Category Archives: Drive-In Movies

FRIDAY NIGHT DRIVE-IN MOVIE
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.

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!, 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.

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.

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.

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 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 who 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.

Destination Moon (1950)


Screen Shot 2013-12-27 at 6.23.22 PMDESTINATION MOON (1950) “The Moon!?! Impossible!A private businessman arranges for an expedition to the moon before the Russians can get there first. From producer George Pal (an early Technicolor release), Destination Moon was a serious effort in its day, and an Oscar winner for special effects. It’s still cheaply funny, but what do you want from 1950. Still, you’ll see a space walk to replace a radar unit, echoed almost 20 years later in 2001: A Space Odyssey (from a story Arthur C. Clark first published in 1951). The Woody Woodpecker cartoon near the beginning is interesting for a couple of reasons… as a plot explaining sales pitch, it’s easy to see a similarity with Stephen Spielberg’s DNA cartoon from Jurassic Park. But even stranger, Pal enjoyed a close friendship with Woody’s creator, Walter Lantz, and often found a way to work the character into his many movies (though, this time, more predominately than usual). Destination Moon features an early example of one of my favorite ongoing space movie clichés, the use of a regular joe, comically sore thumb crew member from Brooklyn (in this case, named Joe, of course). DIALOG ALERT:Hey, am I the only one that’s scared? This thing might work.” Find Destination Moon cheap at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Mars Needs Women (1967)


Screen Shot 2013-12-20 at 10.01.49 AMMARS NEEDS WOMEN (1967) Speaking of low-budget director Larry Buchanan (last week’s Zontar – The Thing From Venus, HERE)… comes his masterwork, a movie so bad that even the film’s star, Tommy Kirk, called it “one of the stupidest motion pictures ever made.” And, indeed, if you wanted to teach a masterclass in what not to do in filmmaking, this might be your best lesson guide. Bad acting, ridiculous monologues, scenes that linger on for no other reason than to pad the movie’s run time… it’s all here. Filled out with enough stock military footage to make a documentary on the subject. The plot finds women disappearing into thin air, just as the military decodes a three word message from space… ‘Mars needs women.’ Ex-Disney star Kirk hams it up as a Martian looking to replenish his planet with babes, while Byron Lord – as the high-strung Colonel – is a scene-chewing madman, that is when he’s not standing around looking intently at a loudspeaker or staring into space inside of an office pretending he’s watching stock footage planes landing. There are no movie posters for this one, as the finished product was deemed so bad it went directly to television. DIALOG ALERT: “These ties serve no functional purpose. Red planet abandoned the use of ties fifty years ago as useless male vanity. It simply reveals the environmental naiveté of the earthmen.” Find Mars Needs Women at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Zontar, The Thing From Venus (1966)


1966zontarthethingfromvenus3ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS (1966) For those of us who thought Roger Corman’s It Conquered The World (HERE) wasn’t quite cheap enough, here’s an even cheaper remake… Zontar, The Thing From Venus, starring B-movie mainstay, John Agar. A megalomaniac scientist is communicating with space static and believes he can help what he believes is an earth-saving alien who, in reality, is out to conquer the world. Zontar holes up in a cave (which is supposed to simulate his environment on Venus), messing with the operation of cars, running water and power, putting the puny humans on notice about who their daddy is. You’d think that Zontar’s death couldn’t be achieved any easier than “It’s” death in Corman’s previous 1956 version of this story… but you’d be wrong. Directed by the (not so) great Larry Buchanan (Mars Needs Women, In The Year 2889). DIALOG ALERT: “I don’t know exactly HOW I understand, but it’s a form of hyperspace hypnotism. I DO know that I DO understand.” Find Zontar, The Thing From Venus at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Battle Beneath The Earth (1967)


battle-beneath-the-earth-poster BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH (1967) Communists tunnel beneath the earth, digging holes all the way from China to plant Atom bombs under U.S. cities in this “deliriously paranoid” British flick passing itself off as a run-of-the-mill American-made movie. You’ve gotta love the evil Chinese genius (with a pet and a gong), who looks more like a Mexican general auditioning for a gig with the Third Reich. Of course, the Americans are forced to get their own underground bore machines (armed with lasers, no less) because, to quote another equally paranoid film, “we must not allow a mineshaft gap.” The colorful design, spinning edit cuts and over-the-top crime jazz film score will surely remind you of cheesy 60s TV shows like Batman. DIALOG ALERT: “You fool! They’re twenty years ahead of us! They’ve got tunneling machines! They’re coming in under us and you sit there like an idiot!” Find Battle Beneath The Earth at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Missile To The Moon (1958)


missile-to-the-moon-movie-poster-1958-1020337104MISSILE TO THE MOON (1958) Two clueless convicts stow away on a rocket ship…. which happens to be on its way to the moon, where they encounter an underground world run by moon babes and inhabited by giant spiders and foam rubber rock monsters. Just another day at the drive-in. Cheap quality, bad ideas, poor execution and a plot with more holes than a miniature golf course. Essentially, this is a remake of 1953′s Cat Women Of The Moon (HERE). DIALOG ALERT: “Look, George, if you want to speak to me you’d better shake the loose parts out of your head.” Find Missile To The Moon for a buck and a half at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

FRIDAY NIGHT DRIVE-IN MOVIE
The Flesh Eaters (1964)


flesh_eaters_poster_02THE FLESH EATERS (1964) Don’t be surprised if you’re not bored by how “bad” The Flesh Eaters is. Despite its low-budget, it’s actually a decent gore/thriller… with more than its fair share of cheapness, of course, but still reasonably logical. A drunken actress charters a plane, which is forced to land on a mysterious island, where an equally mysterious professor of marine biology – a Nazi-type, as chance (and casting) would have it, wanders in out of the ocean to introduce himself. Following close behind are skeletons washing up on the shore, courtesy of some flesh-eating organism. Later coming ashore is a cartoon beatnik on a raft – with a phonograph record playing jazz music, no less. Just try to ignore that the actress, professor and Maynard G. Krebs character (originally played by Bob Denver), all stuck on an uncharted desert isle, starts to resemble an evil twin of Gilligan’s Island after a while. As you can see by the poster, the producers used a William Castle-styled scare gimmick – handing out packets of “instant blood” to protect theater goers from the flesh eaters. Since no patrons reportedly died, it must have worked. DIALOG ALERT: “Alright Gunga Din, now whatta we do?” Find The Flesh Eaters at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Terror In The Haunted House (1958)


terror_in_haunted_house_poster_02TERROR IN THE HAUNTED HOUSE (1958) – a.k.a. My Earth Dies Screaming. It’s billed as “The First Picture In… Psycho-Rama! The Fourth Dimension! Using SUBLIMINAL COMMUNICATION!” But, instead of flashing unnoticeable millisecond-long pictures of popcorn and soda to subliminally boost sales at the candy counter, Terror In The Haunted House uses imagery like cartoon faces with words like “scream louder,” all designed to… well, frankly, we don’t know what they’re designed to do. Just consider it another cheap, William Castle-styled marketing gimmick that doesn’t have the same charm as other William Castle-styled marketing gimmicks. A husband brings his new bride to live in a spooky old house that she’s been having recurring nightmares about. From there the mystery unfolds, aided and abetted by the bride’s suspicious hubby and a series of strange events. If you find yourself subliminally wishing you were watching a different movie, blame Psycho-Rama. DIALOG ALERT: “Just lock the door… you’ll be safe here.” Find Terror In The Haunted House at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Horror Of Party Beach (1964)


beachTHE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964) If you’re at all like me, you’ll be hooked from the get-go by The Horror Of Party Beach. The sax-fueled, Tarantino-esque intro music, the sunglassed motorcycle gang, the drunken babe in a speeding sports car… and that’s just during the opening credits. The plot is as simplistic as it gets – radioactive waste ferments in a lake before surfacing in the form of a rubber-faced monster that’s to die for. The action mostly takes place at slumber parties, dark roads and the beach, with plenty of close-ups of the shaking butts of dancing babes. While the production is as B-movie as it gets, The Horror Of Party Beach is actually quite well made, despite the cardboard acting. It’s paced with a sure hand, shot on crystal clear B&W film stock and features some genuinely spooky, practically avant grade score music that I’d personally love to have on the shelf. Most of the rockin’ teenage soundtrack is provided by The Del-Aires, a first-rate, B-grade surf combo with a slew of 60s singles to their credit, and this flick just might send you hunting for these great tracks, mostly unreleased at the time, but dug out of obscurity by cult fans for a 2012 CD, Zombie Stomp (HERE). Pulling a page out of director William Castle’s playbook, some theater-goers were forced to sign a “Fright Release” to see The Horror Of Party Beach, to protect management from litigation in case anybody “died of fright.” Died of laughter is more likely, though there is an unusually high number of bloody teenage bodies on display for typical drive-in movie fare. DIALOG ALERT: “Pretty dead tonight, huh, Ron?” “Yeah… ever since Tina got killed, like, no action around here.” Find The Horror Of Party Beach at Amazon, HERE. It’s a cult fave, so you can even find a poster (HERE) and action figure of “The Horror” itself (HERE). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Creeping Terror (1964)


creeping_terror_poster.73193810_stdTHE CREEPING TERROR (1964) This one smells to high heaven. The first clue is the movie was directed, produced and edited by it’s star, Vic Savage, using an alias, A.J. Nelson. The second clue is the obvious lack of a budget, as this cheapie was filmed without sound – which was all dubbed in later, as badly as a Japanese monster movie. Ill-conceived narration is used to explain what’s supposed to be going on, and the dialog that is there doesn’t help much. As for the monster, which crawls out of an already crashed space ship, it looks like a cross between a giant slug and a Chinatown float, as it roams the countryside looking for humans to devour – including a bikini-clad girl, little Bobby and his grand dad, a housewife and a few other innocents that are just hanging around in the brush. One guy tries to kill it with a guitar before the monster moves on to the community dance hall to feast on dancing girls. Fun Fact: Some of this movie was filmed at the infamous Spahn Ranch, which would become home to the Manson Family within a couple of years. This flick makes you wish they had arrived a little earlier. The weird piano and organ score is almost avant grade. The Creeping Terror is largely considered one of the all time worst… ever, and rightly so. DIALOG ALERT: “Now, without warning, their honeymoon was to become a nightmare.” You’ll need a box collection to get ahold of The Creeping Terror at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

FRIDAY NIGHT DRIVE-IN MOVIE
House On Haunted Hill (Colorized 1959)

house-on-haunted-hill-posterHOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL (Colorized 1959) For Halloween we’re dusting off one of the all-time greats… made by one of the all-time great directors and one of Hollywood’s all-time great stars. A gorgeous, colorized version of director William Castle’s House On Haunted Hill, starring the great Vincent Price, and a workhorse plot that has durably stood the test of time. Purists need not complain, we’ve got the original B&W HERE in the archives, but this selectively colorized one is fun. As you should know, a cast of characters are offered $10,000 to spend the night in a death house, hosted by Price… at his pinnacle of his pithiness. Carol Ohmart – as his slut wife, Annabelle – is note perfect, and their screen time together is rich viewing indeed. When originally shown in 1959, Castle used another of his famed marketing gimmicks for House On Haunted Hill – dubbed “Emergo” – which included a skeleton “emerging” to fly over the heads of theater-goers at selected venues. The spooky music is composed by Von Dexter, who scored four films for Castle, including The Tingler and 13 Ghosts. DIALOG ALERT: “Remember the fun we had when you poisoned me? Yes… arsenic on the rocks.” Find House On Haunted Hill at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Killer Shrews (1959)


KillershrewsTHE KILLER SHREWS (1959) The shrews in question are actually cute little mole-type rodents, until some lost island experimentation takes place (shades of The Island Of Dr. Moreau), then they’re as big as dogs with buck teeth. Don’t miss this movie’s hidden opportunity, however, to carefully study the top-notch thespianism of James Best (wiki). You’ll recognize him. From an old Twilight Zone or Andy Griffith Show. He gained fame later on in The Dukes Of Hazzard, but James Best – in his youth – couldn’t carry a lead if his career depended on it. You can watch him working hard on the Elvis angle, getting nowhere – coming across like a big dumb Jethro Bodine-type instead. Keep your eyes glued to him, though. Best’s cut-to expressions and reaction shots are always out-of-place, while his delivery and uncomfortable patter is awkward and ill-timed. He sneaks out on his new girlfriend when she gets into an argument, and he’s having a smoke on the back porch while his forgotten black pal is getting mauled by mole dogs. That’s Ken Curtis (Gunsmoke‘s Festus) as the spurned ex-lover, getting drunk and surly in a weirdly awkward bedroom scene. While Radford, that preoccupied scientist guy with glasses, has obviously got a history in radio and/or voice-over work. Dialog Alert: “The wind has a lonesome sound, doesn’t it?” Find The Killer Shrews at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Giant Gila Monster (1959)


giant_gila_monster_02THE GIANT GILA MONSTER (1959) A bunch of hot-roddin’, malt-shop hangin’, street-draggin’ rock ‘n’ roll kids confront a 70 foot lizard… which overturns cars, crashes trains, peeks over rocks and, as expected, mauls the livestock. What to do? Good thing there’s some nitroglycerin stored in the shed. Interestingly, this movie was co-produced by a Dallas drive-in theater owner (as well as Ken Curtis, Gunsmoke‘s Festus), and was filmed back-to-back with The Killer Shrews (HERE) to save money. As you’d expect, this is a cheap production, with lame sets, plenty of dirt roads and weak acting. As for the monster… all you get are separately filmed close-ups and no actual interaction between the monster and people. There’s more fireworks between the good-hearted sheriff and the town’s blustering rich guy. The highlight is when hip-but-square local DJ, Steamroller Smith, shows up for a local sock hop. Musically, steer clear of that creepy banjo/ukulele original and check out the finale’s fusion of sax-fueled Tarantino rock and the effectively eerie theme music. Although it’s considered sacrilege, I’m posting the colorized version here instead of the original black & white release, but only because it’s widescreen and a better print (with better sound, too) than the other ones on YouTube. DIALOG ALERT: “Is that nitro safe out there?” Find The Giant Gila Monster (as a double feature with The Killer Shrews) at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)


The_Amazing_Colossal_ManTHE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957) During a plutonium bomb test, an Army Lieutenant Colonel receives the full force of the blast, but instead of dying from having all his skin burned off, he grows into an amazing colossal man, just like the poster predicted he would. A classic American Pictures International cheapie – competently made and acted, and with the appropriate degree of gravitas – but as hokey as the day is long. The scene with the colossal guy sitting with his tiny fiancé getting all philosophical is a hoot, but it’s not to be outdone by the guy in the helicopter who brings a giant hypodermic needle. You see, the big guy was set to get married in Vegas the night of the blast, and in his growing delusional madness he finds his way there anyway… but can’t get into The Sands, so he rips the joint up – just like Sinatra would have. Pushed into production to capitalize on the success of The Incredible Shrinking Man, the great Roger Corman was originally attached as director, but ended up finding something better to do. This is hosted at VEOH, so it may not be available in all locations. DIALOG ALERT: “Perhaps it isn’t I who’s growing, but it’s everyone who’s shrinking!” Amazingly, I couldn’t find The Amazing Colossal Man on DVD at Amazon, only VHS, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Tarantula (1955)


Project_moonbaseTARANTULA (1955) – NEW PRINT – A classic Universal monster flick about a killer giant spider. Good effects (for the time) and a stirring score by (an uncredited) Henry Mancini and Herman Stein. Veteran Leo G. Carroll delivers the necessary gravitas, but he’s a clumsy old goat, and a slew of larger-than-they-should-be specimens escape. Fans of Woody Allen’s Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex… may recognize the scene featuring a pretty student intern and the horny hero driving to see the “mad” scientist, who details his research. In Allen’s version, a giant tit rampages though the countryside. Don’t blink or you’ll miss a young Clint Eastwood as a jet pilot delivering napalm and saving the world. DIALOG ALERT: “Well, I think I’ve had enough of the unknown for one afternoon.” Click a look at that great poster. The 2011 Universal Vault version of Tarantula is at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.