Category: 1962


What film is this from? Tune in next week...

What film is this from? Tune in next week…

A roundup of what I’ve watched, read or listened to lately:

  • Projection Booth #144 on “The Brain That Wouldn’t Die” (1962). I loved the part of the episode that one commenter dismissed as “psychobabble” about this film being a reflection of the male Id of that era, how the legacy of Nazi physician Joseph Mengele is portrayed on film, the subgenre of “disembodied head/brain/brain-in-a-pan” films, etc.

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  • Also from the episode we learn that both Brain and Debbie Does Dallas both have musical theater adaptations!

  • Lastly, here are the trailers for the best films I saw in September, in no particular order:

Covered on episode 6 of 1951 Down Place.

Will be covered on a future episode of Badasses, Boobs, and Body Counts–I suggested it as part of “listener appreciation month,” and Mike and Iris took the suggestion. However, Mike says its the one film for the BB&BC listener appreciation month he’s not looking forward to… I suspect we’ll be agreeing to disagree about this classic.

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.

Jackie Coogan (1914-84)

Jackie Coogan (1914-84)

In our last poster collection we ran into Jackie Coogan in Mesa of Lost Women (1953); here are several of his other films. Best known as “Uncle Fester” from the original Addams Family sit-com (1964-66), he was, however, on film from 1919 to 1984, after being discovered by Charlie Chaplin himself when Coogan was just 5 years old.

Exploitation fans will note his role in a couple “teenage angst” films of the 50s, some shlocky sci-fi, some awful sex comedies in the 50s and 60s, and finally turning toward horror in the twilight of his career. He passed away in 1984 at the age of 69 after a heart attack.

Also, Yvonne Craig's first film--you know her as Batgirl from the 1960s Batman series.

1957. Also, Yvonne Craig’s first film–you know her as Batgirl from the 1960s Batman series.

Evidently, the term "weedhead" did not stick.

1958. Evidently, the term “weedhead” did not stick.

Another Jack Arnold joint--he also directed High School Confidential, It Came From Outer Space, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

1958. Another Jack Arnold joint–he also directed High School Confidential (1958), The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), and It Came From Outer Space (1953).

Starring the quite white Julie London as the biracial wife.

1959. AKA, The Color of Her Skin, also stars the quite white Julie London as the biracial wife.

When seen in the original theatrical release, audience members were given free "beatnik dictionaries", to decipher "beat" terms and catch-phrases.

1959. When seen in the original theatrical release, audience members were given free “beatnik dictionaries”, to decipher “beat” terms and catch-phrases.

AKA: Teacher vs. Sexpot; The Beauty and the Robot; Sexpot Goes to College; and Teacher Was a Sexpot. All could be porn parodies today.

1960. AKA: Teacher vs. Sexpot; The Beauty and the Robot; Sexpot Goes to College; and Teacher Was a Sexpot. All could be porn parodies today.

First B-movie comedy to riff on Castro, only one to make it a comedy. If by "Girls Take Over" you mean girls are present a party for some soldier dudes in last 15 minutes of the film, then this is aptly named.

1962. First B-movie comedy to riff on Castro, only one to make it a comedy. If by “Girls Take Over” you mean girls are present a party for some soldier dudes in last 15 minutes of the film, then this is aptly named.

Film release delayed for three months when Note Dame University took studio to court for using NDU's name.

1965. Film release delayed for three months when Note Dame University took studio to court for using NDU’s name. Written by William Peter Blatty.

Briefly, a "Video Nasty."

1979. Briefly, a “Video Nasty.”

Coogan's last project, shot in 1978, but not released until '84.

1984. Coogan’s last project, shot in 1978, but not released until ’84.

Movie-Matrix-Morpheus

Twilight gets 5.2 out of 10, according to user ratings on IMDB. You can do far, far worse than this.

So, I’ll cop to enjoying–actually enjoying–watching horribly made, low-budget, inept, misconceived, and altogether stupid horror movies. It’s the main reason I’m a terrible at reviewing movies–I can always suspend disbelief and see the good in even the silliest films. So, trolling through the IMDB for some new material to get into, I started to keep tabs on the absolutely lowest rated horror films.

Before we get into the films, maybe a note of caution is in order about using IMDB’s numerical rating system for anything like assessing the quality of films–mainly, that it’s pretty arbitrary. Not every film is rated, some films are rated more than others, and there’s no standard way of arriving at a user’s subjective rating. So no real conclusions should be drawn from this at all. But this is about finding new films to watch, not making actual important decisions from–so I’m not going to too wrapped around the axle on research designs or justifying methodologies.

Looking at all the films that IMDB classifies as horror–although that is a slippery definition in some cases–and then filtering down to only those films with a user rating of between 1.0-1.9 stars of a possible ten, we get a little more than 100 nominations for the worst horror movie ever.  To show how bad these can get, consider that Twilight is a 5.2; Fifty Shades of Grey and Plan Nine From Outer Space–both are touted as contenders for worst movie ever, and both rate a whopping 4.0. We’re going all the way the end of the rabbit hole here.

alice murderland

Speaking of rabbit holes, check out this 1.9-rated film, Alice in Murderland (2010).

Starting with the highest rated of these–scoring a 1.9–we have 35 films. I don’t have time, inclination, or space to go film-by-film, but this cohort includes gems like Manos, the Hands of Fate (1966), Birdemic 2: Resurrection (2013), and Biker Zombies From Detroit (2001). Note that Manos, often derided as “the worst film ever made,” is in the highest rated cohort here. There are films worse than Manos–all the way to the end of the rabbit hole, indeed.

dead box office

2005’s Dead at the Box Office, also a 1.8

19 films received a rating of 1.8, with the standouts being Bimbos B.C. (1990), Sleepaway Camp 4: The Survivor (1992–IMDB says this is a 2012 film, clearly an error); Sorority House Vampires (1998), the original Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010).

Jaws in Japan (2009) and 12/12/12 (2012) are the only films of the ten that received a 1.7 that seem in any way noteworthy.

Likewise, the of the next ten films that rated a 1.6, only Ring of Terror (1962)–because it is the oldest on the list–and O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown (2008)because of the ridiculous title–are ones that I’ll be trying to track down.

Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

Also not porn: Zombies Gone Wild (2007) also lives in One-Point-Five-Land.

Coming in at a star-and-a-half we get 14 more films, including the I-don’t-think-its-porn-but-I-could-be-wrong Barely Legal Lesbian Vampires: The Curse of Ed Wood (2003). It’s not porn, since the whole film is available on YouTube. Also here is a remake of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven (2006), but something must have gone horribly, horribly wrong for such a classic tale to end up on this list.

Vapid Shallow Models Must Die! (2006) seems the only highlight of the eight films rating a 1.4. Note the trailer is posted to Myspace. The creators of these low-budget movies might be accused of being stuck in their own world.

Finally, with films rated 1.3 and lower, we are getting close to the proverbial bottom of the barrell. Ankle Biters (2002), and Curse of the Zodiac (2007), a riff on the Zodiac Killer by the prolific horror/exploitation director Ulli Lommel. Lommel also directed The Raven.

adam-minarovichIn Ankle Biters, we get midget vampires, from director Adam Minarovich, whom you’ll remember as Carol’s abusive husband from season 1 of The Walking Dead. 

Ax ‘Em (1992) and Kracker Jack’d (2003), are coincidentally, both African-American-themed slashers, and both come in at 1.2 stars. Treatment of race is an interesting question for low-budget horror–and in horror reviews–but I’ll have to leave these for another time.

Scott Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

Shaw appears in many of the posters for his own films.

Nearing the worst of the worst, as rated by that mass of humanity that rates films on the IMDB, are Scott Shaw‘s Crimes of the Cupachabra (1998) and Frozen Flesh (2008). Shaw is noteworthy, or something, in that he is highly prolific, directing 7 films last year alone and believes in “zen filmmaking” that doesn’t bother with confining elements of the craft, like written scripts. Justin French brought us Frozen Flesh, a cannibal flick apparently filmed entirely through a red filter.

This brings us down to the lowest rated horror film–2010’s vaguely titled Deception. This is a pretty amateurish affair directed by one Vitaliy Versace, in which cameras shake, mic stands are occasionally visible, and behind-the-scenes crew can be heard over the cast. Deception was remastered in 2012, so maybe some of these errors are dealt with. In any case, this is what I love about low-budget films these days–seeing advanced amateurs plying their craft, errors and all. Some hit the big time, like Adam Minarovich, but that’s not always the goal. Some revel in the silly premises of their films like Scott Shaw, and others keep on pumping out their visions on film, like Vitaliy Versace.  Regardless, there’s a lot more to understanding and enjoying bad films than Manos.

varan_the_unbelievable_poster_02

Note how Anglicized the women are in this poster. Don’t recall seeing them in this film…

Having just watched the 1958 kaiju film Varan the Unbelievable, and then listening straight away to the gang at the KaijuCast  podcast discuss this film at length brought me face-to-face with my pet peeve about this genre: US editions that rewrite the film from whole cloth.

In this case, it was clear that the Japanese edition of this film was a completely different film than what I had just watched. I had no idea what Kyle and the rest of the KaijuCast were referring to most of the episode. Viewing the US version, I was even robbed of the Ifukube soundtrack–which I hear is quite good.

The consensus is that the Japanese version was a pretty solid little monster film, but not among director Ishiro Honda’s best, given that originally it was meant as a joint US-Japanese TV movie. The US company involved, ABC Television, pulled out suddenly, and Toho simply phoned it in. At some point the footage was recut into a version for use in the US market using–where did I read this?–only 15 minutes of the original stock shot in 1958. (Probably monster footage, I imagine).

600full-varan-the-unbelievable-screenshot

The monster effects in this film are not too shabby for 1958.

The US version came out in 1962–actually it premiered in the US on the 21st anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack. How awkward does it seem to have a kaiju film premiering on that particular date on the calendar? Especially one where the main American character is a condescending US Navy commander running weird environmental experiments in Japan that summon a monster. Well, maybe not so weird in hindsight.

If the Japanese version is subpar, than the US cut is barely even a coherent story, which I’m not sure I can summarize further. Japan. Monster. Mad. Tokyo. Destruction. You may have seen this formula a time or a million.

But don’t take my word for it, give it a whirl:

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xxz68d_varan-the-unbeliveable_shortfilms

House On Bare Mountain (1962)

Houseonbare

We’ve arrived, after a fashion, at our final five films, as chosen mainly by you. I say “mainly,” because one match-up that had originally ended up in a tie was re-competed, and ended up in a tie once again. To keep things moving along, I’ve made an executive decision in favor of one film.  Somehow, I doubt you’ll mind.  Because this match-up has lingered a bit, it’s thrown off our nice even numbers, so we have a final five, not final four.  Again, I doubt you mind terribly.

At any rate, here are your Final Five:

1. Black Sunday (1960), after tying with The Day the Earth Stood Still, twice.

2. The Thing (1982), after beating Witchfinder General (1968) 3 votes to 2.

3. I Drink Your Blood (1970) beat The Exorcist (1973) in a 4-0 shutout, the second shutout for IDYB in as many rounds!

4. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) finally put an end to the reign of terror wreaked by She-Devil on Wheels (1968).

5. Carnival of Souls (1962) is still patiently waiting after beating Grizzly (1976) a couple rounds ago.

So here are this week’s match-ups, awaiting your consideration:

1960s Horror!

Go ahead, watch the whole thing!

The winner of this match takes on The Thing!

Exploitation Championship!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmmnfs_i-drink-your-blood_shortfilms

Do yourself a favor while you make up your mind, and give the Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts podcast a listen–it’s most recent episode covers this one.

The winner of the round will be our “right side” conference champ, fwiw.

I’m loving, loving, the fact that as our little contest winds down, that the most recent movie still in contention, The Thing, is 32 years old.  Also, how is it the The Thing is 32 years old already?!

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!

It’s that time of the week again! Time for results and new contests to find some of the more popular B-movies, as voted on by my 7 loyal followers.  First, a wrap-up of last week’s contest:

Battle of the Crazy 70s Cult Leaders!

  • I Drink Your Blood (1970)–6 votes (67%)
  • Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things (1973)–2 votes (33%)

A Troma Classic v. Vengeful Christmas Trees

  • The Toxic Avenger (1984)–8 votes (89%)
  • Treevenge (2008)–1 votes (11%)

Horror: 1960s v. 1970s

  • Black Sunday (1963)–7 votes (78%)
  • The Abominable Dr. Phbes–2 votes (22%)

Sci-Fi: 1950s v. 1960s

  • Them (1954)–5 votes (56%)
  • Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964)–4 votes (44%)

Now that we have two sets of results, we need to start charting who’s advancing on from the original 32 films into a Sweet 16. For those following along at home, here’s where we’re at–and you can start to see what upcoming match-ups will be.   And now, on with the countdown!

This week, four more matches, notable for how very different each match-up is, but all these films are worth a re-watch.  Here are the matches for this week:

1960s Horror Pioneers

These represent some groundbreaking horror film making whose styles and tropes remain with us, even after half a century. Both are top faves of mine: Carnival of Souls (1962) vs. Blood Feast (1963). The latter is Herschell Gordon Lewis’s second entry into our little contest, after She-Devils on Wheels won its first contest handily.

John Carpenter Bake-Off!

Every rightly-brought-up fan loves John Carpenter, but which of his films are his best?  Here, we must make a hard choice: The Fog (1980) vs. The Thing (1982)!

Contemporary Zero-Budget Nightmares

I love zero-budgets (z-movies) almost as much as the classics, and we are indeed in a new golden age for this end of the swamp.  I’ll unilaterally give an honorable mention to Bong of the Dead (2011), but for this week make your choice between these two new classics:

Blaxploitation Still Rules

Love me some classic blaxploitation! For whatever reason, this is a genre that I cannot tire of.  Two more faves, though I really wanted to get Dolemite or Bucktown in for this year–these might be a good match-up for next year’s edition of the Grindhouse Brackets. But for this year, puzzle me this: Blacula (1972) or Shaft (1971)?

Next week, we’ll finish up the initial contests where each of the 32 starters has an initial shot at advancement–after next week things will start getting interesting as winners take on other winners.