Bride Of The Monster (1955)

Directed by Edward D. Wood Jr.
Starring Bela Lugosi, Tor Johnson and Loretta King.
69 Minutes – Not rated

Wood scores again with the familiarity of majestic ineptness. Bride of the Monster is the first movie in the, ahem, “acclaimed” Kelton trilogy and features Bela in his final speaking role.

The sinister Dr. Vornoff (Lugosi) and his hulking assistant Lobo (Johnson) conduct radiation experiments in a swamp. The result of this being a giant rubber octopus that becomes the new big dog of the neighborhood. Reporter Janet is kidnapped by Lobo and, of course, he falls head over heels for her. Then, after some literally wall-bending fisticuffs, well… we don’t want to ruin the ending for you.

Suffice to say, Mr. Wood is up to snuff with this hilarious Grade Z fiasco. Look out for: Lagosi’s shoes after the ray gun attack, the disappearing/reappearing pencil behind Tillie’s ear, the above-water/underwater door in the Laboratory and the pitiful flails of the monster.

Queen Of The Gorillas (1958)

AKA: The Bridge and the Beast.
Starring Charlote Austin and Lance Fuller.
Directed by Adrian Weiss.
78 Minutes – Not Rated

This is notable chiefly because of the screenplay written by (drum roll please)………..Ed Wood Jr! Little known, even by the most avid Wood fan, we bring you this review as an example of our Cult Caretaking capabilities.

Anyone familiar with the old catch phrase, “spanking that monkey”, need only take a look-see at this gem to make the connection. Spanky is a gorilla who is hopelessly in love with our heroine, who just may have been a simian in a previous reincarnation, who has feeling of her own for the ape.

This is Wood’s weird philosophy in spades. In case you have that particular relative squirreled away in your basement, we strongly recommend that he/she/it/frog-thing? does not view this flick. The consequences could be dire indeed. Incidentally, guess who wins the girl?

Brain From Planet Arous, The (1957)

Directed by Nathan (Hertz) Juran.
Starring John Agar, Robert Fuller and Joyce Meadows.
70 Minutes – Not Rated

John Agar (The ex-Mr. Shirley Temple) made a habit of showing up in movies of this ilk and once more treats us to a show akin to a drunken stupor. You know you’re in for an interesting 70 minutes when you learn the director felt obliged to use his middle name for the credits and the space brains are named Gor & Vol.

Gor (the bad brain) takes over the body of our scientist/hero and goes on a quest to take over Earth. Vol (the good brain) unites with our heroine/love interest to stop Gor’s wicked plans and save humanity.

Did we mention all those damnable strings? The F/X crew apparently couldn’t figure out how to make them invisible to the audience because you can spot them everywhere. This is a premium illustration of bad sci-fi movies of the 50′s. We love it for all of its over/under excesses.

Body Snatcher, The (1945)

Directed by Robert Wise.
Starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Henery Danlell, Russell Wade & Edith Atwater.
77 Minutes – Not Rated

Based on Robert Lewis Stevenson’s short story (inspired by the real life exploits of Burke / Hare) and starring Boris and Bela. Friends, that’s what’s known as a parlay. In addition, when the word atmosphere is applied to a film, producer Val Newton rates as maybe the best ever, this being possibly his finest work. If you get the idea we love this movie you’re sooo right.

The film is based in 1830′s Scotland, where the medical establishment was on the threshold of major surgical advances. The problem? Not enough cadavers to work with. The solution? Grave-robbing, of course. In their last appearance together, Mr. Karlaff is ridiculously good as the charming/sadistic ghoul and sad Mr. Lugosi’s role as a dim-witted lackey is brief yet strongly compelling. The carriage ride scene at the conclusion is rightly considered an ageless classic and is only one of the truly chilling moments. You don’t need to be a horror aficionado to enjoy this one. Trust us.

Black Christmas (1975, Canada)

AKA: Stranger in the House
AKA: Silent Night, Evil Night
Starring Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey, Keir Dullea & John Saxon.
Directed by Bob Clark.
98 Minutes – Rated R

Here it is, the godfather of them all, the first North American slasher. This comparatively low-budget offering still packs an abundance of thrills and chills. Almost every other film in this genre owes it tribute.

A sorority house is the setting. With visions of sugar plums dancing in their pretty little heads the girls are being telephoned, and summarily slaughtered, by a maniac who just so happens to be residing in the attic.

If you appreciate this kind of stuff, as we do, then this is one you should not miss. The horror is greatly enhanced by the overall malignant atmosphere that has never been surpassed, despite hundreds of clones. Kidder, who had a well-deserved reputation as being a little kinky, is perfect and the rest of the players are stalwart as well. However, WHO THE HELL IS BILLY?

Black Cat, The (1934)

Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.
Starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi.
65 Minutes – Not rated

Two honeymooners become unwilling pawns in a deadly game of chess between two old enemies (Legosi & Karloff). Satanic rituals, a brutal whipping and a man being skinned alive are grist for our mill of appreciation (and even more impressive considering this was made in the 1930s).

This flick is the first ever pairing of the aforementioned horror greats. The story has no resemblance to the Poe tale but Peter Ruric’s script stands on its own. Edgar G. Ulmer cut his directorial teeth with F.W. Murau, whose previous work, Nosferatu, clearly and visibly inspired this film. Karloff and Lugosi are, of course, tremendous. While the Raven is commonly touted as the best coupling of these immortals, we believe this is a much better flick. “Baloney? Perhaps not.”

Birth Of A Nation, The (1915)

Directed by D.W. Griffith.
Starring Lillian Gish, Henry Waithall, Ralph Lewis, Mae March and Bobbie Harron.
175 Minutes – Not Rated

It’s hard to imagine this moving picture premiered only 50 years after the Civil War ended. It was blatantly racist and, rumor has it, used by the KKK as a recruitment tool well into the 20th century. Putting that aside, the film itself pioneered a variety of camera and cinematic techniques still recognized at ground breaking. It was the very first blockbuster and feature length film.

Following an introduction which paints the sad picture of the 17th Century and the beginnings of slavery in North America, we focus on two families before, during and after the Great Conflict. It is during the period of reconstruction that the infamous Knights of the Ku Klux Klan are portrayed as saviors of our National heritage on par with Washington, Jefferson et al.

It has been argued that the revival of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s was a result of the massive popularity of The Birth of A Nation. While we caretakers feel less than qualified to opine on that topic, we can say that only historical relevance makes this one worth viewing. It’s not a pleasant adventure.

Billy The Kid Verus Dracula (1966)

Directed by William “One-Shot” Beaudine.
Starring John Carradine, Chuck Courney, Melinda Plowman and Harry Carey Jr.
95 Minutes – Not Rated

Sublimely soporific. Inspiringly inept. Outstandingly obnoxious. You can sum up the better part of Carradine’s career with adjectives or you can see this movie. Perpetually on the periphery of the horror scene, he still managed to be in nearly every other film of the genre for over thirty years. In this one, he again plays a vampire up to the usual villainous deeds.

Despite the title, there is no mention of the beloved Count. There is, however, lots of pathetic FX and a full monte of hammy acting, with Carradine the head hog. Billy is a clean cut romantic hero destined to win our hearts and the girl, if only he can stop “He-Who-Walks-Around-Even-In-Daylight.” Despite what you may have read from less-informed sources, this is a cult film in name only and a rather hard 95 minutes to sit though. Its title is far more interesting than anything in the actual flick

Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)

Directed by William “One-Shot” Beaudine.
Starring Bela Lugosi, Duke Mitchell and Sammy Petrillo.
74 Minutes – Not Rated

Pity the poor Bela. His career was fading fast, his drug dependency was increasing and he was forced to co-star with a couple of Martin and Lewis wannabes who were never heard from again. This so-called production was the dawning that eventually led to his literal and figurative demise with Ed Wood Jr.

Kola-Kola is an island whose denizens include a mad scientist, a beautiful maiden and a bunch of Caucasian extras made up as natives. Dean and Jerry…OOPS, Duke and Sammy, are marooned and the fun(?) begins. Dr. Zabor (Legosi) turns Duke into a de-evolving ape and, naturally, only a song can save the day. This is high camp at its most titillating, one or two intentional comical moments, but chiefly of the so-bad-it’s-good variety. Pity the poor Bela.

Beast With Five Fingers, The (1946)

Directed by Robert Florey.
Starring Peter Lorre, Victor Francen (and his left hand), Robert Alda, Audrea King and J. Carrell Naish.
87 Minutes – Not Rated

Mr. Lorre’s virtuoso performance is the stuff on which cult legend is built. Long before the term schizophrenia was so well known to us huddled masses, his portrayal here completely characterized the medical diagnosis. In the fifteen or so years between M and this film his unbalancing act has been honed to precision.

Here, Lorre battles the severed appendage of his former employer who dies but somehow, from the grave, wills his hand to wreck murder and mayhem on his despicable in-laws. But, is he batting the thing or his inner demons?

Surrealism to the nth degree and we’re all the better for it. Bravo!