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RICH'S B (AND WORSE) SCI-FI THREAD


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> {quote:title=wouldbestar wrote:}{quote}

> Poor Beverly Garland! The Alligator People, Curucu, and this thing. That is not a winning trifecta. I hope Paul Birch and she were well paid for this as they were too good for this muck.

 

You left out It Conquered the World. Actually, Not of This Earth is fairly decent. And I have The Alligator People warming up in the bullpen.

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Not of This Earth (1957)
Directed by Roger Corman

One of Corman's better efforts, this quickie/cheapie is actually a pretty good little chiller about a space alien who comes to earth for our blood.

Paul Birch plays the alien, who wears shades that would make Roy Orbison wince. He inexplicably has his own house (horrible decor) and car (he drives like Lt. Frank Drebin of Police Squad). When he is not behind the wheel, he is being driven by his chauffeur/cook/jack-of-all-trades Jonathan Haze, a Corman stock player. Birch manages to telepathically hypnotize a doctor into giving him a transfusion, then convinces the doctor's nurse, played by the plucky Beverly Garland, to give him private care. Presumably, this is all covered by Blue Cross.

Birch zaps a few people with his radiating eyes, then drains off their blood with his personal home transfusion kit, which I discovered is available at your neighborhood CVS. One of his victims is an annoying door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman, played by my favorite B-movie character actor, Dick Miller. I won't give away how Birch disposes of the body, but let's just say Garland notices some smoke coming from the chimney and realizes there is no weenie roast going on in the cellar.

After dispatching a few more characters, Birch decides he is going to teleport Garland to his home planet of Davana. Since its inhabitants are dying off from radiation poisoning, his only hope to save his planet is by giving them a fresh blood supply. Garland's motorcycle-cop boyfriend, played by Morgan Jones, arrives just in time to save the day.

There are a few howlers in this film, especially the "scientific" jargon. Birch tells his Devana "boss" that he is sending 30 cubits of blood. By my calculations, that is about 540 inches of blood. Makes perfect sense. Later on, when Birch hooks up with a dame from his own planet, he tells her there is a hotel about 50 dekabeds from where they are. (No, it's not what you think - they are not looking for a quickie.)

Overall, though, this film is worth viewing. At around 66 minutes, it moves along with no dull spots. Birch, who is usually cast as the voice of reason in sci-fi films, does a good job as the villain. His delivery is staccato-like; "my ... eyes ... they ... are ... alien," "look ... at ... me ... look ... at ... me ..." Garland is resourceful, looks good, and even gets to b-slap Haze. If you can get by the elevator-shaft-like voices in the kitchen scenes (and also the brief appearance of a microphone from above), you should have a good time.



"Hey pal, this is a Hoover. Trust me, it really sucks."
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OK, I did this one just for me.

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"I may be wearing sunglasses, but I ain't blind. This is the last time I get my
home decorations from Bed, Bath, and Beyond."
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Marcello Mastroianni has a cameo.
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Frank Sinatra's food taster.
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The alien version of being the "life of the party."
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"You know, the Great Pyramid looked a lot bigger on tv."
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  • 9 months later...

Rich, I looked here and in the Horror thread for this timeless classic, but didn't find it...have you "reviewed" *The Giant Claw* yet? I was sure you did. I watched it last night and it made me laugh so much. I think it gets my vote for silliest looking movie "monster" yet.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tI6hx-crEu4&feature=related

 

I watched *Not of this Earth* recently, too, and Roy Orbison is exactly who came to my mind! "Mercy!"

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Hi April:

 

I did a mini-review of *The Giant Claw* in some forum a few years ago - probably "Bad Movies Coming to TCM," or something like that; but I've never done a full-blown review. I did notice a few weeks ago that it had come to youtube, so thanks for providing the link. I've been spending so much time doing the JD thread that I've neglected this one. So many bad films, so little time.

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Let's hope the Professor can review another deathless classic soon! I'm dying to find out if they really recruited the "secret word" fowl that flew around Groucho's game show set for *The Giant Claw*. :D

 

Or maybe I should save that for the look-alikes thread?

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Paul Birch always scared the heck out of me as the alien -- I could never see him as benign afterwards. I wrote up a review of NOT OF THIS EARTH some time back; where is it now, I wonder? Probably in the same trunk as Katherine Hepburn's wedding dress from LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT.

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Devil Girl From Mars (1954)
Directed by David MacDonald

I still can’t figure out if I like this film. True, the main attraction is Patricia Laffan as the title babe, wearing a tight black leather outfit that looks like a cross between Catwoman, Darth Vader, Mr. Spock in drag, and a dominatrix.

For the first twenty minutes, almost nothing happens. We are taken to the Bonnie Charlie Inn, somewhere in Scotland, where John Laurie plays a doddering old proprietor, along with his wife. Some young chick named Doris tends bar. The lovely Hazel Court plays a model who is staying at the Inn. An escaped killer named Robert also shows up; seems he and Doris had a thing for awhile, so she covers up his real identity. Finally, entering the fray are a reporter, played in irritating fashion by Hugh McDermott, and a scientist, who are tracking down a meteor (they think).


McDermott immediately realizes the real identity of Robert, but just as he is about to blow the killer’s cover, the flying saucer lands. McDermott goes into crisis mode:

(McDermott, grabbing telephone): “Hello hello, hello hello! What’s the matter with this thing?”
Doris: “Mr. Carter, what is it, is it a jet?”
“Hello hello, hello hello … it’s an aircraft, alright, only like nothing I’ve ever seen before! Hello!”
Robert: “What do you mean?”
McDermott: “Hell-o! It’s like something from another planet!”

So McDermott and the scientist decide to drive off to town to alert the authorities.

Court: “I know it sounds silly, but I don’t like to be left here on my own.”
McDermott: “Oh, you’ll be alright, we won’t be long.”


Meanwhile, Robert runs off, and Doris finds him in the attic, so they make out for a few moments.

Hey, does anyone realize there is a freakin’ flying saucer outside?

Laffan makes her grand entrance 26 minutes into the film. She says her name is Nyah, and she comes from Mars. Of course, she speaks English, and manages it with a British accent as well. She was supposed to land in London, but she didn’t want to get patted down at Heathrow. Laffan tells us about the war of the sexes on her planet, and the “ultimate weapon” that was developed:

Laffan: “… a perpetual motion chain reactor beam. As fast as matter was created, it was changed by its molecular structure into the next dimension, and so destroyed itself.”
Scientist: “So there is a fourth dimension.”
Me: “Yes, and there is a Fifth Dimension. I particularly like Up, Up and Away.”

So now we get to it – since the men on Mars need Viagra (and it hasn’t been invented yet), Nyah has come to earth looking for studs. The rest of the film is devoted to some boneheaded attempts at destroying Nyah, and/or deciding who she will take back to Mars to play Hugh Hefner.

This looks like it should have been a 1950s serial, what with the outrageous costumes, hammy performances, crummy dialogue, and a giant robot named Johnny who looks worse than Ralph Kramden’s “Man from Space.” Incredibly, this film was based on a play, which could explain all of the above. Laffan gets to show off her legs, but they were better displayed when she played Nero’s wife in Quo Vadis. Court always looks beautiful, but she doesn’t get to do much, and inexplicably says she is in love with McDermott towards the finale. McDermott is over-the-top and sounds like he has a hot potato in his mouth.

For adolescents in the 1950s, this was probably about as good as it got in Britain. But the trade-off is that we are forced to watch the supporting players acting like morons for the better part of this movie. This may be too high a price to pay just to have your loins stirred.



It looks like a flying saucer, but it’s really the water pump from my ’74 Chevy Malibu.
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Expecting an alien to alight from the saucer, these men are astonished when they see Kim Kardashian backing out of it.
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Al Gore always shows up to ruin things.
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Court and McDermott notice that Tip O’Neill has a leech on his forehead.
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The British version of “Musical chairs.”
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Laffan gives the Martian finger to the film critics.
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  • 5 weeks later...

12 To The Moon (1960)
Directed by David Bradley

If Newt Gingrich still thinks we should colonize the moon, he should watch this lunar lunacy.

The film opens with silent screen legend Francis X. Bushman gumming some dialogue about being head of the International Space Order. Personally, he looked better in that chariot race. Rugged but talentless Ken Clark plays an American commander who leads 11 other international scientists on a trip to the moon. The filmmakers try to satisfy everyone, so we get a Russian, German, Frenchman, Swede, Nigerian, etc. Unfortunately, we get no actors, although John Wengraf (the Aryan version of Hugh Marlowe) plods through with some dignity. Anthony Dexter is supposed to be a Brazilian; he looks like George Raft after a facelift.

Robert Montgomery Jr. (yes, the son of Robert Montgomery) plays the stereotypical math wizard on board, who must do quick calculations with pencil and paper to avoid every catastrophe awaiting the crew.

Wengraf: “We need the formula for our rate of deceleration for our landing on the moon.”
Montgomery: “That’ll be x over g minus 3.”
Me: “Couldn’t you guys figure this out before the trip started?”

And later, when the rocket is trying to avoid meteors, and Clark asks for help in navigating, we get this:

 

Montgomery: “Point 5 … and point 7 and five tenths.”
Me: “Um … can’t you simplify five tenths to one half? Or is your brain too tense? Too tense the size of a normal brain?”

Anyway, back to the moon. As the 12 move about (shouldn’t someone be watching the ship?), the two medical doctors, played by Anna-Lisa and some guy, wander off into a cave and discover it contains oxygen. Off come their helmets, and if I am any judge of romance, the rest of their spacesuits, as they fade into the distance. The statuesque Anna-Lisa is easy on the eyes; unfortunately, here she is too much “statue” and not enough “esque.” Another crew member gets sucked into quicksand, while Tom Conway, playing a Russian (and very poorly) burns his hands investigating some flowing material. After spending about ten seconds searching for the missing doctors, the crew head back to the ship. We are then informed that it is 202 degrees below zero outside. I don’t know if that’s Fahrenheit or Centipede, but either way, it is apparent that global warming has not yet reached the moon.

 

In what passes for character development, we discover that Wengraf’s father was a Nazi. Wengraf’s colleague, a young Israeli scientist, had his whole family killed by … guess who.

In what passes for plot development, the crew gets a message from the inhabitants of the moon, saying they have snatched the two doctors and are studying them. The moon people, or whatever they are, advise the crew to get off the moon, but they also make one request: they want the crew to leave behind two cats. I can’t make this stuff up.

The ship heads for earth, only to find the United States has frozen over, which apparently means that Ron Paul has won the Republican primary. Wengraf decides the only way to unfreeze the earth is to drop an atomic bomb into a volcanic crater. Conway discovers that the French scientist has disarmed the bomb. The Frenchman explains by saying this is their chance to take over the United States. This, of course, makes no sense, because as soon as the French get in trouble, we’d have to bail them out anyway. The fistfight between Conway and the Frenchman is hysterical; since Conway’s hands are bandaged, he tries to slap and elbow the bad guy, kind of the way basketball players fight. Eventually, the moon creatures decide that mankind is worth saving, and Francis X. Bushman slurs another speech.

Watch an episode of Lost in Space instead.

 

 

Anthony Dexter cops a feel.

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12 careers to the dumper.
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Notice anything odd about this uniform?
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In 2052, Rick Santorum declares his intention to enter the Republican primary.
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Francis X. Bushman doesn’t realize his cue cards are facing the wrong way.
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*Point 5 … and point 7 and five tenths.*

 

Wow, that makes my head hurt. Technical advisor? We don't need no stinkin' technical advisor!

 

 

Now why is that stupid spell check saying I spelled advisor wrong?

 

 

Thanks for another great review. Those helmets and ridiculous codpiece space suits make this one look watchable.

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  • 4 weeks later...

 

 

The Cape Canaveral Monsters (1960)

Directed by Phil Tucker

 

Space debris from the genius who brought us Robot Monster.

 

The film opens with Jason Johnson and Katherine Victor at the beach. Then they change into jumpsuits, so we get the sense they are supposed to be scientists – but this is never explained in the film. As they drive off, two glowing orbs wreck their car and take over their bodies. Johnson’s arm is severed, and lying in the back seat. The resourceful Victor, who is now “Nadja,” takes the arm and tells Johnson, who is now “Hauron,” that she will sew it back on at the lab. This dame must be great with needle and thread. A short time later, Johnson-Hauron’s arm is torn off again, this time by a dog. At this point, he should have auditioned for The Fugitive. Victor-Nadja concludes that Hauron must have a live arm.

 

Meanwhile, back at some other lab, a scientist who sounds like Sigmund Freud is wondering why his missiles keep getting shot down. Oh, that was a Freudian slip. His young assistant, played by Scott Peters, thinks people from outer space are involved. This is the crap they teach in graduate school now.

 

While on a double-date, Peters picks up static on his transistor radio. He immediately concludes that the source must be what is knocking the missiles down. His brilliant idea – walk around the woods to see if the static gets louder, and that will lead him to the source. His girlfriend goes with him, and they make out a few times. The other couple stays in the car. Hauron goes looking for an arm, and kidnaps the couple. He gets his arm, and the donor buys the farm. The chick is given electro-convulsive shock therapy, and then frozen – apparently this is how the aliens ship people back to their home planet when UPS is not available.

 

Peters and his girlfriend eventually stumble into the cave where the aliens hang out, and they are imprisoned by some kind of ray. While Hauron goes off to “prepare” the girlfriend for transport, Peters manages to break free by using the radium in his watch. He goes to get help, and brings back the cops and incompetent military personnel. Peters manages to get captured again, but bargains with the aliens. He will tell them about the next missile launch if they will set him free. When his girlfriend objects, he says “Ixnay. Onephay opeday.” To which Hauron replies, “What is that language you speak?” I think it’s called igpay atinlay.

 

Peters again breaks free, this time with the help of his glow-in-the-dark miniature slide rule. The aliens change over to orbs and submerge themselves in some seltzer water. When help arrives, one of the scientists conveniently has a piece of litmus paper on him, and they test the liquid. It is not hydrogen, but it is definitely stronger – at least to the hundredth power. Hey, that’s some great litmus paper.

 

Peters: “If you add sodium chloride to a hydrogen base …”

Scientist: “You release heat as a side product in the amount of thirteen thousand seven hundred calories per mole.”

Peters: “Now this stuff should heat to the hundredth power of that.”

Me: “This is why I never add salt to the pasta.”

 

All they need is polyurethane to make the explosion, so everybody coughs up their wallet inserts and belts. This is like an episode of MacGyver.

 

This film stinks all around. Outside of the constant bickering between Johnson and Victor, there is nothing to hold our attention. Poor Victor spends most of the film with a distorted face – apparently the aliens don’t believe in makeup. Peters is too smart, and everybody around him lets him run the show with their lives on the line. We get lots of stock footage of missiles blowing up. There is some military guy who always has a cigar in his mouth, but never smokes it. And there is an old coot with a rifle, who should have shot the director.

 

 

 

“OK, smart boy, make another crack about my pajamas!”

 

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How aliens play ping pong.

 

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“Try shooting the cigar out of my mouth, Pops.”

 

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“Look Missy, if you want a bigger office, you know what you have to do.”

 

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I think this could be an S & M scene, but I’m not sure.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

This film you've chosen represents the kind of in-depth reporting which is all too rare in our media. Here we were trusting our scientists to be focusing on manned space flight, but all the while they were swapping body parts with aliens. The truth will always out.

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