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Usually Balladeer’s Blog examines out-of-the-way bad movies but I’ve been getting plenty of emails asking me to review some of the better-known Golden Turkeys, so here are my quick takes on some of the staples of any list of Worst Movies Ever Made. I will not include any films I have already reviewed.
PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) – The Golden Turkey that pretty much embodies the saying “so bad it’s good” for many people. Aliens who think Earthlings are too violent to be trusted plan to resurrect the dead as zombies to wipe us out. They only ever revive three dead people so their plan never gets far. The ET’s are defeated in their attempt to destroy us before we can discover the secret of “solarinite” (or “solonite” as the lame hero says) technology. Far too much has been written about this movie for me to add anything new at this point.
ROBOT MONSTER (1953) – One lone ape-man in a diving helmet comes down from the moon and wipes out nearly all of humanity. The few survivors are a pack of thoroughly annoying assholes who make you long to see them all dead, even the children. In fact ESPECIALLY the children. George Nader, who always portrayed smug pricks in movies, is in rare form here. The “Post-Apocalyptic Lawrence Welk Bubble Machine Polka” ending has made this honey a favorite for several generations of bad movie fans and was on a very memorable episode of The Texas 27 Film Vault.
BILLY THE KID VS DRACULA (1966 ) – John “He’s probably even in the Zapruder Film if you look hard enough” Carradine stars as Dracula, who has traveled to the American west and runs afoul of the legendary Billy the Kid and a female doctor. Highlights include awkward dialogue like “Where can I find this pill-slinging backwoods lady doctor?” and inane action scenes like the one where a pistol is emptied against Dracula to no effect, then the empty gun is thrown at the vampire and KNOCKS HIM OUT COLD! See also Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter and Jack The Ripper Goes West. FOR MY FULL-LENGTH REVIEW CLICK HERE
THE CREEPING TERROR (1964) – A spaceship lands on Earth and unleashes a monster who looks like a long carpet draped over a long line of crawling people and which devours every human being it encounters despite the fact that it moves so slowly and awkardly that even Daleks could outrun it. After an eternity of repetitious scenes of people falling victim to the creature it gets destroyed only to have the spaceship unleash ANOTHER one of the synthetic beasts from its belly. The story about the scam behind the making of this film would make a great movie on its own and can be found in the Medved brothers’ classic books on Golden Turkeys. The musical number at the Dance Hall was done in marching band form on The Texas 27 Film Vault.
FROM HELL IT CAME (1959) – Radiation and black magic combine to spawn a walking tree monster animated by the spirit of the wronged leader of a native village on a South Seas island. The monster looks like a cross between a Sesame Street character and the mascot of a sports team (“The Fighting Elms”). Seriously, if you can look at this thing and NOT laugh you have no sense of humor. The usual assortment of bland white people and one-dimensional natives struggle to stay alive against this arboreal menace gone berserk.
ATTACK OF THE MUSHROOM PEOPLE (1963) – Long before a certain legendary crash-landing soccer team this movie made the phrase “I ATE them!” popular. Japanese partiers bring shame to all viewers as they chow down on cursed mushrooms that transform them into walking – well, waddling – mushroom people. If you ever wanted to see the characters on Lost turn into ambulatory fungi and run amok then THIS is the movie for you! All this plus a very odd and interminable song. Insert your own “you are what you eat” joke here.
THE KILLER SHREWS (1959) – Nineteen Fifty-Nine was a very good year for Golden Turkeys. This latest entry on our list features a gathering of hopeless alcoholics stuck on an island where they must battle giant shrews spawned by the typical mad scientist shenanigans. The giant shrews are really just dogs with VERY poor shrew costumes casually draped over them. Expect the usual bits with the characters fighting among themselves while trying to stay alive, but this time with LOTS more drinking and way too much Festus and Roscoe P Coltrane. The “escape in overturned metal barrels” scene is so hilariously awkward it must be seen to be believed.
TEENAGERS FROM OUTER SPACE (1959) Yet another flick from that milestone year. Extraterrestrial teenagers who look even older than the faux teenagers on Happy Days come to Earth in a spaceship. Our planet will make a wonderful breeding ground for their chief food source, called gargans, who will overrun the world and devour all life-forms as they grow. Gargans are really just gigantic lobsters, well, actually they are the SHADOWS of lobsters projected on the film to look gigantic. Naturally the aliens’ plan to use our planet to raise their free-range gargans is thwarted when one of their own falls in love with an Earth girl.
ASTRO ZOMBIES (1969) – John Carradine and THE Tura Satana appear in this groan-inducing hybrid of science-fiction and horror. A mad scientist plans to use electronically controlled zombies as astronauts to avoid jeopardizing human astronauts. His research is sought by rival intelligence agencies from around the world who want to use the astro-zombies instead as … well, as what is never actually spelled out. Probably as an undead army or such. The creatures are powered by sunlight and there is a scene where an astro-zombie running low on power holds a flashlight up to its head to keep itself running.
MANOS, THE HANDS OF FATE (1966) – This unbelievably bad movie was already a cult film by the 1980s when it was featured in books like Incredibly Strange Films and the Medved Brothers’ books. In 1993 it became an even bigger hit, of course. A married couple and their child get lost while driving around and wind up trapped in a house where a Satanist (or something) called Manos (“hand” in Spanish) periodically arises from some sort of supernatural hibernation. Manos has a goat-legged lackey named Torgo, a very mean and ugly dog and a harem of undead wives. Words can’t describe the air of ineptitude that suffuses every moment of this laughable attempt at a horror film.
In the future I’ll look at more of the essential bad films that are out there. Meanwhile for my reviews of films that are even worse and weirder than these read on:
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