August 2022 Mini-Reviews – Earth vs. the Flying Saucers to Trog

It is normal for me to be publishing about August 2022’s reviews in September.  Yay!  That means I’ve caught up from my momentary crazy summer lapse — assuming my server publishes everything on time.  (Fingers crossed!)

As I mentioned in the previous set of reviews, August was a particularly busy (and sometimes tricky) month for me.  Maybe that’s why I didn’t reach the absurd number of reviews that I had in July — ha ha.  Nevertheless, I still put in a lot of time in front of the set, and — spurred on by a YouTube video about Women Warriors for lovers of Conan — I even started (or re-started?) my quest to find good Sword & Sorcery films.  (Which seem to me as rare as living, non-bird dinosaurs.)  Check out what I’ve found 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.

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers **** Ray Harryhausen classic remains the best flying saucer movie to date. Lot’s of Atomic Age fun but lacks his trademark creatures.

Day the Earth Caught Fire,The **** Grim, realistic British SF. The world grows hotter after a disaster & humankind struggles to survive. Feels eerily prophetic today.

Devil Incarnate, The **** Paul Naschy wrote, directed, & stars as a wandering scoundrel looking to lie, cheat, & sleep his way to the top. This is Naschy at the top of his game, but a flash-forward scene including Holocaust footage took me out of the story & lost it a star.

Princess, The **** Title character is trapped at the top of the tower, to be wed to a villain. So she fights her way to the bottom & revenge. Great action.

Case of the Cunningham Heritage, The (1954 – TV) **  In this premier episode, Watson meets Holmes & the regular cast as they investigate the murder of Peter Cunningham. A little thin.

Case of the Lady Beryl, The (1954) *** Lady Beryl confesses to a murder, but Holmes & Watson set out to prove she didn’t do it.

Occupation *** Australian space invaders film has interesting small-town characters & good effects, but goes on too long while saving the world.

Steel Dawn **** Better-than-expected Patrick Swayze post-apocalypse take on Shane has vast scenery & great final battle vs. Christopher Neame.

Venom: Let There Be Carnage *** Tom Hardy playing to no one is convincing, but there’s a lot of mumbling/babbling, SPFX, & not much substance to this sequel.

Everything, Everywhere, All at Once ***** Michele Yeoh delights as a woman recruited by a cross-dimensional force to save the world for a mysterious otherworldly menace.

Harley Quinn (S1) ***** Harley & Poison Ivy’s friendship & Harley’s ongong breakup with the Joker form the base of this foul-mouthed, hilarious ‘toon series.

Blood Mania ** Woman plots with doctor to gain inheritance, but is surprised when her sister turns out to be the real heir. Low budget. Some nudity.

Hangar 18 * A great cast can’t save this snoozer about a crashed alien ship nearly taking out the space shuttle. Terrible UFO design hurts, too.

UFO: Friend, Foe, or Fantasy (1966) **** Walter Cronkite & CBS produced this very serious look at UFOs up to the time. Includes believers plus Carl Sagan & science!

Tarzan & His Mate (1934) ***** Action & adventure plus some nude swimming overcome some (sadly standard) racism

Shark Is Still Working, The *****Begun 20 years after the original, this brilliant JAWS documentary features new & archive interviews with all of the surviving cast members & people involved, including Peter Benchley & narrator Roy Scheider, who died shortly thereafter. It also confirms a personal legend that the dad of a college friend appeared in the film. Here, Dick Young gives an amusing interview on his bit part.

Point of Terror ** Not-so-hot singer tries to get ahead by courting rich sisters, one of whom is a murderer. Lackluster songs & choppy love scene edits.

Crawling Eye, The **** Classic creature feature (based on a lost TV serial) of titular monsters killing folks at an Alpine resort. Super creepy at times.

Gammera the Invincible *** US version of this kaiju film loses a star for added American scenes that merely pad & slow down the giant monster proceedings.

Abominable *** A yeti trying to find his way home from Shanghai has engaging characters & designs but too much sugar for me. Kids will like it.

Volcano *** Anne Heche & Tommy Lee Jones compete with fire & explosions in this “The Coast is toast” actioner. Predictable but pretty good.

Dante’s Peak **** Engaging characters, Pierce Brosnan & Linda Hamilton, plus science make this fast-paced volcanic disaster film the one to watch.

Prey ***** Near the start of the 1800s, the alien Predator lands in Comanche country & battles a teen out to prove she’s a warrior. Exciting!

Predator 2 *** Danny Glover hunts the SF monster in this 1990 sequel set in a decaying LA of 1997. Plenty of gore & action here, but a bit messy.

Grantchester (S7) ***** Good mysteries & personal developments for the brilliant returning cast highlight this season. End of the finale took me by surprise.

Bandolero **** James Stewart pretends to be a preacher to free brother Dean Martin from the gallows. Raquel Welch gets taken along for the ride, and as Stewart decides to go for one last score, things go very wrong. Action-packed but bleak.

Harley Quinn (S2) **** Harley’s hi-jinx continue as she tries to gain a rep & Poison Ivy plans to marry… Until the wedding plans take an unexpected twist.

Hannie Calder **** Raquel Welch is raped & her family killed, so she’d trained for revenge by Robert Culp & Christopher Lee. Good cast & action.

Satanic Panic and the Religious Battle for the Imagination, The **** Rev. Derek W. White, the Geek Preacher, examines the 1980s largely religious freak-out over Dungeons & Dragons & the effect that had on kids, players, & creators. I modestly did NOT give this film 5 stars, because I’m IN it , but it’s great. Badly needs US release.

Land Unknown, The (Sven) **** I love this film about a helicopter crew stranded in a lost dinosaur world in Antarctica. Love the goofy T-Rex suit & plesiosaur.

Dark Dungeons **** Adaptation of the Jack Chick anti-Dungeons-&-Dragons religious tract is a supeiror satire because it plays it totally straight.

Every Which Way But Loose *** Clint Eastwood travels the country with Clyde the orangutan getting into fights & falling for the wrong women. Entertaining.

Hang ‘Em High *** Eastwood is wrongfully lynched, survives, gets deputized, & tracks down the lynch mob & other criminals. Strange sudden ending.

100 Rifles *** Burt Reynolds delivers 100 Rifles to the Mexicans while teaming with Raquel Welch & sometimes lawman Jim Brown. Good fun.

Giant Behemoth, The *** The O’Brien-Peterson monster animation is great, but the film cheaps out on some sequences, as creature attacks big city.

Tarzan the Ape Man (1981) *** Bo Derek & Miles O’Keefe (Tarzan) just add to the view while Richard Harris chews the gorgeous scenery. Vacuous but sexy.

Slave, The (1963) *** AKA “Son of Spartacus,” Steve Reeves is the titular character, tasked to crush rebels by Rome, plays dual identities to free slaves.

It’s a Wonderful World (1936) *** Screwball mystery with James Stewart & Claudette Colbert on the run for a murder he didn’t commit. Entertaining not quite there.

Arena *** Corman studio sword & sandal flick has Pam Greer, Margaret Markov & other hotties as gladiators fighting for freedom. Nudity.

Shriek of the Mutilated ** Yeti is roaming the woods, killing people — or is it?! — in this low-budget thriller. My friend David loves this, but 1st view for me: Meh.

Killer Shrews, The (Sven) **** I love this low-budget horror films about giant shrews (dogs in makeup & puppets) terrorizing an isolated island. Fine cheap SF/H.

Phantom Empire, The (1983) ** Ragtag band of diamond hunters ventures into caves of Morlock-like cannibals, finds headless Robby the Robot, Sybil Danning & dino clip. Even Jeffery Combs & fans-service can’t save this strange mishmash of horror, SF, & Fred Olen Ray’s usual nude babes.

Sorceress (1982) *** Playboy models are raised as “boys,” become warriors, gather ragtag band, & battle evil warlock bent on sacrificing them. Nude fun.

War Goddess *** 2 women strive to be queen of the Amazons & deal with Greek suitors/invaders in this interesting nudity-filled Sword & Sandal epic.

Lost Empire, The ** Female cop & friend infiltrate underworld fortress where women are forced into Enter-the-Dragon-like death matches. Boring.

Trog *** The great Joan Crawford’s last role is as scientist trying to civilize caveman “Trog” in this Hammer-like SF/H film. Not bad.

So, that’s it.  Not as many as last month, but still a number that’s piling up pretty good.  And more importantly, I had a lot of fun, even watching the not-quite-good fantasy & exploitation films.  But I’ve always had a soft spot for exploitation flicks.

Count for August 2022 is 46, and the total count for the year is now 344 films, series, and other noteworthy viewing.

Next Month: More dinosaurs!  Plus the continuation of my Sword & Sorcery bingeing, as I attempt to discover if there are really any great S&S films aside form Conan the Barbarian.  If you know of any, feel free to drop me a line (but check that they’re not already in the reviews, first).  See you then!

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