This month on episode 76 of the Mihmiverse Monthly Audiocast, I open up the Kansas City Crypt to take a look at The Space Children (1958)! You’ll even see some familiar faces, including Russell Johnson (the Professor from Gilligan’s Island) and Jackie Coogan (Uncle Fester from The Addams Family).
Visit sainteuphoria.com for all of the latest news from the Mihmiverse, including how you can contribute to upcoming Mihmiverse films like The MIhmiverse Holiday Special and The Phantom Lake Kids in The Day The Earth Abruptly Almost Ended. There’s also a lot of cool merchandise, including DVDs, Blu-rays, puzzles, posters, puppets, and more!
I have once again entered the world of the DieCast Movie Podcast. In episode 41, Steve Turek, along with Ben and Mikaela, welcome me back to talk about the 1982 classic sword and sorcery flick, The Beastmaster! It’s been awhile since I sat down to watch this one, so I’m ready to see if the magic still happens when Marc Singer and the late Tanya Roberts grace the screen. Please note, this episode was recorded last summer, months before Tanya Roberts passed away on January 4, 2021.
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Well, 2020 was different wasn’t it? Karla and I ended up watching more movies than ever before but only 11 of them were actually in a theater. Karla and I attended the Kansas Silent Festival in February, which was a great amount of fun as always. And we did get one Cinema a Go-Go event in at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. But the rest of our annual events didn’t happen. However, 2020 was still definitely full of fun flicks, all watched in the comfort of our warm and safe home.
Let’s kick things off with a look at those 2020 statistics.
Total films watched: 457 (This is the most films watched in a single year since I started keeping track in 2009, largely due to the number of Laurel and Hardy films (feature films and short subjects).
Movies Watched in a Movie Theater: 11 (2 new and 9 old) – This is obviously down from last year and the lowest number since 2009. There were 9 older films comprising of 7 films from the Kansas Silent Film Festival and 2 from Cinema a Go-Go, both in late February before the world turned upside down.
Now, it’s time for the official best-of-the-best and worst-of-the-worst. As with any list, they’re subjective to my viewing experience and mood at the time. I’ll provide thoughts on some of the films, others will just speak for themselves.
Top Movies Seen in a Movie Theater 1. Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker – I enjoyed this one more than some but it is still a bit flawed, like most of the last Star Wars trilogy. Obviously, this was a holdover from last year. That said, it might have made the top ten but would have been much lower. 2. Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – I enjoyed this one more than many but it is flawed and I can’t see how this one would have made the top list had 2020 been a normal year.
Worst Movies Seen in a Movie Theater
With only two new films seen in a theater in 2020 and having enjoyed both, there’s nothing to talk about here. Move along.
Top New Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time This is a new category as I felt new released deserved their own category. All movies here were new films released on home media in either 2019 or 2020.
1. Knives Out (2019) – We wanted to see this one in the theaters but had to wait until it was released on home media. It’s an absolutely fun mystery/thriller that left us anxious to see more. 2. Color Out of Space (2019) – I was quite cautious going into a Nicolas Cage movie but this one surprised me with how much I really enjoyed it. 3. Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) – I definitely enjoyed this more than many. It’s definitely not as good as the first one as some of it’s flaws do drag it down, such as the long running time and the rather disappointing battle with Cheetah. However, there was still enough here to entertain me and Gal Gadot is once again amazing as Wonder Woman. 4. Aladdin (2019) – This one surprised me as I went in with low expectations and ended up enjoying it quite a bit. Again, not a perfect film but it deserves a little more love than it seems to get. 5. Unearthed (2019) – This was a very fun short film from writer/director Jonathan Inbody that deserves more recognition. It’s a simple but fun mummy film worth checking out if you can find it.
Note: Two films that are high on my list to watch as 2021 starts is Soul (actually just watched it and it’s amazing) and The Unseen Invasion. Both of these would have likely made the list.
Top Ten Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time This category is the same as previous years except that it covers any film from 2018 or older. 1. Leave Her to Heaven (1945) – Absolutely amazing Gene Tierney film with Vincent Price in a supporting role. 2. The Whales of August (1987) – Vincent Price again appears in a small role but the performances of Lillian Gish and Bette Davis are the real standouts. 3. Marriage on the Rocks (1964) – A light-hearted Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin flick that I enjoyed more than I probably should have. 4. Angels and Demons (2009) – Finally saw this one and I loved it more than The Da Vinci Code (2006). Tom Hanks is great as always. 5. Paranorman (2012) – I have no idea why it took so long to see this one. It’s now going to be part of our annual Halloween viewing. 6. The Phantom Carriage (1921) – Fantastic silent classic! 7. Werewolf in a Girl’s Dormitory (1961) – I enjoyed this one more than I should have but the restored print with subtitles really enhance this low budget flick. 8. Monstrum (2018) – Despite it’s flaws, I really enjoyed it. 9. Santo Contra El Rey De Crimin (1961) – We saw a lot of Santo films this year and this was by far the best. 10. Showboat (1951) – A fun musical despite some politically incorrect moments.
Honorable Mentions:The Big Boss (1971), Fist of Fury (1972) and The Way of the Dragon (1972). The Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits Criterion set is amazing and seeing these three films in fantastic quality with subtitles is the absolute only way to go.
Top Documentaries Seen on Home Media for the First Time This is another new category as I decided documentaries needed to be ranked separately from scripted films. 1. Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache (2018) – An absolute amazing documentary on the criminally unknown director that everyone needs to know more about. Highly recommended! 2. The Great Buster (2018) – Not sure that I learned anything knew but it’s always fun to see the great Buster Keaton.
Worst Movies Seen on Home Media for the First Time
1. Wild Women of Wongo (1958) – One of the absolute worst films I’ve ever seen. 2. Deadbeat at Dawn (1988) – So bad, thanks Joe Bob! 3. Bloodsucking Freaks (1976) – I needed a shower after this one to wash away the grime. Again, thanks Joe Bob! 4. Hogzilla (2019) – This one should have remained unfinished. 5. Hack O’Lantern (1988) – Once again, thanks Joe Bob!
Looking ahead to 2021, all I can say is that I’m hopeful to return to a movie theater, maybe by summer. Most of the movies I wanted to see in 2020 are now on my list for 2021, including No Time to Die, Black Widow and Godzilla vs. Kong. Add to them Shang-Chi: The Legend of the Ten Rings, Dune, The Eternals and the upcoming Spider-Man movie (I don’t see that really happening in 2021).
At home, that elusive Godzilla Criterion Collection is still high on the list, along with the Zatoichi series (also on Criterion). We never started those last year but I’m hopeful that happens in 2021. And more Sherlock Holmes and Santo for sure.
In the summer of 2021, we’ve already committed to diving into the films of Harold Lloyd. After spending the last two summers with the Marx Brothers, as well as Stan and Ollie, the great response we’ve received guarantees more comedy classics in 2021.
Jeff and I will continue to offer up our monthly dose of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast, including a revisit to our drive-in series in the summer. I’ll continue to contribute to the Dread Media podcast as time allows and the Kansas City Crypt on the Mihmiverse Monthly Audiocast is returning as well.
Happy New Year everyone! Thank you for your ongoing support! Here’s to a better and brighter 2021!
Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843 and it would be presented countless times on stage, screen and radio in the next 177 years. On screen, I believe everyone knows by now that Alastair Sim is my favorite Ebenezer Scrooge, both in live action and animated. On radio, there really is only one Scrooge for me and that is Lionel Barrymore.
Barrymore may be best remembered by many as old man Potter in the perennial Christmas favorite, It’s a Wonderful Life. However, I always wonder what he could have done with the role of Scrooge had he actually performed it on screen. He was supposed to headline MGM’s version in 1938 but he had broken his hip and was unable to endure the physicality of the role. He first played Scrooge on radio in 1934 and continued that annual tradition until 1953. He died on November 15, 1954, at the age of 76, just missing the holiday season. He only missed twice, in 1936 when his wife died and he was replaced by his brother John, and in 1938, when he opted to not play Scrooge on radio in an effort to allow Reginald Owens an opportunity to shine on screen for MGM. He also did a studio recording for MGM, resulting in a grand total of 19 audio performances. I’ve listened to several but the 1939 version is, in my opinion, the definitive one.
Orson Welles had taken the lead role and brought it to life for the Campbell Playhouse in 1938. However, in 1939, he deferred to Mr. Barrymore and the result is an amazing performance. I first heard it on a local radio station in Paris, Texas, in 1989. I’ve listened it to it every year since and it never ceases to entertain me.
Happy Holidays from the Classic Horrors Club Podcast. Jeff and I offer up our Christmas gift to you…bonus episode 52.5! In this special episode, Jeff and I take a look at my favorite adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol from 1951 starring Alastair Sim!
After first discovering this version in the 1970s, it’s been an annual viewing for me since 1989. For Jeff, this year was his first time watching it. So, join the conversation as we discuss what many consider to be the definitive version of the classic holiday ghost story.
Attention!!! After recording, I discovered that the 1951 version of A Christmas Carol will indeed be on FXM starting Christmas Eve and running all day Christmas Day, alternating with the 2019 version. Do yourself a favor and check it out!
I love to overdose on holiday movies, specials and music every December. But, I also enjoy a change of pace and add in some holiday horror for good measure. In episode 695 of the Dread Media Podcast, I take a look at a film that was buried for decades…36.15 Code Pere Noel from 1990. It’s also known under a variety of alternate titles, including Deadly Games and Dial Code Santa Claus.
Never heard of it? Neither did I until Joe Bob introduced me to it on his recent holiday special on Shudder. Basically, think of a more intense version of Home Alone with a psychopathic Santa Claus instead of the Wet Bandits and a much more manic version of Kevin McAllister fighting not only for his home, but his dog and grandfather as well.
Check it out! I think you’ll enjoy it and, as always, tell ’em Monster Movie Kid sent ya!
Jeff and I take a tour of the life and career of horror icon Barbara Steele in episode 52 of the Classic Horrors Club Podcast! We’ll take a critical look at three of her films: The Ghost (1963), Terror-Creatures from the Grave (1965), and Revenge of the Blood Beast (1966).
Be sure to watch the companion episode with all kinds of highlights and bonus features on our YouTube channel. If you like what you hear, you’re going to love what you see! Check it out and give us some feedback… both on the podcast and the video. Let’s call the meeting to order…
It was May 2013 when Derek M. Koch launched the Monster Kid Radio Podcast. Since then, it has become universally recognized as the definitive podcast about the classic (and not-so-classic) monster movies we all love. It won the 2014 Rondo Award for Best Multimedia Site and a Silver Bolo Award from Joe Bob Briggs. Yours truly has even been a quest on the show several times and I count Derek not only as a podcasting colleague but also as a personal friend.
So, I’m very proud to announce Monster Kid Radio is celebrating it’s 500th episode. My podcasting partner-in-crime Jeff Owens and I join in the celebration with a special congratulatory message. Plus, aside from an array of special and usual features, after more than a year of being locked in an underground cellar for fear of what it would do to humanity, the infamous and legendary Classic Five game from Monster Bash 2019 has finally surfaced! Tune in to hear Derek, Dominique Lamssies, Chris McMillan, Scott and Tracey Morris, Mitch Gonzales, Steve Sullivan, Steve Turek, Ben Turek, Jeff and I as we all attempt to survive the game without dying from a lot of laughter. So, tune in and take a listen!
Congratulations Derek on 500 episodes! Here’s to another 500 and many more!
After months of visiting the drive-in, traveling back to the past for some early 70s fall previews, guests and 50th episode celebrations, it’s time for Jeff Owens and I get back to the basics. In episode 51, we return to our usual format of reviewing three films as we take a look at three of the earliest horror films.
First up is The Golem (1920), followed by The Phantom Carriage (1921) and, finally, The Man Who Laughs (1928). And don’t forget to watch the companion episode with all kinds of highlights and bonus features on the Classic Horrors YouTube channel. If you like what you hear, you’re going to love what you see! Check it out and give us some feedback… both on the podcast and the video. Let’s call the meeting to order…
For 31 days, we’ve been making our way through a journey of old time radio classics. So, it’s only fitting that on this final day in the 2020 31 Days of Halloween, we present a tale of one of the oldest horror stories that has been adapted countless times over the years on stage and screen…Brahm Stoker’s Dracula.
Orson Welles had emerged on the world of radio in the summer of 1937 with his adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. Then, in the fall of that year, he brought the character of Lamont Cranston, otherwise known as The Shadow, to life in a total of 52 episodes. While he was working through his final episodes of that show in the summer of 1938, CBS offered him an opportunity for a 13-week limited series to be called Mercury Theatre on the Air. His Mercury Theatre players would bring to life classic literary works every week with music composed or arranged by the another legend in the making, Bernard Herrmann.
Of course, everyone knows of the October 30 presentation of War of the Worlds. It was that broadcast that caught the attention of a national sponsor, the Campbell Soup Company. The final episode of Mercury Theatre on the Air would be broadcast on December 4 and the first episode of The Campbell Playhouse aired just five days later. Welles remained with the show for the first two seasons, during which the two most memorable adaptations of A Christmas Carol were brought to life.
On July 11, 1938, the very first episode of Mercury Theatre on the Air brought the story of Dracula to life, a tale that was perhaps more fitting for the Halloween season than a mid-summer night. However, the presentation is, in my opinion, the best Dracula adaptation from the golden age of radio. Orson Welles stars as Dr. John Seward and Dracula while sharp ears might recognize the voice of Agnes Moorehead as Mina Harker.
Don’t forget to check out the playlist on my YouTube channel. You can now go to one location for all of the radio shows that have been part of this year’s 31 Days of Halloween!
Now, turn out the lights and let the theatre of the mind take you back across the decades as you listen to a program I first discovered in 1980. I’ve listened to it almost every year since and it never fails to entertain. Happy Halloween!!