
The first hour is evocative and creepy: You can't tell if there's a ghost or a devil cult somewhere, or if we're in Shirley Jackson country. But once the trajectory is clear and the squeamish New York intellectual Quaid has to stand up and fight for his homestead, the boringness seeps into you like the damp.

Roger Ebert makes it 3 out of 3, saying
This is a movie so paltry in its characters and shallow in its story that the war seems to exist primarily to provide graphic visuals.
It's so impossible to care about the characters in the movie that I didn't care if the vampires or werewolves won. I might not have cared in a better movie, either, but I might have been willing to pretend.


Young Frankenstein

The Younger Son saw Young Frankenstein for the first time tonight. This 1974 parody film is a riot, especially if, as we do, you love all those old Universal horror movies. It's a Mel Brooks film, starring Gene Wilder, Marty Feldman, Teri Garr, Peter Boyle, Cloris Leachman, Gene Hackman and Madeline Kahn.


The New York Times review calls it "Mel Brooks's funniest, most cohesive comedy to date" and says, "Perhaps the nicest thing about Young Frankenstein is that one can laugh with it and never feel as if the target film, James Whale's 1931 classic that starred Boris Karloff, is being rudely used." says, "From the very first moment of its release, this parody of the Universal Studios monster films of the early 1930s was hailed as a triumph."

Atom Age Vampire

Atom Age Vampire is a 1963 Italian horror movie. It's directed by Anton Giulio Majano and starring Alberto Lupo. It's a mad scientist film and the vampire of the title is not an actual vampire.

1000 Misspent Hours says, "If you enjoy this kind of junk, then you should enjoy Atom-Age Vampire immensely."

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Alraune is a 1928 German horror film starring Paul Wegener. It is based on a book written in 1911 that is in turn "rooted" in German folklore.

from The New York Times review from the time of the film's release: "If you like this sort of thing you'll find it a superior product. ... A most engaging evening's display of erotics." says,
This German silent is the most famous of the many adaptations of Hanns Heinz Ewers’ ALRAUNE, and with good reason. The film’s chilly atmosphere, perverse storyline and stunning lead performance by the incomparable Brigitte Helm make for a unique and impacting viewing experience.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Blood Tide

Blood Tide (no Wikipedia entry) is a 1982 horror film starring James Earl Jones and Mel Ferrer.

This is a real period piece. And very slow. The Younger Son says this is one of the slowest-moving films he's ever seen, and although he has seen the whole thing, I didn't finish this one.

The Thing from Another World

The Thing from Another World is a 1951 film believed to have been directed by Howard Hawks. James Arness is in this film as The Thing. I like the music in this one.

"Watch the skies!"

1000 Misspent Hours calls it "the world’s first alien paranoia movie, the film that spawned the entire “commies from space” sub-genre in the 1950’s". Moria agrees it's " the very first alien invader film" and "one of the best." Slant Magazine says, "The Thing From Another World's titular vegetable creature may not have the cache of a Freddy or Jason, but there's no denying that this chilling Hawks production is a must-see for science fiction and horror aficionados." Only the Cinema has a post.

4/5/2009: SFSignal is featuring it in their Sunday Cinema post.

5/26/2009: Ferdy on Film has a review.

Mr. Sardonicus

I remember seeing Mr. Sardonicus, a 1961 horror film directed by William Castle, on late-night tv when I was a younger teen. The scene I remember best is the one with the dogs which had been used in the experiments.

WTF Film says, "one of the better films in Castle’s filmography, especially for people with an interest in Gothic horror beyond the initial Universal wave, Corman and Bava."

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

The Woman in Green

The Woman in Green is the 11th in the Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of Sherlock Holmes movies. There are some still shots and parts of the dialog printed here.

via Youtube:

Fog Island

Fog Island (there's not even a Wikipedia entry for this one) is a 1945 black and white horror film starring George Zucco and Lionel Atwill. The people are all stuck on the island but can move freely around, and move around they do. In and out and 'round about, folks go through doorways and follow each other down passageways generally skulking through the old house. And one by one they die.

via Youtube: