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The Mummy's Hand (1940)
Great first sequel
"The Mummy's Hand" is a better film than the original "Mummy". I know this may be debatable to some but this film has action, adventure, romance and comedy. Dick Foran and Wallace Ford are terrific in their roles-they have great chemistry. Cecil Kelloway provides a touch of sophistication and comedy. The film moves at a nice pace and there are so many positives. I have viewed all the films in this series and this is my favorite. Two down on their luck Archeologists look for a mysterious tomb. They ask a Magician to assist them and his daughter comes along to make sure her father isn't in harm's way. They meet up with the Mummy and it defends it's turf. This lead to a sequel also starring Foran and Ford but is a weaker film. This is one not to miss!
Very good underwater saga
"Voyage to the bottom of the Sea" was the beginning in a long run of Sci-Fi films and TV shows by Irwin Allen. The film has a good cast: Walter Pidgeon, Joan Fontaine, Peter Lorre, Frankie Avalon, Barbara Eden and Michael Ansara. The special effects for their time were ahead of what others in the field were doing with the exception of Toho Studios. A sub is dispatched on a mission and then is summonsed to the UN. The Van Allen belt has caught fire and will kill life on earth. The Seaview (the name of the sub)and it's crew are determined to fire a missile on a specific date and time to stop the fire. The film has a nice music score to enhance the action. A must see for fans of Sci-Fi films.
Day the World Ended (1955)
Nice gem from Roger Corman
"Day the World Ended" is a better than average "B" movie. Richard Denning, Lori Nelson and Paul Birch shine in their roles as does Mike "Touch" Connors. Nuclear war destroys most of mankind except for a lucky few. The handful of survivors are huddled together in a house clear from fallout and have to fight to survive from mutants as well as each other. The directing is well done and the acting is very good for a low budget film. The pace moves along well and there is enough action to keep the viewer interested. I would say this is one of Roger Corman's better efforts and a must see for fans of 1950s Sci-Fi. Catch this one if you get the chance.
Conquest of Space (1955)
Decent George Pal film
"Conquest of Space" is a fine film however it isn't on the same level as George Pal's other classics: "When Worlds Collide", "War of the Worlds" and "Destination Moon". This isn't to say the film is weak, not at all. The special effects , set pieces and costumes are typical of his films. The acting is above average-Eric Fleming, William Hopper, Michael Fox and Phil Foster (Frank DiFazio from "Laverne and Shirley) do a credible job. There is enough action to sustain viewer interest and the music score is good. The outer space scenes are well thought out and interesting and there is some good chemistry between the actors. A film worth seeing.
Destination Moon (1950)
Another classic from George Pal
"Destination Moon" is a very good Sci-Fi film from the 1950s. The acting, direction, sets and music score are all top notch. For a film made in 1950, the special effects are outstanding. Some of the scenes are out-dated (lifting off without pressurized spacesuits and not wearing helmets) but that was probably the knowledge they had regarding space travel at that time. I enjoyed the scenes on the moon-the backdrops and paintings were pretty realistic. The actors have good chemistry together. The Woody Woodpecker cartoon is a nice addition-NASA actually did use him for some educational films leading up to their Apollo missions. A film that shouldn't be missed!
Killers from Space (1954)
Boredom from Space
"Killers from Space" was directed by R. Lee Wilder as was "Phantom from Space". Both films suffer from the same tendencies. Peter Graves' talent is pretty much wasted in this film. The acting is so-so but nothing great. The musical score is decent. The pace of the film is too choppy and doesn't flow very well. Aliens arrive and bring down a jet and it crashes. Peter Graves' character walks out without more than a few scratches.The aliens use him to obtain secrets. There are some fun moments including the "giant" bugs and lizards that are going to take over the world. There are much better films of this genre out there. One to catch once for Sci-Fi fans of the 1950s.
The Day of the Triffids (1963)
Killer plants on the loose!
"Day of the Triffids" is a good film. The acting, directing, pace and musical score are well done. The movie is similar in some ways to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in regards to alien plants from space invading earth. A meteor shower is viewed by millions of people over the world. The next day, the people who saw the event are blind. One scene that was scary was when a plane full of passengers is about to run out of fuel because the pilots can't read their instrument panel and the jet crashes. The triffids invade the countryside and at the end it is discovered that they follow sound. An ice-cream truck is led off a cliff and the triffids die in the salt water while at a lighthouse, triffids are destroyed by salt water as well. An effective and enjoyable Sci-Fi film that you will enjoy.
Classic monster film from Japan
"Mothra" is another gem of a film from Toho Studios. This was their third big (no pun intended) star-Japan's answer to America's big three: Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman. A ship is stranded off an island ravaged by an atomic test. The survivors are radiation-free due to a juice given to them by the natives. An expedition led by a ruthless, greedy businessman goes to the island. They meet the twin fairies (played by the Peanuts-the Ito sisters). The girls are stolen by the businessman and exploited. With the help of a reporter and scientist, they call to Mothra for help. The monster costume in the larva and adult stages is spectacular. The acting is decent as is the dubbing (thanks to veteran voice actor Peter Fernandez). The miniature sets as usual are top-notch. The film has a crisp picture and is in color. The musical score enhances the action on-screen. A very good film to watch if yo're a fan of Japanese Sci-Fi films.
Uchû daisensô (1959)
Good sequel to "The Mysterians"
"Battle in Outer Space" is another gem from Toho Studios. The film boasts some excellent (for 1959) special effects. The color print is stunning as well. The plot is similar to "The Mysterians" with aliens trying to take over mankind. In the end of course, earth triumphs over the aliens. The acting is decent, the dubbing is passable. The music score is done well. The real star of this film are the outer space scenes. I really enjoyed the spacecraft as well as the battle scenes. Toho Studios are more well known for their monster films (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra)but these space films are just as good. If you get a chance, catch this as well as "The Mysterians".
Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)
Good sequel to Horror of Dracula
"Dracula-Prince of Darkness" marks the return of Christopher Lee as Dracula. While not involved with much dialog, he nevertheless makes an imposing vampire. Dracula is resurrected by blood poured over his ashes-accomplished by a guest being gutted. A priest comes to the rescue and ends Dracula's reign of terror. The way he is destroyed is unique from other vampire films. The acting, costumes and sets are first-rate which is expected from Hammer Studios. The music score enhances the on-screen terror. I've waited years for this to come out on DVD and was not disappointed. If you are a fan of the Hammer Dracula series, don't miss this one.
Panic in the Year Zero (1962)
Very good AIP film
"Panic In Year Zero" is a very underrated film. The acting is much better than expected-even Frankie Avalon! Ray Milland shines in this film, playing a man who keeps his family in survival mode. Atomic bombs hit Los Angeles and other West Coast cities just as Ray Milland's family heads out for a camping trip. Once the bombs hit, society crumbles and it is Milland's character that steps up to provide his family for an extended "vacation". They literally head for the hills but not before buying out an entire grocery and hardware store. Dangers are faced at every turn and when his daughter is sexually assaulted, Milland and Frankie take matters in their own hands.The directing is very well done but the jazzy, upbeat music score at the beginning of the film doesn't belong. A movie that is worth seeing.
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
Classic 50s schlock on screen!
This film has two of the hottest looking B-movie gals in Yvette Vickers(Playboy Playmate of the month,1959)and Allison Hayes. The not-so-special effects are another reason to see this. Check out the giant rubber hands to see what I mean. "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" still is fun to watch. The film pretty much plays out like any daytime soap opera. A man is married to a rich woman(Hayes) for money, not love. He is playing around with the local floozy(Vickers) and does nothing to hide this fact. His wife confronts an alien and turns into a giant. In an act of revenge, the husband and his mistress are killed along with the 50 foot woman. The directing is average, the acting a step below and the special effects......no comment. Still, this is a fun movie and an example of why fans love these "so bad they're good" types of films.
Chikyû Bôeigun (1957)
Alien invasion from Toho Studios
I haven't seen this movie since I was 7 years old and have always wanted to see it again. I was not disappointed when I purchased it and saw it. "The Mysterians" is a very good alien invasion film. Aliens from beyond the moon want a small piece of land to live while breeding with Japanese women. There is non-stop action and the battle scenes are impressive. The DVD I have is recently re-dubbed and the audio is crisp and sharp as well as the video. Good acting, music score and dubbing(although one Japanese bicyclist has a southern accent!). I would suggest this film to all Sci-Fi fans. A well done film from the 1950s(in color too!).
The Atomic Submarine (1959)
Cool "B" movie
"The Atomic Submarine" is a good Sci/Fi film that is often overlooked. It features an excellent cast: Dick Foran, Arthur Franz, Brett Halsey and Tom Conway. The sub interiors are realistic but the exterior shots show an obvious model sub and flying saucer(that's what appeals to fans of this genre). The direction is well done, the acting first rate and the music score has some interesting electronic sounds(this was before the use of today's synthesizers). The plot is about a sub dispatched to check out some ships and a sub sinking/being blown up. The sub finds out it is a flying saucer. The alien resembles the ones on "The Simpsons". Overall, a well done film.
OK giant bug film
"The Monster that challenged the World" isn't at the top of other giant bug movies but is decent film. Although the monster is the first giant Larve or Catapillar on screen, "Mothra" was a far superior effort. Of course, Toho Studios had a much larger budget. Good acting and some chilling moments. Nice location setting too. There just isn't enough action and frightening moments in this film to give it a higher rating. Some mysterious deaths are occurring on a military base and it is discovered that they are caused by a giant Catapillar. Scientists and Military staff do away with it. Predicable stuff for these types of movies but that's fine, hey, that's why fans of this genre enjoy them! One to catch if you're a 1950s Sci/Fi fan.
Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)
Decent Thriller form Columbia Pictures
Sam Katzman's "Zombies of Mora Tau" is a decent film. There is enough action and suspense to keep your attention. It has a good cast(Morris Ankrum, Gregg Palmer and Allison Hayes), tight direction and a chilling musical score. An expedition heads out to recover some diamonds. Previous attempts have lead to the deaths of those who have tried over the years. They are guarded by the Zombies and anyone attempting to retrieve them meets a horrible death or in the case of Allison Hayes, turns into a Zombie as well. The ending has a nice twist to it. I'm not into Zombie movies but this was fun to watch if not a bit hokey in some parts. Still, a nice little gem of a film.
The Giant Claw (1957)
Big Bird on the loose!
"The Giant Claw" ranks right up there with some other monsters that looked ridiculous: the puppet monster from "The Angry Red Planet" and the giant crabs from "Attack of the Crab Monsters". I'm trying to figure out if the puppet is a Vulture or a Turkey! Get past the dumb looking monster and you'll find a good cast(Jeff Morrow, Mara Corday and Morris Ankrum), good acting and decent directing. The pace moves along well and sustains viewer interest. The monster would have been better if it had been a Hawk or something similar to Rodan(which was far superior to this monstrosity). This is one of those movies that despite the appearance of the giant bird is actually enjoyable to watch. One for "B" movie buffs.
Creature with the Atom Brain (1955)
Another little gem from Columbia Pictures
"Creature with the Atom Brain" is a decent little film. Not on par with some other films of the era but still fun to watch. Richard Denning plays a Doctor who works for the police-basically a forensic guy(way before CSI). He does well in this role. The rest of the acting is good, the direction is fine and the film moves along slowly in some parts and flows well in others. A bit more action and this would rank higher. A crazed scientist implants dead criminals with a radioactive solution and keeps them moving via radio control. The creatures kill to get even. There are some chilling moments, especially at the beginning of the film. All in all, not a bad film. One to catch for fans of 1950s Sci/Fi.
Beginning of the End (1957)
Decent giant bug film
"Beginning of the End" isn't at the top of the "giant something or other" films of it's time but has a certain charm. This time the giants are grasshoppers who are munching their way through the state of Illinois. The movie has an impressive list of great B-movie actors such as Morris Ankrum, Thomas Henry, Hank Patterson, Peter Graves and Peggy Castle. The grasshoppers ate some radioactive food by accident and started growing. They are drowned at the end by a sort of "Pied Piper" lure. The acting carries the film and the pace moves along nicely. The grasshoppers are a bit corny but still the film is enjoyable. If you're a fan of 1950s Sci-Fi/Horror films,it's one to check out.
Blood of Dracula (1957)
Average Teen/Monster film
"Blood of Dracula" isn't the best American International Pictures films but is OK. The formula that produced cult hits as "I was a Teenage Werewolf", "I was a Teenage Frankenstein" and "How to make a Monster" is the same: take a troubled youth, add some horror elements and serve it up at the Drive-In. A girl is brought to a boarding school and falls under the spell of crazed science instructor. She becomes a Vampire when summoned. The attacks aren't that frightening and the acting only passable.These movies are fun to watch though and the low-budget does add to the cheesy factor. This is a good movie to catch once if you're a Vampire movie fan like myself. The three movies I mentioned earlier were far superior in every way and not to be missed by horror movie fans.
The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)
A gem from Hammer Studios
Once again, Hammer Studios distinguishes itself with a top-notch production. "Curse of the Werewolf" has the trademarks of most Hammer films: excellent acting, lavish costumes and set pieces, a chilling musical score and tight direction. The film starts out slowly but then the action starts to build. Oliver Reed is probably the most sympathetic man-turned-werewolf in movie history. That says a lot considering Lon Chaney and Paul Naschy made several werewolf films during their career. The plot shows a servant girl raped by a man spending his life in a dungeon. He turns more like an animal as the years pass. The girl escapes and lives like an animal, hiding in the forest for almost a year. She is rescued and dies after childbirth. Her son is adopted and while on a hunting trip tastes blood and that brings out his animal(werewolf) instincts. A Priest tells his adopted father that only love can keep the werewolf spirit from taking over his soul. Leon(Oliver Reed) goes out on his own as an adult. Shortly after getting a job, he goes out one night and during a full moon turns into a werewolf. He is arrested and is told of his curse. Oliver Reed plays a most tormented individual, wanting death before killing again. It's been done in cinema many times but Reed's portrayal is memorable. For horror fans, this is a film to add to your collection.
Another good monster flick from Toho Studios
"War of the Gargantuas" is a film I haven't seen in over 30 years. I just purchased the film which is a double feature with "Rodan". The thing that really stands out are the fight scenes between Sanda(Brown Gargantua) and Gaira(Green Gargantua). They are some of the best I have seen with these types of movies. Sanda is shown as an infant-he looks like a teddy bear. He escapes and lives hidden in the mountains.Gaira is green, ugly and an offspring of Frankenstein from "Frankenstein Conquers the World"(in the Japanese version). He is seen attacking fishing vessels while munching on the fishermen. Scientists led by Russ Tamblyn try to figure out what is going on while the attacks keep coming. The brown Gargantua arrives to help his brother after it is attacked by the military. Sibling rivalry takes over and the two battle it out the rest of the way. The directing, music and pace of the film are well done. The acting is so-so thanks to Russ Tamblyn's boring dubbing tracks and emotionless facial expressions. It looks and sounds like he was doped up. He gives the impression that he didn't want to be in the film. The rest of the actors and dubbing is performed very well. This is a fun film to watch. It is now on DVD.
Good sequel the original
"War of the Monsters", which is the version I have(still the same film)is an entertaining movie that picks up where the original Gamera leaves off. Gamera was sent to Mars but a meteor destroys the rocket and Gamera returns to earth. He first destroys a dam then takes off. Later, a group of men forge passports and pose as sailors on a merchant vessel to go to an island where a huge ruby is hidden. The ruby turns out to be an egg of a giant monster, Barugon. A infrared heat lamp accidentally shines on it and hatches it. It grows to full size by the time the ship reaches port. One of the men returning with the ruby double-crosses the rest of his partners. This is a nice murder/suspense sub-plot which enhances the destruction caused by Baugon and Gamera. Not quite up to par with Godzilla but a fine film nonetheless.
El ataúd del Vampiro (1958)
Good sequel to "The Vampire"(El Vampiro)
"The Vampire's Coffin" is a good sequel to "The Vampire". German Robles again reprises his role as Count Lavud as do the actors playing the Doctor and Martha. This film had the same Gothic settings plus a bit more suspense than the first film. The acting again is well done as is direction, music and the dubbing. The only problem as with the first film is that the wires flapping the fake bat are very noticeable. The film's scene in which a robber removes the stake from the Vampire is taken directly from "House of Frankenstein" and is well done here. The scenes in the wax museum are very good and it is here that the Aunt from the first film is killed. Overall, another fine job from south of the border.
El vampiro (1957)
"The Vampire" is an eerie, haunting movie with lots of atmosphere. It has a decent musical score, nice set designs and chilling moments(catch the scene where the vampire attacks the young boy as proof).The acting is very good and the dubbing is done just as well. Direction is also a plus as the film moves along and sustains viewer interest. German Robles makes an imposing vampire-tall, thin and with fangs(the first time in film that this was done). The story involves a young woman on her way to claim part of an inheritance. A Doctor posing as a salesman arrives with her. They meet her Aunt, who has not aged-she became a vampire through Count Lavud/Mr. Duval(Robles). The Aunt helps the Count turn her niece into a Vampire as well but the Doctor saves the day along with the help of the young woman's other Aunt(believed to be dead). The only thing that was a negative was that you can see the strings moving the bat flapping through the air almost every time. Still, this is a must-see for all Vampire film fans.