Earth vs. The Flying Saucers

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Earth vs the Flying Saucers. Clover Productions 1956.
Earth vs the Flying Saucers. Clover Productions 1956.

Before watching the movie:

I’m closing the month with another sci-fi B-movie. I’m not sure how I first heard about this one, but I know it only by the title. It sounds like one Mystery Science Theater 3000 would have riffed, but they haven’t (at least, a cross-reference search only points to an episode for Earth vs. The Spider). It’s one of the B-Moviest of B-movie titles out there.

Knowing nothing of the plot besides the title (which pretty much spells it all out), I can only assume that the pilots of those flying saucers are eventually shown, so this can count as a monster movie. This seems to be a safe assumption, since the poster appears to show menacing ground troops, but these are either spacesuits, mechs, or robots. Which are probably good enough.

This isn’t in 3D, but I almost feel like I should wear red-blue glasses for it.

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The Mummy (1999)

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The Mummy. Universal Pictures 1999.
The Mummy. Universal Pictures 1999.

Before watching the movie:

I only very recently, perhaps in the last year or so, learned that this movie is a direct reboot of the Universal Monsters version of Mummy lore. The original Universal Mummy may have greatly influenced popular perception of mummies, but it’s perhaps the most generic legend in the franchise. Even werewolves, which are perhaps more independent, have a greater connection to The Wolf Man than mummies.

Additionally, I always thought of this as a fantasy action film, while the 30s film is, like the rest of the 30s and 40s films, definitely positioned as horror. Perhaps the genre shift accounts for the unpopularity I perceive this movie to have, though I’m not sure it’s actually all that unpopular, considering it had a handful of sequels and starred Brendan Fraser at the height of his fame. On the other hand, maybe the sequels are on the strength of the overall franchise. I may understand better after watching.

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Night of the Living Dead

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Night of the Living Dead. Image Ten 1968.
Night of the Living Dead. Image Ten 1968.

Before watching the movie:

I am really over zombies as a pop culture phenomenon. They’re here to stay because the only two kinds of enemies you can kill without offending people are Nazis and zombies, and you can justify modern-day or future zombies much more easily than explaining why there are Nazis in orbit around Regulus 9.

I’m more into vampires (kind of surprising, given my politics), but the thing is, I’m kind of attracted to the idea of being a vampire, while nobody wants to be a zombie. People want to be Survivors of the Zombie Apocalypse. I want no part of that scenario. I’m not entirely happy with my civilization, but I like it much better than none at all. Also I’d die in the first ten minutes of the movie.

However, this is the seminal zombie movie, and even Mister Rogers enjoyed it. Like last week’s movie defined vampires in cultural consciousness, this movie invented what we think of as zombies. Without even using that word. It hijacked the word in our culture, and now it means George Romero’s undead monsters. So that has to be of value.

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Dracula

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Dracula. Universal Pictures 1931.
Dracula. Universal Pictures 1931.

Before watching the movie:

The Ur-vampire story. Everything classical vampires are comes from this movie. While the movie is based on a book, the movie has more range and probably took some liberties.

I’m not sure I’ve ever directly experienced Dracula played straight, not in parody or playing off the legend as “another monster/baddie”.  By pop culture osmosis, I think I have a basic understanding of the plot, but there could be something new to me here.

This movie made Bela Lugosi and Dracula inseparable. I’ll definitely be looking out for how much of that is from the performance and how much from the popularity of the whole film.

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The Man from Planet X

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The Man from Planet X. Somebody 1951.
The Man from Planet X. Mid Century Film Productions 1951.

Before watching the movie:

This sounds like one of the schlockiest sci-fi horror films not involving psychic brains crawling out of their jars or aliens raising zombies from a small town cemetery on the idea that it would get humans’ attention better than just touching down on the White House lawn. The story has the potential to rise above, but with what they had to work with, this is clearly made to shock the popcorn out of your lap.

One of the things that drew me to this movie was that the titular alien is apparently iconic enough to be featured/spoofed in the Area 52 sequence of Looney Toons: Back in Action. I can’t recall offhand if it was the only one I didn’t recognize, but it was very distinctive to be so unfamiliar.

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