Archive for the '50's b-movies' Category

Oct

posted by The Goon | October 22, 2013 | 50's b-movies, Drama, Reviews by the Goon, Suspense, screeners

The Hitch-Hiker
1953 – Not Rated – Kino Lorber

You’re traveling down a lonely road so void of any life it may as well be a painting. Out of a nowhere like a mirage, a figure seems to be standing still, arm out and thumb extended. You decide to be a good Samaritan and give the drifter a ride. After all, what’s the worse that could happen? Next thing you know, your vehicle is void of any signs of life. Only traces of blood in the driver’s side with a bullet casing in the passenger’s.

This is the kind of fear that The Hitch-Hiker induces. Although it’s not a PSA (though it could be an effective one), it illustrates a ‘your worst nightmare’ scenario when picking up a vagabond. The film immediately puts you in a vice and doesn’t let go until it’s finished. It’s what you immediately think of when you hear “Film-Noir”. It’s dark, it’s dirty and it’s white knuckled. Also interesting to note, it’s directed by Ida Lupino and keep in mind that it was unheard of to have a woman direct back then, especially a crime drama as zealous as this!

Emmett Myers has been hitching for some time. The bronze is hot on his trail, but he remains a step ahead as he leaves a trail of victims, told via spinning newspapers on Lazy Susan’s. Which brings us to our unlucky duo, Roy and Gil, on their way to the Chocolate Mountains for a fishing trip… or so they told their wives. They’re in Mexico when we meet them, passing up a cat house and running smack dab into Emmett on the side of the road, giving him a lift. Their trip instantly turns sour at this moment, as he draws a gun on them when Roy offers him a smoke (this could make a great anti-smoking ad). Emmett immediately takes control, ordering them about and showing that he’s a seasoned veteran at this. Holding them hostage with his gun from the backseat, I can’t help but think of that scene from Pulp Fiction where Vincent accidentally shoots Marvin in the face (throughout the movie, I kept waiting for this to happen). He asks them questions about their lives, what they do and ridiculing their answers, proving he is inside their heads and tells them he intends to kill them once they reach their destination. The look on their faces tells you they know their situation and they know they are over a barrel.

hh_2Knowing that a car ride would get boring (after all, there are only so many times you can sing ‘99 Bottles of Beer’), Emmett plays games with his pawns. While pulled over to check the map, Emmett showcases his marksmanship by shooting a tin off a rock from several yards away! Look out, Billy the Kid! He does this with Gil standing nearby, which I’m sure browned his britches. Just having learned that Roy is somewhat of a sharpshooter himself, he directs him to shoot the tin out of Gil’s hand. Remember that scene from The Jackal where Bruce Willis has Jack Black hold up the pack of cigarettes? Kinda reminds me of that.

As they travel across the desert fleeing the authorities, they learn they are being looked for in the Arizona desert. However, they were traveling across the Mexican border. Emmett taunts Roy and Gil for lying to their wives about what they are actually doing and this is a subplot that comes to a halt, as it’s never mentioned again after this. We never really learn what Gil and Roy are doing way out that way, other than a few lines of dialogue. It’s acceptable though, as it doesn’t really chew away at the back of your brain, due to the film’s quick and energetic pace. We jump from one muscle tensing dilemma to the next, but it never becomes incoherent.

After a few hair raising close calls with a few locals, Roy and Gil decide they need to flee or it’s curtains for sure. Waiting for Emmett to sleep, they run off into a field and into an opening. However, Emmett was only playing possum, fooling them with his bum eye and nearly runs them down in the car after Gil trips and falls like a woman in a slasher film. Hopefully he didn’t break a heal.

The closer they get to their destination, the closer they are to their impending doom, Gil starts giving up hope. Acting as if he were already dead, Roy has to push him with the small sliver of hope that they can still make it out of this alive. Cops hot on their tail, Emmett switches clothes with Gil (now disguising himself as a doughy, middle aged man) in the final attempt to take a ferry to his salvation. Seems like them Duke boys sure have themselves in quite the pickle!

The Hitch-Hiker
Where was the Jam Handy informational short for this scenario? Based off the actual event in 1950 where a man named Billy Cook murdered a family of five and then was captured after leaving a deputy for dead, makes this movie all that more shocking. It adds a whole other dimension of gut wrenching realism to the film, like another layer of darkness. It’s enough to make anyone paranoid of picking up a stranger. For a short run time of seventy one minutes, The Hitch-Hiker certainly keeps you in suspense and will surprise you. Although the ending does wrap everything up nice and neat, it’s still has a lurid manner throughout the duration and I wasn’t sure what to expect. So take a joy ride with this one and pick up The Hitch-Hiker from Kino Lorber. This is one hitcher that won’t creep you out with stories of Nam or conspiracy theories.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • Spinning newspapers, always a classic.
  • Viva La Me-hee-co!
  • Lazy eye.
  • Gil: The human lump of bread dough.
  • Shooting competition.
  • Emmett bossy boots.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Very little, but the shear idea of violence behind this scenario is pretty disturbing.

0

blood

BREASTS

None, unless you count Gil.

7

beast

BEASTS

Emmett is one sick puppy.

4.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the entire movie!”

trailers

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Oct

posted by The Goon | October 15, 2013 | 50's b-movies, Drama, Horror movies, Reviews by the Goon, Suspense

House of Wax
1953 – Not Rated – Warner Bros.

They stare at you with lifeless eyes that seem to follow you no matter where you go, wax sculptures are pretty damn creepy. Or maybe it’s how real and unassuming they are and that they could grab you as you pass by. It could be a million reasons, most of them I don’t know, but they get under your skin. I’m surprised more movies don’t feature killer wax people, but maybe it’s because the bar was set a little too high in House of Wax.

A remake of the 1933 film Mystery of the Wax Museum, this film opens up and escalates to speculative and terrifying quickly. Very quickly. Professor Henry Jarrod (played by Vincent Price) masterfully sculpts wax figures that are so lifelike, you would swear that they were palpable. Among his collection, he hails his Marie Antoinette to be his masterpiece. He walks around talking to his sculptures, seemingly having private conversations with them. As this scene goes on, you are becoming more and more aware of how quiant and detached from humanity he is. He seems pretty batty, but most great artists weren’t exactly sane. Jarrod could make a fortune if he were to “sell out”, which his business partner Matthew Burke encourages him to do. But Jarrod is in it for the art, not the money and if we learned anything from Aliens, anyone named Burke is all about the fame and fortune. He starts dumping gasoline all over the place like he has more important things to do, intending to torch it and cash in the insurance policy. Before they can discuss it, like a true pyro, he sets the place ablaze. He was that confident it was a solid plan, that he didn’t even need to think it through. Or maybe he likes to burn buildings down. Either way, Jarrod reasonably becomes enraged and desperately attempts to save his sculptures as they melt like cheese, eyeballs falling out of their heads. After being attacked by Jarrod, Burke fights him and throws gasoline all over Jarrod, leaving him to die in the fire.

how_3Time passes and Burke seems to be living it up. That is, until he’s murdered by a disfigured man, along with his fiance, Cathy. Cathy’s friend Sue Allen happens to find her carcass there with the disfigured man hovering over it and chases her out the window and down the street (cue Benny Hill music). She manages to escape the horror and inform the police. It’s then that they are discovering that Cathy’s body, along with several others, have disappeared from the morgue. Who would steal bodies? With the McRib making a comeback, it would make sense that McDonald’s could be the culprit, but we all know they use former boy band members. Could it be that Jarrod survived and is exacting revenge? Nah, that would be crazy.

Well, I guess it is crazy since eighteen months pass and it seems Jarrod has opened a new wax museum called “Chamber of Horrors” that showcases horrific crimes in history… and current ones, as Burke’s death is displayed there. However, Jarrod didn’t escape unharmed. He’s bound to a wheelchair and no longer has use of his hands. He’s assisted by a deaf-mute, Igor (Charles Bronson). I was kinda hoping he would have a hump on his back, but I guess that’s a different Igor. So, who’s making this wonderful statues? He has hired a top sculptor, Leon, who is basically like the Michael Jackson of sculpting. The movie has slowed down the pace noticeably by this point as Scott, who has grown fond of Sue Allen, decides to take her mind of her recent tragedies and takes her on a tour of the wax museum that showcases horrific murders. Sue Allen can’t help but feel uneasy by the Joan of Arc display, noticing that it bears an uncanny resemblance to her recently deceased friend Cathy, right down to her pierced ears. You can probably tell where this is going, but it’s the journey getting there that makes this movie shocking and fun to watch. Jarrod becomes hypnotically charmed by her and seems to think she would make the perfect model of Marie Antoinette. Finding that Scott also happens to be a sculptor (geez, how many sculptors are there?), he offers him a job based on that reason. Way to play, playa.

But that Joan of Arc sculpture sure has given Sue Allen the heebie jeebies. Bringing the police along with her to the wax museum, they take note that John Wilkes Booth looks an awful lot like a murdered city official whose body is missing. Eh, it’s probably a coincidence.

how_4Taking a Scooby Doo style approach, Sue checks out the museum and takes a closer look at the Joan of Arc sculpture (how infatuated is this woman?). But she accidentally knocks the wig off and sees the blonde hair underneath, coming to the conclusion that it looks like Cathy, because IT IS Cathy! Oh, if it weren’t for you meddling kids. This is actually quite a shocking turn. I suppose next they are going to reveal that Jarrod can actually walk and is only pretending to be handicapped… Well, son of a…

In one of the coolest effects ever, Jarrod finally grabs hold of Sue and she begins to give him a rap on the brow repeatedly as his face shatters away to reveal that he was the disfigured man committing all the murders! Meanwhile this is happening, Leon is rolling over on Jarrod to the police, revealing everything and basically handing him on a platter. Little advice to all you inspiring criminals out there: If you’re gonna go in business with someone, make sure you can trust them not to reveal your plot to the authorities. Cats out of the bag now! The Police and Scott make haste to rescue Sue before she becomes a wax statue and end this movie on a positive note.

House of Wax
Not only is House of Wax the first color 3-D picture to be shot by an American studio, it’s also one of the first horror roles Vincent Price starred in and right away, you can tell he has a knack for it. From the first moment you see him have a conversation with a lifeless sculpture, you can feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. And he does this even before he has the makeup on! There is a good reason he is known as “The Merchant of Menace.” It’s been said a million times and it goes without saying, but I’m going to go ahead and say it: This is without a doubt one of the best horror classics. It’s a true insight into how frightening these actors could play their characters, how special effects could shock you and how dark and violent a movie can be without gore. If you haven’t seen it, shame on you. It’s been sixty years, for crying out loud! Just don’t watch the 2005 remake. It’ll make your skin melt… and it has Paris Hilton.

Check out this review and plenty others at Goon Reviews.

roadside attractions

  • We don’t need no water, let the mother burn.
  • Vincent Price, Street Brawler.
  • “Hanging” around.
  • Pre-Freddy Krueger.
  • Braindead Bronson.
  • Is there a sculptor in the house?
  • Bikini wax of death!
  • Wheelchair Psyche.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

No blood, but wax sculptures melt in a way that will make your stomach turn.

2

blood

BREASTS

This was made before boobs were invented.

9

beast

BEASTS

If Charles Bronson as a menacing thug ain’t spooking ya, Vincent Price sure will.

5.3 OVERALL
dripper

Watch the trailer!”

trailers

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Mar

posted by Barry Goodall | March 18, 2013 | 50's b-movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Guest Review, Sci-Fi

Killers from Space

Like many of my favorite B-films, Killers from Space is vintage sci-fi. Directed by W. Lee Wilder (aka “The Other Wilder,” legendary director Billy Wilder’s older and less talented brother), written by his son Myles Wilder, and starring a young Peter Graves and the babely Barbara Bestar, the film is a classic “alien invader’s evil plan” flick.
Killers is straight out of the Ed Wood school of film-making: bad modeling, cheesy sets, and over 10 mins. total of stock footage, mostly from early 50s US military sources. It has its charms though, not the least of which is faithfully reflecting its era: cigarette vending machines in the hallways of a hospital; period language (the observation planes during the A-bomb test are designated “Tarbaby 1,” “Tarbaby 2,” etc.); frequent visual references to then-President Eisenhower and the American flag, and even the presence of one of Mr. Hoover’s steely-eyed “G-men.” No atheistic, closet Hollywood Commies made this picture, by God!

Killers from SpaceDuring an atomic bomb test (cleverly code-named “Operation A-Bomb Test”), the observation plane carrying Dr. Douglas Martin (Peter Graves) is pulled down by a mysterious light on the desert floor. Everyone assumes he died in the crash until he shows up a few days later, wandering weak and disoriented around base with a new (but completely healed) scar on his chest. He is subsequently released from the hospital after his identity is confirmed by G-Man Briggs (Steve Pendleton), but he is put on medical leave for the time being, all the while having disturbing visions of eyes. After incidents of odd behavior noticed by friends and his wife, Ellen (Barbara Bestar), and then some treasonous but very amateurish espionage (he left the Classified Information vault door open when he left—really), he flees but is captured and fed sodium amytal (“truth serum”) and it is revealed that he has been hypnotized by aliens residing in caverns under the desert floor not far from the test site. According to the aliens, he died in the crash and they recovered his body, installing a new heart (hence the unexplained scar). He is the only one who believes this, of course, the others suspecting insanity on his part.

Killers from SpaceThe aliens (I call them “Feldmanites”) came to Earth via a “electron bridge” to annihilate its current biosphere and start from scratch. Their own sun is dying, and although they waged genocidal invasions against their own neighboring planets to escape the doom of their home world—Astron Delta— it is not enough. They need Earth for their 1 billion population, and they need to clear its biosphere before taking over (the fact that they are creating a dead planet in order to escape their own dead planet is not explored in the film). They have been collecting and storing electrons from the US government’s A-bomb tests, holding “several billion electron volts” in “nucleo-storage units” to achieve this goal, but their power grid is dangerously overloaded as they have been siphoning electricity from the local power station. The Feldmanites have also been breeding giant mutated insects and reptiles for their “ethnic cleansing” campaign, as we know because the film spends almost 4 minutes of filler time showing us over and over again accompanied by bad audio effects.

Fortunately for our species, Martin figures out that he can foil the Feldmanites’ evil scheme by simply shutting down the power grid at the generating plant for a few seconds, thus releasing all of their stored “electrons” in an unscheduled A-bomb test of his own—death by circuit-breaker. His plan succeeds after some sleepy action scenes at a power plant, and the film closes (appropriately) with stock footage of an atomic bomb exploding as the “nucleo-storage” batteries go.
While this film is low on the 3-B scale and has a plot with some astonishing inconsistencies, it’s very entertaining with its obvious eye fetish and a great period piece if you enjoy early-50s schlock.

roadside attractions

  • Historical stock footage
  • We Like Ike
  • Eye fetishists
totals

-2

blood

BLOOD

I’ve seen more gore in a Disney film; there’s not even a shooting.

0

blood

BREASTS

We don’t get to see the bestar of Barbara, alas; this was the early 50’s when decent, red-blooded Americans didn’t have sex or even drop a button or two

3

beast

BEASTS

Giant mutated insects and lizards; aliens with Marty Feldman’s DNA pattern

1.0 OVERALL
dripper

Check out this trailer for “Killers From Space”

trailers

dripper
Jul

Tokyo is being terrorized by a crazed beast. But this time it’s not Gojira, he needed to use up some vacation time and took the day off.

A deranged scientist (aren’t they all that way in these movies) has finally run out of family members to do experiments on and he really needs a new lab rat to continue his “important” work. Conveniently, a “dumb as a stick” writer shows up at his house to do an article about him. Not long after arriving, the mad scientist who’s also known as Dr. Suzuki offers him a drink that’s been laced with a “ruffie” and after a couple of sips he passes out. Jeez! What a lightweight. While Larry (that’s the guy’s name) is unconscious Mr. “I can give you a great deal on a boat, atv, car or motorcycle” Suzuki shoots him up with some kind of genetic experiment, similar to those govt. flu vaccinations.

The mad scientist, who also earns extra cash as a pimp on the side doesn’t want his petri dish on two legs to leave Tokyo, so he keeps him busy by serving up plenty of ho’s and Saki. He even offers Larry his prized egg roll, an assistant named Tara. A day or so after the injection strange things begin happening to Larry. He goes from being a mild mannered Professor Klump type of person to an abusive womanizer who runs around assaulting random women. I think he’s been hanging around Charlie Sheen too much. Then late one night after getting his fill of the Geisha buffet, Larry goes home and discovers a nasty looking rash on his shoulder. That what he gets for not using some kind of protection. Luckily, for him the rash goes away but then an eyeball sprouts out of his shoulder. Hey, aren’t “third eyes” supposed to appear in the middle of the head? Well, it probably got lost trying follow Map Quest directions. Anyway, things continue to get worst when other symptoms start showing up like a hairy palm and finger nails that grow as long as Wolverine’s claws. Now, I just checked out Larry’s symptoms on Web MD and I was wrong, it’s not an STD. Maybe, he’s going through puberty again???

Well, I’m not to sure what’s goin’ on here, but the movie starts to get Tom Cruise jumpin’ on Oprah’s couch freaky when a little shrunken head sporting some bad looking teeth (must be British) pops outta Larry’s shoulder like a stripper bursting from a big birthday cake. And before you can say double trouble, the crazed duo are destroying public property Chris Brown style and murdering various people on the street using the Ripper’s as in Jack the Ripper’s MO. Soon the police are hot on their trail like Wynona Ryder after a shop lifting spree. But after awhile Larry tires of the freakshow life style and decides to call it quits with his new BBF. Apparently, two heads aren’t better than one. That’s a real shame. They seemed so happy together. Counseling isn’t an option as Larry quickly splits with his other half using a tree trunk like a crowbar to pry himself apart. Well, at least they won’t have to pay for divorce attorneys. A newly single, and back on the market Larry watches from a distance as the Trog wannabe steals his girlfriend Tara and they both take the Nestea plunge into a volcano. Then the credits immediately roll for what has to be the fastest ending that I’ve ever seen in a movie that still has me wondering if the director ran outta film?

Half Man, Half Monster, a 100% pure B-movie cheese.

Roadside Attractions:

- A double-header villian
- Random murders
- 1 crazy scientist
- 1 scorned wife
- Extreme Saki drinking
- Supersized lee press on nails
- Plenty of DIY make-up effects
- 1 eyeball on the shoulder gag
- 1 hairy palm
- Creepy Thermin music
- Geisha girl bloodbath
- A head sprouts out of a shoulder
- A guy wearing a hokey gorilla costume


Unfortunately, a trailer isn’t available even though this movie is in the public domain.

Jun

posted by Drive-in_Dan | June 11, 2011 | 50's b-movies, B-movie Reviews, B-movies, Rest stop, Sci-Fi

Just when I thought aliens with anger management issues had grown tired of attacking planet earth, guess what, it happens yet again. This time the trouble starts when rift raft, calling themselves Martians visit a small town and start mingling with the locals. The townies aren’t very amused when the outsiders use heat lamps on steroids to vaporize their kin folk. And who could blame them? Now, I’m pretty sure things would have turned out better if the aliens had showed up with a giant lemon creme bunt cake instead of with their ray guns a blastin’. And before you can say “Hooah”, the Army has gotten word of the invasion. They quickly arrive with a butt-load of weapons and setup shop. The plan they come up with is to use enough firepower to blow the evil E.T.’s all the way back to their home planet, and worrying about asking questions later. Typical military mentality, isn’t it? But their bone-headed plan fails about as bad as the movie “Zyzzyx Road” did at the box office (it just made $30, really) when the aliens take everything that the army shoots and drops on them, including an A-bomb without even breaking a sweat. Now, I have one question, do alien’s even sweat? It’s just a curiosity thing. Anyway, as soon as the dust settles the aliens go cruisin’ down main street, showing off their shiny new rides but instead of visiting the local watering hole and boozing it up or scoring with some hot earth women, they begin blasting everything in sight to smithereens with their niffty looking shower head shaped death rays.

Then something very strange happens, the Martian Warships begin crashing into stuff like Tiger Woods trying to drive away from his golf club yielding wife. At first I was as confused as Jessica Simpson would be trying to spell the word “cat” during a spelling bee, at what was happening onscreen. But, thankfully, I got the 411 from the narrator in the movie who explained that the aliens were dying, and it wasn’t because they got a wiff of P. Diddy’s breath either. Nope, it turns out some harmless earth germs were the culprit. Well, it serves those alien freaks right for not getting their booster shots before invading our planet. So much for other intelligent lifeforms, huh? If you haven’t seen this old school sci-fi flick already, be sure to give it a look-see. It features an out of this world soundtrack by composer Leith Stevens, some really cool spaceship designs, sound effects, along with plenty of impressive looking hand-crafted sets and visual effects in a time before movie-goers got hooked on bad CGI like a street junkie gets addicted to heroine.

Also, I can’t forget to mention that our friends over at Fright-Rags have a really awesome War of the Worlds T-shirt. So, head on over to www.fright-rags.com and check it out along with their other really cool shirts.

Roadside Attractions:

- Helpless people get vaporized by alien ray guns
- Stupid humans sit in a ditch and watch an A-bomb being dropped from about 20 feet away
- A storefront church gets blown to bits
- Aliens go crusin’ around town in their fancy new spaceships
- 1 creepy alien door to door salesman
- Extreme square dancing
- 1 alien spy camera
- Spacehips that sound like an electric shaver with a low battery
- Fighter planes get shot out of the sky like clay pigeons

trailers

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Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>