Category Archives: 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)

The-Tell-Tale-Heart THE TELL-TALE HEART (1960) A well-executed 1960 UK adaption of Edgar Allan Poe’s first-rate tale of murder and madness – goosed with elements of voyeurism, jealousy, lust and even drug addiction. The story, you should already know, unless you were cutting class to get high behind the gymnasium when Poe was being covered in school. The highlight here is the exquisitely tortured performance by Laurence Payne as Edgar Marsh (and, near the beginning, as a withdrawing Poe), who is seen leering at his half-dressed neighbor before daring to approach and court her. Payne’s characterization is top-notch, displaying an awkwardly creepy, socially uncomfortable nervousness that convincingly sets up Poe’s study of one man’s descent into madness. Payne’s portrayal of a simple innocent crippled by his own obsessions and torment is both palpable and engrossing, while the brutal murder scene (and gruesome re-murder) – not to mention the film’s overt sexuality – is brazen for 1960. Poe fans should appreciate. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Fiendish Isn’t The Word For It! DIALOG ALERT: “Checkmate… checkmate… checkmate… CHECKMATE! CHECKMATE!! CHECKMATE!!!” We’ve also got a cool, 2CD set of Poe readings (including Iggy Pop’s reading of “The Tell-Tale Heart”) HERE. Find The Tell-Tale Heart for a few bucks at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Curse Of The Living Corpse (1964)

curse_of_living_corpse_poster_01THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (1964) Low budget writer/director/producer Del Tenny (The Horror of Party Beach, HERE) infuses this victim-filled cheapie with an admirable degree of character development, thanks to some wickedly wretched portrayals and the film debut of Roy Scheider (Jaws, The French Connection) as a drunken family ingrate. The plot is a simple construct… a rich and despised patriarch of the late 1800s, with an abnormal fear of being buried alive, intimidates his uncaring family from beyond the grave via his will, filled with tailor-made death threats based on their own irrational fears (fire, drowning, disfigurement, etc.) if his final wishes aren’t carried out precisely. It’s not hard to figure out the rest. The dead man resurfaces and the clan gets picked off one by one. While utterly predictable, I actually enjoyed Tenny’s competent execution (over-wrought acting and all), and was even surprised by the climax (thinking the story’s outcome was clumsily outlined in the words of the will). For comic relief, check out the embarrassingly inept detective, who comes off like somebody’s chubby clueless brother-in-law, with a delivery so amateurish he manages to make the others look like their nailing Shakespeare. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: More Terrifying Than Frankenstein, More Deadly Than Dracula! DIALOG ALERT: “Quicksand never reveals its innermost secrets.” Find The Curse Of The Living Corpse (with The Horror Of Party Beach and Violent Midnight, on a Del Tenny triple feature DVD) 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 (Zontar – The Thing From Venus, HERE)… comes his masterwork, a movie so bad that even the film’s star 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 Tommy 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.

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 large. Monstrously large. And when gravity brings them crashing down, they smash into a million pieces… which all begin to grow again. It’s not often a geologist gets to be the hero in a monster movie, but when rocks are threatening the town, who you gonna call? The beauty of the film’s effective premise is that there’s also 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 are 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 and This Island Earth (HERE), among other films. Daily Motion has way too many commercials, but at least they’re short and quick. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Mammoth Skyscrapers Of Stone Thundering Across The Earth! 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.

The Body Snatcher (1945)

The body snatcherTHE BODY SNATCHER (1945) There’s a lot of talent tied together in this 1945 RKO classic. A story by Robert Louis Stevenson, starring the never-better Boris Karloff as the creepy and unnerving torso taker, the great Bela Lugosi (the 8th and last pairing of Boris & Bela), all directed by Robert Wise (The Day The Earth Stood Still, HERE). The story is simple enough… a medical school needs bodies and a corrupt doctor turns to an old acquaintance to get them for him, illegally. But the screenplay features side stores that offer depth to the characters actions and motivations – including a secret wife and a chilling history between the doctor and snatcher. The violence is quite vivid, beginning with Karloff shoveling a little dog to death in a graveyard, then escalating to random murders and a first-rate finale between Karloff & Lugosi. It doesn’t end there, as a little after-life badgering brings the story to its just conclusion with a creepy carriage ride climax. Great work by director Wise, who successfully turns Californian movie sets into 1830s Edinburgh… though, in a well-known goof after the opening credits, some automobiles can be seen parked next to the castle. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Foul Fingers Crimson With Dead Men’s Blood! DIALOG ALERT: “Would you like to give my horse a pet? He knows every little girl in Edinburgh.” Find The Body Snatcher (as a two-fer DVD, paired with I Walked With A Zombie) cheap at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Pharaoh’s Curse (1957) + LES BAXTER Music Out Of The Moon (1947)

Pharaoh's CursePHARAOH’S CURSE (1957) A marginal twist on the well-known lumbering Mummy tale. In this one, the spirit of (or dust of, or mojo of) a long-buried mummy inhabits an archeology crew-member, who becomes a lumbering mummy… without the raggedy-ass bandaging, thereby successfully side-stepping any copyright claims in the process. Pharaoh’s Curse is actually a well-made, if little known, find. But, it’s as dull as the day is long, with very little actual mummy action and some weird plot ideas that, for whatever reason, don’t seem all the weird to the participants. Like the army guys on desert detail who are joined by a sweat-less Egyptian princess who arrives out of nowhere and manages to keep up with the caravan – on foot – without food, water or sleep. Music by Les Baxter. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: A Blood-Lusting Mummy That Kills For A Cat-Goddess! DIALOG ALERT: “If you ask me, that beautiful mirage is a walking nightmare.” Find Pharaoh’s Curse at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Music Out Of The Moon
For No Particular Reason…

Hearing Les Baxter’s totally unrelated soundtrack for Pharaoh’s Curse prompted me to search the home files for the man’s debut LP release (actually, a 6-song, 3-10″ EP set), 1947’s weirdly intoxicating Theremin/vocal choir/piano concoction, Music Out Of The Moon. The compositions are by Harry Revel, while the Theremin is performed by Dr. Samuel J. Hoffman. Baxter himself later admitted, “It was a little weird. I didn’t know what popular records were. I didn’t know what I was doing.” Find the CD at Amazon, HERE.
Lunar Rhapsody (3:05)
Moon Moods (2:58)
Lunette (2:56)
Celestial Nocturne (3:08)
Mist O´ The Moon (2:47)
Radar Blues (3:11)

Gog (1954)

GogGOG (1954) From the opening scene, when a doomed babe with a needle leans in to administer a shot, you know immediately that Gog was once issued in 3-D. The sound on this one is bad, so you’ve gotta lean in to appreciate the dialog, as if that was even possible. Gog is the third episode in Ivan Tors’ so-called Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) trilogy, which included The Magnetic Monster (HERE) and Riders To The Stars (HERE), each starring Richard Carlson, who apparently had enough by 1954, since Richard Egan (Love Me Tender) stars in this one. The plot involves the rise of the machines, as scientists are being killed at a secret government lab where two robots (Gog and Magog) are housed. Both designed for a space station that we never get to board, since all the action (such as it is) is earthbound. There’s a hint of Cold War paranoia buried in the premise, and lots of gadgets and machinery designed to make it all scientifically relevant but, in the end, it’s really just a lot of sci-fi mumbo-jumbo… and we wouldn’t have it any other way. You gotta love a lumbering monster/robot/alien than “threatens the world,” even though it can easily be taken out with a baseball bat. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: And Then, Without Warning, The Machine Became… A Frankenstein Of Steel! DIALOG ALERT: “The doctor says it isn’t serious, just a little too much radiation.” Find Gog at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Not Of This Earth (1957)

Not Of This EarthNOT OF THIS EARTH (1957) To give you an idea how cheap this Roger Corman production is, it wound up on the bottom of a bill with Attack Of The Crab Monsters (HERE). And while its cheapness is unquestioned, and its budget infinitesimal, the story and plot outline has actually gained a small degree of measured respect from connoisseurs of the fine art of drive-in movie fare. The plot centers around an alien who comes to Earth to find suitable blood for his dying species. He’s an easy outsider to spot; wearing perpetual sunglasses and speaking with a halting monotone, and hiring various people (for “outrageous” sums, like a nurse for $200 a week) to do his bidding for him – all while seeming to know very little about the day-to-day world around him. The dialog is laced with 50s jive-speak, geared obviously towards the drive-in crowd, exemplified by (future/veteran) tough guy character actor Dick Miller (who garnered a starring role in Corman’s A Bucket Of Blood two years later, HERE) – who’s seen here in a weird cameo as a vacuum cleaner salesman, inexplicably dressed like a mafia hit man (“crazy”). That’s the usually gorgeous Beverly Garland, looking like a cheap bottled blonde, as the nurse. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Somewhere In This World Stalks A Thing That Is… Not Of This Earth! DIALOG ALERT: “Well, if it isn’t Pittsburgh Parrot… the riot of every cell block.” Find Not Of This Earth at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)

Brain That Wouldn't DieTHE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE (1962) a.k.a. The Head That Wouldn’t Die An egotistical doctor bucks tradition by experimenting with radical surgical techniques, resulting in monstrous failures and, when his fiancé Jan is decapitated in an auto accident, the title character brain/head that wouldn’t die. Made in 1959, it took three years before it would see release, reportedly due to censorship issues involving the strippers the mad doctor stalks to find a suitable body for the (somehow) living, (impossibly) breathing, (inexplicably) speaking “Jan In The Pan.” It’s a classic of the genre, with a plot that’s as preposterous as it gets, and visual imagery that has lingered with many an unsuspecting, pre-teen Creature Feature TV viewer since the 60s. Shitty editing and stage settings, but the music score isn’t half-bad. This “extended cut” comes from a 2002 re-release and features a few extra bloody scenes, along with a few additional seconds of the strippers’ cat fight. Of course, this isn’t the only film of its kind. Other versions include Madmen Of Mandoras/They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1963/1969, HERE) and a vaguely similar pre-cursor, Donovan’s Brain (1953, HERE), which was pre-dated by 1944’s The Lady And The Monster, based on the book, Donovan’s Brain. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Alive… Without A Body… Fed By An Unspeakable Horror From Hell! DIALOG ALERT: “Why… you cheap third grade stripper!The Brain The Wouldn’t Die is as cheap as a penny at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Horror Hotel (1960/1963)

Horror-Hotel-posterHORROR HOTEL (1960/1963) a.k.a. The City Of The Dead. This week we’re remembering the great Christopher Lee, who just passed away at the age of 93. Made in 1960, The City Of The Dead is a modern witchcraft flick made in the UK, but set in the US, forcing most of the British actors to adopt American accents during production. And, while it’s a stylish, B&W, UK-style, gothic thriller, its biggest claim to fame might be the coincidental plot devices that appear to be lifted directly from Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (HERE), also released in 1960. Psycho connoisseurs will note that both stories involve a blonde female lead – seen in black lingerie at an isolated motel just before being stabbed to death halfway through the film. Which, by the way, was considered a unique aspect of Psycho (oops… spoiler alert). The dead girl is then tracked by a male and female – one, a worried sibling (knifed and killed, like Psycho’s private eye… oops, another spoiler alert), while the female even bears a slight resemblance to Psycho’s Janet Leigh (who is seen worriedly driving through fog, as opposed to rain). The ending climaxes with a dead corpse reveal in a spun-around chair (curses, spoiled again), replete with screaming female… just… like… Psycho. The only thing missing is the overhead lighting and Norman Bates. The similarities are quite profound, actually, but… The City Of The Dead began production a month before Hitchcock’s masterpiece, so all this just might be a rare case of genuine creative coincidence. That is… if you don’t count the fact that Psycho author Robert Bloch’s book was published in 1959. Still… if nothing else, you’ll enjoy a first-rate performance from a young(er) Christopher Lee (forced to disguise his legendarily rich British accent). This vid is the retitled 1963 US release, missing a couple of censored minutes. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The Thrills – The Chills Of Witchcraft Today! DIALOG ALERT: “The basis of fairy tales is reality. The basis of reality is fairy tales.” Find The City Of The Dead at Amazon, HERE – a spiffed-up and image-restored DVD that includes a few minutes cut from the US release. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Atomic Brain (1963)

monstrosity_poster_01THE ATOMIC BRAIN (1964) – a.k.a. Monstrosity So bad it was filmed in 1958 but not released until 1963. The original director, Joseph V. Mascelli, was fired and the film’s co-producer, Jack Pollexfen, took over. The Atomic Brain isn’t much more than an excuse to view some half-naked babes, all unwittingly auditioning to become the fresh young body for an old bitty’s brain transplant. It takes almost eight minutes until there’s any dialog beyond the ill-chosen narrator, and even then, it’s all rather insipid. The British bird’s “English” accent is a hoot, as is the music, which switches back and forth from a pleasing eerie vibe to some cartoony, out-of-place oddity. The old lady, actress Marjorie Eaton also appeared in the creepy 1961 Dennis Hopper vehicle, Night Tide (HERE). DIALOG ALERT: “The experiment had failed to produce anything more than a walking, breathing zombie-like creature. But the doctor permitted her to wander about the laboratory – she was harmless and, at times, even amusing.” Find The Atomic Brain/Monstrosity at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Invisible Man Returns (1940)

dsdbjuma54opumliol6rTHE INVISIBLE MAN RETURNS (1940) Watch it while you can. You’ll be hooked from the first seconds of the spinning Universal globe and musical fanfare for this 1940 sequel to the original The Invisible Man. This one stars Vincent Price, in his first horror movie role, mostly in ghostly voice form, as the Invisible Man himself – making a brief, scenery chewing (visible) appearance near the end. Lots of 30s melodrama, great character actors (primarily Cecil Kellaway as Inspector Sampson of Scotland Yard) and a stunning, modern-looking blonde dish (Nan Grey) help to round out this dated but warm near-original production. The effects are cheap but effective, and the uncomfortable dinner scene (48:45) with Helen, Dr. Griffin and The Man – as invisibility begins to takes its psychic toll – is a hoot! There are a few commercials, but it’s worth the annoyance. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: A New Fantastic Creation Suggested By H.G.Wells! DIALOG ALERT: “You’re not mistaking my good spirits for madness, I hope.” Find The Invisible Man Returns packaged in the incredible The Invisible Man: Complete Legacy Collection box set at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Tobor The Great (1954)

Tobor TOBOR THE GREAT (1954) Scientists are up-in-arms about the danger facing human spaceship pilots, prompting the creation of a robot, Tobor, designed to be able to fly safely into space. But, all the action here (or lack thereof) is earthbound, as enemy agents plot to steal Tobor. Tobor The Great is a competent, budget-conscious, serial-styled, mid-50s cheapie that found favor with kids, since one of the main characters is an 11-year-old that forms a psychic connection with the metalhead. That’s Patty Duke’s TV dad as a reporter. Good sets, but the lame plot dominates, prompting critic Leonard Maltin to accurately deem this “a botched attempt at a heartwarming sci-fi comedy-thriller.” Tobor’s creator was none other than Robert Kinoshita, who would go on to design and build sci-fi’s most famous mechanical man, Forbidden Planet‘s, Robby The Robot. Not to mention the unimaginatively named B9 Environmental Control Robot, better known as “Robot” from TV’s Lost In Space. Kinoshita died just last December at age 100. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Man-Made Monster With EVERY Human Emotion! DIALOG ALERT: “Since this is your invention, Professor Nordstrom, I suppose we can be sure this isn’t just another movie Frankenstein.” Tobor The Great is unusually expensive at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

RobbyRobotGortTobor The Great
And… if you’ve got some spare change buried in the sofa (up to $34,000), you can buy you own life-sized functional Robby The Robot, Tobor and other classic movie robots at the wishful-thinking disposable income website,, HERE. L to R: Robby The Robot, B-9, Gort, Tabor

Atom Age Vampire (1960)

atom_age_vampire_poster ATOM AGE VAMPIRE (1960) a.k.a. Seddok, l’erede di Satana
A stripper loses her boyfriend and her good looks when she’s banged up in a car crash, but before she’s able to commit suicide, a mysterious doctor comes to her rescue with a serum that restores her beauty… for a while. Of course, you can write the rest of this story yourself, as the doctor is forced to kill more women, for more serum, to maintain his new patient’s babeness. Heck, you don’t even have to bother writing in any vampires or winged bats, because their aren’t any in this purposely mis-named, Italian-made cheapie. Inexplicably, the doctor injects himself with a formula to turn himself into a monster… just so he can live with the idea of killing innocent women. But then, you know how mad scientists are… mad. He beats his Igor-ish lackey, too, like all mad scientists before him. The jazzy score, recently remastered, is below. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Before Your Very Eyes The Terrifying Transformation Of Man Into Monster! DIALOG ALERT: “Yes, yes… I know it’s madness, but I’m willing to take any risk for her.” Find it at Amazon, HERE.
New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Seddok L'erede Di Satana (Atom Age Vampire)Seddok, l’erede di Satana (a.k.a. Atom Age Vampire) (1960/2014)

Part jazzy, sleazy and melodramatic, the score for Atom Age Vampire, by Armando Trovajoli, was recently remastered and made available as a two-fer with his 1961 offering, Lycanthropus, a.k.a. Werewolf In A Girl’s Dormitory (HERE, in the archives). The main theme is reminiscent of the great Bernard Herrmann’s 1976 theme to Taxi Driver (his last film score). Find Seddok, l’erede di Satana at Amazon, HERE.

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 Undying Monster (1942)

The-Undying-MonsterTHE UNDYING MONSTER (1942) There’s nothing like an old school ’40s monster movie… the lore and mythology, the lovely black & white imagery, the rousing film scores that have rarely been equalled in American cinema. The Undying Monster has all of the above, but its low profile obscurity has left it unseen by many a fan of the genre, mostly because it’s an undisguised re-write of The Wolf Man storyline – from the cursed family and foggy bottoms to the lamely re-written superstitious Gypsy warning, “When stars are bright on a frosty night, beware thy bane on the rocky lane.” 20th Century Fox was late getting into the monster movie game that Universal Pictures was monopolizing with franchise epics like Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man, among others. The Undying Monster does feature a few unique twists, however, via the fast-talking, Howard Hawk-ish dialog, richly photographed sets and backdrops, and Heather Angel (The Hound Of The Baskervilles), who represents that rare female lead who’s strong and resourceful, instead of helpless and needy. As for the film itself, it’s pretty straightforward, with typically serious, melodramatic content, though… it plays more like an episode of CSI: Wolfbane than a rampaging monster movie. DIALOG ALERT: “You don’t believe in that superstitious rot, do you?” TRIVIA: Sonic Youth recorded “Heather Angel” for 1998’s A Thousand Leaves. Find The Undying Monster at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Day Of The Triffids (1962)

the-day-of-the-triffidsTHE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS (1962) Meteors fill the skies, blinding most of the Earth’s inhabitants, while simultaneously energizing some creepy looking experimental plants (the title character Triffids), who quickly become huge… and hungry. This 1962 sci-fier has plenty of old school charm – well-conceived (from a respected novel) and well-executed, by British producers who infuse a 50s-era gravitas that America’s drive-in movie-makers rarely took the time for. The Day Of The Triffids would probably rank right up there with the greats… if the flesh-eating plants themselves weren’t so damned stupid looking. But, the scenes of mayhem, with blinded masses stumbling around the streets of old Blighty, and the rank cynicism from the biologist, with marriage and drinking issues, who’s trying to get to the bottom of it all, lends credence to the plot’s absurdity. “Some tobacco company probably found a new way to light up the sky to sell more cigarettes,” he snorts, in response to the news reports urging citizens to witness the amazing meteor shower that would blind them all by morning. It’s not much of a spoiler to divulge that humanity survives, but the film’s anti-climax is far too indebted to H.G. Wells to fully satisfy. Not as highly regarded as similar genre flicks, it’s still considered a quaint, minor classic. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: A Brain Chilling Tale Of Tomorrow Happens In Our World Today! DIALOG ALERT: “All plants move. But they don’t usually pull themselves out of the ground and chase you.” Find The Day Of The Triffids at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Day Of The Triffids
Fantastic sounding soundtrack from the 1962 film, The Day Of The Triffids. It’s short – barely 24 minutes – but its booming timpanis, crisp horns and richly recorded orchestral elements make for an atmospherically expressive score worth owning. Obviously re-recorded, as only the final track, “End Titles,” has clearly been transferred straight from the film stock. Big thanks to RobJam for sending this our way. Track listing is in Comments.

Planet Of The Vampires (1965)

planet of the vampiresPLANET OF THE VAMPIRES (1965) It looks really bad… but it looks really good. Ever see one of those movies where purposely cheap looking, low-budget sci-fi footage is inserted into the plot as a secondary storyline? This Italian/Spanish-financed 1965 space epic is kinda like that. It’s way too slick and too colorful to be a real example of 60s bad cinema… but it’s bad cinema just the same, boasting a bounty of seemingly elaborate sets, expensive-looking props and even a well-known Hollywood character actor (Barry Sullivan) for this oddly entertaining, bad-but-fun space vehicle. The plot line is not unlike a Star Trek episode, as a crew of astronauts nearly kill each other once they land on a strange planet… only to find out that the previous landing party did kill themselves, and they need to find out why (it’s all about Vampire mind control, apparently). From there, your senses will be bombarded by colorfully lit atmospheric space fog, warehouse-sized spaceship interiors, a couple of foreign space babes (including the delicious Norma Bengell) and even more fog and lights. The shoestring budget forced the director (Mario Bava) to create a planet’s vast expanse using, literally, smoke and mirrors. It’s all quite the visual treat, to be sure, and one reviewer referred to it as “a pulp magazine cover come to garish life.” Its been reported that during filming the actors all spoke in their native languages (English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese), and often didn’t even really know what each other were saying. The end result was later dubbed for each distribution market. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Outlaw Planet On A Killer Orbit! DIALOG ALERT: “I’ll tell you this, if there are any intelligent creatures on this planet… they’re our enemies.” Find Planet Of The Vampires at Amazon, HERE (it’s even on Blu-Ray, HERE). 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). REMEMBERING THE GREAT LEONARD NIMOY: In one of his first movie roles (he was primarily a TV actor in his early years), Leonard “Nemoy” makes an appearance here as a professor. He was in another sci-fi obscuro, 1952’s Zombies Of The Stratosphere and appeared unbilled as an Army Sergeant in Them! (HERE). 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, (HERE). New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.05.00 AMTHE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) The first time I saw a Dr. Phibes film was in the theaters in the early 70s. Horror… murder… Vincent Price… all I required for some Saturday matinée entertainment. I remember that, almost immediately, there was a guy down in front who was laughing his head off from the get-go. I didn’t get it… until a bit later, when I finally caught on to the campy excess of the Dr. Phibes concept. Well budgeted and beautifully filmed, Price plays a disfigured crash survivor bent on revenging the death of his wife, by resurrecting the Old Testament’s ten plagues of Egypt to fiendishly (and sometimes comically) knock off various doctors and surgeons he blames for his wife’s demise. It’s not Price’s best work, as his voice is dubbed. Since, post-accident, his character is forced to speak through a machine, so Price works the camera with his eyes and actions, much like a silent film star. It’s all quite tongue-in-cheek, which that guy down in the front row was aware of long before I was. Veteran Joseph Cotten is on board, as is the great British comic actor, Terry-Thomas. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Revenge Is The Best Medicine! DIALOG ALERT: “Bees in his library?” Find The Abominable Dr. Phibes (as a two-fer with Dr. Phibes Rises Again!) at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes
(Sort Of) The Original Score Music

There have actually been a couple of released soundtracks for The Abominable Dr. Phibes. Oddly enough, however, neither of them have fully represented what movie-goers were hearing in the film itself. The original, from 1971 (titled Dr. Phibes), featured the great Paul Frees singing vocal versions of some of the instrumental modern songs that appeared in the film. The actual score music, primarily (but not exclusively) written by Basil Kirchin, got a fuller examination when the soundtrack was reissued on CD in 2004… the version we have here. The new version includes only some of the music from the film itself, along with additional material (re-cut in various ways) that wasn’t originally used. You’ll hear varying sonic qualities as a result of this mix and match collection of source cues and unreleased recordings. I’ve read there’s also a third, expanded version of the CD (with even more unreleased outtakes), but have never seen or heard it. The nearly 12 minute “Suite Of Unused Music” is perhaps the most fascinating of this set, as it strings together many of the familiar themes and cues into a lengthier piece, highlighted by some of the more adventurously avant-garde noisemaking heard in the film. Hear it below. Track list in Comments.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) + 2 Soundtracks

Plan 9PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) Edward D. Wood, Jr’s Plan 9 From Outer Space is too often referred to as the “Worst Film Ever Made.” But, the truth is, it’s not even the worst film Ed Wood ever made. One of its many justified reasons for infamy in Bad Cinema circles is that it’s funny, and studied viewing will yield rich rewards. Can your heart stand the shocking facts? Worth watching if only to view The Amazing Criswell, and witness the subtle delights of a movie whose star (Bela Lugosi) died years before it was even made? This was our first Drive-in Movie in 2007, so we’re giving it an update. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Unspeakable Horrors From Outer Space! DIALOG ALERT: “Because all you of Earth are idiots.” Find Plan 9 From Outer Space at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Plan 9 From Outer Space (1996)Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Plan 9 From Outer Space – Original Motion Picture Score (1996)
Plan 9 From Outer Space – The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1959)
The Complete Plan 9

The first is made up of the original music cues, from over a half-dozen different composers, that soundtrack Plan 9 From Outer Space. The titles here are all re-named, as the music wasn’t written for the movie itself. But, these selections, in their purest unedited form, without the distractions of bad acting and rank film stock sound quality to get in the way, sound quite good. Well chosen and dramatic, and even work well with each other. The credited “composer” on the front cover, Emil Ascher, is actually the company/distributor of various sound libraries where these tracks and cues were purchased (or not) from. According to a fascinating history of this music (HERE), composer Trevor Duncan was approached by David Lean to score Lawrence Of Arabiabut he turned it down. The second CD is nothing more than a recording of the movie’s complete soundtrack, from credits to end. It has always worked for me as a great radio play. One that’s easy to put imagery to any time you hear its familiar dialog. The downside is… the entire movie is on one single track, just under 70 minutes (shorter than the film). Listen below to three selections, “Police Squad,” “Cemetery Chase/Clay Rises” and “Someday It’ll All Be Gone.” Track listings for both soundtracks in Comments. Find each at Amazon by clicking the covers.

Terror Is A Man (1959)

Terror Is A ManTERROR IS A MAN (1959) a.k.a. Blood Creature A not-so-loose re-write of H.G. Wells’ The Island Of Dr. Moreau, which finds a shipwrecked survivor washing up on the shore of an island inhabited by a seemingly sensible doctor experimenting with human/animal hybrids. The monster he creates, half panther/half man, is on a murderous rampage when our unsuspecting hero/good guy arrives. This is a joint Philippines/American venture that looks cheap (because of the film stock), but is actually well-paced and well-acted, with a solid and suspenseful music score. There’s a luscious, platinum blonde babe, of course, whom we spy undressing in her room and sunbathing on the beach, of course. (Her restless sleeplessness also looks conspicuously orgasmic… of course.) The soundtrack boasts a William Castle-like gimmick, a “warning bell system” that would ring to signal when the more “horrifying” scenes were coming, so the easily frightened could close/open their eyes. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Bring Your Own Tranquilizer! DIALOG ALERT: “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about.” Terror Is A Man is at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.