Meteor is one of those films that you can say was a victim of bad timing. The disaster genre of which this is a part was dead for years. On the flip-side, the special effects required for such a movie to be convincing and terrifying had not yet been developed for productions operating on a smaller scale budget. So, it relied on a star-studded cast to attempt to be successful, and failed miserably. Critics panned it, audiences hated it, and the film slipped into oblivion. American International Pictures went bankrupt shortly after. However, after watching it the other day, I found myself thoroughly enjoying it. No, not in one of those so-bad-it’s-good kind of ways, but genuinely, sincerely liking it. Normally, a movie with a name and story like this would fall victim to my comical wrath. Not the case here. Instead, I find myself arguing why this is a good movie.
This is a movie you would find in one of those cheap yet massive sets of public-domain horror movies. There is no other way to describe why such a movie would be released, and furthermore, why someone would actually want to purchase it. For $2.99 in the clearance bin, it came with 11 other schlock-fests under the moniker of “Gore House Greats”. These are movies that are supposed to be bad. The kind that are so bad they are enjoyable. The Madmen of Mandoras certainly fits the build. In short, it tells the story of a small tropical island where something evil is brewing. During Hitler’s last days in the bunker, his head was removed following his death and transported to Mandoras where they placed it in a glass jar and rigged it up to some high-tech machine to keep it alive. The Third Reich will not only continue, but thrive and take over the world.
You might cringe a little bit when you read the synopsis: ants suddenly gain intelligence and begin working together to take over mankind and the world entire. Sounds like pure schlock, right? Maybe something you would see on the Scy-Fy Channel, or even worse, fill in as the sequel to The Swarm? Well, no, actually. Phase IV is about as intelligently crafted a science fiction movie as you will ever see. The theories by which these ants become intelligent are based in mysticism and nature. There is an event in outer space akin to a solar flare, and all of a sudden, ants are able to communicate with each other in more ways than before. They are able to make their own united civilization and essentially, draw up battle plans to attack a team of scientists sent to study what is going on in the area. It is ironic that this film contains no opening titles, since it was directed by the iconic title designer Saul Bass. In fact, this is the only feature film he ever directed, and by the end, you will wonder why and wish he did more.
(Warning: spoilers ahead) I held off visiting the IMDB boards until I saw the movie as to avoid any potential spoilers. Upon finally seeing it on Wednesday and deciding to take a look at what people had to say, I was aghast at what I saw. A mixture of trolls and people with seemingly nothing else to do with their lives bashing the hell out of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While reviews have mostly been positive and the film is setting box office records left and right, there seems to be a fringe of people who have it in for the J.J Abrams creation. I can take solace in the fact that he and Disney are laughing all the way to the bank, but what intrigues me is how most of these people doing the ripping appear to be die-hard fans of the original trilogy. People who arrived at the theater and would not allow themselves to enjoy this movie no matter what the end result. The nit-pickers, the pot-stirrers, the people who think they can write a better story themselves when they have never written anything else in their lives. My message to you? Get a freakin’ life. There are plenty of die-hards who love the movie, and that is because they are here for the ride and want to have fun, not make a statement.
“An unspeakable horror…Destroying…Terrifying!” It it was terrifying alright; the acting, editing, screenwriting, special effects, etc. Alas, for the sake of this review I will digress. Let’s just say with a title like The Beast with a Million Eyes, it’s about as good as you would expect it to be. Rumor has it the studio gave Roger Corman a set budget with which to produce four films. After the third film, he had only $23,000 left, so that became the total budget for this movie. You can tell. While initially only serving as producer, he was apparently dissatisfied by what he saw and took over direction himself and finished it without credit. This did not seem to matter, as the film was so far gone that not even Stanley Kubrick and a million dollars could have saved it.
No tagline. No funny, witty opening. This movie sucked, plain and simple. Part of me thinks the director made this to serve as a cure for people suffering from insomnia. It would work better than Lunesta. I should be given an award for staying awake and sticking with the film as long as I did. The Cosmonaut is the most boring and stupid movie I have ever seen. Normally, I get more creative and intelligent when trying to find adjectives to describe the films I review, but I lost so many brain cells that I can’t think of any here. It’s a miracle I’m not staggering around my house, sucking my thumb, and yelling “Mama!” after watching this crap. I will admit, the first five minutes were captivating, and the cinematography and visuals throughout are gorgeous, but the story is so convoluted and ambiguous that it makes Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris look like the answer to the meaning of life.
“An unearthly enemy defying science, in a war-to-the-death of all civilization!” The only saving grace this film has is that you might be able to liken it to being the “Granddaddy” [or weird, estranged uncle] of zombie films, and surely an inspiration for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. Although this is a science-fiction film dealing with aliens, the creatures themselves have a familiar cheesy, zombie-like feel to them. The Invisible Invaders as the title refers to are aliens who have been hanging around planet earth for tens of thousands of years. They are completely invisible, except for when they decide to take over and reanimate the body of someone who is recently deceased. So there’s a little bit of Invasion of the Body Snatchers too.
Henry Ford hadn’t even invented the Model-T, and Georges Melies was envisioning men landing on the moon, and trying to capture it on film, in the first science-fiction movie in cinema history. Clocking in at only 13-minutes (depending on the speed its played at; different versions vary), it would have been quite the production for a time when movies were not yet telling complete narratives with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. A Trip to the Moon is loosely based on a duo of Jules Verne novels, and follows a group of astronomers who put themselves in a metal capsule and are shot out of a cannon to land on the moon. When they get there, they are confronted by evil aliens and must make a harrowing escape, which literally includes pushing the spacecraft off the moon where it falls back to earth. There they are welcomed with celebration.
I think director Irwin Allen’s creativity sunk along with the S.S. Poseidon. This movie which I am about to review is bad—incredibly bad. It’s so bad I am going to use the word bad enough times that Google searches for “bad” in years to come will churn out this movie review. The Swarm stars an all-star cast of Michael Caine, Katherine Ross, Richard Widmark, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Haviland, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Jose Ferrer, Patty Duke, Slim Pickens, Henry Fonda, and about a million bees both real and primitively computer generated. It’s hard to believe that with such star power a film could be this bad, but it is. Everything about this production from start to finish is bad. The acting is bad, the special effects are bad, the script is bad (I kept thinking of Nicholas Cage screaming, “Not the bees!” every five to ten minutes), the story and suspension of disbelief are bad, but the slow-motion murders of seemingly hundreds of characters at the hands (or stingers) of killer bees are not bad, they are terrible. Nothing about this project in any way, shape, or form is ever believable or remotely interesting in any way. A swarm of African killer bees randomly shows up in the American southwest and kills an entire military base’s worth of soldiers and begin to terrorize Texas one city at a time. They leave behind a swath of destruction that would make William Tecumseh Sherman proud.
Also known as The Aztec Mummy Against the Humanoid Robot. With either title, you know exactly what you are going to get: a mountainous pile of schlock stacked so high it is capable of blacking out the sun. There should come a time during every production when the director needs to ask, “Why?” I asked myself that same question numerous times during a viewing of The Robot vs. the Aztec Mummy (or we can call it by the original Mexican name to give it an air of mystery and intrigue: La Momia Azteca Contra El Robot Humano). Judging by all of that, you probably assumed correctly that there is indeed an Aztec mummy wreaking havoc in some way and then an ultimate final showdown with a robot. While they are included in the form of a paper mache-coated limping mummy and a robot made out of some pretty rad cardboard, both title characters are on-screen for what seems like less than five minutes. The rest of the film, though, drags on for an eternity. What on earth was TCM thinking in showing this movie last week? Did a studio exec lose a bet?