Thursday, 22 February 2018

Universal 1955

Hey, the Creature is back! This is Revenge of the Creature.

We accomplish in ten minutes what the entire previous movie couldn't do, namely capture the creature. The creature is brought back and, like all strange beasts, put on display for profit. The scientist (male) and the scientist (female) join forces to study the creature, and the creature starts having eyes for the woman. The creature eventually breaks free, kidnaps the woman, and they chase after them, until they finally put it out of their misery.

One quick question: are we supposed to feel that the creature is the bad guy? 'Cos I'm on the side of the creature here. They kidnap him and take him to some weird place where he is put on display and prodded with electricity. Who can blame him when he finally snaps and breaks free (and when pushing the car out of the way it hits the camera)?

And then he's dead at the end, so that's the end of him... ?

(And, hey, a surprise early appearance by one Clint Eastwood!)

[END]

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Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Universal 1954B

Oooh, glorious colour! And impressive enough to be the MST3K movie. This is This Island Earth.

Cal Meacham is a hell of a guy and a hell of a scientist. He is saved from crash landing, and is given the instruction manual to his very own interociter. This leads to him being coopted into a group of scientists that are working on atomic power. Then while trying to escape, everything suddenly blows up and Cal and Ruth Adams are taken on board a space ship on the way to Metaluna. After arriving to Metaluna they visit the central station only to immediately turn around and leave, eventually making it back to earth.

Again... I'm not entirely clear on what the moral of this movie is. It isn't atomic power is bad because it's used to help ward off attacks. Nor is it atomic power is good, because Metaluna is all used up. There is mention of god, but this isn't an example of god being greater than science either. So... given they get to the planet only to turn and run, perhaps it's just a big "beware the aliens" even if they have more power than you.

It's definitely a pretty movie as they make a lot of the fact they have colour, but the plot doesn't bear a lot of scrutiny.

[END]

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Sunday, 18 February 2018

Universal 1954A

Back to a monster movie, but a new one. This is Creature from the Black Lagoon.

A random dig in Brazil uncovers a preserved claw hand and the leader takes off to get white guys to come and examine everything, while the Brazilians who are left behind are killed by a creature. The white guys do turn up and decide to head into the Black Lagoon. There they swim around for a bit before getting randomly attacked by the creature more than once and finally manage to run away.

Okay, props to Ricou Browning. He was the Gill Man, and basically told "hold your breath, get in the water, and swim around." The swimming scenes are largely well done, and he is stuck in a suit with no air tank and has to swim around behind a mask he can barely see through.

Richard Carlson is the lead white guy, and the leading lady is Julie Adams, who is forever associated with this movie. There are others, but they are either other pasty white guys, or non-white guys that are killed off.

Let's see if they can get any mileage out of this creature.

[END]

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Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Universal 1953

We jump from the horrors of man to the horrors from outer space. This time It Came from Outer Space.

An amateur astronomer (and his fiancee) sees a meteor crash, and when he investigates it he finds a spaceship that immediately gets buried so no-one believes him. After a while, he finds a supposed copy of another man he knows, but again there is no evidence. Then finally he meets up with more duplicates and then finds that the aliens are just trying to do their own thing and the whole 'land on earth' thing was a mistake. But there is a posse a-comin', so he has to stop them to give the aliens time to get away.

This is the same year as War of the Worlds, and I have no idea which came first, but we are getting the slew of space movies now. However in this case, this movie is an allegory for... I have no idea. The aliens don't really represent anything and don't really do anything and just want to leave. I guess it's an metaphor for 'stranger comes into town and then leaves', but that isn't really saying much about the human condition.

The focus of the movie is on John Putman, the astronomer, but he isn't really that interesting enough to keep the movie going. As such, this isn't one of the better space movies.

[END]

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Monday, 5 February 2018

Universal 1951

Okay, let's throw back to the 17th Century, and this Robert Louis Stevenson. And this is The Strange Door.

A rogue is drawn to a strange castle and goes through a door. What makes the door strange? It has no handle on the inside. Ooohhh! Although plenty of people are able to come and go, and there are plenty of passages all over the place, so the strange door isn't that impressive. Anyway, the uncle wanted the rogue to marry his niece and make her a miserable life. Unfortunately, the rogue isn't quite as rogueish as hoped, and they are doing the 'I hate you, but now I love you' relationship, and there's a servant who is on their side, so... it culminates with the pair of them and the woman's (pretending to be crazy) father in a room that is being crushed. Will the servant make it in time? Will he? WILL HE?

This actually gets rather gripping. There are moments when we repeatedly go through the same sets as attemping-to-escape scenes repeat, but it maintains momentum, and the actors... I'm not sure if I've seen them in other things, but Charles Laughton, William Cottrell, Michael Pate and of course Boris Karloff are great performers so more than keep interest.

It took me a while to get around to watching this, but it was worth the wait.

[END]

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Thursday, 1 February 2018

ALL HAIL

Last year I got into Nightvale. It's a podcast series about a radio station set in Nightvale. It's a comedy horror series, and I binge listened the lot of it.

So when I found out they were doing a live show in Wellington... well, I flipped and flopped and eventually decided... yep, I'll go!

This was "All Hail to the Glow Cloud". The Glow Cloud being a large cloud that hovers in Nightvale, drops dead animals, and is the president of the school committee. This is presented as a radio show in which various guests come in, and the whole thing is hosted by Cecil Baldwin.

And it's really funny and great, and you should get into it. Go binge listen, and you can buy copies of the live shows to listen to them yourself. Not quite the same as seeing the show and the various gestures and such, and get to see the weather live (you'll understand that when you listen to the show).

If it comes back, I'll say it's worth it to go. And definitely easy enough to listen to the free shows.

[END]

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Friday, 26 January 2018

Universal 1946B

Hey, wait a minute... I've seen this MST3K episode! This is The Brute Man.

College Jock likes girl, College Nerd tricks him into staying behind in the chem lab, Jock explodes chemicals in his face and goes on psychopathic rampage, how many times have we heard that tale? To be honest, a lot of this is generic. Hulking Figure goes around killing people and.. that's a large part that's it. He does meet a girl who is blind, she doesn't freak out, so he wants to help her, and this leads to his downfall.

I'm not sure how much this is familiar to me from the MST3K episode, but after watching all these movies so far, this isn't doing anything special. Like they knocked the script out over night. (Checks trivia, doesn't say.)

When they haven't done monster movies, they do tend to crime, but this one isn't that great. That said, I'm surprised MST3K hasn't hit on more of these movies.

[END]

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Thursday, 25 January 2018

Universal 1946A

Oh, something different with Wolfman... namely, Wolfwoman! This is She-Wolf of London.

June Lockhart, before she went into space, was in turn of the century London as part of the Allenby estate. While she was going to marry Barry, there are a spate of shewolf attacks in the park, and is she to blame? After lots of staking out the park, her sister realises there is something dubious going on, and the aunt tries to kill her to hide that the aunt is responsible.

See, this is different. The whole wolf-aspect is a complete mislead, and it's only because the audience is used to wolf movies that we think there is a wolf-woman around. Ha! Suck it! That's not what is going on at all!

...Nice!

I like this mislead. This is a refreshing take on the werewolf movie that I wish they would do more of this. We can only hope.

[END]

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Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Universal 1945

Oh dear, while the last one wasn't trying, this one is a complete mess. This is House of Dracula.

Dracula comes to a sanitarium in order to get cured of vampirism, and not at all to creep on the lead nurse. Then Lawrence "Wolfman" Talbot turns up. And after trying to kill himself, he and the doctor find Frankenstein's Monster. Dracula infects the doctor before being killed, vampire doctor then treats Wolfman and brings the monster back to life, and then it all crashes.

Basically there are about three too many plots trying to happen at once and none of them get serviced well (it doesn't help this is only an hour long movie). The idea of Dracula curing himself is interesting, and now we get you can transfuse vampirism, but it just is a minor track. The Wolfman is completely unneeded and is the same plotline as before, and the monster is so irrelevant it's terrible how badly that plotline gets inserted.

Frankly the most interesting part of the movie is the female Igor (Nina, played by Jane Adams), and nothing is done with that either.

Really, what a conflab of nothingness.

[END]

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Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Universal 1944C

Back to the invisible well(s), we have another variant one discovering invisibility formula. How does not everyone be invisible already? But this is The Invisible Man's Revenge.

Griffin is back from the asylum and hits up his friends for the money he was promised. Of course they say 'suck it', and he nearly is killed off. Fortunately, he doesn't die, but stumbles across a Man Scientist who is experimenting in invisibility and turns him invisible. Ha ha! Threatening the couple for a while, he then helps with a comedy scene before back to the danger. We find out that you can uninvisible yourself with a transfusion, and exit the mad scientist. He tries to get back in with the others, but needs more blood. However, the mad scientist's dog is a Good Doggo(tm).

This is just another variant on doing invisibility, without anything that exciting. It could have been anyone could have done this. Indeed, this movie has the credit "Suggest by H G Wells". As such, there isn't anything special that could distinguish this from another other movie they've done.

Eh. It's all right, but with the various cross-overs and such they've done recently, it could have been more.

[END]

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Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Welcome to the Jumanji!

Okay, this is the third movie really, but I don't know how many people acknowledge/are aware of/have seen the space one.

After a long time, four high school peoples get into detention and find a computer console and decide to play a game. Cut to them as characters doing things that are completely against their normal selves, and they undergo various character development while going through different game levels involving animals and comedic dying.

Jumanji has two things, one - a person being trapped in the game before, and two - the environment around them collapsing. This got one right.

The comedy is decent, and certainly got laughs from the audience I was with (but at least they weren't pulling out cell phones!). I enjoyed it, but felt it took too much time to get to the actual Jumanji part, with plenty of the same old school antics everyone else's does to sit through first. The actors get to send themselves up a bit, and Karen Gillan... does a not quite right American accent. And, hey, Rhys Darby!

So, yeah, decent enough to be enjoyable, while not needing a lot of deep thinking to get.

[END]

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Saturday, 6 January 2018

Universal 1944B

Another colour production, with another opera based story with a crazed opera lover... there's no Phantom, this is The Climax.

Dr. Hohner loves an opera singer so much he kills her. Ten years later, he hears someone with the same voice and falls instantly into psychotic control. The fiance is concerned when the singer can no longer sing, and it's only because of the dead singer's maid that the doctor is vanquished and the singer can sing!

I could recite the plot in a manner that is reminiscent of Phantom, but while there are elements in common, they are basically because it involves opera singing. Aside from that, this is a different take on the crazed madman in control. This time he manages to stop the singer singing instead of making it that only she can sing. And Boris Karloff is the villain, so he's always charming.

Looking at the trivia, they are basically reusing the Phantom sets... but with enough of a different take on the idea that it works.

[END]

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Friday, 5 January 2018

Universal 1944A

Even more cross over than before! With a minor adventure to start with! It's House of Frankenstein.

Frankenstein's... assistant's... brother is the main villain of this movie, and he even has his own Igor. They get out of a prison, and take over a travelling Caravan of Horrors that has Dracula's skeleton! After unleashing Dracula (who is killed off before a third of the movie is over), they end up at Castle Frankenstein and revive the Wolf Monster and Frankenstein's Monster. And from there it's largely a retread of what has happened before with Wolfy whining for death, and the Monster lying on the table, and... then things end.

The whole Dracula plot (as played by John Carradine!) is just the first part of the movie and can completely be removed without impacting anything, other than having a Dracula cameo. As it is, we get Wolf and Mons back, but nothing new is done with that.

I'm sure there's some deep trivia about how this came to be made, but it feels like "let's just toss this out while we can". It's more watchable than the last one, but not really anything that exciting.

[END]

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

Universal 1943C

This is one of the more misnamed movies. While there is a Dracula, there isn't really a Son of Dracula.

Man and woman in love, so woman marries vampire to get immortality so that she can immortalise the man and they can spend unlife together. Unfortunately the family friend spots that Alucard is Dracula backwards, and the man doesn't quite want the same life together, so it doesn't turn out all sweetness and light.

This movie just... dragged. A lot of scenes were just watching people go from point A to point B with no music underlying the scene, and then other long shots of people contemplating, and so on and so on. It's not until the last twenty minutes that anything really interesting happens. Now, the overall idea could be interesting, using the vampire as a tool to an end, but the movie hangs on Dracula too long.

And speaking of Dracula, there's no mention that this Dracula is supposed to be his son. Indeed, he's just listed as Count Dracula, and there is no sons mentioned (there could have been a son from the marriage, but no).

To be honest, Frank Craven gets the best acting moments, but he couldn't save this.

[END]

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