Sci-Fi Horrorfest – The Human Duplicators (1965)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: The Human Duplicators (1965)
Cast:       George Nader as Glenn Martin
Barbara Nichols as Gale Wilson
George Macready as Professor Dornheimer
Dolores Faith as Lisa Dornheimer
Hugh Beaumont as Austin Welles
Richard Kiel as Dr. Kolos

Written by Arthur C. Pierce
Directed by Hugo Grimaldi

Plot: Dr. Kolos is sent to Earth by an alien race to duplicate humans as part of their plan to conquer the universe. However, Glenn Martin is on to their scheme but can he stop them in time?

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Richard’s Review: This one has been on my “to watch” list for some time now and, unfortunately, it wasn’t quite worth the long wait. Despite a low budget of $140,000, the movie doesn’t actually look that bad. The cast is adequate and nobody stands out as particularly bad. Even Richard Kiel’s lack of acting ability comes across as a positive as it helps make him sound and appear more like an alien to our world. The weakest part of the film is the very slow and relatively boring script. Not much happens in the 80-minute running time. The technique to create humans seems very similar to how robots were created in the Star Trek episode, What Are Little Girls Made Of?, but without the serious flaw that the duplicated humans are essentially walking clay pots. Not a spectacular plan for global conquest. However, there are worse films to watch, so this might be worth it to have on in the background as you do something more exciting.

Karla’s Thoughts: The movie wasn’t that bad but the script was horrible. It could have been a little better with a more talented actor in the role of Kolos. The duplicated humans made absolutely no sense. How could they be made of clay yet their hands and face moved like a normal human? How could they be impenetrable to bullets yet break apart if they fall on the ground? It could have been more fun with a much better script.

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Trivia:

  • Hugh Beaumont (The Mole People), a native of Lawrence, KS (just 30 minutes away from this monster kid), makes his final film appearance just six years prior to his retirement.
  • Hugo Grimaldi also directed Mutiny in Outer Space (his final film) in 1965, which was on a double theatrical bill with The Human Duplicators.
  • Location shots were filmed in Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park in Los Angeles in 1964.
  • Aired as part of Elvira’s Movie Macabre and Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Availability: The Human Duplicators is currently unavailable on DVD but you can find copies of varying degrees in quality on YouTube.

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Jeff Owens in New Issue of We Belong Dead Magazine

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Jeff Owens, my co-host on the Classic Horrors Club Podcast and man behind the Rondo Award nominated Classic Horrors Club blog, appears in the newest issue of We Belong Dead magazine. In his latest article, The Strange Romance of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Jeff takes a look at the various versions of the classic novella by Robert Louis Stevenson. He moves beyond the surface of the story into the romantic subtexts and character motivations. I highly recommend you check out issue 20!

We Belong Dead magazine is available online from the publishers of the amazing books Unsung Horrors, Son of Unsung Horrors and A Celebration of Peter Cushing. All of these are in my personal collection and should be in yours as well. With issue 20, We Belong Dead has expanded from a digest size to a full magazine. However, the format remains unchanged and is still in full-color with amazing images cover-to-cover. Check it out and tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – Flash Gordon (1980)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Flash Gordon (1980)
Cast:        Sam J. Jones as Flash Gordon
Melody Anderson as Dale Arden
Max Von Sydow as The Emperor Ming
Topol as Dr. Hans Zarkov
Ornella Muti as Princess Aura
Timothy Dalton as Prince Barin
Brian Blessed as Prince Vultan

Screenplay by Lorenzo Sample Jr.
Adapted by Michael Allin
Based on the characters created by Alex Raymond
Produced by Dino De Laurentiis
Directed by Mike Hodges

Plot: Emperor Ming the Merciless becomes bored and decides to toy with the planet Earth, causing natural disasters and planet-wide calamity. When a plane carrying football star Flash Gordon and Dale Arden crashes into the laboratory of Dr. Hans Zarkov, they stumble into an adventure they takes them to the planet Mongo and into the clutches of Ming and his daughter, Princess Aura. Can Flash stop Ming before he destroys Earth?

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Richard’s Review: I first discovered Flash Gordon through the original chapter serials in the late 70s. When we got cable, channel 41 out of Kansas City played a chapter every Sunday morning. As a young sci-fi fan, I was hooked. Buster Crabbe was heroic and Charles Middleton was delightfully evil as Ming the Merciless. Surprisingly, I didn’t discover the 1980 film until several years after it’s’ release and, once I did, I was disappointed. While I loved the music of Queen, the best part of the film in my opinion, Sam Jones’ lack of acting ability was overshadowed in my mind by Buster Crabbe. Admittedly, Crabbe was not incredibly talented either but he was more engaging.

Max Von Sydow does a great job as Ming, channeling Charles Middleton in performance and appearance, while Topol’s performance seemed a little more mean-spirited at first than he needed to be. The low-budget special effects looked even worse when compared to the recent Star Wars and Star Trek films at the time. There is also too much humor, resulting in a campy film when the characters were never intended to be treated that way. It’s become a big cult classic over the years but this revisit still failed to impress me.

Karla’s Thoughts: The special effects are atrocious, the costumes leave a lot to be desired and the acting could be better. However, I still love the movie for all of it’s’ flaws. The story is good and the music from Queen is amazing and awesome. The movie is so cheesy but you can’t help but love it anyway.

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Trivia:

  • Based on the Flash Gordon comic strip by Alex Raymond, first published in 1934 to compete with Buck Rogers. It inspired three chapter serials starring Buster Crabbe, a 1950s TV series, a radio program, and much more. Original artwork from Alex Raymond is featured in the opening credits.
  • Lou Scheimer was working on a live-action Flash Gordon film for NBC in the late 70s. When it was determined that it would be too costly, it was changed to a more adult-oriented animated film. The use of early computer animation for the ships threatened to financially cripple the project until Dino De Laurentiis became involved. He would help fund the production in exchange for the feature film rights. As a result, the finished animated film was so good that NBC decided to re-edit the film into a Saturday morning series. After the success of the feature film, NBC wanted to capitalize on the feature film and ordered a second season. However, it was made to be more kid-friendly and less sexy. The second season was delayed and, when they eventually aired, the ratings dropped due to the miscalculated change, resulting in the cancellation of the series. The original more adult-oriented material was eventually re-edited back into an animated film, Flash Gordon: The Greatest Adventure of Them All, released in 1982.
  • Sam Jones had a dispute with Dino De Laurentiis and left the production prior to post-production. As a result, most of his lines are dubbed by another actor
  • Melody Anderson came up with the idea of Dale cheering Flash on during the football sequence.
  • Dino De Laurentiis wanted Kurt Russell to play Flash but he turned it down as he felt the role lacked personality. He also wanted Sergio Leone to direct the film but he also declined due to the lack of faithfulness to the original storylines.
  • Screenwriter Lorenzo Sample is not fond of the film due to the campiness, which he now regrets, and the constant revisions, which he feels really hurt the final version.
  • Queen composed the music for the film, despite Dino De Laurentiis having never heard of them prior to making the film.

Availability: Flash Gordon is available on Blu-ray for less than $10. It lacks a lot of extra features but you can’t beat the low price.

Classic Horrors Club Podcast – Taste of Dark Shadows

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This month on episode 20 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff and I are joined by our good friend Steven Turek to talk about Dark Shadows. We’ll discuss Steven’s journey through the original series, as well as the two theatrical films, House of Dark Shadows (1970) and Night of Dark Shadows (1971). Plus, we’ll also talk about Monster Bash 2018 and hear from another good friend, Jonathan Angarola.

Disclaimer: We experienced some technical difficulties during the first 8 minutes or so of our conversation with Steve.  Please be patient; they are soon resolved.

You can now subscribe to just our show! We are available on Soundcloud, Stitcher and iTunes.

Participate in our meetings!  Simply leave us a message at:

(616) 649-2582
That’s (616) 649-CLUB

…or visit us in our clubhouse at:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/classichorrors.club/

Like what you hear?  Even if you don’t, please consider leaving us an honest review on iTunes.

Next month on episode 21, we celebrate the films of Bela Lugosi.

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – Heavy Metal (1981)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Heavy Metal (1981)
Cast:      The voices of John Candy, Eugene Levy, Joe Flaherty and Harold Ramis

Based on the works of Bernie Wrightson, Dan O’Bannon, Richard Corben, Angus McKie, Jean Giraud, Daniel Goldberg & Len Blum

Screenplay by Daniel Goldberg & Len Blum
Directed by Gerald Potterton, John Bruno, John Halas, Julian Harris, Jimmy T. Murakami, Barrie Nelson, Paul Sabella, Jack Stokes, Pino Van Lamsweerde & Harold Whittaker

Plot: An astronaut brings home a strange green glowing orb as a gift for his daughter. Upon his death, the orb reveals itself to be the embodiment of all evil and proceeds to share stories with the girl about all the worlds it has traveled to.

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Richard’s Review: I have fond memories of this one from the 1980s when it seemed to be on constant rotation on HBO. The rock music soundtrack and the bizarre science-fiction and fantasy stories captured my imagination. With horrific creatures at every turn, the erotic and sexy female characters didn’t hurt any either. While the overall presentation seems a little dated today, the extras remind you just how much time and effort went into the production of the film. This type of animated adult storytelling really doesn’t exist today except in anime, which is a different style altogether. Well worth revisiting if you’re in the mood for a nostalgic trip.

Karla’s Thoughts: While I really loved the overall premise for the stories and the great music. I could’ve done without all of the nudity. It seems to have been made by a bunch of horny teenage guys. You could have told the stories without the sex. As a result, it comes across as very dated and a product of the day. However, the stories are good, especially with how they are all interconnected.

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Trivia:

  • Based on stories in the popular Heavy Metal magazine.
  • The soundtrack for the movie was incredibly popular, featuring Sammy Hagar, Don Felder, Blue Oyster Cult, Steve Nicks, Journey, Nazareth and Devo.
  • Music licensing issues prevented the VHS home release of the movie for many years.
  • The movie consists of eight different segments, with the second segment, Grimaldi, being the framing device for the anthology.
  • Robby the Robot sells the character of Harry Cannon a hot dog in the third segment.
  • The USS Enterprise from Star Trek is seen briefly in a ship graveyard.
  • One of the extras on the Blu-ray features preliminary artwork for the Neverwhere Land segment. Despite have superior artwork, it was thought to drag down the film and was but prior to release.

Availability: Heavy Metal is available on Blu-ray for less than $10. While the audio could use an upgrade, it’s a great bargain for the price.

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – The Wasp Woman (1959)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: The Wasp Woman (1959)
Cast:        Susan Cabot as Janice Starlin
Anthony Eisley as Bill Lane
Barboura Morris as Mary Dennison
William Roerick as Arthur Cooper
Michael Mark as Eric Zinthrop

Screenplay by Leo Gordon
Story by Kinta Zertuche
Directed by Roger Corman (with uncredited sequences by Jack Hill & Monte Hellman)

Plot: Scientist Eric Zinthrop has found the fountain of youth in jelly taken from queen wasps. Enter cosmetics powerhouse Janice Starlin who needs to look younger so she can continue to be the face of her company before sales continue to drop. When she overdoses on the drug, the youth drug becomes the sting of death as she transforms in a wasp creature.

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Richard’s Review: This is definitely not one of Roger Corman’s better films. It suffers from cheap interior sets and a very lackluster script. With other films like these, flaws can be overlooked by the fun of the monster or a good cast. However, the cast doesn’t shine and the creature is rarely seen. When it does appear, the poor lighting makes it barely visible. With extra footage to flesh out an already poor script, there isn’t too much to say on this one. It’s not horrible, just forgettable, which is really a bigger kiss of death for any film.

Karla’s Thoughts: I didn’t care for this one at all. It was poorly made with bad special effects and a ridiculous script with a silly concept. The ending was also way too abrupt. I wouldn’t watch this one again.

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Trivia:

  • Susan Cabot had a well-publicized affair with King Hussein of Jordan in 1959. Despite the affair ending and King Hussein marrying another woman in 1961, Susan Cabot had a son in 1964, Timothy, who is believed to be the king’s son. Timothy suffered from dwarfism and was put on a controversial medicine to help him grow. Susan left acting in films after The Wasp Woman to concentrate on stage work and musicals. She suffered from hereditary mental illness in later years, which rapidly declined in the final months of her life. Timothy remained at home on the medicine for his dwarfism and pituitary gland problems despite a growing hostility between mother and son. Susan was also taking his drugs, which enhanced her mental imbalance. On December 10, 1986, after his mother went into a psychotic rage and allegedly attacked him, Timothy would bludgeon her to death with a weightlifting bar. He would claim the medication he was on affected his mental stability, in addition to years of mental and physical abuse at the hands of his mother. At the resulting trial, the judge gave him a suspended sentence and probation. He died in 2003 at the age of 38.
  • The movie was originally 63 minutes long, which was considered too short for syndication on television. So Roger Corman hired Monte Hellman to shoot additional footage to stretch out the length to 73 minutes.
  • One of the extra sequences filmed for television occurs when two men search the streets for the missing Dr. Zinthrop (Michael Mark).
  • Character actor Michael Mark is better known for his roles in several Universal Horror classics, including Son of Frankenstein (1939).

Availability: The Wasp Woman is in the public domain and can be found for free everywhere. However, it is on Blu-ray paired with Beast from the Haunted Cave if you want to add it to your collection.