Film Review: Teen-Age Crime Wave (1955)

Also known as: Jail Bait (alternative title), Teenage Crime Wave (alternate spelling)
Release Date: November, 1955
Directed by: Fred F. Sears
Written by: Ray Buffum, Harry Essex
Cast: Tommy Cook, Molly McCart

Sam Katzman Productions, Clover Productions, Columbia Pictures, 77 Minutes

Review:

“You’re dirt, Terry. He’d never touch you!” – Jane Koberly

As I’ve been working my way, sort of randomly, through all the films featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, it seems like everything I’ve got left are these teenage delinquent movies from the ’50s and ’60s. I guess I didn’t realize how many there were on MST3K or maybe they all blended together in my memory over the years.

This one is surprisingly not godawful. Okay, I mean, it is bad but it is a better film than the other MST3K teenie bopper thug movies.

The characters in this flick are fairly likable. By “likable” I mean, not annoying.

The movie’s title is a bit misleading though, as the story primarily sees our teenage delinquents holed up in a house with a family they take hostage while on the run from the fuzz. One of the teen girls is innocent and just got caught up in the shenanigans. But this is ’50s cinema so you know that the main baddie will face some sort of justice.

Overall, the film does a decent job of creating tension but this still pales in comparison to the majority of the major studio crime pictures of the time.

It lacks good acting, good direction and the cinematography is amateurish with bad lighting. But it’s not a total shitshow.

Rating: 4.25/10
Pairs well with: other teen crime movies that were shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Film Review: The Beatniks (1960)

Also known as: Sideburns and Sympathy (working title)
Release Date: 1960
Directed by: Paul Frees
Written by: Paul Frees, Arthur Julian
Music by: Eddie Brandt, Paul Frees
Cast: Tony Travis, Joyce Terry

Glenville Productions, 78 Minutes

Review:

“Whyyyy, you young hoodlums, I’ll call the police!” – The Hotel Manager, “You say one word to anyone and I’m gonna moon you.” – Bob ‘Moon’ Mooney, “You’re gonna what?” – The Hotel Manager, “Moon you!” – Bob ‘Moon’ Mooney

Paul Frees was most famous for being a prolific voice actor. Still, I guess he got the directing bug after also being a screenwriter on the side. He wrote and directed this film as a warning against the Beat counterculture. It was done in a similar vein to Reefer Madness, which tried to scare people away from marijuana in 1936.

Frees luckily didn’t quit his day job, which was good, as this film was tremendously terrible. In fact, it was put on blast by Mystery Science Theater 3000 during season four. And if you are going to watch this, watch that version.

The story is pretty basic, it just follows around some shitty beatnik characters doing shitty beatnik things. However, this really ups the ante and goes way over the top in trying to demonize beatniks as a whole by painting them all out to be degenerate criminals.

But I guess old folks and the decent people of yesteryear didn’t have time for delinquency.

As one would expect, this is a poorly made film, top to bottom. But things that play like propaganda pieces tend to suck.

It’s mostly dull but it is still interesting, just seeing it as a product of its time.

Rating: 2.25/10
Pairs well with: other delinquent youth movies shown on MST3K.

Film Review: The Creeping Terror (1964)

Also known as: The Crawling Monster (working title)
Release Date: 1964
Directed by: Vic Savage (as A. J. Nelson)
Written by: Robert Silliphant
Music by: Frederick Kopp
Cast: Vic Savage, Shannon O’Neil, William Thourlby, John Caresio, Larry Burrell (narrator)

Metropolitan International Pictures, Crown International Pictures, 77 Minutes

Review:

“That afternoon, in Mungreeve Park, a group of neighbors got together for a hoot-e-nanny.” – Narrator

Mystery Science Theater 3000 has shown a lot of schlock-y monster movies in its 200-plus episode run. I have to say, though, this one might be the absolute worst of the lot.

This movie features a monster that is basically a giant rubber slug that looks like it’s got giant noodles dangling off of it. It’s terrible, uninspiring and is just a ripoff of The Blob without the imagination or any real attempt at trying to create actual dread in the audience.

The biggest sequence in the film is just cuts back and forth of teens go-go dancing and the creature crawling extremely slow through the dirt and shrubs. Eventually it gets to the dance to chow down on teens but the fact that it can even catch a person is an amazing feat, truly.

I guess the monsters, as there are actually two, are some organic space probes sent to Earth to eat and digest humans for analysis. So somehow destroying some super computer at the end somehow halts a potential invasion. This movie was a mess and mostly just a confusing bore that felt like it was written by a couple of burnouts after smoking all the pot in town over the course of a 24 hour Roger Corman movie bender.

Unlike Corman, however, this film had no charm and it’s monster looked like a shredded semi tire from the highway, tied to puppet strings that some drunkard was shaking above the shot. At least Corman gave us hokey monsters we could love.

This is literal cinematic poop. But it’s still a watchable film if seen with the aid of Mike Nelson and The ‘Bots.

Rating: 1.5/10
Pairs well with: other monster schlock of the ’50s and ’60s, especially the monster movies shown on MST3K.

Film Review: The Violent Years (1956)

Also known as: Female, Teenage Girl Gang, Girl Gang Terrorists (alternative titles)
Release Date: 1956
Directed by: William Morgan
Written by: Ed Wood (uncredited)
Music by: Michael Terr (as Manuel Francisco)
Cast: Jean Moorhead, Barbara Weeks, Arthur Millan, Glen Corbett, I. Stanford Jolley, Timothy Farrell

Dél Productions, Headliner Productions, 65 Minutes (original cut), 57 Minutes (DVD cut)

Review:

“These aren’t kids. These are morons!” – Detective

The Violent Years is the most successful film of Ed Wood’s career. The sad part about that is that he didn’t direct it, he just wrote it. What’s even sadder is that he didn’t even get an official credit on the picture.

Now while this is far from a good film, I did enjoy it, as the story has that sort of bonkers Ed Wood charm to it. And maybe this goes to show that his work gave way to better results when it had someone else direct his written words. But I still love most of Wood’s directed films despite the general consensus about them.

Like several flicks that Wood was involved with, this one was showcased on Mystery Science Theater 3000. That’s also probably why this is still somewhat remembered today.

This is an indie exploitation film at its core but it is also flim-noir and a fairly compelling crime thriller.

It stars Jean Moorhead, who is most famous for being a 1950s Playboy Playmate. And while she didn’t have the acting chops of noir’s greatest femme fatales, she did have a presence when she was on the screen and if I’m being honest, she does kind of carry the picture. She did end up having seventeen acting credits when it was all said and done and this film falls in the middle of her thirteen year run as an actress, so she wasn’t really a newbie and had done some TV and uncredited work before being given the lead here.

The film is pretty short and it has some dull moments but when the crimes are happening the scenes are energetic and actually kind of fun. I love bad girl gang movies and this is no exception. It’s pulpy, gritty but it has a coolness to it. And again, it exudes that hokey but swell Ed Wood charm.

Out of all the motion pictures that MST3K featured, this is one of the few that I can watch without the added riffing.

Rating: 4.75/10
Pairs well with: other films written by or directed by Ed Wood, as well as other schlock-y noir pictures.

Film Review: Last of the Wild Horses (1948)

Release Date: December 27th, 1948
Directed by: Robert L. Lippert
Written by: Jack Harvey
Music by: Albert Glasser
Cast: James Ellison, Mary Beth Hughes, Jane Frazee

Robert L. Lippert Productions, Grestwood Pictures, 84 Minutes

Review:

“There oughta be a law against a man carrying concealed weapons. You boys get tempted too easy.” – Duke Barnum

It’s possible that this is the worst western film I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a ton of terrible ones.

It’s drab, uninteresting and the plot is disjointed and quite a mess. Granted, my issues with the plot could also be due to being so bored to tears that my brain kept tuning out. And really, the only thing that got me through this picture was the commentary provided by the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

The story is about a rancher who is accused of trying to force smaller ranchers out of business. Even for 1940s standards, there are a lot of interesting directions this plot could go. But it just moves along at a snail’s pace and doesn’t throw anything compelling at the viewer.

If there are any positives to speak about, it’s the scenery. This was primarily shot in the wilderness of Oregon and the actors are immersed in natural beauty. However, that being said, for the most part, the natural world isn’t well shot. You get wide vistas but the angles and general cinematography are pretty amateurish.

The biggest thing working against this movie is that a lot of it takes place in a courtroom. I’ve never seen a trial cowboy movie. Now I have seen cowboys in courtrooms but it’s usually a quick scene to give context to a plot. I’m not interested in Perry Mason Meets Bonanza brought to us by a cast and crew with ten percent of the talent.

The Last of the Wild Horses should probably only be watched by the hardcore MST3K completist.

Rating: 1/10
Pairs well with: watching a GIF of a tumbleweed for 84 minutes.

Film Review: The Starfighters (1964)

Release Date: March 25th, 1964
Directed by: Will Zens
Written by: Will Zens
Music by: Stephen Paul
Cast: Robert Dornan, Richard Jordahl, Richard Masters

Will Zens Productions, Robert Patrick Productions, Riviera Productions, Pride Releasing Organization, 78 Minutes, 84 Minutes (original cut)

Review:

“Listen, I just got back from the Victorville Chamber of Commerce meeting, where I gave them my anti-communist speech… and I’m still fighting mad!” – Colonel Hunt

The Starfighters is considered to be one of the worst films ever made. Luckily, the only version of it that I have seen is the one that features riffing from the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. I can’t imagine watching this without the added hilarity.

The problem with this film is that it seems like it was a propaganda recruiting movie made by the United States Air Force and then passed off as a legit picture. As far as I know, it wasn’t made by the USAF but I think that the only place that the movie might have been accepted was on Air Force bases in the mid-’60s.

That being said, this did not get a first run theatrical release because of its awfulness. It did make the drive-in circuit and probably got thrown into some budget theaters but this was really a lost film before it even saw the light of day.

I think that it is only remembered because it was lampooned on MST3K. And while a few hundred films can say the same thing, this picture did provide us with one of the best MST3K episodes of all-time, simply because a lot of the jokes became long running gags that were used in future episodes.

As far as the film itself goes, this is a boring dud full of wooden acting, wooden dialogue and what I can only assume was a director asleep at the wheel.

The story is about some pilots being trained on how to fly the high tech, futuristic Lockeed F-104 Starfighter jet. However, the movie puts more emphasis on mid-air refueling than it does on seeing the jets do anything remotely cool.

However, when we do see cool stuff, it’s pretty much stock footage material. But that’s actually the only neat thing about this movie.

A lot of this military footage is cool to see, especially years later, as the technology featured is outdated by half a century. I guess you’ll probably only find this interesting if you have a love of documentary style historical military movies. Seeing the refueling stuff was kind of fascinating but obviously, it doesn’t salvage the picture in any way.

I guess the weirdest thing about this film is the score. During the refueling scenes we are treated to very out of place, upbeat jazz music. It’s pretty strange but reference to it on MST3K led to one of the best in-jokes in the Mike Nelson era of the show.

This film is a total crapfest. I can’t recommend it but if you feel like you need to check it out, just watch the MST3K version.

Rating: 1.5/10
Pairs well with: other MST3K fodder from the early Mike Nelson era.

Film Review: San Francisco International (1970)

Release Date: September 29th, 1970
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Written by: William Read Woodfield, Allan Balter
Music by: Patrick Williams
Cast: Pernell Roberts, Clu Gulager, Beth Brickell, Van Johnson, David Hartman, Dana Elcar, Tab Hunter

Universal Television, 96 Minutes

Review:

“I said the wheel felt mushy!” – Ross Edwards

It’s been a really slow few weeks for me, as I’ve been on a sabbatical from work, life and all things that come with this site but I did squeeze in at least one movie over the last few weeks. But mainly because I was on a flight, the movie selection sucked and I felt like watching some Mystery Science Theater 3000 to make my overcrowded and testy flight more tolerable.

Granted, this is a terrible film and it has nothing to offer, apart for being bad enough to be riffing fodder.

Anyway, this isn’t really even a movie. It’s a two-hour pilot for a failed television show.

This stars a bunch of recognizable B-list actors from the era but they all look like they are dialing it in and care about this production as little as I do.

Ultimately, this is an ensemble piece with a bunch of subplots, none of which are interesting.

I wish I could actually say more about the film but it’s like nothing even happened in the slow and mind numbing 96 minutes that this took up. It certainly doesn’t build towards anything that anyone would care about and I guess that’s why this failed and a show never really developed beyond a few episodes that I don’t think even aired after this dud.

Rating: 2.75/10
Pairs well with: I guess other failed TV pilots of the ’70s and airplane disaster movies.