Cast: Orson Welles as Mr. Cato Pamela Franklin as Lori Brandon Lee Purcell as Priscilla Michael Ontkean as Frank Brandon Harvey Jason as Dr. Jay
Written by Gail March & Bert I. Gordon Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Life to the dead and death to the living.
Plot: Mr. Cato is the head of a witches coven seeking the power of necromancy to bring his son back from the dead.
Richard’s Thoughts: I had never heard of this one before doing some research on Mr. B.I.G. and Orson Welles in a lead role immediately stirred my interests. Unfortunately, his role is far too small as he is one of the more interesting elements of the story. The story tends to meander around without any solid direction and Lori’s character tends to be a little annoying at times. There are elements of a good story, if not unoriginal (Rosemary’s Baby anyone?), but the end result is simply confusing at times with lots of plot holes that are never really addressed. I might watch this again but I’m not expecting it to make any more sense with repeated viewings.
Trivia: Released in the early 80s as a soft-core film under the title of The Witching with additional nudity and a different ending.
Cast: Don Ameche as Edward Shelley Martha Hyer as Francine Shelley Susan Gordon as Susan Shelley Zsa Zsa Gabor as Jessica Flagmore Shelley
Screenplay by Robert Sherman Directed by Bert I. Gordon
I loved you once. But, you became poor – and I became bored. So bored, I could die!
Plot: When Susan is released from a mental asylum, she returns home to find her father has remarried to a woman only interested in the money, which is running out. But there is a necklace missing since the night Susan witnessed her mother’s death…or was it murder?
Richard’s Thoughts: I had seen this one once before and immediately remembered most of it as soon as I saw Susan walking away from the asylum. I actually enjoyed this one more than I probably should because it certainly has some flaws. For starters, young Susan becomes tiresome and a bit annoying as she is still struggling mentally with the death/murder of her mother. There’s also some plot holes along the way and the ending leaves a few questions as to what comes next for the father and daughter. That said, it’s still a well-made film and, in many ways, one of the more accomplished films that Bert I. Gordon made. It’s a little campy at times but if you don’t let that hold you back too much, I think there’s definitely something here to enjoy. I’d watch this one again.
Trivia: Bert considered some 90 other actresses before he decided to cast his daughter Susan in the role of Susan Shelley. This would be her last film.
Village of the Giants Release date: October 20, 1965
Cast: Tommy Kirk as Mike Johnny Crawford as Horsey Beau Bridges as Fred Ron Howard as Genius
Based on the novel The Food of the Gods and How it Came to Earth by H.G. Wells Screenplay by Alan Caillou Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Teen-agers zoom to supersize and terrorize a town!
Plot: A young boy known as Genius creates a mysterious substance called Goo that causes animals and humans to grow to an enormous size. When a group of rowdy teenagers eat some, they soon begin to terrorize the town and it’s up to the local kids to stop them.
Richard’s Thoughts: I have seen this one once before and I didn’t care for it originally. On this second viewing, I went in with a different mindset, knowing that none of it was to be taken seriously. The end result was a much better experience but, to be honest, the movie still isn’t really that good. However, it crosses that “so bad it’s good” line. It’s all goofy fun from the infectious music (which I love) to the ridiculous dancing and hilarious goofs (the size of the props don’t match the giant teenagers). I’m still left wondering how the teens get in and out of the old movie theater so easily but logic must be thrown out the window. It’s a far cry from the original source material but sometimes you want to turn your brain off and just be mindlessly entertained. On that level, this movie succeeds and yes, I’d probably watch it again when I’m in the right mood.
Trivia: Future pop music sensation Toni Basil plays a dancing character called Red and is the choreographer for the film.
Cast: Basil Rathbone as Lodac Estelle Winwood as Sybil Gary Lockwood as Sir George Anne Helm as Princess Helene Liam Sullivan as Sir Branton
Screenplay by Bernard C. Schoenfeld Story & Directed by Bert I. Gordon
The most incredible weapon ever wielded.
Plot: Sir George begins a quest to save a princess from an evil wizard using the weapons of his sorceress foster mother with the help of six knights.
Richard’s Thoughts: This was a second viewing for me and I liked it even more this time. It’s a fun-filled sword and sorcery flick that reminds me of something I might have watched on a weekend afternoon as a kid. It’s a simple adventure of good vs. evil with a young Gary Lockwood turning in a good performance as our hero and the great Basil Rathbone wonderfully playing an evil wizard. I wish they would have had the money to do stop motion animation for the dragon, as that really would have elevated this movie. But the dragon we get isn’t that bad, just not quite animated enough. That said, I’d recommend this one and will definitely watch it again.
Karla’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one as it’s my favorite Bert I. Gordon film to date. It has a good story with characters you can genuinely like. Basil Rathbone was great as the evil wizard. The special effects are weak, especially the dragon, but you can look past those issues. Of course, the happy ending always leaves me satisfied as the guy gets the girl and the knights all returned for more adventures. I’d watch this one again.
Trivia: Richard Kiel reportedly played an uncredited “Pinhead #1” under the name Dick Kiel.
Cast: Richard Carlson as Tom Stewart Susan Gordon as Sandy Hubbard Lugene Sanders as Meg Hubbard Juli Reding as Vi Mason Joe Turkel as Nick the Blackmailer Lillian Adams as Mrs. Ellis
Screenplay by George Worthing Yates Story & Directed by Bert I. Gordon
It’s bad enough to accept a musician into this family, but a jazz musician is asking too damn much.
Plot: Tom is ready to marry his fiance but the ghost of his ex has other plans.
Richard’s Thoughts: This was a second viewing and after many years, I appreciate this movie much more now. Yes, some of the special effects are cheap but the overall ghost story is entertaining. Richard Carlson saves the film with his “star” power, even if his character is a bit of a cad and, eventually, a murderer (spoiler alert). It’s hard to figure out who we’re supposed to like and feel sorry for, and the ending isn’t a cheerful one, but it’s not a bad movie. I loved the jazz score at times but it sometimes seemed a little out of place. Worthing watching at least once.
Karla’s Thoughts: I had no sympathies for any of the characters so I was really unsure of who I was supposed to be cheering on. It certainly wasn’t Tom or his ex or his fiance. Even little Sandy was a bit annoying at times. Probably the only character worth anything was Mrs. Ellis. So, non-likeable characters and an unhappy ending means I won’t be watching this one again.
Trivia: The film was edited down into a pilot episode for a potential television series called Famous Ghost Stories with Vincent Price as the host.
The Boy and the Pirates Release date: April 13, 1960
Cast: Charles Herbert as Jimmy Warren Susan Gordon as Katrina Van Keif/Kathy Murven Vye as Blackbeard Paul Guilfoyle as Snipe Joe Turkel as Abu the Genie
Screenplay by Jerry Sackheim & Lillie Hayward Story, Produced & Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Walk the decks of adventure.
Plot: A young boy rescues a genie from a bottle and is transported to the time of pirates and the infamous Blackbeard.
Richard’s Thoughts: For some reason, I couldn’t ever really get into this one. The adventure sequences were good but not great. Moments where there should have been comedy are lacking and there just seemed to be a lack of magical charm that are essential for films like this. I liked Charles Herbert but Susan Gordon always comes across a little flat in her performance. Not bad but not great. It’s a serviceable film that offers a little fun from time to time. That said, I’m glad I watched but doubt I will revisit it.
Karla’s Thoughts: I think Bert I. Gordon should have made more films like this one. It starts out a little rough as the boys parents came across as real assholes but once the adventure moves into the past, I think it starts to get a lot more enjoyable. Blackbeard wasn’t a horrible man, just misguided by greed. I was sad to see that Snipe didn’t make it. The genie’s storyline was a different take than what I’d seen before. Overall, I enjoyed it but not sure I’d watch it again.
Trivia: This was Bert I. Gordon’s first feature film in color.
Attack of the Puppet People Release date: April 1958
Cast: John Agar as Bob Westley John Hoyt as Mr. Franz June Keny as Sally Reynolds Michael Mark as Emil Jack Kosslyn as Sgt. Paterson
Screenplay by George Worthing Yates Story & Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Doll dwarfs vs. the crushing giant beasts
Plot: When secretary Sally’s fiance Bob disappears, she soon discovers her boss is much more than a simple dollmaker.
Richard’s Thoughts: There are definitely better “people shrunk down” films out there. Dr. Cyclops (1940) is far superior and probably my favorite, while some would argue The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957) is at the top of the list. That said, this entry into the sub-genre is not bad. The special effects are fairly good and the story is entertaining enough, if not nearly as compelling as other similar films. Agar and Hoyt help to elevate the film but I found the other supporting character’s attitudes a little odd as they seemed more than okay with being small. Definitely worth checking out on a rainy afternoon or a late-night marathon of shrunken man vs. giant “beast” films.
Trivia: Bob and Sally are watching The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) at the drive-in.
It’s time for another journey back to 2017, this time for episode 4 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast! In this episode, Jeff and I take a look at not one but two classics from the legendary Mr. B.I.G., Bert I. Gordon…The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) and War of the Colossal Beast (1958).
A special thank you to Jeff who resurrected this “lost” episode as it’s once again available for everyone to listen to for the first time in years.
Enjoy and be kind. It was only our fourth episode and we were still in search of our groove. That said, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!
Let’s journey back to 2017 and one of the earliest episodes of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast. In episode 7, Jeff and I took a look at Bert I. Gordon’s 1957 giant bug epic, The Beginning of the End. In the episode, you’ll also hear us talk about Mr. B.I.G.’s appearance at Monster Bash and include some highlights of his Q&A.
Enjoy and, as always, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya.
Cast: Bill Bryant as Dr. Ralph Martin Wanda Curtis as Dr. Patricia Bennett Douglas Henderson as Dr. Richard Gordon Patti Gallagher as Nora Pierce
Based on the story Beast from Outer Space by Bert I. Gordon & Al Zimbalist Screenplay by Tom Gries Directed by Bert I. Gordon
I brought the atom bomb. I think it’s a good time to use it!
Plot: Four explorers travel to the newly discovered plant Nova, a planet very much like earth…except for the giant creatures, including King Dinosaur!
Richard’s Thoughts: I’ve wanted to see this one for a very long time. Now, I can say I have and…what a mess it was. I’m willing to allow the nonsensical plot if there was at least some action and good characters. Unfortunately, we get neither. The characters have no redeeming qualities and had no business being Earth’s representatives (not to mention that they couldn’t act). The special effects are quite cheap looking and the dinosaur? It isn’t even a dinosaur but really just a giant lizard. This one is a bit boring and a big stinker.
Karla’s Thoughts: Where do I start? From the incredibly quick launch countdown to simply throwing logic and science out of the window, this movie was so stupid. There is nothing redeeming about the characters and they had no business being on the mission, especially the women. They seem so gun happy and ready to shoot the lizard, who wasn’t even bothering them. And why launch the bomb? No, I will never watch this one again.
Trivia: As legend has it, Bert Gordon ignored the work of Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury and walked out of a meeting without saying a word.