September 2020 Mini-Reviews – 1999 AD to In the Year 2889

Well, September zipped by very quickly, and October… Well, somehow, suddenly it’s nearly the end of the month, and I haven’t posted my September Reviews yet.  Weirdly, September started with a year title — 1999 AD — and ended with one — In the Year 2889 — as well.  With the pandemic still raging across the US, it sure feels like centuries!

Movie watching continues at a frantic pace, thanks in part to two Monster Kid Radio streams, a Saturday stream taking up most of the day, and a Tuesday evening stream of 2 films and more, both at — www.monsterkidmovie.club.  Come and hang out with Derek (and often me), if you have time time.

I clocked a pretty astonishing 64 movies & series in September, including polishing off a couple of seasons of The Frankie Drake Mysteries (good fun), one of the best concert films I’ve ever seen (The TAMI Show),  the not-so-great serial of the classic Terry & the Pirates comic strip, a number of noteworthy shorts (and single shows), and… of course… monsters, monsters, monsters.  Oh, and Joe Namath as a biker in a silly exploitation flick.

You’ll find all that and more below.  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.

1999 A.D. *** Fascinanting look at the future of the atomic-age family from 1967 as predicted by Ford/Philco. Some hits, some misses.
Incredible Petrified World, The ** What’s a good cast doing in a dull pseudo-SF movie like this? Watching a lot of stock footage & talking, that’s what. Ugh.
Science Fiction Theater: A Visit from Dr. Pliny *** A pair of strange men try to introduce amazing scientific advances at a business, only to be confronted with skepticism.
Unknown World *** Journey deep within the earth to look for a place for mankind to surive nucelar destruction. Good cast & low-budget FX.
Khartoum **** Heston plays Brit hero “Pasha” Gordon as he tries to save Khartoum from being overrun by jihad. Good actioner.
Dark & Stormy Night *** Blamire’s Old Dark House homage/parody has plenty of fun, lots of suspects, & production values that match the 40s.
Parks and Recreation (S1) *** Fun & quirky look at a parks department in a small Indiana town. Series groping to find its way, but sometimes hilarious.
Harryhausen Chronicles, The ***** Superior documentary looking at the career & monsters of SFX master Ray Harryhausen.
Lost World, The (silent) ***** Willis O’Brien’s dinosaurs make this silent version of the Conan Doyle classic still the best of the lot. Live dinosaurs!
Yongary, Monster from the Deep *** Korean attempt at a Godzilla-like film has silly moments & monster with glowing horn & flamethrower who dies sadly.
Giant Spider, The ***** Christopher R. Mihm’s homage to the giant bug films of the 50s is better than nearly all of them & has great cast, too!
She Gods of Shark Reef ** Buff brother helps his crooked brother try to escape authories but end up on island of pearl-diving women & temptations.
Jimi Hendrix **** Overview of the iconic guitarist’s life & career is filled with great music & memories of rock star contemporaries.
T.A.M.I. Show, The ***** Amazing collection of mid-60s stars from surf to Motown to British Invasion live in concert. James Brown & Beach Boys.
Cosmic Voyage (Space Voyage) 1936 **** Strong SFX make this soviet film about a trip to the moon well worth watching, though it is silent & later banned in USSR.
H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man *** Pilot for the TV series has SFX that are very good for TV of the day & some fun action, too.
Assignment Outer Space ** This Margheriti film has good production values & SFX, but the story drags even as Earth is threatened by runaway ship.
Go Go Mania (Pop Gear) ** The music is good, but it’s all lip-synched in the studio. A far cry when seen next to TAMI or any other live concert films.
Yeti: The Giant of the 20th Century * Meandering, goofy, with dodgy SFX & a script that seems just a collection of ideas thrown together. Kong-inspired dreck.
She *** Hammer’s production values lift this H. Rider Haggard tale, though it still drags in places despite fine cast & music.
Clash of the Titans **** Harryhausen’s Medusa sequence elevates this mythical tale of hero rescuing his lady love from monsters inc. Kraken.
Casino Royale (1967) ** Hot mess of a spy parody has big stars, lovely girls, great production values, & little else save a great Herb Alpert theme.
Haunted Screen, The: German Film After WWI *** Great clips from silent films highlight this doc that meanders back and forth a bit & could use better focus. Worth seeing.
Strangler of the Swamp *** (Rewatch) Woman takes over swamp ferry business after her fahter is killed by a vengeful ghost. Low budget but good.
St. Augustine Monster, The **** Josh Kennedy’s silent short takes a washed ashore monster & gives it a German expressionist twist. Love it!
Unearthed *** Short about an autopsy on a mummy that brings to light some unpleasantness. Good low-budget short.
Lunatic, The *** Eccentric man who “collects diseases” calls on reporter to help hiim with a disease he can’t control. Good short.
Nosferatu ***** Murnau’s masterpiece can’t be topped for silent horror. Good original modern-tech score assembled by Derek M. Koch.
Ghoul, The *** Wonderful cast and very creepy turn by Karloff, though the film drags a bit when he’s offscreen & ending is a letdown.
Kelly Drake Mysteries, The (s1) *** Canadian-based Kelly Drake & her 3 female associates solve crimes in the usual clever detective way. Fun.
Vengeance of the Zombies **** Naschy tour-de-force combines horror & giallo gore/mystery with Naschy in several roles. Lots of fun scenes & surprises.
Fury of the Wolfman *** Blu-ray restoration puts back the US cuts & makes this film more undestandable, though it’s still an asylum hot mess.
Plan 9 From Outer Space ** (*****) Ed Wood’s “monsterpiece” is either a terrible piece of drek or a laugh riot, depending on your POV, as space aliens try to take over the Earth by raising the recent dead to menace earthlings.
Horror Rises from the Tomb ***** A Naschy masterpiece about a dead warlock & witch who return from the grave to wreak vengeanse. Very fast moving.
Destination Space ** TV pilot shows promise, but didn’t make series. Group trying to make it from space station to moon. Process oriented.
Destination Outer Space *** (Rewatch.) Mihm’s space film is homage to nearly every space movie ever made, with 50s emphasis. Occassionaly slow.
Biggest Bundle of Them All, The ** Caper film has great cast, but is never quite as clever or funny as it thinks. Welch is gorgeous. Wagner, unlikable.
Parks and Recreation (S2) **** Quirky characters abound as the series about parks & public service really hits its stride with many funny episodes.
Van der Valk (1.1) Love in Amsterdam *** A kidnapping inciting 2 murders leads Van der Valk into personal & political deep waters. End twist a bit too “Morse.”
Terry & the Pirates (serial) ** Restoration might help, but for an adventure serial based on a great comic stip, this falls mostly flat, despite death traps.
Nightmare: The Birth of British Horror (Jekyll & Hyde) **** Robert Louis Stevenson & Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde are tackled in this, another excellent bio in this series.
Giant from the Unknown *** Good cast & production values are slowed by a very talky script, that fortunately gets going near the end. Barely 3 stars.
Meet Your Maker **** Cool Outer Limits-style short about a scientist with particle accelerator who deals with survivors of a destroyed universe.
Portret *** Eerie and surreal Russian silent film about a portrait that may (or may not) come to life in a poor artists’ apartment.
Flesh & the Fiends, The **** Excellent Burke & Hare story with strong cast including Peter Cushing as Dr. Knox. Euro version has nudity; UK/US no.
Werewolf Shadow **** (Rewatch) Naschy’s 1st stab at “Werewolf vs. the Vampire Woman.” Strong imagination & action. Plot a bit convoluted.
Girl and the Monster, The *** Seldom seen crime-style horror film has brother wrongly executed & brain transplanted into ape, seeking revenge.
Van Der Valk (1.2) Only in Amsterdam **** A woman’s death is somehow connected to family difficulties & a nun who likes erotica. Building on series’ strong start.
Tarzan’s Peril *** Tarzan takes on evil gun runners to save the kingdom of an African Princess. Standard Tarzan plus Dorothy Dandridge.
Countdown ** The cool moon sequences at the end can’t make up for the silly melodrama that gets the astronaut there. Mostly boring.
Lone Wolf & Cub (5) Baby Cart in the Land of Demons **** Ogami Ito & son must battle 5 tests to prove themselves worthy of their next assassination job, to kill a priest, recover a document, and then bring harsh samurai justice to those responsible for the missive.
Warning from Space *** Star-shaped creatures, assuming human form, come to Earth to warn us of a rogue planet about to hit us. Silly fun.
Out of this World ** GE & Frigidaire industrial film focusing on all the conveniences that a woman (housewife) will have in the future.
Evil Brain from Outer Space ** Superhero Star Man battles aliens trying to take over the Earth in this compilation of TV episodes. Some fun.
Lone Wolf & Cub (6) White Heaven in Hell **** The last (sadly) of the original LW&C series ends up with an amazing battle in the snow with Ito Ogami vs. hundreds of foes on skis, sleds, and more. Lots of fun getting to there, too.
Kelly Drake Mysteries, The (s2) *** The characters settle into their roles & the mysteries keep rolling in the second season of Kelly Drake (& friends).
Star 80 *** Fosse’s biopic about the murder of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten is well done but difficult to watch.
Addams Family & Friends **** Doc focusing on the origins of the Addams Family, the TV show, & other similar shows on TV at the time. Good info.
Dead Men Walk *** Strong Poverty Row horror with George Zucco battling his evil look-alike brother who turns into a Vampire. Dwight Frye.
Monster of Phantom Lake: The Musical, The ***** Even better than the original film, the musical version (filmed over 3 nights & seamlessly edited into one performance) is tighter, funnier, and the musical numbers are fun & hilarious with brilliant lyrics & music. Likely to surpass expectations.
CC and Company *** Joe Namath as biker with heart of gold who falls for a non-biker girl & falls out with his old gang. Outrageous fun climax.
Le Samourai ***** Stylish modern (60s-70s) French noir about a hitman falling out of favor with his bosses & hunted by police. Crime great.
Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet *** US version of Planeta Bur retains most of the oiriginal story but adds in US actors & replaces female cosmonaut.
In the Year 2889 ** Remake of Corman’s THE DAY THE WORLD ENDED is in color but worse in all other aspects. Some Buchanan charm.

So, though the month of September 2020 ended with more of a whimper than a bang (Aieee, Buchanan!), I’ve still pied up a breathtaking total of 504 films and series for the year.

Plus, I’ve started a (mostly) weekly Naschy film watch session — via the internet — with my friend author David Annandale.  We’ve gotten through the first Naschy box set and are starting in on the second.  So, if you’re looking for Naschy reviews, you’ve got that to look forward to, too.  (And if you want to join us, check Monster Conservancy Fanswww.SaveMonsters.com — for info.)

And, of course, it’s October… And I’ve already clocked over 50 things on my list, and the end-of-month frenzy is yet to come.

Next Month: Halloween Season!  What more do I need to say?  There will be a pile of monster-and-horror related movies both on TCM and the Monster Kid Movie Club.  So, there should be a pile of spooky, scary, and just plain fun films for you to check out.  See you in November!

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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