Film Review: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Also known as: Attack of the Blood Leeches (working title)
Release Date: October, 1959
Directed by: Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by: Leo Gordon
Music by: Alexander Laszlo
Cast: Ken Clark, Yvette Vickers, Jan Shepard

Balboa Productions, American International Pictures, 62 Minutes

Review:

“Who do you think your talking too? Don’t touch me? You’re my wife, I’ll touch you anytime I feel like it. Where you going? Where you going?” – Dave Walker

Here we go, another one of those late 50s classics by the Brothers Corman. Roger did not direct this and Gene did not write it but they did produce this for American International. Like a lot of their work from this era, The Giant Leeches was lampooned on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This film features giant leeches, just as the title implies. However, they are more like dudes wearing rubber octopus suits because Roger Corman doesn’t care much for that logic stuff. Realism… what’s that? Corman is all about making cool cheap creatures that clobber human beings with their might. But at least they always have a hokey charm and in this film, they vampire the crap out of people with their big sucker faces.

Ultimately, this is a poor ripoff of The Creature From the Black Lagoon. This was just one of a few of those Creature ripoffs that Corman attempted. This one feels the closest, however, due to the outdoor locations, the creatures having a cave where they take their victims, most notable the damsel at the end of the film. Also, the two heroes in diving gear are very familiar looking when comparing this film’s climax to the one in The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

Truthfully, I like these goofy Corman pictures and this one is no different. The creatures work for what this film is and at least they are more fantastical and exciting than what a giant leech would actually look like. However, if these things are supposed to be leeches, couldn’t the heroes just throw salt at them?

Film Review: The Final Sacrifice (1990)

Also known as: Quest For the Lost City
Release Date: 1990
Directed by: Tjardus Greidanus
Written by: Tjardus Greidanus, Christian Malcolm (uncredited), Bruce J. Mitchell (uncredited)
Music by: Robert Skeet
Cast: Christian Malcolm, Bruce J. Mitchell

Flying Dutchman Productions Ltd., 78 Minutes

Review:

Canada has made some decent motion pictures over the years. The Final Sacrifice is not one of those pictures.

Truth be told, this could be one of the worst things that has ever come out of Canada. Strangely, I have a weird appreciation for it. It is an awful movie but it is ambitious in spite of its mountain of faults. Okay, maybe not ambitious but it tried some really big special effects at the end. Emphasis on the word “tried”.

Maybe I just like this dumb movie because it was featured on one of my favorite Mike Nelson episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The movie takes place in southern Alberta and it was shot there as well. Apparently, the evil Satanic cult that has plans on ruling the entire world, decided to make their base of operations the rural countryside south of Calgary and north of the Montana border. Seems like as good of a spot as any.

In this film, we follow this kid and an out-of-shape denim-clad mullet-sporting middle-aged hoser. They are on the run from a Satanic cult that wears black wife beaters and ski masks. Most of the time they are running around with machetes too. Their leader doesn’t wear a mask and he dresses nicer but he’s still a total choad. He also has a weird voice. All of this is happening for reasons that aren’t ever all that clear but in the end, some mystical city rises out of the Albertan countryside and then keeps raising up into outer space. Shit’s confusing.

There really isn’t a single positive about this movie other than it did provide a ton of material for the MST3K crew to riff. Plus, the episode poked a lot of fun at Canada, a country that probably deserves it due to giving this movie to the world.

So, does this film deserve to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer? Yep! And the results read, “Type 3 Stool: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface.”

Film Review: The Corpse Vanishes (1942)

Release Date: May 8th, 1942
Directed by: Wallace Fox
Written by: Harvey Gates, Sam Robins, Gerald Schnitzer
Cast: Bela Lugosi, Luana Walters, Tristram Coffin, Minerva Urecal, Elizabeth Russell

Banner Productions, Monogram Pictures, 64 Minutes

Review:

“You should forget all that silly nonsense about those brides dropping dead.” – Alice Wentworth

Bela Lugosi fell on troubled times as he got out of the 1930s, which was the height of his career following 1931’s Dracula. By 1942, he was mostly relegated to making schlock. He tried to work as much as possible but even just a decade later, his Dracula had become sort of a caricature.

The Corpse Vanishes is one of his better known B-movies but that doesn’t mean it’s good. It is a film that would go on to be lampooned in the first season of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and for several very good reasons.

The plot is awful, the script is worse and the acting is pretty horrendous. Even Lugosi couldn’t carry this picture and by this point, Lugosi always played Lugosi and was pretty one-dimensional. He was simply dialing it in, as were the crew and the other actors.

Lugosi plays the evil Dr. Lorenz, a mad scientist that sends a peculiar orchid to young women on their wedding day. The orchid has an effect that causes these women to drop dead at the altar. In reality, he is putting them into a form of suspended animation. He goes on to rob the “corpses” of the brides before burial and takes them to his evil lab.

While not too far outside of the box of what were normal plots for these sort of films, the premise is still pretty ridiculous.

The Corpse Vanishes is a disaster and it is sad to see how far Lugosi has fallen in a decade. Where Boris Karloff seemed to continue to get quality roles all the way up until his death in the 1960s, Lugosi wasn’t so lucky. But at the same time, Karloff was just a lot more versatile as an actor.

Out of respect for Lugosi, I’ll refrain from running this through the Cinespiria Shitometer.

Film Review: The Girl In Lovers’ Lane (1960)

Release Date: January 1st, 1960
Directed by: Charles R. Rondeau
Written by: Jo Heims
Music by: Ronald Stein
Cast: Brett Halsey, Joyce Meadows, Lowell Brown, Jack Elam

Filmgroup, 78 Minutes

Review:

“Pa doesn’t know much about girls’ clothes.” – Carrie Anders

This movie is pretty damn horrible. However, it provided good fodder for Mystery Science Theater 3000 in season five, as Joel Hodgson’s long run as the show’s host was winding down.

The Girl In Lovers’ Lane is a crime film that makes b-movie crime pictures look like big budget affairs. Even the worst of b-movie film-noir is a step up compared to this picture. Truthfully, if this was more of a noir than a low rent crime picture, it might be better.

The directing is nonexistent and the acting is about as bad as it gets. There is no real cinematography and no shots worth writing home about. It is a picture that is so basic and bland that it makes manila folders look like a trip to Six Flags.

The plot sees two drifters roll into the small town of Sherman. A girl is murdered and then a bunch of boring uneventful shit happens. It is the type of film that makes you want to smack yourself in the face with nunchucks. It is only remotely watchable as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Honestly, Joel and the ‘Bots are at least there to provide you with some good laughs, as they suffer through this dreck with you.

The Girl In Lovers’ Lane is completely forgettable. If it wasn’t for MST3K, no one today would even be aware of its sad and pathetic existence. It offers nothing worthwhile and has no redeeming qualities, whatsoever.

All that being said, it does deserve to be put through the Cinespiria Shitometer. So what we have here is a “Type 7 Stool: Watery, no solid pieces. Entirely Liquid.”

Film Review: Angels Revenge (1979)

Also known as: Angels Brigade, Seven Angels
Release Date: February, 1979
Directed by: Greydon Clark
Written by: Greydon Clark, Alvin L. Fast
Music by: Gerald Lee
Cast: Sylvia Anderson, Lieu Chinh, Jacqueline Cole, Liza Greer, Robin Greer, Susan Kiger, Peter Lawford, Jack Palance, Jim Backus

Arista Films, 97 Minutes

Review:

“Women can make a difference!” – April

This film is almost completely unwatchable. Thankfully, it was riffed on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and they made it much more tolerable. Still, it is a real chore to sit through this thing and I’m a guy that will watch Jack Palance in anything.

These are what I call jigglevenge movies. It’s a movie where a bunch of big breasted women get together to get revenge on some man pig that is evil. In this case, these women band together to kill some man pig drug dealers. Of course, the big disappointment with this film is that these pretty girls wear unflattering jumpsuits for almost the entire film.

Although, they have a cool armored van that looks like a time traveling DeLorean had sex with the A-Team van. Then again, it is unimpressive and useless, as are the women piloting the thing. They could’ve outfitted it with all sorts of cool weapons and gadgets but that probably would’ve needed a budget and I’m pretty sure that all Jack Palance and Jim Backus got for doing this movie were two-for-one coupons they had to use together at Big Hector’s Enchilada Bus and Foot Massage.

Angels Revenge or Angels’ Brigade or Charlie’s Rejects is dumb, boring and pointless. It is obviously trying to ripoff a famous show featuring bad ass beauties also referred to as “Angels” but it isn’t a tenth of what that show was and that show wasn’t that great to begin with.

This is also rated PG, which really limits what this film can do in regards to expressing its sex appeal. I guess that’s why this jigglevenge movie has the jiggle contained in Super Dave Osborne jumpsuits. I mean there are a few bikini beach moments but nothing spectacular. Everyone looks bored and disinterested and that’s not sexy. Have you ever been to the strip club and the girls look bored and disinterested? It’s not a fun time and I’m certainly not buying any of them drinks or chow mein from Mr. Wu’s next door.

So considering the awfulness of this picture, it needs to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 6 Stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool.”

Although, I did like the line from the trailer where the narrator states, “…a fighting force of velvet bodies primed for action!” That alone saved this from getting a one out of ten rating but it’s not even a line in the movie, just genius marketing.

Film Review: RiffTrax: Night of the Shorts IV – SF Sketchfest (2016)

Release Date: January 7th, 2016
Written by: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul F. Tompkins
Cast: Michael J. Nelson, Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, Bridget Nelson, Mary Jo Pehl, Paul F. Tompkins, John Hodgman, Cole Stratton, Adam Savage, Janet Varney

RiffTrax, 123 Minutes

Review:

This RiffTrax Live event recently dropped on Amazon Video, so I thought I’d check it out, as I really like when these guys make a feature length event where they riff a series of shorts.

Now this wasn’t as great as the most recent short riffing event, Summer Shorts Beach Party, but I still quite enjoyed it. Although, that David & Hazel, two parter was a bit tough to get through.

This did have a variety of shorts on varying topics, however. Most of them were entertaining. Apart from David & Hazel – a film about communication, we got The Trouble with Women – about women in the workplace, Dining Together – about Thanksgiving, One Got Fat – about bicycle safety and starring kids in monkey masks, Improve Your Pronunciation – self-explanatory, and Robin’s Wild Ride, which was the third chapter in the Batman & Robin serial from 1949.

I like that this event featured more than just Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy from Mystery Science Theater 3000. The live events where they do shorts usually feature guest riffers, though. This time around, we got the returning Mary Jo Pehl and Bridget Nelson. Paul F. Thompkins, who has become a regular at these things, also appears. MythBusters‘ Adam Savage joins in, as do comedians John Hodgman, Janet Varney and Cole Stratton. The final short film featured all ten people on stage together.

Ultimately, these events are always fun and for fans of the classic Mystery Science Theater 3000, it is hard not to completely succumb to nostalgia. Again and again, these funny people prove that they’ve still got it and it is always great checking back in with them a few times, each year.

While not my favorite of their events, they have never had a bad one. They are masters of what they do and they never miss a beat. Night of the Shorts IV was just one of many great outings by this great crew and their friends.

*trailer from the previous ‘Night of the Shorts’ event, as there wasn’t a proper trailer for this installment.

Film Review: Night of the Blood Beast (1958)

Also known as: Creature From Galaxy 27 (working title)
Release Date: August, 1958
Directed by: Bernard L. Kowalski
Written by: Martin Varno, Gene Corman
Music by: Alexander Laszlo
Cast: Michael Emmet, Angela Greene, John Baer, Ed Nelson

American International Pictures, 62 Minutes

Review:

“A wounded animal that large isn’t good!” – Dr. Alex Wyman

Night of the Blood Beast was not directed by Roger Corman but he produced it along with his brother Gene, who also co-authored the script.

It fits in with the substance and style of those other late 1950s Corman pictures. It has a big cheesy monster, bad acting, bad dialogue and a fairly scant run time. Also, this Corman flick was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This film was released on a double bill with She Gods of Shark Reef. Like typical Corman productions, it was made quickly and cheaply. The script was completed in six weeks by 21 year-old Martin Varno. It was then shot in just seven days at the Charlie Chaplin studios, as well as some location shooting at Bronson Canyon. The alien suit was actually used previously by Corman on his film Teenage Caveman.

By modern standards, people will find the film to be slow and boring, even at 62 minutes. However, the plot isn’t that bad. It sees an astronaut crash back down to Earth, dead. However, in his body, alien seeds are gestating. There is a slow build until we finally get to the big monster reveal. And sure, the monster isn’t anything exceptional but it has the right sort of hokey charm that one can expect from a sci-fi creature from a Corman picture of this era.

The picture is better than most pictures like it. It isn’t so straightforward in its derivative narrative of “Here comes the evil alien creature, kill it before it kills us!” There are some layers to it. The layers and plot flourishes aren’t amazing or anything but at least more thought went into this than most sci-fi horror cheapies of the era.

This is far from the worst of Corman’s productions but it also isn’t the best. It fits somewhere in the middle but leans into the positive end of the spectrum.