Friday, February 28, 2014

The Ape Man (1943)

How bad is it? It's a poverty row vehicle, with poor script and acting.

Should you see it? Yes. It's a passable time-waster.

In 1940, Monogram Pictures made a film, "The Ape," with Boris Karloff as a doctor who loses his daughter to a paralysing illness (presumably polio) and who then experiments to save another girl by injecting her with the spinal fluid of humans, which he gathers disguised as an escaped killer ape.

In 1943, the likable protagonist becomes a mad scientist and Karloff is replaced by Bela Lugosi. Here, he's injected himself with the spinal fluid of an ape and now needs human spinal fluid to live. The ape is terrible, but Lugosi as an ape-man is even worse.

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

How bad is it? It's worse than Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman.

Should you see it? Yes. It has its moments.

Bert I. Gordon directed a lot of bad movies that dealt with scale. In this one, a man survives a plutonium blast in the desert and finds his burns have healed overnight. Then he discovers he's growing. Pretty soon, he's getting too big for his house - and there's some interesting moments when, in 1950's fashion, he gets too big for his wife and romance. Soon he's rampaging around town in a giant diaper, while the authorities decide how to deal with him. It had a sequel! I'll cover "War of the Colossal Beast" eventually.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla (1976)

aka A*P*E, aka The Hideous Mutant, aka Super Kong, aka The New King Kong, aka King Ape, aka Ape, aka The Great Counterattack of King Kong

How bad is it? It aspires to the lowest level of Japanese Godzilla movies and fails.

Should you see it? No.
Best shot of the film.

Hearing that a remake of King Kong was going to be released in 1976, this cheap knock-off was made in Korea (in 3-D!) to capitalize on it by being released early. The first five minutes of this film are terrific fun and they had me hoping it would pick up again; in that time, the giant (36 feet tall, 10 tons) gorilla sinks an ocean liner and then battles a giant shark, before swimming to Korea. Unfortunately, from this point it's a retread of King Kong done in rubber suits, rather than stop motion. Gorilla falls in love with actress, wreaks havoc, fights giant lizard (fun, but not worth the wait) and gets killed. It's very slow, dull and stupid... and not in a good way.

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

aka The Giant Leeches

How bad is it? It's a typical low budget 50's monster movie.

Should you see it? Yes. It has a sleazy charm. It's not particularly laughable, though.

Yvette Vickers (Playboy's Miss July 1959), fresh off of playing the town slut in Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (reviewed earlier), plays the town slut here as well. She's the two-timing wife of Bruno Ve Sota, the town sheriff who has a problem with people disappearing into the swamp amid rumors of monsters. The monsters are real, being giant intelligent leeches, played by men whose rubber suits don't fit well over their scuba tanks. There are a few effective chilling moments, such as when Ve Sota forces Vickers and boyfriend into the swamp at gunpoint.

Attack of the Puppet People (1958)

How bad is it? It's a passable B-movie, with poor special effects, but better than most Bert I. Gordon films.

Should you see it? It's amusing in small doses, so yes.

John Hoyt overacts as a lonely doll maker who shrinks people and stores them in glass tubes and then occasionally brings them out to play. John Agar takes a date to see "The Amazing Colossal Man" (another Gordon film I'll review on this blog) before he gets miniaturized. When he and five others get revived, there's dancing and champagne and a girl takes a bath in a coffee can and one of the girls actually likes the life they lead, but Agar won't have it and destroys a Dr. Jeckyll marionette before starting a revolt. They run into expected problems with their new stature - a now giant dog, for example - before they rescue themselves.

Attack of the Rebel Girls (1959)

aka Assault of the Rebel Girls, aka Cuban Rebel Girls

How bad is it? It's a cheap potboiler with lots of stock footage and no sets.

Should you see it? It's not essential. If you want to see a Barry Mahon film, I suggest "Rocket Attack U.S.A." or "The Beast that Killed Women."

This was Errol Flynn's last film. It appears he helped finance this film to launch the career of his 17 year-old girlfriend, Beverly Aadland (it didn't work). Flynn plays himself, except that he's a reporter, rather than an actor - and he narrates more of this film than he shows up on screen. Aadland's character is involved with a man who's smuggling weapons to Castro guerrillas. The film purports to have been filmed during the overthrow of Batista, but much of the footage appears to be taken from newsreels and the original footage is dark and could be anywhere. This was Mahon's first directorial effort and he ended up shooting a lot of soft core porn at nudist camps during the brief period when that could be called "educational."

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Attack of the Beast Creatures (1985)

How bad is it? It has some of the least scary monsters ever.

Should you see it? Yes. I found it tedious when watching it, but it's grown on me.

The film "Trilogy of Terror" showed that a Zuni fetish doll could be truly terrfying, so a hundred of them should make for a true frightfest. Unfortunately, it also requires some talent.

Survivors of a shipwreck (I recall someone saying "Titanic" and the period clothes and the location match, but no one else recalls this) land on a deserted tropical island - though they were in the north Atlantic. They discover water that's really acid; this involves throwing dry ice in the water. Soon, they discover that they're being hunted by things which turn out to be.... dolls. They don't even move - like deer in a headlight. Most of the film consists of people running and screaming. And screaming and running. When they attack, they are clearly sewn or glued to the clothes of their victims. There's one quiet moment when they worship an idol; it's almost touching. then it's back to running and screaming, until they get to a boat and escape.

Readily available on VHS, this is very rare on DVD. The video quality isn't great.

Attack of the Swamp Creature (1971)

aka "Zaat" aka "Blood Waters of Dr. Z" aka "Hydra"

How bad is it? It's close to unwatchable.

Should you see it? No.

This film got the Mystery Science 3000 treatment and thus got a small following. With their commentary, it might be passable, but not otherwise. A scientist blends himself with a catfish to become a monster. He abducts a girl and tries to blend her with an octopus, without success. He attacks a few more people, his plan - drawn on a huge paper disc with markers - is discovered, a girl escapes while her rescuer bleeds to death (I think) and the monster gets shot while it escapes to the sea.

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1978)

How bad is it? It's intentionally bad, but also unintentionally bad.

Should you see it? Yes, to learn high camp from low camp and because it's the shibboleth of bad films; people who don't watch them always think this is the pinnacle of bad filmdom.

Scene of joke #3 (of 3)
Tomatoes have become dangerous and the President of the U.S. decides to stage a cover-up and to send in a crack team, which includes a guy who runs around with a deployed parachute and a master of disguise (joke 1: he dresses up as Hitler and he's black). Joke 2: Japanese scientist knocks a photo of the USS Arizona into a fishtank. The master of disguise infiltrates the tomato camp and is offered (joke 3): "a leg? a breast?.... an arm?" It's discovered that a terrible song kills the tomatoes, but they nearly get foiled by a giant tomato wearing earmuffs. There's no tension. There's a lot of rolling red balls that are supposed to be tomatoes. The operatic theme song at the start is the best part.

There are (to date) 3 sequels, featuring John Astin. They're actually quite good and are recommended.

Attack of the Killer Refrigerator (1990)

How bad is it? You could make a better film with your phone today.

Should you see it? No.

That's about what you get with this one.

Inexplicably, this 15 minute film has a small cult following. It's unwatchable. There was a similar film, "The Refrigerator" made in 2012; it must be better.

Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958)

How bad is it? Cheesy effects, but great plot.

Should you see it? Yes. It's one of the most beloved bad films.

There are a number of films about giants that I may review (Amazing Colossal Man, War of the Colossal Beast, Village of the Giants), but this is the most entertaining of them. Skip the remake starring Darryl Hannah - as well as similar titled films (e.g. Attack of the 60 Ft. Centerfold).

Beautiful alcoholic Nancy (Allison Hayes) sees an UFO crash and discovers a 30 foot tall bald alien inside. The police don't believe her and the TV news makes fun of her and soon everyone's making fun of the town drunk. Meanwhile, Nancy's husband cheats on her with floozy Honey (Playboy playmate Yvette Vickers). Nancy's discovered on top of her pool house (!) and is feeling strange. Soon, she's growing out of her house, as her doctor tries to care for her (there's a hilarious oversized syringe and papier mache hand). Nancy just wants her husband and soon terrorizes the town dressed in a bed sheet bikini, destroying trees and houses as she calls for him: "HAR-R-R-Y!!!"

The special effects are bad. You can see through the giants, whose size varies. The props are rarely to scale. The dialog is stilted, the acting variable. What makes it interesting is pondering what's going to happen to Harry once Nancy finds him.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Death Bed - The Bed That Eats (1977)

How bad is it? It wasn't released, it escaped after sleeping for 30 years.

Should you see it? Yes. I can just barely recommend seeing this mess.

This film just starts with a couple breaking into a house (?) and then, while making out on the giant bed of the title, their apples, wine and chicken get absorbed into the bed - the bed dissolves, but the apple has teeth marks - and then the people get dissolved, too. Ten minutes in, the titles appear. A man trapped within/behind a drawing narrates and talks to the bed (which actually snores on occasion); about half-way through, he decides to explain who he is and how the bed got evil. There's flashbacks to earlier victims and the film takes a turn for high camp with an old lady and her "Tropic of Cancer," among other victims, including an orgy that takes place outdoors and entirely under covers. A bottle of Pepto-Bismol makes a humorous appearance.

By the way, there's no way that bed fits through the doors. And the stones of the exterior don't match the brick of the interior. The film's so slow you have to look for things to watch. There is occasional nudity to perk things up.

Three women are in the final group of victims, who take up most of the screen time, along with the brother of one of them, who's looking for her. The brother drives over a bag with her clothes, for no apparent reason. The black woman half-escapes, her legs being digested and the girl not yet eaten apparently goes mad, which explains (maybe) why she doesn't try to flee or to warn her brother when he comes. He gets his hands eaten and treats it like a science experiment.

The demon that created the evil bed slumbers in a tree once every ten years and this just happens to be that night (are you still with me?), so the guy in the drawing can tell the crazy girl (played by the presumably pseudonymous Rosa Luxemburg) how to stop the bed. "But I lied," he explains, and she's to be sacrificed, too, to resurrect a girl buried outside (really, are you still there?) and free the guy in the drawing.

The bed burns, outside, for a few minutes.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cat Women of the Moon (1953)

How bad is it? It's very shoddy, even by 1950's 3D standards.

Should you see it? It's not essential. There are a few good laughs.

Publicity photo - suggests more than is delivered.
Though only 63 minutes long, this is incredibly padded. Nothing really happens in the first half, but we get to see an astronaut whose only interest is profiteering off the mission and an emergency handled by a guy in a beekeeper's outfit and a fire extinguisher (there's no fire). There is a funny shot of the rocket pivoting for landing. Sonny Tufts and Marie Windsor, veterans of this type of film, are wasted.

Once they land, one person pulls out cigarettes and another a pistol - the 1950's calling cards - and, while both get questioned, both are essential for the plot. The spacesuits don't match, having been borrowed from two other films (and reused many times in later films). They land on the dark side of the moon and show that the bright side will burn the cigarettes (despite lack of air). The one female astronaut sense a cave is nearby and she's right - and they fight two giant spiders, again taken from other films. They discover that there's air in the cave, though why it doesn't evaporate into space is never addressed.

Finally the cat women arrive and they turn out to be nothing cat-like. They have their own Egyptian/Greek Classic architecture. They use mind control on Marie Windsor. The greedy astronaut is led to his doom in a cave of gold. There's a love triangle of sorts. There's a truly awful stage slap. The cat women all get killed, mostly by firearm. They go back to Earth.

Brain From Planet Arous (1957)

How bad is it? It's ludicrous and cheap, but well-crafted.

Should you see it? Yes. Repeatedly. It's my favorite bad film.

Foreshadowing. Classy.

John Agar has a reputation for having been in a lot of turkeys and, if I review every film I want to on this blog, his name will appear from time to time ("Zontar," at the very least). This has one of his more hammy performances.

The film has nuclear physicist Agar turning on his Geiger counter and it's screaming. He points it out the window and says it must be coming from the mountain in the distance (the more science you know, the funnier that is). He goes to the mountain, into a cave and there meets, fights and is taken over by a giant disembodied floating brain with eyes. Agar then goes on to develop shiny silver eyes and he uses them to shoot down airplanes, while chuckling. The alien in Agar gets the hots for Joyce (not Jayne - I've made that mistake) Meadows. Another disembodied brain comes to Earth, takes over Agar's dog (!) and battles the one in Agar. Meadows and Agar then kill the bad brain with an axe and all is well.