Film Review: First Spaceship On Venus (1960)

Also known as: Planet of the Dead, Silent Star, Spaceship Venus Does Not Reply, The Planet of Death (alternate titles)
Release Date: February 26th, 1960 (East Germany)
Directed by: Kurt Maetzig
Written by: Kurt Maetzig, J. Barkhauer (uncredited), J. Fethke, W. Kohlhasse, G. Reisch, G. Rucker, A. Stenbock-Fermor
Based on: Astronauci by Stanislaw Lem
Music by: Andrzej Markowski
Cast: Günther Simon, Julius Ongewe, Yoko Tani

VEB DEFA-Studio für Spielfilme, Künstlerische Arbeitsgruppe ”Roter Kreis”, Film Polski, Crown International Pictures, 93 Minutes (original), 79 Minutes (US version)

Review:

It’s rare that a movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn’t rated at a 4 or below. But this one just barely rose above having to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. Kudos to East Germany and Poland. I wouldn’t quite call this a victory for communism though. It’s not like this was as good as Solaris or anything.

Also, this isn’t a very good movie by any stretch of the imagination but it had pretty good effects and visuals for a really low budget sci-fi epic from its era and from a couple communist countries.

Watching this, I almost thought it was a Japanese production due to the Japanese actors in it. I figured it was from Daiei, Toei, Tsuburaya or Shochiku… you know, one of the tokusatsu studios with less money than Toho. It was also done in a similar style to those films and had a similar type of ingenuity in achieving effects that came off better than they probably should have.

I really love the sequence where the astronauts are trying to get away from the molten goo. I also love the design of the spaceship.

But other than the shoddy effects that I found impressive due to the production’s limitations, there isn’t much else that is good with this picture.

The acting sucks, the dubbing is terrible and even though the cinematography and lighting are fairly decent, the film is often times dull to look at. However, the surviving print isn’t in the greatest quality either.

First Spaceship On Venus is good for what it is. Most people today won’t want to watch it but it does make for a solid episode of MST3K.

Rating: 4.5/10
Pairs well with: Assignment: Outer Space, Space Probe Taurus, This Island Earth and The Day Mars Invaded Earth.

Film Review: Rocketship X-M (1950)

Also known as: Expedition Moon, Rocket to the Moon, None Came Back, Journey Into the Unknown, Rocketship Expedition Moon (working titles)
Release Date: May 26th, 1950 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Kurt Neumann
Written by: Orville H. Hampton, Kurt Neumann, Dalton Trumbo
Music by: Ferde Grofe
Cast: Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Beery Jr., Hugh O’Brian, Morris Ankrum

Lippert Pictures, 78 Minutes

Review:

“I’ve been wondering, how did a girl like you get mixed up in a thing like this in the first place.” – Floyd, “I suppose you think that women should only cook and sew and bear children.” – Dr. Lisa Van Horn, “Isn’t that enough?” – Floyd

For a picture showcased on Mystery Science Theater 3000, this one actually isn’t half bad.

Plus, it also has a well-known actor in it: Lloyd Bridges.

But all things considered, this still isn’t a very good movie. It probably played much better in 1950 but it was fairly dry and uneventful. It was written by the Dalton Trumbo (and a few others too) and it was more serious than some of the other over the top sci-fi pictures of the time.

This did feature Martians and a nonsensical plot that sees our astronaut heroes miss the moon, only to land on Mars. But at least this wasn’t overly hokey. At least, I didn’t think so. Granted, I probably would’ve enjoyed it more with big rubber suited monsters but I feel like this was a real attempt at making a sci-fi picture that was supposed to be seen as a more serious film than a movie played up for scares and to appeal to the pulp readers of the day.

In the end, Rocketship X-M is one of the better films to get riffed by Joel and the ‘Bots.

Rating: 5/10
Pairs well with: Other MST3K fodder that featured rocketships: Women of the Prehistoric PlanetProject Moonbase, The Phantom PlanetFirst Spaceship on Venus, etc.

Film Review: The Projected Man (1966)

Also known as: Frankenstein 70 – Das Ungeheuer mit der Feuerklaue (Germany), Laser X: operazione uomo (Italy)
Release Date: March, 1966 (UK)
Directed by: Ian Curteis, John Croydon (uncredited)
Written by: Peter Bryan, John C. Cooper, Frank Quattrocchi
Music by: Kenneth V. Jones
Cast: Bryant Haliday, Mary Peach, Norman Wooland, Ronald Allen, Derek Farr

Compton Productions, Universal Studios, 90 Minutes

Review:

“Pretty you may be.” – Chris Mitchell

Ugh… why?! Why was this made?!

This turkey is terrible. And if it actually was a turkey, it’d be a giant mass of dried out, tough to chew, hard to swallow turkey. Kind of like the turkey my Aunt Grace made that one year for Thanksgiving when she passed out drunk on Rebel Yell and none of us kids knew what to do because we were like eight years-old so that thing baked for like 14 hours.

Like a couple hundred other terrible movies, this one was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and really, that’s probably the only reason I have even heard of this cinematic typhoon of monkey poop. This one is really hard to get through, even with the comedic prowess of Mike Nelson and the ‘Bots ripping it to shreds.

I have to assume that people have to try really hard to make a movie this bad. Like was it a challenge or a dare? “Hey, here’s twenty quid, now go make a pile of shit, make it seven reels long and get it in the theaters!”

I guess it doesn’t help this film that the monster is a guy that looks like he is cosplaying as the Phantom of the Opera with a mask made out of an old pair of tighty whities.

The plot is about a scientist trying to find a way to transmit matter. He then decides to be his own guinea pig. So it’s sort of like The Fly but nowhere near as cool. Obviously the self-experimentation goes awry and the dude gets all disfigured, gross and crazy.

They should have just gone the Ed Wood route with this film and just thrown a bunch of other shit into the movie too. If there was like an alien zombie attack going on, a couple vampires and just some general flying saucer shenanigans, I could have at least thought that this was ambitious. But really, it takes a basic, tired ass plot, gives us a basic, tired ass movie and was really just a massive waste of time. A waste for the people that watched it, the people that made it and the poor celluloid that could have been used for something better like, I don’t know… a Dutch documentary about the history of Klomp crafting.

Anyway, I’ve had migraines that were more enjoyable than this film. So you bet your friggin’ ass this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 5 Stool: Soft blobs with clear-cut edges (passed easily).” I beg to differ on the “passed easily” bit.

Rating: 2/10
Pairs well with: That moment after a big sloppy pooh when you look over and realize that you’re out of toilet paper and your mum isn’t home to pass you one through the cracked door.

Film Review: The Phantom Planet (1961)

Also known as: Planeta Fantasma (Spanish title)
Release Date: December 13th, 1961
Directed by: William Marshall
Written by: William Telaak, Fred De Gortner, Fred Gebhardt
Music by: Leith Stevens
Cast: Dean Fredericks, Coleen Gray, Francis X. Bushman

Four Crown Productions Inc., 82 Minutes

Review:

“We are able to translate all languages with voice tone waves.” – Sessom

Another day, another terrible movie that I watched due to it being featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000. I’ve been slowly working my way through the entire MST3K series and I know that I’m more than halfway through it, at this point, but man, there are so many episodes and this feels like a never ending endeavor.

The Phantom Planet is exactly what you would expect from a rocketship movie from 1961 that was made with no budget, very little creativity and a script that probably would’ve been better used to stabilize a wobbly table at Shoney’s.

However, this movie has Coleen Gray in it, which probably means nothing to anyone reading this but she once worked with Stanley Kubrick in The Killing and was in two very good film-noirs: Kansas City Confidential and Nightmare Alley, which is one of the top things Tyrone Power has ever starred in, mind you.

This was also directed by a guy named William Marshall but he isn’t that William Marshall. You know, the suave and sexy black dude that starred in the Blacula films. No, this is just some boring white guy that directed a turkey wearing bells and called it The Phantom Planet.

Now this isn’t the worst space faring sci-fi flick that MST3K has featured. By comparisons sake, it isn’t that bad, actually. It’s still not a good movie but it has the sort of hokiness that is charming.

But let’s run it all down.

The effects are awful, the acting is mostly bad, the direction was pedestrian, the sets were deplorable and the editing was so choppy that I got sea sick and barfed on my popcorn. Still, I don’t hate this.

But that won’t save this movie from going into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

Rating: 3.75/10
Pairs well with: Other MST3K fodder that featured rocketships: Women of the Prehistoric PlanetProject MoonbaseRocketship X-MFirst Spaceship on Venus, etc.

Film Review: Girl In Gold Boots (1968)

Release Date: April 25th, 1968
Directed by: Ted V. Mikels
Written by: Art Names, Leighton J. Peatman, John T. Wilson
Music by: Nicholas Carras, Chris Howard
Cast: Jody Daniels, Leslie McRae, Tom Pace, Chris Howard

Geneni Film Distributors, 94 Minutes, 108 Minutes (original cut)

Review:

“I see you’ve been promoted from Yak Boy to Mop Boy.” – Buz Nichols

GIrl In Gold Boots is a film about the seedy side of the go-go dancing world, as told by the man behind The Corpse Grinders and The Black Klansman. And as should be expected, it is of poor quality with bad acting and an insane nonsensical plot full of unlikable characters.

But hey, it’s got hot dancers in it and there is a version you can watch that is riffed by Mike and the ‘Bots courtesy of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Watch that version, as it is actually one of my favorite Mike Nelson MST3K episodes.

In this film, we meet this waitress in some shithole diner in the middle of nowhere. Her father is the cook and he’s a drunk shithead that smacks her around. Some swindler from Hollywood named Buz with just one “z”, convinces her to go back to La La Land with him where he can help make her a go-go dancing sensation. Yes, this is a real plot.

Once things initially work out for this girl, she soon finds herself in a seedy world where everyone is a drug addicted maniac and go-go dancing isn’t the only sexy activity on the menu.

This film is full of terrible scenes but at least the actors got to film that segment on the beach, driving a cool plastic dune buggy thing through the sand. I would have signed up to be in this movie just to drive the dune buggy thing. Well, and to hangout with go-go dancers day and night.

Out of the three Ted V. Mikels films I have seen, this one was the least engaging and pretty damn boring.

You get some musical numbers with cute girls and their jiggly bits but then you get atrocious musical numbers like the proto-emo dude singing in the rain while the female lead’s face is superimposed in the background.

This movie is full of severe cringe. Sometimes I like that though. It’s just that the cringe never seems to lead anywhere worthwhile.

I’m not sure if there is an unrated version of this where you get to see some boobs but there should be. This film was like a big tease and no breasties saw the light of day. It’s like a nudie cutie picture with no nudie. I’d much rather watch Ed Wood’s Orgy of the Dead.

Leslie McRae, the female lead, didn’t have a great career but she did go on to play Cleopatra in Roger Corman and Paul Bartel’s Death Race 2000. She was also in Coffy.

This, like all films of a similar quality, must be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 4 Stool: Like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft.”

Rating: 2/10
Pairs well with: The Wild World of BatwomanOrgy of the Dead and Eegah.

Film Review: Track of the Moon Beast (1976)

Release Date: June 1st, 1976
Directed by: Richard Ashe
Written by: Bill Finger, Charles Sinclair
Music by: Robert G. Orpin
Cast: Chase Cordell, Leigh Drake, Gregorio Sala

Lizard Productions Inc., 81 Minutes

Review:

“I wish I was kidding Mac, I’m not! Now there is an answer and I think I know what it is and it makes me sick to think about it!” – Johnny Longbow

The world has seen werewolf movies a million times over. But were-lizard movies? Those are much harder to come by. Thank god we were given this film to satisfy the were-lizard fans of the world. Sadly, it is as excruciating to get through as a were-lizard gnawing on your face.

I guess it is worth noting that this film was penned by Bill Finger, a man who died in poverty after Bob Kane took all the credit (and money) for creating Batman. Hulu recently did a documentary about Bill Finger and you should check it out for the full story. But he’s a guy instrumental in the creation of my favorite hero, so I thought his involvement in this was worth pointing out, even if the end result wasn’t anything worthwhile.

This film stars no one that anyone would recognize. And other than Bill Finger’s involvement, I haven’t heard of any of the other people involved either.

The story is about this Native American guy trying to solve these strange murders. It plays out like a werewolf movie but it’s got that lizard twist, which makes it completely original. Well, not really. The creature, called the Moon Beast, is created by fragments of a meteorite coming into contact with just some normal human dude. Actually, it gets lodged into his brain… his brain! He goes on a killing spree because these things have to happen in these sort of pictures and eventually, he is destroyed by an arrow made of the same meteorite. In fact, the magic meteorite arrow makes his whole body explode because why wouldn’t it?

Did I spoil the plot? Well, the entire film spoils itself and everything it comes in contact with.

I guess I have to give some props to the filmmakers, however, as they completely steal the most iconic scene from a great 1940’s horror film, Val Lewton and Jacques Tourneur’s The Leopard Man. It’s the scene where someone is trying to get into their house, a loved one leaves them locked outside to teach them a lesson and then the loved one hears horrible screams from the other side of the door, as a pool of blood creeps into the house from outside. Granted, this sequence was completely butchered and looked like shit in this film but it was a nice attempt at an homage that most people would never pick up on. Or maybe it was just outright thievery.

Lastly, there is a band in this movie that plays a set that is entirely too long and feels like it takes up half the damn film. Okay, maybe like five to ten minutes but man, it’s terrible, terrible stuff.

This film is only worth your time if you watch it get riffed on MST3K. It was featured in the final season of the show’s original run.

So this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 3 Stool: Like a sausage but with cracks on its surface.”

Rating: 2.75/10
Pairs well with: Other films featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 that deal with body transformation: WerewolfBlood Waters of Dr. ZI Was a Teenage Werewolf and The Incredible Melting Man.

Film Review: Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues (1984)

Also known as: The Barbaric Beast of Boggy Creek, Part II (original title)
Release Date: February 13th, 1984 (Laurel, Mississippi premiere)
Directed by: Charles B. Pierce
Written by: Charles B. Pierce
Music by: Frank McKelvey, Lori McKelvey
Cast: Charles B. Pierce, Cindy Butler, Chuck Pierce Jr., Serene Hedin, Jimmy Clem, James Faubus Griffith

Howco International Pictures, 91 Minutes

Review:

“These river bottoms are truly a sight to behold.” – Professor Brian C. ‘Doc’ Lockart

The first Boggy Creek movie is a boring snoozefest. This one, however, makes the original seem as exciting as a rollercoaster ride through a Transformer’s body. Okay, maybe not that exciting but you get the point.

This motion picture isn’t worth the celluloid that it was burned onto. It is a terrible, abysmal picture that serves no purpose other than to try and recreate the magic of the first movie that came out a dozen years before it.

To be frank, there was no magic the first time. That first film was a movie trying to pass itself off as a documentary and it did have some popularity, for some godawful reason, but it wasn’t a good movie in any way.

This at least doesn’t try to play the “documentary” card. It’s a straight up fictional movie but it is confusing as to what it’s trying to be. It’s like family friendly horror where there isn’t much horror. It’s just a guy in a Sasquatch suit that looks as convincing as the gorilla from Trading Places. There is also a baby Sasquatch in this but I won’t spoil the movie, the movie does that well on its own.

This was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and for good reason. It deserved to be riffed. It’s actually the perfect movie for the MST3K treatment and provided a lot of bad material to make that episode of the classic comedy show one of its best from its tenth season.

I’ll make no bones about it, this is going into the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 2 Stool: Sausage-shaped but lumpy.”

Rating: 2/10
Pairs well with: The Legend of Boggy CreekThe Legacy of Boggy Creek and Cry Wilderness. They’re all bad movies though.