Dread Media – Daughters of Darkness (1971)

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This week on episode 577 of the Dread Media Podcast, I take a look at the unique and erotic Belgian vampire flick, Daughters of Darkness (1971)! Tune in and let ’em know Monster Movie Kid sent ya! 

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Sci-Fi Horrorfest – Cyborg 2087 (1966)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Cyborg 2087 (1966)
Cast:        Michael Rennie as Garth A7
Karen Steele as Dr. Sharon Mason
Warren Stevens as Dr. Carl Zeller
Eduard Franz as Professor Sigmund Marx
Wendell Corey as Sheriff

Written by Arthur C. Pierce
Directed by Franklin Adreon

Plot: In the year 2087, the world is controlled by corporations and free thought is illegal. A resistance group sends a cyborg back in time to 1966 to prevent the creation of a device that will lead to mass thought control.

Richard’s Review: I’ve never heard of this film before a few years ago and I’m amazed it’s not more well-known due to the similarities to The Terminator.The cyborg is a mix of Kyle Reese (who tried to change the timeline) and the Terminator (who tried to keep it intact). I know Harlan Ellison sometimes get credit but this had to have inspired James Cameron at some point.

I love Michael Rennie and he’s good here but a little subdued. Yet, he’s supposed to lack emotion, which may explain his sometimes droll performance. It was nice to see some familiar Star Trek faces and the action was fun but there wasn’t quite enough plot for the running time. It would have been much better within a 75-minute time frame or even an hour. The special effects budget is a little low but it doesn’t pull you out of the moment. I really enjoyed this flick and recommend you give it a chance.

Karla’s Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one, especially as it’s obvious to see where it inspired The Terminator. The cast did a great job and the story was fun but it did drag on in places. It took a while for the story to get started and it seemed like the chase scene went on a little too long. But it had a happy ending so I’d definitely watch it again.

Trivia:
  • Michael Rennie, best known for his role of Klaatu in Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) died in 1971 at the age of 61 due to emphysema.
  • Karen Steele is better known as Eve in the classic Star Trek episode Mudd’s Women. She died in 1998 as the young age of 56 due to cancer.
  • In another Star Trek reference, Warren Stevens appeared as Rojan in the 1967 episode By Any Other Name. On a side note, I met Mr. Stevens at Trek Expo ’99 along with his Forbidden Planet co-star Anne Francis.
  • Jo Ann Pflug appears briefly in the opening moments of the film as the women in the control booth. She was a regular television character actress throughout the 70s and 80s, as well countless daytime game show appearances.

Availability: Despite a lack of extras, Cyborg 2087 looks great on Blu-ray from Kino Classics.

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – Queen of Blood (1966)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Queen of Blood (1966)
Cast:        John Saxon as Allan Brenner
Basil Rathbone as Dr. Farraday
Judi Meredith as Laura James
Dennis Hopper as Paul Grant
Florence Marly as Alien Queen
Forrest J. Ackerman as Farraday’s Aide

Executive produced by Roger Corman
Written and directed by Curtis Harrington

Plot: Set in the futuristic world of 1990, an alien race makes contact with Earth. However, when their spaceship crashes on Mars, earth sends a rescue mission only to find it’s a trap. They find a deadly alien queen who hypnotizes her victims before draining them of their blood. Will the crew survive the trip home and stop a possible alien invasion?

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Richard’s Review: Queen of Blood is a fun afternoon matinee flick despite it’s now dated 1990 timeline. I’ve always loved watching John Saxon and he’s great here as usual but I wish he could have been given a little more to do. Rathbone turns in a respectable performance for one of his last films and it’s always interesting to see a pre-drugged out Dennis Hopper. The special effects fit in fairly well with the movie despite being pulled from two other Russian films and the occasional blooper (“USSR” is clearly visible at one point despite the space ship coming from the United States). Letting an unknown alien queen roam free on the ship isn’t the smartest choice, especially after she is known to have killed a crewman. But we can all sleep safely at night knowing science can be trusted…can’t we? Very entertaining and well worth checking out despite some flaws!

Karla’s Thoughts: Why the astronauts let an unknown alien run loose on the ship, especially after she killed, is beyond me. And how did she have enough time to lay all those eggs? I enjoyed the movie enough but there were too many weak plot moments, so I don’t think this is one I will be revisiting any time soon.

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Trivia:

  • Roger Corman purchased the rights to two Russian sci-fi films, The Sky Calls (1959) and Mechte Navstrechu (1963), and used the special effects sequences for several films, including Queen of Blood.
  • Basil Rathbone completed his filming in a day and half for $1,500.
  • Director Curtis Harrington stated that he believed Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979) was greatly inspired by Queen of Blood. However, there are also similarities to It! The Terror from Beyond Space, which was made in 1958, eight years before Queen of Blood.

Availability: Queen of Blood looks great on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and is available on Amazon.

Mihmiverse – Bender: The Complete Saga

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The Kansas City Crypt creaks open once again and this month on episode 47 of the Mihmiverse Monthly Audiocast, the Monster Movie Kid talks about the crazy Bender family from the bloody Kansas past. Their story has been brought to life in an amazing graphic novel, Bender, written by Michael Frizell and illustrated by D.A. Frizell. The collected saga is now available on pre-order on Amazon!

Be sure to check out the online home of the films of Christopher R. Mihm for all of the great merchandise and information on how you can help make future films happen! Guns of the Apocalypse will be making it’s world debut on September 26 and DVDs are now available for pre-order!

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: The Monster That Challenged the World (1957)
Cast:        Tim Holt as Lt. Commander John Twillinger
Audrey Dalton as Gail MacKenzie
Hans Conried as Dr. Jess Rogers

Story by David Duncan
Screenplay by Pat Fielder
Directed by Arnold Laven

Plot: An earthquake in the Salton Sea releases prehistoric mollusks on the nearby Naval base and community. Can they be stopped before reaching the canal that would allow them to terrorize the world?

Richard’s Review: This isn’t one of the greatest giant monster flicks of the 50s but not one of the worst either. The giant mollusk doesn’t seem that threatening once out of the water but I’ll admit, it would terrify me underwater. The main lead of Lt. Commander Twillinger has to be one of the most unlikeable leading men at the start of the film. Thankfully, he softens up a little as the story progresses and he begins to romance Gail and win over her daughter. As with most giant monster flicks, it wraps everything up swiftly at the end. It’s definitely a nice afternoon matinee or late night movie choice.

Karla’s Thoughts: Once I was able to get past the impracticality of the giant mollusks, I actually enjoyed this one and would watch it again. It’s definitely a turn your brain off at the door type of movie but it worked.

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Trivia:

  • This is a great visualization of the boom years of the Salton Sea. Unfortunately, due to rising saline levels and pollution, much of the area is now a ghost town. Tourists now go to take a glimpse at what once was a thriving area. The Naval base was abandoned in 1978.
  • Charles Herbert (13 Ghosts) appeared as the boy with Morty’s cap.
  • Max Showalter, who starred as Dr. Tad Johns , was from Caldwell, KS and is known for a variety of character actor roles, including Indestructible Man (1956), The Music Man (1962) and his last, as Grandpa Fred in Sixteen Candles (1984).

Availability: The Monster That Challenged the World is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber. There is an audio commentary from Tom Weaver but not much more. However, it’s well worth adding to your collection.

Sci-Fi Horrorfest – Gog (1954)

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2018 Sci-Fi Horrorfest: Gog (1954)
Cast:        Richard Egan as Dr. David Sheppard
Constance Dowling as Joanna Merritt
Herbert Marshall as Dr. Van Ness

Story by Ivan Tors
Screenplay by Tom Taggart & Richard G. Taylor
Directed by Herbert L. Strock

Plot: The OS.I. (Office of Scientific Investigation) has built the supercomputer NOVAC to help research space travel but outside forces threaten the hidden underground base. Bodies are piling up, strange aircraft fly overhead and two troublesome robots named Gog and Magog make for a unique science fiction adventure.

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Richard’s Review: Gog is the final chapter in the O.S.I. trilogy and is somewhat of a mixed effort. Despite English not being his native language, Ivan Tors certainly knew how to write a lot of dialogue. Gog suffers from being very wordy with little action. And despite being heavy on science fact, the film struggles in several key moments, hurting the overall believability of the story. One such major mistake occurs when a doctor informs David and Joanna not to enter a room due to dangerous radioactivity. He is covered from head-to-toe in a protective suit but they aren’t, and they walk in anyway. They suffer no ill effects, which makes no sense at all. Moments like these, coupled with non-stop talking and a very low-key detective procedural type story, make for a slow-paced film that isn’t bad but not necessarily a must-see again and again classic.

Karla’s Thoughts: The science in this film, or lack thereof, really hurt my overall enjoyment. I thought the acting was good and the story wasn’t bad but it was more police drama and less science fiction. Several “real science” elements made no sense but should have even by 1954 standards. It just seems there was a lack of detail and thought taken when making Gog. However, I did like it enough that I would see it again but my brain would have to be turned off.

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Trivia:

  • Character actor William Schallert (Man from Planet X, Them!) appears as the ill-fated lab assistant Engle.
  • Gog and Magog weren’t actually robots but were props operated by midgets.
  • The 2016 home media release was the first time Gog was available commercially.

Availability: Gog (1954) is available on a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber in both 2D and 3D.