Category Archives: Drive-In Movies

The Vampire (1957)

The_Vampire_1957_posterThe Vampire (1957) A generic, sci-fi update of an old theme. The 50s were full of these kinds of revivals, like 1956’s The Werewolf and 1958’s The Return Of Dracula (HERE), among others. This new vampire variation begins as a result of a researcher’s experimentations with bat blood, resulting in pills that accidentally turn a doctor (with an obviously addictive personality) into a blood-sucker. The end result, however, is somewhat Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde-ish, so the film’s producers are kinda killing two legacies with one stone here. The shadowy B&W imagery oozes TV/film noir, while co-star Kenneth Tobey (The Thing From Another World, HERE) downplays his tough guy/flyboy persona to play a snappily dressed local sheriff. Solid acting – especially from the troubled, pill-popping protagonist, played by John Beal – makes The Vampire a pleasure to watch, despite its scientific approach to the subject matter… not to mention the virtual absence of any of the expected mythical lore. Still… the studio’s make-up department was obviously on vacation during production. Famed TV character actor Dabbs Greer appears (as Dr. Beaumont), as does the recognizably Cronkite-ian, Herb Vigran, as a beat cop. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: It Claws… It Drains Blood! DIALOG ALERT: “Henry complains a lot, but deep inside he’s a frightened child seeking approval.” Find The Vampire (on a double feature DVD with The Return Of Dracula) at Amazon, HERE. 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.

Cry Of The Werewolf (1944)

cryofthewerewolf01Cry Of The Werewolf (1944) a.k.a. Daughter Of The Werewolf Little known entry in the longstanding wolf/werewolf-related movie franchises, originally kickstarted by Universal, but picked up here by Columbia Pictures. A recap of the werewolf (& vampire) myth is neatly revisited by a museum tour guide in the movie’s opening 5 minutes. Made in 1944, Cry Of The Werewolf has all of the delicious atmospheric charm of the original (second wave) of monster movies, characterized by dramatic tension, film noir lighting and rousing original (though sometimes recycled) music. There are no real stars in this psychological whodunit, just gypsies, mythology and cinematic suggestion. Hard to imagine all of those Eastern Bloc accents aren’t meant to sound anything but suspicious, especially in 1944. The cigarette lighter-lit hallway scene is a treat. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: When The Bells Toll At Midnight… Werewolves Prowl The Earth! DIALOG ALERT: “We will now proceed to the voodoo room.” Find Cry Of The Werewolf at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Thing From Another World! (1951) + The Original Soundtrack and more…

The-ThingTHE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD! (1951) One of the all-time greats, made in 1951, long before the low-budget, teenage drive-in demographic came to dominate the horror genre. If anything, The Thing From Another World proves just how much fun a simple alien/monster plot can be in the hands of a real director/producer. In this case, Howard Hawks, though the film’s direction is controversially credited to Christian Nyby. Regardless of who’s actually responsible, the film boasts two of Hawks’ most recognizable characteristics – fast-talking actors and overlapping dialog. Some of the personalities still have 50s, old school attitudes, which lends The Thing some campy charm, but the production’s believability and detail is first-rate. Gunsmoke‘s James Arness plays the being, while Kenneth Tobey gives maybe his most memorable flyboy performance as the Captain. Margaret Sheridan is the brainy, no-bullshit babe who – despite being relegated to serving coffee, and the never reliable 50s poster art – doesn’t require saving…for a change. Heck, she’s credited with once drinking the Captain under the table, and even plays a coyish “bondage” game with him. The plot is simple… something crash lands in the arctic ice, gets dug up, then all hell breaks loose. Of course, there are the remakes (not counting all those lesser attempts inspired by this film)… John Carpenter’s The Thing (with Kurt Russell) has always been a personal favorite (but, I’m a Carpenter die-hard), and there’s also the 2011 “prequel” to Carpenter’s vision, starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Nothing In This World Can Match Its Menace! DIALOG ALERT: “So few people can boast that they’ve lost a flying saucer AND a man from Mars all in the same day!” You’ll need to boost the volume on the player and your system for this one. Click the HQ for better quality. It takes a few extra seconds to load but it’s worth it. Find The Thing at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Thing From Another WorldThe Thing From Another World (1951)
OK, So Here’s The Thing…

Dimitri Tiomkin’s brilliant original score for the 1951 sci-fi classic, The Thing From Another World! – a massively entertaining shot of otherworldly experimental composition that had few precedents when first heard over six decades ago. It’s hard not to compare this soundtrack with another essential 1951 sci-fi film score, Bernard Hermann’s The Day The Earth Stood Still (HERE). Stylistically, each composer has their own characteristics, yet both scores are framed by the use of a futuristic-sounding theremin – coloring the proceedings with an eerie, ominous and downright spooky tension. Tiomkin’s score is dominated by jarring horns and swirling strings, all colliding in a near-chaotic tsunami of sound, cleverly enhanced with a stammering percussive element that suggests a frantic telegraph wire screaming in all directions for help. I heard stuff in this 2005 re-issue (made from Tiomkin’s own acetates) that I never heard before, either because the music is being newly presented, or it was just lost in the tinny 50s film stock we’re all most familiar with. Highly recommended! Find it at Amazon (HERE, paired with another Tiomkin score, Take The High Ground). Hear “Flying Saucer Sequence, Part 1,” below. Track list in comments.

And Another Thing Or Two…
The Thing FrontJohn Carpenter’s The Thing
(The Original Score/The Film Score)

While we’re on the subject, here’s a cool fan-made compilation of the Ennio Morricone/John Carpenter score for the 1982 remake, The Thing, starring Kurt Russell. Director/Co-Composer Carpenter is a bit of an acquired taste, what with his use of sensationalistic (but typically unrealistic) bloody gobs of gore. But for fans, it’s all great fun, and his modern re-telling of the doomed arctic encounter with another world The Thing (The Original Score)is a blast. The soundtrack is offered in two versions – the original CD release and the isolated Laser Disc score, which includes the movie’s contemporary songs (Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday) alongside more of Carpenter’s throbbing, synthetic simplicity – a heartbeat pulse that ties together the atmospheric suspense. Fans of both artists should enjoy. Find the official CD release (pictured on the right) at Amazon, HERE. Hear “Desolation (Main Theme),” below. Track lists are in comments.

Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria SUSPIRIA (1977) Italian horror master Dario Argento’s spooky and visually thrilling 1977 coven-fest, Suspiria. It begins drearily, on a rainy night as an American ballet student arrives to enroll in a prestigious German dance school, only to find… horror. That, and a lot of lavishly colorful sets, creepy foreign dialects and atmospherics, and a diabolically haunting music score by Italian prog-monsters, Goblin. The action is gory, but being 1977, it’s more cinematic than believable, though it’s all still rather brutal and bloody. Funny, depending on your sensibilities, but unsettling just the same. You’ll recognize young Jessica Harper, fresh from Woody Allen’s Love And Death, as the troubled victim-to-be, but it’s the choice camera work and vibrant, eye-candy sets that will sustain you through the creepy lulls. Film nuts will be dazzled by the “imbibition” process, which enhances the Technicolor process. Others will just enjoy the bevy of catty Italian ballet babes. Rotten Tomatoes ranked it #41 on their 2010 list of greatest horror films. In 2008, Natalie Portman (she of Black Swan fame) was slated to star in a remake that never took place. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Most Frightening Film You’ll Ever See! DIALOG ALERT: “Yeah… maybe there’s a hex on the place.” The two-disc special edition of Suspiria features the full, remastered soundtrack by Goblin. It’s at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

SuspiriaGOBLIN Suspiria – The Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (2000)
Coventry Bells

2000 reissue of Goblin’s “Complete Score” for Suspiria, with it’s tinkling, Tubular Bells-like main theme and four bonus tracks of outtakes and variations. More or less essential to the film, it’s even better on its own. The track list is in comments. Find it at Amazon, HERE.

I Bury The Living (1958)

i-bury-the-living-1958-posterI BURY THE LIVING (1958) Richard Boone takes over as the director of a cemetery, when a series of coincidences force him to question reality. The push-pin system used for marking graves on a map of the grounds, begins predicting the deaths of plot buyers. Boone begins to believe he’s marking people for death. When it inexplicably continues, even as the cemetery’s unbelieving board members lose their own lives trying to prove his fears are irrational, things get spooky. The longtime caretaker, who’s buried under suspicious looking make-up and a thick Scottish brogue, is none other than Theodore Bikel (Rance Muhammitz in Frank Zappa’s 200 Motels). Dennis The Menace’s dad appears as a news hound. Crisp B&W print. There aren’t any walking zombies in this one, despite the suggestive title and the completely misleading poster art (which is par for the course). It’s a psychological thriller more akin to a reserved Twilight Zone episode. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Most Spine-Chilling Cry That Ever Froze The Blood! DIALOG ALERT: “Oh, darling… you must be dead tired.” Find I Bury The Living at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Circus Of Horrors (1960)

Circus-of-Horrors CIRCUS OF HORRORS (1960) In post-war France, a discredited surgeon is on the run after hideously disfiguring a woman (and himself), when he stumbles upon a bankrupt circus owner whose precious little girl just happens to be in need of reconstructive surgery. In exchange, the doctor incredulously takes control of the circus and creates a stable of once-disfigured crooks, hookers and ne’er-do-wells for his traveling sideshow, all of whom he blackmails into servitude. The circus is a success, which makes you wonder why he didn’t just go into business and forget about all the diabolicalness. The outline sounds more convoluted that it actually is, as this British-made psychological thriller moves at a fast pace, filling in the absurd plot with quickly developing scenes, padded with big top circus performances and half-naked babes (thrust into sadomasochistic situations). The great Donald Pleasence, as the drunken circus owner, immediately elevates the movie’s quality, but is killed off faster than a guest star on Police Squad (HERE, your obscure-but-essential 80s television reference for the day). Well-known actor Anton Diffring is perfectly cast as the conniving German ringleader, an icy cold character he perfected in numerous Nazi roles over the years. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: See It And Gasp! DIALOG ALERT: “Rather an interesting face, don’t you think?” Find Circus Of Horrors at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Night Of The Ghouls (1959)

Night Of The GhoulsNIGHT OF THE GHOULS (1959) The great Edward D. Wood, Jr.’s equally inept follow-up to Plan 9 From Outer Space (HERE), featuring a continuation of characters he first introduced in 1955’s Bride Of The Monster (HERE), with many of his stock company of “actors” – including The Amazing Criswell (get his must-have album, HERE), Tor Johnson, Duke Moore, Paul Marco and a few others. Night Of The Ghouls has a convoluted history, with varying reports unsure if the film was even theatrically released after principal photography in 1957 (under the title, Revenge Of The Dead). Some recollect the movie did get showings in 1959, but at one point, the negatives were held hostage by a film lab until past due debts were settled… in the early 80s, by the film’s eventual owner, Wade Williams. Hysterically amateurish, with comically bad one-take acting, further marred by anchored shots that forced the actors to walk into and out of camera range themselves – giving Night Of The Ghouls all the quality and charm of a high school play. Watch for Wood’s cameo, Alfred Hitchcock style, as Ed – in typically half-assed fashion – simply pastes one of his 8×10 head shots on the wall in a barren room that’s supposed to be the police station. It reads “Wanted.” I guess I could outline the movie’s plot, but what would be the point? This is an excellent B&W print, so fans can enjoy every poorly conceived shot and embarrassing miscue. DIALOG ALERT: “That clapper on the door was meant for announcing visitors.” Find Night Of The Ghouls at Amazon, HERE, though your best buy is The Ed Wood Box (HERE), featuring five films and a feature; Glen Or Glenda, Jail Bait, Bride Of The Monster, Plan 9 From Outer Space, Night Of The Ghouls & The Haunted World Of Ed Wood. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Brain Eaters (1958)

The Brain EatersTHE BRAIN EATERS (1958) Low-budget, but relatively sharp story of aliens taking over the minds and bodies of inhabitants in a small Illinois town. One of a dozen variations of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (as well as The Puppet Masters, whose author sued the producers of this movie over similarities), with some interesting camerawork, rousing music (mis-credited Shostakovich) and a few unusually violent scenes for a 1950s cheapie. The shoot-out that takes place when the town’s Mayor goes berserk is highly effective, emphasized by tilted, paranoia-inducing camera angles and uninhibited gun play. Of course, there’s plenty of dumb dialog, plot holes and horribly designed aliens – and the sleep-walking voice-over is nearly a deal-breaker when it comes to deciding whether or not to invest your time here – but the stark cinematography (during the indoor scenes, anyway), competent characterizations and semi-realistic fist-fights make this one a decent view (at least… compared to the era’s really crappy movies). Newbie Leonard “Nemoy” makes an appearance as a professor. Great poster art. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Crawling, Slimy Things Terror-Bent On Destroying The World! DIALOG ALERT: “You know why I’m here… and I want action.” Find The Brain Eaters at Amazon. It’s expensive by itself (HERE), but is cheaper in a box set with other sci-fi flicks, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

How To Make A Monster (1958)

HowtomakeamonsterHOW TO MAKE A MONSTER (1958) With the success of A.I.P.’s I Was A Teenage Werewolf in 1957 (HERE), the company was tasked to deliver two more pictures in the same vein within the next six months. So, using some of the same personnel (and formula) A.I.P. cranked out I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (HERE) and – proving just how quickly Hollywood can run out of ideas when under pressure – this turkey… How To Make A Monster. The plot of the movie is centered around… A.I.P. Studios, who are busy making a teenage Werewolf vs. teenage Frankenstein movie. The madman is the studios’ make-up man, who develops a foundation that, when applied, allows him to hypnotize and control the teens – whom he instructs to kill off the new studio heads, who are busy changing the company’s direction to do away with monsters and, in turn, the make-up man’s job. Embarrassingly under-written and poorly acted, the storyline has more holes than the Albert Hall, though it’s fun to watch the making of… the making of a movie, from behind the scenes settings to old monster props from Invasion Of The Saucer Men, It Conquered The World (HERE) and other b-movies. The movie posters for both …Teenage Werewolf and …Teenage Frankenstein are prominently displayed in one scene, illustrating just how incestuous this production was. And, like you’d expect from in-breeding, the results are unoriginal and retarded. The final reel was shot in color, so the film switches from B&W just in time for the blood and fire, with an ending so quick it looks like they just ran out of time and money. And, despite the poster, there are virtually no women even in the movie, much less a damsel in distress. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: It Will Scare The Living Yell Out Of You! DIALOG ALERT: “That’s the way the footage cuts.” Find How To Make A Monster at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1957)

Teenage FrankensteinI WAS A TEENAGE FRANKENSTEIN (1957) a.k.a Teenage Frankenstein – The natural follow-up to last week’s I Was A Teenage Werewolf (HERE), is American International Pictures’ own follow-up – produced the same year, using the same formula, and even one of the same stars, Whit Bissell, the well-known character actor perhaps best known for his role in The Time Tunnel. After I Was A Teenage Werewolf‘s success, no time was wasted in re-working another of Universal’s famed monsters for the drive-in crowd, as Professor Frankenstein, a descendant of the Baron, is again trying to fine-tune the idea of re-animating dead tissue. This time in the 1950s, using a teenage hunk who, right on cue, dies in a car crash just as the professor is outlining his bodily requirements for his experiments. Like Werewolf, Frankenstein is (relatively) well-made, with obvious budget restraints, but with solid direction and (relatively) sensible acting… at least from Bissel. Almost humorously, Bissel’s Professor Frankenstein is a raging megalomaniac, who references his own self-importance enough to make a drinking game out of his pious and ongoing me-myself-and-I proclamations. He blackmails his own assistant and strings along his girlfriend (played by Phyllis Coates, the original Lois Lane on the Adventures Of Superman), before conning his well-meaning “monster” (in the end, a normal kid once his face gets fixed) into killing any and all who get in the way of his scientific greatness. There are even a few surprisingly gory moments for a 50s movie, which gets kinda creepy when the Professor talks about disassembling his living creation to take him on a flight, so he can reassemble him later. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Body Of A Boy! Mind Of A Monster! Soul Of An Unearthly Thing! DIALOG ALERT: “Speak! You got a civil tongue in your head, I know you have… because I sewed it back myself.” Inexplicably, I Was A Teenage Frankenstein is only available on VHS at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

I Was A Teenage Werewolf (1957)

I_Was_A_Teenage_Werewolf-posterI WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957) Well-made teenage exploitation flick, starring a number of recognizable character actors who would go on to greater roles, including newcomer, Michael Landon (Bonanza, Little House On The Prairie) as Tony, the hot-head who just can’t keep from fighting; with authority, students, parents, his girlfriend… even himself. You gotta love the bongo-playing teen stereotypes (made when it was all still poppin’ fresh) and the jive-talking high schoolers and their cheesy rock ‘n’ roll. When a psychiatrist-hypnotist-scientist – who’s supposed to be helping Tony with his anger management issues – uses him as a guinea pig for his retrogressive experiments, the plot thickens. As does Tony’s hair… which (to quote Zevon) is perfect. Fine acting and direction, especially from veteran Whit Bissell (you’ll recognize him) as the mad scientist. The beat cop, Guy Williams, went on to head the Lost In Space clan, while the girl playing the screaming teen gymnast was a 1957 Playboy centerfold. Which is pretty amazing when you think about it… a teen movie in the prudish 50s employing a Bunny from Hef’s counter-cultural smut mag. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Most Amazing Motion Picture Of Our Time! DIALOG ALERT: “The only hope for the human race is to hurl it back into its primitive norm, to start all over again. What’s one life compared to such a triumph?” You can’t find I Was a Teenage Werewolf on DVD at Amazon, only VHS, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster (1965)

9039 FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER (1965) a.k.a. Mars Invades Puerto Rico Wonderfully ridiculous, but far from incompetent, 60s sci-fi space flick. Routinely named as one of the worst movies ever made, Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster is nowhere near as inept as that distinction might suggest. Your casual movie-goer will be immediately repulsed by the high-school level acting, badly recycled ideas and downright stupid plot. But, connoisseurs of bad cinema will recognize that this film’s limitations, and the director’s overall execution, is hampered more by budgets than rank incompetence. There are actually some entertaining elements worthy of appreciation to be found here, from the soundtrack’s mix of electronic sounds and low-rent rockin’ teenage combo fare, to the able fusion of original sets and stock footage. Even the early plot twist that introduces astronaut Frank Saunders is a surprise. But, make no mistake… this is a bad movie, and, despite the title, there’s no “Frankenstein” anywhere to be found. Plenty of buxom, bikini-clad babes, though, who are being rounded up for breeding (and demographic marketing) purposes. Check out what looks like Robert De Niro’s brother at the press conference, seven minutes in. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: SEE Love-Starved Creatures From Another Galaxy! SEE The Invasion Of The Wild Beach Party! DIALOG ALERT: “Hey, you got a telephone? No! No, no, no… a telephone. Telephone… Hello? Hello? A telephone! EL TELEPHONO!” Find Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Return Of Dracula (1958)

Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 2.19.07 PMTHE RETURN OF DRACULA (1958) – a.k.a. The Curse of Dracula a.k.a. The Fantastic Disappearing Man. Made long after the heyday of Bela Lugosi’s famed portrayal of The Count (HERE), The Return Of Dracula is a re-boot of the venerable blood-sucking franchise that was all-but-forgotten in the wake of Hammer Films’ British horror revival – specifically, Christopher Lee’s well-received, The Horror Of Dracula, released mere months after this American remake. The gorgeous print makes this a pleasure to watch, and – while it’s no substitute for the original(s) – it’s a well-made effort. This modern-day Dracula murders a random train passenger and assumes his identity to live amongst the dead man’s “Mayberry” family of the 50s. It’s more psychological than bloody, so it’s not unlike the original in that respect (though… there’s a 3-second color blood-gushing scene, an effect achieved when producers manually cut the clip into all existing B&W prints). Fine pacing, serious acting and appropriately creepy… in short, a fun view. The excellent music score is by Gerald Fried, known for his work in early Kubrick films (and, later, Star Trek‘s famed “fight music”). If you look closely, you’ll see that actress Norma Eberhardt (as Rachel Mayberry) has two different colored eyes, which is noticeable in a few wide-eyed close-ups. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Most Terrifying Name in the History of the World Now Gives You The Most Horrifying Thrill In The History Of Motion Pictures! DIALOG ALERT: “Only this casing, this clumsy flesh, stands between you and me.” Find The Return Of Dracula at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Dracula (1931)
Original Score By Philip Glass & Kronos Quartet

Dracula-1931DRACULA (1931) One of horror’s undisputed essentials… the original 1931 Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. This is the 1998 re-release that features an all new music score (the original never had one, save an intro and the opera scene) written by Philip Glass and performed by Kronos Quartet. There’s not a lot to say about Dracula you don’t already know. And, while this 1931 movie may be considered quaint (and slow) by today’s standards of horror, the oldsters among us have never quite shaken its creepy impact. Lugosi is a study in restraint, while supporting players are a blast to watch. Especially Dwight Frye (a name many of us first became aware of via Alice Cooper) as Renfield, The Count’s crazed, insect-eating fanboy. This is a good print… but watch it while you can. I’m surprised this has been up as long as it has. As for the music… it’s an exceptional score, though some who have lived with this film for decades – and are accustomed to its eerie silence – have criticized the music as being intrusive… regardless of its compositional merits. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Story Of The Strangest Passion The World Has Ever Known! DIALOG ALERT #1: “Dracula is in the house!” DIALOG ALERT #2: “For one who has not lived even a single lifetime, you’re a wise man, Van Helsing.” For those interested, we’ve got the 1922 silent movie version of Nosferatu (Dracula‘s bizarre precursor) in the archives, HERE. Find the DVD at Amazon, HERE, which features the 1931 original, this updated version with the new score and a third – very different – Spanish version that was filmed simultaneously with the original. A good bargain at $3-$8. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

MICHAEL RIESMAN (Solo Piano) Dracula (2004)
Two Versions Of Glass’ New Score

The excellent collaboration between Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet works pretty well with the 83-year-old Dracula, despite the clash of old school filmmaking and modern technology. But, the soundtrack works well on its own, too. For a change of pace, Glass re-arranged his score for solo piano, released in 2004 by Michael Riesman – the longtime musical director of The Philip Glass Ensemble. Listen below to a track from each (“Dracula” by Kronos and “The Crypt” by Riesman). Track list (and more) in comments. Find both at Amazon, HERE and HERE.

12 To The Moon (1960)

12 to the moon 12 TO THE MOON (1960) This one begins promisingly enough… with official looking rocket footage, NASA voice-overs and an impressive cast introduction revealing each character of the (unique for the time) multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-gender crew emerging from a misty, launch pad fog. After lift-off, however, 12 To The Moon digresses straight into all-too-familiar B-movie terrain – multiple meteor showers, gravity in space, Russian/American and Israeli/German antagonism (so much for détente) and, of course, the ship’s babes taking showers and brushing their hair. Once on the Moon, it all gets entertainingly dumber. Oblivious to the billowing steam coming from the moon’s craters (not to mention some fiery meteor explosions), two crew members are sent for “signs of air and life.” When they discover oxygen and remove their helmets, the first thing these historic discoverers can think to do is make out with each other. As for the Moontians… budgets dictate you never get to see any. Probably just as well. Coincidently, the craft is called Lunar Eagle 1 (as in, “the Eagle has landed”), while the first radio contact celebrates the “first great step” in the exploration of space, events that would become history after the actual landing nearly a decade later. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE: Land On The Moon With The First Intrepid Astronauts! DIALOG ALERT: Strangers from Earth… You will leave behind the two cats. Cats have a most unusual appeal for us, but unfortunately, we have none here on the Moon.” There’s only a DVD-R of 12 To The Moon available at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

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.

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.

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.

First Man Into Space (1959)

FMIS PosterHELD OVER – 2nd SMASH WEEK! FIRST MAN INTO SPACE (1959, a.k.a. Satellite Of Blood) Featuring all the hallmarks of a low-budget b-movie production… stock military footage and almost completely darkened sets, conveniently disguising the lack of control rooms, props and space capsule gadgetry. Pretty much all you see is a room or an apartment… and the English country side’s foggy forests supposedly passing for New Mexico, USA (look for the military base signs with the British spelling of “Authorised,” for a clue that this flick was made in the UK). Starring Marshall Thompson as Commander Charles “Chuck” Prescott (you might remember Thompson for his acting chops in Fiend Without A Face, HERE). And, yes… Thompson is seen hitting on grieving women again in this one. The story is, as you might expect from a 1959 pre-space plot; Chuck’s brother, a wise crackin’ Lieutenant, flies up, encounters radiation (meteorite dust, in this case), comes back down and starts killing people. The crud-covered monster he becomes, however, looks an awful lot like the “Shit Demon” seen in Kevin Smith’s Dogma. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE: It Leaps Ahead Of The Headlines! DIALOG ALERT: “You can pull all the rank you want, you’re very good at doing that. But just remember this… you couldn’t pilot a kiddy car across the other side of the street. If it weren’t for guys like me, you’d be dead! Nothin’!” Find First Man Into Space @ 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.

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.