August Mini-Reviews – Theater of Blood to Zontar the Thing from Venus

September 28, 2018 No Comments »
August Mini-Reviews – Theater of Blood to Zontar the Thing from Venus

August, plenty of stuff going on — but still got 38 films done.  Thought I had 39, but checking the list just now, discovered one I hadn’t finished.  I did a bunch of Beach Monster movies!  Had some fun with the Sharknado-related films on SyFy. And then fell down the rabbit hole that is Conan-adjacent films, including at least one that surprised me.  Plus, I decided to explain the ratings, in case you think a *** rating is bad, coming from me.  (It’s not.  I love 3-star films!)

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.


Theater of Blood **** Price & Diana Rigg shine in black horror comedy about a thespian taking revenge on his critics. Echoes Phibes.
Happy Death Day **** Groundhog Day with horror twist. Victim has to solve her own murder before she dies for the last time. Fun.
Thin Man, The ***** William Powell & Myrna Loy shine as the best movie couple ever in this murder mystery with urbane comedy.
Mission Impossible: Fallout ***** Tom Cruise & the IM team are back with action-packed tale of spies, anarchists, & double crosses. Top notch.
Mystery in the Wax Museum **** Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, & Glenda Farrell (the reporter) shine in this horror flick of missing corpses & wax models.
Secret of the Blue Room *** LIonel Atwill in a rare top billing & Gloria Stuart are worthwhile in this old dark house murder & mayhem mystery.
Doctor X *** Atwill’s Doctor X does Mad Science experiments to catch Mad Science “Moon KIller.” Slow at times. Fay Wray!
Vampire Bat, The *** Atwill & Wray again, but this one’s title is a red herring & the mad scientist thing is less interesting than the title.
Mark of the Vampire *** Do I keep watching it ’cause I hope it’ll have a different ending? No. I keep watching cause Bela & Luna are cool!
Beach Girls and the Monster ** The monster is cheesy, but it’s the Scooby-twist at the end that really derails this tale of surf, girls, and “monster.”
Horror of Party Beach, The *** Sincerity & enthusiasm make up for sometimes cheesy production in this undead-mutant-beach-monster classic.
Monster of Piedras Blancas, The *** Production values are higher on this flick than most beach-monster flicks & the beast scared a generation of kids.
Flesh Eaters, The *** Pilot, actress, & secretary stranded on island with scientist researching flesh-eating critters. Good final monster.
Crime of Doctor Crespi, The ** Slow at times, from stretching Poe’s Premature Burial idea into movie, but some nice moments with good cast.
Lady in the Lake *** POV film with detective Marlowe (Robert Montgomery) in a twisted tale of murder, corrupt cops, & femme fatales.
Unsuspected, The **** Claude Rains is a radio show host tangled up in the return of a “dead” heiress & twisted murder plots. Complex.
She-Creature, The *** Blaisdel’s monster is the highlight of this tale of past-life regression & an egomaniac hypnotist cum kiler. Fun.
Sting of Death, The ** The movie is cheezy & aqua-monster on rampage plot standard, but the colors are stunning & sincerity abounds.
Beast that Killed Women ** What you get when you graft a nudism picture into a monster flick is a pretty tame measure of both in lovely color.
The Meg *** International cast of likable characters led by Jason Statham in good scientists vs. prehistoric giant shark tale.
Wolf Man, The (Sven) ***** Univesal Horror flicks of the 40s don’t get any better than this. Chaney Jr. as one of the best monsters of All Time.
Humanoids from the Deep (Monster) *** Possible Euro Cut of thie Corman produced exploitation sea monster classic about humanoids who want women.
Nudist Colony of the Dead ** Forrest J. Ackerman’s cameo can’t help this zombie nudists vs. Bible thumpers, but some of the songs aren’t bad.
It’s Alive (Larry Buchanan) ** Tommy Kirk & a re-used mask from Creature of Destruction in this tale of prehistoric “reptile” & mad “zookeeper.”
Deep Blue Sea 2 ** Scientifically altered sharks return but little of the wit & none of the interesting characters do in this tepid sequel.
Monster of Camp Sunshine, The ** B&W nudity, outdoor scenes, & lots of voiceover work in this pale excuse for a monster flick. Historic interest only.
Open Water 3: Cage Dive ** Not bad for a POV found footage shark film, until the people act stupid & you wan tthe girl to die. Okay until then.
Megalodon ** Not bad for an Asylum cash-in, but more focused on Navy vs. Russians drama than the Meg biting a submarine.
Kiss Me Quick! ** Alien wants (nude) women created by a mad scientist, hoping they’ll be good servants in best monster nudie.
House on Bare Mountain ** Granny Good is running a school for (nude) women & apparently also bootlegging liquor. Pretty incoherent.
Frenzy (SyFy, not Hitchcock) ** Better shark CGI, interesting narrative style, & decent actors can’t save the stupid people in an ocean plane crash.
Nightmare Shark ** With Sharknado waning, SyFy ads sharks to Nightmare on Elmstreet, with mixed but amusing results. Okay.
Last Sharkando: It’s About Time, The *** It’s pretty much fan-service all the time, as this one wraps up all the plot threads from the last 5. Fun for fans!
Conan the Barbarian (1982) ***** John Millius’ tough-guy POV pervades Schwarzenegger’s 1st & best epic. Great production, score, SFX, violence.
Conan the Destroyer ** Big step down from the original. Plays like a mediocre D&D game, not so much Conan. Pedestrian on every level.
Phantom Planet, The *** Astronaut gets shrunk tiny & stranded on wandering planet under threat by cool monsters. Good low-budget sci-fi.
Sword & the Sorcerer, The *** Sometimes silly, sometimes serious, but with decent (if twisted) storyline, stars, & production, & really good score.
Red Sonja ** Anti-feminist leanings rob Sonja of much of her power. Arny out-acts Brigitte, kid annoys, & she’s saved too much.
Conan the Barbarian (2011) **** Momoa is great & the film catches the Hyborean fire-lit feel. Wheel-fight is goofy, but rest is cool. Well worth it.
They Came from Beyond Space *** Amicus SciFi starts off like Quatermass story of meteor/UFO landing, has some Body Snatcher stuff. Weak end.
Zontar – The Thing from Venus ** Agar in one of Buchanan’s best Corman remakes. Monster doesn’t look too bad. It Conquered the World is better.

Next Month: September started fast, and then tailed off a bit.  We’ll see how it ends — but there is also a new Mihmiverse film out!

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

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