March 2020 Mini-Reviews – Attack of the Moon Zombies to Below the Sea

Yow!  It’s the end of the month already, and I somehow haven’t posted this yet!  (Though I had the header done at least 2 weeks ago.)

So, here we go as we all (wisely) dive into social distancing and Safer at Home isolation — which is a small price to pay for saving lives (especially those of us who are easily able to do it, financially).  I’m happy to do my part, and have been outside of my subdivision only once since the 13th of March.  Is it any wonder that I have 53 items on my list this month?!  (Unless I’ve miscounted.)

Please join me in keeping other people (and ourselves) safe… And while you do that, maybe you can find some cool stuff to watch from the list below, or those from previous months.  (This is the 4th year I’ve been doing this, you know!)

Stay Safe & Healthy… And Enjoy!

Ratings are out of five stars. Here’s what those stars mean to me…

* – This film is not good. Avoid it unless you tolerate dreck well.
** – A flawed film. You may enjoy it if you like this genre or the folks in it.
*** – A good solid film. If you like this genre, you’ll probably like this film.
**** – A superior film within its genre. Thoroughly enjoyable.
***** – An outstanding film on many levels. A great example of its genre.

Attack of the Moon Zombies **** Mihm’s 50s SF/moon movie has tip-o-the-hat characters & great moon zombie masks. Really good cast, too. Start here!
Demon with the Atomic Brain **** A bit of the Time Travelers with a bit of Stargate through a 50s lens. Another fine Mihm film with strong cast & crew. Fun!
Doctor Who (relaunch) Season 11 ** The actors are all fine. The pace is often frantic, & the amount of color grading has really started to bug me. The stories… Up & down. But the LAST story… For me, its retcon ruined my feelings about the entire season. Shark jumpin’ time. 🙁
Doctor Who: Attack of the Cybermen *** Colin Baker’s costume doesn’t help, nor do TARDIS continuity problems, yet there’s some good stuff in this story.
Blacula **** William Marshal’s presence & voice lend power & gravitas to this blaxspoitation retelling of Dracula. Some fun action, too.
Monster Dog *** Alice Cooper as head of a family moving into an ancestral home plagued by demon dogs – or werewolves. Great song.
Cry of the Werewolf **** Sure, the werewolf’s really a German shepherd, but the Cat People-inspired story is eerie & has a great cast.
Invisible Man Returns, The **** Lacks Whale’s mad genius, but makes up for it with Vincent Price & great cast & advanced special effects. Classic.
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini *** Frankie’s barely in it & Annette’s sans bikini (’cause she’s pregnant), but there’s still plenty of hot bods & silly sunny fun.
Monster from Green Hell *** There’s plenty of stock footage, but also a lost rocket causing jungle wasps to mutate into stop-motion giant monsters.
Outsider, The (HBO series) **** Stephen KIng’s child-killing monster causes heartbreak & chaos. Skeptical Sheriff & company try to track the beast down.
Alita: Battle Angel (rewatch) **** Sure, it’s got a lot of Japanese story stuff that barely makes sense, but the main actors & SFX are wicked cool. Encore?
White Lightning *** Burt Reynolds as ex-con Gator turns in moonshiners to Feds to track down his brother’s killer, a crooked sheriff. Actiony.
Black Lightning (Season 3) **** The toughest of the “serious” CW superhero shows, Tony Isabella’s BL has the best consistent writing (& music). This year’s “war” really felt like one, in a good way. Still, I’m glad it’s over, & we can move on to new things with the great cast.
Guns of the Apocalypse (rewatch) **** Mihm’s post-apocalyptic “western” lacks horses but not horsepower, with great performances & even some fun dubbing.
Gator ** Disappointing, uneven, semi-comic sequel to White Lightning with Gator returning to take down a criminal overlord friend.
Dragon Prince, The (S2) **** Characters & setting are further developed & the sense of fun & fantasy continue in this fine Netflix anime series. Love it!
Gulliver’s Travels ***** Fleischer brothers animated classic is equal to the best Disney in many ways. Good songs, great fun for kids of all ages.
River of No Return *** Marilyn Monroe & Robert MItchum headline a perilous river trip to track down her crooked beau. Beautiful & well directed & acted, but I’m docking it a star for standard “savage” Indian portrayals & a very uncomfortable near-rape by the hero.
Playgirls & the Vampire *** This atmospheric Euro-horror is slow at times, but has an attractive cast & a surprising bit of skin for 1960. Good fun.
Wolfman, The *** Rick Baker’s wolf makeups & the rest of the SFX make this worth seeing, despite gloomy story & depressing characters.
King Kong (1933) ***** The SFX remain amazing in this classic about the big ape & the girl he falls for. King Kong may never be surpassed.
Beast from 20,000 Fathoms **** Great Harryhausen monster spawned the Atomic Age of SF monsters & Godzilla, too. Still a great, fun monster thriller.
Black Scorpion **** Willis O’Brien, Pete Peterson & crew terrorize Mexico with giant scorpions. Good cast & great fun, despite budget issues.
Equinox *** Early Murin-Danforth SFX & monsters make this low budget flick fun to watch, as does appearance by author Fritz Leiber.
Avenue 5 (season 1) *** HBO’s SciFi comedy is uneven – sometimes brilliant, sometimes just annoying – but aims high & has strong cast.
Flying Serpent, The ** It’s The Devil Bat with a flying serpent instead of the bat & montezuma’s treasure rather than a stolen perfume fortune. Zucco is fun, but the prints tend to be so dark that the cheesy monster is really hard to see.
Devil Bat’s Daugther, The ** Daughter of a supposed vampire believes she’s going mad & committing crimes, but it’s just another gaslighting story.
Master of Balantrae *** Flynn version of the Stevenson tale is uneven but has some good swashbuckling, costumes, & scenery.
Dragon Prince, The (Season 3) ***** A rousing final season to the first storyline with some good character growth & a few twists & turns. I hope it returns again.
Annabelle Comes Home *** While the Warrens are away, evil doll gets out of its case & summons spirits to terrorize their daughter & two teens. Rote.
Creature from the Black Lagoon ***** If TCM plays this & I’m free, I will watch it. Classic gillman & beauty story never gets old & moves at a great clip. Perfect.
Fungus Among Us **** Joshua Kennedy quickie about kidnappers who take their victim to the wrong fungus-infected house. Fun.
Horror of Dracula ***** Free adaptation of Dracula by Hammer results in a terrific film with all of what would become Hammer’s hallmarks.
Frankenstein’s Daughter ** Great production values & good score plus attractive cast wasted on trite & meandering story. No monster vs. monster.
Teenagers from Outer Space *** This low-budget SciFi flick is better & more fun than it has any right to be, despite obvious cheapness of gargan monsters.
Black Scorpion (MST3K) **** Early MST3K lacks TV’s Frank but still has some fun jokes. The film is a minor classic due to Pete Peterson animation.
Ice Station Zebra **** Yes, it’s long, but Cinerama & good cast make watching a pleasure as sub races to the North Pole to retrieve spy stuff.
Around the World Under the Sea *** Ricou Browning underwater footage highlights Ivan Tors’ story of team trying to set up tsunami warning system worldwide.
Some like It Hot ***** Billy Wilder helms Tony Curtis, Jack Lemon, & Marilyn Monroe in story of men dressing as women to escape death at the hands of gangsters in the funniest gender-switching & convention challenging comedy of all time. Bold, brassy & …Hot.
Midsummer Night’s Dream, A ***** Lavish sets, costumes, SFX & star-studded cast higlight Max Reinhardt’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s classic comedy.
Yesterday **** Boyle’s touching story of a man who wakes up in a world without the Beatles & gains stardom recording Fab 4 songs.
Teen Titans GO! to the Movies **** Funny superteam adaptation with plenty of songs, in-jokes, cameos, & more than a little heart. Fun for kids of all ages.
Comedy of Terrors, The **** Matheson writes. Tourneur directs. Price, Lorre, Karloff, Rathbone & co. provide the laughs in Poe-tastic horror comedy.
Medusa against the Son of Hercules **** Handsomely made peplum film with attractive stars, great sets & costumes, plus Carlo Rambaldi dragon & Medusa.
Theseus and the Minotaur **** Joshua Kennedy’s peplum epic combines elements of Harryhausen & Bava along with the myth. (And I helped, too!)
Missile to the Moon *** Low budget SciFi has some fun SFX & monsters, though the story is “borrowed” from Cat Women on the Moon. Worth it.
Demon with the Atomic Brain **** Christopher Mihm’s reality-hopping 50s SciFi is has a bit of Stargate, a dash of Annihilation, an evil computer & monsters.
Mummy’s Ghost, The *** Kharis the mummy is back, after his lost princess, who his high priest takes a shine to as well. Standard with surprise end.
Battling Butler **** Buster Keaton’s millionaire gets his life confused with a boxer of the same name to impress his girlfriend’s family. Fun.
Sh! The Octopus *** Classic comedy sidekicks enliven “mystery” about people trapped in a lighthouse & menaced by a criminal “The Octopus”
Atlantis the Lost Continent *** George Pal’s SFX & production are good & plot’s not bad (if predictable). The shortcoming is the dialogue, but still fun.
Below the Sea *** Fay Wray shines & Ralph Bellamy gets to play a romantic lead in this adventure of searching for lost treasure underwater.

Yearly total is up at `126 movies & series, which is over 40 a month average — a good clip by any measure.  Will it continue?

Next month… Thanks to Monster Kid Radio’s Derek M. Koch running Social Distancing Saturdays movie marathons on Twitch, and generally not getting out (a gift we give each other to stop this pandemic), my movie/show watching numbers continue to climb at a fairly prodigious rate.  I can’t say that I want this to be a record year, because that would mean I’ve had to stay inside the whole of 2020 — but I wouldn’t be surprised.  Join me and maybe find some new stuff to watch, won’t you?

Remember, you can support this and all my other writing work, including Frost Harrow, Dr. Cushing’s Chamber of Horrors, and more, by joining my Patreon for a buck or two a month.  Thanks!

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