Category Archives: Science Fiction

Movies and the like that explore the possible.

Island Claws

Also Called:
Night of the Claw

Giant Claws
Date:
1980
Stars:
Robert Lansing

Steve Hanks

Nita Talbot

Writers:

Jack Cowden

Ricou Browning.

Director:
Hernan Cardenas
WRC Score:

 2.5 points

Island Claws tells the sordid tale of a Florida island catching a bad case of crabs.  As in the ocean dwelling Crustaceans coming out of the water and seeking human flesh.

As well as growing to a preposterous sizes.

As is their wont.

What to say about Island Claws?  Lemme noodle that a moment.

Sometimes, you just really want to like things.  Yeah.  Yeah, That’s a start.

This marks the third draft of this review.  As I finished ahead of schedule, that’s not a bad thing.  Gave me time to think about the flick a little more, try to decide if this is where I want to stand on the matter.

My first impression was that this was almost a good movie.  The acting seemed good to me, I made snide remarks about direction, this, that, and the other.  A fair review, I thought.

Only it doesn’t quite hold water.

Island Claws, on further reflection, probably should be my go to standard for what a mediocre flick looks like.  It doesn’t hit the mark enough to be good, but it doesn’t miss enough to be bad.

There’s something missing about the acting.  The performers are going at it, and I don’t think that they’re really bad.  Professional might be the right word for it, at least among the more seasoned faces there.  But even the newer ones don’t seem as terrible as they could be.

That’s a really nasty sentence I just wrote there.  Still think its true.

Maybe it’s the fault of Director Cardenas.  Some of the scenes have the same feel to it:  Professional but not passionate.  Maybe it’s just me.  Yet the crabs never looked threatening.  When they “attacked”, it looked like the victims were overreacting to the situation.

With the Giant Crab, which I adore, there’s a stillness to it that can’t be ignored.   Best part of the flick happens when it shows up, but I’m a Giant Monster fan.  Your own mileage may vary.

As for the story…  And here I hesitate.

See, there are aspects I like  For instance, the film seems to be hinting towards radiation causing the harm (or maybe toxic waste, I can’t quite remember which (another damning statement, I know)).  Yet all it does.  Hint.  There’s no confrontation with authorities, no real finger pointing.  Just enough evidence to point that way.

Yet the script has issues.  It feels fragmentary, like the writers didn’t know what it was supposed to be (or got entirely too many notes on the matter.)  Is it a story about a small town’s troubles?  A Birds type story about a crab invasion?  A giant monster movie?  It goes along all three tracks for a time, to no great effect.

This is typical low budget film making, but instead of being disjointed there is a narrative flow there.  One point follows the next, almost smooth.

Except plot points tend to float loose and drift away into the distance.  The young lead has a hidden connection to his new love interest?  Mentioned  to him once then gone.  Said love interest is attacked by crabs?  Investigate, find out its true, then apparently tell absolutely no one.  Discover evidence of a giant monster crab on the island?  Hey, that’s neat, let’s tell only one person, then go out to eat where our friends might be attacked.

It’s very, very frustrating.  The movie had promise.

So now that I’m done crabbing about the film (I pun claws I love), how does the whole thing score?

As I said on the onset, Island Claws is a mediocre flick (1 point).  It could have been worse, but oh, could it have been better.  It’s got a little something that makes me fond of it (1.5 points).  It’s probably that final battle at the end.  If the whole flick had hit that mark throughout, it might have been something special.

Oh well.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Advertisements

Gojira (1984)

Also Called:
The Return of Godzilla

Godzilla (1985)
Date:
1984
Stars:
Ken Tanaka

Yasuko Sawaguchi

Yôsuke Natsuki

Writers:

Hideichi Nagahara

Director:
Koji Hashimoto
WRC Score:
2.5/4

An erupting volcano brings about the return of  Gojira in this sequel to the 1954 classic.  Or rather the first appearance of a new Godzilla, as the original…

But that would be a spoiler, wouldn’t it?

This film is truly a product of its age, and I mean that above and beyond the references to the Cold War scattered about the film.  As it comes nine years after the last of the original series of Godzilla films, it marked a step up in special effects and a step away in story telling.  Thus we get a monster with a more mobile face (as well as other nifty touches here and there) abetted by a story that tries to reclaim the seriousness of the first film.

To a degree, it works.  This has the best story in years, the protagonists never become irrelevant to the action, and while there are howlers (the biggest of which being spoilers for the film and thus off-limits here) there is nothing that can’t be cheerfully ignored if you are in the frame of mind to do so.

That said, Gojira really, really should have been better than this.

It’s nice we have scenes where Godzilla snarls and where we can see his chest rise and fall.  Really it is. You know what else would have been nice?  Is if they could have had his eyes look somewhere other than up into space.  Like he was aware of his environment, instead of a movable prop.

There’s continuity issues here and there.  One character starts the film all banged up, only to appear in what seems like merely the next day completely better.  Calls for a city evacuation seem completely unheard.  And so on and so forth.

The really damning thing, though, is that the characters in Gojira are so very, very dull.  The pretty Yasuko Sawaguchi is especially plank like.  Even Godzilla is dull.  There are moments where he just stands there, like he’s waiting for his cue.  The movable prop thing, again.

Right or wrong, I’m inclined to blame director Koji Hashimoto on this.  There really should be something there that’s missing.  Even the worst of the earlier Godzilla had more life-like portrays than on display here.

So with all that’s good and bad here, I’d say Gojira just about ekes out a mediocre level rating (1 point).  I’m not going rush out and rewatch it any time soon (unless I do a Whale review for this site, which is a possibility), but I can’t say I didn’t like what I saw (1.5 point).  Maybe I’m just too easy to please, but I did have fun with this.  And in the end, that’s what counts.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Quatermass and the Pit

Also Called:
Five Million Years to Earth
Date:
1967
Stars:
James Donald

Andrew Keir

Barbra Shelly
Writer:
Nigel Kneale
Director:
Roy Scott Baker
WRC Score:
4/4

(-_-)b

Quatermass and the Pit (also known as Five Million Years to Earth) tells the tale of a scientific discovery found during construction of a subway.  What scientists learn there promises to change the way we think about Humanity.  Worse, it might change the way Humanity thinks, period.

This is quite possible the best film Hammer Studio ever produced, and I don’t say that lightly.  Written by Sci Fi great Nigel Kneale, it has great ideas and a great forward momentum that is never bogged down.  Helping the cause are excellent actors such as Julian Glover, Hammer regular Barbra Shelly, and Andrew Keir as the titular Quatermass (which I will forever misspell as Quartermass for some reason.)

With those praises passed out, there are a few nagging problems, such a few stereotypical characters (stuffy, unimaginative military leader, as an example.)  Then there is a key scene that’s clearly played out by stiff miniatures.  But that last can be set aside for the time period.

What matters is that this is a great movie (2 points), highly influential in Science Fiction and in Horror.  I love it to death (2 points) and it comes highly Recommended.

Actually, all the Quatermass films come recommended.  And if you can lay hands on During Barty’s Party, an episode of Kneale’s Beasts series, you won’t regret it.

Score: 4 points out of a possible 4 (-_-)b

 

Godmonster of Indian Flats

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1973
Stars:
Christopher Brooks
Stuart Lancaster
E. Kerrigan Prescott
Writer:
Fredric Hobbs
Director:
Fredric Hobbs
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on March 8, 2010

From the moment I heard of Godmonster of Indian Flats (here after called Godmonster) I knew I had to see it. A movie about a Giant Mutant Sheep? Oh God, it had to be a sight to see!

I even came close to buying it one day.  Had the DVD in my hands. And then slipped it back on the shelf.

Always wondered if that was a mistake. Always doubted the wisdom of that choice.

Then I rented the movie from Netflix and found out I hadn’t wasted my money.  For once.

Of course, I wrote a review of the film, and with that thought about it no more.

Until I decided to reboot my site.  To rework and sort of condense things.

Boy, do I wish I had that disk now.

No, not really.

On the following pages waits my viewing of the film.  Back in the day (as now) I wrote it while watching the film for the full effect of the experience.  Six years on I’ve done a wee bit of pruning to streamline things.  A practice I find a little questionable (I sure as hell couldn’t make myself do this for a lot of the reviews I’ve rebooted) but what can you do?

My big fear is that I make this sound better than it is.  I sure as hell couldn’t make it any worse.

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon

Also Called:

War of the Monsters

Gamera v. Barugon

Date:
1966
Voices:
Kôjirô Hongô

Kyôko Enami

Yûzô Hayakawa
Writer:
Niisan Takahashi
Director:
Shigeo Tanaka
WRC Score:
3/4

Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon (also known as Gamera v. Barugon as well as a few other titles) recounts Gamera’s return to the world stage as a threat to Humanity (yes, he’s a threat and a bad turtle to boot, damn it.)  This time, however, he has a rival, as a band of treasure hunters disturb an ancient monster known as Barugon.

This, the second in the first series of Gamera flicks, is probably the best of the bunch.  Which isn’t saying much as that means it’s only slightly less silly than the previous flick, and the ones that follow tend towards barrel scrapping.  We’re going to say about a one point on this, and that’s probably being generous.

That said, this is probably my favorite of the first series.  (2 points) There’s a dark streak here that the other films don’t have, and I think it adds a certain gravity to the proceedings.  At least as much as a film featuring a fire-breathing flying turtle can have.

As an added bonus, there are no squeaking kids proclaiming those obvious malign Gamera a “good” Monster.  So it’s got that going for it,

If you have to see one Gamera movie, let me recommend Gamera: Guardian of the Universe.  However, if you must see one of these early, shall we say less polished, flicks (and more power to you), bear in mind that this film spoils the ending of Giant Monster Gamera, an ending so goofy that frankly deserves to be seen unspoiled.

The Giant Gila Monster

Date:
1959
Stars:
Don Sullivan

fred Graham

Lisa Simone
Writer:
Jay Simms
Director:
Ray Kellogg
WRC Score:
2/4

This is the story about a young man, struggling to make his way in the world.  Working as a mechanic, he saves up money to build his hot rod and care for his ailing sister.  All the time he’s threatened by the richest man in town.

Oh, and there’s a giant gila monster crawling around killing people.  But who wants to see that, in a movie called The Giant Gila Monster?

Well, me.

And perhaps everyone who paid good money to see this flick.

I mean, there are nice long stretches of no monster action here.  And when you do see the monster (a rather bored looking beaded lizard) there hardly seems any connection to the people around it.  It’s not totally removed from the plot, but sometimes it sure felt that way.

There’s also a disconnect in places, between the tragedy the monster causes and Our Hero’s busy life.  Sets a bit wrong with me, especially towards the climax.

Outside of that, it’s about as well put together as you can expect a B-movie to be.  The acting ranges from professional to awful (sadly the female lead hits the latter category).  What effects it has are quite obvious in realization (miniatures, miniatures, and the occasional monster gloved hand).  I hesitate to put it in the mediocre end of things; call it one of the better Bad Movies (0.5 points).

For all my carping, I rather enjoyed the flick (1.5 points).  Maybe not enough to watch again (though I need to if I’m doing a longer review) but enough to say I wasn’t sorry I wasted my time.

Monster

Date:

1980

Stars:

James Mitchum

John Carradine

Philip Carey

Writers:

Kenneth Hartford

Walter Roeber Schmidt

Garland Scott

Herbert L. Strock

Directors:

Kenneth Hartford

[Uncredited]

Herbert L. Strock

WRC Score:

2/4

Note: 

First posted in a
different form on
October 10, 2014

Just as you thought it was safe to go into the water, something comes out of the water to go get you.  Is it an animal? A shark? All devil?

A monstroid?

No, it’s Monster, one of the worst giant monster movies of all time.  And by worst I mean gloriously, gloriously bad.

We got all the symptoms.  We got questionable acting.  We got padding a plenty.  We got a supposed director who may or may not have ever been present on set.  Most telling of all, we’ve got John Carradine in an extended cameo as a local priest.

And the monster F/X!  Cheesy, goofy goodness.

All in all a bad flick. (0.5 point).  A little let down there’s no small town stomping good, but I’m quite fond of Monster for some reason (1.5 points).

Don’t… don’t look at me like that. I’m ashamed enough as is.

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

The Amazing Transparent Man

Date:
1960
Stars:
Marguerite Chapman Douglas Kennedy James Griffith

Writer:
Jack Lewis
Director:
Edgar G. Ulmer
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 3, 2014

An escaped con discovers his benefactors expect him to pay a price for his freedom.  The cost?  To occasionally become The Amazing Transparent Man!

Hey, it’s our old buddy Edgar G Ulmer!  It’s been quite the span of time for him between this film and our previous guest, The Black Cat.   And a heaping span of quality, too, come to that.

Though, honestly it’s not remotely fair to compare the two films.  He doesn’t have two titans on set, after all.

Still, the actors he does have here on The Amazing Transparent Man are decent enough, and Ulmer is still a good director.  Where things fall down (as is too often the case) is with the script.  Too many plot holes lets the deal fall down in a major way.

So instead of another classic, we have a low point.  Not a scraping of barrel bottoms–nowhere near–but not a good film either.  (1 point).

Bear in mind as you read this is that after enjoying watching The Amazing Transparent Man, I found it less worthy on reflection (1 point). You might have a better go at it, so if you don’t have anything better to do with your time, give it a gander.

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

Killers from Space

Date:
1954
Stars:
Peter Graves

James Seay

Steve Pendleton
Writer:
William Raynor
Director:
W. Lee Wilder
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
July 27, 2012

A plane crash with two occupants turns up only one body.  Hours later, the second occupant turns up alive and well, save for two new scars.  He doesn’t know how he got them, any more than how he survived the crash.  But the Killers From Space know… Everything.

Muahahahahaha!

Or words to that effect.

Anyway.

There is a kernel of an excellent movie buried in Killers From Space. Somewhere.  You might have to do a lot of digging, maybe bring out a pick ax or some dynamite, but it’s there.  Beneath the stock footage, the padding, and a whole bunch of scenes that tell rather than show.  It’s there, damn it.

Okay, so Killers From Space is a bad movie. (0.5 points)  And honestly, i don’t know why I’m going to such length to defend it, as I can’t honestly say I liked the movie (1 point),

However, I did have my fun riffing on it while I watched it. So it’s might not be a total loss.  Either for me, or for you.

Overall Score: 1.5 total point out of a possible 4

Taekoesu Yonggary

Also Called:

Yongary, Monster
from the Deep

Date:
1967
Stars:
Yeong-il Oh

Jeong-im Nam

Sun-jae Lee
Writers:
Ki-duk Kim

Yun-sung Seo
Director:
Ki-duk Kim
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
April 7, 2012

A nuclear test disturbs a mammoth fire breath horror that comes charging into the nearest city and…

Sure. Taekoesu Yonggary is the standard Giant Monster movie deal.  Think more Gamera than Godzilla (despite appearances) and you have a fair grasp of the flick.  Except I find the kid here far less irritating than in Gamera, but that’s an personal preference.

A rare toe dip into the sub-genre by South Korea, Taekoesu Yonggary doesn’t quite make the grade.  It has F/X that range from adequate compared its contemporaries to the downright embarrassing.  The script, too, doesn’t do it any favors.  All in all, I’m afraid it’s a bad film (0.5 points).

That said, I adore this movie.  Super fun.  I’d watch it again in a heartbeat.  (2 points)  Well worth checking out if you’re a fan of giant monsters or bad movies in general.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

The Food of the Gods

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1976
Stars:
Marjoe Gortnor

Pamela Franklin

Ralph Meeker
Writer:
Bert I, Gordon
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
3/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 15, 2010

2016-link-box-002

H. G. Wells’ Food of the Gods, or, rather The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, is a satirical novel detailing the invention of a substance that causes gigantism in various organisms, including, in time, Humans. It concludes with the start of a great war between the giants and the regular folk, one the giants seem destined to win.

Which isn’t even hinted at during the course of this flick.

In fact, if anything part of the book could be honestly said to be adapted here, it’s the first part, where a village finds itself forced to deal with giant wasps, chickens, and yes, rats. Of which little actually seemed to interest Wells.

And all of which interest Bert I. Gordon, King of the Superimposed Giant Monsters.

On the matter of if this was a good thing or not, I will let the reader decide for themselves. Me, I’ve never been able to finish the book. The movie, however, I love dearly, despite its problems.

And what problems are these? Well, turn the page and we’ll start the ball rolling.  A farm house in the woods has become the home of something… horrible…

Empire of the Ants

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1977
Stars:
Joan Collins

Robert Lansing

John Davie Carson
Writer:
Jack Turley
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
2/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 9, 2010

It’s easy to mistake Bert I. Gordon as a one note man, filming variations on the same story for the entirety of his career. This neither accurate or fair: Only nine of his twenty-four movies dealt with over-sized animals and/or people threatening the world. It’s just that those nine tend to loom large, as it were, over the rest of his output.

Empire of the Ants marks the last time Gordon went to this particular well, as well as the last time he–now how to put this kindly?–“adapted” a story by H. G. Wells. As the poster implies, it deals with over-sized ants. It’s also the only film that dares stand antenna to antenna to the Sci Fi classic Them!.

How does it do in comparison to either the Wells story or Them!? Well, let’s just say that Gordon should have stuck with Giant Grasshopper movies and leave it at that.

I loved this movie as a kid. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Which only proves I never had much taste in movies.

As an adult, I haven’t had much use for it. I get kind of riled up towards the end of this particular review over certain aspects of the flick, but I don’t hate the movie.

Really.

I’ll prove it to you. Turn to the next page and see for yourself.

Food of the Gods

Date:
1976
Stars:
Marjoe Gortnor

Pamela Franklin

Ralph Meeker
Writer:
Bert I, Gordon
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
3/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 15, 2010

2016-link-box-002

A restful retreat for two friends turns to tragedy as one of them dies of massive poisoning. Meanwhile a remote farmhouse becomes a place of horrors as chickens grow to enormous size. But these are but the least of the threat brought on by the Food of the Gods.

This is one of the Giant Monster movies Bert I. Gordon is best known for, featuring not one, not two, but three types of giant creatures to plague the protagonists.  It stems from the first part of H. G. Well’s classic novel of the same name, but stems is all you can say about it.

In comparison to the Giant Monster Movies that came out of the Seventies, Food of the Gods isn’t that bad.  This isn’t saying very much as its competition includes such winners as The Giant Spider Invasion and Empire of the Ants.  It’s an average sort of creature feature, in other words.  No better or worse for that (1 point).  In fact, the F/X works tend to be rather good for the period.

Though sadly we’ll becoming back to that point before long.

Personally, I love Food of the Gods.  The story, which does have its problems, doesn’t bother me and it has Pamela Franklin, one of my all time favorite actresses, in it.  I have fun watching it and even as I write this I’m wishing I could see it again (2 points)

There is, though, one inescapable problem.  There’s some very obvious violence against the rats in the F/X.  While it bothers me to see, it doesn’t affect my over all enjoyment of the film.  However I can see where it might someone else’s.  Thus I’m filing Food of the Gods as NOT RECOMMENDED.

Overall Score: 3 (-) total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Empire of the Ants

Date:
1977
Stars:
Joan Collins

Robert Lansing

John Davie Carson
Writer:
Jack Turley
Director:
Bert I. Gordon
WRC Score:
2/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 9, 2010

2016-link-box-002

Empire of the Ants tells a cautionary tale about trying to run a land development scam.  Namely make sure there are no giant ants living near by.  Otherwise you and your marks might be forced into a cross-country flight.

Bert I. Gordon is famous for his Giant Monster movies.  Or maybe infamous is the better word for it.  In any case, this is (currently) the last one he made.  And most likely the worst of the bunch.

Oh, the plot moves fluidly from place to place and the characters don’t grate nearly as bad as they could.  But that doesn’t mean any of them are good.  About the best you can say is that the acting is competent and the F/X could be worse.  Some how.

Just don’t let anyone with any knowledge of ants near it.

Comparing it to most classic Giant Monster Movies, this one’s terrible. However, comparing it to other Giant Monster Movies of the Seventies, it’s a decent enough flick. What does that mean?  I dunno.  I just got done ripping into it for the Whale review and am feeling charitable?

Probably.

As I didn’t find myself hating or disliking it (1 point) I feel inclined to grant it an on the cusp mediocre (1 point). It really, really could have been worse.

That said, I’m sliding a NOT RECOMMENDED on at the end, cause I’m certain other viewers won’t feel as warmly to it as I do.

Overall Score: 2 points out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Godmonster of Indian Flats

Date:
1973
Stars:
Christopher Brooks
Stuart Lancaster
E. Kerrigan Prescott
Writer:
Fredric Hobbs
Director:
Fredric Hobbs
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on March 8, 2010

2016-link box-001

Godmonster of Indian Flats recounts  the various schemes and dirty dealings of a small town mayor.  And there’s a giant mutant sheep in there.  Somewhere.  I guess.

This is one of the great heart breaks of the B-movie game.  I mean, a giant mutant sheep!  On the rampage!  My God, that’s never been done before.

And for all the staying power Godmonster of Indian Flats has it might as well not have been done now.  It’s not good enough to entertain nor bad enough to linger as an unpleasant memory.  It just treads water in a sea of dullness that not even its frankly bizarre ending can rescue it from.  (1 point)

It’s been six years since I saw it for review, and if it wasn’t for the reboot I wouldn’t be thinking about it now.  Then I didn’t like it very much.  I’m not really desperate enough to seek it out to see if I changed my mind. (0.5 point).

Look, I know it sounds different, but the sheep hardly enters the picture.  If you’re looking for ewe madness, there are other, better movies out there.  Leave this one in its well-earned obscurity.

Overall Score: 1.5 point out of a possible 4

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1958
Stars:
Marshall Thompson
Shirley Patterson
Kim Spalding
Writer:
Jerome Bixby
Director:
Edward L. Cahn
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 20, 2012

Note: From here, the film will be referred to as just It!

It! is more known for its descendent that for any worth it has on its own. How’s that for a sentence full of it.

Up until 1979, It! was just one in a long list of Let’s-Go-To-Mars-Oh-Wait-Bad-Idea flicks. Oh, a good (if far from perfect) example of the sub-genre, don’t get me wrong. As we shall discuss later on, scriptwriter Jerome Bixby did a commendable job on the story, and this might have been a crown jewel in his career had his name not been attached to another… ah… err… good story.

That said, Mars was one of our nearest neighbors. Until the spoil sport scientists ruined things in the Sixties, it was a ripe place for invading intelligence to come from, or, more relevant to this discussion, intrepid explorers to head to and discover ancient and crumbling civilizations. From this period we get movies such as Angry Red Planet, Flight to Mars, Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

Hey, I never said they were all good movies, now did I?

Discovering just how lifeless Mars was killed the sub-genre and no doubt consigned It! with its fellows to the category of Might-Have-Been-Had-the-Universe-Been-Run-Right.

Only unlike its fellow films, It! had a different destiny. For in 1979 a little known flick called Alien came out and, due to its many similarities, It! moved up from mere footnote to predecessor to one of the most influential Science Fiction/Horror films of all time.

Just how influential It! actually was to the later film is a matter of conjecture. Whatever the truth of the matter, the mere hint of a connection no doubt sends many a viewer out to find it. I should know; I was one.

Turn the page and see if it warrants any or all praise it gets.

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira

Also Called:

King Kong v. Godzilla

Date:
1962
Stars:
Tadao Takashima

Kenji Shara

Yû Fujiki
Writers:
Shin’ichi Sekizawa

[American Version]

Bruce Howard

Paul Masob
Director:
Ishirô Honda
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on August 19, 2009

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira (also known as King Kong v. Godzilla) tells the tale of a pharmaceutical company out in search of a monster to help promote their product.  As they do so, a giant radioactive dinosaur you’ve probably never heard of before frees himself from his icy tomb and begins strolling across scenic Japan.  Are these two plots related?

It’s a distinct possibility.

Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is a step up from the previous installment, which isn’t saying too much.  This, though, is where the Godzilla series began its slide into silliness, with “comical” characters and the monsters behaving less like apocalyptic threats and more like clownish wrestlers.

I say this like it’s a bad thing.  It isn’t.  When the series hits its stride, such little details are quite entertaining.

That stride, sadly, begins in the next flick.  It’s not boring, it’s just a little mediocre bordering on bad film (1 point).

That doesn’t keep me from loving it to death (2 points). Kong!  Godzilla!  In a battle to the death!  Or until the film budget conks out.

While everyone should see at least one Godzilla flick (they’re good for you!) I’m not sure Kingu Kongu tai Gojira is one to recommend. Still, you could do much, much worse than this.

Overall Score: 3 points out of a possible 4

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Snow Creature

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1954
Stars:
Paul Langton

Leslie Denison

Teru Shimada
Writer:
Myles Wilder
Director:
W. Lee Wilder
WRC Score:
1.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 17, 2011

What does Frankenstein (1910), The Werewolf (1913), and The Snow Creature have in common?

Besides being all in black and white, I mean.

Well, all three of them happen to be firsts. They are, in order, the first Frankenstein movie, the first Werewolf movie, and the very first Yeti movie.

Okay, okay, there also movies you wouldn’t associate with one another on a bet unless you were desperate for an opening to a review. Must there always be such bitterness between us?

Silliness aside, The Snow Creature didn’t just kicked off not only a spate of similar films in the fifties. It also started an entire sub-genre of films dealing with the Yeti and his cousin Big Foot. This sub-genre is, sad to say not very well-regarded.

There is a reason for this: Yeti/Big Foot movies aren’t very good.

But that’s a discussion for another day. What about our feature film? As you can see above, this particular reviewer didn’t care for it that much. If his reasons valid?

Let’s turn the page and see.

Daikaijû Gamera

Opening Thoughts

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera is one of a whole slew of movies cashing in on the success of Gojira/Godzilla (1953). Like its fellow cash-ins. it really doesn’t hold a candle to what it copies.  That said, Gamera is the only Daikaijû to have a successful series of films, thus making him Big G’s only real rival.

The giant turtle has done well by himself in recent years, what with an excellent trilogy in the Nineties and the potential new series being tossed around in the wake of, again, Godzilla’s success.

While I can’t say I enjoy Gamera movies the same way I enjoy Godzilla movies, it’s always good to see him still in action.  Which sort of surprises me that I’m so down on this movie.  Oh, I don’t hate it, don’t get me wrong.  I just don’t really care if I see it again.

Perhaps the rest of this review might shed some light on this.  Or not, as the case might be.

First things first.  This write-up assumes a basic knowledge of Daikaijû Eiga. If you don’t have one (and asking what the hell Daikaijû Eiga is a good sign you don’t), a basic knowledge can be provided by headed over to my little essay on the subject. We won’t gossip about you while you’re there.

Well, not too much, any way.

Also, I wrote the following review based on watching the subtitled Japanese version of Daikaijû Gamera/Giant Monster Gamera. Specifically the translation released by a company called Neptune Media. Since that time another company picked up the title; thus there might be a difference in subtitles and overall flow of the story. This I mention only as a heads up; the differences should be minor.

On the next page we begin looking back at the so-called friend to children everywhere. Just how friendly was he, really?

It! The Terror From Beyond Space

Date:
1958
Stars:
Marshall Thompson
Shirley Patterson
Kim Spalding
Writer:
Jerome Bixby
Director:
Edward L. Cahn
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 20, 2012

2016-link-box-002

It! The Terror From Beyond Space  is the story of a rescue ship returning from the planet Mars.  They’ve just picked up the only survivor of the earlier expedition, who they intend to see to Earth for trial and execution.  Unfortunately for them, proof of his innocence has decided to stow away on their rocket.

So.  Alien on a spaceship heading to Earth, killing the crew.  Sounds a wee bit familiar, doesn’t it?  Well it should, as many think this an ancestors of the Sci Fi Classic Alien.

It! The Terror From Beyond Space is in it’s own right a classic.  Not that it’s problem free, mind.  Watching it, you’ll see several shocking lapses in logic and minor monster suit issues.  Outside that, though, the acting and direction are at least competent, and at a lean 69 minutes it doesn’t waste a lot of time.  All in all, it’s one of the better Hollywood Space Outings, especially considering the time period.

While more modern films definitely have it beat, don’t let that stop you from see in a good one from a simpler time (1.5 points). I’m rather fond of it myself (1.5 points), and will no doubt be revisiting it soon.

Total: 3 out of a possible 4 points

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Daikaijû Gamera

Also Called

Gammera the Invincible

Giant Monster Gamera

Gamera

Date:
1965
Stars:
Eiji Funakosi

Harumi Kiritachi

Yoshiro Uchida
Writer:
Nisan Takahasi
Director:
Noriaki Yuasa
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 14, 2009

2016-link box-001

Daikaijû Gamera (also known as Gammera the Invincible and Giant Monster Gamera ) tells the story of a giant monster turtle trying to make his way in the modern age.  This involves smashing down buildings and generally making a pest of himself.  Just like any monster would, when you think about it.

Of the Giant Monster set, only Gamera rivals Godzilla in terms of popularity.  This is no doubt due to it’s slouching over into kiddie territory almost from the get go.  That he is a rather unique looking creature didn’t hurt, either.

The trouble is that this flick is little more than a bad Godzilla clone (.5 points).  Too many plot contrivances happen for it own good.  The worst of which happen during the climax, though Gamera’s “final’ fate might be worth seeing just for the sheer mind blowing ludicrousness of it all.

Now as a rule, I’m the perfect audience for this type of flick.  From childhood on this have been one of my favorite subgenres.  And Gamera rated high back then.  Neck and neck with Godzilla.

With this film, though, I’m at a loss.  I don’t hate it–don’t get me wrong–but I don’t like it, either (1 point).  I can’t get my groove on with it.  I can’t flip that little switch in my head and just believe the way I can sometimes do with the older Godzilla films.  Sad to have lost that with such an old friend, but what can you do?

In the end, if you have nothing better to watch, this isn’t bad time killer. If, however, you can watch any Godzilla film, or, better still, the remake series starting with Gamera daikaijû kuchu kessen/Gamera: Guardian of the Universe, do that instead.

Overall Score: 1.5 total points out of a possible 4

This slideshow requires JavaScript.