Intellectual Carrots, Giant Creatures & Aliens in Latex Suits
I have this thing for science fiction movies from the 1950’s through part of the 1960’s. Most of them are in black & white and most of them are quite horrible, but I like ‘em just the same.
The movie industry was very different then. Independent producers could make a film for $10,000, have it distributed and turn a profit. Roger Corman was the king of the so called “B” movies – these were often packaged as a double bill and distributed to drive-in movie theaters. Corman made scores of cheap movies and almost always turned a profit.
Science fiction was a frequent genre for Corman and his ilk to work in. The Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Wasp Woman and Not of this Earth are just a few of his movies. The posters for these movies are outrageous. They practically drag a prospective movie goer into the theater. Corman and others often had the title and poster made up long before they had a script or had anything filmed.
The major studios dipped into the Sci-Fi genre occasionally with big budget productions like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Fly and The Day the Earth Stood Still – all of which have been remade over the years.
I never cared for the Japanese films of the era – Godzilla and all his friends. Yuck. Just not my cup of saki.
I was introduced to the wonderful world of Sci-Fi movies as a child – and not on the big screen but on the 12” Black & White Admiral TV I had in my room. I can clearly recall watching Earth vs. The Flying Saucers like it was yesterday – and believe me it was more than 45 years ago (but, as it turns out, I did watch it again yesterday).
There is no limit to the crappiness of many of these movies, but I love them all the more. The science fiction movies of this era had a certain charm.
Let’s face it, if I was watching a “creature feature” on a snowy UHF channel, my expectations for quality were pretty low to begin with. Guy in a latex alien suit? No problem. Giant ants invading the sewer system? I can buy that. A guy growing fly appendages? Extra arms? Sure, give me more. Even The Blob looked like a winner in world of B&W Sci-Fi flicks.
These movies fall into several broad categories, although some movies have elements of several categories overlapping in a wonderful plot-line free-for-all.
There are the giant bug movies like Them!, Tarantula, The Deadly Mantis.
The alien invasion movies like The Thing From Another World, The Monolith Monsters, and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers.
The science has gone too far movies like Crack in the World, It Came From Beneath the Sea, and The Last Man on Earth.
There are space travel movies like Rocketship X-M, Destination Moon, and Forbidden Planet.
Perhaps the crappiest of all the movies of the genre is Plan 9 From Outer Space. This is one really awful movie. It’s so bad, Bela Lugosi, the “star” died after filming just one scene. Not to be deterred, the director, Ed Wood, hired his dentist play out the rest of Lugosi’s scenes while hiding his face behind a cape.
Trust me, I’ve seen movies just as bad with an even lower entertainment quotient.
Coincidentally, many movie theaters will be showing Plan 9 at the end of the month. It’s a rare opportunity to see a legendarily bad movie on the big screen.
I, for one, will be there.
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Tags: Crack in the World, Destination Moon, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, Forbidden Planet, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, It Came From Beneath the Sea, Movies, Rocketship X-M, Roger Corman, Sci-Fi, Science Fiction Movies, Tarantula, The Attack of the Crab Monsters, The Blob, The Day the Earth Stood StillThe Wasp Woman and Not of this Earth, The Deadly Mantis, The Fly, The Last Man on Earth, The Monolith Monsters, The Thing From Another World, Them!