Archive for the Science Fiction-Fantasy Category

QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE/1958/ZSA ZSA GABOR

Posted in Camp-Cheese, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Zsa Zsa Gabor on October 24, 2011 by Bill Courtney
QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE

1958/Director: Edward Bernds/Writers: Charles Beaumont, Ben Hecht

Cast: Zsa Zsa Gabor, Eric Fleming, Dave Willock, Laurie Mitchell, Lisa Davis, Paul Birch, Patrick Waltz

Producer of many cheesy sci-fi yarns Walter Wanger had just finished serving a four month prison sentence for shooting his wife’s (Joan Bennet) suspected lover in the leg and crotch – only four months since he successfully pleaded temporary insanity -when he began to put together this project based on a story by Ben Hecht. Hecht’s original story was more of a farce but Wanger wanted it the story to be more serious and turned the production over to Ben Schwalb for some reason. Schwalb had worked for Sam Katzman on some Bowry boy episodes and director Edward Bernds had done some Three Stooges films. I guess that is way Queen of Outer Space is sort of an odd little story at best. Many of the props and costumes seem to be left-overs from other sci-fi films – Forbidden Planet, World Without End, Flight to Mars – and the actors are playing it pretty straight but it is a cheese fest from the get go.

The film follows a story line that had already become familiar in previous sci-fi films and that is an adventure built around a group of male astronauts stranded on a planet of beautiful Amazon type women. The women are usually sexually frustrated and really seem to like Earthmen from the USA the best. Crew includes Eric Fleming and Paul Birch and the queen is Laurie Mitchell and her rival is prima donna Zsa Zsa Gabor. Story has it that Gabor was so difficult to work with that Ben Schwa wound in the hospital from stress and ulcers. Action takes place on Venus and there is a great spider in the cave sequence that usually accompanies these space maiden films. The color is nice and while the story drags for the most part it is worth the moments when the dialog gets really strange and to see the maidens drooling over the earth guys. The scene at the end where a flock of vivacious Venusian girls are pawing over an ecstatic Paul Birch sums it all. Fans of  super cheezy sci-fi will love it.

CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON/1953

Posted in Camp-Cheese, Science Fiction-Fantasy on October 6, 2011 by Bill Courtney

CAT-WOMEN OF THE MOON

1953/ Director: Arthur Hilton/ Writers: Al Zimbalist, Jack Rabin
Cast: Sonny Tufts, Victor Jory, Marie Windsor, William Phipps, Douglas Fowley, Carol Brewster, Susan Morrow, Suzanne Alexander
The storyline for Cat-Women of the Moon is a familiar one for the 50’s and 60’s. A group of men, with maybe one female in the gang, are stranded somewhere, an island, lost civilization on the far side of a secret mountain or a planet like Venus or even the earth’s moon, and there they encounter an all female race of something similar to Amazons. The race may or may not be dying off and what men there are, if any, are kept as slaves and the occasional stud service. Some similar films would be Abbot and Costello Go To Mars (they actually went to Venus in the film) Invasion of the Star Creatures, The wild Women of Wongo, Mesa of Lost Women and quite a few others. The plots are usually the same and some recurring themes would be a young and cocky guy who is fast with the wisecracks who feels he has died and gone to heaven and hits on anything that breathes, a greedy opportunist who wants to pilfer the wealth the Amazon type women horde and a romance between the queen and the group leader. The virility of the male leader awakens feelings in the queen she has not felt in a long time and clouds her better judgment which usually dictates she execute all the outsiders. There is usually a power struggle as well within the female society between the old school led by the queen and a group of usurpers who are simply wanting for the right moment to strike, such as when the queen is weakened by her feelings of love for a big hunk of man. Both Cat women of the Moon and Missile to the Moon contains almost all of these essential ingredients and despite being cheese fare they are actually well made and enjoyable movies.

Cat-Women of the Moon is the story of the first manned mission to the moon and among the crew of five is one woman Helen (Marie Windsor) who seems to the object of romantic interest of the by-the-book mission commander Laird (Sunny Tufts)and the number two man the hot headed and chauvinistic Kip (Victor Jory). Kip wastes little time in putting the moves on Helen as she is nursing him after an accident on the ship caused by a rouge meteor. The behavior of Kip is so callus and unprofessional that it could only happen in an old film like this. And obviously while Helen affirms she is Laird’s gal she likes the little cat and mouse game with manly Kip as well. Women in films from the 50’s and 60’s always liked overt sexual harassment as a form of prolonged foreplay and even a prerequisite to marriage. If the guy does not stalk her and harass her then he must not love her. Also on board is the young buck Doug and the shifty Walt. This crew was a result of the space program’s earlier selection processes and it would improve greatly by the time of the Gemini and Apollo missions. For an as yet to be explained reason Helen, the navigator, decides to land the ship n the moon’s uncharted dark side. There is little conflict with the crew over this and soon the ship is settled on the moon’s surface and the crew are out in their space suits exploring the Luan terrain. Along with all the other normal gear necessary to explore the moon Kip takes along a loaded pistol. You never know right?

Helen leads them to a cave where they soon find there is enough oxygen to not allow them to remove their space helmets but all of their spacesuits as well. Of course I do not mean they are standing around in their underwear, they have their uniforms on but I am not so sure it is a good idea to remove your entire spacesuit in an unexplored cave on the moon. The cave has oxygen and that is good, but it also has huge black spiders and that is bad. The spider is a huge puppet that moves pretty darn slow luckily. Helen freaks out and runs and the runs decided to go and box with the damned thing. It never occurs to Kip to use the gun he brought along and after being hit the face a few times by the guys the spider disappears. Soon they realize their spacesuits have vanished (see, bad idea) and soon they meet some of the Cat-Women who look pretty sexy in their black leotards. Kip bullies them with his gun of course but soon the crew are being led to the underground kingdom of the dying race of moon women led by Queen Alpha (Carol Brewster). As it turns out Helen’s mind has been controlled for sometime by the Cat-Women who need a spaceship to escape the moon’s decaying atmosphere, the remaining bit being contained in the cave. Young Doug falls in love in a matter of moments with good hearted Lambda (Susan Morrow) and Walt is soon on the trail of valuable minerals contained in the cave walls. Helen is not always under the spell of the Cat-Woman and Lambda has reciprocated Doug’s love in the same short span of time and warns the crew of their deadly fate if they do not escape soon.

Overall this is a pretty fun movie and one worth a couple watchings if you are a refined cheese lover. It is well made for the time and the lunar landscapes look pretty decent. The movie is also known as Rocket to the Moon but that can be easily confused with our second feature which is Missile to the Moon. If for nothing else this movie worth a watch for the sexy gals in it. I feel they are much sexier in their black cat suits than the bevy of beauties in our second feature are. But I am a sucker for cat suits I guess.

FRANKENTSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD/1966/ISHIRO HONDA/TOHO

Posted in Frankenstein, Ishiro Honda, Japanese Films, Mad Doctors and Scientists, Nazis, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Toho Studios on October 6, 2011 by Bill Courtney

FRANKENTSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD

1966/Director: Ishirô Honda/ Writers: Reuben Bercovitch (story),
Takeshi Kimura
Cast: Nick Adams, Tadao Takashim, Kumi Mizuno, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Koji Furuhata
Frankenstein Conquers the World is one of the oddest entries into the history  of the Frankenstein library of often already odd films. It crawls out of Toho Studios and is directed by the great Ishiro Honda. It stars American actor Nick Adams (the Johnny Yuma TV show) in one of his three films with Toho. He plays scientist James Bowen who is hot on the trail of the Frankenstein Monster (though it is referred to throughout the film as Frankentstein) with the help of his lovely assistant Sueko Togami (Kumi Mizuni) and fellow scientist Dr. Kenichiro Kawaji (who is determined to obtain one of Frankenstein’s members or organs for future research).
The action originates in Nazi Germany towards the end of WWII when a mad scientist’s laboratory is raided by Nazi guards and the heart of Frankenstein (the monster) is taken then transported to Imperial Japan by submarine. Exactly why the Nazi’s would give away this potential asset to their conquests is never explained, but the heart winds up in the safest of places in Japan to carry out secret research, the city of Hiroshima. Fifteen after Hiroshima is baked to a crisp a strange kid begins to appear around the city and eats some of the local small animals. The boy is captured and for some odd reason is said to possess Caucasian features, no doubt to tie the beast in with the European creator and monster, but actor Koji Furahata does not look in any way Caucasian. Soon the lad has grown to gigantic proportions and escapes his holding cell leaving one of his severed but animated hands behind. In no time he is being blamed for the destruction of local villages and inns, but that is actually the handy work of subterranean monster Baragon (the alternate title is Frankenstein vs Baragon). Needless to say a duel is inevitable between the titans and as usual it is full of giant monster doing judo flips and spewing fire.
The photography and miniatures are excellent -if you are easy going on those matters- as they usually are in Honda’s films, though the super-imposed scenes are lacking in quality. Nick Adams seems a little dim witted to be a geneticist but it makes the movie even more fun. Scenes that the American distributor wanted included with Frankenstein fighting another duel with a giant octopus were deleted from the final version, but reappeared later as an alternate ending. The monster is one of the oddest on film (and there have been plenty of odd Frankenstein based monsters) and in many ways the creature stays in line with the legend: flat head, mistaken crimes, good heart and intentions that are misread and fascination with a beautiful woman. Baragon later reappeared in Destroy All Monsters and Frankenstein reappears in War of the Gargantuas. Maybe not for non-Toho fans, but a must for big monster (Kaiji) and detailed miniature lovers. 

 

THE URANIUM CAFE MATINEE: MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

Posted in Adventure-Action, Matinee, Science Fiction-Fantasy on September 22, 2011 by Bill Courtney

Adventure! Mystery! Excitement!

A world beyond imagination! Adventure beyond belief!

SEE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND RIGHT HERE >>

//www.viddler.com/simple/4a848510/
MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER/1965

Posted in American Horror, Camp-Cheese, Frankenstein, Science Fiction-Fantasy on September 13, 2011 by Bill Courtney
FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER

1965/ Director: Robert Gaffney/ Writers: R.H.W. Dillard, George Garrett

Cast: Marilyn Hanold,  James Karen, Lou Cutell, Nancy Marshall, David Kerman, Robert Reilly, Bruce Glover

Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster takes place on sunny Puerto Rico instead of Japan and is a fine example of a great bad movie that is worth watching more than once. It is really not a terribly made film in some respects. The film editing is not bad and there is a good music score (one song by the Distant Cousins may have been the inspiration for the riff from one of my favorite Thrill Kill Kult songs, Babylon Drifter) and the space ship interiors are far from the worst on record.

The story is about secret, cyborg astronaut Frank Saunders (Robert Riley) whose rocket is shot out of the sky by space aliens who think it is an attacking missile. When the aliens discover that Frank has survived the attack they g down to Earth themselves to finish off the potential witness that may jeopardize their mission; acquiring a breeding stock of nubile young earth girls, most in bikinis. Frank (as in Frankenstein) is also searched for by human scientists Adam Steele (played by James Karen, most famous for his roles in Return of the Living Dead, and even recently as the CEO in The Pursuit of Happyness) and cry baby Karen Grant (Nancy Marshall). Of course during the crash of his spaceship poor Frank has half his face burnt off and his circuitry all screwed up, so sometimes he over reacts and kills people with his bare hands or machetes. Eventually frank winds up trying to rescue the earth girls from the aliens with Dr Steele and there meets the “space monster” Mull and they have a less than epic battle that destroys the space ship and nasty aliens.
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The performances of Marylin Hanold and Lou Cutell as the alien princess and her henchman offer up some of the best moments in the film. Lou Cutell’s nodding and sleazy grins are nearly as classic as his poorly done bald wig make up. Actor Bruce Glover (Crispin Glover’s father and one of the gay hitmen in Diamonds are Forever who kept try to bump off 007) appears briefly as an alien. The movie was voted as one of the 100 worst of all time (what more of a recommendation do you need) though, as I said, is hardly a total flop in all technical departments. You may have a fun time watching all the stock military footage and checking out the swinging gogo pool parties, until they are crashed by ray gun totting aliens who wear space suits that look very much like NASA training gear. It is really a good example of how a chessy camp classic can earn a persistent cult following, and for good reason. It is my definition of a “feel good” movie. It was fun to watch the unintended laughs and guffaws and one of those films that can be enjoyed alone for “research” or a movie party flick.

THE BLOB/1958/STEVE McQUEEN

Posted in American Horror, Science Fiction-Fantasy, Soundtrack Samples on September 13, 2011 by Bill Courtney

THE BLOB

1958/ Director: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr./ Writers: Kay Linaker (writer), Irvine Millgate (story)
Cast: Steve McQueen, Aneta Corsaut, Earl Rowe, Olin Howland, Alden ‘Stephen’ Chase, John Benson, Lee Paton, Vincent Barbi
The Blob is a successful combining of the horror and teenage delinquent film genres. While the teens in the film are not really ‘delinquents” in my opinion they are still teenagers and therefore what they say and do is always suspect to the local adults. The film was a success for the time at the box office, which must have really irked new leading man “Steven” McQueen who opted for a one lump payment of $2,500 to $3,000 (depending where you read) rather than 10% of the profits, which went over $4 million. Also it seems the young McQueen appeared promising enough to be offered a three film contract from the film’s producers, but he was so difficult to work with he was released from the contract. He would of course go on to become a film legend in Hollywood. The movie was made outside Hollywood by an independent film company and it is nicely shot film and well acted.

First I want to say that this film, along with the Hammer film X-The Unknown, were two movies that terrorized me as a boy of about 12 or 13. Both movies are about an amorphous substance that is slimy and oozy and can slither, creep and crawl under things or get though ventilator grills easily. This posed a real problem for me at night trying to sleep and I remember covering the heating vents on my floor with encyclopedias to prevent entry, but knowing that if the Blob (or X) wanted in there was no way I was going to stop them.

The movie opens up with young Steven Andrews (McQueen) putting the moves on the classic “I’m not that kind of girl”  tease Jane Martin (Aneta Corsaut) up on the local lover’s lane. While Steven assures her his intentions are honorable and she in not just another girl a meteorite (The movie’s working title was The Meteorite Monster and The Molten Meteorite) crashes to earth over the nearby hills. An old man played by veteran actor Olin Howland , in his last role, finds the smoldering space rocks and stars poking at it with a stick and soon has his arm covered with a flesh consuming “blob”. Steven and Jane rush him into to town, to Doc Hallen, who in turn, along with his nurse, are consumed and soon the havoc in on. Of course Steven and his teenage friends must contend with the local adults and police who all think kids are up to no good (especially when the said high school student, like McQueen, is actually 28 years old!).
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People begin disappearing though we really only see about four people get eaten, or adsorbed if you will. This is my one real complaint about the film. At one point Lt. Dave (Earl Rowe) estimates maybe forty people have died during the night. The movie would have been more exhilarating if we had seen some of these deaths. Luckily the acting, dialog, nicely photographed scenes and cool looking monster help things move along without the visible death scenes. After lots of futile attempts at convincing parents and cops the truth is revealed when the patrons of the local theater, who were there to see a horror movie of course, come screaming out onto the streets with the ever growing blob on their tails. Steven and Jane seek shelter in a diner after grabbing Jane’s doofy little brother who in one of the best scenes in the movies hurls his “empty” cap pistol at the creature. The blob surrounds the diner and seeks out the five people inside the diner while the rest of the town stands about fifty feet away and watches in horror. I never understood as a kid  why the blob did not just turn on the crowd and absorb all of them. Well, the weakness (all old movie monsters had one special weakness that the hero had to discover by the last ten or fifteen minutes of the movie) is soon discovered… C02 fire extinguishers. The blob is frozen and sent to the North Pole, never to be heard from again until Larry Hagman revived it in his more comical version Beware the Blob in 1972, with stoned hippies like Robert Walker, rather than hot rodding 28 year old teenagers, on the menu.

The movie is very well made and while it is a B-movie it is not what I would call a bad movie, either in a good sense or bad. The catchy title song was co-written by Burt Bacharach and was a hit song on the radio at the time. A link to a Blob site is given below and this is a true cult classic. A remake was made in with Kevin Dillon in 1988 where the Blob is the product of yet another secret government/military agency with nothing but security and profit on its always evil agenda. Well, I like the space Blob myself and all the mystery it brought with it. The film just looks rich and nice and one can see that McQueen is a real talent in his first film role. Not to be missed.

http://ia700600.us.archive.org/8/items/swf-player/player.swf

THE BLOB TITLE SONG

STARCRASH/1978/CAROLINE MUNRO/JOE SPINELL

Posted in Camp-Cheese, Caroline Munro, David Hasselhoff, Italian Films, Joe Spinell, Luigi Cozz, Marjoe Gortner, Science Fiction-Fantasy on September 11, 2011 by Bill Courtney
STARCRASH

1978/Director: Luigi Cozzi/Writers: Luigi Cozzi, Nat Wachsberger

Cast: Marjoe Gortner, Caroline Munro, Joe Spinell, Christopher Plummer, David Hasselhoff

Starcrash is one of those movies that has long on my extensive list of films to see before I die. I tend to not rush into seeing most of these films I doubt that on my death bed when I reflect on my life’s regrets that at the top of the list will be not seeing all of the films by Eddie Romero. But I enjoyed the pairing of Joe Spinell and Caroline Munro in Maniac (1980) and The Last Horror Movie (1982) and figured I could not go too wrong with this 1978 Italian made Stars Wars clone. And I was right, this is a fun albeit totally campy joy ride for fans of 60’s styled Italian sci-fi as well as fans of generally bad cinema in general and of Star Wars rip-off films in particular. And while I would certainly call Starcrash a bad movie it is a ‘good’ bad movie that even people who normally shy away from trash films may enjoy to some degree. There are plenty of reviews on line that bash the film and I was a bit stunned to see such negative diatribe coming out of Tokyo Stomp of all places about the movie. I thought TS was a site somewhat like The Uranium Café that pandered bad movies and treated them gently in their reviews. Not so with Starcrash but do not let phrases there like “…nearly unwatchable for many reasons” deter you. This is a watchable and enjoyable little film even if it does feature David Hasselhoff in one of the leading roles (the Princess Leia role from Star Wars actually.) Along with Spinell, Munro and the ‘multi-talented’ Hasselhoff the film also stars Christopher Plummer in the obligatory ‘established British actor who needs to pay the mortgage somehow’ category and 70’s cult figure Marjoe Gortner who plays a character that is Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and C-3PO all rolled into one.

Director Luigi Cozzi –who worked as assistant director and special effects artists for Dario Argento but lets not hold that against him- does a fine job of capturing the spirit of some of the earlier Italian sci-fi films of the 60’s and early 70’s and I can’t help but feel some of the effects and sets in Starcrash are deliberately cheesy though that would sheer speculation on my part. Even using someone like the always annoying Hasselhoff in a lead role seems like a bit of a joke in retrospect but at the time the guy was a hot item and his hit TV series Knight Rider was right around the corner in 1982. While most of the actors in the film appear to have tongue firmly planted in cheek pretty little Hasselhoff is acting for dear life in all his scenes and his exquisitely blow-dried coiffure is never a follicle out of place. The plot is totally derivative of Star Wars but it was hardly the only Star Wars clone to come along after the mega-success of the George Lucas space epic. While utterly corny places and with schlocky effects that wile lave you flabbergasted at best the film is till ore watchable than some of the other Lucas rip-offs such as the Battle Star Galactica TV series. The movie has rightfully earned itself a place among the great midnight-cult movies and was recently released on the Shout! Factory DVD label as part of the Roger Corman Cult Classic series. I have the nice looking Shout Blu-ray version but I got it here in China and all the cool extras were left off the pirated DVD here. Hate when they do that. All I got was the film trailer.
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The story is, as I said, a total retelling of the Star wars stories with minimal changes in the actual characters and plot. Munro plays Stella Star (the film is aka The Adventures of Stella Star) a space smuggler and greatest pilot in the galaxy. Her partner, or sidekick actually, is an alien named Akton (Gortner) who kills time levitating little orbs of light in the palm of his hand. They soon cross paths with the Imperial Space Police led by Thor (shaved head screen heavy Robert Tessier) and his robot Elle, who speaks with an out of place hillbilly accent that is never as funny as it was probably intended to be. There is a subsequent star fight with weirdly lit and placed stars in the background and a boost in hyper-speed or something that is nothing short of a Millennium Falcon homage or rip-off depending on how you look at life. This proves totally fruitless as the moment they appear out of hyper-space they are caught and sentenced to life on a prison planet. That proves to be nothing for the always scantily clad in leather Stella Star and she escapes easily but is recaptured just as easily but offered the chance for clemency if she and Akton will rescue the Emperor of the Universe –or it may just be of the galaxy, I forget right now- (Christopher Plummer) son from the evil Count Zarth Arn, played over the top with perfection by Joe Spinell. The emperor’s son is prissy Hasselhoff of course.

As Stella Star and crew soar through the galaxy looking for the kidnapped son of the Emperor they meet up with various adventures, strange creatures and perilous situations on various alien landscapes. There is treachery and loyalty and cleavage galore as they continue on their epic quest that will, hopefully, restore good to the galaxy and banish evil… for the time being anyway. The references to Stars Wars are fun look for and are often impossible to miss such as when Akton uses a light saber. Some reviewers have attacked Munro’s space garb as sexist and thank God they are right. You just don’t see space heroines like this any more. Some scenes even show inspiration in the stop action animation department from Ray Harryhausen and in particular a couple scenes from the classic Jason and the Argonauts. If you’re a fan of grade Z camp then this one’s for you, and even if you’re not you My like to kill ninety or so minutes with it. If a person was not a fan of fine trash cinema and I had to pick one film as an introduction I think I could only do worse than recommend Starcrash.
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CHOOSE YOUR FAVORITE STARCRASH SEX SYMBOL PINUP!