LATITUDE ZERO (1969) – Just as absence makes the heart grow fonder, the unavailability of certain movies over extended periods lends them a certain mystique that they can’t possibly live up to when they are finally released once again to the public. Recently Balladeer’s Blog dealt with this while reviewing the long locked-away movie Toomorrow, starring a young Olivia Newton John. Now it’s Latitude Zero‘s turn.
This Toho Studios movie is noted for being the final collaboration among Director Ishiro Honda, Special Effects Artist Eiji Tsubaraya and Musical Conductor Akira Ifukube. A few decades back Latitude Zero was locked away in the Toho vaults and was unavailable on home video, leaving all of us fans of cult movies panting for the day when it would be re-released.
Unfortunately, it’s neither the “science fiction classic” nor the “so bad it’s good masterpiece” that it was hyped as during its period in video exile. A bathysphere containing two scientists and a newsman is rescued from destruction by a futuristic submarine and taken to an underwater utopia. Japan misleadingly marketed the movie as if it was a sequel to Atragon, oddly enough.
The usual Raymond Burr Syndrome applies as we get American actors sprinkled in with the Japanese performers. Continue reading
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY FROM BALLADEER’S BLOG! Over the years my review of the 2011 horror film Father’s Day has been the most controversial. Reader reaction has been split between requests that I run the review every single Father’s Day and requests that I never run it again. Continue reading
In the middle 1980s/ Way down on Level 31 …
Before MST3K there was The Texas 27 Film Vault! Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at another film shown and mocked by Film Vault Technicians First Class Randy Clower and Richard Malmos.
ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Saturday April 12th, 1986 from 10:30pm to 1:00am.
SERIAL: Radar Men from the Moon was the current serial being shown. This episode of The Texas 27 Film Vault featured Chapter Nine titled Battle in the Stratosphere. During the 12 week run of this serial one of the behind the scenes crew (no one remembers who at this point) would dress as Commando Cody, the hero of the serial, and occassionally interact with Randy and Richard during the comedy sketches.
FILM VAULT LORE: This was supposedly the favorite episode of the Film Vault Corp’s effects man Joe Riley, which is why he used the title The Hypnotic Eye for his post-T27FV television show, episodes of which are on Youtube.
COMEDY SKETCHES : This episode aired when Randy still “outranked” Richard in the Film Vault Corps and so their relationship often had the “Main Character and Abused Second Banana” vibe like with Zacherle and My Dear, or Dr Morgus and Chopsley or Dr Forester and TV’s Frank. (F-Troop fans might describe it as a “Sgt O’Rourke and Cpl Agarn vibe.”)
The Host Segments therefore featured Richard supposedly being subjected to the type of mutilation the hypnotized female victims in The Hypnotic Eye were inflicting on themselves. Joe Riley’s special effect of Richard’s hair being set on fire was as intentionally laughable as the effect in the movie itself.
THE MOVIE: Continue reading
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! LOVE, GEORGE (1973) – Category: Bad movie elevated by kitsch value in the casting.
Directed by THE Darren McGavin and featuring his wife Kathie Browne in a small role, this hilariously bizarre film is also known as Run, Stranger, Run. “Run, Potential Viewer, Run” would be a more appropriate title.
Happy Mother’s Day Love, George (henceforth HMDLG) is often described as a psycho-sexual thriller but actually it is nothing more than a melodramatic soap opera with a few murders and VERY few scenes of blood and gore. Those blood and gore scenes are so over-the-top they are completely at odds with the low-key, almost made-for-tv mildness of the rest of the movie.
This was a theatrical release but is so subdued and slow-paced it seems like a telefilm. You and your friends can keep yourselves entertained making jokes about the recognizable cast members to kill time since the first murder doesn’t happen until we’re more than an hour into this flick.
Ron Howard IS Johnny, a teenager who has come to town to discover who his birth parents are but who mostly just stands around staring at people and ESPECIALLY at houses. He seems completely taken aback that the townspeople find this somewhat creepy. Johnny is intrigued by the rash of missing persons plaguing the small town and feels they are connected to the secret of his past. Continue reading
We all know today’s date, so let’s examine the notoriously bad Italian ripoff of Star Wars. I know many people consider Star Crash to be the worst of the Italo-Ripoffs but I’ve always gotten more laughs out of The Humanoid.
The many, many ways this movie steals from Star Wars will become clear as we go along. Let’s deal with first things first:
Richard Kiel plays the title figure. His real name is Golob but the Darth Vaderish bad guy arranges for Golob to be the guinea pig for a treatment that transforms ordinary people into powerful “Humanoids”. As a Humanoid Golob loses his beard for some reason but – even more comically – the beard suddenly reappears when he is returned to normal late in the movie.
Golob in his amped-up Humanoid form has super-strength, is invulnerable to harm and can deflect energy blasts that the Rebel Alliance-style good guys shoot at him. The bad guys plan to use a warhead to expose every man, woman and child on Earth to the bio-treatment, thus creating an instant army of billions of super-powered Humanoids like Richard Kiel. (Good luck controlling them since the treatment will reduce them to mindless animals like Golob.)
Corinne Clery portrays Barbara Gibson, the spunky Princess Leia pastiche. Barbara is a prominent scientist of Metropolis, which is what the entire Earth has been renamed now that it is just one big planet-wide city in the far future setting of The Humanoid. Barbara studies a gifted Asian lad who controls
the Force uh, I mean some kind of psychic or magical energy field.
Ivan Rassimov plays the main villain Lord Graal, whose entire army dresses exactly like Darth Vader. He does, too, but to stand out from his underlings HIS black helmet and mask have cutouts that let his eyes, mouth and cheeks show. Lord Graal wants to create the aforementioned Humanoid army so he can conquer the entire Milky Way galaxy. He has magical powers like the Asian boy. Continue reading
THE WIZARD OF MARS – (1965) – Category: A neglected bad movie classic that deserves a Plan 9-sized cult following
This 1965 film from David L Hewitt is my all-time favorite kitschy movie about space travel.
This one has all the little extras that separate a true bad movie classic from the mere pretenders. One of those extras would be incredibly cheap special effects, some of them cadged right from the old Soviet sci-fi flick Planet of Storms, which is a lot of fun for people like me who’ve seen those same bits of footage show up in countless other bad movies. (Especially the spaceship’s “viewscreen” complete with markings for North, South, East and West, which would, of course, be meaningless in space)
Another extra that this film has is the man I consider to be the Patron Saint of Bad Movies, John Carradine himself, as the titular wizard. I don’t recommend trying to see all the movies John Carradine has appeared in unless you plan on making a career out of it and I don’t recommend that either. (Somewhere around his Continue reading
TOOMORROW (1970) – What is one part Monkees episode, one part Frankie & Annette Beach Movie, one part Help!, one part Donny & Marie in Goin’ Coconuts, one part KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park and one part Beyond the Valley of the Dolls? The answer is Toomorrow, the infamous Don Kirshner/ Val Guest cult movie with a then-unknown Olivia Newton-John in a starring role.
The aim was to launch a new pre-fab pop band like the Monkees, but this time consisting of an Aussie (Newton-John of course), a Brit (Vic Cooper), an African-American (Karl Chambers) and a white American (Benny Thomas).
Olivia sings and also dances around the guys while they play, Benny plays the guitar, Karl is the drummer and Vic plays the keyboard AND his special invention called a Tonalizer. The band is called Toomorrow because, as Karl observes, they are “Too much! Too-Morrow!”
We’re told that Vic’s Tonalizer is what gives Toomorrow its special “sound.” How special is that sound? So special that its unique vibrations can revive the stagnant culture of an alien race that’s facing decay and collapse. It seems the aliens’ own musical output has grown stale because they have long since progressed beyond the troublesome “emotions” and “heart” that Toomorrow’s members pour into their songs.
Buy this movie for the Sandbaggers or Dalgleish fan in your life, because Roy “Neil Burnside” Marsden co-stars as Alpha, the captain of the aliens’ spaceship. His forever-terse voice is unmistakable despite the – admittedly competent – makeup and prosthetic effects for the ET’s (above right). Continue reading
MARS MEN aka HUO XING REN (1976) – What do you get when Taiwanese filmmakers take a co-produced Thai/ Japanese kaiju movie, alter the monsters and the character names then edit in their own actors Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-style?
You get this deliriously weird sci-fi/ monster flick which combines the appeal of Godzilla, Gamera, Jet Jaguar and Ultraman with The Golden Bat and Infra-Man plus a wig or two from Fugitive Alien! Not to mention pirated Pink Floyd music! Who could resist?
Taiwan’s elusive monsterpiece Mars Men has long been the Holy Grail for all fans of kaiju and of overdubbed & re-edited movie mashups from around the world. Huo Xing Ren, as it was called during its Taiwanese run, started out in 1974 as Giant and Jumbo A, a co-production of studios from Thailand and Japan.
The “heroic” monster and giant were Yak Wat Jaeng (right) & Jumborg Ace, respectively. Yak Wat Jaeng was a fanged, green-colored stone statue from the Thai movie Tah Tien (1971).
Jumborg Ace was a Jet Jaguar/ Ultraman-ish kaiju superhero from a Japanese tv show (all 50 episodes are available for purchase). Continue reading
MANDY (2018) – For anyone who was alive back then, 1983 was apparently different than you remember. Panos Cosmatos directed and co-wrote this blood-soaked, trippy combination of Hellraiser, Father’s Day, Werewolves on Wheels and Thou Shalt Not Kill … Except.
Balladeer’s Blog readers who remember how much I enjoyed Cosmatos’ previous film Beyond the Black Rainbow will not be surprised to find that I love this prime example of a “love it or hate it” movie. Despite the story’s 1983 setting, Mandy is not quite as slavish a faux-80s piece as Beyond the Black Rainbow. This psychedelic work mixes in plenty of stylistic touches that are beyond anything a 1980s flick would have served up.
The soundtrack by the late Johann Johannsson is so effective it practically deserves a co-director credit. Meanwhile, serving as something of a humanoid special effect is madman-in-residence Nicolas Cage, who stars as Red Miller.
Red is a lumberjack, and he’s okay (Had to be said). He lives in a cabin in the idyllic forests of the Shadow Mountains with his true love, Mandy. The title character is played by Andrea Riseborough, who gives off a kind of creepy Sissy Spaceck/ Shelley Duvall vibe. Continue reading
Randy (right) and Richard way down on Level 31 hosting The Texas 27 Film Vault
*** SADLY, I FORGOT TO NOTE THE FEBRUARY 9th ANNIVERSARY OF THIS SHOW THIS YEAR.
Sunday was the 35th Anniversary of the very first episode of The Texas 27 Film Vault from Saturday, February 9th of 1985. My psychotically obsessive research on the show has yielded a lot of info over the years but I have now worn out every source I could find.
Even the show’s co-host and co-creator Randy Clower has been bled dry of information on the show by me. Over the years other fans of the show – and a special shout-out goes to “the Cap’n” – have provided info here and there that often led me to concrete source material.
Anyway, here are some movies that we have general, varied reason to believe were shown on The Texas 27 Film Vault but I need original broadcast dates, info on comedy sketches or movie ticket give-aways, etc. Episodes aired for 2 and a half hours Saturday nights from 10:30pm to 1:00am in Texas and Oklahoma.
FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958)
The Film: “Thought Monsters” leech into atomic energy, then extract human brains and spinal columns to use as their corporeal forms. This is a Bad Movie Classic remembered largely because of the scenes where the flying brains, sporting antennae, attack their prey, with their spinal cord “tails” streaming along behind them.
Serial Episode: No idea, for now.
Reason for believing it was shown: Some of the Flying Brain Creatures are on the 1987 Texas 27 Film Vault poster. Continue reading