Archive for the ‘sci-fi films’ Tag

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2015)   2 comments

When Quint says, “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark.”, he probably means salt water, since that’s where sharks live.


“Farewell and adieu…”

Not so fast, bub!

When an evil oil company uses fracking to find oil, they open the floodgates and let stealth sharks into the Arkansas bayou. Since the sharks’ new feeding ground is miles from any major population centers, you might think, “Hey, what’s the harm?”


“We’re coming to get you, Bubba.”

Sharks don’t live in a vacuum. Remember I said that.

While the muscle-bound predators cruise the spillways looking for lunch, folks at a nearby women’s prison send a few inmates on a field trip.


“This prison issue is so confining.”

Two guards accompany a van full of female prisoners to a work detail near the swamp. Dressed in ridiculously tight shorts and tank tops from the Desperate Spring Breakers collection, the women get to work pretending to dig things as an excuse to bend over provocatively. After the obligatory cleavage and pouring water on their chests sequence, the real fun begins. Inmates separate from the pack and soon everyone’s tripping over body parts in the woods.


“Hey, anybody lose something?”

At the same time, Detective Kendra Patterson (Traci Lords) and her partner, Detective Adam (I know.) (Corey Landis) follow the trail of a crew of robbers that leads them to the same remote area. They find some bones and some stolen money and apparently lose interest because they go out for tacos and never mention the case again.


“Case closed.”

Just when you think two plot lines are enough, director Jim Wynorski of Chopping Mall fame, adds a third. As guards and prisoners head back to jail, Anita’s (Cindy Lucas) girlfriend hijacks the van and takes them all hostage.


“Going my way?”

Honey (Dominique Swain), the kidnapper, drives her charges to a double-wide in the woods where they’ll all spend a few days changing clothes, eating peaches and beans, and lounging in the hot tub. Ah, paradise.


Just another day in stir.

There’s some infighting and general nastiness and then, a geologist and his cute, young assistant show up. They all realize they must band together or die at the hands fins of the weird, burrowing sharks. Oh, did I forget to mention that? The sharks not only thrive in the brackish and unsalted water of the swamp, but also plow through the earth in their quest for blood. No, really. The spiky-headed monsters muscle their way through the ground and make a beeline to their suitably astonished victims.


“Landshark!”

That’s my favorite part. That, and watching the women hightail it away from subterranean killers wearing pants so tight, they can hardly run.

Back to the sharks. The sharks in Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre make the graboids from Tremors look like amateurs. Nothing slows these guys down. They move through the earth like a hot knife through butter, pushing rocks and dirt in front of them like a groundhog in a cartoon. They also jump a lot and seem unaffected by automatic weapons.


“You can’t get me!”

They talk and create a diversion and Detectives Patterson and Adam drive around and then the escapees go into a cave and it’s over. Phew!


Cave o’ sharks.

To Wynorski’s credit, the production values are pretty good and the music, by Chuck Cirino, had a nifty James Bond theme sound. The acting, especially by Traci Lords, Corey Landis, and John Callahan, as Carl, the prison guard, was far better than average for these sharktaculars. I was rooting for Carl the whole time.


“Game over, convicts.”

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre entertained me. The effects were cheesetastic, but that’s ok. I liked a couple of the characters and I’m a big fan of Tremors so this film was fun. I mean, the title alone makes it worth the price of admission. I can’t wait for the sequel.


“Look for us again in Shakansas Five: Parole Denied.”

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The Angry Red Planet (1960)   Leave a comment

Angry-Red-Planet

The Angry Red Planet begins at mission control. The brass has just gotten around to retrieving the long missing MR-1 rocket. They last heard from the ship and its crew of four as it orbited Mars. They want the rocket back because it’s full of data. Since they assume the crew died ages ago—the dears, they bring the rocket back expecting an ugly surprise when they open her doors. Apparently it’s a snap to bring a rocket back from Mars. You just throw out a grappling hook and tow her home. Of course there are survivors and as they recuperate in the hospital, they tell their tale.

We meet the crew via flashback in their living room sized control center. They lounge on board sans breathing apparatus, make hokey remarks, and pose for the camera while eating canned goods on China. Les Tremayne as Professor Gettel, sports a pointy devil beard and buttons his top button so he’s the smart one. Colonel O’Bannion (Gerard Mohr) wears his jumpsuit unbuttoned to his waist and leers at Dr. Iris Ryan (Nora Hayden) a lot so he’s the hunky one. Sam (Jack Kruschen) has a beer belly and no title so he acts as comic relief.

The ship lands on Mars and, wearing their protective cotton/poly jumpsuits, the foursome go out to meet the neighbors. Dr. Ryan’s botanist/zoologist attempts to classify the various flora as they traipse through the Mars jungle. The flora don’t take kindly to classification though and that’s when the fun begins. I should note that the Mars scenes were filmed using Woody Allen’s red light bulb from Annie Hall and have an unexposed negative quality to them. It made the planet’s surface eerie, but also made my eyes burn. After a run-in with some large vegetables, the gang head back to the ship where they talk a bit and we see an exciting montage of people cleaning things and putting them in drawers.

Since they met with plant-based rebellion the last time, the travelers leave the ship for the second time with all the trepidation and preparedness of an expedition to the largest ball of twine. At least they bring machetes and a boat. Yup. They row across a vast Martian lake after testing the water, of course. The professor checks it for radiation and Iris swishes her hands in it so we know it’s safe. On the lake, they run into more Martian hostiles and a genuinely weird creature that makes this all worthwhile. Despite tons of inaccuracies and dialogue like, “The hell with radiation!  Let’s go!” The Angry Red Planet is entertaining as Hell. I love the idea that a space agency chose a female botanist for a landmark flight and she got attacked by a plant. I also loved that they brought a boat. This film had odd and original effects, a cool monster, and fun mint jelly-based injuries. It was worth watching if only to see another example of what filmmakers thought space travel would become. Ib Melchior directed just six films and this is a goodie.

angry monster
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The Creeping Terror (1964)   2 comments

creep poster

Wow.  Where do I begin?

Police in tiny Angel City, California see a rocket crash on the outskirts of town. Immediately they crawl into the rocket for a look and we hear screams of agony. Other cops watch from outside the ship, but just stand there and cringe as their brother officer turns into a cube or a pile of salt or some pus and a femur. We don’t know. Since the producers of The Creeping Terror believe in tell, not show, we see nothing. Even more mystifying are the cops’ reactions. They shake their heads and go home. Someone calls a scientist, but no one alerts the good citizens of Angel City and they continue to fish, picnic, neck, and have a hootenanny all in the feeding grounds of the space monster. As weird as this may seem, it doesn’t approach the level of weirdness displayed by the producers in terms of the narrative style of this film and the creature itself. The narrative style consists of a narrator. That’s it. There’s almost no dialogue. We see characters talking to each other, but can’t hear them. We just hear a guy describing what happens. It’s bizarre. He not only describes the actions, but the motivations and feelings of each character. That makes sense because no one in this film can act. You need someone to tell you what they’re feeling, because you certainly can’t tell by looking at their faces.

face

“I feel things.”

Then there’s Mr. Creeping Terror himself. If you asked a group of elementary school children to build a scary monster out of things from the landfill, they’d do a better job than these guys. The monster looks like a guy inside a suit made of cardboard and bath mats dragging a canvas tarp behind him.

creeping terror

“I’ve been sick.”

You can even see the guy’s feet. The beast moves at a snail’s pace so it’s amazing that it catches anyone.  My best guess is that the Bath Mat Monster so stuns those who see it, they’re paralyzed with disbelief. It then opens its gaping maw about waist high and devours all who cross its path. The victims have to help him by climbing into his weird opening and you see the effort they have to make to get all the way in. A few times the meal’s legs stick out the Bath Mat Monster’s mouth for a while.

help

“Does anyone know the Heimlich?”

You’d think after such an effort, he wouldn’t have to eat again for a week, but no. Soon he’s out carousing again. He shows up at Lovers’ Lane and even crashes a dance at the local VFW. The horrifying shots of the people at the social waiting in line to wrestle with a bunch of shag rugs made me shudder. Well, actually they didn’t. What did make me shudder were the shoddy production values and the complete lack of a story. The entire plot consists of a hungry bath mat eating people and humping cars, and a scientist arguing with a heavily eye-browed Army colonel about whether they should kill it or capture it to learn its ways.

car

“Vroom vroom!”

Another big feature in this dud is all the making out. The main character, a policeman, just got married and takes his new bride along in the squad car as he patrols the countryside. Sounds legit. On a break from the search for our favorite pile of ambulatory bath mats, the two make out in the police car. Couples make out in Lovers’ Lane, during picnics and on the sofa sitting next to another guy. It’s strange. I wonder if the makers of The Creeping Terror wanted an excuse to get a little action going with some girls so one of them said “Hey! My dad has a movie camera. Let’s tell these chicks we’re making a movie and see where it gets us.” I doubt they were the first.

creepy

“Uh, guys? I’m still here.”

Vic Savage directed (?) The Creeping Terror based on a script. Shocking, I know.

vic

Yeah, not really.

Robert Silliphant wrote the script for this and The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? Unfortunately, that’s another cool title/crappy movie combo but at least Incredibly Strange Creatures has Ray Dennis Steckler to keep things moving. No such luck here. Aside from its status as number one in the worst film of all time competition, The Creeping Terror has the dubious honor of being one of the few non-Tom Mix cowboy films shot at Spahn Movie Ranch. The ranch gained fame a few years later as the hide-out for Charles Manson and his family during the Tate/LaBianca murders. So while The Creeping Terror isn’t the worst thing to happen at Spahn Ranch, it’s definitely the worst film to happen there.

never

Nevermore.

Tarantula (1955)   Leave a comment

tarara

A horribly disfigured man in pajamas stumbles through the desert, collapses, and dies. When local doctor, Matt Hastings (John Agar) sees the body, he doubts Professor Deemer’s (Leo G. Carroll) diagnosis of acromegaly (gigantism) and suspects the professor might be complicit in his colleague’s death. While he ponders this, Steve (Mara Corday) arrives in town, in a stunning white travel ensemble, to work in the lab for the pajama-clad dead guy. Since he’s not hiring, Steve begins working for Deemer instead, but not before igniting a little romantic fire under Dr. Hastings.

He has little time to plan his love life though because something attacks the livestock in their sleepy little community and leaves nothing but bones and a big puddle of white liquid. Testing proves the white stuff comes from a tarantula so we’re treated to a filmstrip on them right out of the substitute teacher collection. Soon Dr. Hero Guy discovers Professor Deemer in an advanced state of acromegaly and the truth comes out.

Deemer, fresh from his work on the Manhattan Project, opened his lab in the desert to work on a nutritional supplement designed to rid the world of hunger. His experiments on rabbits and guinea pigs showed great promise and Deemer fed the animals the formula exclusively. They matured at an advanced rate and grew much larger than their usual size. A couple of his colleagues figured if the serum made a guinea pig grow to the size of a police dog it must be great for humans, so they injected each other with the stuff. Oddly enough, the two men suffered tremendously when the radioactive isotopes clashed with their body chemistry. One wandered into the desert in his pjs and the other, miffed about his impending demise, wrecked the lab and shot the professor up with the serum. The lab animals either died in the ensuing blaze or scurried off to roam the countryside.

Since this film is called Tarantula and not Guinea Pig, I’m sure you can figure out who made it out alive.


“Pssst, it was me.”

As to why they used tarantulas in lab tests I’ll never know. I guess the profs just liked having them around. Since they have a humungous radioactive spider snacking on the locals, the sheriff (Nestor Paiva) calls the state police, who in turn call the Air Force. Napalm encrusted hijinks ensue and we see the requisite fighter squadron stock footage. Director, Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Incredible Shrinking Man) does an admirable job and uses decent effects and appropriate music to create suspense. A few of the scenes made me jump. The cast of B/A- actors deliver solid performances and the natural dialogue moves along nicely. There’s some real chemistry between Corday and Agar and we care what happens to these characters. I love big bug movies and Tarantula is a fun one. Oh, and look for Clint Eastwood in one of his first movie roles.

clint
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