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"The Horror of Party Beach" it isn't
MST fans are familiar with the classic episode whereby Mike and the 'bots turn their comedic talents on the East Coast beach movie "The Horror of Party Beach". Like "Horror", "The Beach Girls and the Monster" takes place on a beach and features a monster, but that's where the similarities end.
"Beach Girls" tells the story of Otto, who is a scientist. Otto is a control freak who can't control anyone in his life. You see, Otto has a trophy wife by the name of Vicky who likes to cheat on him and a son who has been neglecting his work in the family's sea lab. The son carries some guilt over being involved in an accident which gives his friend a limp. Seeing that he's been living life way too seriously, the son has taken to the beach life, surfing and dancing with pretty girls. This does not please the father at all.
Otto's son and his friends party like it's 1999, but a monster is killing them one by one. Why them and no one else? Why are we never shown the origin of the monster? Well, after about the 2/3 mark of this movie, it becomes very apparent what the answers to these questions are. This movie is not so much a horror movie per se, but rather a drama involving a dysfunctional family that just happens to have a monster in it.
One little item might escape you on first viewing it. In one scene, the son and his friend are viewing a movie of surfing in Hawaii, which really lends nothing to the movie except to pad it out so it runs at least an hour. The movie is shot in black and white, but the inserted footage is in that washed-out 60s color. Watch for it.
Sterno says catch this wave and ride it in to shore.
Gojira vs. Biorante (1989)
Gojira fights Rosebud
After a while, one needs a fresh approach to anything they do...drive a different way to work, wear the latest fashions, etc. When Toho studios got around to making a new Gojira film in 1989, they decided that instead of space aliens, other monsters, or the Japanese army, Gojira would fight a plant. Specifically, he would fight a giant rosebush.
As per any decent B movie, you have a scientist who Tampers in God's Domain (TiGD). He manages to obtain some Godzilla cells -- apparently Godzilla sheds like a snake -- and seeks to use the cells to genetically alter wheat and other foodstuffs so that us bad Americans won't be the bread basket to the world anymore. However, we bomb the lab, killing the daughter. This would be your normal tragic story except for what happens next.
The father begins infusing Godzilla's DNA into that of a rose pedal. Because he went TiGD, the daughter's spirit finds its way into the scientist's creation. Except for thorns, roses aren't that harmful. However, this one's got an attitude (wouldn't you if you were 150 feet tall with no eyes, nose, or mouth?). In between, we have the world power of Sardinia and their agents sneaking around the edges, making things unnecessarily complicated.
Unfortunately, the sight of the world's best rubber monster fighting a rose bush staggers the mind. During the viewing of the movie, I was forced to call Mills Lane and ask that he give me a "standing eight count". The person who devised that plot needs to be wacked with a clown hammer and given my phone number, because *I* have a plot that is less convoluted and doesn't traumatize anyone's suspension of disbelief.
Sterno says to tell James Witmore to leave his "MiracleGro" at home.
Think "Casino Royale" meets "Home Alone"
"Godzilla's Revenge" is a children's movie, no doubt about that. There's no "revenge" to it. The story revolves around a child in shorts (thankfully not named Kenny) who endures torment and abuse from his schoolmates. Since the idea of going postal hadn't been invented yet, Ichiro spends his afterschool hours dreaming of Monster Island and Godzilla's son Minya. Running on the same track in the direction of this plot are two bank robbers.
Much like "Casino Royale" was James Bond without Sean Connery, "Revenge" is Godzilla, sort of. One might look at it as a satire or spoof. It shows Godzilla; he fights and yells, but he isn't laying waste to anyplace in Japan, and *shudder* he's a dad. This is not the Godzilla I grew to love. That having been said, Godzilla does impart wisdom to his son Minya, and by extension to our movie's child.
The idea of fighting one's own battles is important, as well as having the courage to stand up for yourself and your convictions. The lessons taught by Godzilla (I can't believe I'm writing this) are ones needed by children, regardless of their circumstances. It's done in a way that is subtle and fun, yet effective.
On the adult level, however, I'm afraid that you're simply going to have to turn your brain off for this one. I could've sworn one of the bank robbers was Joe Pesci -- but I could be wrong. They are simply too buffoonish to be believed, but it is necessary to make them this way so that the ending can play out as it does. However, there is enough in them to make them more than two-dimensional (i.e., the one robber's drinking problem). It's "Home Alone" without Macauley Caulkin -- and that's a good thing.
Sterno says show "Godzilla's Revenge" to the children in your life.
Gamera 3: Jashin kakusei (1999)
Never carry a grudge *that* far
Teenage angst must be a terrible thing in Japan. Here, teens listen to various rock bands, pierce their bodies, color their hair in odd shades, or take an unfortunate turn into drug abuse. However, I venture to say that no American teenager has lost their parents to Gamera.
Poor Amaya watches in horror as Gamera destroys her family's home in 1995 during the great Gyaos attacks. Now, being that Gamera is a friend to children everywhere, I'm sure it was an accident. Unfortunately, Amaya doesn't see it that way. She's bent on revenge.
Amaya is sent to live with her aunt and uncle, who seem more concerned that she take their last name. Anyhow, she stumbles upon a neighboring family's cave that it has been guarding for a long time. The reason that the family guards the cave is due to its hibernating monster, which can be awakened by moving a stone; talk about your light sleeper! This monster (named Iris) is nurtured by Amaya to hate Gamera and to seek its destruction. This little dysfunctional family is headed for serious trouble, since Iris eventually seeks to fuse Amaya's DNA with its own.
Complicating matters is the fact that that Gyaos have returned, and Gamera pretty much levels a city trying to destroy them. Japan's parliament of the week decides it now hates Gamera, and will do what it can to kill him. When Iris comes along, she is seen as the solution to the Gamera "problem".
Overall, this is a much better Gamera movie than those versions from the 50s, which were just awful. There is a haunting realism to seeing massive number of people die as a result of kaiju fighting. This stands in contrast to many of the Gojira films where no one seems to die. One problem I had was that my version was in letterbox format, and coupled with the many night scenes, I didn't get to see as much of the kaiju as I would have liked.
Sterno says stand up for Gamera 3.
Circus of Fear (1966)
Proving once again that talent need not stand in the way of making a bad movie, Christopher Lee strikes again. Not content with being part of a mind-numbingly bad performance in "The Castle of Fu Manchu" -- just ask Tom Servo & Crow T. Robot -- Lee once again sends the mind reeling in a performance that could be a substitute for LSD.
While the occindental Lee's performance of Fu Manchu is offensive in terms of sensibilities, his appearance as a hooded man on the run amongst a circus merely offends the viewers expectations. He spends his time apparently thinking he's doing a Dracula movie. He does not seem to know that he's making a mystery/suspense movie, not a horror one.
It all begins well enough. A bank robbery happens before the opening credits roll. However, not long after, everyone is conveniently captured but one (and he is also conveniently killed). The rest of the movie centers on the cash, which the dead accomplice delivered to the mystery man who killed him, and how it makes its way to Lee, who plays a lion tamer (!).
The movie has a love triangle, odious comic relief, a midget with the name of Mr. Big, police detectives with bald heads, and lots, lots less. If the last line in your movie is "I don't need more evidence, Mr. Big. You're fired." you have a truly horrible movie. Watching this movie just may give you cancer. It should come in a red biohazard bag; it is that awful.
Sterno says remember to ask yourself, "What the heck was that?" if you are unfortunate enough to watch this one.
Mekagojira no gyakushu (1975)
Alien cyborgs battle Gojira
Terror of Mechagodzilla is about pesky aliens from the Third Planet trying to take over the world by using a bitter scientist, his cyborg daughter, his pet monster, and a mechanical version of Gojira. Huh? Yeah, you have that right.
(By the way, what "third planet" are they from? Earth is the third planet in this solar system. I guess this means the dudes in the helmets that look like jacks are from another solar system! *smack* Can't Toho come up with better names for alien worlds than "Planet X" and "Third Planet"? I guess not.)
I don't know what we ever did to these guys. Granted, I know their whole world is being sucked into a black hole, but come on...destroy our world as we know it so you can live here? We have this thing called tolerance and open-mindedness; if you're so much more intellegent and advanced, how 'bout grabbing two scoops of it?
Sadly, the alien dudes are rebuilding Mechagodzilla. Not to fight Gojira directly, mind you, but so they can send in their stooge's pet monster to soften up the Big G and *then* send in the mechanical one to finish him off. I guess this is meant to show that the aliens are users at heart...or perhaps the rebuild just isn't going according to schedule.
Somehow, Interpol is in the middle of this mess, along with the usual coterie of scientist trying to figure out what to do next. There is a hint of a love story between the cyborg daughter and a scientist, but it just wasn't enough there to spark my interest.
Sterno says sign up for the rematch of Gojira & Mechagodzilla.
The Fly (1958)
Jeff Goldblum can't carry Vincent Price's...
...talent in a horror movie. Obviously, this IS the Fly movie to see. Let us review.
A night watchman at the Delambre family factory discovers Andre smashed to a grease spot under a press, with wife Helene at the controls. Brother Francois is called, followed by the police. It seems that the lovely Helene has committed murder...or has she?
We then go to the backstory, where Andre has developed a teleportation device. (Interestingly, the sound it makes before disintegrating an object bears a strong resemblence to the sound the Martian warships make before firing in War of the Worlds - listen closely!) An amazing thing is all of this is done with *analog* technology. As an electric company employee, I'd like to have been a fly on the wall (no pun intended) to watch this guy's electric meter spin. His bills had to be a doozy.
Andre teleports ashtrays, newspapers, and even the family cat before testing it on himself. Sadly, a fly entered the chamber with Andre during one test. He should know better - things like this happen in the B movie universe.
Slowly but surely, Andre loses the humanity he beautifully demonstrates in his love for all life and reverence for God. In exchange, he becomes all too much like the fly who was unfortunate enough to share a teleportation chamber with him. The tension as Andre slowly loses his battle is thick, only relieved when both mutated beings are dispatched. It is this tension and horror that is lost in the subsequent remake.
Sterno says this Fly is okay to have in your house.
Ants on the warpath!
Sometimes, I wish I could have lived in the '50s. Everything was bigger in the '50s -- cars, hair, music; even the animals were bigger. Unfortunately, the bigger animals were caused by radiation (see Tarantula, this movie's cousin).
Our movie begins with the New Mexico state police searching for something. It is a little girl with a blank look on her face. While my initial thought was she'd seen Toni Braxton's *ahem* "dress" at the Grammy's, this was not the case. Her family has been murdered, and worse yet, her doll baby has had her head smashed in (how vile!).
Along comes pseudo-German scientist and his daughter to explain what is happening in the desert. (I'd like to know who these women are that are marrying these pseudo-German scientists and having their children, and why they're almost always girls.) It turns out that our A-bomb tests have created these giant ants. Picnics in New Mexico are now an extreme event.
In a Japanese rubber monster movie twist, the keys to the World's Best Military (c) are turned over to the scientist as they hunt down and try to destroy the murderous, doll-crunching, boy-abducting ants. The movie ends up in the sewer - literally - but there is seldom a dull moment. This could be attributed to the fine cast (Witmore, Arness) and a well crafted story that has no room for John Agar.
Sterno says join Them for an evening of fun.
Four Sided Triangle (1953)
Guy loses girl...twice!
Hey, guys! Did you and your buddy ever chase after the same girl, and lose the girl to your buddy? Sure, we all have. How many of you went out and tried to find a girl *just* like the one you lost? Okay, most of us are still here. Now, how many of you actually went out and tried to reproduce the girl of your dreams? Nope, me neither.
Robin and Bill are buddy mad scientists who are both childhood friends with Lena. Robin & Bill develop a device which makes an exact duplicate of whatever you put into the machine. The amount of energy required to change energy to matter, let alone the ability to exactly order that energy into anything useful, is beyond comprehension or reason. However, it does pose an interesting thought experiment about the nature of identity and what makes one unique in God's universe.
Helen is tortured because she realizes not only does she not have her own identity, but that the man she loves is loved by her "twin". Her world-view is the same as Lena's was before she married Robin. Helen is depressed to the point of suicide realizing that she can never be anything but a shadow of Lena. Bill is miserable because he has lost the girl of his dreams twice to the same man. His cowardace in love contrasts sharply to the point of curiousity with his impetuous, heart-on-his sleeve emotions in other aspects of his life.
The ending gets a demerit because of the need to dress them exactly for the first time in order to build a dramatic conclusion for the audience. Considering that the barn fire claims either Lena or Helen, a more dramatic ending would have had the survivor wrapped in a blanket, and the eventual hospital scene played out there. The emotion of the discovery of the survivor against the burning fire would dovetail nicely. However, this is nitpicking in an otherwise great movie.
Sterno says pull Euclid out of geometry class to watch Four Sided Triangle.
The Day Mars Invaded Earth (1962)
Is it real or is it doppleganger?
This is an interesting little movie. The viewer's hopes are not raised when the opening credit sequence is on top of stock footage of a rocket blasting off. The movie struggles to gain altitude, barely avoiding clipping the trees with its cheesy Martian landing scene. But, baby, does this plane take off after that!
It turns out that the smoldering probe was actually the launching pad for the Martians -- essentially beings of pure energy -- to invade earth and produce dopplegangers of the scientist who built the probe and his family. It gives an interesting juxtaposition: Just who is invading whom? We tell ourselves that we're "exploring" Mars, but what would we do further down the line except colonize? Wouldn't it be reasonable to expect that sentient beings, seeing the planet being explored by another race, might take matters into their own hands?
In another light, one could look at the dopplegangers as the alternate face we show to others (even loved ones) that we may not even wish to recognize ourselves. This could be seen in the way the scientist and his wife relate to each other, especially when it is the "real" person meeting up with the doppleganged spouse. The final 10 minutes of this all-too-short movie are both shocking and thought-provoking.
Sterno says join the invasion forces.
Rubber monsters -- attack!
50 Are you an out-of-work cartoonist looking for a way to keep the repo man from your door? Is your martial arts instructor girlfriend hassling you to find work? Just be careful where you get a job; you may end up working for alien cockroaches bent on destroying earth!
Said cockroaches inhabit human bodies and are building a children's theme park "to promote peace". (Please let these bozos be connected with Marian Wright Edelman!) They have reel-to-reel tapes that attract and control Gigan and King Ghidra from space, and manage to annoy Godzilla at the same time. (Rather than construct such an elaborate tape, they could've just used a Jennifer Lopez tape...much cheaper, I'd imagine.)
Godzilla has a little monster friend who can't walk upright (bad job there, Toho) but does manage to hold his own nonetheless. Gigan is *very* cool. He has a head like a Cylon from "Battlestar Galactica" and hooks instead of paws. Plus, he has a circular saw in his chest. This is a useful appendage, let me tell you!
Admittedly, Godzilla vs. Gigan does repeat an anti-pollution message. However, it takes the story in a different direction in that rather than having a Smog Monster being born from our own foibles, alien cockroaches leave a planet where pollution had caused dire consequences to one that is on the verge of doing so in order to use it to their advantage. Sadly, Godzilla was taking a whale of a beating before the climax. Conversely, the Japanese army did manage to beat back Godzilla's little friend. That's gotta be the first time that the army beat a monster.
Sterno says run, don't walk to Godzilla vs. Gigan.
Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)
Look! A spider-thingy!
The Corman family (notably Roger) has this nasty habit of padding a movie with lots of walking. Oh sure, there are variations on the theme. Generally, though you will find yourself subjected to a tour of Bronson Canyon, or wherever they decided to film that day's movie. Brother Gene has added variety by giving us lots of SKIING!!
The plot involves four theives who stage a mine explosion in South Dakota to divert the town's attention while the bank is relieved of gold bars - but only six bars! Why six? Why, they're going cross-country skiing to the lodge of a local man, and that's all they can carry. From there, they will hop a plane to Canada. Unfortunately, there's a monster following the crooks, sort of a cross between a spider and Bigfoot with extra floppy arms.
If it all sounds odd, that's because it is. The tension between the boss (I suspect it's really Donald Sutherland undercover) and his *ahem* secretary is almost palpable. Frank Sinatra's cousin's performance is outstanding, definitely paving the way for Frank Stallone's run of fame years later.
The disturbing thing is that if these crooks are into putting their fellow fireworks manufacturers out of business, why are we robbing banks in South Dakota? Let's face it, South Dakota is not known for much other than Sturgis and it's motorcycle rally. I'm trying to figure out how partially robbing a bank in South Dakota cements your claim to the fireworks empire. Fortunately, I have other things to worry about other than these jokers.
Sterno says spin your spider web somewhere else.
It's a classic...uh, not really.
Sometimes, watching B movies can be difficult. This is especially so when the studio makes a movie, and later decides enough plots to make it so much cinematic stew. Such is the case of Frankenstein Conquers the World.
First, we have the Frankenstein monster's heart, which is taken by the German Gestapo. Why? Who knows? The heart is placed on Das Boot, and finds it's way to Japan...Hiroshima, Japan during the summer of '45. Being *anywhere* in Japan in the summer of '45 was not the place to be. And you guess it, the heart gets nuked by the Enola Gay. Of all the luck...
The heart now springs to life, and becomes a boy! This kid is growing faster & eating more than the Man from Mars in Blondie's "Rapture". About the only thing he's not eating is cars and guitars. Meanwhile, in another part of Japan, somebody blows something up, and Baragon appears, but only to one guy, so the guy thinks he's seeing things. While Baragon is going Camp Crystal Lake on people, the Frankenboy is taking the rap for it. How you confuse a giant mutated boy with a giant mutated lizard is something I'll not understand living outside of Japan. Eventually, the boy and the lizard do finally get it on, but the results are as disappointing as your average Don King-promoted fight.
Sterno says don't pay $49.99 to watch this movie on pay-per-view.
Thank you, K. Gordon Murray!
It is seldom that B-movie lovers get a treat like this. K. Gordon Murray, the man who delivers Mexican wrestling flicks for our consumption, brings us "Rock & Roll Wrestling Women vs. The Aztec Ape." I can honestly say that this is truly a guilty pleasure.
This movie involves your typical Mad Scientist (MS), who is working on transplanting brains for reasons not explained. He has already transplanted an ape's brain into a man, giving us a man slowly turning into an ape. The purpose of this is not entirely clear either, but thankfully said MS has a hypnotic trance over him. Heaven knows we can't afford to have half man/half apes walking around willy-nilly.
Anyhow, since the young, less educated women don't seem to be surviving these transplants (gee, I wonder why?), MS decides to abduct and operated on a pretty young lady who is a scientist. Sadly, she dies on the table. Next, MS decides he needs more athletic women -- so he decides to find a wrestler. Unfortunately, the woman he goes after is Venus, the sister of the pretty scientist MS just killed.
This flick is enjoyable in every area except for the soundtrack, which should have been stopped at the border, strip searched, and held on trumped-up charges. The wrestling scenes are well done, and the acting is much above the norm. Plus, I love Venus! She is absolutely fabulous as both an actress & as a wrestler. She puts Peaches Page to shame.
This movie also doesn't take itself too seriously, and tells a good story without cutting corners or relying on an overuse of stock footage. Plus, it doesn't insult my Suspension of Disbelief or cause it to slap me for my poor choice in movies.
Sterno says flick your Bics for "Rock & Roll Wrestling Women".
Sora no daikaijû Radon (1956)
Something prehistoric this way comes (again)
It must be tough living in Japan. After all, with Godzilla, Gamera, Gaos, and a host of other monsters trolling about, you can't insure your car or your house. Plus, traffic must be a bear. However, at least you're not living on a small Japanese atoll.
Rodan takes place in a Japanese company mining town. One could almost hear the strains of Tennessee Ernie Ford's "I owe my soul to the company store" were it not for the locals screaming in terror from large mutant bugs who seem to be distant cousins of Mothra. It seems the miners dug just a bit too far in Shaft #8, and unearthed this terror.
You would think that this fuzzy caterpillar would be Rodan, but as Warner Wolff might say, "If you had the fuzzy caterpillar as Rodan, YOU LOST!" It seems that the lead safety engineer, while trying to find his ersatz troublemaking and future brother-in-law, is trapped in an underground cavern by an earthquake. He suffers from amnesia, but soon remembers his lines to give us the backstory on the real Rodan.
Plus, to make matters worse, there are TWO Rodans. Yup, Mr. & Mrs. Rodan spent their days flying at supersonic speeds, disrupting air & sea traffic, as well as doing several million yuan worth of improvements to a Bejing suburb. Without Godzilla, Gamera, or a bunch of 10 year olds in tight shorts to save the day, the military pretty much has to suck it up and kill the Rodans themselves. Overall, a well done flick.
Sterno says reserve a Saturday afternoon for Rodan.
Gojira tai Hedora (1971)
There is something even more embarassing to environmentalists than "Captain Planet", Carol Browner or Bruce Babbitt. It is...Godzilla vs Hedora.
A movie about the terrors of pollution, it starts out like most any other Gojira movie, except that a James Bond film suddenly breaks out during the credit sequence. A Japanese woman starts singing something. Heck, it could be "Goldfinger" for all I know; it was in Japanese, so I couldn't tell. All that was missing were the flipping nude girls.
Anyhow, the movie stars a boy named Ken whose father is a scientist. Now, aside from the fact that every Japanese boy born in the 1960s must've been named Ken, we are forced to watch said boy parade around in air-tight shorts WITH SUSPENDERS!!! It's enough to give a non-alocoholic the DT shakes. Ken plays with Godzilla dolls, sending them down the sliding board for kicks, as well as helping his dad combat the smog monster.
Hedora, besides being an absolutely lame monster, gives Gojira his best fight. Of course, Hedora gets his strength by taking bong hits from the local factory's smokestacks. Hedora is also a shape-shifter, which helps him fly through the air with the clumsiest of ease. In response, Gojira discovers that he too can fly (perhaps after listening to that Seal song), which allows them to take their battles all over Japan.
Overall, there were a lot of things done differently in this movie, but not many of the risks paid off in the entertainment bottom line. Next time, Toho can feel free to leave out the cartoon sequences, bad jazz music, and little boys in tight shorts.
Sterno says Gojira tai Hedora is an EPA Superfund cleanup site.
Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (1962)
A battle of equals?
The year was 1984. The place: Tokyo. It was a battle of wrestling champions; the AWA's Rick Martel vs. the NWA's Ric Flair. It was a match that was not necessarily about titles, but rather bragging rights. So, how did the promoters script the match? A double countout. No winner, no loser. The debate rages on.
Similarly, King Kong vs. Godzilla is a battle of cinematic monster champions. America vs. Japan. You might expect that since this was Toho's movie, Godzilla would win, but you'd be...well, you'll have to watch the movie to see how it plays out.
A pharmaceutical company scientist has some berries that produce a non-addicting narcotic, but they only grow on one island, and it's guarded by a giant monster. The company's executive, jealous of the coverage Godzilla is getting, sends his people to bring the monster back to Japan. Did we happen to mention that the primitive islanders don't necessarily want him to go?
The island looks suspiciously like the one where Mothra lives. Hey, maybe those twin fairy girls stop by to borrow a cup of wheat germ or something.
King Kong is worshipped as a god by the locals, who mash these berries into a drink. The natives then beat their drums and dance waiting for Kong to appear. When he does, he drinks the berry juice, gets wasted and passes out. The natives dance and sing joyously around his body. Gee, people think born-again Christians are strange.
Kong is brought to Japan to fight Godzilla, who for the most part is minding his own business. Godzilla scares Kong off the first time, which annoys the drug company executive to no end. They finally do get it on, but it's a long time coming and not an interesting fight.
Sterno says watch an old Ric Flair tape if you want a good fight.
Self-Contained Underwater Boredom Apparatus
Hey, kids! Did you know that a league can vary anywhere from 2.6 to 4.6 statue miles? Neither did I, but apparently this phantom is either so resilient that can withstand being 26,000 miles under water, or the producer couldn't remember the difference between a fathom and a league, or perhaps they wanted to cash in on the Disney movie "20,000 leagues under the sea". Regardless, this movie goes down hard. Think of it as "Horror of Party Beach" without the annoying Del Aires and even *less* action.
Our cinematic Bataan Death March is the story of Professor King, and his research into something that involves exposing turtles to massive amounts of radiation. Somehow, there's a radioactive light source under the ocean which is guarded by the aquatic version of the MGM lion. Kent Taylor stars as Ted Stevens or Ted Baxter (oooooooh, Mr. Grant!), depending on who he's talking to. While Professor Stevens/Baxter isn't working on mysteries without any clues, he's trying to woo Professor King's daughter. There's also the haunting specter of foreign agents who are trying to steal this *ahem* technology.
Of course, what B movie would be complete without the obligatory worship before the stock footage gods. Watch how the skies change from movie to stock footage and back again during the warship scene. Continuity is a problem, too. We see two air tanks being vandalized, and then we see two people going for a dive. They're the ones to be poisoned, right? WRONG, grasshopper! They get killed by the phantom. We have to march several more miles uphill in deep snow with no shoes before we get to the targets of the murder attempt. Finally, just because you *can* shoot film underwater doesn't mean you *should*. All in all, this movie is one big cluster of foxes.
Sterno says cut the air hose on Phantom.
Clint was killing things back in the 50s
World hunger. It was a problem then, as it is today. Everyone has a solution, from population control to (I suppose) ODing on Jenny Craig food. However, no solution that has crossed anyone's mind is that of making our meat animals bigger. However, that is the movie's answer to world hunger, or the director's attempt to cash in on the bigger-than-life rage of the time.
Tarantula stars Leo G. Carroll as an old fool scientist growing large guinea pigs and rabbits in his lab for the purpose of growing the food supply. This is nice, but why did he have to experiment on a tarantula? Weren't there other better, easier to handle animals available? A squid, perhaps? Maybe there just weren't any puffins around to mutate, either. Regardless, his one redeeming feature is that he takes on Mara Corday as an intern. At least he has an eye for the ladies, and a smart one at that.
However, the movie runs itself off the road by having John Agar as its hero. Agar, who by sheer force of will makes Al Gore look joyously animated, is the small town doctor who is trying to figure out why a couple of guys drop dead from a growth disease. It's a wonder he has any time to do this, since he flies a plane, flirts with Miss Corday, and rambles on woodenly about whatnot.
Fortunately, before you can fling yourself onto a pile of No-Pest strips, Clint Eastwood and the Air Force come to the rescue to save the day and napalm the big critter into the hereafter. I guess a giant newspaper wasn't enough.
Sterno says bring a can of Raid to Tarantula.
Day the World Ended (1955)
One of Corman's better movies
The Day the World Ended deals with The End of the World...not the one prophesied in the Book of Revelation, but the one popular with Hollywood. After all, if Christ returns for His own, how can you make a movie on the Millennial Kingdom?
"Day" is one of Roger Corman's first forays into low-tech, low-budget science fiction movies. His first effort is commendable; if only he had remembered his lessons when he made some of his more notable bombs. A Navy vet and his daughter are living in a home protected by a plot contrivance - it's basically sheltered from radiation from the surrounding mountains. Hills, mind you, that deadly radiation cannot get over, but are easily traveled by an old man and his burro.
Beyond that, it is an intriguing story of what happens when a little pocket of humanity survives mankind's worst nightmare. Mike "Touch" Connors does an interesting turn as a bad guy with a moll whose old enough to be his mother. Connors has the hots for the Navy vet's daughter, and would like to repopulate earth with her. Other stowaways include an archeologist and a man suffering from radiation poisoning. In this movie, radiation poisoning either kills you, turns you into a monster, or makes you look like Moe Howard.
Even with the end of the world, God is not left out. Notice that the Navy vet asks his daughter to marry the archeologist before they seek to restart humanity, as well as his later statement that, "I prayed and then I stopped worrying."
Sterno says "Day" is a great movie for a rainy Saturday afternoon.
Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
Mars needs men!!
The War between the Sexes. Other than that Riggs-King tennis match and some jokes floating across the internet, it's been relatively harmless. Apparently, things didn't go quite as well on Mars, where men and women began shooting at each other in an all-out war. That is the premise behind DGfM.
Nyah, dominatrix extraordinare, lands in the Scottish highlands to procure men to help repopulate Mars. (This begs an obvious question: At some point, doesn't mean a dilution of the Martian race, since most offspring from this point will have at least half Terran blood?) Her ship is hit by a meteor, otherwise she would have landed in London, where the pickings would be a lot better.
DGfM introduces us to a truly futuristic concept of a spaceship made of organic metal and powered by reverse atomic explosions. The drawback is the hokey robot, whose arms makes Tom Servo's look downright authentic. Nyah is shown way too many times thrusting open the patio doors to intimidating music.
In our sex-obsessed world, this movie if made now would focus on men falling all over themselves to get on board to mate with Martian women. As this movie is done, it focuses more on man's free will and his natural aversion to submit to things more powerful than he than on sex, something that would be lost in any remake.
The cold, calculating Nyah's desire for breeding stock contrasts nicely with the three examples of human love expressed by those couples in the inn. Another interesting contrast is that of the arrogant scientist, who refuses to believe that which does not fit his worldview, with that of the wide-eyed wonderment of the child, who accepts what he sees on faith and doesn't question Nyah's strength or power.
The ending is an imperfect allegory of Christ's saving work for sinful mankind, but only because of who sacrifices themselves for the benefit of the others. Overall, this is a quality movie that is both thought-provoking as well as entertaining.
Sterno says follow Nyah "of your own free will."
Future War (1997)
Zero is not an option, people!
As of the writing of this review, Future War is the worst movie of all time as voted by us, the IMDB public. I'm not going to call it Future War, since the name doesn't reflect what happens in the movie. I'm going to call it Boring Flick instead.
Boring Flick tells the tale of a man who escapes from his evil overlords and lands where he thinks is heaven, but is actually present day earth. (While Belinda Carlisle sang "Heaven is a place on earth", I trust someone like R.C. Sproul or A.W. Tozer for my theology more than I would a former member of the Go-Gos.) This man is being chased by Borg rejects led by Robert Z'Dar (Soultaker). These quasi-Borgs have miniature T-Rexs that are used as bloodhounds (does the ASPCA know about this?).
The nice plot twist is the hooker/drug dealer/nun trainee who allows her theological world to be confused by the Bible verse quoting alien. (Tom Sawyer did better, and he didn't know what he was talking about.) In the end, cardboard boxes are smashed, railroad cars are ridden, shots are fired, and not enough people in the movie suffered for their crime against the movie watching public.
Sterno says stay in the past and avoid this future.
La planète sauvage (1973)
It's a head movie!
"East German Women's Olympic Team"..."Eastern European movie". It's hard to take either one of those with a straight face. They don't quite mean what they say. In the case of the latter, and specifically "Fantastic Planet", it's not a lot.
Done with Monty Python-esque animation, the movie attempts to tell some sort of story. Obviously, the plot was masked to fool their Soviet overlords, presumably so full of themselves that they are like the overblown high school principal who does not realize that he's being mocked. The plot is masked, alright. I had no idea what was going on. There are large, blue aliens and small people. Other than that, I haven't a clue.
Obviously, this movie is designed for those who wish to wear their tie-dyed T-shirts, blaze up and mellow out. For those who like to stay stone cold sober, Sterno says avoid this "movie" at all costs.
Girl in Gold Boots (1968)
Ray Dennis Steckler, where are you?
Ugh. After watching this little romp through hell, I felt like I needed a shower. This movie has a greasy feel to it, starting with the restaurant "EAT". Everyone in this film looks like they need a bath, and badly. It's obvious that Dial soap wasn't in generous supply on the set of this stinker.
The movie tells the story of a young woman - who cares what her name is - who aspires to be a dancer. It just so happens that while she's shaking her moneymaker to the jukebox, who would happen to be at the door but a man whose sister "is only the number 1 dancer in LA". These two losers then pick up Critter, a yellow-bellied chicken who plays lots of guitar and sings lonesome songs -- kinda like a late '60s Morrissey, only with less feeling.
Somewhere in this mindless plot, there's the specter of drug running, girls dancing in front of smoking pumpkins, and possibly venereal diseases being transmitted. I just want to know where Ray Dennis Steckler was while this movie was being filmed.
Sterno says save your quarter for a real peep show.
Maitei Jyakku (1968)
Part Bond, part Japanese monster movie
I profess that I don't understand Japanese people. I have nothing against them (they seem to be wonderful, hard-working people); I just don't understand the movies they make. Case in point is "Mighty Jack".
Someone thought that a combination of a submarine and a jet plane used as a crime-fighting tool would make a great movie. Heck, give them credit for originality; we partly ripped off the concept years later in order to give David Hasselhoff his showbiz break (Nightrider). Unfortunately, it doesn't quite come off.
Japan, in full post-war self-flagellation, has yet another enemy which seeks its destruction. No, not a prehistoric monster, but Q, a crime syndicate. (Somewhere, John Delancey's Star Trek character is suing for copyright infringement.) Mighty Jack is the weapon of choice to fight against the second-rate Ernst Blofelds of Q. We're not given much of an opportunity to see Mighty Jack actually do anything militarily; however, we do get to see plenty of banked turns.
When Mighty Jack acts as a submarine, it sinks like a rock. Feel free to add in more baking soda at any time!! For whatever reason, the crew dresses quite dapper in jackets and white shirts. They may not be the most sophisticated warriors out there, but they do dress well!
Mighty Jack's big wig is an old Japanese man who sits in his office thinking in a western voice while he speaks fluent Japanese. It has some interesting spy stuff, but not enough to keep you from that bathroom run.
Sterno says keep Mighty Jack grounded.