(1959) Directed by Monte Hellman Starring Michael Forest, Sheila Carol, Frank Wolfe, Wally Campo, Chris Robinson
I’m a sucker for monster movies from the ‘50s, and even more so when the creature is like something we’ve never seen before. Nothing against all the vampires and werewolves out there, but it is always refreshing to see something new and unique show up on the screen, showing how creative the filmmakers could be, especially with little or no money. That alone would be enough of a reason to watch this film. The fact that is actually decent story, well-acted, and well shot, is just bonus points. It’s a real shame that while a ton of the ‘50s monster flicks get remembered and discussed over and over, this one seems to be forgotten or at least not mentioned too often. Which is a damn shame, and why I decided I needed get a review of it posted now!
On October 26th, this new documentary on one of the greatest icons of the horror genre will be available on Digital and On Demand from Shout! Studios. You’ll get to hear from names like Guillermo del Toro, John Landis, Joe Dante, Christopher Plummer, Ron Perlman, Peter Bogdanovich, Roger Corman, Christopher Frayling, and many, many more, all in honor of this great man. Check out the trailer below and mark your calendar for the 26th!
As this year goes on, we continue to lose more and more of some iconic faces in our movie world. You couldn’t grow up in the ’70s and ’80s and not recognize John Saxon’s face, mainly because he appeared in so many cult features over the decades. It didn’t matter if you were into the Italian giallo (Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much, 1963 & Dario Argento’s Tenebre, 1984), schlocky sci-fi films (Blood Beast from Outer Space, 1965 & Queen of Blood, 1966), martial arts film (Enter the Dragon, 1973), or the countless exploitation titles he appeared in, you would see his face in there somewhere. Not to mention appearing as a cop in more than a few of these films, like Blood Beach (1980), the Nightmare on Elm Street films, and even Nightmare Beach (1989).
We had the opportunity to meet him while at the Flashback Weekend back in 2007 where his table was set up right next to ours. So we were chatting throughout the weekend and he was such a nice guy. So even though the internet has already flooded with tributes and announcements of his passing, I wanted to add my condolences as well. No matter what the film was, even lesser quality productions like Blood Salvage (1990) or Hellmaster (1992), he always delivered a strong performance. His last appearance in a horror title was with his friend Dario Argento in Pelts (2006), in his episode for the second season of The Masters of Horror.
Knowing that his work in all these wonderful films will keep his memory alive and well for generations to come. And that really is all that we can ask in life, to be remembered fondly. And Mr. Saxon, you definitely will. Our thoughts go out to his friends and family in this difficult time.
Hazel Court Born Feb. 10th, 1926 – Died April 15th, 2008
While the gorgeous Hazel Court really got horror fan’s attention when she starred opposite of Peter Cushing in Hammer’s Curse of Frankenstein (1957), she had already appeared in couple of horror titles, such as Ghost Ship (1952) and Devil Girl from Mars (1954). But it was Curse that made her known as an early Scream Queen.
She would appear in Hammer’s The Man Who Could Cheat Death in 1959, in the underrated film Doctor Blood’s Coffin in 1961, before hitting it big with Roger Corman fans in three of his Poe films, Premature Burial (1962), The Raven (1963), and The Masque of the Red Death (1964), where she got to work with other horror icons like Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, and Peter Lorre.
Not only very appealing to the eyes, Court was a fine actress that could play the villainess just as easily as the heroine. In 2008, she released her autobiography entitled Hazel Court: Horror Queen.
I love documentaries on the horror / sci-fi genres, especially when you get to hear from the people that were directly involved with them. There are ALWAYS great stories that we usually never get to hear unless you catch one of them at a convention, or maybe an extra on DVD or Blu-ray. So when I first heard of this new 3-disc documentary called Monster! Martians! Mad Scientists! Horror in the Atomic Age!, it had my interests. When I discovered the price was only $15, I did have some doubts because it was so cheap, especially for 3 discs, but I figured at that price, it was worth taking the chance.
I’m glad I did!
The 3 discs are divided into time frame categories. The first one, entitled The Atomic Age, starts in the early ’50s and gives us a look back at that time and the films that were coming out. While this is about the movies, we get to hear and understand what was going on at that time period, with the constant threat of atomic destruction hovering over their heads, and how that effected the movies. The second disc, entitled A World Gone Mad, covers the second half of the ’50s with the big-bug movies, alien invasions, 3-D movies, and more. The last disc, called Fade to Red, covers the early ’60s and how times were changing, due to the Vietnam War, the Civil unrest, and how the films were reflecting that with more realistic gore and terror.Continue reading →
For those book lovers in your life, here are more than a few gift ideas for the upcoming holidays, or just because you want to support the print industry! I know each and every one of these titles will be added to my own personal library in the very near future! But these are a few that we’ve recently come across that sound pretty amazing.
Darkening the Italian Screen: Interviews with Genre and Exploitation Directors Who Debuted in the 1950s and 1960s by Eugenio Ercolani is a collection of interviews with names that might not be as familiar with most fans, but yet have had a huge impact on the Italian exploitation cinema. There are some of the usual suspects like actor George Hilton and director Sergio Martino, but then we’ll also get to hear from the likes of Uberto Lenzi, Alberto De Martino, Enzo G. Castellari, Franco Rossetti, among others. I can’t wait to hear some of their stories and tales from the trenches of getting some of their films made and released.Continue reading →
House of Usher Released by Intrada 15 tracks with a total running time of 1:02:39 min. Music composed and conducted by Les Baxter
Les Baxter has made so many great scores to so many great movies, it really hard to comprehend. Just look at all the work he did for Roger Corman and AIP alone, not to mention all the other genre titles he scored, and see that it is very impressive. There were quite a few Italian pictures that AIP acquired for US distribution that Baxter was hired to re-score. So if you’re a fan of AIP and Corman’s work, then you’ve heard his work… several times I would guess.Continue reading →
Wow. This one stings. Whether you grew up watching the early black and white classics from Roger Corman or the Joe Dante flicks from the ’80s and ’90s, you knew who Dick Miller was. Even if he was in the smallest of parts, when he appeared on screen, it was usually followed by “Hey! It’s Dick Miller!”
Yesterday, Miller passed away at the age of 90 years old. He had close to 200 screen credits, starting way back in 1954, in Roger Corman’s Apache Woman, as an Indian named Tall Tree, even though he appeared as other characters in the film as well. This started a long time relationship with Corman. The following year, Miller appeared in his first genre picture, Corman’s It Conquered the World with Lee Van Cleef, Peter Graves, and Beverly Garland. He would stay with Corman’s company for many more productions, such as Not of this Earth (1957), Bucket of Blood (1959), The Terror (1963) and so many more. In the ’80s, he was a constant regular in pretty much anything Joe Dante directed, such as The Howling (1981).
Miller could have the smallest of roles, sometimes in just one little scene, but he would make an impact that fans would remember. And even though he has now left us, remember that he has also left us a treasure trove of wonderful memories that have been captured on film, for us to enjoy and to continue to enjoy for generations to come. Dick Miller was at the very first horror convention I ever attended, back in 1988. He was a legend then, and 30 years later, he still is one. And in another 30 years, he still will be a legend. Actually even more…he’s freakin’ Dick Miller!
Our thoughts go out to his friends and family during this difficult time.
Les Baxter Born March 14th, 1922 – Died January. 15th, 1996
Baxter was a composer that started in the film business in the early ’50s cranking out score after score in record time. In his career, he has score more than 120 films, with 15 titles in 1957 alone! He worked in many different genres, but for us horror fans, we remember him from his work that he did for AIP, especially the Roger Corman / Edgar Allan Poe films. He also re-scored a lot of foreign films that were being picked up and released here in the states, such as Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960) and Black Sabbath (1963), or even titles like Reptilicus (1961)
Baxter started his musical career at a very young age, learning the piano at the age of 5. In his early 20’s, he joined Mel Torme’s band, worked on radio shows including Bob Hope’s show, and even had a hit record in the 50’s.
But it is for his film scores that I learned of his name. Since these movies will always live on for fans like us, so will his music. Baxter always gave us something different and unique that always highlighted the film even more.
Gods of Grindhouse BearManor Media, 2013. 169 pages. Edited by Andrew J. Rausch
I know everyone out there knows the name of Roger Corman. But what about Ted V. Mikels? Or Ray Dennis Steckler, Jack Hill, or Bill Rebane? These gentlemen, plus a few more, are the names covered in this very important book. The guys are from the filmmaking industry that I feel are much more important than the likes of Michael Bay. Why? Simple. There movies are something you will remember and will stand the test of time. Each generation will discover and be entertained by them. Without the talented craftsmen discussed in this volume, there would be no Quentin Tarentino. So while their movies may be the jest of places like MST3K, that doesn’t take away from what their films are about, as well as the people that struggled to get them made and distributed.
I know I preach over and over on this site about how important it is to know your history when it comes to the genres, but I wouldn’t keep saying it if I really didn’t believe it. So many younger filmmakers, such as the previous mentioned Tarantino, grew up watching the films from these guys, being inspired to make their own mark with their films. So yes, it is VERY important to know these guys and their work. And this book is a great way to start.