April 2021 Mini-Reviews – Rodan to Frankenstein & the Monster From Hell

April 2021… Where did April go?

Oh, yeah, it was Roger Corman’s 95th birthday.  (Happy Birthday, Roger!)  Films and shows related to that captivated some of my time, as did fan-made Star Trek shows, courtesy of Derek and the MonsterKidMovie.club gang — who, of course, continued to provide 2 or more SF related shows on Tuesday, and 5 or more shows on Saturdays.  Monster Kid Radio’s Derek M. Koch’s programming continues to beef up my watching numbers.  I also continued watching films once a week (mostly) with author David Annandale, plunging through the Mario Bava sets.

Numbers for the month total is 58… Can that be right?  And I only counted that One Step Beyond mini-marathon as one, rather than the half-dozen or so episodes separately.  Oh, and of course, there was the finale of Falcon and the Winter Soldier — a series we liked so much that my wife and I couldn’t watch any of the WB superhero shows (which we’ve followed for years) of a couple of weeks for fear of being let down!  (Hope I haven’t over-sold that to you.)

Plenty of other treats for you below, too.  Check ’em out!

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.

Rodan ***** Japanese version. The bugs at the beginning are chilling, but only a setup for the original flying menace in this Japanese classic.
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla *** Some fun monster battles with Godzilla, Mecha-G, & KIng Ceasar with ancient prophecy & ape-faced aliens thrown in for fun.
Gorilla Man, The *** Sadly, no actual gorillas, just a WWII hero known for climbing like one & Nazi spies trying to have him convicted as crazy. Fun.
Gorilla, The *** The Ritz brothers ham it up in a mystery with both a criminal called The Gorilla & a real gorilla lurking around. Lugosi, too!
Hound of the Baskervilles, The (1959) **** Peter Cushing is not-perfet as Holmes in this Hammer adaptation of the classic story. Begins with a creepy “historical” sequence that would feel right in place in any Hammer monster film. Plays with the story a bit, but it all ends well.
Midnight Manhunt *** George Zucco kills a guy & then spends rest of film trying to find his body. Leo Gorcey & woman reporter, too. Confusing fun.
Black Raven, The (rewatch) **** I like this film even more the 2nd time through. Zucco is title character & runs an Old Dark Inn filled with characters & murder.
Sherlock Holmes “The Case of the Laughing Mummy” *** Holmes short/show with the detective solving the case of a mummy that appears to laugh, a dead man, and a weather vane.
Sherlock Holmes Baffled *** Very short silent where people & creatures & such appear and disappear around “Holmes.” Stage magicky.
Return of Sherlock Holmes, The **** Joshua Kennedy’s affection Holmes film based on “The Six Napoleons” & more has a female Watson Good low-budget effort.
Stark Fear *** Beverly Garland tries to understand sadistic husband rather than leaving him, gets raped, struggles to find herself. Harrowing.
Undead, The (Sven) *** Roger Corman cheapie melds hypnotic time travel & reincarnation with actual witches, imps, & even the devil. Fun.
Evil Under the Sun **** Another classic Poirot tale from Christy, this time with antagonistic travelers on a resort island when one turns up dead.
Avalanche *** Rock Hudson is Mia Farrow’s ex, struggling to better his ski resort when title disaster hits.Fun-to-watch carnage in Corman flick.
Munchies *** Corman’s echo of Gremlins with cute creature turning into chaotic violent creatures who tear up town. More fun than oughta be.
Rock and Roll High School **** PJ Soles is determined to use the Ramones to overcome her stuffy school & she does. Super fun anti-authority & Ramones, too!
Star Trek Continues: Pilgrim of Eternity **** Apollo returns to the Enterprise after losing his godhood, but will he give it up for good? Well-made follow up to TOS.
Star Trek Continues: Lolani **** Orion Slave Girl escapes to the Enterprise but must convince the Federation to keep her freedom. Lou Ferigno guest stars.
Star Trek: First Frontier ** Well-intended Trek Captain April prequel has some nice FX. Spends too long on most scenes, production dodgy, bad sound.
New Adventures of Tarzan, The (serial) *** Herman Brix makes a great Tarzan, but the serial is slow and uneven when he’s not doing something dangerous. Also, has the most anti-climactic final chapter of any serial ever, as the story finishes early & then we get a recap. WTF? Still, Brix is great.
Knives of the Avenger *** Bava’s Viking “western” is fun in most spots, but rape plot point in hero’s past makes it impossibly to truly root for him.
Uncle Was a Vampire (1959) **** Christopher Lee’s unexpected appearance as the vampire makes this Mexican horror-comedy more fun than it has a right to be!
Devil in a Convent, The **** George Melies’ brings his camera magic to a devil invading a convent in this short, with plenty of appearances & transformations.
Terror Creatures from the Grave *** Barbara Steele lends ner strange beauity to this Gothic about a family cursed by undead plague victims.
Doctor Blood’s Coffin ** The film looks beautiful, but the writing gives us no one to root for, & the monster takes too long to arrive & is kinda shabby.
OperationTitian *** Strange giallo-like film about trying to find & steal priceless Titian painting later somehow became the film Blood Bath.
Ultra 7 (series) **** 3rd in Tsuburaya’s Ultra series. Ultra 7 has a hatchet on his head & uses it & other powers to destroy giant monsters. Great fun!
Brothers Karamazov, The (1958) *** Yul Brynner sucked me into this Russian melodrama about “no good” brother trying to reform & 3 siblings. Early Shatner role.
SciFi TV Tuesday 3 to 4 stars One Step Beyond: “Delusion” ****; “Ordeal on Locust St.” ****; “Brainwave ****” – Tales of Tomrrow “A Child Is Crying” girl is great, but melodramatic *** – Science Fiction Theater: “Beyond” ****; “Time Is Just a Place” ****; “Out of Nowhere” ending flat ***
Incredible Shrinking Man, The ***** Richard Matheson’s SF classic about man who continually shrinks until he’s small enough to battle a cat & even a spider. Super.
Iron Skies: The Coming Race **** Earth is ravaged. Nazis are on the moon. Vril are in the hollow-world Earth riding dinosaurs. Good vs. Evil. What’s not to love?!
Haunting, The (1999) *** Remake of the classic has CGI & isn’t nearly as chilling, but it has its fun moments & Liam Neeson & other good cast.
Bug (2006) **** Friendkin’s disturbing study of down & out people, one of whom may have been infected by the government with bugs. Strange.
Kill, Baby… Kill **** Excellent Bava ghost story about dead girl revenging herself on an entire town for past injustices. Creepy. Needs better title.
Dragon Murder Case, The *** Philo Vance is invited to help solve the disappearance of a man who dived into a pool & never came up. Nice elements.
Giant Spider, The ***** Mihm’s monsterpiece is both a loving homage to the genre & a brilliant giant insect movie on its own. Fun & funny throughout.
Atom Age Spider ** Short film about (hand puppet) spider who grows into giant & menaces scientists in the woods. Puppet spider is adorable.
Web of the Spider (1971) *** Man accepts dare from Edgar Allan Poe to spend night in haunted house, with inhabitants doomed to repeat violence & death.
Legend of Spider Forest, The (1971) ** Mysterious girl in a forest sucks a painter into a weird plot to create a Nazi super-spider poison. Or something. Confusing.
Crawling Eye, The (Sven) **** Sven adds an amusing song & I still love this creepy thriller with iconic monsters decapitating folks in the alps to take over world.
Refer Madness *** Classic “scare” film about the dangerous of marijuana seems hilarious today. Very watchable & 5-stars on the high camp scale.
Dead Ant *** Heavy metal band out for a spiritual experience breaks native rules & is attacked by giant ants. Goofy fun with nudity at start.
Attack of the Murder Hornets **** Documentary on the US infestation of murder hornets & the first nest discovered & destroyed. Interesting. Sad in some ways.
Vampiro y el Sexo, El (El Santo & the Treasure of Dracula – Adult cut) *** Strange combination of vampire & time travel movie, with El Santo starring (but not always appearing) & of course a bit of wrestling. Alternate nude scenes were shot for the non-Mexican audience, supposedly wihtout Santo’s knowledge. Fun if a bit silly.
Return of the Killer Shrews *** Reunion of 3 actors from Dukes of Hazard adds a dimension of fun to this uneven low-budget sequen. Slow but worth it for that.
Conqueror, The (1956) *** John Wayne as Genghis Khan is one of the worst casting mistakes ever. Yet, I found this Mongol “Western” amusing because of it.
Falcon & the Winter Soldier (S1) ***** Marvel brings the magic again with strong action, great characters, & a story both relevant & poignant in choosing Cap’s successor.
Mortal Kombat **** High-action Big Budget reboot of the video game film series looks great & has some martial arts fights worth seeing the film for.
Condemned to Live ** Pregnant mother being bitten by a bat later complicates man’s wedding plans as he becomes vampire by night. Slow & confusing.
Last Man on Earth, The (1964 **** One of Vincent Price’s best performances as sole survivor of a plague that turned everyone else into vampire-like zombies. Moody.
Hrabe Dracula (Czech 1970) **** Interesting Czech adaptation of the classic with good performances & great settings & lighting. Deserves a good blu-ray or DVD.
Fangs of the Living Dead ** Woman inherits mansion inhabited by possible vampire ancestors. Keep forgetting I’ve seen this, not a good sign. Good print help?
Mama Dracula ** Vampire “fashion” comedy has some Rocky Horror touches, nudity, but mostly a hot mess. What was Louise Fletcher thinking?
Gargoyles (Sven) **** One of the best 70s TV monster movies features great atmosphere, strong performances, & super monster suits by Stan Winston.
Purple Death from Outer Space *** Feature cobbled together from Flash Gordon serial (#3, I think). Has a lot of great Flash stuff, but remains disjointed & sudden end.
Gekisou Sentai Carranger *** Fun kids “Power Ranger” show with 2 women rangers (3 men) vs. alien traffic law breakers. Ranger falling for villain is best part.
Godzilla vs. Kong (rewatch) ***** The new G-K film remains a lot of fun even in 2nd viewing. Cast does okay with script, but the monster battles make it all worth it!
Frankenstein & the Monster from Hell *** Cushing’s Dr. Frankenstein has a new name & has taken over a sanitarium for his experiments. David Prowse is a gorilla-like monster & the doc has an attractive male-female assistant pair. Doesn’t end in as expected. Cushing’s last Frankenstein.

So, that’s it!  Another rollicking month full of monsters and other fun stuff — including my first full Super Sentail show watch!  (I’m very close on another one, but missed a few and can’t count it yet.)  Total number to date for 2021: 237 movies and noteworthy shows.  A strong first third of the year!  (At that rate, hitting 700 for the year is possible.)

Next Month: May is well underway…

Until then… Keep Vaxing up!  Keep Masking up!  Stay Safe!  Stay Well!
Let’s VANQUISH this pandemic once and for all!

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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