Stranger Things – a quick comment

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Wow. Watched the final episode of Stranger Things and I’m glad I stuck with it. The X-files/conspiracy/Goonies styled series gave way to a final episode that was pure monster movie. It ended fantastically, emotionally charged and well worth the time I put into it. At times during the season my interest faltered but the show always gave me something to pique my curiosity. The last few episodes were ramping up the tension but few series go all out monster movie style like the final show did. I’m glad I stayed with it to the end.

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Gamera vs Buragon (1966) – movie review

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Gamera vs Buragon (1966)

Daiei Studios – aka: War of the Monsters (1966)

 

In Gamera’ s second film we get a recap from the original up to when the scientists had sent the big angry turtle into space in a rocket. The space capsule is immediately hit by a meteor and Gamera returns to earth in color,  attacking Korobi hydro-electric dam. Then Gamera heads to a distant volcano and isn’t seen for another 40 minutes…really? Wtf?

We get a story about a band of reckless treasure hunters in the So. Pacific that invade a sacred cave, steal a sacred opal and bring a curse upon mankind. That curse is the dreadful monster Buragon. warofmonstersThe evil leader of these hunters will not listen to reason, he wants riches only. Only he can save the world from its terrible, awful fate and rigged system…(oops! sorry got carried away there). Oh, and that opal, it wasn’t a rock, it was a rock lobster! I mean it was the egg from which Barugon hatches. The little guy is a cute son-na-bitch.

The big drawback in suitmation FX is usually four-legged Kaiju, but they do a fairly good job here at this lizardry wizardry, even providing the creature with a long battering ram tongue. The monster’s huge phallic  tongue spews white frost on everything. Then the beast’s backbone horns light up and shoot an electric rainbow decimating all of Japan’s military missiles. They explode in premature evacuation, never leaving the launch pad. I know weird, right? Luckily Gamera sees the backside rainbow and rushes to the scene to defend mankind’s missiles.

We have a nice long tug-o-war battle between the monsters and the military’s scientific weapons until Barugon’s Rainbow is shot back up his own ass by a giant mirror, and he’s then killed by water…we must not be in Kansas anymore…Gamera wins the day by unfreezing, beating Buragon and dragging him into the bay. It’s a nice action-packed, old fashioned Kaiju battle at the end, the kind of scene I relished as a young lad.

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Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965) – movie review

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Gamera, The Giant Monster (1965)

Daiei Studios

A nuclear blast in the arctic wakes a mythological turtle from its frozen depths. It attacks power plants absorbing the energy released by their explosions. We follow a group of scientists as they try and devise ways to combat this ferocious enemy. We also follow the story of young Toshio, who  loves and collects turtles. He lets a turtle go back into the wild on the same night Gamera attacks the nearby lighthouse. When Toshio looses his grip on the upper landing of the building, Gamera seems to be somehow aware of his kind treatment to his brethren and saves him from falling to his gamera-the-giant-monster-shout-factorydeath. When Gamera attacks Tokyo, the boy tries to go talk to him but is stopped by workers at the fuel plant.

There is a great amount of destruction in this film as Gamera smashes buildings in Tokyo, power plants, and the airport. In the end Toshio is happy the scientists devise a plan that doesn’t destroy the creature, but instead sends it into outer space.

Shout Factory did a marvelous job with the DVD including a documentary interviews featurette in the special features and a great Gamera booklet in the case that features the story of Gamera and a detailed diagram of the beasts biology, showing the fuel sacs that enable it to fly, absorb and breath fire, and to turn raw energy into biological food. From the doc we learn that Gamera was filmed in B&W because of its budget restrictions. In order to build the massive sets to compete with Godzilla, the money had to be saved in other areas. Daiei Studios took a big chance filming without colour when it was by then the industry standard. The b&w works well for the film, masking some of the costume and set flaws as well as giving the feel of the original Japanese Kaiju.

Although this first feature is set up as a classic sci-fi film, the connection between Gamera and young Toshio garnered a loyal following from children throughout the world. Daiei Studios seized on this youth popularity aiming it’s future films more to children and having great success with it.

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Gamera is the one of the oldest/longest running popular franchises only behind Godzilla, James Bond and the British “Carry-on” comedies.  The new planned film for 2016/17 would be the 14th film in the franchise. Daiei Motion Picture Company and now is currently owned by Kadokawa pictures.

Gamera - the giant monster - diagram

Creature Feature reviews on Parlor of Horror

Dinosaurs in movies overview and link list on Parlor of Horror (includes giant monsters)

Tirano’s Claw (1994) – movie review

Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films

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Tirano’s Claw (1994)
aka: Dinosaurs vs Cavemen

Tirano’s Claw is a South Korean film about caveman life with no dialogue, much like One Million BC. When one caveman’s love interest is about to be sacrificed to the tribes God, a huge tiranos claw 1994 - posterTyrannosaurus, he risks his life to save her, getting them both banished from the tribe. They battle a Pachycephalosaurus, a giant man-eating rat, and their fellow tribesmen as they fight for survival. There’s some nasty and grotesque scenes depicting the savagery of prehistoric life. The worst part is watching them eat. Despite its sometimes sub-par special FX it’s somewhat engaging as you root for the young couple to escape the clans relentless, and often silly/comical pursuit to bring them back to the sacrifice stone.

As far as dinosaurs are concerned, there’s a very rubber looking, man in a suit Pachycephalosaurus (slightly more realistic than Barney the purple dinosaur), a man-in-suit Pteronodon and a large animatronic Triceratops. However, the star of the show is a full-sized Tyrannosaurus, mechanical/animatronic dinosaur. I can imagine that this ungainly monstrous contraption most likely killed or maimed some of the stuntman making the film. Tirano’s Claw might only be enjoyable for Dinosaur completists, but I found it entertaining. For a long time it was very difficult to get your hands on a copy, but now you can watch the whole film on YouTube. see link(s) below.

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https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fXQ8hiVebsw


Dinosaur Film Reviews on Parlor of Horror – overview

Valley of the Dragons (1961) – movie review

Rare and Obscure Dinosaur films
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Valley of the Dragons (1961)Creature Features logo

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directed by Edward Bernds 

Starring:
Cesare Danova
Sean McClory
Joan Staley
Danielle De Metz
valley of the dragons 1961 dvd

Here we have a dinosaur film that did not shoot one frame of dinosaur footage for its own production. Every scene of dinosaur and prehistoric beast was reused footage from films that have come before, most notably, One Million BC (1940). The production got fairly creative with this, going as far as filming the characters (new footage) in the foreground over the reused footage in the background. They even use b&w footage of Rodan to stand in as a pterodactyl. The premise of the film is far-fetched. Two men about to have a gun duel are swept up by a comet colliding with earth. They find the comet has earth’s prehistoric life still living as it had been a million years ago. The men are attacked by a parade of lizards and reptiles posing as dinosaurs including, a skink, a gator, an iguana, a monitor lizard, and a snake. There’s even some armadillo mixed in with some fake mastodons and a mongoose. Well, the two men get separated and each makes friends with a separate tribe of humans. In the end they get the warring tribes to get along, shake hands themselves and make a new life with their respective new cave-girl love interests. One of the big draws to the film, especially for young men, was the underwater swimming scene with star, Joan Staley. This film is not at all important in the history or legacy of dinosaur films. However it is enjoyable in a train wreck, sort of hokey-silly-pseudo-science, way. I just wouldn’t go out of my way to find it.


 

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a big draw for the film in 1961 was this scene…huba, huba!


Dinosaur Film Reviews on Parlor of Horror – Overview

Creature Features revisited – More Giant Monsters

Creature Features revisited – More Giant Monsters

A look back at the golden age of sci-fi, the 1950‘s. Our subject today… More giant monsters!
Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Giant Gila Monster, Tarantula, Earth vs the Spider
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Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

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A group of scientists investigate the effects of radiation on a Pacific Island near the Bikini Island Nuclear experiments. They are attacked by a couple of giant crabs that also have gained intelligence and psychic powers. They have telepathy and they absorb the knowledge of the victims they eat. One by one the group are killed in horrible attacks which leave them headless. The last three scientists communicate with the female crab and learn of her plan to reach the mainland, have her babies and devour all of mankind.
Roger Corman told writer, Charles B. Griffith, that he wanted this film to be experimental and have every scene to have action or suspense. The film was quite successful, costing only 70k but making over one million dollars. While it doesn’t have the best Giant creature effects to stand up to other films of the time, it makes up for it by using close-up shots and movement of the camera. This keeps the flaws of the creature design obscured. If you had talked to teens that saw this in the theatres, they would have told you this film was frightening. I think the main reason for that was the beheaded victims and discovering that the crabs were eating the heads. That was very gruesome for the 1950s
Trivia:
Russell Johnson as, Hank, spends his time while stuck on the island trying to fix the radio so they can call for help. Many years later he plays the Professor on Gilligan’s Island who, while stuck on the island, spends his time fixing the radio so they can call for help.
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The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

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I enjoyed the 50’s/60’s hot-rod and rock-and-bop feel of The Giant Gila Monster. Typical plot of 1950’s sci-fi without the budget of better known films of the era. Young couples in their cars go missing as the Gila Monster stomps some vehicles early in the film. The monster also causes a train wreck. It isn’t until the big dance party that the monster really makes itself known, coming out of hiding because of that crazy loud rock music. The town is saved by a guy named ‘Chase’ and his hot-rod! It’s budget film fun with a couple of good Gila Monster scenes, but it won’t win any awards for special FX. Watch for nostalgic entertainment on a day you have nothing else to do. Directed by Ray Kellogg. There’s a colorized version which doesn’t look too bad. And there’s a remake that looks SyFy style terrible.
Trivia:
Actress Lisa Simone was a contestant for Miss Universe in 1957.

Texas Drive-in theater owner, Gordon McLendon produced this film and The Killer Shrews as second features to the main attractions he had at his theaters.

Danzig used the font from the movie posters for his album logos.
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Tarantula (1955)

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The film stars John Aagar, Mara Corday and Leo G. Carroll. A scientist secretly experimenting with a nutrient that effects the pituitary gland looses one of his specimens, a tarantula the size of a dog. The next time they see this tarantula it has grown significantly. Another scientist (John Agar) investigating the death of a biologist who had stumbled in from the desert with deformed features meets with his lovely assistant, (Mara Corday).  They discover the Giant mutant spider and work to get the situation under control before it can reach town. There’s a tense scene where the tarantula is looking through the window at Stephanie and attacks the house looking for a meal. The film has a better than average plot, story and acting, making it one of the more respected giant bug films of the time. My only dissappiontment as a kid was the Tarantula never makes it to town to cause destruction. Directed by Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon).
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Trivia:
Clint Eastwood has a bit part as a pilot for the jet fighters that shoot at the tarantula at the film’s end.
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The tarantula is the same spider that performed in The Incredible Shriking Man.
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Earth vs. The Spider (1958)

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(aka: The Spider – not to get confused with Tarantula – 1955)
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A girl in high school is worried about her dad, who hasn’t come home from a road trip the night before. She convinces her boyfriend to go looking for him. These two teenage kids, Mike and Carol, they ain’t no Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys, that’s for sure. They find Carol’s Dad’s car crashed off the highway and search the area. Carol sees a cave and figures her injured Dad may have crawled into there for shelter. They fall into a big web and are nearly killed by the humongous spider. Ironically, the spider’s growl sounds pretty close to Carol’s scream with effects on it.
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Naturally they tell the authorities, the authorities go into the cave, find Carol’s dead Dad and kill the spider. A professor of takes the spider to the university and has it on display for study. The staging area is in the auditorium. At night the band comes to play a gig and all the teens come to dance to the rocking sounds. And I’ll be damned, that crazy rock-n-roll music revives that damn spider! (told you that rock n roll music was bad for ya’). Screams, gasps, running… we got ourselves a monster movie! The monster terrorizes a suburban town, threatens a mom and her baby, and follows our hero‘s car back into the woods. The Authorities follow the spider back to its cave and kill it once and for all. There’s some not-so-great matt compositing for FX and in some scenes it looks like they may have used miniature buildings. It didn’t look like the real spider they used wanted to co-operate much. The film was produced, directed and written by Bert I. Gordon, who was an avid B-horror film producer of the time.
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Trivia:
In a scene with a movie theater where Mike works at, you can see a poster for The Amazing Colossal Man in the Coming Soon display case and the Marque shows Attack of the Puppet People as now showing. Both are by Bert I. Gordon films.
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photo galleries:
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parlor of horror – classic sci-fi/horror movie reviews

Horror Movie Poster art – Postcard Collection- Part II

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Horror Movie Poster art – Postcard Collection- Part II

From my personal collection – post card sized replications of all the famous classic films I love
The middle era horror films, 1960’s to 1980s, plus some non-horror flicks:

 

1960’s horror, sci fi and other!

1970’s and 1980s horror and sci-fi

My Clint Eastwood poster repros:

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