Category: 1954


Girls and gangs, but not girls in gangs. Dealbreaker for some, but potentially made up for by an explicit “how to inject heroin” sequence.

We last found Frank Adreon when he brought us the Canadian Mounties vs. Atomic Invaders serial in 1953. Adreon (1902-79), toiled long and hard at Republic Studios’ serial factory, and then brought us a number of overwrought dramas in a variety of genres which are now fairly obscure. Here is a sample:

1954. Serial, later aired as a TV movie in 1966 under title "Target: Sea of China"

1954. Serial, later aired as a TV movie in 1966 under title “Target: Sea of China”

1955. Aired in '66 as "The Claw Monsters"

1955. Aired in ’66 as “The Claw Monsters”

1956. Full length film (not a serial), decent B-film noir.

1956. Full length film (not a serial), decent B-film noir.

1956. Hard boiled B-film noir.

1956. Hard boiled B-film noir.

1962.

1962. Forgettable Korean War drama.

1966. Kitschy sci-fi/spy action, notable for starring people who'd guest on the original Star Trek series.

1966. Kitschy sci-fi/spy action, notable for starring the Goldfinger “hat killer” and a couple future guest stars on the original Star Trek series.

1966. Arguably, an influence for The Terminator--in that some shmo has to come back in time to now to destroy a technology that destroys humanity in the future.

1966. Arguably, an influence for The Terminator–in that half-person/half-robot has to come back in time to now to destroy a technology that destroys humanity in the future.

Jack Pollexfen (1908-2003) was a journalist-turned film producer who brought us many adventure/sci-fi films in the 1950s and 60s, including The Neanderthal Man which we ran into a few weeks back. Here are some other highlights.

Jackie Gleason/Yvonne De Carlo/Rock Hudson do Aladdin.

1950. Jackie Gleason/Yvonne De Carlo/Rock Hudson do Aladdin.

1951. Recycled sets from Joan of Arc (1948) to cur costs. Made for $41,000.

1951. Recycled sets from Joan of Arc (1948) to cut costs. Made for $41,000.

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1952. Probably first film about long-term effects of nuke war?

1952. Probably first film about long-term effects of nuke war?

 

Completed in 1950, not released until '52.

Completed in 1950, not released until ’52. AKA At Sword’s Point.

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1954.

 

1954.

1954.

1955. Finished in '53, but had a hard time with the censors, thanks to Lili St. Cyr's dancing.

1955. Finished in ’53, but had a hard time with the censors, thanks to Lili St. Cyr’s dancing.

1957. Double-billed with The Cyclops (1957).

1957. Double-billed with The Cyclops (1957).

1963. AKA: The Atomic Brain. Shot in 1958.

1963. AKA: The Atomic Brain. Shot in 1958.

 

 

Wilhelm (“Willie”) Wilder, who lived from 1904-82, was an interesting director mainly known for his eight film noirs and for being the estranged, older brother of Billy Wilder. Willie also left an interesting sci-fi legacy which I’ve tried to capture the outlines of here. We first bumped into his Phantom From Space when we looked at sci-fi and horror from 1953. A more complete biography can be found here, written by his granddaughter.

1954. Cheaply made warning of immanent alien attack.

1954. Cheaply made warning of immanent alien attack.

Probably the first motion picture about a Yeti.

1954. Probably the first motion picture about a Yeti. Myles Wilder is Willie Wilder’s son.

Spoiler alert: "Manfish" is the name of a boat, not some sort of sea creature. (spoiler alerts for a nearly 60 year-old movie?)

1956. Spoiler alert: “Manfish” is the name of a boat, not some sort of sea creature. (spoiler alerts for a nearly 60 year-old movie?)

1956. AKA Spell of the Hypnotist

1956. AKA Spell of the Hypnotist

1958. The head of Nostradamus and . . . monkeys?

1958. The head of Nostradamus and . . . monkeys?

1958. Low budget spy thriller against the backdrop of Sputnik.

1958. Low budget spy thriller against the backdrop of Sputnik.

 

Devil Girl from Mars (1954)

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If you’ve not seen these, drop what you’re doing and find them RIGHT NOW.

Anti-Film School

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Today, a little over three hundred drive-in movie theaters remain sprinkled throughout the United States. This means that many Americans are not lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theater close by their home. In the drive-in’s heyday, small production companies would release B-movies tailor-made for the drive-in audience. There was everything from angry extraterrestrials to hip-shaking teenage beach parties, all of which are now enjoyed for their campy special effects and corny performances. Today, many of these films are available on DVD, Blu-ray, or Netflix, and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch. If you’re someone without the luxury of a drive-in theater nearby, you can create your own drive-in movie night right at home. Just grab any one of these out-of-this-world flicks, pop some pop corn, cook up a few hot dogs on the grill, grab a date or the kids, throw open the living room…

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Target Earth

I’m always a sucker for robot invasion movies from the 1950s!

MOVIES AND MANIA

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‘You’ll be paralysed with fear…’

Target Earth is a 1954 science fiction film and Herman Cohen‘s first production. It was directed by Sherman A. Rose from a screenplay by Bill Raynor, AIP’s James Nicholson and Wyott Ordung (Monster from the Ocean Floor). It stars Richard Denning (The Creature from the Black Lagoon; The Black Scorpion), Kathleen Crowley (Curse of the Undead), Virginia Grey, Richard Reeves and Whit Bissell (I Was a Teenage Frankenstein). The movie was based on the 1953 short story “Deadly City” by Paul W. Fairman.

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Even though a “robot army” is mentioned several times, the production crew only constructed one robot which was used for all scenes. The film’s story is based in Chicago but was actually filmed in Los Angeles. Street scenes were filmed during early mornings when the streets were empty.

Plot teaser:

Chicago is seemingly deserted. A small…

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godzilla_2014_poster_51784To celebrate the release of the highly anticipated Godzilla film this weekend, here are the trailers of 29 previous Toho films. I don’t include non-Toho films here, especially the highly-despised 1998 Matthew Broderick version, and I’m not a kaiju-guru enough to know if this list is complete.  But it at least gets us a good start to appreciate Godzilla’s long heritage.

1.  Godzilla (Gojira), 1954

2. Godzilla Raids Again, 1955

3. King Kong vs. Godzilla, 1962

4. Godzilla vs. The Thing, 1964

5. Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, 1964

6.  Invasion of Astro-Monster (Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), 1965

7. Ebirah, Monster of the Deep (Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster), 1966

8. Son of Godzilla, 1967

9. Destroy All Monsters, 1968

10. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster), 1971

11. Godzilla vs. Gigan, 1972

12. Godzilla vs. Megalon, 1973

13. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, 1974

14. Terror of Mechagodzilla, 1975

15. Return of Godzilla, 1984

16. Godzilla vs. Biollante, 1989

17. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, 1991

18. Godzilla vs. Mothra (Godzilla & Mothra: Battle For Earth), 1992

19. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2, 1993

20. Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, 1994

21. Godzilla vs. Destroyah, 1995

22. Godzilla 2000: Millennium, 1999

23. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, 2000

24. Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, 2001

25. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, 2002

26. Godzilla Tokyo SOS, 2003

27. Godzilla Final Wars, 2004

At this point, we’ve eliminated half of the films we started with, and have arrived at our Sweet 16! But before we get to that story, I have to go over this story–how Match-Up 4 shook out.

This Story 

Match-up 4 had about half the votes of 3, which is fine, and here’s how it all went down:

Hi-Brow vs. Low-Brow Horror

The Birds (1963)–3 votes (60%)
Night of the Lepus (1972)–2 votes (40%)

Come All Ye Witchfinders!

Witchfinder General (1968)–3 votes (60%)
Mark of the Devil (1970)–2 votes (40%)

Possessions ‘R Us

The Exorcist (1973)–3 votes (60%)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)–2 votes (40%)

Exploitations’ Best Leading Ladies

Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965)–3 votes (60%)
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975)–2 votes (40%)

That Story

So, with these we have our Sweet 16.  This week we’ll work through these eight matches, so we can get at a Final Four next time out:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951):

vs.

Black Sunday (1960)

Grizzly (1976)

vs.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

The Thing (1982)

vs.

The Birds (1963)

Them! (1954)

vs.

Witchfinder General (1968)

Christine (1983)

vs.

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

ThanksKilling (2009)

vs.

The Exorcist (1973)

Blacula (1972)

vs.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Toxic Avenger (1984)

vs.

She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

Happy Voting, see you at the Elite Eight next week!

Round 1 was a great success–thanks to all who voted!–and the results are in: The Day the Earth Stood Still, Christine, She-Devils on Wheels, and Grizzly are all moving on, while Creature From the Black Lagoon, The Amityville Horror, Chopper Chicks in Zombietown, and Rattlers are done for this year.  Here are the official results:

Classic 50s Horror/Sci-Fi

  • Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)–8 votes (57%)
  • Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)–6 votes (43%)

80s Horror, or Close Enough

  • Christine (1983)–9 votes (69%)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979)–4 votes (31%)

Schlock on Wheels

  • She-Devils on Wheels (1968)–7 votes (78%)
  • Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)–2 votes (22%)

Animals On the Loose

  • Grizzly (1976)–9 votes (90%)
  • Rattlers (1976)–1 vote (10%)

Here are the next four contests–my schedule only allows me to do about four matches a week.  As I said on Twitter a bit ago, this is only going to get harder as we go on. . .

Battle of Crazy 70s Cult Leaders!

Here we get two similarly-themed films, with cult leaders led by sadists! Horace Bones v. Alan Ormsby!

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)

A Troma Classic v. Vengeful Christmas Trees

One’s a classic Troma, another is destined to be a classic (but not from Troma).

The Toxic Avenger (1984)

Treevenge (2008)–full movie (it’s a 16-ish minute short, featuring a Cannibal Holocaust soundtrack!)

Horror: 1960s v. 1970s

Battle of the best horror decades! The 1960s and 1970s.  This is where things get tough.

Black Sunday (1960)–a very good intro sequence for its time.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Sci-Fi: 1950s v. 1960s

Two great classics a decade apart–which monsters will you choose?

Them (1954)

Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)–The original frenemies!

As with last time, I’ll allow a week to vote, and we’ll get into round three roughly this time next week!