September Mini-Reviews – The Beast Walks Among Us to Quatermass II

The year 2021 continues to speed past.  Unlike last year, this September I got to see both our kids during my birthday week — thank you, vaccinations, for that — but it seemed like no sooner had the summer heat fled than the wonderful warm days plus cool nights of September had faded into October (which continued mild until mid-month).  But, of course, my birthday also brought my traditional Godzilla watch, made even more enjoyable by the awesome Criterion blu-ray set.  It’s funny, now that I’m older, I find that I can enjoy the “goofy” later Showa G-films more than I had.  Not too proud to admit that I was a Godzilla purist.  Now I’ve come around to “any G is good G.”  Ha ha.  It’s more fun to enjoy films in the spirit in which they were made than to hate watch, I find.  Honestly, (and especially when compared with many other flicks) there are really no bad Godzilla films.

With those concentrated at the start of the month, the rest of September is pretty wide-ranging, as you’ll see in the reviews below.  There’s a lot of good stuff to see. From Phantom Lake to Quatermass, there’s something for everyone.  Check out the list!

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.

Phantom Lake Kids in The Beast Walks Among Us (Commentary) ***** As always, Mihm’s commentaries are a great companion to his films & his captioning is a hoot as well. Run them the same time!
War of the Colossal Beast (Sven) *** I enjoy these Bert I. Gordon films, even though the special effects are often ropey. Seeing this makes me want to see the original.
Godzilla vs. Gigan *** Godzilla & Angillas battle Gigan & Ghidorah to save the world from cockroaches running an amusement park. Aside from Ghidorah looking pretty shabby, & over-use of footage from previous films… What’s NOT to love?
Godzilla vs. Megalon *** Watching this in the original Japanese makes the whole a lot more bearable. I don’t even mind Jet Jaguar. Fun for kids.
Godzilla King of the Monsters (2019) **** There’s plenty of monster battles & CGI mayhem in this film, but human story is hard to identify with. Still, great fun. (Rewatch.)
Mothra ***** The first Mothra film is easily in the pantheon of great Kaiju flicks. Strong story, great FX, super music, strong actors, & a moral.
Legends of Tomorrow (S6) **** Lots of wacky space-going fun with the Legends, plus some old-west action, romance, secrets revealed, & changes in lineups.
Transatlantic Tunnel **** Building a tunnel under the Atlantic from England to US was SF in the 40s, but made plausible, with echoes of Metropolis. Strong.
Non-Stop New York *** Woman sneaks aboard a flight across the Atlantic to testify in a murder trial, but things are slow until we get to the airplane.
Witcher, The: Nightmare of the Wolf *** Violent anime set in the world of the Witcher before the time of Geralt & co. Some creepy stuff & lots of gory action. For fans.
Teenagers from Outer Space *** Blu-ray pairing with Giant Leeches makes both films look good, though not fully restored & story is better than its reputation.
Howl from Beyond the Fog **** Short film of blind girl and kaiju told with puppets in a fantasy medieval Japan. Eerie & beautiful, with a lot of love & workmanship.
Invisible Agent, The **** Descendant of the original Invisible Man uses the formula to battle the Nazis in one of the best sequels in the series.
Invisible Man’s Revenge, The *** The story has few (if any) likable characters, but the invisible FX have come a long way since the ground-breaking original.
Dark Shadows (Collection 13) ***** Finally, the Adam story ends & we start up the werewolf & Quentin story lines, entering the 2nd Golden Age of Dark Shadows.
Curse of the Demon **** The US cut of this great film is still good, but loses some of its eeriness & impact in the cutting room. Still hard to beat.
Crimson Cult, The (US) **** Better than its reputation, this Lovecraft-inspired tale has some narrative lapses, but Christopher Lee, Karloff & Barbara Steel, baby!
Bela Lugosi: Hollywood’s Dark Prince **** Comprehensive bio of Lugosi from TV’s Biography series. Great pics & interviews from his early days to his death.
Spooks Run Wild *** The future Bowery Boys stumble into Lugosi’s haunted mansion while a mad killer stalks the countryside. Could use restoration.
Daughter of the Night (1920) ** Silent Lugosi set in USSR pits Soviet forces against Royalists, with democratic faction caught in the middle. Very soapy.
Bride of the Monster **** Probably my favorite Ed Wood film has Bela plotting to build a “race of atomic supermen!” Plus Tor Johnson & giant octopus. Fun!
Vampire Over London *** Lugosi sleeps in a coffin but is otherwise un-vampire-like mad scientist building robot mixed up with Old Mother Riley (in drag).
Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Sven) *** The A&C monster stories are fairly rote by this one & Westmore’s makeup largely remarkable, but Karloff makes it fun.
Guilt (S1) ***** Two brothers get in over their head after accidentally hitting & killing a man after a wedding reception. Many good twists & turns.
Master of the World (1934) *** Mine engineer tries to fulfil dreams of dead industrialist friend despite machinations of robot-making mad scientist. End too long.
Monster That Challenged the World, The **** Giant prehistoric mollusks wreak havoc on the Salton Sea. Strong cast, script, & great practical effect monster make this tops.
Expedition X (S2) *** Josh Gates sends a believer & a skeptic to investigate mysteries, with predictable Mulder/Scully results, but some good stuff, too.
Ghost in the Invisible Bikini, The *** Susan Hart is a ghost doing “corpse” Karloff’s bidding to foil attempts to cheat his heirs out of their fortune. Silly beach party fun.
Case of the Howling Dog *** Warren William as Perry Mason takes a case of a woman who thinks a howling dog that only she hears presages murder.
Curse of the Headless Horseman * Legend of Headless Horseman plagues ranch that heirs must turn a profit with or lose inheritance. Heavily improvised mess. Ugh!
Rattlers! *** TV-style Jaws-like flick with rattlers taking over the desert near an army base. Not great but better than you might expect.
Good Against Evil (1977) ** TV pilot about young woman born to be Satan’s bride who falls in love with drifter, who then leaves for exorcism plot. Unfocused.
Messiah of Evil (1973) *** Euro-style horror film about woman looking for her father who ends up in a town of strange undead creatures. Bit of a hot mess.
Dracula 1931 (Sven – French score) **** The French DVD cut of Dracula has a full score from stock music. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Lugosi still rules.
Case of the Curious Bride, The *** Warren Willam is a blast as Perry Mason, out to save a bride who may or may not have killed her bigamist husband. Fun stuff!
Cat People (1942) ***** Classic horror film about woman who believes she will turn into a monster if she has sex with her new husband. Metaphor & more.
Cthulhu Mansion *** No actual Cthulhu, but a haunted house story with a magician, his daughter, & some thieves & a forbidden magic book. 90s fun.
He-Man & the Masters of the Universe (S1) *** Why Netflix thought they needed 2 He-Man reboot series, I don’t know, but the Kevin smith one was fun & this is, too.
Cyborg *** Typical 80s-style apocalyptic stuff. Van Damme tries to get a cyborg with info to save humanity across the wasteland. Enjoyable.
Hercules in the Haunted World **** Watched the 81-minute UK version of this Bava film. Herc & company go to the Underworld to save his future wife & her kingdom.
Narcotics – Pit of Despair *** Anti-drug short starts with images of a cobra & piles on the scares from there, including technical goofs. Future EMERGENCY star.
Curse of the Swamp Creature * Larry Buchanan tries Dr. Moreau meets Alligator People on for size & it doesn’t fit. Not enough monster. Usual shoddy production.
Destination Space ** Failed TV pilot movie about human beings trying to conquer space & get to the moon. Too much talk. Too little action. Abrupt end.
Magic Carpet, The *** John Agar is a king of thieves pitted against evil Caliph & Lucille Ball, not knowing he was born the kingdom’s prince. Standard.
Raymie **** Surprisingly good story of a boy with a widowed mother, Julie Adams, wanting to catch a legendary fish. John Agar as fisher-beau.
Zontar the Thing from Venus *** Probably Larry Buchanan’s best film, but still a pale shadow of It Conquered the World, which it’s a remake of. Monster takes over.
Night Fright ** John Agar is a country sheriff on the looking for a creature killing people. Even enhanced, this is still too dark during monster shots.
Blood of Dracula *** Wild teen girl is sent to boarding school & falls prey to woman doctor’s bloodthirsty experiments. Like vampire Teenage Werewolf.
Wellington Paranormal (S2) **** “Incurious” New Zealand cops O’Leary & Minogue return for more encounters with monsters & the supernatural. Great fun silliness.
I Married a Monster from Outer Space **** Aliens come to Earth & marry women looking to overcome racial sterility. Sincerely made & well produced, this film raises issues that it doesn’t fully address (happy ending), but at least the monsters look pretty cool.
Shadow, The (serial) *** Lots more fistfights than the Shadow should have & some — Ugh! — yellowface, but the leads are good & it’s not a bad serial.
Deadly Mantis, The *** Often derided, this giant bug movie is actually solid & hits all its expected marks. Well produced, despite a lot of stock footage.
Giant Claw, The *** Yes, the titular bird looks absurd, but the actors are all in on this one & script & production are otherwise good. I enjoy it a lot.
Quatermass 2 (Enemy from Space) **** Strange meteors falling & a super-secret installation for creating new foodstuffs leads Prof. Quatermass into alien scheme. Tops!

That’s the long and the short of September 2021.  54 movies/shows/series etc. entries this month — which is a good chunk! — for 492 films/shows total for 2021 so far.  600 entries this year is looking pretty likely at this point, but… We’ll see what the future brings.

Next Month: October… HALLOWEEN!  HALLOWEEN!  HALLOWEEN!  Which means opportunities to both watch more monster films and add more to my collection.  Plus, I continue piling up film totals watching online with my friends in the Monster Kid Movie Club every Saturday and most Tuesdays. Why not join us?

Get Vaccinated!  Tell your family & friends! End the Pandemic before the Holidays!  Please!

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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