Creature Features revisited – movie reviews
Old movies still enjoyable to watch today
For those who love to indulge in the old 1950’s sci-fi horror scene here are some gems of the time. With so many movies being made in that era, it is easy to end up watching a complete dud or incoherent Z-grade film. So, I’ve picked out some films that are a cut above the rest. Naturally, you would need to have some love for the films of the era, some nostalgic enjoyment, and not compare them to today’s super fast-paced entertainment.
The Fiend Without a Face (1958)
I had been looking for this film for a long time, only – I didn’t know the name of it. I assumed it was The Atomic Brain or Donavan’s Brain, but I was wrong. Then I see a pic from the film on a website and bingo! With a little description you’re going to say, Oh, Yeah! I know that flick! The creatures in this film are nothing more than a brain with the spinal cord still attached. The creatures move by using their spinal cords like an inch-worm. They spring through the air using their spinal cords to attack and inject a needle into the back of your neck, at the brain stem, where they can suck out your brains. In the end, a group of folks are trapped in a house surrounded by these creatures and shoot at them when attacked. Kinda’ reminds me of the bizarro, Night of the Living Dead. In NOTLD its bodies without any brains – In this its brains without any bodies. In both they are trapped in a rural area house fighting to keep the creatures outside from getting in. One potent element in this film is the ‘squish & deflating’ sound made every time one of these things is killed.
The Trollenberg Terror – aka The Crawling Eye (1958)
There is something alive in the mist, horrible creatures from another world with giant tentacles… This is not a description from the recent film, The Mist. It is from the ‘50’s British, sci-fi/horror gem, The Trollenberg Terror. Alan Brooks (Forrest Tucker), on his way to Trollenberg, Germany and the highest peak of the German Alps, meets two sisters, Sarah and Anne Pilgrim (Jennifer Jayne & Janet Munro). Anne has clairvoyant powers and is soon receiving thoughts from some entity atop the Trollenberg peak, which is always shrouded by cloud and mist. She sees the deaths of several mountain climbers and they are found, headless among the rocks. Deaths continue as Alan meets with a fellow scientist at the observatory keeping watch over Trollenberg. The perceived threat of Anne’s insights brings the creatures down from the peaks and they trap both tourists and scientists in the observatory. This film has a solid story, great acting, and the creatures are magnificent by ‘50’s standards (tentacles are always the hardest thing to animate). Definitely one of the better sci-fi films from the ‘50’s. Originally had an ‘X’ rating because of the gruesome decapitation scenes – although, they are mild by today’s standards.
The Monster that Challenged the World (1957)
This film never gets much respect, probably because it is often paired up as a double-feature DVD with a less than respected partner. So, I’m here to give this film some deserved praise. OK, the monster does not challenge the world, it challenges a small town and naval base at Salton Sea, CA. Located on the San Andreas Fault, an earthquake releases some horrid creatures from a fissure in the sea floor. These giant snail creatures have a taste for human snacks. Decent (robotic) creature effects drive this film. Stated as snails, they don’t look exactly like snails, they have mandible pincers, a gaping circular mouth, and their eyes are not on stems but are receded into the head. They are menacing looking, especially when one traps a little girl and her mother in a room at the naval base. Decent script and well acted, this film should be a ‘thumbs up’ for all 1950’s sci-fi aficionados.