Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Monster a Go-Go (1965)

Poster for Monster a Go-Go (1965)Monster a Go-Go (1965) by #BillRebane
with a little help from #HerschellGordonLewis
w/ #JuneTravis

“An astronaut went up – a “guess what” came down!”

The picture that comes complete with a 10-foot-tall monster to give you the wim-wams!”

“You’ve Never Seen a Motion Picture Like This — Thank Goodness!”

#Horror #SciFi #NotQuiteClassicCinema

I had never seen Monster a Go-Go (1965) before last week. I’ve enjoyed other movies by Wisconsin filmmaker Bill Rebane, including The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Blood Harvest (1987) and The Alpha Incident (1978). Monster a Go-Go was his first attempt at a feature film. He began shooting in 1961 but never quite finished it. Later he sold it to Herschell Gordon Lewis, who needed a second film for a double feature with Moonshine Mountain (1964).

Lewis shot some additional scenes and retitled the film to Monster a Go-Go. The name Rebane had initially given it was Terror at Halfday.

Monster a Go-Go (1965) currently rates a 1.7 on the IMDb – which is shockingly low. I’ve seen plenty of horrendously bad movies which still manage to get a 3. In his book, Terror On Tape, James O’Neill gives it half a star and says “this flatfooted foolishness has all the charm of a 70-minute rectal examination.” 

Is it really that bad?

I may have an unusually high tolerance for bad movies, but I would say no.

Don’t get me wrong. Monster a Go-Go is a bad movie. But I found it pretty easy to watch. It made me laugh a few times. And it’s not even 70 minutes long, so it doesn’t really overstay it’s welcome. 

The plot is somewhat similar to another Not Quite Classic Cinema classic, The Incredible Melting Man (1977). Both movies are about an astronaut returning to Earth as a horrible monster. Monster a Go-Go features a real life giant; an actor named Henry Hite  who was 7 foot 6. Hite plays the returning “monster” version of the astronaut, even though he is way too big to fit inside the capsule in which he supposedly fell back to Earth.

1930s Hollywood actress June Travis makes her final appearance in Monster a Go-Go as Ruth Logan, a widow with a young son who is a friend of astronaut/monster Frank Douglas. 

It wouldn’t pay to try to make too much sense of Monster a Go-Go. Bill Rebane ran out of money after one week of shooting. When he tried to finish it later, many of the initial actors were unable (or unwilling) to return, so Rebane hired new actors and created new characters to carry on with the story. Unfortunately, he ran out of money again and abandoned the project.

Major characters, and their storyline, are simply dropped with no explanation. One actor who did return, looked so different that Rebane decided to claim he was the brother of the original character.

Like I said, don’t try to make sense of Monster a Go-Go. Just sit back and enjoy it for what it is: a jaw-droppingly unique example of 100% Certified #NotQuiteClassicCinema. Whether you love it or hate it, you’ve got to see it to believe it. And it’s surely worth 68 minutes of your time on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday The 13th At The Home Drive-In: Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)

Poster for Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) by #TomMcLoughlin w/ #ThomMathews #JenniferCookeJenniferCooke

While Jason returns to Crystal Lake for another killing spree, Tommy must overcome his fear of the masked killer that has haunted him for years, and find a way to stop him.

Kill Or Be Killed

#Horror #Slasher #Jason #FridayThe13th

As I may have mentioned a while back, I was annoyed when Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (1985) came out. I had thought that Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984) had been a fitting ending for the series, as I may have mentioned in another previous blog post.

And then when A New Beginning began with a couple of assholes digging up Jason Voorhees’ grave, and he was lying inside, looking fairly intact, I started to get angry. He had been chopped up into a million pieces at the end of Part 4, hadn’t he?

When Jason woke up and started killing the two assholes, I completely lost it.

I know, I’ve said all of this before. The punchline of that story was – and is – that it turned out to be a dream. Jason was not fully intact inside his grave, and he did not sit up and start killing people. So, I was greatly relieved.

But guess what happens at the beginning of Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986)… It’s practically the same thing all over again – only this time it’s no dream. Jason IS in one piece inside of his grave, and he DOES sit up and start killing people again.

It’s no secret that most fans HATED A New Beginning, and I was no different (although over the years I have come to love it). It only stands to reason that the powers that be must have insisted on bringing Jason back to life so they could appease the fans and keep cashing in on sequel after sequel.

I must have been one of the only fans who did not like this idea. I was pleased that they had made the bold move of killing Jason off at the end of Part 4 and, although I hated it at first, I respected the fact that they had tried to do something new with A New Beginning. I did not want them to bring Jason back to life.

As such, I refused to watch Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives for the longest time. Finally, I stumbled onto it late one night on Pay TV. It was probably about halfway through, so I didn’t know for sure what I was seeing at first. I found myself pleasantly surprised by how entertaining a couple of the moments were, but I was still holding onto the idea that I didn’t want this movie to exist, so I ultimately changed the channel and ignored it.

Years later, I finally sat down to watch it from the beginning. And you know what? I found it to be one the most entertaining films in the series. It had a sense of humour. It was almost poking fun at itself at times. In some ways, it was one of the earliest precursors to Scream (1996) and the other post-modern slashers.

Okay, that might be overstating it a little – but it was a surprisingly funny movie. And it was precisely that sense of humour; that atmosphere of not taking itself too seriously, that made it okay to resurrect Jason with a bolt of lightning like he was Frankenstein’s monster. The teenage me might have hated it, but thirty-something me enjoyed the hell out of it.

I’ve watched it several times since then, and it’s become one of my favourite Friday the 13th movies. Thom Matthews as a grown up Tommy (and a much more sane one than the Tommy in A New Beginning) is extremely likeable. His relationship with Jennifer Cooke’s Megan feels like a throwback to 1940s screwball comedies, and helps to give the movie some heart. I’d like to have seen even more onscreen action involving the two, but I guess I’ll settle for what’s there.

Director Tom McLoughlin is to be commended for breathing new life (literally) into a nearly dead series. He is also the guy who made One Dark Night (1982), so that makes him pretty cool to any fan of cult horror cinema (or at least it should in my opinion). 

It probably goes without saying that Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (1986) is a perfect movie for any  #FridayThe13thAtTheHomeDriveIn. It’s easily one of the greatest fifth sequels – or sixth parts in a movie series – in the entire history of endless horror sequels and unapologetic #NotQuiteClassicCinema.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)

Poster for Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) by #AlAdamson
w/ #JohnCarradine #RobertDix #VickiVolante #JenniferBishop

Earthlings leave on a space mission to destroy flesh creatures of a prehistoric lost planet.

Far-Out, Frightening Terror!”
You’ll scream yourself into a state of shock!

#Horror #SciFi

It seems like I’m (re)visiting the weird and wonderful world of Al Adamson at least once a month these days. As I may have mentioned before, I have quite a few of Adamson’s movies in my collection – well, now I have almost everything, thanks to The Masterpiece Collection put out by Severin. But prior to that, I had collected quite a few VHS tapes and DVDs. One of those tapes, which I purchased at a dying video store after an all night drive to Edmonton, was Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970).

I still recall arriving in the early morning and spotting the old video store at the side of a moderately busy street. I got out of the car and went in (while my two travelling companions continued to sleep). I found Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) in a small horror section in the back corner of the store. I’m not sure if I’d ever heard of it before, but when I saw the name Al Adamson on the box, I knew I had to have it.

I didn’t have to do anything else for the rest of the weekend to feel like my all night drive had been worthwhile. Technically, I was in Edmonton for a wedding – but finding a new Al Adamson movie was far more exciting to me.

That was a long time ago. I recall thinking that Horror of the Blood Monsters was a bonkers good time (like most Al Adamson movies), but I don’t recall learning much about the story behind it. Now that I have the Severin Blu-ray, complete with Sam Sherman commentary track, I know a whole lot more. I won’t try to explain all of the behind the scenes insanity here, but I will say this: Horror of the Blood Monsters is another movie that Al Adamson created out of an older, already existing movie. This one started out as a Filipino film called Tagani (1956) by Rolf Bayer.

Al Adamson shot some new footage, which he carefully matched to the existing footage, and lo and behind he had a whole new movie (sort of). Honestly, he did a pretty good job. I’m not sure that I noticed the seams between the two movies the first time I sat through it.

Actually, he also included footage from other movies, such as One Million B.C. (1940) and Unknown Island (1948). But it was mostly Tagani and the new stuff.

Horror of the Blood Monsters apparently made money for Independent-International, and played all over the world in theatres and on television. And eventually on home video as well. Watching it again for the first time in many years, I was so entertained by the first three minutes or so (by the super-energetic prologue about vampires on Earth) I felt like I’d already had my money’s worth. Admittedly, the film does slow down considerably for a while after that, but that opening sequence left me feeling satisfied.

Of course, there are many other moments of inspired lunacy throughout.

All in all, Horror of the Blood Monsters makes for a pretty fun #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. Although it came out in 1970, it feels much older. This could partly be because Al Adamson shot most of his parts in 1966 – and also used pieces of much older films. It almost seems like one of the 1950s or ’60s B-movie, Sci-Fi monster movies that I might have watched on Not Quite Classic Theatre back in the ’80s. A little worse, perhaps; a little cheaper, a little shoddier, and a whole lot less sane – but definitely part of that genre. Would I have enjoyed it as much back then as I do now? Probably not. But all I can say for sure, is that Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970) is 100% Certified #NotQuiteClassicCinema – and that’s good enough for me.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Land Unknown (1957)

Poster for The Land Unknown (1957)The Land Unknown (1957) by #VirgilWVogel

w/#JockMahoney #ShirleyPatterson

Three men and a woman crash-land in a deep crater in Antarctica, where they find a prehistoric world.

“Lost and Terrorized in Prehistoric Time.”

#SciFi #Horror #Fantasy

I always loved movies about lost worlds and dinosaurs, but The Land Unknown (1957) is not a movie I remember seeing when I was  young. King Kong (1933) I remember, and I watched it whenever it was on TV. Later on I added King Kong (1976) to the regular watch list as well. It’s possible I saw The Land Unknown at some point, but if I did it didn’t make a lasting impression.

Honestly, The Land Unknown is not quite in the same class as King Kong, but it’s still a nostalgic and fun watch for those who grew up with these kind of movies. 

What blew my mind when watching it – or rather, when reading about it afterwards – is discovering that the lead actress, Shirley Patterson, was born in my home town of Winnipeg. This makes her a #MadeInManitobaMonday actress, I suppose.

Patterson, who’s credited as Shawn Smith in this movie (and most of everything else she made after 1950) started out in North of the Rockies (1942). She appeared in over 50 movies and TV shows, but never really became a big star. Aside from The Land Unknown, she also had a big part in It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). These appear to be her final two movies, so perhaps she was on her way to becoming a leading lady of Science Fiction. Alas, she was in a serious skiing accident in 1958 which left her unable to work for a couple of years, and she wound up retiring. Who knows what might have happened if it hadn’t been for that unfortunate incident at California’s Big Bear mountain resort?

The Land Unknown (1957) is #NotQuiteClassicCinema that would have been just as at home on a Sunday afternoon as on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. But if you’re an old school dinosaur fan,  it’s likely to put a smile on your face no matter when you choose to watch it.