Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Star Crystal - 1986

At one point in Star Crystal, main good guy Campbell tells a fake story about how he is an heir to the Campbell's soup line.  This was about the turning point of the movie, I remember.  The thing about Alien copycats is that they have a really good original movie they could copy, that and in space, with aliens, with sci fi, ANYTHING is possible.  Have the alien be able to move through walls, whatever!  You have a golden ticket to do whatever you want.  So why did it turn into something so awful?!

45 minutes of Star Crystal is almost solid.  The beginning isn't first rate, it's not an A movie ever in it's 90 minute run, but it's solid and it works.  You have an expedition to Mars that disappears.  Then you have a spaceship sent to investigate.  Campbell and crew are on board, and they bring back with them a curiously Alien looking egg.  It hatches, an alien comes out, and they have to end up blowing up their ship and escaping in the shuttle craft.  Then it's going to take them around a year and a half to make it back to Earth since the shuttle can't fly very fast.  Of course, since the alien stowed about their shuttle, they won't make it nearly that long.

I knew something would get fucked when literally all the unimportant characters died in the first 30-40 minutes of the movie.  Like great, now there's two people left which means that either 1) movie slows down a whole lot and the dialogue gets drawn out pointlessly, or 2) The plot gets all weird, and something stupid will happen.  That's a general rule when the movie is badly paced.  In Star Crystal, both of these horribly not-awesome things happen!

Yep it's a double dip as we watch Captain Campbell and Adrian making cute and getting to know each other.  Then we also have the alien creature, which, for some reason turns from Alien into ET.  That's exactly what this movie is.  This is Alien meets ET, and it's also I should say, a rather dumbed down Alien to begin with.

Spoilers, I guess, the alien turns out to be good, all the deaths were because it was protecting itself.  It's also hyper intelligent, started controlling the shuttle craft, and now wants to get into good relations with the humans.  Oh god, and there's even a horrendous scene where the alien and the Campbell are playing checkers or something later.  Please note that when you used to buy this on VHS, it probably came with razor blades so one could kill oneself if so desired.

I barely even remember what actually happened in the end of this movie.  I will admit I actually fell asleep during a part of this.  The worst part of this movie is that it had potential!  The beginning was great!  Okay, not great, but decent.  But why, 45 minutes in, make it a kids movie?  And it is straight kids.  There isn't a single moment in the rest of the film that cool, scary, interesting, zero.  And I get it.  Rated R didn't used to be so excluding to kids.  I remember playing with Terminator and Predator toys when I was a kid.  Rated R used to mean watch it first, and if it's not super offensive, then show it to your kids!  Heck, maybe Rated R still means that.  I'm no parent.  But there aren't toys made for kids from these films anymore, at least.

What else can I say about this....Well, I didn't hate it.  I just didn't like it.  It failed me when it turned all ET and kiddy.  Seriously, what were they thinking?  You would lose any of the older audience with that, and kids would have been lost by the beginning, which is kind of violent, and almost scary at times.  That's to me, so yes, a kid would be scared by it.

In the end, I dunno, I guess a 2 star rating is fine.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Friday the 13th - 2009

So I will be the first the admit that my reviews for the entirety of time post 1990 are minimal.  I dunno.  I'm not gonna argue or anything.  I love older movies more than modern films.  I liked the intention behind older films so much more, and that's one of those indefinable things that I could go on and on about.

I think the internet age especially is one where we don't have to try and make movies for everyone anymore.  We can be just fine making films for a niche audience, and surviving by reaching that niche online.  I'm not saying that movies before the internet had to be designed for a mainstream audience.  What I'm saying is that producers and filmmakers used to have some sort of an idea of what they would need to do to be watchable by a large audience and not be hated.  It seems that more and more films are trying to go against the grain and be weird just to get an internet following, just to attain that legendary cult status.

Not the greatest lead in to Friday the 13th, in fact Friday the 13th has nothing to do with any of this, I'm just thinking about it.  Friday the 13th is a film that I saw in theaters when it first came out.  I remember not liking it.  Then I never watched it again until like 3 nights ago.  I thought about either reviewing this or the defining, 5-star film Falling Down with Michael Douglas.  There's a lot I could say about Falling Down here, but suffice to say that it's a fantastic film, and it's a shame that the writer never did anything else.

Friday the 13th is flawed, there is no doubt about that.  I have a new friend that I've been hanging out with, we're both huge horror film fans.  He lent me the 13th, and I was texting him about it later that night.  He said, a movie to me is good if it's entertaining.  And yes, this movie is entertaining.  But I'm sorry, it must take more than that.  Friday the 13th is entertaining, and in fact it's not even all bad.  It just in no way is a great film, and barely even a good one.

In the pre-credit sequence, we get a flashback of Jason's mother as she is in her last moments. Then cut to present day as Jason kills some guys by the lake as they look for a marijuana farm that's out there.  The kills in the beginning, and in the movie entirely, are an easy highlight.  That is one point I will say they did well, is that most the kills are good or at least decent.  They reference the famous sleeping bag death from Friday the 13th Part 7, and there's the standard machete kills.

Then you have a group of young asshole friends staying at their buddies cabin in the woods....will they never learn?  They're accompanied by hunky drifter Clay, and basically they do the same as the marijuana hunters.  They have sex, they dick around, and the dialogue drains your will to live as well as the bottle of malt liquor you brought to cut the pain.  I'm really trying to remember if there's anything else noteworthy about the plot, but you know what I'm pretty sure that's truly it.

The reason this is entertaining, and even watchable, is that it does bring some interesting concepts to the table.  It has a girl that experiments with trying to pretend she's Jason's mom, it has Jason's own cabin he's staying in with some cool sequences there, and it has lots of kill filler, or "kifiller".  It also has Jason be more human than he was in some of those previous sequel series.  He gets injured, he gets slowed down, he gets knocked out.  The Jason in this is average.  It was the first time that Kane Hodder wasn't Jason in quite a while, and the actor I guess is fine.  I didn't like the close ups of his eye expressions in the mask, but other than that he's fine as a big killer guy.

As it finished though, and they blatantly ripped off the original 1980 Friday the 13th, I had an odd feeling.  I wished, for perhaps the first time, that there were second-second rate sequels to this installment.  For some reason, despite the fact that the sequels sometimes ruin the film entirely, I thought it'd be incredibly fun to watch, say, a 2011 Friday the 13th where Jason terrorizes a girl scout team that is on a nature hike.  Some part of me really wanted to see that.  And that was a really cool feeling.

As I grow older, or maybe as these films grow older, parts of me likes them more.  I remember dismissing this movie almost entirely when I first saw it 8 years ago.  And sure, it sucks.  But is it THAT bad?  No.  I don't think so.  It tries, and you know what, it's got some cool things that happen.  Sometimes that's all it takes.  3 stars.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Mill Creek's Sci-Fi Invasion - Box Set Review

Mill Creek is kind of like the slumlord of DVD boxsets.  Anyone with a shady past and a few measly dollars to his name can be put up for a night as long as they don't cause any waves and the cops don't come around asking questions.  Mill Creek somehow asks people to cough up $30 for this boxset, but you can find it for way cheaper online.  In fact, since I know no one reads this blog, I'm going to offer up my boxset for FREE if you comment on my blogs.

If my memory serves me right, I first became aware of this set via an online review of it.  Although I can't seem to find the review right now, I read a breakdown of the set, and the authors thoughts about the movies therein.  I love to read introspective and personal reviews, even when it has little to do with the movie, so naturally this was right up my alley.  If you're super interested, read this review I just found, where two people discuss every single film in the set.

As I've mentioned before, some of the movies included on this set, I'd seen and reviewed before I owned them on the Sci Fi Invasion set.  The Alien Factor, Brain Twisters, Death Machines, The Day Time Ended, It's Alive, Horror High, and War of the Robots are all films that I'm pretty sure I saw outside of the boxset, because they interested me in one form or another.

I'm not going to go in depth about all these.  Well, okay, actually, I am.  I keep on waffling about this review.  I was just going to give each movie a final star rating.  So what I think I'll do is 4-5 word synopsis, 1-2 sentence final thoughts.  Kinda like I did with the other boxsets I've reviewed on the site so far.  I'm debating links.  Links take so fucking long!  Alright, I might even bequeath you with links.  And now, with the help of Close to the Edge by prog rock band Yes, I present:

(in alphabetical order)
984: Prisoner of the Future: Dystopian prison society drama.  This was a TV pilot, not picked up obviously.  It was alright, I gave it one star, and it possibly deserved more.  I'll give it 3 now.
Abraxas: Terminator-Lite with Jesse Ventura.  Stupid kids version of Terminator, only enjoyable if you're high.  2.5 stars? The fuck was I thinking?  I give it a retrospective 1.
The Alien Factor: Bizarre alien attacks people.  Don Dohler is one of my fave new directors, and this one is pretty good.  It's not as fun as some of his others, so only 3 stars. Seen before the boxset.
Alien Prey: Alien posing a human lives with two women.  Progressive, interesting, if perhaps ill executed little flick.  Had that surreal feeling to it, and deserved watching.  3.5 stars.
Assassin: Terminator-Lite made for TV version.  Talky drama where the machine is more discussed as a threat than seen as a threat.  Still, it wasn't badly made, so 3 stars.
The Bat: Murder whodunnit with Vincent Price.  It reminded me a bit of the old radio drama The Shadow, I now realize.  Still, not that good, very talky, and felt not quite fleshed out.  2 stars.
Battle Beyond the Sun: Russian space adventure.  Hm, better poster than a movie right here.  Long space flight scenes, short vagina monster scenes in the end.  Pretty forgettable, 1.5 stars in retrospect.
Beyond the Moon: Rocky Jones fights evil aliens.  These serials really got to me after a little bit.  They were so lifeless, barely had effects, and the acting was dull.  1 star in retrospect.
Brain Twisters: Are computer experiments to blame for recent killings?  Yes.  Before the Sci Fi Invasion set, this was on Gorehouse Greats.  It was fun but dumb.  2 stars.
The Brother From Another Planet: Alien that looks like a black man lands in NY.  A comedy, a satire, and one of the newest films on the set.  Interesting, but overly long I'd say.  3.5 stars.
The Crater Lake Monster: Loch Ness style monster in a lake.  Another comedy, and a so-bad-it's-great classic I'd argue.  This one was actually a highlight, and a good one to show people.  4 stars
The Creeping Terror: A bizarre rug monster alien attacks people.  A MST3K classic, a great little piece of trash which is deserving of a view by anyone who likes bad movies.  5 stars.
The Day Time Ended: Aliens do battle in a desert on Earth.  This movie kicked ass.  I have actually watched it since with people.  Love the surreal and bizarre qualities.  5 stars.
Death Machines: Karate robots are sent to kill people.  Long, dull, and chock full of badly done fight scenes, this movie made me want to kill myself.  I gave it zero stars. Seen before the set.
Escape from Galaxy 3: Two aliens land on Earth, bringing conflict with them.  Kiddy, lighthearted, and silly, but still somewhat entertaining maybe.  If you're stoned.  2.5 stars.
Evil Brain from Outer Space: Starman fights alien invaders.  The end of the Starman series of films, easily the most enjoyable serial film I've ever seen. I gave it 3.5?  Wow.  Maybe only 3 I think.
Extraterrestrial Visitors: One evil alien in the woods, one good alien in a house!  Another MST classic, without the commentary it's still a fun kids movie I'd watch again.  4 stars.
Eyes Behind the Stars: Mystery flick with an alien twist.  I watched it twice, sober the second time.  It's a well done mystery, but overly long at times and has some plot holes.  4 stars.
Fugitive Alien: Incomprehensible serial installment.  I've literally seen this movie about 4 times, and I could not tell you what it's got happening in it.  It looks kinda cool though.  Half a star.
Future Hunters: Indiana Jones-esque action flick.  A pretty decent action movie involving the spear that killed Christ and the people who want to capture it.  With Robert Patrick!  3 stars. 
Future Women: A spy infiltrates a woman-run society/cult.  Pretty tame in the end, this was a slow action/suspense film which was really neither.  What the hell was this movie?  2.5 star?  Maybe 1.
Galaxina: "comedy" set in space with robots and shit.  Another movie with no real genre.  I guess adventure comedy, not funny, without much adventure.  Not even rated R.  1 star.
The Giant of Metropolis: Muscle man fights Atlantis.  Maybe I was super hard on it, but I really wasn't in the mood.  It also brought nothing new to the table.  1.5 stars.
The Gypsy Moon:  Rocky Jones fights evil aliens.  Another bland Rocky serial, who knows and who cares what the plot was.  These were insufferable.  1 star in retrospect.
Hands of Steel: Cyborg warrior defends a woman in a desert town. Another one that I thought I should rewatch and never did, but at least it seems I understood this one.  Fun sci fi.  3.5 stars.
The Head: A scientist plays with a disembodied head and other experiments.  I loved the atmosphere in this.  This film had great acting, great pacing, and was just plain fantastic.  I gave it 5 stars.
Horror High: Scientific experiment turns a student into a beast.  Ahead of it's time horror movie with slasher-type pacing and feeling.  Also a horror comedy, one of the first I'd say.  4.5 stars.
Hundra: Conan the Barbarian with women!  Hundra was quickly thrown together after Conan was a hit, and it's Conan with women.  it's pretty good actually, a fun action movie to put on. 3 stars.
Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star: Friendly aliens land on Earth and make friends.  A kids alien movie with a fucking muppet creature and no inherent reason to watch it.  1.5 stars.
Invaders from Space: An earlier installment of the same Starman series as Evil Brain from Outer Space.  Not as entertaining, it's less linear and harder to watch than Brain. 3 stars, downgraded to 2.
It's Alive: A greasy dude has a trapped dinosaur.  I seriously thought about rewatching It's Alive.  I probably will still.  It's Z grade, in entertainment value and production.  So I give it....2 stars maybe?
Life Returns: Experiments bring a dog back to life.  A weird backstory and a weird film in general.  In retrospect, this was barely even a film.  It has a strong weirdness factor, didn't translate to screen as well as it could've.  But it is possibly one of the more interesting things on here.  1.5 upgraded to 3.
The Manster: A man's injected with a serum that makes him grow a new head.  Very well known cult film, 50's horror chock full of awesome.  Very classically entertaining with fun effects.  4 stars.
Mission Stardust: Aliens with a hidden agenda come to Earth.  This movie was perhaps better than I gave it credit for.  I was in the "slump" this boxset caused me to have. Very slow though. 2 stars.
Morons from Outer Space: Human looking aliens come to Earth and are celebrities.  A "comedy" that wasn't funny, and was pretty dull.  No real laughs, but a good idea I suppose. Half a star. I was harsh.
Night Fright: Alien kills people.  This movie would've been way better if it had been filmed in any way that was even slightly competent.  Bad lighting, bad setting, bad pacing, the whole deal. 2 stars.
Night of the Blood Beast: An astronaut brings an alien presence with him back to Earth.  Although it's pretty average mostly, I'd say the pacing is a bit slower and it's not as fun as it could've been.  3 stars.
Primal Impulse: A woman has no memory of the last few days and starts to gather clues.  A genuinely creepy mystery that moves at a great pace and keeps you wondering.  Well done, 4 star film.
ROTOR: Android gets loose and kills anyone on a list.  Sorta like a hybrid Terminator and Robocop, but far less exciting than either of those.  Featuring an android with a mullet.  3 stars.
The Raiders of Atlantis: Atlantis is raised from the ocean, people investigate.  An interesting mix of Mad Max and action adventure.  Well paced, decent effects, and a cool villain.  4 stars.
Robo Vampire: Hopping vampires versus a trashcan robot.  Insanely weird, very Asian kung fu sci fi hybrid that is equal parts nutty as it is fucking kickass.  Essential for cult enthusiasts.  5 stars.
Rocket Attack USA: Russians are going to maybe launch an attack against US.  A special agent investigates, in what is mostly dull dialogue scenes.  Does feature millions of deaths though. 2 stars.
Silver Needle in the Sky: Rocky Jones fights alien baddies.  Despite being high and drunk, I couldn't enjoy Rocky Jones, cause it's fucking boring and makes no point.  3 stars?  Fuck that, how about 1.
Slipstream: A robot escapes the evil government with the help of a drifter. The late Bill Paxton and Mark Hamill lead a great cast, in a surreal adventure film, but it's still not that great.  Maybe a 3 though instead of my original 2.  Just wasted potential.
Star Knight: Mystery film about an astronaut in medieval days.  Weird and surreal, but thoroughly enjoyable film with Klaus Kinski.  It was weird but good, and really memorable. 2.5 stars....no, 3.5
Star Pilot: A spaceship is found on Earth by explorers. Some of these movies just struck me as odd and hard to follow.  This was definitely one of them.  Confusing, albeit interesting flick. 1.5 stars.
Top Line: UFO found in the Amazon, and cyborgs somehow....  Yeah this one was also confusing.  It's an enjoyable sci fi flick, but you might get as confused as I did, and it's forgettable. 2.5 stars.
Trapped by Television: A new invention gets exploited by those who know of it's existence.  Perhaps the least "sci fi" on the boxset, this one was very old and not enough material to be a movie. 1.5 stars.
War of the Robots: Italian Star Wars rip off.  Very strange, very hard to follow, though admittedly awesome at times Star Wars influenced space adventure film.  Fun, but hard to watch.  3 stars.
Welcome to Blood City: Westworld-esque sciency mystery film.  Another weird one.  Surreal, super bizarre, and had great actors.  Has it's flaws, naturally.  3.5 stars.

So good god, it's over.  Wow.  There are so many reflections I could have on it now, seeing all those synopses.  I have to say though, 22 of the films got below 3 stars, which means the majority of these I gave at least 3 stars.  So, 28 at least somewhat decent movies.  Also, on reflections I ended up liking films more than I originally had.  Such as Life Returns, I doubled the original score.  

I think one of the major things that contributed to a lot of these getting bad marks was inconsistency.  They'd have moments, times when they were awesome.  They'd have things happen, or have effects, or actors, that I loved.  But then they'd kill any momentum they had with lots of bad, long, poorly written scenes, or endless dialogue, or by just being confusing.  I remember really wanting to like some of these only to later be sitting there wondering, "Why am I fucking watching this?"

Some of these should be seen again, most definitely.  Some of them I was not in the mood for, and that alone can set you off on a bad path.  I might have explained in my review of Footprints on the Moon, that I was really tuned into that movie, and I was 100% invested.  Some of these films might have been requiring more attention then I wanted to give them.  I'm also not ruling out the idea that these could have been edited away from what they originally were.  No information is given about most of them.  A lot of them were dubbed, and I truly wonder how accurate the dialogue is- if there is anything cut, etc.

As a whole, I'd give the box set perhaps 3.5 stars.  As a whole, as a beast.  I think most of the films are enjoyable.  Even if they are public domain, they are still hard to find, and some of the ones on here are downright impossible to find anywhere but on these type of boxsets.  I doubt I'll be buying another one any time soon, though I have been eyeing B-Movie Blast for a while. Also, there's a Warriors one and a Kung Fu one of course....  What can I say, I'm a glutton for punishment.  Punishment and tacos.

The Giant of Metropolis - 1961

Ugh, what a way to end the boxset.  You hear me, sci fi invasion, I fucking killed you!  You as the casual reader that doesn't exist won't know this, but I've had the sci fi invasion boxset sitting right next to my DVD player for over a year.  I mean, why put it away?  I knew I had more movies from it to watch!  So I kept it right there, and I watched things from it, and NOW I can move it, finally!

Mill Creek is kind of like the slumlord of DVD boxsets.  Anyone with a shady past and a few measly dollars to his name can be put up for a night as long as they don't cause any waves and the cops don't come around asking questions.  Mill Creek somehow asks people to cough up $30 for this boxset, but....see my next review, of the boxset, for now I guess I'll stick to the movie.

What the fuck can I say about The Giant of Metropolis?  First of all, there is no giant in it.  It instead has Gordon Mitchell as some giantly muscled up dude name Obro or Ohro, on IMDB it has both names in different places, and he is the through and through good guy that is gonna help out Atlantis.

I wondered while I watched this, well more specifically I wonder right now, why have all these movies taking place in Atlantis?  It's like they were afraid by putting this in Greece or Rome or something that they'd be declared as false.  And I get it, they're based on myths.  But I'm just saying, what are the chances that people saw these movies because they were looking for accurate depictions of myths?  I'm guessing that these movies weren't watched by scholars who were interested in ancient myths of Atlantis and Hercules and shit.  They were probably watched by kids, teens, and young adults who just wanted fun entertainment.

Anyways, Obro is just your average beefcake guy that is wandering around when he gets involved in the happenings at Atlantis.  Evil scientist Yotar is causing problems, and it's up to Obro and princess Mecede to try and stop him.  There are regrettably no test-your-strength scenes, so the movie lags a bit.  In fact, this movie felt like it was almost incomplete.  It does have that typical fashion of saving all the action for the ass end of the film, but even once that happens it still felt hollow and incomplete.

These types of films are best when there's more characters, or where the characters are truly challenged in one way or another.  In this, there is never a conflict, everything is straight as an arrow as we watch Obro be good, and Yotar be evil.  Shot in Italy, it looks okay, and the acting is a fine-whatever type of thing, but in the end I'd say it's a sub-par sword and sandal flick, even as lowbrow as sword and sandal flicks of the 60's went.
1.5 stars.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Evil Brain from Outer Space - 1964

This Sci Fi Invasion entry serves as the last bit (I think, I hope) of the Japanese serial Super Giant, which Invaders from Space is also a part.  In retrospect, I think that Invaders from Space could have been better if it had been the beginning of the film series, or if I had seen the film series that took place before it.

Evil Brain serves as the end of the series, and in that respect I found it much more enjoyable than Invaders from Space.  Could just be that I was excited that this was the second to last film I have to watch in the set, but for whatever reason, I was damn happy just to be there, watching it, in all it's shoddy glory.

Not to say this movie is good.  It most certainly isn't good.  First of all, this is a 78 minute film which was edited out of almost 3 hours worth of TV shows.  No one would ever state that this movie was "linear" or "made sense" without taking many things into account.  But it seems like, since this movie is mostly dull filler, a lot of that almost 3 hours must've been even worse filler, cause this movie still does make sense, in a way.  It certainly was easier for me to follow in comparison to Invaders from Space, and I was actually understanding what was happening in the end part.

I'm sure the original Japanese version didn't have the narration, and I'm also sure they changed the literal things that the people were saying to that this movie made sense.  I'm just, sure of it at this point.  With all that editing going on, nothing would make sense otherwise.

In Evil Brain from Outer Space, we begin with a brain in a suitcase being lost by the man carrying it.  That brain was Balazar, who had been assassinated.  Once the brain gets loose, aliens start to be a problem for Starman, the tights-clad superhero with the stuffed crotch area (actually, it really was stuffed!).  But it seems most of the first part of this movie actually follows a little boy who's name I forget.

The kid goes to see a doctor who is actually an alien, and it's the slow figuring this out segment which I liked.  There's all these secret doors and hidden switches in the garden outside, which I thought was really neat.  It made me wonder, back in the 60's especially, how they might have gotten something real like that to work.  I'm sure in the film, it was stage hands, wiring, off camera effects.  But I just wonder how you'd really get a huge door to swing open, or a entire platform to lower, just by flipping a little switch or something.  I want a house with a hidden passageway or something!

Anyways, the end of the film is also pretty cool.  I'd be hard pressed to tell ya what happened, I saw this movie like 3 days ago, but I know I liked it, and it made sense.  And I was glad that I'd seen an actual part of the series that was important, instead of random middle parts, which is why I didn't like Invaders from Space, or any of those fucking Rocky movies (or similar).

One thing which I was just doing was going through the actors in this series, the minor guys that didn't have character names or parts that I remembered.  Just to see what else they were in, if they were real actors, if I've seen them in anything else.  It's kinda fun.  Some random actors have been in other films I've seen, a guy was in Jigoku, someone was in a film with Sonny Chiba, etc.

So this one gets a unrepentant 3.5 stars, and I have only ONE film left to go!

Night of the Blood Beast - 1958

Night of the Blood Beast is gonna be thematically similar to the Pod People / Extra Terrestrial Visitors review because this is another film I was more familiar with from MST3K.  This episode of MST in particular is not as great as the Pod People episode, however it's still a good one that I've seen a handful of times and that I remember parts of.  The same director also did Attack of the Giant Leeches, also featured in MST.

Keeping this review pretty short, Blood Beast is about an astronaut that crash lands on Earth.  He is apparently dead from the crash, and Steve and Dave and Julie are on the scene to check out what happened.  Then they discover the body is still in decent shape, and rigor mortis and everything is going slowly, so they take it for further study.  Eventually, the astronaut John gets back up, is apparently fine, and is now linked to an alien creature that is causing chaos in the town.  John is receiving communiques from the alien, and now the humans have no choice but to listen to what he says if they wants their man back.

This is a pretty typical 50's monster movie, first off.  It's mostly dialogue, Corman was involved in it, and the effects are minimal while the drama and the build is most the flick.  I will say that it's done pretty well, in that the average 50's flick is still fun to watch, enjoyable enough.  They make is clear that there is possibly more to the story than we're let onto at first, as it seems like the alien might be good, and it might just have been an accident that it caused the death of a man.

Hmmmmm....what else to say.  Filmed in Bronson Canyon, like so many films of the era.  Oh, the alien looks fucking ridiculous, like some bizarre parrot monster:
Also of note is that this is one of the (drum roll) last THREE films on the Sci Fi Invasion Boxset and I am SOOOOOO close.  A slightly better-than-average 3 stars.


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Rocket Attack USA - 1958

Hm.  I wonder why IMDb lists this movie as 1961, then down the page, shows a release date of 1958.  Wikipedia says 1958 also.  No information given about why this would be, and since it felt more to me like 1958 than 1961, I'm changing my entry title to 1958.

Ah, the Cold War.  A time when it seemed whoever had the better technology would decide a lot about the future of the human race.  When the Soviets launched the Sputnik into space as the first satellite, it sent shivers up the spine of many an American.  Someone somewhere thought, you know what we need is awareness.  We need to make Americans feel like they have to act, and they have to act now.  So, a little propaganda film called Rocket Attack USA was green lit, and now almost 60 years later we can look back on it and laugh, as it sits in obscurity on the Sci Fi Invasion boxset.

This movie is one of those simple narrative stories.  John is a secret agent who is sent to Russia to investigate what they're up to.  He has a far less exciting way to get there then than any competent thriller or nail biter, and pretty soon he's in the general area.  In the meantime, we have cutaways to the Russians as they plan the launching of an ICBM attack against the US.  The agent discovers that the Russian leader has an American girl he's banging on the side, and he gets information from her about the space program and the missile status.

Pretty soon, things are coming to a head.  John the spy decides he must go and see for himself.  He sneaks in, and gets spotted.  Perhaps then, it was his own fault when the Russians decide they can't wait, and proceed with their plans to launch the missile.

I was just trying to decide if it was progressive or not to have one of the main characters in the film be a prostitute.  She's the girl that's fucking the Russian man, although it's implied she may be doing it "just to do it" she is in general what the 50's would consider "an immoral person".  Having her front and center could be seen as progressive.  Similarly, they actually give the Russians screen time, and they also aren't pure evil, which goes quite against many other films of this era that I've seen.

Anyhow, all that aside, it's a pretty average flick.  There's a few badly done sequences, particularly one with a blind man who is trying to escape once the ICBM is launched towards the US.  I guess spoilers would be in line here, sorry.  They do launch the missile, and it's implied that the US is destroyed.  So in other words, we dead.  Why do I suddenly have the strong desire to watch some backwoods slasher instead of reviewing this movie?  It's a mystery to anyone.

This one can have 2 stars.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Extra Terrestrial Visitors - 1983

Also known, (better to me) as Pod People.  Also, The Return of ET, The Unearthling, Visitor, The New Extraterrestrials, and more.

This is the very well known rip off of ET that was featured on MST3K and was recently voted as one of their top ten episodes ever by the fans.  I do have to agree that this film is extremely good material to riff on, and it was a great episode for those guys.  I tend to like a lot of the obscure MST episodes that aren't fan favorites, but this is a "gimme" because the kookiness of the early seasons of MST matches perfectly with the kookiness of the movie.

Watching it without riffing, I first turned it off immediately.  I decided I wasn't going to watch it, because the movie itself was ruined for me by MST.  MST does such a good treatment, it's an episode I've seen so many times, and I could literally start remembering the riffs as they would've happened in the treatment, so I didn't think I could make it through the whole flick.  But, that was about 6 months ago, and I gave it another shot, and watched it to completion. 

This was originally going to be a violent alien film much like any ol' horror flick from the 80's set in the woods with evil aliens.  But ET was a huge success, they decided to copy that instead, and made what was supposedly an almost sequel.  And it is pretty similar.  Alien lands, little boy Tommy finds alien egg, takes it home to have it hatch to a little alien guy that has magic powers.  In the meantime, a group of campers encounter the mother alien, which accidentally kills one of their friends.  They find Tommy's house, and ask his parents for help.  Tommy's alien, Trumpy, and the mother alien look the same, so naturally when it's uncovered that Tommy has an alien, shit hits the fan.


As a kids film, it's much more accessible than the other "kids movies" on this boxset.  This is a film which I might actually show a kid.  It's weird, but fun, and it actually has appeal in the ways that you'd expect.  The whole film goes by innocently enough, and it has no major hurt or anything to it.  In fact, I'd be hard pressed to say anything truly negative about it besides the fact that it's so second rate in nature.  But shit, if I saw this and not ET, I'd probably like this a lot.  ET is a good film of course, but this one has that isolation factor to it, it's also got a less complex plot, and I would argue that having one kid in Pod People versus a whole gang in ET makes this one more identifiable to people like me that didn't have a lot of friends when they were kids.

Maybe I've been jaded by seeing this as a MST episode, however I truly did enjoy this in a way.  It's got that 80's charm, and the low budget charm as well.  One thing about ET I never really liked was the whole third or whatever act where the government guys have ET and ET is dying and Elliot has to save him....that part got bogged down for me and has a lot of things that I think an adult would appreciate more.  This film is almost more childish, except for the one "F word" and some sexual dialogue.

Anyways, it's not like a competition.  Besides having friendly magic aliens that hang out with kids, these films barely have anything in common anyways.  So I'm over it.  I'd argue that this film is one of the more surreal and bizarre in the boxset, one of the more enjoyable films, and one that is at least very memorable.  And for that, 4 stars.