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!

About Steve Sullivan 411 Articles
Stephen D. Sullivan is an award-winning author, artist, and editor. Since 1980, he has worked on a wide variety of properties, including well-known licenses and original work. Some of his best know projects include Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Dragonlance, Iron Man, Legend of the Five Rings, Speed Racer, the Tolkien RPG, Disney Afternoons, Star Wars, The Twilight Empire (Robinson's War), Uncanny Radio, Martian Knights, Tournament of Death, and The Blue Kingdoms (with his friend Jean Rabe).