I’m back on the Dread Media Podcast this week with a buffet of random thoughts about a variety of films I’ve seen in recent months, many courtesy of Joe Bob Briggs and The Last Drive-In on Shudder!
In episode 726, I’ll talk a little bit about each of the following films:
The Amusement Park (1973)
Fried Barry (2020)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
Maniac Cop (1988)
Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1992)
Black Widow (2021)
So, grab yourself a drink and a snack, because this one is a little longer than usual. That’s what happens when you stay away for so long. Thank you Desmond Reddick for putting together a solid show each and every week. And, as always, tell ‘em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!
On episode 59 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, Jeff and I travel through time and space once again to visit the drive-in. This time, it’s the Moonlite Drive-In in Smithfield, Pennsylvania, on Labor Day weekend 1974. We have a bloody good time discussing Doctor Blood’s Coffin (1961), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (1971), and Theatre of Blood (1973).
This month, we’re joined by another very special guest, Bill Mize of the Bill Watches Movie Podcast. Bill joins us to talk about Theatre of Blood because everyone loves Vincent Price!
Which one is your favorite? Ours may surprise you. We invite you to join the conversation and let us know what you thought about it afterward. Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to visit Snack Canyon for some delicious treats!
We highly recommend you also check out the video companion on our YouTube channel. It contains content (movie clips, bonus features, and outtakes) from the audio podcast that you don’t want to miss!
Cast: Paul Birch as Allan Kelley Lorna Thayer as Carol Kelley Dona Cole as Sandra Kelley Leonard Tarver as Carl
Written by Tom Filler Directed by David Kramarsky, Lou Place & Roger Corman
Plot: A dysfunctional family living in the California desert finds their fragile existence torn apart courtesy of an unseen alien.
Richard’s Review: If there was ever a movie that needed a little more money, it’s The Beast with a Million Eyes. The trailer makes it sounds awesome but the plot never really gets started. Everything is essentially unseen, thanks to a non-existent budget. The cast doesn’t really have the acting chops to make the weak story interesting and we don’t even get a good monster to make it all worth the journey. I can only imagine how everyone at the drive-in would have fallen asleep during this one. This is my third viewing and I don’t foresee a forth anytime soon. And no, I really can’t recommend it.
Karla’s Thoughts: I didn’t care for this one at all. The plot is ridiculous and the ending makes no sense at all. Did they think the beast to death? Love it to death? And just how did Carl die? It was all so muddled and the bad dialogue didn’t make sense either. The mom is just horrible at the beginning, so her redemption is hard to take towards the end. This is my second time watching it and I will not give it a third try.
The film is probably more remembered for its producers than the stars. The legendary Samuel Z. Arkoff, James B. Nicholson and Roger Corman were uncredited as producers for the film. The Beast with a Million Eyes was officially produced by David Kramarksy, who was also the director until Corman took over after being unsatisfied with how it was progressing. Unfortunately, with a budget of less than $30,000, there wasn’t much left for special effects or music.
Paul Blaisdell was paid $200 for the small spaceship but, with no money left for a beast, we were left with an image from the poster seen briefly on screen.
Writer Tom Filer only wrote one other film, The Space Children in 1958. He was more prolific as a novelist.
While Paul Birch is best remembered for being a character actor on television, he did star in several genre –related films, including The War of the Worlds (1953), Day the World Ended (1955), Not of This Earth (1957) and Queen of Outer Space (1958). He died in 1969 at the young age of 57 lymphosarcorma.
Lorna Thayer’s only other genre appearances came in The Andromeda Strain in 1971 as “Woman (uncredited)” and as a waitress in The Aliens are Coming (1980).
Dona Cole made her film debut in 1955 in The Long Gray Line before starring in The Beast with a Million Eyes. She only had one more appearance, in the TV series The Bob Cummings Show, before quietly retiring from Hollywood.
This was the only film appearance for Leonard Tarver.
Dick Sargeant, better known as the second Darrin Stephens on Bewitched, appears as Deputy Larry Brewster.
Chester Conklin’s film career dated back to the silent era of 1913 and included appearances alongside Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields and The Three Stooges. He only starred in four more films, following his appearance here as Ben Webber, before retiring in 1966.
London the dog, who played Duke, also starred in The Littlest Hobo film in 1958 and subsequent television series that started in 1963 and ran for 48 episodes.
Bruce Whitmore provided the voice of The Beast, his one and only film credit.
Availability: Available on DVD as part of the MGM Midnite Movies series with The Phantom from 10,000 Leagues (1955) and on Blu-ray from Ronin Flix.
The Black Scorpion (October 11, 1957) Cast: Richard Denning as Hank Scott Mara Corday as Teresa Alvarez Carlos Rivas as Artur Ramos Mario Navarro as Juanito
Story by Paul Yawitz Screenplay by David Duncan & Robert Blees Directed by Edward Ludwig
Plot: After a volcano erupts in Mexico, giant scorpions are freed from underground caverns plague the poor villagers.
Richard’s Review: There are elements of The Black Scorpion that I really love. The giant scorpions are amazing and I love the setting around the volcanos and earthquakes. However, the plot meanders way too much and character development seems to be all over the place. The character of Juanito was way too annoying at times. While I was glad to see him disappear, it’s almost as if the writers forgot about him in the final act, especially considering how important he seemed to be earlier in the film. Overall, it’s a fun film that’s saved by the scorpions but could have been better with a shorter running time and a better script.
Karla’s Thoughts: While I enjoyed The Black Scorpion, it really was too long and spent too much time setting up the story. Many of the early characters and plot points, like the priest and the found baby, just disappear without much explanation. Whatever happened to Juanito? He’s totally forgotten once they get to Mexico City. Other characters were involved but their roles were never fleshed out. I loved the giant scorpions but the story was disappointing.
The legendary Willis O’Brien of King Kong (1933) fame worked on the amazing special effects. The giant worm with the octopus-like arms was actually a prop from the infamous spider pit sequence in King Kong. O’Brien also worked on The Lost World (1925), Mighty Joe Young (1949) and The Giant Behemoth (1959). He was worked on the effects and directed The Ghost of Slumber Mountain (1918).
Richard Denning is best remembered for his role of Mark Williams in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954). He also starred in several television series, such as Mr. and Mrs. North, The Flying Doctor and Michael Shayne. He also appeared in genre films Target Earth (1954), Creature with the Atom Brain (1955) and Twice-Told Tales (1963).
Mara Corday also starred in Tarantula (1955) and The Giant Claw (1957). After leaving acting in the early 60s, she returned to appear in four Clint Eastwood films, The Gauntlet (1977), Sudden Impact (1983), Pink Cadillac (1989) and The Rookie (1990).
Carolos Rivas starred in such classic films as The King and I (1956) and True Grit (1969). However, genre fans will recognize him from The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956) and The Madman of Mandoras (1963) aka They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968). He also starred in Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966) and two episodes of the Tarzan television series.
Young Mario Navarro only has 12 acting credits to his name, the most memorable being this film and The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956). He did have a small role in The Magnificent Seven (1960) before eventually leaving acting in 1965 when he turned 16.
If the narrator’s voice at the beginning of the film sounds familiar, it’s because it belonged to Bob Johnson. He provided the narration from all of the Quinn Martin television productions in the 60s and 70s.
Director Edward Ludwig had a prolific career in the silent era under the name Ed I. Luddy before switching to Ludwig. The Black Scorpion was his only genre film.
This was the only genre film for writer Paul Yawitz and his last film credit.
David Duncan also wrote the English version of Rodan (1957), as well as The Monster That Challenged the World (1957) and adaptations of The Time Machine (1960) and Fantastic Voyage (1966).
Robert Blees also wrote From the Earth to the Moon (1958), Frogs (1972) and Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972).