Friday night at the home drive-in: The Alligator People (1959)

Poster for The Alligator People (1959)The Alligator People (1959) by #RoyDelRuth

w/#BeverlyGarland #BruceBennett #LonChaneyJr

While hypnotized by two psychiatrists, a woman describes the mysterious disappearance of her husband – on their wedding day – and the horrifying events that followed…,

“Her Honeymoon…Shattered by an Unbelievable Horror!”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

I did not see The Alligator People (1959) on TV when I was young. I had never heard of it, in fact, until I found a DVD copy in a bargain bin one day. As anyone who knows me can attest, any movie called The Alligator People – made in 1959, no less – has got to come home with me. And this one was no exception… Continue reading

Friday night at the home drive-in: The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)

The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) by #ArnoldLaven

w/#TimHolt #AudreyDalton

An earthquake awakens century-old giant mollusks in the Salton Sea.

“Crawling up from the depths.. to terrify and torture!”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) goes way back for me. I may have seen it on Not Quite Classic Theatre, I’m not sure. But I definitely saw it on TV when I was young. 

It’s about an earthquake that releases a bunch of giant mollusks from the bottom of the Salton Sea. I guess they’re pretty hungry after a hundred years of hibernation, because they start eating people left, right and centre. Scientists and soldiers from the nearby military base must do everything they can to stop these beasts before they eat everyone on the planet… or something like that. Continue reading

Friday night at the home drive-in: The Return of Dracula (1958)

Poster for The Return of Dracula (1958)The Return of Dracula (1958) by #PaulLandres

w/ #FrancisLederer #NormaEberhardt #RayStricklyn

A vampire murders a Czech artist, assumes his identity, and moves in with his cousins in California.

“There is only one reality, Rachel: Death. I have come to bring you Death.”

#Horror #Vampire #Dracula
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

I just can’t seem to get out of 1958. Last week I commented on the fact that I have been watching a lot of movies from 1958 (or thereabouts). After finishing that blog post, I turned to my horror library behind me and grabbed a double feature DVD that I have been having a hankering to revisit. The first movie in the set was The Return of Dracula (1958), and part of what attracted me to it was that it was a bit of a departure from the movies about giant monsters that I have been watching as of late. The Return of Dracula is about, well, Dracula; a vampire. 

What I didn’t notice is that it’s another movie that was released in 1958. Continue reading

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Wasp Woman (1959)

Poster for The Wasp Woman (1959)The Wasp Woman (1959) by #RogerCorman
w/#SusanCabot #AnthonyEisley #BarbouraMorris

A cosmetics queen is transformed into a murderous monster after she uses an insect chemical to preserve her beauty.

“A beautiful woman by day – a lusting queen wasp by night.”
“Strong men forced to satisfy a passion no human knows.”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

The Wasp Woman (1959) is a super-fun B-movie by none other than the master himself, Roger Corman. I love Roger Corman. He’s one of my heroes. I was once called “the Roger Corman of Manitoba” and it was the greatest compliment that I could imagine. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Roger Corman movie that I didn’t enjoy. And The Wasp Woman is no exception.
Continue reading

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Giant Gila Monster (1959)

Poster for The Giant Gila Monster (1959)The Giant Gila Monster (1959) by #RayKellogg

w/#DonSullivan #FredGraham

A giant lizard terrorizes a rural Texas community and a heroic teenager attempts to destroy the creature.

“The Biggest Terror Ever Unleashed on the Screen!”

“Only Hell could breed such an enormous beast. Only God could destroy it!”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

My friend Den pointed out to me that the titular beast in The Giant Gila Monster (1959) is not actually a Gila monster. Not being an expert on lizards and such, I looked it up.  According to Wikipedia, it’s a Mexican beaded lizard. Go figure. I guess The Giant Mexican Beaded Lizard didn’t sound as good as The Giant Gila Monster. Continue reading

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)

Poster for Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) by #BernardLKowalski
executive producer: 
#RogerCorman

w/#KenClark #YvetteVickers

“Massive Blood Sucking Monsters!”

“Fear will pierce your flesh… Until every nerve in your body… EXPLODES!”

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) is another movie that sits right in the sweet spot of what #NotQuiteClassicCinema is all about. It’s a movie that could have been shown on Not Quite Classic Theatre back in the 1980s – and maybe it was. I wish there was a way I could go back and look up all the titles that I may have watched back in those days. Alas, TV was a fleeting thing back then. Once the TV Guide (or TV Scene in my house) went into the garbage, that was it. All you had left was your memories. Continue reading

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Sting of Death (1966)

Poster for Sting of Death (1966)Sting of Death (1966) by #WilliamGrefé

w/#JoeMorrison #ValerieHawkins #DeannaLund

and special singing musical guest star #NeilSedaka!

A group of college students on spring break in the Florida Everglades run afoul of a giant jellyfish monster.

#Horror #SciFi
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

I’ve probably rambled on about having “bad movie nights” with certain friends of mine before. One of those friends, whom I’ll call Den (since that’s his name), used to go straight for the New Release shelf whenever we would go to rent movies together. I, on the other hand, used to go to the more unusual corners of the store: the Horror section (not so unusual), the Cult section (a little more offbeat) and the Something Weird Video section (yes, they had their own section, like Clint Eastwood and Martin Scorcese – and it was fairly off-the-beaten path for most customers). Continue reading

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Deadly Mantis (1957)

Poster for The Deadly Mantis (1957)The Deadly Mantis (1957) by #NathanJuran
w/ #CraigStevens #WilliamHopper #AlixTalton

When a melting iceberg releases a prehistoric giant praying mantis, a palaeontologist works with the military to kill it after it attacks scientific outposts on its way to Washington and New York.

“The most dangerous monster that ever lived!”
“A Thousand Tons of Horror! From A Million Years Ago…”

#Horror #SciFi #Giant #Monster
#NotQuiteClassicCinema
#FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn

At the risk of repeating myself…

Quite some time ago, I wrote about a TV show that I discovered when I was young. It aired late on Saturday nights and was called Not Quite Classic Theatre. As I said back then, “perhaps ‘show’ isn’t the right word for it. It was a time slot during which the TV station would air old B-movies.” I wrote that “watching those old monster movies inspired and excited me in a way that no other movies had. I loved them, and I loved that they gave me ideas and made me want to write.” Basically, watching movies on Not Quite Classic Theatre helped to make me into the person that I am today (for better or for worse). Continue reading

Friday night at the home drive-in: Tarantula (1955)

I’m almost certain that I first saw this movie on Not Quite Classic Theatre back in the 1980s. For those who don’t know, Not Quite Classic Theatre was the late night movie show that really solidified my love of old monster movies (and other B-horror films). I wrote about it a while back, to explain my use of the #NotQuiteClassicCinema hashtag.

I don’t specifically remember Tarantula (1955) being on that show, but it is so exactly the kind of movie that I saw week after week, that I feel it must have been. I do remember a couple of other specific titles which were aired (Monster on the Campus (1958) & The Monolith Monsters (1957)). They were produced and released by the same company as Tarantula (Universal Pictures). I suspect that Universal sold a package of films to Not Quite Classic Theatre, and it makes perfect sense that Tarantula would have been part of it.

In any case, I first saw Tarantula on late night TV many, many years ago. Watching it at the home drive-in last Friday was a wonderful blast from the past. It took me right back to my younger days, when giant spiders and other bugs were totally new to me. It’s movies like this that made me want to make movies (or at least be a writer). Unfortunately, I fell into a deep, dark hole of theatre and playwriting which took me about as far away from giant monsters as a writer can get.

I remember a good friend of mine, who I perceived as a very successful playwright, once giving me this piece of advice: “Write want you want.” I took it to mean that he had fallen into his own deep, dark hole where he was constantly being asked to write things that he was uniquely qualified to write, but did not excite him. He must have felt trapped; unable to turn down the paycheques. I did not have that problem back than. No one was paying me to write stuff, and it seemed like a pretty good problem to have….

…but now I find myself looking back on 20 years spent writing things that I did not care about.

Okay, that’s not quite true. I found a way to care about everything I worked on, and I wanted them all to be the best work I could do. However, they were always somebody else’s idea; somebody else’s dream project. In most cases I was paid for my work (often not enough, mind you), and that is a good feeling (and helps to pay the bills). Unfortunately, many of the projects I worked on never saw the light of day. But even if they had, they would have been somebody else’s babies, not mine. In retrospect, I have to wonder if my time would have been better spent writing B-movies like Tarantula. No one would have been paying me, but I certainly would have had more fun with them.  And when they were done, they would have been all mine, to do with as I pleased.

“Write what you want.” I should have paid more heed to those words. At least I can revisit movies like Tarantula and be transported back to a time in my life before I had made those mistakes. Is it possible to go back for real, and become the person you were always supposed to be? I’m not sure. But I am sure that Tarantula (1955) is a masterpiece of #NotQuiteClassicCinema and I will be using it to travel through time again in the not too distant future…