Category Archives: Drive-In Movies

FRIDAY NIGHT DRIVE-IN MOVIE
Riders To The Stars (1954)


RidersRIDERS TO THE STARS (1954) The government gathers up a dozen of the country’s brainier eggheads for an ominously secret mission. For a 50s space flick, this is actually a sensible, if sappy and predictable, story, focusing largely on the participants trying to collectively figure out why they’ve been chosen, and are being so rigorously tested. Had they been told in advance they were going to chase a meteor and bring it back to earth, none of them would have agreed to “volunteer” in the first place. A slew of lesser known character actors are on board, including James Best (The Dukes of Hazzard), the guy who first cracks under pressure, and Martha Hyer (Some Came Running) as the “space medicine girl” stuffed into a tight, form-fitting outfit. “Speaking of jets,” one says upon seeing her. “Please, no obvious remarks,” retorts another. Star Richard Carlson (Phil Hartman’s B-movie doppelgänger) even tries to quickly marry his slutty, too-hot-for-a-professor girlfriend in an attempt to get out of the mission, but she’s only interested in using his car while he’s away. The theme song, “Riders To The Stars,” sung by Kitty White and written by Harry Sukman (according to Wiki, the first film credit for the Oscar-winning composer) is just begging for a June Tabor/Sun Ra Arkestra skewered jazz cover version. TAG LINE: Hurtle Toward The Far Reaches Of The Universe With The Space Vikings Of The Future! DIALOG ALERT: “One thing I learned in the Army… never volunteer.” Couldn’t even find it at Amazon. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

ARCH HALL, JR. & THE ARCHERS Wild Guitar! (2005) + Watch The 1962 Movie “Wild Guitar”

Wild Guitar! (2005)
Can You Resist? Should You Resist?

The great Arch Hall, Jr. Where to start? Bad B-movie aficionados know Arch from his largely awful oeuvre of early 60s films produced and/or written and/or directed by his dad, Arch, Sr. – including such much-maligned corkers as The Choppers, EEGAH!, Wild Guitar & The Sadist. Most featuring Arch in teen idol mode, often performing original songs, whether the plot involves juvenile delinquency, inadequate monsters or even homicidal maniacs. To be fair to Arch, he wasn’t much worse than many other z-grade acting talents of the time, even though the budget-free, thread-bare productions of his films were among the worst ever made (Dad used two aliases in Wild Guitar alone). Musically, the same sort of definitions apply. Arch’s rockin’ teen combo fare may not have any lasting appeal, but as time capsule exhumations, Arch is a fun escape to a past era of mindless innocence masquerading as rebellion. Enter this 48 track compilation of material featuring music, dialog and trailers from Arch’s early 60s career. You get his sole released 45, “Monkey In My Hat Band” b/w  ”Konga Joe” (from 1959), along with tunes featured in his movies, many from Wild Guitar. The cream of this comp’s crop, however, are 12 tracks recorded live at a Pensacola drive-in movie concert in 1962, where you can hear Arch and his Archers performing a handful of originals and period winners like “Hello Mary Lou,” “Susie Q” and “Good Golly Miss Molly,” among others. This set alone will make you actively pine for a time machine, as the band sounds like the wild and horny 19 year-olds they are, let loose on the town. If you wanted to actually critique Arch’s chops and performance, I guess you could, but what would be the point? The fact is, this stuff is thoroughly enjoyable, perhaps as camp fare, maybe as serviceable amateur RnR, or maybe even as a cautionary fable of what happens when your dad bankrolls your quest for fame. But… does it even really matter if you’re having fun? And Arch Hall, Jr. & The Archers are fun. Amazon has it HERE.

The Sadist (0:38)
Dune Buggy (2:02)
Buzzola (0:12)
Konga Joe (2:24)
Theme From Wild Guitar (1:48)
Termites (0:05)
Steak’s Theme (2:06)
Monkey In My Hatband (1:51)
Back In Business (0:11)
Run Vickie Run (1:19)
Mike Calls The Shots (0:13)
Guitar Twist (1:16)
A Date With Eegah (0:27)
Theme From Eegah (3:26)
I’m Growin’ Taller (2:18)
Wild Guitar Trailer (1:27)
Stairfall (0:36)
Twist Fever (2:35)
Publicity (0:08)
Money And Records (0:52)
Steak (1:50)
Eegah Crashes The Party (0:48)
Brownsville Road (1:57)
Vickie (2:38)
Girl Bait (0:06)
Daisy Dance (1:03)
The Kidnappers (1:20)
Judy Poody (2:41)
Organ Twist (1:17)
Bud Smells A Rat (0:22)
Bud And Steak Square Off (1:42)
Pep Talk (0:14)
*LIVE AT TWIN DRIVE-IN, Pensacola, FL – December 7, 1962
*Archer’s Theme (0:56)
*If A Man Answers (3:20)
*Further On Up The Road (4:03)
*Stop Sneakin’ Round (3:04)
*Nancy Czar Interview (2:30)
*Teenage Idol (2:59)
*Good Golly Miss Molly (2:36)
*Wild Guitar (3:01)
*Hello Mary Lou (2:22)
*Susie Q (1:36)
*Yes I Will (2:19)
*Archer’s Theme Outro (0:42)
You Little Punk (0:06)
Watch Your Step (3:56)
Big Boy Pete (2:35)
The Choppers (0:35)

REGARDING ARCH’S MOVIES: Tonight’s Friday night drive-in movie will be EEGAH! (HERE), a truly awful movie featuring Arch in all his glory, and below you can view Wild Guitar, the story of a young teenager making his way into the music business in early 60s LA. But fans of the intense and bizarre need to visit our drive-in archives and watch The Sadist (HERE), a grim, twisted pre-grindhouse grindhouse movie that will surely appeal to Quentin Tarantino fans for its unapologetic homicidal nature. It’s a true classic and not necessarily “bad,” though it is in so many ways. Wiki has more Arch info, with links to most of his movies if you’re the detail oriented type.

Stranger From Venus (1954)


StrangerFromVenus1954STRANGER FROM VENUS (1954) a.k.a. Immediate Disaster, a.k.a. The Venusian. The intrigue begins almost immediately when a stranger (from Venus, you might guess) shows up at a local inn, acting strangely and arousing suspicion. Primarily because he pays no taxes and has no pulse. Republican jokes notwithstanding, this offering is a good one, with typically serious performances, sensible dialog and a solid plot – all synonymous with 50s British sci-fi. Patricia Neal is here, and many have deemed this film a Brit remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still (HERE), in which she also starred. And there are plenty of similarities… the topic of nuclear proliferation, the level-headed handling of our first contact, the alien’s desire to meet with all the world’s leaders and his flirtatious connection with Neal, to pinpoint a few. Even a few specific scenes, like when the humans are discussing how small they feel in his presence, a direct rip of a similar, post-examination cigarette break in The Day The Earth Stood Still. But, there’s no “action” in this variation – no robots, spaceships or confrontations to speak of. And, hardcore B-movie fans will no doubt see the parallels to another 1954 movie, Devil Girl From Mars (HERE) – a funnier, campier version with similar circumstances and surroundings, which (given the simultaneous timing) is probably incidental. TAG LINE: Tonight First Contact Will Be Made! DIALOG ALERT: “I usually hate people that know all the answers… but I like him. He makes you feel like a moron, but I like him.” Find Stranger From Venus at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Werewolf In A Girls’ Dormitory (1961)


Werewolf In a girl's dormWEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY (1961) a.k.a. Lycanthropus, a.k.a. The Ghoul in School. Wolves are howling all night long in the woods that surround a dormitory stocked with luscious girls and overly suspicious staffers. When one black-mailing babe is slaughtered, all eyes fall on a new arrival – a professor with a checkered past. Cheap, but competent mystery with every actor getting their fair share of antenna-raising sideways glances. Barbara Lass, the actress who susses out the black-mailing plot, is the ex-wife of director Roman Polanski, and also bears a slight resemblance to Scarlett Johansson… which makes this film more enjoyable than it would otherwise be. The spooky, electronic-enhanced soundtrack score, by Armando Trovajoli, is actually quite good for a cheapie (download it below). TAG LINE: BEAUTIES! The Prey Of A Monster’s Desires! DIALOG ALERT: “No! My husband is, perhaps, a philanderer… but not an assassin.” Find Werewolf In A Girls’ Dormitory at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

BONUS SOUNDTRACK:
Lycanthropus Lycanthropus (1961/2014)

Approximately 30 minute soundtrack score (released just this year) for Werewolf In A Girls’ Dormitory – issued under its original title, Lycanthropus. Fourteen cues, with not a whole lot of substantive variation, but the spooky ambiance and touch of early electronics is well done and effective. Check comments for a 320 link. Gettable at Amazon as a two-fer, paired with the score to Seddok (a.k.a. Atom Age Vampire), HERE.

Space Master X-7 (1958)


Space_Master_X-7SPACE MASTER X-7 (1958) One of sci-fi’s more durable plots; a satellite returns to earth with an alien fungus aboard (dubbed “blood rust”), which – of course – threatens to take over the world. One of this movie’s highlights is actor Paul Frees (as the mustachioed Dr. Charles T. Pommer), who’s a legend for his voice-over work, with an impossible resume of cartoons, television and film to his credit… though most will recognize his distinctive chops from various Disney theme park rides. Hearing that iconic, ominously detached voice coming out of an actor on-screen is a tad disconcerting, but fun nonetheless. Even funnier, right after Frees (as the Dr.) is killed in his laboratory, he appears as the voice of the train station announcer a scene or two later. There’s no keeping a good voice-over man down. There’s not a lot of space monster in this one, as Space Master X-7 comes off like a 50s crime drama, with a sci-fi bent. According to IMDb, this film was never put into television syndication, so it’s rarely been officially shown over the years. Speaking of legends, take note of the cab driver, someone you know quite well in a rare, serious role. TAG LINE: Satellite Terror Strikes The Earth! DIALOG ALERT: “I’m in the middle of an experiment! You know me well enough to know what that means.” Space Master X-7 is out of print and hard to find at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Monster On The Campus (1958)


monster_on_campus_poster_02MONSTER ON THE CAMPUS (1950) Prehistoric DNA is on the loose in this simple, low-budget Jekyll and Hyde variation, given a heartbeat by the higher quality production values of Universal Pictures. An extinct fish shows up on campus and everyone who comes in contact with it starts de-evolving. Except for a young Troy Donahue, who’s as primitive as it gets to begin with. I’ve heard some of the excellent music score before, so I’m guessing the cues were borrowed from better pictures. TAG LINE: Co-Ed Beauty Captive Of Man-Monster. DIALOG ALERT: “The dog’s in his cage… I’m perfectly safe.” Find Monster On The Campus at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

She Demons (1958)


she_demons_poster_02SHE DEMONS (1958) Far better production values than the majority of drive-in jungle pictures, but with all the clichés thankfully intact; ominously distant drums, choreographed blue-eyed native dancing slave girls in skimpy outfits, the love-hate guy/girl thing, a mad German scientist, a rich-bitch blonde in tight-fitting clothes, zombies washing up on shore, Nazi’s … it’s hard to go wrong with uniformed Nazi’s. The acting isn’t even one-take quality, more like filmed rehearsals. The dashing Hugh Beaumont-styled lead guy is a riot, with cheap, know-it-all bluster and contrived he-manliness. The girl is bitch-slap maddening and the sidekick comic foil is the worst. The scenes when the mad, monologuing Nazi over-explains his experiments and desires, are among my favorite. TAG LINE: From Beauty To Beast! DIALOG ALERT: “OK, big boy… you look pretty good with those helpless women. Let’s see how you do with me.” Find She Demons at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

X The Unknown (1956)


X-the-unknownX THE UNKNOWN (1956) A typically smart UK sci-fi offering from Hammer Film Studios, that was originally intended to be a follow-up to the successful Quatermass Xperiment series, but ended up altered due to legalities. An American scientist is doggedly on the trail of a mysterious radioactive outbreak. Seems there’s a monster from the depths of the earth feeding on the stuff. The special effects are weak, and barely budgeted, but the acting is Brit-serious. A young Anthony Newly plays a soldier (“Spider”), while the commie-hating lead American actor (Dean Jagger) refused to work with the original, blacklisted director, Joseph Losey/Walton, who was replaced by Leslie Norman as a result. Crisp black & white print. Great opening score music. TAG LINE: It Rises From 2000 Miles Below The Earth To Melt Everything In Its Path! DIALOG ALERT: “It’s a particle of mud… How do you kill mud?X The Unknown goes for collector’s prices at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Night Walker (1964)


Night-Walker-Poster3THE NIGHT WALKER (1964) The Night Walker has so many wonderful elements it’s hard to know where to begin. The director of this spooky, 60s psychological thriller is the great William Castle, and while this may not be as shockingly camp as some of his classic horror flicks (The Tingler, 13 Ghosts, Mr. Sardonicus) – and lacks some of his gimmicky side-showmanship – The Night Walker still has many of his trademark excesses. The credits and intro are both outstanding, with great imagery, and voice-over dialog by the brilliant Disney legend, Paul Frees. The screenplay is by Psycho author Robert Bloch, and finally, the soundtrack is scored by the one-and-only Vic Mizzy, beloved film & TV composer of The Addams Family and a handful of essential Don Knotts movies. As for William Castle’s movie poster for The Night Walker, don’t hold your breath expecting to see any demonic monsters… or Barbara Stanwyck (in her final movie role before retiring to TV) to look anything like the hot blond draped across the bed. But… that’s William “Fill-The-Seats” Castle for you. I didn’t even recognize the well-known character actor who plays the blind, Howard Trent, even though it’s obvious once you know. See if you can guess before clicking HERE to see who he is. DIALOG ALERT: “See you soon, Barry. Heh-heh. Just a figure of speech.” There seems to only be an ancient VHS of The Night Walker at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

BONUS SOUNDTRACK
FrontThe Night Walker (1964)
Thanks to RobJam for supplying Vic Mizzy’s soundtrack to The Night Walker. It’s not as goofy as his better known work, like The Ghost & Mr. Chicken, for instance, but it boasts a few of Mizzy’s distinctive characteristics, like plucked guitar and harpsichord lines and an overall spooky ambiance. The mood here is more suspenseful, and is dominated by variations of the main theme you hear throughout the movie. Check comments for track listings and a link. Thanks RobJam.

The Eye Creatures (1965)


Eye CreaturesTHE EYE CREATURES (a.k.a. Attack Of The Eye Creatures)(1965) Inept filmmaking at its finest, from one of the premier auteurs of bad cinema, Larry Buchanan – the unsteady hand behind Zontar: The Thing From Venus (HERE), Mars Needs Women (HERE) and In The Year 2889, among others. Wooden acting, crappy edits, dumb plot, bad camera angles, creepy sexual obsessions and dialog that will elicit more laughter than interest. All the hallmarks of a Larry Buchanan production. Essentially, The Eye Creatures is just a cheap knock-off of 1957′s Invasion Of The Saucer Men, which also finds aliens landing in a “teenage” make-out parking spot. The Eye Creatures is buffered with unfunny humor, incomprehensible scenarios and clueless execution, from start to finish. Even the “poster” is a rip off. Since this stinker was originally made for a package of movies being sold to television, the found artwork uses imagery from another movie altogether, The Crawling Eye. DIALOG ALERT: “Opening strange doors isn’t a thing for a good clean-living American girl to do.” The Eye Creatures is so undesirable I couldn’t even find a link to the DVD two-fer (with Zontar) at Amazon. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Creature With The Atom Brain (1955)


Creature With The Atom BrainCREATURE WITH THE ATOM BRAIN (1955) A gangster puts the muscle on an ex-Nazi scientist with the know-how to resurrect radio-controlled corpses – zombies, by any other name – to carry out his sinister plan to murder his old enemies. Somehow the two, using ponderous voice commands, end up controlling a city-full of zombies. Star Richard Denning is a veteran of plenty of Creature Feature showings; Unknown Island, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Target Earth (HERE), Day The World Ended and The Black Scorpion, to name a few. Lots of 40s gangster talk, quotable dialog and funny one-liners – “…and I used to think Scrabble was tough,” “…you may be a crackpot, but you’re also a genius,” and, when the boys from the press think their chain is being collectively pulled, “…just for that I’m gonna misspell your name.” Rocker Roky Erickson likes this movie so much he titled a song after it (HERE). A few years later, director Edward Cahn would resurrect his own walking dead idea for another 1959 clunker, Invisible Invaders (watch it HERE). TAG LINES: So Terrifying Only Screams Can Describe It! Based On Scientific Facts! DIALOG ALERT: “If it weren’t for my money, you’d be experimenting with cats and dogs in that flea-sized lab of yours in Europe.” Find Creature With The Atom Brain in box set @ Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Gamma People (1956)


The_Gamma_People_movie_poster THE GAMMA PEOPLE (1956) Well-known character actor, Paul Douglas (you’ll recognize him) plays a reporter traveling with a stiff-upper-lip British photographer, who both stumble (via an uncoupled train car) into a tiny “comic opera” Eastern Bloc country. You’ll recognize that this cheapie is a higher calibre cheapie than most of our cheapies, boasting quality camera work, good film stock and a top-notch soundtrack score. But the Yank and Brit are playing their plight for laughs half the time, or are merely aggravated by the slightest Iron Curtain inconvenience, barking orders at people and into phones like the entitled, in-charge, we-saved-the-world Westerners that movie-goers paid to see in the 50s. Everyone in the tiny town is acting comically suspicious, except the mad scientist-type who secretly runs the town while conducting human experiments to turn kids (Hitler Youth-types) into geniuses… or imbeciles. Easy to watch since it’s well-made, but kinda dumb. The big finale is actually pretty rousing, but only because of the music. TAG LINE: Gamma-Ray Creatures Loose! DIALOG ALERT: “I’ve got enough problems, don’t you go psycho on me.” The Gamma People only seems to be available on VHS, with a cover that would make Devo jealous, HERE at Amazon. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Journey To The Seventh Planet (1962)


journey_to_the_seventh_planet_poster_022JOURNEY TO THE SEVENTH PLANET (1962) Since early 60s science fiction was largely marketed to teenage boys, Journey To The Seventh Planet proved to be a much better marquee title than Journey To Uranus, wouldn’t you agree? A glimpse into the future, 1962-style. It’s the year 2001, the voice-over tells us, and Earth is “no longer wracked by wars and threats of annihilation. Man has learned to live with himself.” How things have changed. Fortunately, the movies of the 50s and 60s still hadn’t, as you can tell when we first eavesdrop on a crew, headed by B-movie great John Agar, making their way to your anu… uh, Uranus. Pinning up pin-up girls and talkin’ about the gals they left behind. And… they’ve barely even gotten under way. No telling what they’ll be pounding after 1.6 billion miles in space. This MGM flick is low-grade fare that has aliens using mind-control, in pretty psychedelic sequences for 1962. All of this explains the endlessly seductive babes our intrepid voyagers find on the seventh planet. It all plays like an episode of The Twilight Zone, with candy colors and more elaborate effects, while it’s plot line is similar in concept to Ray Bradbury’s “Mars Is Heaven.” Whatever you do, don’t miss the incredible end credits love theme, sung by Otto Brandenburg (HERE, if you’re the impatient type). TAG LINE: You Are There In Space Beyond Space! DIALOG ALERT: “She gave me a couple of ideas… yesss sir!” Find Journey To The Seventh Planet at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Fire Maidens Of Outer Space (1956)


fire_maidens_of_outer_space_poster_01FIRE MAIDENS OF OUTER SPACE (1956) The story of a secret project, “Plan 13… an expedition into outer space,” or so the dramatic voice-over tells us anyway. What it’s about is a flight to the 13th moon of Jupiter (an accurate prediction, as it turns out, since Jupiter’s Leda wouldn’t be discovered for another 18 years). After arriving, a gaggle of hilariously misogynistic military types and Mad Men rejects stumble on a “monster” terrorizing 17 gooey-eyed, husband-hunting Jupiter moon babes (and their dad), the lone survivors of the lost city of Atlantis. Since this is some kind of a bizarro world, is it surprising that it’s the women who spike the guys’ drinks with roofies to make-out with them while they sleep? Truly bad cinema, on all levels, featuring wooden acting worthy of a Phil Hartman homage/tribute, and ridiculous dialog to die for… like when the horndog astronauts see their first skirt-wearing alien. It’s hard to miss the product placement in this one, from Coke to Longines – Swiss timekeeping made famous on 50s TV game shows. TAG LINE: SEE Supersonic Excitement… As You Hurtle Through Space To A Lost Planet! DIALOG ALERT: “What about the gal? If she’s his daughter, I’m Genghis Khan.” Find Fire Maidens Of Outer Space at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Cat-Women Of The Moon (1953)


600full-cat--women-of-the-moon-posterCAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON (1953) A space expedition comes across a race of women in black tights from the dark side of the moon (played by “The Hollywood Cover Girls,” looking like an avant-grade dance troup). The space crew is a hoot, including Victor Jory, whose old school film style and stick-up-his-ass demeanor manages to make everything sound like a 1940s prison break. There’s a babe on board, too. A navigator whose first order of business when waking up in deep space is to crack out her compact and fix her hair and make-up. Curiously, she seems to know everything about the dark side of the moon before even arriving. Everything except the giant spiders (their gang-beating is a riot). Fortunately, someone thought to bring a pistol with them into space. According to this 1953 version of history, man’s first words on the moon were, “It works!” Composing great, Elmer “Bernstien,” must have been behind on his mortgage when he took this gig. They couldn’t even spell his name right in the credits. Some of the props from Cat-Women Of The Moon found their way into 1954′s Project Moon Base (HERE), and the plot was so “good,” it was regurgitated for Missile To The Moon in 1958 (HERE). TAG LINE: SEE: The Lost City Of Love-Starved Cat-Women! DIALOG ALERT: “You’re too smart for me, baby. I like ‘em stupid.” It’s at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Alligator People (1959)


AlligatorpeopleTHE ALLIGATOR PEOPLE (1959) B-Movie & TV actress Beverly Garland (best known from My Three Sons) is looking good in this mystery/suspense/monster movie, as a newlywed whose husband vanishes on their honeymoon. She tells the story via flashbacks, while under a doctor’s care, telling how she was able to find him, in the midst of his turning into an alligator. It’s a scream-fest for Garland, who gets accosted by everything in this one (she once said: “I can scream with more variations, from shrill to vibrato, than any other girl in pictures”). Lon Chaney, Jr., then in the midst of his Slow Decline From Decent Film Roles Tour, plays a crazed, drunken, one-handed handyman, who has a penchant for shooting alligators and running them over with his truck. He’s actually more believable here than in most of his roles since, and including, The Wolf Man. The veteran George Macready (brilliant in Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory), is scraping the barrel’s bottom as well, and his over-dramatic monologuing is a treat. The soundtrack is a good one, featuring an electric violin for a creepy effect usually reserved for theremins. Get the short but authentic 2000 OST re-recording, HERE. TAG LINE: Her Honeymoon Turned Into A Nightmare Of Horror! DIALOG ALERT: “If the quicksand didn’t get you, the moccasins would. Then… then, there’s always the gators. Dirty, nasty, slimy things!” Find The Alligator People as cheap as $6 @ Amazon (HERE, in a box set with The Fly, The House Of The Damned and The Cabinet Of Caligari). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Space Probe Taurus (1965)


Space Probe TaurusSPACE PROBE TAURUS (1965) a.k.a. Space Monster. This one’s pretty obscure. Despite being produced by American International Pictures, it’s not available for viewing or purchase at Amazon, and background information from usually reliable sources like Wiki and IMDb are slim to nonexistent. It’s your classic, recycled kitchen sink space yarn, however, complete with alien beings, space monsters, meteor attacks and an astronaut babe, who starts out clashing with the openly misogynistic ship captain (“I am not bitter… on a ship carrying only four crew, there’s no place for a woman”) before eventually falling into his arms. As usual… don’t trust the movie poster. The Godzilla-like lizard creatures threatening the astronauts aren’t even in the flick, while the big brainiac alien mask is a re-used prop from The Wizard Of Mars (and the gill-men footage is lifted from The City Beneath The Sea). The script, as well, is basically a cut-and-paste job from a dozen previous plots. As ridiculous as it all is, Space Probe Taurus isn’t totally inept, and even has its moments of authenticity, via gadgets, gauges and space protocol. Though… what prompted the captain to bring a handgun to space is anybody’s guess. Boasts a rousing score. TAG LINE: Horror So Incredible It Stretches The Mind Of Man Beyond The Breaking Point. DIALOG ALERT: “Uh-oh… we’ve got company.” New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Target Earth (1954)


target-earth-half-sheet-b-1954TARGET EARTH (1954) A robot army from Venus invades Chicago. Now that’s a storyline. Don’t worry that you only see one robot in the invading horde (budgets, y’know), and it’s not even really Chicago, but Los Angeles (budgets again). But… would you expect anything less from rank 50s sci-fi? The movie opens with an attempted suicide, which results only in a half-naked babe sleeping through a city-wide evacuation. As she high-heels her way through barren streets, she eventually hooks up with a few other survivors. Mostly drunks who partied through the evac. The first half of Target Earth is played pretty straight, if typically 50s. Then the “army” of robots arrives and it all dumbs gloriously down, plot twisted by a shady character played by Robert Roark, who got the acting job ’cause his dad invested in the film. Ironically, he’s one of the film’s best. DIALOG ALERT: “Don’t kid yourself honey. The only reason I open my trap is to keep my teeth from chattering.” If you’ve got a spare $50, find Target Earth at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Red Planet Mars (1952)


Red Planet Mars1 RED PLANET MARS (1952) Relatively realistic look at what happens when images and radio waves from Mars suggest that there’s intelligent life on the red planet… and they’re looking to communicate. Peter Graves, in one of his earliest movie roles, is the scientist who’s making a connection, but this movie has many criss-crossing undercurrents… geo-political, financial, religious… and the real red menace – The Cold War. Made in 1952, this movie is overshadowed by the Soviet/American conflict, and comes complete with an ex-Nazi scientist in the thick of the action. But, as the media spreads the news, world chaos ensues, especially in the financial institutions, where businessmen and CEOs are kept busy assessing the impact on their investments and futures. Then… out of the blue, a religious monkey wrench is tossed into the plot. Willis Bouchey (you’ll recognize him) plays the Eisenhower-styled President… a year before Eisenhower became president. And, for a movie that doesn’t even attempt to predict the future, Graves’ character can be seen watching the news on a 40-inch flat screen TV mounted over his fireplace. It’s all well-played… until the unsatisfying climax. There were a number of nifty posters produced for this flick (click on ‘em below), including the cool newspaper-styled movie poster above. DIALOG ALERT: “It’s like having a grandstand seat for the creation of the world. Or, its DEATH!FUN FACT: Something I don’t think I knew… Peter Graves is the brother of Gunsmoke‘s James Arness. Find Red Planet Mars at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.
Red Planet Mars2Red Planet Mars3Red Planet Mars5Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.43.13 PM

The Magnetic Monster (1953)


The_Magnetic_Monster_PosterTHE MAGNETIC MONSTER (1953) Consider The Magnetic Monster as a precursor to the X-Files or Men In Black comic book/film franchise, as “A-Men” (A for Atom) from The Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) probe unusual earthly occurrences, beginning with a hardware store that is overwhelmed by animated appliances that go haywire after becoming magnetic. Richard Carlson (It Came from Outer Space, Creature From The Black Lagoon) is the star, but you’ll recognize a slew of well-known character actors. In fact, with the voice-over intro and electronic oscillators, you might also be reminded of The Outer Limits. But there’s enough scientific jabber and equipment footage to make it all appear legit. Producer/co-writer Ivan Tors made a trilogy of movies with the OSI theme (including Riders To The Stars and Gog). This was the first, partially directed by Curt Siodmak, co-writer and famed screenwriter of The Wolf Man, as well as the films Son Of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (HERE), Creature With The Atom Brain, and The Beast With Five Fingers. DIALOG ALERT: “But, this is ridiculous. Metal objects can’t grow!” Find The Magnetic Monster at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Night Caller (1965)


The Night CallerTHE NIGHT CALLER (1966) – a.k.a Night Caller From Outer Space, a.k.a. Blood Beast From Outer Space. British sci-fi is no second cousin to American, drive-in sci-fi fare. Perhaps it’s their rich tradition of theater and acting, but the Brits seem to take it all quite seriously, regardless of how absurd or ridiculous the plot. The Night Caller is no exception. It casts a hypnotizing spell… at least, that’s what the singer in the title song says. Yes, that’s B-movie hack/great John Saxon in the lead, far more convincing that he usually is, in this tale of scientists tracking what they first believe is a meteor, only to learn it’s a space craft from Ganymede, one of the moons of Jupiter. When does it get dumb, you ask? When girls start disappearing as a result of answering ads in Bikini Girl magazine. Yeah, that’s right. Aliens are scoring chicks to repopulate their planet via the classifieds. DIALOG ALERT: “We had knowledge that could lead to eternal peace and progress, but also embodying the darker powers of universal destruction. So our civilisation ended, just as yours will end.” Find The Night Caller at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Phantom Planet (1961)


Phantom PlanetTHE PHANTOM PLANET (1961) A crisp, clear B&W print of a good, old-fashioned space yarn. In 1980, in case you’ve forgotten, we had bases on the moon and men were traveling to Mars. Despite the incompetence of the military, who send a craft to investigate a “phantom planet,” that almost gets serious when bullet-like meteorites cripple a couple of space-walking astronauts. After that… the writers must have gone out to lunch and toked up, because… well, I’ll let you be the judge. This sci-fi-er from American International Pictures has solid production values and is directed with a sure hand… despite the low budget and eventual plot direction. One look at the handsome and rugged ship captain, however, should alert you that there’s a space babe somewhere in his future. That’s when it all gets Kirkian and a tad Star Trekian. DIALOG ALERT: “This is a capable base, General, run by capable men. Now there’s something out there that isn’t supposed to be!” At Amazon you can score a colorized/restored B&W combo DVD of The Phantom Planet for a buck, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Mole People (1956)


The Mole People 3THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) A crew at an archeological dig site endures an earthquake, then climbs to the top of a snowy mountain to trigger an avalanche, only to fall into a hole in the ground and endure rock slides. You’d think these guys would get the message that this expedition might be born under a bad sign. B-Movie stalwart John Agar provides the manly meddle, while The Beaver’s dad, Hugh Beaumont, plays his fedora-wearing sidekick, as the team stumbles upon a race of underground, pseudo-Egyptian, god-fearing albinos. Their weakness? Why, flashlights, of course. The slave labor monsters (presumably the title character “mole people”) turn out to be the sympathetic ones here, despite what the (guaranteed to be inaccurate) movie poster suggests. Only Universal Pictures’ typically respectable production values – and a solid music score – help to lift this thread-bare, bottom-scraping concept above the dregs… barely. DIALOG ALERT #1: “Archaeologists are underpaid publicity agents for deceased royalty.” DIALOG ALERT #2: “Did you ever hear of anyone smoking dried mushrooms?” DIALOG ALERT #3: “This one died from a blow from a heavy blunt instrument. That’s a sign of a higher civilization.” Find The Mole People at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Incredible Petrified World (1959)


incredible_petrified_world_poster_02THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD (1957) Kind of like a cross between 50s underwater footage from Jacques Cousteau and a re-write of Journey To The Center Of The Earth. John Carradine masterminds (then stays topside for) an underwater expedition that goes haywire. The crew, with two babes in tow, is thought lost, finding themselves trapped in an undersea cave system that – like Jules Verne’s original idea – is extremely well-lit. Verne also already figured a way out of a mess like this, too, via a volcano. But, even though this cheapie introduces that means of escape, they decide not to use it, opting for something ultimately blander instead. The best part of this stinker is the stock footage of an octopus wrestling with a shark, which opens the film. It’s all underwater from there. Cheap sets and lame suspense – with the only “scare” coming in a 5-second cutaway of a lizard resting in the sun – The Incredible Petrified World was considered so awful it sat on the shelf for years before being used as ballast for the bottom half of a drive-in double feature with a later film made by the same director, Teenage Zombies (HERE). Try not to think too much about everyone entering and leaving the diving bell – trapped underwater – via the top hatch. DIALOG ALERT: “You just listen to me, Miss Innocent. There’s nothing friendly between two females. There never was. There never will be.” Find The Incredible Petrified World at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Reptilicus (1961)


reptilicusREPTILICUS (1961) SEE: A Mighty City Trampled To Destruction! SEE: Missiles And Atom Bombs Powerless! SEE: Civilization Rioting With Fear! An ancient dino, with regenerative capabilities, comes alive in Denmark, terrorizing the locals, Godzilla-style. There are actually two version of this movie. The original Danish version and an American version re-filmed with most of the same actors speaking English. American International Pictures recut the latter for release, re-dubbing the English-speaking Danes to hide the “sing-song Scandinavian accents” that were deemed too comical. Speaking of comical, witness the acting chops of the American military commander – a guy so cluelessly earnest, you have to wonder if his performance was a geo-political statement of some sort. Early on, when the scientists leave all-important freezing instructions with a barely literate, overall-wearing Jethro Bodine-type (actually a popular Danish actor), it’s not hard to guess what will happen. But, the scientists and military appear just as clueless. The main professor’s man-hungry daughters are a hoot. The video’s freeze frame, above, is one of the best… appearing to show a rare, 1961 selfie and photobomb taking place at the same time. DIALOG ALERT: “I’m a soldier, Professor Martens, not a scientist. That’s the way I know how to kill.” Find Reptilicus at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)

TeenagersouterspaceTEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1950) Some disagreeably rude aliens land on earth to prep it as a breeding ground for their monstrous food supply, a.k.a. Gargons. One of the dreamier aliens, Derek, whose brain was polluted by a book suggesting there’s a better life to be had by spreading peace, love and understanding, instead of hatred and weaponry, escapes into the populace – befriending a girl, attending pool parties and dressing like a teddy boy, as he works to save the world from “thrill-crazed space kids blasting the flesh off humans” and the ever-growing, lobster-like Gargons. Of course, even more alien than the aliens is seeing a friendly gas station attendant with a bow tie washing customers’ windows. Two parts stupid and one part awful, Teenagers From Outer Space is everything ‘bad cinema’ lovers look for in a cheap sci-fi – lousy acting, absurd dialog, dumb plot… all this despite writer, director, editor, cinematographer, Tom Graeff’s admirably logical story outline and sensible direction (Graeff also plays Joe, the reporter). The production’s reported $14,000 budget is impossible to even fathom – practically putting Graeff in a league with Orson Welles for his creative ingenuity under the circumstances. This is the best online print I’ve seen yet for this classic. DIALOG ALERT: “You know, I don’t get this guy. Animals or humans. He just seems to like killing.” Find Teenagers From Outer Space on DVD at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Assignment: Outer Space (1960)


assignment_outer_spaceASSIGNMENT: OUTER SPACE (1960) a.k.a. Space Men – An Italian space movie from 1960 that’s over-acted and – despite being filmed in English – poorly dubbed, but nonetheless hints at authenticity as astronauts rest in suspended animation, need magnetic boots and convincingly float-walk inside the space capsule. The plot centers around a cocky reporter who is sent into space alongside a bitter commander who doesn’t want him around. Even the crew thinks he “smells earthy.” Of course, when the shit hits the fan, the roguish, handsome, confrontational outsider (who, naturally, manages to zero in on the one babe on board) winds up becoming the go-to guy to save the day. Whoda thought? Not much in the way of unintentional laughs, however. DIALOG ALERT: “I dreamt I was sleeping.” Find Assignment: Outer Space at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Monolith Monsters (1957)


The Monolith MonstersTHE MONOLITH MONSTERS (1957) One of Universal’s more ingenious “monster” constructs. A meteorite deposits a slew of other-worldly rocks in a Californian desert. When they interact with water, they grow monstrously large. Monstrously large… while simultaneously draining fluids from humans who make the mistake of coming in contact with them. It’s not often a geologist gets to be the hero in a monster movie, but when rocks are threatening the town, who you gonna call? The beauty of the film’s premise is that there also happens to be a naturally occurring danger lurking, just waiting to happen… rain. Which would trigger the monoliths’ growth to Earth-engulfing proportions. As primitive as this late 50s sci-fi offering is, it’s well-acted and plays like a thoughtful CSI investigation, as the locals work to figure out what can halt the seemingly unstoppable march of destruction. A little unintended humor comes from the local newspaperman, whose self-pity parties over his lack of purpose is relentless. Great, ominous voice-over intro by the legendary Paul Frees (of Disney fame). The celebrated music score, mostly by Irving Getz (using cues from Henry Mancini and Herman Stein), was also partially heard in The Deadly Mantis (HERE) and This Island Earth (HERE), among other films. DIALOG ALERT: “It’s ridiculous. But that’s what they said about the wheel when someone first thought of it.” Find The Monolith Monsters at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

This Island Earth (1955)


103-ISLANDTHIS ISLAND EARTH (1955) An unsolicited set of instructions show up at a research laboratory and, when a device is constructed, a guy with a big head appears on a V-shaped TV screen to involve scientists in a mysterious endeavor. This Island Earth was, and still is, an eyeful. Rich colors, excellent photography, good special effects, expansive sets with realistic electronics, believable off-beat aliens and a solid music score… all adding up to a fun time at the movies. Of course, as with most cinematic alien encounters, you can tell things are not as they appear early on, when the brainy science babe starts acting all strange. A classic, flamboyant sci-fi offering, yet still one of the more sensible ones, with a sizable budget and sure-handed direction. It’s also easy to see a few primitive parallels to Carl Sagan’s Contact, at least near the beginning. DIALOG ALERT: “Plug it in, Joe. We’ll see what happens.” Find This Island Earth at Amazon, HERE. Get a Universal Metaluna Mutant Action Figure while you’re at it (HERE). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

SOUNDTRACK BONUS:
This Island EarthThis Island Earth
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1955)

Unless I’m mistaken, the original soundtrack to This Island Earth (by Herman Stein, with contributions from Henry Mancini & Hans Salter) was never released back in the day. The M-o-n-s-t-r-o-u-s M-o-v-i-e label has issued a re-recording of this work, but these (original?) recordings likely come from an isolated track/laser disc (ripped @192). The cover art is a fake mock-up. Link and track listing in Comments. Thanks to RobJam for the suggestion.

Gigantis, The Fire Monster (1955) + Masaru Satoh’s Original Soundtrack Score


gigantis-the-fire-monster GIGANTIS, THE FIRE MONSTER (a.k.a. GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN) (1955) Not familiar with this title? You’re not alone. Gigantis, The Fire Monster is the long-forgotten sequel to the very first Godzilla. As Godheads know, western producers took the original 1954 Japanese film, Gojira, and dubbed it with newly shot, Americanized scenes starring Raymond Burr (Perry Mason) to re-release in the US as Godzilla, King Of The Monsters… the Godz movie we all grew up with as kids (HERE). What many don’t realize, though, is that the same thing was done with the 1955 Japanese sequel, translated as Godzilla Raids Again. This time, however, a different US producer (whether because of red tape, studio politics, copyrights or just plain stupidity) changed the monster’s name to Gigantis – a move that turned this potentially lucrative sequel into an obscure footnote in America. Worse yet, the producers decided to alter Godzilla’s unforgettable roar, an unforgivable sin that makes Godzilla sound as badly dubbed as the dialog. Gigantis, The Fire Monster features newly written dialog meshed with the original Japanese fireworks and effects, as Godzilla battles the first in what would become a never-ending series of equally monstrous foes… this time, a mutated ankylosaurus kaiju (a prehistoric porcupine) named Anguirus. This Toho Studios sequel is well-made and the action benefits from the revved-up film speed, making Godzilla less lethargic and plodding than usual, and the two monsters tear up downtown Tokyo like they’re in a WWF cage match. DIALOG ALERT: “We’re lucky this car came along.” A mere $5 (and as little as $3) will get you both the original Japanese version and the remade American dub, Godzilla Raids Again/Gigantis, The Fire Monster, on a remastered DVD at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

BONUS:
FrontGigantis, The Fire Monster
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1955)

Because I’ve got way too much of this kind of music lying around, here’s Masaru Satoh’s original remastered score for Gigantis, The Fire Monster. It’s short… barely 23 minutes, but the sound quality is fantastic. Link and track listing in comments. We’ve also got the 50th Anniversary score to Godzilla in the archives, HERE.