Category Archives: Drive-In Movies

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)

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.

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.

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.

The Head (1959)

The-Head THE HEAD (1959) Thoroughly entertaining German horror film, originally entitled Die Nackte Und Der Satan (The Nude And The Devil), about rogue scientists (one winds up as the titled “head”) who experiment with preserving human organs after death. The Head pre-dates a few other similarly themed low-budget cheapies, They Saved Hitler’s Brain (HERE) and The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (HERE), though, the earlier release, 1957’s The Man Without A Body (HERE) did center around Nostradamus’s severed talking head. The Head, however, is genuinely spooky, and has more going for it than the inadvertently funny American counterparts… despite its bad dub job. It’s aided and abetted by some fantastic sets, bizarre scenery, a slightly noir-ish/expressionistic film quality, and a creepy music score that ties it all together. Toss in a hunchbacked nurse, a killer stripper, some inexplicably strange eyebrows and a guy that freaks out during full moons, and you’ve got all the makings of sub-Fellini-esque horror flick. The Russian director, Victor Trivas, penned the Orson Welles/Edward G. Robinson classic, The Stranger, while the set designer, Herman Warm, earned his stripes on the uber-bizarre 1920 silent classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: It Just Won’t Lay Down And Stay Dead! DIALOG ALERT: “Are you an undertaker? You hold me like I was dead.” Find The Head at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Flame Barrier (1958)

posterTHE FLAME BARRIER (1958) Mixing the fashionable sci-fi of the 1950s with the tried-and-true jungle adventure genre, The Flame Barrier attempts to cover all the drive-in bases, with enough clichés from both to fill a Sputnik. This one is well-made and acted, with enough calculating cynicism to go around, so it’s lacking much of the inadvertent comic charm of many of our posted cheapies. The plot is typical, beginning with a well-heeled society babe hiring a couple of jungle guys to find her missing husband. Of course, she’s overdressed and under-experienced, screaming at every spider and snake that comes along, while the confrontational, stick-up-his-ass, in-it-for-the-money guide gives her a hard time every step of the way… before falling hook, line and sinker for her. There are spooked natives, of course, and the sci-fi twist of an acid, flesh-eating blob substance from outer space gives the ending something “new” for the drive-in crowd. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: The First Satellite That Returned To Earth… And The Hell It Brought With It! DIALOG ALERT: “Will he be like that the whole trip?” The Flame Barrier is currently unavailable at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Cape Canaveral Monsters (1960)

CapecanaveralmonstersTHE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS (1960) From the mind of writer/director Phil Tucker, who also brought you the equally inept, Robot Monster (HERE), comes this hysterically bad exercise in filmmaking, as scientists deal their rockets exploding after launch, while “teenagers” search for their pals that have been abducted by aliens conducting experiments. This is a low-budget black & white with generic music that may not have even made it into theaters, and isn’t available on DVD. The draw for bad-cinema lovers is the dumb dialog, razor-thin excuse of a plot and a cast of over-acting caricatures that render the humans more alien than the aliens. All the clueless stereotypes are here; the cigar-chomping general, excitable German scientist, dramatically petty aliens (not the title’s promised “Monsters”), teenagers pushing 30 and, of course, the attractive love interest scientist babe who hides behind a hair bun and egghead glasses. In the end, the storyline isn’t all that far removed from Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space (HERE), though it’s “technically” better made – depending on how nuanced your critique of bad vs. worse is. I’d tell you more, but what would be the point? This is a clean print, even if it was recorded from TV with clunky commercial edits. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: You Humans With Your Puny Minds! You Must Not Learn The Secrets Of Space! DIALOG ALERT: “And if your new chin needs a little trimming… I’ll fix it when I get back.” New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Playgirls And The Vampire (1960)

the-playgirls-and-the-vampire-poster-everett THE PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE (1960) Leave it to the Italians to give their own spin to the deadly, unflinching seriousness of vampires. You could outline the plot for this one without even looking at the poster… as a bevy of hot, half-dressed, Italian babes wind up at the castle of the spooky and mysterious Count Gabor. It’s a dark, rainy night, of course, and the bridge gets washed away, so the girls (and their comic foil manager) are trapped in the castle. The Count takes an interest in one of the showgirls, Vera, who – say it in unison with me – just happens to be the spitting image of the vampire’s dead wife. I’ll let you fill in the blanks from there. Filmed in Italian and dubbed in English, The Playgirls And The Vampire is over-acted, under-written and sparse on originality. So, to make up for it, the producers have gone overboard on legs, leering and lingerie. The score is pretty good, though, and the shadowy atmospherics and elaborate sets are much better than expected. Needless to say… there’s exotic dancing, too. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: An Unusual Story Of Unnatural Love And Desire… So Bold, So Shocking – It Must Be Shown To ADULTS ONLY! DIALOG ALERT: “I never thought that a castle would have modern plumbing.” The Playgirls And The Vampire is @ Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Attack Of The Puppet People (1958)

attack_of_puppet_people_poster_02 ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE (1958) In this quickly made response to the success of 1957’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, a kindly doll maker (veteran John Hoyt) gets the bright idea of turning people into living dolls by shrinking them down to size and keeping them in little glass tubes. As you might guess, they eventually revolt and escape. You gotta love star, John Agar – Tarantula (HERE), The Mole People (HERE), The Brain From Planet Arous (HERE), Invisible Invaders (HERE), Journey To The Seventh Planet (HERE), among others – who is introduced by immediately, persistently and creepily putting the moves on a cute secretary. Funniest is the previously shrunken victims, who have acclimated to their circumstances and are dancing at tea parties to pass the time. Director Bert I. Gordon plugs one of his earlier works, The Amazing Colossal Man, in a drive-in movie scene, while the cinematographer is the great Ernest Laszlo, who racked up a string of Academy Award nominations immediately after this flick was made… and the camerawork and large props are actually pretty convincing. In the trivia category… Alfred C. Baldwin III was watching this movie on the evening of June 16, 1972 in a hotel, while he was supposed to be the lookout for the Watergate burglars. Note that this version is in English, but is subtitled in Spanish. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Terror Comes In Small Packages! DIALOG ALERT: “Hey, what’s a matter with her, anyway? I got used to this size in about 10 minutes. And, believe me brother, I kinda like it. I never had it so easy in my life.” Find Attack Of The Puppet People at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Brain From Planet Arous (1957)

arousTHE BRAIN FROM PLANET AROUS (1957) Resoundingly stupid, and all the greater for it, with a concocted plot about radioactivity at “Mystery Mountain.” Start a drinking game tied to that phrase to get this movie’s full effect. The producers filmed this one in the deserts behind the studios – a classic no-funds shortcut. The best scene is the opening credits, boasting a rousing score and a spooky, approaching light in the background. The “brain” is cheap, Outer Limits quality, and some of the music sounds like it’s from 30s serials, but the director (whose resume includes Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman and The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad) does his b-movie best by adding some atmospheric shots to a script that is little more than another body-snatcher type story, with a few twists. You gotta love the horny aliens, though. You can just imagine their carnal lust providing the cues for all the jocks at the drive-ins to feel-up their dates. B-movie great, John Agar stars. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE: “Fantastic! Fearsome!” DIALOG ALERT: “Don’t expert me, Sally. I’m alright!” Find this one at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

Nude On The Moon (1961)

392px-Nude_on_the_moon_poster_01_Crisco_EditNUDE ON THE MOON (1961) a.k.a. Moon Dolls That’s right… it’s strip club night at the drive-in. You’ll start watching for the mammalian protuberances, but you’ll keep watching for the 60s locales, classic convertibles, unnatural Technicolor, painted eyebrows, playboy types and “acting” that’s more fascinating than it has any right to be. A nuclear physicist comes into some dough and talks his partner into going to the moon. “How could we go wrong?,” he asks with a straight face. Then they have a musical drive, when one guy confesses to spending his last night on Earth at a dirty movie theater (so prominently shown, it’s probably another production from the same company). Then they just unlock a fence, board a new spacecraft (while the dirty movie guy acts like he’s seeing it for the first time) and take off for the Moon. Just like that. Try not to notice how orgasmic their g-force/gravity acting is. For the most part, this is your run-of-the-mill bad sci-fi flick (the space suits will cripple you). Keep watching long enough, however, and you’ll learn what bare-breasted moon babes look like. Well… bare-breasted moon babes in a place that bears a striking resemblance to a nudist colony in Homestead, Florida, anyway. The “scientists” figured it was just a part of the moon no one had seen before. You just know the “actors” are there for the girls, too, so you don’t have to feel that bad about watching it. Look fast for the ancient Royal Castle restaurant. The theme song is sung by Ralph Young, who would go on to form the 60s duo, Sandler and Young. Rumor has it that Tonight Show trumpeter Doc Severinsen did the arranging. Filmed without sound equipment, so the entire movie is (badly) dubbed. Now you know where The B-52’s got the name of their 2CD anthology (HERE). EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Adults Only! DIALOG ALERT: “Hello… I saw you on the throne before. You must be the queen.” Find Nude On The Moon at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Hypnotic Eye (1960)

hypnotic_eyeTHE HYPNOTIC EYE (1960) Lovingly cynical, 50s-styled look at what’s behind a rash of beautiful women self-mutilating themselves, including a woman who sticks her face into a fan, another who drinks lye, and – in the powerful, get-to-the-point opening scene – a saucy blonde babe who thinks her flaming stove is a sink she’s washing her hair in. It all has an unflappable detective stumped, while the cynicism here is rampant among the professionals – from the doctor (“How do you explain it?,” “I don’t… that’s your job.”) to the psychiatrist, who finds his inspiration for The Journal Of Criminal Psychiatry by throwing darts at a wall full of notes (and sinking one right up the ass of a picture of Jayne Mansfield). The Hypnotic Eye has a number of such entertainingly nuanced details and performances, especially from the suavely pompous stage hypnotist, Desmond (Jacques Bergerac), and his show’s participants and victims. Since the perp is introduced within the first 10 minutes, there’s not much mystery here (except for the whys), but it’s the film’s camerawork, noir atmosphere and 60s babes that combine to make this a blast to view. The beatnik/jazz club scene 40 minutes in is to die for (shades of Mike Myers in So I Married An Axe Murderer), while the final act, designed as a theater participation experiment (possibly the “Hypno-Magic” advertised on the poster), must have been a hoot to movie ushers around the world. The sultry Allison Hayes (Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman) is Desmond’s accomplice and jealous assistant. This one is hosted at Daily Motion, so if you have any viewing issues, you can also watch it at YouTube (HERE, which has unfortunately barred its embedding). EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Spellbound… You Gaze Into The Depths Of Evil As Beauty Is Hypnotized Into A Thing Of Torture And Terror… The Fate Of Those Who Dare To Stare… At The EYE! DIALOG ALERT: “Sherlock Holmes says they’re stooges.” Find The Hypnotic Eye at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

The Haunted Strangler (1958)

haunted_strangler_poster_02THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (1958) a.k.a. Grip Of The Strangler It’s hard to decide when the great Boris Karloss is creepier, when he’s a monster, or when he’s behaving like a ‘normal’ Joe. Especially when he smiles. This 1958 UK horror/mystery is a top-notch production, with fast pacing and great atmosphere. The print is outstanding – a DVD transfer – so watch it while you can, it may not be up for long. Karloff plays a writer/researcher digging (literally) into the long-settled, Ripper-like murders of numerous can-can girls from a music hall called The Judas Hole (copyrightable band name?). The serial killer was hanged 20 years before, but Karloff has his own theories and works to unearth (literally) evidence to clear the killer’s name. Only to discover… well, you’ll see. The film is both violent and sexually flamboyant, by 50s standards anyway, with colorfully corrupt characters and first-rate acting. The story was specifically written for Karloff, who went so far as to remove his dentures for his fiendish transformations. The Haunted Strangler was shot back-to-back with Fiend Without A Face (HERE) to save money, and the two were shown on double bills together. One of the victims is named… Martha Stewart. EXCLAMATION-MARKED TAG LINE!: Their Wild Beauty Marked Them For Death By… The Haunted Strangler! DIALOG ALERT: “I’m going to find that knife and hold it under your nose and make you apologize.” Find The Haunted Strangler at Amazon, HERE. New Movies, Fridays ‘Round Midnight.

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.

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.