Category Archives: Drive-In Movies

Drive-In Movies

The Beast With A Million Eyes (1955)

Beast With A Million EyesTHE BEAST WITH A MILLION EYES (1955) aka The Unseen Depending on whom you source, this cheapie was directed by one of three different people, though it was probably an uncredited Roger Corman, who, as producer, was forced to replace the director-of-credit and deal with union and budgetary issues to finish a movie that was pre-sold with an alluring poster. With only $29,000 to work with, Corman and crew cobbled together this train wreck, shot in the desert, with a spaceship that reportedly cost $200 (a tea kettle with holes in it). The plot? Well… an alien being inhabits the minds of various animals – birds, dogs, cows, and eventually humans – and is able to see through their eyes (hence the title). So, in reality, there isn’t a “beast” at all, at least not a visible one. Until the climax, anyway, which is – in a word – insufferable. You’ll find that the acting is overwrought, delivered by ridiculously broad characters… and it’s not an exaggeration to suggest that the dog steals most of the scenes. You’ve heard of movies that are so bad they’re good? This one’s so bad it’s worse, with a music score composed of free cues from classical archives (again, no budget), so a scene of a girl swimming features the soundtrack of a European war epic, and chase sequences sound like old Western serials. That’s Dick Sargent (Darren #2 from Bewitched) in an early role. In the end, this is a movie that Ed Wood might have been delusionally proud of. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: An Unspeakable Horror… Destroying… Terrifying! DIALOG ALERT: “Ever since that plane flew over he’s been acting mighty funny… even for him.” The Beast With A Million Eyes is at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

ARCH HALL Drive-In Movies

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

frontWild 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.

Drive-In Movies

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956)

invasion_of_body_snatchers_1956INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) A sci-fi essential, and one that kickstarted a slew of careers, sequels and imitators. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, based on a 1954 novel, gets going from the very start, as a small town doctor screams for someone… anyone to hear his tale of alien pod beings taking over his hometown. The plot outline, structure, dialog and pacing are all top-notch, as Dr. Miles Bennell (TV actor Kevin McCarthy) follows a series of unusual occurrences – deemed “an epidemic of mass hysteria” – that leads to his belief that people are being “replaced” after they fall asleep. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers boasts an excellent score, highlighting a believable chain of events… and the film’s climatic kiss is a chiller. Even if you’ve never seen this original, you’ve seen the same premise in dozens of other, lesser variations, from The Brain Eaters (HERE), The Day Mars Invaded Earth (HERE) and I Married A Monster From Outer Space (HERE), to various re-tellings, like the 1978 remake starring Donald Sutherland and the 2007 Nicole Kidman vehicle, The Invasion. Plenty of recognizable faces appear, including Whit Bissell (moviedom’s favorite doctor/psychiatrist), Richard Deacon (aka Mel Cooley), the Folgers coffee lady, and even a brief acting gig by future directing great, Sam Peckinpah (as Charlie). Click the YouTube “gear” to up the quality to “HD” when viewing, though the aspect ration is still off. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: They Come From Another World! Incredible! Invisible! Insatiable! DIALOG ALERT: “I’d been afraid a lot of times in my life, but I didn’t know the real meaning of fear until… until I had kissed Becky.” Find Invasion Of The Body Snatchers at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: For the last half-year, I’ve had issues viewing some of the newer movies posted on YouTube. But various system/software upgrades seems to have fixed that. If YOU’RE having issues, it may be for the same reasons. Using a Chrome browser works, too.

Drive-In Movies

Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958)

Attackofthe50ftwomanATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN (1958) A drive-in classic, spawned by the success of films like The Amazing Colossal Man (HERE) and The Incredible Shrinking Man. In this variation, a drunken, mega-rich, shrew-of-a-woman, played convincingly by Allison Hayes (The Undead, HERE), has an alien encounter and, as you might guess, grows to become 50 feet tall. As the movie poster suggests, she reeks havoc with the city, while seeking revenge on her philandering husband, as the townsfolk run for their lives – all while lingering far too long underneath her “skyscraper limbs” and short, bed linen skirt. The cheesy bar dives, 50s rock ‘n muzak, and money-grubbing characters all add up to a fun flick that’s better than its eight-day shoot might suggest. But the director was so embarrassed by it, he insisted on using a semi-alias in the credits, despite the fact it rates better than most. BTW: Something I didn’t remember… the 1993 remake with Daryl Hannah (below) – a version I roundly ignored 22 years ago – was directed by none other that Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap, Best In Show, A Mighty Wind), which is why I’m about to check it out again this week. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: See A Female Colossus… Her Mountainous Torso, Skyscraper Limbs, Giant Desires! DIALOG ALERT: “We gotta keep quiet about this thing, or everybody will think WE’RE nuts.” Find Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: For the last half-year, I’ve had problems viewing some of the newer movies posted on YouTube. But after completing various system and software upgrades, those issues seem to have vanished. If YOU’RE having viewing issues, it may be for the same reasons.

Drive-In Movies

The Space Children (1958)

space_childrenTHE SPACE CHILDREN (1958) If you’re like me, you don’t need to see any children in 50s sci-fi. They’re the worst actors ever and, typically, films with kids are often films made for kids. The Space Children is a welcomed variation, as aliens (actually a big, glowing, pulsating brain) telepathically use the children of scientists to sabotage a military rocket launch. Personally, I think it’s the kids’ way of getting away from their depressive, worrisome, overly dramatic mother, but… that’s just a theory, especially since these kid actors aren’t all bad (star Michel Ray would later show up in Lawrence Of Arabia). The Space Children has some top-notch participants involved, even if the movie itself is ever so so-so. B-movie director Jack Arnold is best known for Creature From The Black Lagoon, It Came From Outer Space (HERE), The Incredible Shrinking Man and Tarantula (HERE), among others. The music score is by the great Van Cleve, who lends the proceedings a Twilight Zone vibe. Also on call are Jackie Coogan (himself a child actor once) and Russell Johnson (aka The Professor), as an evil stepfather that gets his due. One of the girls might be recognizable as the scared-stiff catatonic in Them!. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Their Children Were The Slaves Of THE THING From Outer Space! DIALOG ALERT: “You see… a man of science is like a deep-sea diver. He mustn’t be afraid to walk down where it’s dark and frightening, in the hopes of scooping up a handful of truth.” Find The Space Children at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

I Married A Monster From Outer Space (1958)

imarriedmonsterI MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958) By request: From Paramount Pictures, who’ve recently been posting high-grade versions of their sci-fi catalog online – including, Crack In The World (HERE), Conquest Of Space (HERE) and The Colossus Of New York (HERE) – all in outstanding quality (with commercials, but worth it). I Married A Monster From Outer Space is a well-acted and well-constructed drive-in fave, though the plot is obviously reminiscent of 1956’s Invasion Of The Body Snatchers… as aliens systematically take over the bodies of local townsfolk, rousing the suspicions of wives, partners and intuitive dogs. But there are some variations in this re-telling… like casting the main characters as two-fisted drinking adults, instead of demographically targeted teenagers. Also, the basic plot – and the monster – are both revealed early on, so there’s no teasing wait-and-peeks to suffer through. And, finally, despite their frightening appearance, the aliens really aren’t so “evil,” as their mission is merely to re-populate their dying species. I Married A Monster From Outer Space nails all the essentials, with a rousing music score, 50s-styled shock value and retro era-atmospherics. Though… with all the references to drinking, and the abundance of lushes and sots, you gotta wonder about writer Louis Vittes’ own preoccupations when penning this classic. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Bride Wore Terror! DIALOG ALERT: “The evening’s still got braces on its teeth.” Find I Married A Monster From Outer Space at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

Stranger From Venus (1954)

Stranger From VenusSTRANGER 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 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.

Drive-In Movies

Crack In The World (1965)

Crack In The World CRACK IN THE WORLD (1965) What’s masquerading as ‘science fiction’ here is actually an early version of what would later become a mega-trend in 70s and 80s movie-making – a Hollywood disaster flick. And, it’s well conceived, too, though… on the surface it appears staid and one-dimensional. That’s because its periods of nour-ish melodrama (headed up by veteran, Dana Andrews) underscore the scientifically dull premise of scientists attempting to drill through the earth’s core to access ore-laden energy. As you might guess, it all ends up being an apocalyptic nightmare, instead. But, the well-paced emergencies, believable sets, solid props & effects, and the rousing opening score that would have fit just as snugly into almost any other genre flick of the day – from Roman gladiator to WWII – all makes for an end result more commendable than the sum of its parts. Great print that blows up nicely to full screen. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Thank God It’s Only A Motion Picture! DIALOG ALERT: “We don’t want the commissioners to think we’re all mad scientists.” Find Crack In The World at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

Frozen Alive (1964)

Frozen-Alive-posterFROZEN ALIVE (1964) Two science babes – one, a wholesome, hard-working type, the other, a drink-swilling shrew married to her boss – cat fight it out over the topic of freezing humans into suspended animation. Despite the jazzy opening score music, this stiff upper Brit offering from 1964 is as lumbering as a seminar on the subject… which the director kindly included. This “science fiction” tale (as “timely as today’s headlines,” which means it may be science, but it’s not necessarily fiction) takes a murder mystery slant when the drunken Mrs. winds up dead and the hubby goes into hibernation. Hampered by one-note direction that looks like it was made for mid-60s TV. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Suspended Animation Or Death! DIALOG ALERT: “Believe it or not, they stick chimpanzees into a deep freeze for a few months… and bring ’em out alive.” Find Frozen Alive at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Colossus Of New York (1958)

colossus-of-new-yorkTHE COLOSSUS OF NEW YORK (1958) The always confidently erudite Otto Kruger (Magnificent Obsession, High Noon) chews up his role as a brilliant brain surgeon who operates on his Peace Prize-winning son (Ross Martin, of Wild Wild West fame) after he’s killed in an auto accident. An accident that was caused by Ross’s insufferably whining son, Billy, who should have been put down long before he inadvertently killed his genius dad. The slightly mad Kruger misguidedly attempts to salvage his son’s brain for future generations, by putting it into a giant robot body. Dumb, yes… but this fantastic tale is played straight, as the characters continually debate their differing, sometimes obsessive, points of view. And, the title Colossus’s first reaction to his mirror image is about as genuine as it gets. Even his distorted, electrified voice is unsettling. The Colossus Of New York is well-conceived and well-acted, bolstered by a foreboding, dissonant solo piano score by Van Cleave. This is an excellent print, so you’ll have to sit through a few commercials for the high quality. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Towering Above The Skyline – An Indestructible Creature Whose Eyes Rain Death And Destruction! DIALOG ALERT: “Billy, y’wanna look in my pockets and see what I found for you? Aw, you’re pretty cold. That’s even colder. Now you’re warm. There!” Amazon has The Colossus Of New York in Blu-Ray and DVD, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Premature Burial (1962)

premature burial(The) Premature Burial (1962) Director Roger Corman… Edgar Allan Poe… premature burials… once-distinguished actor Ray Milland slumming it for a horror role… do you need an invitation? I’ve always been a fan of this kind of colorfully costumed, Victorian-era, Gothic hokum, more for its impact on my pre-teen psyche than for any actual content or fright-factor. Most of them are a tad plodding, if you want to be honest about it, but Roger Corman’s Poe treatments (and there were many) became a familiar blueprint for lots of Creature Feature/Drive-In fare of the early 60s. To his credit, Milland is quite effective as a man who fears being buried alive, especially when he’s showing off his elaborately designed and foolproof life-saving crypt (@25:00), with the same coldly, calculating, confessional, civilized kind of monologue he so masterfully delivered in Hitchcock’s Dial M For Murder. Corman knew that, and he’s at the top of his game, with a decent budget to boot. A young Francis Ford Coppola was learning the ropes as ‘dialogue director’ for this film. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Within The Coffin I Lie… ALIVE! DIALOG ALERT: “Madness…? It’s the only sane answer to my problem. I’ll show you how mad I am!” Amazon has The Premature Burial in various sets, including Blu-Ray (HERE), as a two-fer with The Masque Of The Red Death (HERE) and as part of the multi-disc Roger Corman Collection box set (HERE). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Undead (1957)

Undead THE UNDEAD (1957) A creepy “scientist” picks up a call girl to hypnotize her for his mental time travel experiments. A Roger Corman classic, and the master pulls some tricks out of his legendary bag for this one… including fog banks to help disguise the minuscule budget, a six-day (one-take) film schedule, and sets that were cost-consciously constructed in an abandoned supermarket. The Undead is well-filmed – with crisp, noir-ish atmospherics – but when the plot takes us to the Middle Ages, the acting and dialog can’t even muster community theater standards. The ham sandwich playing The Devil is a total hoot. Does the voluptuous witch looks familiar? It’s Allison Hayes, best known for starring in the poster (and movie), Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman the following year. Watch for the wobbly stone wall sets during the scuffle in the Tower Of Death, and the foresightful zippers in the 15th Century clothing. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: A Thousand Years Of Naked Terror! DIALOG ALERT: “The head of a madman isn’t much of a head at all. The Devil might feel slighted if you brought him less than the best.” There’s only an expensive foreign copy of The Undead available at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

Mutiny In Outer Space (1965)

Mutiny In Outer SpaceMUTINY IN OUTER SPACE (1965) Since it was made in 1965, the technological dialog heard in Mutiny In Outer Space isn’t quite as ridiculous as most of the space flicks of the 50s. But, overall, the crappy models, soap opera theatrics, cheap TV-style production values and terminally dull plot (an alien fungus coming from the ice caves of the Moon), all add up to…. well, not a whole lot. But, it is a drive-in styled chuckle-fest, as long as you’ve got a barrel of popcorn and a diabetes-sized soft drink by your side. The 2-D characters are straight from central casting – from the glib, square-jawed Major Towers, to the horny, looks-obsessed space station babes. The music is so ill-fitting it sounds like it could have been dubbed from an unrelated score. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Astounding Adventure From The Center Of The Moon! DIALOG ALERT: “Well, that’s only six trillion miles as the crow flies.” Find Mutiny In Outer Space at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Maze (1953)

TheMaze1953THE MAZE (1953) Veteran viewers of 50s movies will notice right away that some of this film’s framing tricks carry all the hallmarks of an early 3-D production. Yes, the one-time craze (television couldn’t duplicate) that died out in the 60s… before it died out again in the 10s. Director William Cameron Menzies is often credited with various technological advancements from his days in silent movies (he shot the burning of Atlanta sequence in Gone With The Wind), but his final two movies were Invaders From Mars (HERE) and The Maze. This spooky and atmospheric psychological thriller centers on a groom-to-be, Richard Carlson (The Magnetic Monster HERE, Riders To The Stars HERE, It Came From Outer Space HERE, and The Creature From The Black Lagoon), who mysteriously ends his engagement before leaving for his inherited castle in Scotland. His fiancé (Veronica Hurst, who, at certain angles, facially resembles Marilyn Monroe) doggedly follows him for an explanation… then things get weird. To try to explain how this plot climaxes would not do it justice, though… it’s the only aspect that (technically) elevates this old school drama to the ranks of “science fiction.” I would have loved to have been in the meeting when this idea was pitched to execs. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: How Much Horror Can You Take! DIALOG ALERT: “Well, I’ve always mistrusted glib men before, but I’ll have to make an exception in your case.” Find The Maze at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

Earth Vs. The Spider (1958)

Earth-vs-the-spider-ing-hs-01EARTH VS. THE SPIDER (1958) a.k.a. THE SPIDER Writer/director Bert I. Gordon had a fascination for B-movie monster giants, helming a slew of drive-in cheapies that helped to define the genre, including The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man (HERE), War Of The Colossal Beast, Attack Of The Puppet People (HERE), Village Of The Giants… and this one, Earth Vs. The Spider. In it, a couple of 20-something teenagers stumble on a cave (the ever-reliable Carlsbad Caverns) where a giant spider is hanging out. They contact an incredulous sheriff who, eventually, jumps into action by calling the exterminators. Like other movies of this type, Them and Tarantula (HERE) come to mind, the townsfolk are kinda helpless. Bullets won’t kill it, flames can’t burn it, nothing can stop it (that’s straight from the poster, by the way), as the arachnid rampages around, overturning cars and killing people. Gordon makes the most of his rear-projection technique… and that one long leg that enters the shots to slap people around. It’s all incredibly cheap, but not totally incompetent, though IMDb almost ran out of room listing all the “goofs” and continuity errors. Even worse is the spider’s “scream,” which is obviously just some guy cupping a microphone to his mouth. The director also tosses in some references to his own movies, The Amazing Colossal Man and Attack Of The Puppet People, placing one prominently on a movie marquee. Excellent theremin-laden score (or musical saw, it’s hard to tell) from Albert Glasser (which is worth seeking out). EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: 50 Tons Of Creeping Black Horror! DIALOG ALERT: “You know something? I haven’t seen a spider yet, and I don’t think we will!” Find an expensive DVD of Earth Vs. The Spider (a two-fer with Gordon’s War Of The Colossal Beast) at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

Beyond The Time Barrier (1960)

Beyond-the-Time-BarrierBEYOND THE TIME BARRIER (1960) The plot you’ve already seen before… a test pilot is propelled into the future (2024), where a future civilization distrusts him, the Supreme leader’s mute grand-daughter pines for him, and a gang of sub-human, post-plague mutants are included just for good measure. Credit director Edgar G. Ulmer with making the most with what little he had to work with… a minuscule budget and a two-week filming schedule (time he effectively used to simultaneously make a second flick, The Amazing Transparent Man, HERE… at the same time). Ulmer buddied up to the Texas Air National Guard to shoot at abandoned air fields, while shrewdly making use of futuristic sets from 1959’s Texas State Fair to create his world of 2024. So… while the end result is little more than low-budget, cold war-era sci-fi hokum (partly designed to beat a thematically similar The Time Machine to the box office), Ulmer deserves kudos for his industriousness, if nothing else. In the end, however, it all went for naught, as the film’s distributor went bankrupt just as both his movies were being released. It’s not the first time Ulmer got the shaft. His relatively serious 1951 alien flick, The Man From Planet X (HERE), got shortchanged when better, bigger-budgeted 1951 movies like The Thing From Another World (HERE) and The Day The Earth Stood Still (HERE) grabbed all the attention. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Trapped!… In The Incredible Cosmic World That Moves 100 Years Beyond Time! DIALOG ALERT: “None of this is real, it’s all an illusion to me.” Beyond The Time Barrier is as cheap as $3 (in a 4-pack The Man From Planet X, The Time Travelers & Angry Red Planet) @ Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Electronic Monster (1958)

The Electronic MonsterTHE ELECTRONIC MONSTER (1958) a.k.a. Escapement
Any “sci-fi” film anchored by an insurance investigator isn’t bound to be a barn burner. You can totally ignore the “electrifying” poster, too (as is usually the case), since it’s merely an American concoction designed to merchandise a UK movie about psychiatry and brainwashing, originally entitled Escapement. Overall, the acting is well-played, though… US cowboy western mainstay Rod Cameron is somewhat ham-fisted as the insurance claims gumshoe rooting out the details of a movie star’s car crash, leading him to gaggle of ex-Nazi doctors engaged in sleep suggestion and mind control experiments. While far from riveting, this film’s creepy electronic music score (more like “effects”) lends some futuristic atmosphere to the proceedings, kicking the mind-numbing fact-finding focus of The Electronic Monster up a notch. And the weird dream sequences offer an altogether odd respite from the mundane. But… see for yourself. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Sweet-Fleshed Beauty Becomes Docile Of Demoniacal Monster! DIALOG ALERT: “On the other hand… death is the most perfect form of escape from life, isn’t it?” Find The Electronic Monster at Amazon, HERE.
New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Day The Earth Caught Fire (1961)

Day The Earth Caught FireTHE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE (1961) We generally like our Drive-in Movies cheap and stupid around here, which makes The Day The Earth Caught Fire a bit of an anomaly. It’s a beautifully shot and restored wide-screen HD UK offering that depicts the aftermath of a series of nuclear tests that knock the world out of its orbit. Just enough to bring the Earth’s inhabitants to a slow boil. The action takes place on London’s (actual) Fleet Street, the UK’s newspaper hub of the 60s, where the characters are cynical, fast-talking journos intent on working themselves into an early grave – exemplified by once-heralded Peter Stenning, a hard-drinking writer for The Daily Express, who seems popped from a Richard Burton mold. The “sci-fi” here is in short supply, but the film’s briskly paced dialog is, in a word, brilliant… cracking with intelligent banter, smart quips and snappy comebacks – especially when the press boys gather at the local pub to snicker at politicians on the radio (“Alcoholics of the press, unite!”). You’ll recognize Leo McKern, best known to us music types as the ring-stealing cult leader from Help! (who makes a glass eye joke at his own expense… he’s got one, y’know). Listen closely for a young Michael Caine as a roadblocking bobby, not to mention a post-shower breast shot that may have helped earn this classic an early “X” rating. The film’s sepia-toned intro/outro is not a YouTube defect, but a device used to suggest the sun’s deadly heat. It all begins slowly, but the choreographed wordplay will keep you in tow. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The INCREDIBLE Becomes Real! The IMPOSSIBLE Becomes Fact! The UNBELIEVABLE Becomes True! DIALOG ALERT: “Four months… before there’s a delightful smell in the universe of charcoaled mankind.” Find The Day The Earth Caught Fire at Amazon HERE (not cheap). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

The Strange World Of Planet X (1958)

cosmic_monsters_poster_01THE STRANGE WORLD OF PLANET X (1958) a.k.a. Cosmic Monsters, The Crawling Terror, The Cosmic Monster, and The Crawling Horror. Forrest Tucker (F-Troop) stars in this stiff-lipped British sci-fi offering about magnetic experiments, giant insects and alien warnings threatening the entire world. Which covers a lot of ground… and might explain why it was released under so many titles. More or less a cheap mash-up of plots from better alternatives. Of course, there’s a brainy science babe that puts all the dumb chauvinistic males on notice. In that regard, Tucker proves to be an embarrassing pick-up artist. Includes some spooky theremin music, too. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Every Second Your Pulse Pounds They Grow Foot By Incredible Foot! DIALOG ALERT: “Well, that DO make it nice. That’s American slang… it means, that DO make it nice.” Find The Strange World Of Planet X at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Drive-In Movies

A Bucket Of Blood (1959)

bucketofblood A BUCKET OF BLOOD (1959) Easily my favorite Roger Corman production. And given the prolific director’s vast oeuvre, that’s saying something. A Bucket Of Blood features many of Corman’s well-known hallmarks – a low-budget ($50K), a quick production turnaround (5 days), and its special attention to the youth/drive-in market. It features a few later sub-stars, like Bert Convey and Ed Nelson, and – in the lead – future tough guy actor Dick Miller (who, as a long running joke, used this character’s name, Walter Paisley, in a number of other movies he found himself in). Unlike many unintentionally funny horror movies of the 50s/60s, this one actually has humor built into the premise, as Miller plays a slow-witted cafe busboy who accidentally becomes an acclaimed “artist” after he starts using creatures, then people, as the core of his sculptures (a la Mystery Of The Wax Museum). But, fans of dated culture will revel in A Bucket Of Blood’s hysterical beatnik characterizations, featuring hipsters and jazzbos spouting more quotable “dialog alerts” than one can keep up with. The film is actually well made, unlike some of Corman’s work, and while it’s predictable and somewhat simplistic, this outstanding, remastered print is a blast to watch, boasting the gorgeous B&W noir elements of an old Twilight Zone episode… and a solid jazz score to boot. The folkie occasionally seen singing on stage is actually Alex Hassilev, who would later become one of The Limeliters. Written by Charles B. Griffith, who also collaborated with Corman on The Little Shop Of Horrors (which reused some of this movie’s sets). EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Inside Every Artist Lurks… A Madman! DIALOG ALERT: “Life is an obscure hobo bumming a ride on the omnibus of art.” Find A Bucket Of Blood at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.