June 2022 Mini-Reviews – Love & Monsters to Father Brown (S9)

Another crazy month is just about over, and I’ve been so busy, that I didn’t even have time to transcribe films from my little notebook into my spreadsheet until earlier this week! (7/30/22 as I write this.)

What have I been doing, you ask?  Mostly trying to get ahead on all my projects, like finishing the complete draft of MONSTER SHARK ON A NUDE BEACH — running now as a serial on Amazon.  Or you can click here to read more about it on my Summer Serials page.  Perhaps even more importantly, I finalized the “master outline” for all 48 episodes of ATOMIC TALES: STRANGE INVADERS, voiced a couple of characters for the super-cool audio versions of current and upcoming chapters, and created story ads for all of that.  And you’ll probably have little trouble seeing what I watched for inspiration for that!

And of course, around all that work and reading and such, I also watched a buttload of movies — as you can see below…

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.

Love and Monsters (2021) **** A post-apocalypse camp cook leaves home & wanders a monster-filled wasteland to find his ex-girlfriend. Lots of good fun.

Island of Lost Women (1959) *** A plane crash strands 2 men on island with (mad?) scientist Alan Napier (Alfred) & his 3 daughters. Forbidden Planet-like. Not bad.

Maneater of Hydra (La Isla de la Muerta) *** The Spanish DVD with the (strangely) German titles is currently the best print you’re likely to find of this man-eating plant classic. Has an English language option, and aside from the open & end titles, the picture looks great. Cameron Mitchell menaces.

Habeas Corpus (1928) **** Laurel & Hardy are hilarious as men sent by a mad scientist to rob a grave. Naturally, things to awry.

Murder at Dawn (1932) *** Standard Old Dark House hijinx gain a slight extra dimension when evil mad scientist tries to pry secrets from good mad scientist.

Monolith Monsters, The **** Twist on the Universal classic as giant growing rocks menace a desert town & all mankind. Acting & commitment makes it… rock.

Boy Who Cried Werewolf, The ** Werewolf makeup needs more bite & story needs more zing. Man is bitten by a werewolf while protecting his son.  Boy spends the rest of the film trying to convince skeptics that werewolves are real. Promise wasted on what looks like a handsome TV movie.

Phase IV *** Scientists studying insects in the desert Southwest discover that ants are developing a hive mind. Eerie, esp. with original ending.

Empire of the Ants *** Bert I. Gordon’s adaptation of Wells is a lot of cheap fun with marginal SPFX & a TV-movie cast including Joan Collins.

Food of the Gods *** Another Bert I. Gordon adaptation of H.G. Wells about a food that turns animals giant. SF/Horror chaos ensues & some rat violence.

Safe in Hell (1931) **** Prostitute flees to the Caribbean after killing former lover & starts a new life, though her pre-code past catches up with her.

Black Doll, The (1938) *** A Crime Club mystery. A black (voodoo-type) doll appearing on the desk of a crooked businessman indicates vengeance is coming.

Lost Moment, The (1947) *** Publisher seeking famous love leters ingratiates himself into household & falls for woman who believes herself the dead writer.

Night of Terror, A (1937 aka Love from a Stranger) *** Newly rich young woman falls for charming stranger (Basil Rathbone) who may be killer out for her money. Similar to SUSPICION, but 4 years earlier & no Hitchcock.

RRR ***** Fictitious Indian historical epic is balls-to-the-wall all-out action (and music) fun. A colonial Indian army officer befriends a man from the country with neither knowing they’re working at cross purposes until all hell breaks loose. About everything you could ask for.

White Zombie (1931) ***** Bela Lugosi classic & one of his best roles. Bela zombifies a newlywed woman for a plantation owner, but plans don’t work out.

Saturnalia (2022) **** Joshua Kennedy is a would-be comic artist & pizza delivery man whose buff, cavewoman dream girl comes to life. Comedy ensues.

Jurassic World **** The dinosaur theme park is revised & upgraded, but greed & military interest makes things go awry. Fun dino & action sequences.

Lost World: Jurassic Park 2, The *** Something of a hot mess with more dinos, Pete Postlewaite & end T-Rex sequence that makes no sense. Still a lot of fun.

It’s Never Too Late to Mend (1937) *** Tod Slaughter is up to his usual, trying to wed a woman for nefarious purposes & put her lover out of the way.

Portrait of Jenny ***** Artist Joseph Cotton falls in love with his model who happens to be a “ghost” displaced in time. Can he save her from eerie fate?

Beach Girls & the Monster ** Pretty standard beach monster movie with cheesy monster & “Scooby” ending that drags the whole thing down a notch (& a star).

Expedition Bigfoot (S3) *** There’s plenty of interesting stomping in the woods this season, but lots of leaving & lack of follow up just when things look up.

Forbidden Planet ***** SF classic has great SPFX, great ideas, great monster, great production. Solid cast with unfortunate 1950s sexism only drawback.

Beast from 20 Zillion Years Ago, The **** Animated short of two-headed monster brought back by nuclear radiation to wreak havoc on the countryside. Great fun.

Night of the Beast (from 20 Zillion Years Ago) **** The animated Beast returns, this time to battle a mutant Sea Monkey (1) in another fab monster-comedy short outing.

Jack the Giant Slayer (1962) *** Strong production values & Kerwin Mathews let down by well-animated by shoddy looking stop-mo models. Still, great fun for kids.

Obi-Wan Kenobi (S1) **** Very dark at the start & plodding in places, the series still has fine characrers & actors & really picks up at the end. More, please!

Spider-Man: No Way Home **** Dr. Strange tries to help Spidey, but Spider-Universes get mixed resulting in a messy story but some great fan-service fun.

War of the Satellites (1958) *** Mysterious aliens try to thwart Earth’s exploration in Corman space flick, including duplicating crew members. Better than expected.

Terror, The *** Jack Nicholson & Boris Karloff almost make sense of this write-as-you-go horror flick. Some memorable & creepy moments.

Carnival Rock (1957) ** A very Lon Chaney-like Corman film, older nightclub owner loses club & woman to gangster & becomes a clown to stay close to her.

Not of this Earth (1957) *** Alien Man in Black seeks fresh blood on Earth for his planet with rare blood disease. Corman’s direction makes low-budget SF work.

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957) **** Scientists on a remote island are preyed upon by psychic giant crabs in this pre-Guy-Smith (Crab series) Corman horror flick.

Dr. Strange & the Multiverse of Madness ***** Put the Marvel universe in a blender & you’d get this Dr. Strange film full of locations & characters that are familiar but not quite how you remember them. Plenty of action & some squee-worthy fan service. Hopefully sets up return of heroes licensed to other studios.

Superman & Lois (S2) **** Disconnection from the other CW hero series serves this well. The soap never gets too obnoxious & villains/foes are interesting.

Castle (S8) *** Characters remain fab & mysteries are good EXCEPT with the bogus concocted conflict, which drags the whole final season down.

One Million Years BC *****  Raquel Welch looks great, but it’s Ray Harryhausen’s fabulous dinosars that are the real star of this remade caveman epic.

Valley of Gwangi *****  Strong cast & music help lift this Ray Harryhausen epic about dinosaurs in a lost valley (& why you should leave them there). Fun!

Flash, The (S8 p.2) *** Dialing back on the season-long bad guy is a good choice, but the soap never rings true & super-speed well starting to run dry.

20 Million Miles to Earth (color) **** Harryhausen himself supervised the colorization (Good!) of his SF classic of Venusian monster loose in Italy. Many fun scenes.

She (1935 – color) **** Harryhausen-directed color is a little pale for my tastes, but you can still watch this superior version of SHE in B&W if you want.

Father Brown (S9) ***** A collection of strong & interesting mysteries even returns some of the old characters to this well-done “cozy” mystery series.

Of course, I should have mentioned at the top that June 29th is Ray Harryhausen’s Birthday, and I always take that day off to watch his films.  As promised, I also finished the final season (S8) of Castle. I’ve loved this series since I started watching earlier in this year, but the forced-in subplots of S7 & 8 really hurt the fun, and the series ends with more of a “Thud” than a “Bang!”  Still, if you can ignore those “mythos” episodes, there’s a lot of engaging mystery there.  Outshone this month, though, by an excellent season of the British Father Brown (S9).

Total noteworthy films, shorts, and series for the month of June 2022 = 43. Again.

Running total for 2022 = 245 — Half a year down, half to go!

But should I count SHARK WEEK programs individually, or just group them by days?  Drop me a line and let me know what you think!

Next Month:  I’m wrapped up in Shark Week, so I haven’t looked back over what I’ve been watching in July!  There will be sharks, for sure, but until I find the time to post, I’ll let you wonder about the rest.

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