Archive for the Deformed Freaks! Category

Screaming Streaming! Presents: THE MANSTER (1959)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 1950s Sci-Fi Films, 2012, B-Movies, Bad Acting, Deformed Freaks!, Evil Doctors!, Mad Doctors!, Michael Arruda Reviews, Monsters, Scientific Experiments, Screaming Streaming with tags , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by knifefighter

SCREAMING STREAMING!
Movie Review:  THE MANSTER (1959)
By Michael Arruda

One of my favorite things about streaming video is the wide selection of older titles readily available.  I’m having fun catching up with movies I’ve never seen before and obscure oddball gems I haven’t seen in ages.

Today’s feature falls into the latter category, although I hesitate to call it a gem.  It isn’t.

It’s THE MANSTER (1959), a film that’s been on my mind since Craig Shaw Gardner mentioned it this past summer after reading my review of THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971).  He pointed out that along with TRANSPLANT and THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) it made up the full complement of two-headed men monster movies.

I hadn’t seen THE MANSTER in years, so I was happy when it turned up on my streaming video menu.

THE MANSTER takes place in Japan and opens with a weird ape-like creature on the loose, the result of an experiment gone wrong by a certain Dr. Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura). Suzuki promptly destroys his creature, but like all good mad scientists, vows to try again.

Enter American reporter Larry Stanford  (Peter Dyneley), about to conduct his final interview before returning home to the States to spend some much needed time with his wife Linda (Jane Hylton).  His last interview subject—unfortunately for him— is Dr. Suzuki.

Dr. Suzuki privately tells his female assistant Tara (Terri Zimmern) that the reporter is perfect for their next experiment.  And so, while Larry is interviewing Suzuki about his work— some crazed notion about harnessing rays from outer space which, when aimed at animal life, cause changes in evolution, resulting in a new species of life— yeah, doc, whatever—Suzuki slips Larry a drug in his drink which knocks him out.

When Larry awakens, he has an aching shoulder, and soon things grow much worse.  His personality changes, he’s suddenly ignoring both his job and his wife, and he’s spending his evenings enjoying the Japanese night life, getting drunk and hooking up with other women.  And, oh that pain in his shoulder keeps getting worse!  It leads to the best image in the movie, when Larry looks at his shoulder and sees a monstrous eye sticking out of it gazing up at him.

“Someone’s watching me! I just know it!”

Eventually, Larry sprouts a new head (I guess this is that new species Suzuki was so excited about!) and soon afterwards Larry becomes a homicidal two-headed maniac, killing people left and right.  Ultimately, the head grows into an entire body and splits apart from Larry, making it easier for the police to chase the monster and leave Larry alone, conveniently enabling his wife to rescue him from all this madness.

The significance of THE MANSTER is that it featured a two-headed man monster long before its two-head cousins from the 1970s, THE INCREDIBLE TWO HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971) and THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972).  Other than this, the movie is just okay.

The acting is pretty good.  Peter Dyneley isn’t bad as American reporter Larry Stanford.  He has a “Lon Chaney Jr.” thing going, as there’s something about his look in this movie which reminds me of Chaney.   Dyneley plays Larry as more than just a wise-cracking American reporter.  He gives him a sincerity not often found in these roles.  Dyneley would go on to provide many of the voices for the popular 1960s TV show THUNDERBIRDS, which featured some pretty cool puppetry.

“So what do you think of this movie?”
“Be quiet, I’m sleeping.”

Dyneley’s real-life wife, Jane Hylton, appeared in many movies with him, and she’s on hand here as his wife Linda.  She’s pretty awful, unfortunately.

Tetsu Nakamura fares much better as Dr. Suzuki.  Nakamura makes for a very smooth mad scientist and gets to deliver lines Bela Lugosi would have been at home saying.  Nakamura appeared in a decent amount of Japanese monster movies, including THE MYSTERIANS (1957) and MOTHRA (1961).

Directors George P. Breakston and Kenneth G. Crane include the one memorable scene of the eye emerging from Larry’s shoulder, but other than this, there isn’t much to remember about THE MANSTER.

The two-headed “Manster” is pretty fake looking, but doesn’t look any worse than the 1970s incarnations.  Dr. Suzuki keeps mutants imprisoned in his lab, the results of previous experiments gone wrong.  These mutants are kinda creepy, but ultimately they’re a disappointment, as the make-up job on them is pretty bad.

Director Breakston also received story credit, and as monster stories go, it’s a pretty good one, but the screenplay by William J. Sheldon is not so good, as most of the dialogue in this one is plain awful.

I first saw THE MANSTER as a teenager on late night TV, and I remember liking it a lot.  I’d seen it a couple of times since, but not in a while.  Admittedly, the movie doesn’t hold up as well as I remember it.

Sure, the two main players, Dyneley and Nakamura, turn in professional performances and make their characters believable, but they’re surrounded by lesser performances.  The fright scenes are few and far between, and I guess that was my biggest disappointment seeing this movie again.  The Manster scenes really weren’t all that exciting, nor were they campy enough to make me laugh out loud.  And the murder scenes were rather lame as well.  I remember this one having more of an edge to it.

When you come right down to it, THE MANSTER is really just a mediocre B monster movie.  While it does contain a novel concept, really, at the end of the day, there’s nothing that makes it head and shoulders above the rest.

—END—

© Copyright 2012 by Michael Arruda

THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2012, Apocalyptic Films, Deformed Freaks!, Demons, Evil Puppets!, Fantasy Films, Fun Stuff!, Just Plain Bad, Just Plain Fun, Just Plain Weird, Kids Movies, Musicals, Mutants!, Peter Dudar Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2012 by knifefighter

THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE (2012)

A Satirical Lesson in Writing and the Dangers of Drug Use

 By Peter N. Dudar

With Help From Vivian (age 5)

Vivian:  Daddy…Daddy, wake up. You promised we could have fun today.

Peter:  Gimme a few more minutes, honey. Daddy is still tired.

Vivian:  Now, Daddy!  You said we could go see THE OOGIELOVES today. C’mon, get up!

Peter:  What the hell are THE OOGIELOVES?

(Vivian throws the covers off her dad and drags him out of bed. Daddy chugs down a cup of coffee and then herds the family off to the car to go see the new Matthew Diamond film, THE OOGIELOVES in THE BIG BALLOON ADVENTURE.)

Peter:  You know, I don’t remember promising this. In fact, today was the day I wanted to talk to you about something very important. I wanted to talk to you about the dangers of drug use.

Vivian:  What are drugs?

Peter:  I’m glad you asked. Drugs are substances used to alter the physical and mental faculties of the human body. For instance…how do you feel right now?

Vivian:  I’m really excited. I can’t wait to see this movie.

Peter:  Now, you see…grown-ups don’t ever feel that kind of excitement ever, ever, ever. Some adults need a little help to feel that kind of enthusiasm. They need stimulants to maintain that kind of high. I can see by the way you’re shifting around in your car-seat that you’re pretty jacked up. Cokeheads look the same way after they’ve done a few lines. Seeing YOU doing it almost scares me a little. Looks like I’ll just have to grit my teeth and ride this one out. What is this movie about, anyway?

Vivian:  It’s the Big Balloon Adventure. It’s Schluufy the Pillow’s birthday, and the Oogieloves have to throw a party for her, but the balloons get all lost and stuff, and they have to rescue the balloons.

Peter:  Wait, back up a second. They’re throwing a party for a pillow?

Vivian:  Yeah, this is gonna be so great!

Peter:  Sounds like the guy who made this movie is on drugs.

(They get to the theater and take their seats. The movie begins, and the Oogieloves come out and explain what we’re about to see. Apparently, this is an interactive movie, and they will cue us for when we are supposed to get out of our seats and dance).

Vivian:  Okay, Daddy?  When we see the butterflies, we’re supposed to jump up and dance.

Peter:  This is such a drag. THE POSSESSION is playing in the theater right next door. Are you sure you don’t want to get up and go sneak in?

Vivian:  I want to watch THIS movie!

(In the film, the Oogieloves are beginning their day. J. Edgar, the vacuum cleaner, is some type of adult/authority figure. He’s gone off to get five magic balloons for Schluufy. On the way home, the vacuum accidentally lets the balloons float away. He gets back to the stately Oogielove Manor and tells the three grown-up sized kid puppets of his mishap, so they swear by Odin’s hammer that they will retrieve all five balloons. Okay, I made that last part up.)

Vivian:  This is so amazing…I love the music and the colors.

Peter:  Yes…this brings us to narcotics and hallucinogens. The natural state of euphoria you’re experiencing is akin to an adult dropping some acid or ingesting some psychedelic shrooms. You may even feel like getting up and dancing. There are other types of drugs…ecstasy, for example, that will make a person lose their inhibitions and just trance out to the music. Those drugs are all very dangerous, and you should never, ever touch them. But here in the theater, it’s groovy. Get up and shake that thing. Daddy’s just gonna sit here and munch on some popcorn.

(The movie continues. Goobie—the genius of the group, Zoozie—the playful sister, and Toofie—the jokester whose pants always seem to fall down at awkward moments, begin their quest for the balloons. They are aided by Windy Window-a magic pane of glass with a hot southern accent, and J. Edgar-the vacuum. Schluufy the Pillow remains sleeping on the couch).

Vivian:  Daddy, how come Schluufy never wakes up?

Peter:  Well, honey…Schluufy is a metaphor.

Vivian:  What’s a metaphor?

Peter:  It’s a tool writers use to draw a comparison between fiction and reality. I believe that Schluufy, there, is supposed to symbolize crack babies. See how she lays there like a vegetable?  No arms and legs or anything, but still sleeps peacefully with that big, goofy smile?  Crack babies are infants that are addicted to drugs because their mommies were users during pregnancy. They do that all day long. That’s why the Oogieloves want to throw a big party for her. They feel bad that she’s so messed up, so they want to be really, really nice to her. Maybe the magic balloons they are off to rescue will restore her brain capacity or give her new legs or something?

Vivian:  I still don’t understand.

Peter:  Neither do I. Somebody was obviously tripping when they sat down and wrote this.

(The Oogieloves find the first balloon at the top of a tree. The tree boasts a tree house in the shape of a giant teapot. Inside are Dottie (an ancient-looking Cloris Leachman) and her niece, Jubilee (Kylie O’Brien). They go into this whole dance number that gets Vivian out of her seat to dance. Daddy yawns and checks his watch. The song ends, and then Toofie climbs the tree and recovers the first balloon. When he gets to the ground, his pants fall down. Vivian howls in laughter).

Vivian:  Did you see that, Daddy?  That was so funny!

“Goofy Toofie, Pull Up Your Pants!”

Peter:  Yeah. Hysterical. Which brings us to marijuana. Marijuana, or reefer, contains an active ingredient called THC, which messes with the doohickeys in your brain and makes everything funny as hell. The hilarity you find in Toofie’s pants falling down is childish and stupid. Marijuana makes childish, stupid things seem really, really funny to adults. And it gives you the munchies. Speaking of which, I kinda wish we had some Girl Scout cookies. Ain’t you old enough to be a Girl Scout yet?

Vivian:  Shhh…I’m watching the movie.

(The movie continues, and the Oogieloves find themselves in Milky Marvin’s Milkshake Manor. The Oogieloves get caught in a milkshake-drinking contest to win back the second missing balloon. Marvin Milkshake (Chazz Palminteri begins another dance number that is actually the best song in the film. Sadly, I’ve already forgotten how it goes. The Oogieloves’ fish, Ruffy, wins the drink-off, and they escape with the second balloon.)

Vivian:  I’m having so much fun. I wish this would never end!

Peter:  That sounds like the cry of a heroin junkie. Now, that’s some heavy-duty stuff that you don’t want to mess with. Junkies are the lowest. It’s like throwing all your pride and your hope away. Remember that commercial where the girl breaks an egg open into a hot pan and tells us it’s our brain on heroin?  Plus, sharing needles can lead to some really bad blood-diseases. You’ll end up like brainless Schluufy, drooling all over yourself. Do you want that?

Vivian:  No, Daddy.

Peter:  That’s my good girl.

(The movie continues. The Oogieloves find the third balloon in an airplane hangar where Rosalie Rosebud (Toni Braxton) is ready to embark on her next world-tour. Rosalie is a self-centered diva who trips on her popularity and is addicted to roses, which ironically make her sneeze uncontrollably. She, too, breaks into a dance number, and I really hate this song. But Viv loves it, so I get up for the first time and dance with my daughter. There is only one other family in the theater, and they, too, are up and dancing. Goobie somehow rescues the balloon and the Oogieloves move on.)

Vivian:  She really loved her flowers.

Peter:  Yes, and that’s called addictive personality disorder. It’s a metaphor for alcohol. Now, alcohol is a depressant. It numbs the senses and makes you a little tired. Rosalie needs her roses to help cheer her up, but, because of her allergies, it’s really bringing her down and destroying her life. You dig?

Vivian:  You’re so weird, Daddy.

(The movie continues. Next, they track down the fourth balloon stuck at the top of an 18-wheeler belonging to Bobby Wobbly the Bubble-Blowing Cowboy (played by an unrecognizable Carey Elwes). Bobby Wobbly freakin’ loves bubbles, but he doesn’t understand why people just aren’t into bubbles anymore. Vivian disagrees vehemently and vocally as I just shake my head. There’s no end to this movie. They launch into ANOTHER song and dance, and I get up and join Viv again. It’s either that or fall asleep. This movie is assaulting all my senses, and I’m wishing the  movie projector would fall apart or something…)

(After this escapade, the Oogieloves track down the final balloon stuck at the top of a windmill. But the Oogieloves can’t cross the grassy field by foot. Instead, they have to ride to it in a giant sombrero piloted by Lero and Lola Sombrero (Christopher Lloyd and Jaime Pressly). In order to get the giant sombrero to hover across the field, everybody has to dance really, really fast. I’m bummed at watching the great Christopher Lloyd reduced to a one-line cameo and beating on bongos while Lola shakes and dances across the screen. Eventually, they rescue the final balloon, and then it’s back off to Oogieloves Manor for the party.)

Vivian:  They did it…they rescued all the magic balloons!

Peter:  Big duh!  What did you think would happen?

The Oogieloves. A children’s dream come true, or an adult’s worst nightmare?

Vivian:  Now they can have the party for Schluufy. I’m so happy.

(They wake up Schluufy the Pillow, and sure enough, the damn thing can’t do more than mumble incoherently and coo a lot. But she feels loved and looks happy. The Oogieloves rock out to one last dance number, and then, finally, the film is over.)

Vivian:  Did you like the movie, Daddy?

Peter:  I found it to be derivative.

Vivian:  What does that mean?

Peter:  It means that the screenwriter borrowed liberally from other sources. It’s obvious that they stole ideas and concepts from Sesame Street, Pee Wee’s Playhouse, The Teletubbies (and to little surprise, creator Kenn Viselman, actually has production ties to the Teletubbies), and Yo Gabba Gabba. But I did have fun watching YOU have fun, and that, to me, makes the last hour and a half all worthwhile. Did you like it?

Vivian:  I loved it. But I’m sad now that it’s over.

Peter:  And THAT, dear one, is called coming down. It’s a bummer. We had so much fun and excitement, but it all has to come to an end. But at least we’re not slumped over a toilet bowl and yarking our brains out, so bonus for us!

Vivian:  I don’t understand.

Peter:  I don’t, either. But let’s just be glad it’s over. How many stars would you give this movie?

Vivian:  I give it a hundred zillion, million, billion stars, all the way around the earth and back.

Peter:  I give it two. I’m going back to bed now. I have to work tonight.

Vivian:  Thank you, Daddy. I love you.

Peter:  I love you, too. And remember…drugs are bad. Just say ‘NO’.

The End

© Copyright 2012 by Peter N. Dudar

THE OOGIELOVES. A sure sign that the End Times are comin’

In the Spooklight: THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971)

Posted in "So Bad They're Good" Movies, 2010, 70s Horror, B-Movies, Deformed Freaks!, Drive-in Movies, In the Spooklight, Mad Doctors!, Medical Experiments!, Michael Arruda Reviews, Twisted with tags , , , , , , , on July 13, 2012 by knifefighter

The following IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column originally ran in the HWA NEWSLETTER in July 2010.  Look for it and all 115 IN THE SPOOKLIGHT columns in the IN THE SPOOKLIGHT EBook due out from NECON EBooks later this year!
 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT:
THE INCREDIBLE TWO-HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971)
By Michael Arruda

 

Are two heads really better than one?

Not when one head belongs to an insane murderer, as is the case in THE INCREDIBLE 2- HEADED TRANSPLANT (1971), a lurid little film which for some strange reason I happen to like a lot.

Bruce Dern, one of my all-time favorite film crazies, is cast against type as Dr. Roger Girard, a scientist who has devised a method to create two-headed beings.  Why?  I have no idea, and the movie doesn’t really give us a reason either.

I wish they had.  It would have made things really interesting.  I mean, think of the things you could do with two heads:  read twice as fast, eat your meal and dessert at the same time, drive while texting, and kiss your wife while flirting with the blonde at the next table.

When an insane killer named Cass (Albert Cole) breaks into Roger’s home, attacking his wife Linda (Pat Priest – Marilyn from TV’s THE MUNSTERS!) and murdering the gardener, Roger and his assistant fight back, and the assistant shoots Cass.  Before the killer dies, they attach his head to the hulking body of Danny (John Bloom), the simple-minded son of the slain gardener.  Nice going!

What is it with mad scientists in the movies?  Why do they always settle for less?  If you were on the verge of some amazing medical breakthrough, wouldn’t you want only the best materials for your experiment?  In this case, these guys have been planning for months to construct a two-headed person, and they choose for one of the heads a murderer?  Don’t you think they could do a little bit better?

Our two-headed friend eventually breaks loose from the lab and goes on a murderous rampage, as the movie becomes a straightforward “monster on the loose” story during its third act.

If you can get through the horrible theme song—a song so bad it makes you wonder what racy photos the songwriter and singer had of the director—you’ll be rewarded with a deliciously lurid movie that will tickle your horror movie funny bone.

Bruce Dern is always worth watching, even in movies as bad as this.  And John Bloom who played the giant Danny actually went on to appear in many genre films.  He played the Frankenstein Monster in another infamously bad low-budget shocker, DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN (1971), and he also appeared in HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS (1987) and STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991).  He passed away in 1999.

And hey, Casey Kasem plays the hero in the film!  That’s right, the Casey Kasem, of America’s Top 40 fame, and the voice of Shaggy from the SCOOBY DOO cartoons.

He has two heads, but only half a brain!

The screenplay by James Gordon White and John Lawrence never rises above standard low-budget 1970s horror fare, but that’s part of the fun.  Believe it or not, these same two guys also wrote the screenplay for THE THING WITH TWO HEADS (1972) (starring Ray Milland and Rosie Grier!)

Director Anthony M. Lanza does an adequate job with the material, but his idea of a scary scene is the 2-headed monster fighting chain wielding biker dudes.  This is the type of movie best watched at the Drive-In Theater.  You can go for the same effect by watching it at home late at night on a hot summer evening with the windows open.

The special effects are pretty bad.  You’ll laugh at the long shots of the obviously fake rubber head bouncing up and down on John Bloom’s shoulder.  It looks like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

THE INCREDIBLE 2-HEADED TRANSPLANT isn’t really all that incredible, unless you interpret “incredible” to mean unbelievable.  But it is an entertaining little piece of 70s horror cinema, and it’s a nice reminder of what low-budget horror movies were like back then.

—END—

© Copyright 2010 by Michael Arruda

Transmissions to Earth: THE CYCLOPS!

Posted in 1950s Sci-Fi Films, 2011, B-Movies, Classic Films, Deformed Freaks!, Giant Monsters, LL Soares Reviews, Monsters, Mutants!, Trasmissions to Earth with tags , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2011 by knifefighter

TRANSMISSIONS TO EARTH: THE CYCLOPS (1957)
DVD Review by L.L. Soares

Bert I. Gordon might be one of the most underrated filmmakers of the 1950s and 60s. Okay, maybe underrated is the wrong word. There’s a reason why he isn’t in higher esteem. A lot of his movies were pretty bad. But just about all of them were entertaining!

There’s a reason why Bert’s initials spell the word BIG. He was the king of the GIANTS. His classic giant insect movie, THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957), was about giant grasshoppers decimating the nation with their need to feed. Also in 1957, Gordon made probably his most well-known film, THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN, about a soldier who is trapped in a bomb testing and the radioactivity turns him into a giant, and slowly drives him insane. That one even spawned a sequel, WAR OF THE COLOSSAL BEAST (1958). There were also giant spiders (EARTH VS. THE SPIDER, from 1958), giant teenagers who take over a small town (VILLAGE OF THE GIANTS from 1965), giant ants (EMPIRE OF THE ANTS from 1977) and giant rats (FOOD OF THE GODS, from 1976). He even made a movie about people who were miniaturized to the size of dolls for a change of pace (1958’s ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE).

THE CYCLOPS (1957) is one of his earlier films, and it also features a giant. A disfigured giant man with one eye!

The story begins in Mexico, where Susan Winter (Gloria Talbott) is trying to get permission to take a plane into some mountains where her fiancée Bruce Barton crash landed three years before. The governor of the area says no, but she and her three man crew go there regardless (then why ask for permission?). The crew includes Russ Bradford (James Craig) a bacteriologist who was also a close friend of Bruce’s (and who is secretly in love with Susan), pilot Lee Brand (Tom Drake), who sure seems to drink a lot for someone who’s responsible for getting them around safely, and Marty Melville (legendary actor Lon Chaney Jr.) who helped finance the expedition and who has ulterior motives of his own – he is sure that there is a mother load of uranium in those mountains, and he plans to make a lot of money from it.

Right off the bat, there are a lot of questions, but the pure illogic of these kinds of movies is half the fun. First, off, why did Susan wait three years to finally search for Bruce? If Marty Melville is some rich guy looking to cash in on uranium, then why does he dress in overalls and look like a car mechanic? Why is Lon Chaney Jr., who was once a leading man in Universal horror films of the 1940s (he was the original THE WOLF MAN in 1941, after all), reduced to playing a supporting role here?

Also, their behavior doesn’t seem logical. While they are flying over the mountains, Marty gets impatient and punches Lee out, and tries to take over the controls of the plane, almost crashing and killing them all. Russ restrains him from behind and Lee wakes up in time to land them safely, but once they get out, nobody seems especially mad at Marty for risking their lives. At another point, Susan wanders off on her own. She screams and goes missing, and the men go looking for her, but not once do they call out her name. The first time someone sees one of the “animals” that lives in the area, it’s Russ who sees a giant lizard approach him from behind a hill. When he calls the others, they arrive and there is no lizard to be seen and Russ says he must have imagined it. (A gigantic lizard! You’d think you could tell if you imagined such a thing).

If you haven’t noticed, THE CYCLOPS doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Once the group starts seeing more and more giant animals, Russ comes up with a theory that all of the radioactivity in the area has affected the pituitary glands of the wildlife so that they don’t stop growing (of course this is bad science—in reality, they’d probably all just die off). There’s lots of bad effects of giant lizards and snakes and mice superimposed on the screen. None of it looks convincing.

Oh, remember I mentioned a scene where Susan screams and disappears? Turns out she saw the king of this desolate place, the Cyclops himself (Duncan Parkin), who is an odd-looking fellow indeed. Aside from being a 40 foot giant, he has skin growing over one side of his face (thus the reason why he’s a cyclops), exposed skull-like teeth on one side, and his one eye is big and bulging. Aside from the awful face, he looks like a normal giant man in a loincloth. He is incoherent and can only speak gibberish, but the team tries to communicate with him. He seems to have a special reaction to Susan, but it takes her a helluva long time to realize that this creature might just be her long-lost Bruce (and I just bet that grunting and groaning he does translates into “Why did you wait three years to come find me?”). But in the end, their attempts to reason with the giant are useless. He’s just too far gone.

Ultimately, Marty gets killed (not a big loss) and the rest have to get back to their plane and get out of there before the Cyclops kills them or the radiation eventually affects their cells enough so that they start growing too.

THE CYCLOPS is not one of Bert I. Gordon’s better films, but for some reason, I always found it very difficult to find. This was one of those movies I’d see stills of in issues of “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine as a kid, but I never saw the movie on video during the VHS days, and it took a long time before it was available on DVD (the version I recently found was put out by Warner Brothers)

After years of wanting to see this one, I have to admit, it fell far short of my expectations, which is too bad. But if you like movies with silly scripts, horrible special effects and hardly any scares, this one is for you. Actually, if you’re a fan of “so bad they’re good” films, you really might enjoy this one. I did.

© Copyright 2011 by L.L. Soares

DVD from Warner Brothers Studios
THE CYCLOPS (1957)
66 minutes
Directed, Written and Produced by Bert I. Gordon
Starring: Gloria Talbott, James Craig, Lon Chaney Jr. and Tom Drake
Not Rated

"The Cyclops" is quite a formidable foe in Bert I. Gordon's 1957 film.

Friday Night Knife Fights – 2D Vs. 3D – Conclusion

Posted in 2011, 3-D, Deformed Freaks!, Gimmicks with tags , , , , on April 8, 2011 by knifefighter

FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS:  3D MOVIES VS. 2D MOVIES – Part 3 (Conclusion)
With Michael Arruda, L.L. Soares, and Dan Keohane

MA:  Welcome back to the third and final segment  of our Great 3D Debate. Once again L.L. and I are joined by Dan Keohane.

(Dan is seen making a cigarette disappear up his nose.)

LS:  I love that trick!

(Dan pulls it out of his ear.)

MA:  We’re discussing 3D movies vs. 2D movies, and so far, 2D movies have had the upper hand in this duel.  We all love 3D effects, but we seem to be in agreement that on their own, they don’t make a movie better, and nowadays with all these new 3D movies, it costs more to buy a ticket.

LS: Scam!

MA:  And that’s exactly the topic we’re leading off with tonight:  the extra cost of the 3D ticket, which begs the question, are these new 3D movies worth the extra ticket prices the theaters charge?  Or is it a scam by the film companies and theaters?

LS:  I sound like a broken record, but except for AVATAR, 3D movies are not worth the extra ticket price at all. It really does feel like a scam. Plus you still have to wear annoying glasses – they’re just sturdier now. I find it ludicrous, by the way, that you have to pay extra for those glasses and then afterwards the theaters ask you to donate them back so they can be recycled. How about refunding my $5 surcharge if I return the glasses?

MA:  Good point.

I don’t think the new 3D movies are worth the extra ticket prices either.

Is it a scam?  I don’t know.  I’d like to think it’s not a scam, but the more I think about it, the more upset I become.  Why?  I can understand a film like AVATAR which spent so much money on top-of-the-line best-of-the-best 3D effects, but the rest of these movies?  The effects aren’t as good, supposedly because they weren’t as expensive, yet they charge the same extra fee.  What’s up with that?  I smell a rat, and it doesn’t smell good!

If 3D movies cost the same as 2D movies, I’d be all for them because the effects are fun and sometimes they do add something to the movie, but factor in the extra cost, and that takes the fun away.  In other words, if you’re going to charge me extra because of 3D effects, then those effects had better be damn good and the main reason I’m seeing this movie!

What’s next?  Pay more for certain directors?  Actors?  Steven Spielberg directed this movie, so it costs $3.00 more.  What’s that?  This movie stars BOTH Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino?  $3.00 co-actor fee.

I don’t like the 3D fee.  Sure, the argument is that the equipment needed at the theater to show these films in 3D costs more, but that argument only goes so far.  Gas prices keep going up, so it costs me more each week to drive to the theater, so we’re in the same boat.  I don’t get to request lower ticket prices because it costs more to drive there.  I just suck it up.  The theaters should too.

LS:  Michael —since you and I rarely have access to preview screenings for films—we just about always have to pay for movie tickets out of our own pockets. Sometimes, I bitch about this. But truth is, it keeps us honest. If I go see a movie for free and it has gimmicky 3D effects, I’ll be more forgiving. But if I just paid $15 for a movie where the 3D effects add nothing, I am going to be pissed off. Just like our readers.

DK:  Now here’s an idea—.

MA:  Are you through doing magic tricks?

DK:  Maybe.  Actually, it’s the only one I know, so I have no choice (laughs).  What was I saying?

LS (to MA):  Stop interrupting our guest!  You’re the host.  You’re not supposed to be rude.  This isn’t Fox News!

MA:  I wasn’t being rude.  I just wanted to find out if he was going to do something else, like pull a rabbit out of his jacket.

DK:  No, no rabbits.

MA:  You were saying something about an idea.

DK:  Yes— if Hollywood is going to insist on using this new toy of theirs… how about trying out this conversion (from 2D to 3D) trick on some classic sci-fi movies, or classic movies which have enough effects that would lend themselves to the effect. 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) in 3D? That would be very cool. STAR WARS (been redone so often no year fits anymore, lol) in 3D? Oh yea. BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S (1961)? Probably not.

MA:  I’d like to see the 1953 version of WAR OF THE WORLDS in 3D.  That’d be cool.

Well, gentlemen,—.

LS:  Who walked in?

MA: Ha, ha!  We’ve reached the moment our readers have been waiting for.  It’s time to make our decision, to declare a winner of this bout.  3D vs. 2D.  Are 3D movies the future of motion pictures, and do we want to see more of them?

Or, have we had enough of 3D already and want to go back to just 2D movies, saving 3D for once in a blue moon?

So, what will it be?  3D, or 2D?  Dan?

DK:  When the 3D floodwaters have settled, we’ll be left with a select few movies in 3D which should be in 3D, and the rest will come back to roost in 2D, simply because people will stop paying for it, and the extra cost to produce/convert these movies will become unprofitable. Hopefully more theaters will convert to digital “projection”, and when that happens, 2D will be even more brilliant to watch. That is, if the movie itself is brilliant. Don’t forget, you still need to make a good movie. That’s what will bring people in to the theaters. If they want 3D, they’ll have plenty of it when they walk outside into the real world.  So, it’s 2D for me.

LS:  A 3D movie once in a while would be just fine. Something like the next PIRAHNA movie.

MA:  Or better yet, something else.  The world doesn’t need another PIRANHA 3D movie.

LS:  Well, it’s going to get it because they’re already working on the sequel!

MA:  I know, I know.  You don’t have to remind me.

LS:  A horror flick once in a while, and some cartoons, but not all of them. Once in a blue moon is perfect. But this push to try to make every single movie that comes out a 3D extravaganza is just a con game to separate us from our money for shoddy merchandise.

Part of the problem is, too, that they’re coming out with 3D televisions now, and they have to create content to make the more expensive TVs worth buying. This is probably a big part of the push to make more movies in 3D. But once again, it’s just another way to take our hard-earned money. I don’t care about 3D movies, and I don’t care about 3D TV. I refuse to get sucked in by these things. I wish they would just go away. Once in a while is fine. But 3D 24/7—every time we go to the movies or turn on a television set—is overkill.

Look, what makes for a great movie is the story, the acting, the direction. Without these things, no gimmick in the world is going to improve your work. Unless you wield billions of dollars l don’t think it’s worth it.  2D, damn it!

MA:  Since I loved AVATAR so much, I really wanted 3D to be the future of motion pictures, but as long as they’re charging extra for it, I’m not into it.  Get rid of the extra charge, and I’m all in.

As is stands now, we have to pay extra for 3D, so as long as this stands, I’m against it.  It’s 2D movies for me!

Well, there you have it!  It’s unanimous!  2D movies win out.  I mean, we all love 3D, but it costs more to see them, and really doesn’t add a whole lot to the quality of the movie.  Thanks, guys for chiming in on this.

DK:  No problem.  I just remembered another trick I know how to do.  Do you guys mind if I try something new?

LS:  Go for it.  We’ve seen your other trick so many times, it’d be good to see something new.

MA:  Go right ahead.

DK:  I’m not sure if this will work.  It’s been a while.   I’ll say the magic words and snap my fingers— (utters what seems to be a foreign language and snaps his fingers— in a poof of smoke, MA & LS suddenly disappear.)  Hmm.  That wasn’t supposed to happen.    Guys?  You still here somewhere?  This has never happened before.  I’m sure they’ll be back in time for their next column— won’ t they?

This has been FRIDAY NIGHT KNIFE FIGHTS—-good night everybody!

—-END—

Suburban Grindhouse Memories: HUMONGOUS!

Posted in 2010, 80s Horror, B-Movies, Deformed Freaks!, Horror, Nick Cato Reviews, Serial Killer flicks, Slasher Movies, Suburban Grindhouse Memories with tags , , , , , , , on December 16, 2010 by knifefighter

SUBURBAN GRINDHOUSE MEMORIES no. 19: WHERE’S THE MONSTER?
by Nick Cato


1980’s PROM NIGHT quickly gained a respectable following among horror fans.  Two years later, we were thrilled to see another film from director Paul Lynch (as far as I know, no relation to David).  A quick and creepy TV ad for HUMONGOUS had my juices flowing for a few weeks before its release, not to mention a great poster campaign (see above). Opening night at the Fox Twin Cinema was quite hot (being mid-June) and the crowd was eager to get into the air-conditioned theater.  Little did we know we’d soon be eager to get back out . . .

Sometime in the 1940s, a wealthy woman is raped after teasing some poor schmuck, but thanks to her malnourished guard dog, manages to survive the attack (she even kills her rapist with a brick-to-the-head).  The woman eventually gives birth to a deformed son (because, as we all know, rapes always create monster children, at least in the movies) and decides to raise him on an isolated island.

Flash forward to the present: a bunch of teens partying on a nearby island decide to head home but crash on another island before reaching the mainland (guess which island they get stranded on?)  The rest of this stinker’s seemingly endless running time features our “survivors” getting picked off by the oversized deformed rape monster, mostly in some very poorly-lit sequences.  In fact, every time a kill scene occurred, everything became darker and the crowd booed louder and louder and with more frustration;  it was nearly impossible to tell what was happening.  Why director Paul Lynch chose to do this is anyone’s guess, but it didn’t earn him any new fans as a filmmaker (at least no one I know).  Some online reviews of this film claim this was the result of a bad, early VHS transfers, but as someone who sat through this the night it was released in a theater, I can say they’re incorrect.

One of the more memorable scenes features one of the girls dressing like the monster’s mother, trying to trick him (you may remember this same tactic was attempted a year earlier in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2).  This brought yells of “RIP OFF!” from the crowd, which caused my friends and me to laugh, and join in on the commentary.  The only thing we couldn’t insult was the acting, which was well done for this type of film (except for one of the girls who had quite an irritating accent).

While the monster/slasher is only seen in shadows and ever-so-briefly, our stranded crew eventually discover a diary kept by the thing’s mother which sheds some light on why “Humongous” is the was he is.  I’m guessing Lynch either a) wanted the audience to use their imaginations to picture something more gruesome than FX could show, or b) their budget just didn’t have enough for the effects (or blood, for that matter, as very little is shown).

With several better slasher films released in ‘81 and ’82, it’s easy to see why HUMONGOUS came and went within a week and was all but forgotten among genre fans (Although it found a micro-following upon it’s 80s VHS release, an official DVD has yet to surface).

This one’s a real chore to get through (despite a grim opening and decent 15 minutes).  Plus, how can anyone recommend a horror film in which the most memorable scene is a topless girl laying on top of some guy to keep him warm?

NEXT!

© Copyright 2010 by Nick Cato

German Shepherds: the ULTIMATE rape/revenge weapon!

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