Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962)

[ Eating Mmmmm... Brains.... Currently: Eating Mmmmm… Brains…. ]
“I wish I could have taught her MY kind of biology!”

Flow: *****
Special Effects: ****
Character Development: **
Entertainment Value: *****

The film starts out with a Beast of Yucca Flats-style monologue sure to impress any space exploration era American, minus the “Wait, what does that have to do with…? Nevermind…” The year is 2001, and humanity has evolved past all of the fighting and poverty that haunted it in the 1960s. The United Nations is the sole governing body of the world, and the only hunger is now for knowledge. The UN space fleet (say what?) sends a crew off to Uranus to look for life. We’ve already been to a bunch of other planets, so why not check out the giant yellow ice ball?

Uranus looks kind of like Swamp Thing’s head. I can look past that, though, because the dialogue is nowhere near as bad as it should be, considering that Journey to the Seventh Planet is billed as a classic B-Movie. As soon as they achieve orbit, a lens flare invades the cockpit and causes some sort of time warp. But there is no time to worry now, because we’ve gotta land!!!

As their rocket ship settles down onto the surface of Uranus, it transforms into some sort of alpine forest, and all atmospheric tests indicate “normal” (i.e. Earth-like). So, the crew ventures out. One guy feels he’s been here before: it is just like where he grew up! No one believes him until he leads them to a stream with a large stone.

From here on out, things get weird. There is no life anywhere. Even the plants are not really “alive.” An apple tree appears out of nowhere. They encounter a force field, and things from their imagination start coming to life. What is on the other side? Is it good or evil? They must find out the nature of the inhabitants of Uranus!

Considering that this movie was made the year after Reptilicus (review coming soon – trust me, it is awefulsome), I can’t believe that it was made with more or less the same cast and crew! I genuinely enjoyed this movie. It kept my attention and imagination throughout. The premise reminds me of that old Star Trek episode where everyone goes to the Shore Leave planet and Bones sees the White Rabbit, only better.

Overall, I’d give this B-Movie a solid 5 star rating for entertainment value. No worries, there is plenty to make fun of for the aspiring heckler, but it is not a requirement.


The Manster (1959)

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
“But Tara! He is exactly the type I need! This is for science, for human knowledge!

Flow: ****
Special Effects: *****
Character Development: **
Entertainment Value: *****

It has been over two years since I posted my last review. I have no excuse beyond “I was writing my thesis,” which I successfully defended in May 2010. Tonight, for punishment (?), I subject myself to The Manster (1959). Wikipedia says the film is “notable for its creative use of special effects.” We shall see.

It opens with some sort of ape-thing murdering a woman. I’m having flashbacks to the first few minutes of The Beast of Yucca Flats, in which a woman is murdered, a scene never explained in the movie. Plenty of movies start off with a murder, though. This could still be good.

Excellent. Several minutes later, we return to the murder and the ape-thing. I can already tell that this will be better than The Beast. I’m not confused, yet, either, so it must be better than Star Odyssey. Unfortunately, these set a pretty low bar.

From the promising start, The Manster developed into a surprisingly good movie. Why? It relies on suspense. What will the mad Japanese scientist’s injection do to our hero? What is happening to his shoulder? Furthermore, the dialogue is not bad (though cliched: “This is for science!).

Is it campy? Yes! Is it repulsively bad? Absolutely not! With that in mind, if you think every movie that predates Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is awful, you will not like The Manster. You also will not like Citizen Kane, Forbidden Planet, or Metropolis. This is an entertaining representative of 1950s monster films that will not disappoint fans of the genre. As far as the special effects go, Wikipedia is right: not bad at all for 1959.

Clips and Links!
Full Film

Troll 2 (1990)

[ Amused Mood: Amused ]
[ Watching awesome movies, clearly Currently: Watching awesome movies, clearly ]
“You see this writing? You know what it means? Hospitality! And you can’t piss on hospitality!”

Flow: ***
Special Effects: **
Character Development: *
Entertainment Value: *****

Troll 2 had a lot going on: a storytelling grandpa who talked to his grandson from beyond the grave, vegetarian goblins, tree-human hybrids, Utah, a revealing place name, a creepy boyfriend-related side story, a crazy lady, a séance, uncountable priceless quotes, a corn-on-the cob popcorn make out scene, a magical stone, the power of goodness, and a surprisingly coherent story line (relatively speaking, of course).

It opens with a kid named Joshua listening to his (dead) Grandpa Seth tell him the terrifying story of some guy named Peter who was being chased by goblins, then got tricked into eating something by a lovely woman, which ultimately caused him to start bleeding chlorophyll and turn into a human-tree hybrid. As we all know, a goblin’s favourite food is a human that has been turned partway into a plant, so what follows next is obvious, right?

His parents are upset because Grandpa Seth died months before, and Joshua’s psychologist told him not to think about the old guy anymore. So, the family goes on vacation (or it was planned, or something). Anyway, Joshua’s sister wants to bring her boyfriend, who spends too much time with his friends, but her boyfriend shows up late, and the family had already left without him. Clearly, the logical thing to do in that situation is grab a RV and one’s best friends and follow one’s girlfriend to the vacation destination. Which is, of course, what he did.

The family exchanges households with a country family from Nilbog (kudos to those who can see where this is going!), and things go downhill from there, but only Joshua knows what is truly going on, because his grandfather keeps appearing to him in strange places and telling him to keep his family from eating anything through questionable means. At one point, Joshua even takes a leak on the food after Grandpa has frozen the family in time to prevent them from eating said food (Where did THAT come from?! Suddenly Grandpa Seth has special powers!).

Instead of giving away everything that happens in Nilbog, which would reveal too much, I’ll share a bit about what I’ve learned from the movie.

1. Goblins are vegetarians, but only in the sense that they turn their meat into vegetable substances (well, chlorophyll) before eating it. They also like to stick pillows in their shirts, and, when in human form, have clover-leaf-shaped moles. The most horrifying thing to a goblin is a double-decker balogna sandwich. They get their power from a magic stone.

2. The FLDS is not the only closed, secretive religious community in Utah. The Kingdom of the Goblins (Nilbog? Get it, yet?) is probably smaller, though.

3. Best friends suspect absolutely nothing when one or more of them goes missing.

4. Eating an organic vegetarian diet turns you into goblin food.

5. “Remember: It is only the power of goodness that can defeat the goblins!” – Grandpa Seth

6. “You see this writing? You know what it means? Hospitality! And you can’t piss on hospitality!” – Dad

7. Last, but not least, if one’s boyfriend’s friends get killed, it is easier to get ones father to accept him.

I haven’t mentioned the crazy sexy librarian gothic lady, yet. She is probably my favourite character because the actress who plays her, Deborah Reed, understands that if a movie is going to be terrible, you may as well overact theatre-style. She plays Creedence Leonore Gielgud, who seems to lead the goblins, and loves to blend organic vegetable smoothies and bake organic vegetarian cakes to feed to people to turn them into green goo to feed the goblins. It makes more sense when one watches the movie, of course. Right? Anyway, if for nothing else, watch Troll 2 for her performance!

Clips and links!
The single most beautifully executed line of dialogue in any movie
The Trailer
Watch online!

I’m neglectful, but I’m also Indiana Jones

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
I’m in Utah hiking around for 10 hours/day looking for archaeological sites, kind of like Indiana Jones, only legal and ethical and less concerned about bad guys.

My internet connection is sketchy at best, unfortunately, which is limiting my ability to watch and ponder bad movies. As, of course, is hiking around all day in the heat, but that is beside the point.

I have seen a few um, special? movies in the past long-period-of-time that I haven’t been posting. Unfortunately, all but a couple were in the form of Mystery Science DVD movie nights, and those speak for themselves. Non MST3K movies, which could have been MST3Ked, just not watched in that format by myself, include The Ruins, something called Star Odyssey, and The Killer Shrews.

Almost anything with Yanti Sommer in it is going to be an unfortunate experience, but I think that my particular memory of Star Odyssey has been shoved deep into the recesses of the darkest parts of my mind. All I really remember is being confused, then more confused, then wondering who/what the blue/green guy was, then twitching uncontrollably. This movie is not for the weak and is best viewed with emotional and mental support.

For all of its drawbacks, I must credit The Ruins with having an interesting villain. I really wish that archaeological sites had that much protection. I would plant that thing every time I recorded a site that could be prone to looting.

A review of The Killer Shrews will be coming shortly. And by shortly, I mean within the next month or so Laughing

10,000 BC (2008)

[ Amused Mood: Amused ]
Bearded men run around on Pangea somewhere between 60 million years ago and 10,000 BCE.

Flow: **
Special Effects: *****
Character Development: *
Entertainment value: *****

I don’t even know where to start, but I will tell you right away, this movie was fantastic for all of the wrong reasons. I went with a group of other archaeology students and, before having seen the film, joked about having an anachronism drinking game. We’d have been drunk by ten minutes into the movie, and wouldn’t have remembered anything past fifteen minutes.

The film starts off in mountains somewhere (lets assume Europe, for the sake of a coherent geography). There is a group of people living in mammoth-bone tents (huzzah! something that really happened!). Among these people are D’leh (the main guy) and Evolet (the main girl, though she doesn’t do much), who apparently love eachother. You wouldn’t know it by the way they interact, but maybe that’s just how people showed their love back then. D’leh wins Evolet through a lie: he went on a mammoth hunt and took the mammoth down himself, but said that he did it on purpose. In reality, he caught his hand in the net (yes, they used a net to catch a mammoth). He admits his lie, and loses Evolet. And the white spear that has a crocodile-skull sheath.

Oh yeah, his father "abandoned" the village at an unknown time in the past.

Some "four-legged demons" (men on horseback) come by and steal Evolet and set the mammoth-bone tents on fire, so, of course, D’leh has to go get her. He takes the man who serves as his guardian, a friend, and some kid with him (you guessed it, the kid followed them, and then they grudgingly accepted him into the group).

What follows is, well, interesting. They travel from the mountains, over a very short bit of tundra, straight into the Chinese jungle (bamboo, karst topography), into grasslands, into desert and to the "head of the snake." They must have found a network of short-distance stargates or something, because they jumped everywhere but the Americas (don’t worry – the Americas were not completely left out).

Along the way, they gather some people to help them on their quest, which, after running into some Africans, becomes to go set a bunch of people free (oh yeah, the "four-legged demons are Egyptians who are off to collect slaves). All of these people follow the guy who belongs to "the people from the mountain" for reasons that I will not disclose and that you have probably already figured out. Additionally, there were two languages at 10,000 BC: English and Other, and fortunately they run into a guy who can speak both.

Along the way, they also encounter a slew of prehistoric beasts which (in some combination) should have been extinct, on another continent, or not domesticated. First is the largest mammoth ever (the bull – for some reason, they went hunting for the biggest and strongest instead of the weak guy). The only mammoth that came even close to that size is known only in North America. Second is the saber-toothed cat, which was far too big to be anything but Smilodon, extinct at 10,000 years ago and only known in North and South America. They then encounter some humongous Terror Birds, again known only in South America and spanning 62 million years ago to 2 million years ago. At some point, apparently, the Egyptians managed to domesticate mammoths (in the desert, yes) in order to help them build the great pyramids at Giza.

That’s not the only thing that the Northern Africans did. Apparently they also domesticated corn and chile peppers (both domesticated in Mesoamerica about 6,000 years ago).

I will not get into the archaeology – it would be too painful for me.

As far as dialogue goes, 10,000 BC contains the usual semi-accented mostly-contractionless semi-gramatically-incorrect speech that one would expect of such a movie. The dialogue does have some memorable moments, such as when D’leh realizes that it has to be dark out in order to see the stars. Really?

In short, this is a movie that must take place on Pangaea (to explain the geography) over some ridiculously long span of time. It is also hillariously inaccurate – the director really should have placed this on a different planet.

On a high note, the megafauna looked magnificent, if not a bit large. I suppose that the mammoths were given a bit of a trim, too, before heading to Africa, though not enough to make them elephants…

Clips and links!

Side Note:
Sorry that I have not updated in a long time. My thesis was due yesterday, and I am currently in the middle of midterms. On a higher note, I’ve been accepted to graduate school, so my post rate will not go up anytime soon!

Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)

[ Hypnotized Mood: Hypnotized ]
[ Reading Class-related nonsense Currently: Reading Class-related nonsense ]
Flow: **
Special Effects: *
Character Development: **
Entertainment value: ***

This movie is, in sum, about a group of people who enrage a "beast" whilst blowing up a mine in order to distract a small town so that they can steal some gold. The director thanks (appologizes to?) the people of South Dakota in the first few minutes for being allowed to film in (desecrate?) the state.

The Beast from Haunted Cave, directed by Monte Hellman, who is also known for Flight to Fury (1964), begins at a ski slope in the Black Hills. The group arrives and the giddiest member proceeds to take pictures. At some point, he happens upon a mine shaft, which later on we find out he meant to find.

At this point, it is time to place the charge in the mine. For some reason, the man who is sent brings a waitress from the bar with him, who, of course, gets killed by the "beast." This scene is our first glimpse of the "beast," who from here on out shall be referred to as the Cotton Candy of Doom (CCD). All we really see is some cotton-candy-like-substance with a spider-like leg in it poke the woman, who proceeds to "die."

The mine is set to blow in the morning the next day, and the posse needs somewhere to hide. They convince some guy named "Gil" to let them visit his very remote cabin that can be reached only by cross-country skiing. The true reason is, of course, so they can meet a plane on a frozen lake that will take them to Canada. The next morning, the mine does in fact blow, and does manage to empty out the entire town (oh right, everyone would leave, including the people guarding the gold that is kept behind unlocked or badly locked doors).

What happens next is incredibally dull, so I will not get too much into it. Just imagine watching a cross-country ski race, only very slow and with one interruption from the CCD with the still somewhat alive woman.

They arrive at the cabin and Gil discovers shortly thereafter that his guests are not very good people. He and Gypsy, the only woman in the crew, have hit it off fairly well, mostly because she does not enjoy her life as a robber and would like to find a way out. The leader of the robbers does not approve, and some mediocre-to-boring arguing and fighting ensue.

Why, Hellman, why? The only reason that I was still watching was so that I could see some more of that awesome monster. All we’ve seen up until this point is this very fluffy thing with a spider leg. A single spider leg that it grabs people with, or pokes them, depending. Monster movies like this always show the monster in its full "glory" eventually, so I stayed strong. Fortunately, all of my suffering would be worth it.

Some more stuff happens that is fairly unimportant. There is a loud shrieking noise outside (must be the cougar!), the maid is abducted (oh yeah, there is a maid), Gypsy decides to run off with Gil, and a horrible storm approaches.

Gypsy and Gil find themselves without shelter and must go to Haunted Cave to weather out the storm. Of course, the CCD is hiding in the cave. The beast is not in fact from the cave, but from the mine shaft. The miners disturbed an egg that was a million years old, which then hatched this abomination, which then moved to Haunted Cave.

In the cave, Gypsy and Gil have to battle the CCD after discovering the waitress, the maid and someone else cotton-candied to the wall. The beast is more glorious than I could have hoped. From across the cavern comes this humanoid-spider thing covered in its own fuzzy stuff (cotton candy, I guess, because it is certainly not spider silk). It uses its prehensile (yes, prehensile) spider legs to intimidate or grab people. It lives off of human blood (because there were humans in North America 1 million years ago…).

During the epic battle, the rest of the gold-purloining posse shows up and takes Gypsy hostage. Of course, I will not ruin the ending. Do Gypsy and Gil escape? What happens to the monster? What happens to the bad guys??

This is a truly aweful movie. It is boring, slow and full of holes. Its only redeeming quality is the monster, which makes the 65 minute wait for its revealing quite worth it. Sometimes it looks like a pile of yarn and cotton candy, and sometimes it looks like a spider-human-thing. I would recommend fast-forwarding through any scenes involving skis.

The Beast looking like a mop
Just prior to the "epic" battle scene

The Legend of Bigfoot (1976)

[ Happy Mood: Happy ]
[ Listening to MST3K Currently: Listening to MST3K ]
Flow: *
Special Effects: **
Character Development: ***
Entertainment value: *****

You probably read the subject line and thought that I would be reviewing a movie that was about Bigfoot. You would be wrong. Not that there is no "Bigfoot" in the film, at least as much as Ivan Marx dressed up as an ape-thing ambling through a meadow would count as such; its just that there is very little of its title character.

I should back up. The Legend of Bigfoot is a documentary about Ivan Marx, a man who dedicated his life to the pursuit of Bigfoot. He caught the "creature" on video a couple of times, amounting to maybe five minutes of footage, and so had to fill the rest of his feature-length work with vaguely related wildlife scenes and a good ten minutes or so of someone’s headlights.

According to Marx, Bigfoot lives up in the mountains (of the Rocky variety) somewhere and migrates many thousands of miles with the seasons. He spent most of his life tracking this creature. After years of relative lack of success in his endeavor, he decided to ask some elder of one of the First Nations for help. The elder basically messed with Marx and told him that, in order to find Bigfoot, he would have to find the breeding grounds of the moose and do some wierd dance and music routine at night on (presumably) the tundra. Footage of moose copulation and someone’s car headlights ensue (separately, of course). That is the gist of the Bigfoot-related part of the movie, which amounts to maybe 15 minutes.

The rest of the documentary is filled in with nature footage, most of which he explains with strange philosophical musings (you know, the savagery of nature, the natural order of things, the beauty of big scary animals, etc.). One scene in particular sticks out in my mind that involves two squirrels. I will not ruin it for you, but will say that it involves one frisky male, one frisky female and an accident with a jeep. If for no other reason, watch the movie for the squirrel scene.

The whole movie is a disjointed mess of nature footage and dubious Bigfoot footage loosely tied together with a monologue by Ivan Marx. Its good entertainment so long as one is prepared with, say, a few shots of tequila or a few good friends. I should note that Ivan Marx held that his Bigfoot footage, in all of its blurry and bumbling glory, was genuine even up to his death in 2002.

On a side note: I changed the name of my blog because I found another titled "The B Movie Review." I wanted to be unique-ish Shocked

I have not forgotten

[ Currently: STRESSED AAAGH ]
I will actually be making fun of and/or suggesting the good sort of bad movies here soon. I am currently finishing up my second to last semester as an undergraduate (finals are great, as are grad applications).

That aside, I’m currently working on a review of The Beast from the Haunted Cave and the series The Buccaneers. Future entries will include just about anything from my DVD collection, which is extensive, but not necessarily in a good way. Cool


[ Sleepy Mood: Sleepy ]
I have a confession to make: I watch too many bad movies. I have more bad movies in my DVD collection than good movies and mediocre movies combined. I do not enjoy all bad movies; my favourites tend to be in black and white and involve some combination of Bela Lugosi, Roger Corman, Crash Corrigan, Ed Wood and the SciFi Channel on Saturday night. I fell asleep during Battlefield Earth and was rendered speechless by Catwoman, so there is a limit to what I can tolerate.

The faults of the proper bad movie endear it to me. It must be so completely absurd, poorly scripted, terribly acted and questionably edited as to result in a level of corn and silliness that keeps my attention while welcoming my derision. Being a true B Movie from the golden age of cinema certainly helps, but films from any generation can qualify. The "good" bad movie must never take itself seriously, regardless of the director’s intent (think Battlefield Earth vs. Plan 9 from Outer Space). It is this effortless tone that separates the insipid from the awesome.

The creation of the bad movie is an art form that has been taken to new and glorious levels by the SciFi Channel in such masterpieces as the 2006 action flick Mammoth. The made-for-TV film featured a posessed semi-decomposed creature of the same name, a slew of mad scientists who sought to "understand" what was going on, and a B-movie lover who obviously would have been one of the few people on Earth to have any experience with this sort of situation.

I will dedicate future entries to reviews of films as I watch them so you don’t have to. This blog is not meant to serve as a repository for the best of the bad, but as an athenaeum of information (and possibly some disinformation) on some of the bad movies available.