Compared to my movie-watching totals from last year, I really was slacking off! In 2020, I clocked in 422 titles! Not sure how I did that, but that really set the bar high for me from then on. But in 2021, I only got through 278 titles, but at least 160 of those were new viewings. My goal for this year is to hit at least 300, but we’ll see how that goes!
Below are the 10 films that I thought stood out amongst the rest and are definitely worth seeking out. These are listed in alphabetical order, and as always, these are all new viewings to me, so it doesn’t matter what year they actually came out. Enjoy!
Sure, while Tommy Kirk is best known for his roles in a plethora of Disney films, such as Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones, and many others, you might be wondering why I would be mentioning his passing here on the Krypt. Well, like a lot of stars that “fall from grace”, they sometimes end up in some low-low-low budgeted films, which is exactly what happened with Kirk.
Disney had primed him to be an even bigger star in his youth, but once they found out that Kirk was gay, that was all it took and gave him the boot. At that time, it was hard to recover from that. Having bouts with drug addiction, which was not helping his career. After Disney, he started to work with A.I.P. in films like Pajama Party (1964), as well as working with director Bert I. Gordon in Village of the Giants (1965).
This was a tough one for me this year. Not the movies actually, but just getting the whole marathon together. I am usually making plans and promoting it right from the first part of May, if not sooner, but for some reason or another, just couldn’t get motivated to get it going. But thanks to my Turkey Day co-pilot for over 15 years, Aaron Christensen, kicking me in the butt enough times to make sure it happened. So if you did join in the fun and had a good time, you can thank him as well! Got to give credit where it is due.
Texas Schlock: B-Movie Sci-Fi and Horror from the Lone Star State
Published by LECR Press, 2018. 272 pages.
By Bret McCormick
There are two things really special about this book. First, I love it when someone focuses on a specific region of filmmakers that you wouldn’t think spawned that many, such as Texas! Secondly, I also love when the spotlight is put on some names that might not be as familiar as their bigger counterparts to the west, such as Tom Moore, S.F. Brownrigg, and yes, even Larry Buchanan. When I found out Buchanan was covered here, I knew it was going to be a must read. And it is!
The author, a low-budget independent filmmaker (or schlockmeister as he calls it) himself, is probably best known for his 1986 film Abomination. In fact, he’s made several of these types thoughout his career. But within these pages, he wanted to show the filmmakers that inspired him to get into the business, and came up with the idea for this book, which he calls a “labor of love”. That’s the thing about these kind of movies, that they are made with that same passion. None of the people covered within these pages made the big time, but continued on because they had the passion. So no matter what the end result is, there has to be some commendations. Continue reading
Some of you that have been following the Krypt for a while might have heard me speak of my love of Texas filmmaker Larry Buchanan, who made films with a budget that would make even Roger Corman shudder. So when I came across this new book entitled Texas Schlock: B-movie Sci-Fi and Horror from the Lone Star State. It even has a chapter on Mr. Buchanan, I knew I had to have a copy for the Kryptic Library. And once it comes and I get to it, you can bet there will be a review posted here.
In the meantime, this 274 page book is priced at $29.95, and was written by Bret McCormick, who directed The Abomination (1986) and enough other similar titles to completely understand what “schlock” is. According to the write up on Amazon, “McCormick perfectly captures the crackpot appeal of low-budget classics like ZONTAR the Thing from Venus and rounds up an amazing rogue’s gallery of schlockmeisters to tell their behind-the-scenes tales.”
American International Pictures: A Comprehensive Filmography
Published by McFarland, 2019. 451 pages.
By Rob Craig
I was a little apprehensive on tackling this book for review, mainly because I had already reviewed two previous volumes of Craig’s work and found them written a little above the subject. By that I mean he seemed to find a lot of subtext in some low budget features that I personally don’t think were ever there. But that is just a difference of opinion, and I hoped with his latest book on AIP films, it would be a little different. And it was. For the most part.
If you are a fan of American International Pictures, then simply put, this book is a must. It covers over 800 feature films, television series, and TV specials that were from AIP or under one of their many partners. It is an A to Z filmography, covering titles that are very familiar to ones that you might never of heard of. One of the things I really liked about this volume is that each film has a brief synopsis, usually taken from a pressbook, and that’s it when it comes to the plot. This leaves the story left open for the viewer to really discover instead of the author laying it out play-by-play style when that can lead the reader not even to bother with it! The beauty lies in everything the author writes about after the synopsis, with plenty of little informational tidbits and trivia. Continue reading
Born Apr. 16th, 1913 – Died Dec. 19th, 2003
Here is an actor that was more famous for his voice than his face. In fact, along with Bing Crosby and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, he was one of the most distinctive voices on American radio. Born in England but moving to the states when he was only 4, it didn’t take long for him to develop his voice. By the age of 17, he was already working in radio. During the ’30s and ’40s, you could hear Tremayne’s voice on as many as 45 shows a week. He also appeared in countless TV shows over his career, from soap operas to westerns to thrillers and everything in between, including the role as the Mentor in the TV show Shazam!
But cult movie fans will recognize him for his roles in films like War of the Worlds (1956), The Monolith Monsters (1957), The Monster of Piedras Blancas (1959), and The Angry Red Planet (1959). For real fans of the cheesy classics, he also appeared in The Slime People (1963) and in Larry Buchanan’s Creature of Destruction (1967), and the killer snake movie Holy Wednesday aka Snakes (1974).
With a very distinct voice, Tremayne will always be remembered to cult film fans like us, always giving it all, never winking at the camera, and always entertaining the audience.
Born Nov. 4th, 1920 – Died Apr. 13th, 1995
While Thurman had appearances in notable films like Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or Bogdanovich’s The Last Picture Show (1971), as well as Hollywood films like Places in the Heart (1984) and Silverado (1985), he really is more known to cult fans that love films that are more off the beaten path. Thurman appeared in films like Creature from Black Lake (1976), The Evictors (1979) and the cult title Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986). But digging even deeper into the cult history, Thurman also appeared in over a dozen films of Texas filmmaker Larry Buchanan, most notably in titles as The Eye Creatures (1965), Curse of the Swamp Creature (1965), Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966), Mars Needs Women (1967), and It’s Alive (1969).
Now the thing about Thurman that is memorable were his performances. Was he Oscar winning caliber? Not even close. But more importantly, he was always enjoyable to watch on screen. When I see his name in the title, I know that he is going to try his best and presenting a interesting character on screen, and usually does. Thurman is one of these actors that truly deserves to be remembered since most people are not even familiar with the movies that he’s in, let alone the actor himself. So the next time you’re watching a low budget film that might have been made in Texas, keep an eye out for this large man, most likely with southern drawl to his speech. Most likely, that will be Bill Thurman.
Texas filmmaker Larry Buchanan has always had a special place in my film fan’s heart. Making titles with very little money, he still managed to create something that I’ve always found entertainment in, even if for the wrong reasons. He gave us titles like The Eye Creatures, In the Year 2889, Zontar: The Thing from Venus, The Naked Witch, The Loch Ness Horror, and of course, Mars Needs Women, along with so many others. His budgets tended to be so low, a mere fraction of what Roger Corman was getting to make his low budget features. But Buchanan still go them made, and usually turned a pretty decent profit. Granted, most of them won’t be remembered for being anything but a turkey, but hey…at least they are being remembered, right?
Years ago, I was lucky enough to score a hardcover copy of his autobiography It Came From Hunger: Tales of a Cinema Schlockmeister, originally published by McFarland in 1996. If I didn’t love his work then, I surely did after reading this wonderful and insightful book. It does give a lot of information on how he got started in the business and how he managed to continue it in throughout his career, even when he had little or no money to make a picture. The stories within these pages, such as what happened to his very first feature film, are so compelling and fantastic, really giving an insight to this man who just loved making movies.
This book has been long out-of-print and tends to go for big bucks on the secondary market. But now, you can get your own paperback edition of this book for only $9.99! Even at triple the price, this book is a must for independent filmmakers, as well as anybody who loves these kind of films.
You can read my review of this book by clicking HERE.
So do yourself a favor and head over to Amazon to order your copy today. I promise you that you will just love this one. And if not, then you’re only out $10!
Born Jan. 31st, 1923 – Died Dec. 2nd, 2004
Buchanan holds a special place in my heart. Not the greatest filmmaker out there, or even close. But there is just something special about him and his films that hold my admiration. Many people thing that Roger Corman is king of the low budget filmmaking, but they have never heard of Buchanan. He was based in Texas and was making films at a fraction of the cost Corman was getting. And while his films may not have been “good” films, they usually turned a profit, so that means he really was a successful filmmaker. One of his first films, The Naked Witch (1961) was made for only $8,000 and made $80,000 the first month it was release. Not a bad investment.
He was hired by AIP to direct some remakes of four of their movies for the growing TV market. Again, with a considerable lower budget and only one name actor, he cranked them out in no time flat. Lucky for fans like me, a good number of his films are available on DVD, and one of them usually finds its way in my annual Turkey-Day marathon. As we said, they might not be good films, but they are entertaining.
Here are some of Buchanan’s titles to seek out: The Eye Creatures (1965), Zontar: The Thing from Venus (1966), Curse of the Swamp Creature (1966), Mars Needs Women (1967), Creature of Destruction (1967), plus many more. It may take a couple of viewings to really understand this guy, but if you are a fan of low budget drive-in style films, then you might find some enjoyment out of these.