The Classic Movie History Project Blogathon 2016! 🚀 “Keep watching the skies!” Science Fiction cinema of the 1950s

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“I bring you a warning. Every one of you listening to my voice. Tell the world… Tell this to everybody wherever they are. Watch the Skies! Everywhere. Keep looking. Keep watching the skies!

Ned ‘Scotty’ Scott — The Thing From Another World (1951)

Keep watching the Skies!

It’s that time of year once again when Movies Silently, Silver Screenings & One Upon a Screen host a momentous event…. The Classic Movie History Project Blogathon 2016 which will begin August 5th -10th, 2016.

Science fiction is a genre of speculative fiction dealing with imaginative concepts such as futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life. Science fiction often explores the potential consequences of scientific and other innovations, and has been called a “literature of ideas. –Wikipedia definition of Science Fiction

Robot Monster rocket

This event always promises to be an epic endeavor as there are so many interesting themes and subjects to cover. I am excited to be participating once again with these fabulous hosts who make it possible for all of us to contribute to a wealth of classic film history goodies to devour. Now listen folks, don’t get frightened off! You cast of exciting unknown readers… This has become a real project for me, a work in progress that will unfold over the next several weeks. For the purpose of The Classic Movie History Project Blogathon 2016, I offer an overview that will be a lead in for the entire decade of 1950s science fiction cinema conquering it year by year in separate articles. As I started delving into this project, it began to grow larger and larger as if Jack Arnold and Bert I. Gordon themselves compelled me to GO BIG!

amazing colossal man vegas

attack_of_the_50_foot_woman_3_by_farzelgaart-d4ubn9h

50 foot woman at the bar

In order to review an entire genre of such an influential decade and do the treatment it so rightly deserves, I realized that I needed to spread it out as a series. Re-visiting these beloved movies that inspired my childhood with wonder and sometimes tapped into my own authentic fears, I fell in love all over again. And though I tend to gravitate towards the classical Gothic horrors that are steeped in mythology, the supernatural and the uncanny, I can’t help but feel my mind expanding by the iconic themes that emerged from 1950s science fiction! So I’ll be publishing each year as individual posts or chapters from 1952 on… over the next several week or so instead of all at once. Talking about all the films I mentioned here and so many more films & things to come!

It’s a collection–a decade of the sci-fi genre, sub-genres and it’s hybrids– some eternally satisfying because of their remarkable ability to continuously shine a light on fascinating & mesmerizing fantasy stories. Well written and adapted as visual narratives and surreal stories by beloved visionaries who set out to reach inward and outward through all of us dreamers and thinkers.

There are also those lovable Sci-fi films that are charming and wonderfully kitsch. And some… are just downright so, so, soooo awful their… awesome!

That’s what makes so many of these diverging films cut through the cross-sections to become cinematic jewels & memorable cult favorites!

Robot Monster 2

There are many films that I’ll cover more in depth, some are the more highly polished masterpieces that have lingered for decades with us as adult children who grew up watching them on a rainy afternoon on televisions with knobs that only had 9 channels and if you were lucky you didn’t snap the knob off every 6 months! Growing up in New York I had Chiller Theater, on local channel 11 or Creature Features on Channel 5, or Fright Night on Channel 9. That’s how I fell in love, and got my fill of the treasures of films & television anthology series that was lurking out there destined to leave long lasting impressions on so many of us!

Chiller Theater

Fright Night WOR

Or back in the day, you went to the Drive-In theater to explore in the back seat of your pop’s Chevy Impala any double feature, and it was an invigorating and entertaining experience and you didn’t even have to get out of your pajamas.

Retro Drive In

You could spend all day in a musty theater festooned with captivating promotional lobby cards and colorful posters. Too bad, I wasn’t of the age to witness William Castle’s ballyhoo he strategically placed at certain theaters for that interactive live experience , EMERGO, PERCEPTO! You could take in a bunch of the latest scary films, sometimes double & triple features, while sitting on sticky red velvet seats that smelled like hot buttered popcorn and week old spilled Pepsi. A box of Milk Duds in hand and the faint wiff of air conditioner freon at your back. You’d enter the movie theater in the bright light of a sunny Saturday afternoon only to exit into the dark of night, tired and filled with wonder, awe and okay maybe looking over your shoulder a few times. Some films were big budget productions, that contained serious acting by studio contract players, terrific writing that blended deep thoughts and simple escapism pulled from some of the best science fiction, fantasy & horror literature and adapted screenplays, scares and witty dialogue besides and cinematography that still captivates us to this day.

3D Audience

Well… sure some were B movies that have now sustained that Cult film charm and cheesiness, and some… are just downright pitiful, laughable guilty pleasures… and a bunch even came with really neat 3D glasses!

SOME ICONIC GEMS FOR THE AGES THAT I’LL BE COVERING!

Creature From the Black Lagoon

Incredle Shrinking Man vs Cat

THEM! (1954)*INVADERS FROM MARS (1953) *DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951)*FORBIDDEN PLANET (1956) *THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)*EARTH VS THE FLYING SAUCERS (1956) *THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957) *INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) *WAR OF THE WORLDS (1953) * CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON (1954) * IT CAME FROM OUTER SPACE (1953)* IT, THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE (1958) *EARTH VS THE SPIDER (1958) *THE CRAWLING EYE (1958) *THE GIANT BEHEMOTH (1959) *IT CAME FROM BENEATH THE SEA (1955) *TARANTULA (1955) *FIEND WITHOUT A FACE (1958) *THE MONOLITH MONSTERS (1957)* THE AMAZING COLOSSAL MAN (1957) * THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959)*KRONOS (1957)* THE CREEPING UNKNOWN (1956)*X-THE UNKNOWN (1956

I’LL ALSO BE TALKING ABOUT SOME GUILTY PLEASURES!

Attack of the Crab Monsters 4

Attack of the Crab Monsters (1957)

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Paul Birch is the alien vampire Paul Johnson in Roger Corman’s Not of This Earth 1957

The Brain from Planet Arous 1957* Attack of the Crab Monsters 1957* The Killer Shrews 1959* The Giant Claw 1957 *Beast From Haunted Cave 1959 *The Monster from Piedras Blancas 1959 *Invasion of the Saucer Men 1957 *The Monster that Challenged the World 1957 *Not of this Earth 1957* The She-Creature 1956* The Man Who Turned to Stone 1958* Invisible Invaders 1959* Attack of the 50 Foot Woman 1958* The Hideous Sun Demon (1959) * Monster on the Campus 1958* The Unknown Terror 1957* Creature with The Atom Brain 1955 * The Unearthly 1955 * From Hell it Came 1957,

Tabanga and Korey

It’s also important to mention some of the ubiquitous actors who graced both the great & guilty pleasure flicks, you’ll be seeing a lot of in the following chapters like John Carradine * Ed Nelson *Allison Hayes *Paul Birch *John Agar *Hugh Marlowe*Peter Graves *Richard Denning *Richard Carlson *Faith Domergue *Mara Corday *Les Tremayne *Marie Windsor *Morris Ankrum * Arthur Franz *Kenneth Tobey* John Hoyt * Whit Bissell and of course Beverly (kicks-ass!) Garland!

One thing is for certain, each film is relevant and all have a place in the 50s decade of Sci-fi / Horror & Fantasy!

So come back and read a little at a time and get some thrills even while you’re sitting under the hair dryer… Do people still do that today? I need to get out more…

1955 hairdryer wants to be a space-age helmet

This 1955 hair dryer is just begging to be a space-age helmet!

It all started with Georges Méliès 1903 fantasy A Trip to the Moon
Le Voyage Dans La Lune 1902 – Georges Méliès

Le Voyage Dans La Lune 1902

Trip to the Moon 1902

As early as 1920 there was the German expressionist film dealing with the arrival of a menacing alien visitor from the planet Algol giveing actor Emil Jannings a machine that awards him unlimited powers. ALGOL aka POWER 1920 directed by Hans Werckmeister

Emil Jennings in Algol 1920

“That which you believe becomes your world.”
Richard Matheson from ‘What Dreams May Come’

Science Fiction emerged out of the “Age of Reason” literature reflected a merging of myth and historical fact. Stories filled with an imagination that had no boundaries. While Science Fiction is a literary movement that can be a separate study all it’s own, story tellers who grasped the concepts of science fiction who questioned the endless possibilities, the far reaching machinations of brilliant minds, this project if focused on the history of 1950s science fiction cinematic and all it reveals. Science Fiction cinema flirted blatantly with ideas and images of a world that reached beyond the known, and contemplated aloud, fantastic stories as early as the silent era. Consider Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, re-envisioned time and time again.

barrymore 1920 dr jekyll

dr-jekyll-and-mr-hyde-(1920)

John Barrymore lifts the dark conflicting tale of the inward monsters off the pages of Stevenson’s book. Barrymore so fluently moved through the silent stage, reveals that we all just might be harboring in our sub-conscious hidden dark and primal desires. Unleashed by a concoction, a seduction of science creates a fiend! Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (1920)

aelita-queen-of-mars-1924

Aelita Queen of Mars (1924)

The odd yet visually stunning Russian spectacle Aelita Queen of Mars (1924) aka Revolt of the Robots.e

There were a few early visions of fantasy, magic & Science Fiction films from all around the world- At 3:25 aka The Crazy Ray (1924)  Directed by Rene Clair-a scientist invents a ray that makes people fall asleep where they stand! The German film Master of the World (1934) (Der Herr der Welt) where a German scientist wants to create an army of Robots to do the dangerous work of laborers so, when he is told it’s too risky he goes mad and it’s too late the machine has a mind of it’s own. It features really cool electronic chambers and more!

And Transatlantic Tunnel (1935) Scientists construct a tunnel under the ocean-stars Richard Dix, Leslie Banks and C. Aubrey Smith.

Metropolis 1927 the dystopian masterpiece by director Fritz Lang was the beginning of the fascination with exploring the fantastic and our unbounded imaginations on film, it’s remarkable set design, imagery and narrative sparked the Science Fiction genre in a big way— spanning decade upon decade, in particular revived in the 1950s!

Metropolis

The first influential science fiction film by Fritz Lang created a dystopian societ in Metropolis 1927. It’s influence has maintained it’s powerful thrust for decades. An inspiration for Ridley Scott’s neo-noir sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner (1982)
Metropolis 1927

“Man is the unnatural animal, the rebel child of nature, and more and more does he turn himself against the harsh and fitful hand that reared him”-H.G.Wells

Island-of-Lost-Souls 1932

Kathleen Burke Island of Lost Souls

Island of Lost Souls charles_laughton

Island of Lost Souls 1943 The House of Pain

Charles Laughton is superb as H.G. Wells Dr. Moreau a sociopathic sadist/scientist with a god complex whose profane experiments on animals and humans tortures them in the ‘house of pain’ trying to create a hybrid race he can hold sway over on his private island hell! Science has never been more evil! Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Then there was the 1936 adaptation of H.G. Wells’ Things To Come (1936) directed by William Cameron Menzies and starring Raymond Massey as Oswald Cabal, Ralph Richardson as The Boss, Margaretta Scott as Roxanna/Rowena and Cedric Hardwicke as Theotocopulos.

things-to-come

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“What is this progress? Progress is not living. It should only be the preparation for living.”

Flash Gordon and similar serials provided super heroes for generations of young people in the 30s & 40s, planting the seeds for the future that would give us the Star Wars legacy.

Flash Gordon Buster Crabbe and Ming

Audiences between the World Wars preferred horrors of a Gothic nature– James Whale’s Frankenstein 1931 & Bride of Frankenstein 1935, as they helped exercise demons conjured up from the 19th & early 20th century.

James Whales Bride of Frankenstein 1932

The electrical secrets of heaven, the lighting, the elaborate sets designed by genius Kenneth Strickfaden with his lights throbbing gizmos flashing and zapping, the creepy atmosphere of murky tones. The consummate Universal monster movie with iconic scenes introducing a new face, Boris Karloff who would become the great father of terror stories …

colin clive and dwight frye Frankenstein 1931

Frankenstein's hand it's alive

ColinClive it's Alive

What’s on that slab?,It’s Alive, It’s Alive!…” those monumental words that remain ingrained in our consciousness. Colin Clive becomes hysterical as he has creates life from death, but that life would become a whole new ethical, moral and imposing dilemma for Dr.Frankenstein. A horror film with strong science fiction/fantasy tropes. And the laboratory as gorgeous set pieces would become a staple of the science fiction realm.

Bride & Frankenstein's monster

bride_of_frankenstein 1935

The 1950s Science Fiction genre took root with it’s profouns contribution to our collective consciousness AS a genre its vision & breadth possessed quintessential & ever-lasting sociological and psychological metaphors, iconic tropes and striking imagery.

The splitting of the atom, ushering in the atomic age and the collective anxiety most definitely was the catalyst for the many of the movie fantasy stories known as the 1950s Sci-Fi film.

“But no matter what else it might be, what makes a science fiction film science fiction is the fact that it is, in some sense, about science—and not only science but futuristic science. By that I mean that science fiction movies deal with scientific possibilities and technologies that do not exist yet but that might exist someday. Science fiction is the realm of the not-yet.” — “Cult Science Fiction Films” by Welch Everman

Ridley Scott – (Alien 1979, Blade Runner 1982) “When you come to the second World War You’ve got a very specific enemy. You know what that enemy is, It’s there for all the wrong reasons and it should be prevented…. Then you got the next phase which is The Cold War again which is to do with paranoia . But I think real, it’s real. Movies started to dip into that.”

splitting the atom men in white coats

“The Splitting of the atom…. forces that can only be explained to us by these guys in white coats… All of a sudden the guys in white coats became these simultaneously kind of rock stars and the most evil thing you could imagine.”

In a scene from The Atomic City 1952– The mother’s child sitting at the kitchen table with his breakfast “If I grow up do you know what I’m gonna do?” The mother turns to him, leaving her scrambled eggs on the stove and corrects him nervously, “It’s when you grow up, not if…”

The Atomic City 1952

The Atomic City 1952 trailer

Duck & Cover 1951 classic propaganda film

From the short instructional film Duck and Cover “But no matter where they go or what they do they always try to remember what to do if the atom bomb explodes right then!” (the kids suddenly fall into the brick wall. The narrator says ) It’s a bomb DUCK & COVER!

James Cameron – “All of our fate as human beings, our destiny seems bound up in our technology and our technology is frightening. It’s Terrifying!”

Steven Spielberg- “So there was a great deal of anxiety in the air. It was not just fear of being beaten up by the local bully. But the fear was being NUKED!… But we almost pushed a button on each other during The Cuban Missile Crisis…… I was absolutely prepared for Armageddon and these movies from the 1950s and early 60s played on those fears. And these movies were all metaphors for those fears. ”

George Lucas- “I would say that there was a certain amount of anxiety about that I mean I grew up right in the very heat of that. DUCK & COVER drills all the time… We were always hearing about the fall out shelter. About the end of the world, issues that were always going on about how many bombs were being built. The Cold War was always in the media.”

From The Twilight Zone “The Shelter” season 3 episode 3

Twilght Zone 'The Shelter' s3e3

1950s Sci-Fi films represented a conservatism or ‘reactionary wing’ that seems consumed by a motive to emphasize the values of 1950s America post WWII, in the midst of a McCarthy era witch hunt that prevailed fueling our fears that seeped into many of the Sci-Fi narratives on screen and in literature. Reflecting the growing internal struggles within American society and the developing mistrust about Soviet aggression and anyone and anything perceived as subversive.

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?”

Some films that reflected the paranoia of the period were well regaled by a Hollywood studio system that was itself at the center of the controversial House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) targeting screenwriters and actors as ‘communist sympathizers’ and no one could be trusted. -Just like Invaders from Mars 1953, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956, X the Unknown 1956, The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957, and I Married a Monster From Outer Space 1958.

X The Unknown

Invaders from Mars

In 1947, in Roswell New Mexico the military reports that they have a UFO in their possession. The phenomena of sightings of UFOs would continue throughout the 1950s, though agencies were fully prepared to explain away the reports. Yet the public had a hunger to and fascination with the possibility of extra-terrestrials.

As Phil Hardy’s insightful take on the genre, all this manifested in a way that the Science Fiction films of the 1950s ‘supplanted horror as the genre that dealt with fear and paranoia.” The films expressed a very realistic look at science within the atomic age, and shed the shadows and expressionism of the earlier Gothic horrors and while not all scientific fact, tried to embrace a world of possibility.

The Flying Saucer 1950 begins the momentum for the decade of Science Fiction cinema’s love affair with unidentified objects and begins to round the edges of space crafts from other worlds that aren’t our American sharp and phallus shaped rockets!

The Flying Saucer -ship

The flying_saucer 1950

DESTINATION MOON 1950 was featured in COLOR BY TECHNICOLOR. Being hailed the 2001, Space Odyssey of it’s time, it attempts to portray a realism trip to the moon. Phil Hardy calls Destination Moon 1950a sober celebration of man’s imminent conquest of space that dominated the decade.’

destination moon rocket

destination-moon-space matters

Destination Moon did attempt to accurately portray a trip to the moon given the technology and knowledge that was stuck in 1950.

Then we shot past the moon in cinema and went straight to the red planet with Flight to Mars 1951!

Flight to Mars

Themes and metaphors that emerged from anxiety about the atom bomb, radiation fallout, the advent of modernity, the space race and the wanderlust to conquer outer space, interplanetary warfare, military vs. science hubris, science meddling with nature, fear of science and technology, invasion anxiety, continued fear of otherness, deviant (in terms of counter-culture not exclusively moral judgement) subversion and xenophobic nightmares.

Sometimes we were even married to a monster from outer space and didn’t even notice much of a difference except for the lack of small talk! Here’s Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott in I Married a Monster from Outer Space 1958.

I Married-a-Monster-from-Outer-Space Tom Tryon and Gloria Talbott

I Married a Monster From Outer Space

Director Howard Hawk and screenplay by Charles Lederer, created a striking science fiction masterpiece of film noir ambience with it’s chilling back lit set pieces- The Thing From Another World 1951, adapted from John W. Campbell’s story ‘Who Goes There?’, other films that followed the path of paranoia — Invaders from Mars 1953, War of the Worlds 1953, It Came from Outer Space 1953, It Conquered the World 1956 & Invasion of the body snatchers 1956.

Xenomorph

bodysnatchers 1956 review

The Thing it's round like a spaceship

The Thing at the door

the thing shadow play

There were also science fiction films that rang the warning bell about cosmic calamity and catastrophic world coming to an end, annihilation fantasies like When Worlds Collide 1951.

War of the Worlds 1953 and When Worlds Collide 1951 had as Phil Hardy states, ‘religious dimensions’ that accused us of bringing about catastrophic punishment because of our misdeeds and transgressions.

War of the Worlds Valley of Shadows

When Worlds Collide 6

H.G. Well’s view of Martian invaders created for the public consciousness the idea of destructive beings from another world. It was a great reflexive move for those science fiction films to portray aliens that were sympathetic, yet non-humanoid in appearance. Most Sci-Fi films show aliens as menacing, not only destructive but dangerous because they also wanted to keep us as captives, zap our resources and colonize our planet, sometimes even take our women, oh god no unhand Faith Domergue you pants wearing Mutant!

This Island Earth Metaluna mutant

invaders from mars b&w

Is that a fireball or something

“Is that a fireball or something?”

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INVADERS FROM MARTS MUTANTS WITH ZIPPERS

InvadersFromMars

invaders-from-mars-

Hollywood saw a trend later on in the 50s with Destination Moon 1950 when they came upon a story written by Harry Bates called The Return of the Master this became Robert Wise’s The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951 which has remained one of the best regarded science fiction films of all time. This is one of the rare occasions when the alien Klaatu played beautifully like an intricate clock by the chiseled face, tranquil speaking Michael Rennie is benevolent, bringing with him a sincere and dire warning about earth people’s course and the future of their civilization if they don’t relent about the proliferation of atomic weapons. There were several well intended alien visitors who were met with hostilities as with, Klaatu (Michael Rennie ) in Day the Earth Stood Still 1951, and The Man From Planet X 1951.

The Man from Planet X

the-day-the-earth-stood-still

Day the Earht STood Still Klaatu solves the board 2

Day the Earth Stood Still Patricia Neal and GORT1951-

GORT

Many films, even the low budget excursions dealt with our primal fears of alienation, estrangement & loss of identity i.e.,(communism at it’s core, the ramifications of otherness) nothing hits home more than Invaders from Mars 1953, and the quintessential loss of self and individualism in Don Siegels’ Invasion of the Body Snatchers!

they would have changed into people who hate you

“They would change into people who hate you!”

Steven Spielberg talks about the impact of Invaders from Mars 1953, “It certainly touched a nerve among all the young kids like myself who saw that movie at a very young age. That you would come home and that you would not recognize your mom and dad they would have changed into people who hate you!”

I can attest to the persuasion these films could have over the burgeoning imagination of a child, especially one like me who felt very much like an outsider as a kid. One night, as sure as my name is MonsterGirl, I went home, looked at my parents, decided they had been switched by aliens and ran out of the house, walking around the block for at least an hour before I convinced myself that I was being ridiculous. Or was I? These themes did have a not so subtle impact on a young impressionable mind who could easily question the world around them. Who could you trust? Would would believe you anyway?

There is the outsider narrative, diminishing human forms as in Bert I. Gordon’s Attack of the Puppet People 1958 where obsessed and lonely puppet maker John Hoyt loses his marbles. Although mad -bad science has shrunk down people before the 1950s in The Devil Doll 1936 and in the hands of crazed Albert Dekker in Dr. Cyclops 1940.

Attack of the Puppet People John Hoyt and Agar

dr cyclops 1940

There is the quintessential existential crisis, the beautifully thought provoking film by director Jack Arnold starring the eternally transcending man Grant Williams in, The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957.

the-incredible-shrinking-man-1957-

And of course there is the matter of GIGANTISM!

Earth vs the Spider

EarthVsTheSpider

THEM!

Monster_Challenged

The Black Scorpion

Giant insects, sea creatures and people who ran around half crazed and scantily dressed were a by-product of the atomic age!

50 ft Woman

The Amazing Colossal Man

George Lucas —“Out of that fear came I think a lot the monsters which you mess around with stuff and you’re gonna unleash this unknown monster!… it’s making tangible the unknown… A lot of that has to do with the mystery of this silent death that comes along with it that nobody knows exactly what it is or where it came from or can’t see it, can’t touch it. Well let’s make it easier to deal with by making it a giant monster.”

War of the Colossal Beast

Some films show the ascension from violence & hyper-masculinity, Women as professionals & bold heroines who didn’t shrink as hysterical victims. Female dominated civilizations (Cat- Women of the Moon 1953, Queen of Outer Space 1958, Missile to the Moon 1958, Fire Maidens from Outer Space 1956, that threatened to maniacally seduce & subsume male voyagers, dressed by 5th avenue they are outré chic. Wanton warriors & nubile space maidens who often never saw the male species before or wanted to destroy them altogether!

Fire Maidens of Outer Space

missile-to-the-moon-1958 directed by richard-e-cunha

A tagline reads “SEE-Astounding she-beasts of Venus!”

Queen of Outer Space

In Queen of Outer Space 1958 the masked disfigured Queen Yilana (Zsa Zsa Gabor) imprisons the men who crash land on her planet, intending to annihilate the earth with her beta disintegrator, though her beautiful subjects revolt in the name of love.

Mark Hamill –“We sometimes imagined other planets as paradises…. with girls!!! they looked more Hollywood starlets than space aliens, anyway they were eager to please. Their dancing their music their leotards were so Moderne! like Greenwich Village in outer space.” referring to Cat-Women of the Moon 1953.

Cat Women on the Moon May we serve you earth men?

“May we serve you earth men?”

Missile to the Moon-You're the first man I've ever seen.

“You’re the first man I’ve ever seen!” Carol Brewster as Alpha is mesmerized

missile to the moon

Step on it and don't spare the atoms! planets as paradise with GIRLS!!!

“Step on it, and don’t spare the atoms!” from Abbott & Costello Go to Mars (1953)

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“Their dance, their music, their leotards were so Moderne!”

KT Stevens as The Lido in Missile To The Moon

Missile To The Moon- Hollwood chorus girls

Missile to the Moon 1958

Missile to the Moon spider maiden

Missile to the Moon 1958

There’s nothing worse than a space Queen–The Lido (K.T. Stevens ) and one of her maidens in distress…

Mark Hamill who narrates the wonderful documentary written and directed by Richard Schickel Watch the Skies! Sci-Fi , the 1950s and Us presented by Turner Classic Movies also reminds us that “50s science fiction may have shot at the stars but the dialogue often remained earth bound tied up with the battle of the sexes.” Many prevailing sub-texts were also love stories, soap operas involving relationships between men and women.They would create love stories in space!

project moonbase 1953

Project Moonbase 1953 Donna Martell as Colonel Briteis (bright eyes?)

they would create love stories in space Lloyd and Osa in Rocketship X-M doomed to crash

Rocketship X-M (1950) starring Lloyd Bridges and Ossa Massen

Osa's character in Rocketship XM is brave in the end not hysterical-she sees her death as a new beginning

Cameron Mitchell plays Steve Abbott in Flight to Mars 1953, who tells Marguerite Chapman as Alita a fellow scientist/astronaut, “I think you’re a prize package and very feminine.”

Flight To Mars 1951

There is always time for romance in outer space!

flight-to-mars with scientist Margaritte Chapman

There were menaces from without, menaces from within. The ordinary world transformed into the monstrous. There were warnings from benevolent aliens and aggressive attacks by aliens who wanted to colonize our planet.

Sometimes the warnings or threats came from disembodied heads and brains, like Donovan’s Brain 1953, Fiend Without a Face 1958 and The Brain from Planet Arous 1957.

Donovan's Brain 1953

fiend WITHOUT A FACE

Gor from Planet Arous

The indie filmmakers introducing teenagers as both heroes & monsters. Many films were horror/sci-fi hybridizations. And by the end of the decade we were left a legacy of impressive productions that remain timeless masterpieces, the cult grade- B Sci-Fi picture with their indelible charm and kitsch emblems, and the true stinkers that are so bad there too good not to appreciate. Sublime, thrilling, provocative & yes campy!

Teenagers from Outer Space

I-Was-a-Teenage-Werewolf

There were collections of stylized works by Jack Arnold, Bert I. Gordon, Edward L. Cahn and one indie auteur who showed us how to make a memorable movie on a shoe string budget who also launched many a career, the inimitable and grand Roger Corman. And of course those guys at American International Pictures (AIP)

Within the 50s decade shedding the Gothic themes of the 30s & 40s, the poetic shadow plays of Val Lewton,1950s Sci-Fi films had a pre-occupation with the modern world and mostly all the central menaces were transformed into non-human threats that we not only couldn’t empathize with but were revolted against as dangerous, vicious, insidious and potentially nihilistic in vision, they were seen as only a threat to our humanity and ultimately would lead to our destruction.

It came from outer space Xenomorph close up

Within Sci-Fi there are so many films which are complex hybridizations of horror/science fiction /fantasy and have become too insurmountable to dissect or decipher all the nuances between the various free-floating genres. Writer critic historian Robin Wood in his Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan.—wagers that “the horror film’s radical potential lies in the fact that ‘the true subject of the horror genre is the struggle for recognition of all that our civilization represses or oppresses’ Jancovich states that the monster “must therefor be seen as a profoundly ambiguous figures which challenges social norms and so reveals society’s repressive monstrosity.”

Killers from Space

Killers from Space 1954

This theme is attached to McCarthyism that showed up as coded narratives in the more highly produced Sci-Fi films- “the myth of Communism as total dehumanization—accounts for the prevalence of this kind of monster in that period” -Mark Jancovich -Rational Fears- American Horror in the 1950s.

We can’t forget contributions made by the maestros in the visual effects department, direction, art direction and cinematography from George Pal, William Cameron Menzies and Ray Harryhausen.

Ymir4

20-million-miles-to-earth-creature-ymir and elephant-in-rome

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) Ray Harryhausen’s Ymir from Venus

it-came from beneath the sea

It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) Ray Harryhausen’s The Kraken

Cinematographers who brought these visual narratives & landscapes to life- just to name a few!

Clifford Stine (It Came from Outer Space 1953,This Island Earth 1955, Imitation of Life 1959,Spartacus 1960) Sidney Hickox (Them! 1954, The Big Sleep 1946,Dark Passage 1947,White Heat 1949), John F. Seitz (Invaders from Mars 1953, Sullivan’s Travel’s 1941m Double Indemnity 1944, Sunset Boulevard 1950), Russell Harlan ( The Thing from Another World 1951, Red River 1948, Witness for the Prosecution 1959 To Kill a Mockingbird 1962) George Barnes (War of the Worlds 1953, Rebecca 1940, Spellbound 1945) Leo Tover (The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951, Hold Back the Dawn 1941,The Snake Pit 1948, The Woman on the Beach 1947,The Heiress 1949, Journey to the Center of the Earth 1959) Ellsworth Fredericks (Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956, Hold Back the Night 1956,The Stripper 1963, Mister Buddwing 1966)

And just as key to the atmosphere and attitude of the films were the musical contributions which defined that certain feel of chills and excitement, screwball antics and off-beat perscussion that filled up your head with pulsing visions of laser beams and other-worldly noises that ran up your spine like a finely coiled wire resonating the confluent sounds of the cosmos! Geesh that was a mouthful!

Invasion of Saucer Men bug eyes

There were composers who masterfully underscored some of the BEST films and even the worst!, Dimitri Tiomkin * Bronislau Kaper * Bernard Herrmann *Hans J. Salter and Henry Mancini to name a few.

Instrumentalist Clara Rockmore mastered the Theremin which had a cosmic, universal vibe that was, well out of this world!

The Theremin is an electronic musical instrument created by Russian inventor , Léon Theremin controlled by the performing thereminist who makes the dulcet eerie tones by manipulating the two metal antennas that respond to the hand movements which influence the oscillations or frequency with one hand and effecting the volume with the other hand.

Popular were the films that dealt with the hubris of science that ultimately manifested monsters. There were even pants monsters, yes! pants monsters…! The burning sun turned him into a hideous fiend, but he still had time to put on those Haggars casual men’s trousers!

THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, Robert Clarke (in doorway), Patricia Manning (second from right), 1959
THE HIDEOUS SUN DEMON, Robert Clarke (in doorway), Patricia Manning (second from right), 1959

There was a running sentiment —the notion of us against them, and even at times when not working together to fight a common enemy- you’d see the military vs science… And sometimes, though almost always male hero driven, there emerged some anti-damsels, all-powerful women who broke the cliched mold of the helpless hysterical female and arose as smart, intellectual (a socially constructed gendered male quality), mindful and fearlessly driven woman with guts and composure even if it was to hold off from laughing at Paul Blaisdell inside that cucumber monster from Venus.

it conquered the world cucumber close up

Roger Corman’s It Conquered the World (1956) The Venusian cucumber

Beverly Garland anti damsel It conquered the world

Just look at Julie Adams as Kay Lawrence in Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954, Joan Weldon as Dr. Patricia Medford in Them! 1954, Beverly Garland as Dr. Andrea Romar in Curucu, Beast of the Amazon 1956 & and her gutsy Clair Anderson in It Conquered the World 1956, Tina Carver as Dr. Terry Mason in From Hell It Came 1957 and Faith Domergue as Dr. Ruth Adams in This Island Earth 1955 & Prof. Lesley Joyce in It Came from Beneath the Sea 1955, and Lola Albright as Cathy Barrett in The Monolith Monsters 1957 .

Some sci-fi films were visually surreal landscapes or existential masterpiece such as William Cameron Menzies Invaders From Mars 1953 or Ib Melchior’s The Angry Red Planet 1959 and Jack Arnold’s magnificent adaptation of Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957.

angry red planet rat bat spider

The Angry Red Planet (1959) The Rat Bat Spider puppet monster!

Incredible Shrinking Man Grant Williams in the atomic cloud

Grant Williams sails into the radioactive mist in The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957

Invaders from Mars awake from a dream

Invaders from Mars (1953) Jimmy Hunt awakens to a UFO crashing into the sand dunes

“To sleep perchance to dream”-Hamlet-William Shakespeare

This dream-scape is a visual masterpiece, with the appearance of the sublimely brilliant Finnish painter Hugo Simberg, ( I happen to get permission from The National Museum of Finland to use Simberg’s ‘At The Crossroads’ as the cover of my album Fools & Orphans) thanks to the art design by visionary William Cameron Menzies!

the surreal art design looks like a Hugo Simberg painting

A scene from Invaders from Mars (1953)

It is absolutely true about one thing— that it’s wholly complex to begin dissecting what makes a film solely and definitively Science Fiction and what constitutes it being a hybridization of horror & fantasy. There are way too many that fall right on the gray line that either exists in the middle or transects both themes at once.

The Tingler Vincent Price I"m stuck on you

Vincent Price can’t get that pesky Tingler off his arm in William Castle’s terrific horror/sci-fi extravaganza equip with buzzing chairs-The Tingler (1959)

For example, I am covering William Castle’s The Tingler 1959, because, while the central terror surrounds a monstrous ‘horror movie themed monster’ a creeping fiend that lives inside us all and grips our spines the moment we are in abject fear, it is discovered by scientific and medical research. One could say the film is also a crime drama. There are too many nuances and parameters that intersect. James Whale’s adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein 1931 is called a Monster movie by Universal and by fans of all generations. But it falls into the deep well of hybridization as so much of it focuses on the very philosophical questions around scientific hubris, the creation of human life and the question of god, ownership of one’s identity, and what is monstrous?

Boris Karloff as The monster

“A lot of science fiction films are also horror films in which monsters are spawned by scientific experiments, but not all horror films are science fiction, because science fiction does not deal in the supernatural. Science fiction takes place in the realm of the not-yet; supernatural horror films operate in the realm of the impossible.” — “Cult Science Fiction Films” by Welch Everman

The enormous influence that Science Fiction cinema had long-lasting effects on the advent of television. Just look at Rod Serling’s Fantasy/Sci-Fi anthology series which aired on CBS from 1959-1964. The show came in on the end of the decade. Stories that were infused by the themes of the 50s and set the tone for future decades to come. The Twilight Zone was groundbreaking and thought-provoking, dealing with issues of war, class, race, it was a socially conscious program that constantly tried to remind us of our humanity. The decade of 1950s Science Fiction also bled into the mindfulness of my favorite early 60s science fiction anthology series The Outer Limits.

Twilight Zone mr dingle martians

The Zanti Misfits

The Zanti Misfits-one of the many fabulous Outer Limits monsters!

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Orwellian Control Voice from The Outer Limits anthology television series aired from 1963-1965.

Mark Jancovich writes “Again and again, the threats which distinguish 1950s horror
do not come from the past or even from the actions of a lone individual , but are associated with the processes of social development and modernization. In this period, it is the process of rationalization which is the threat, and in this way horror texts were at least as concerned with developments within American society as they were with threats from without… Here rationalization is understood as the process through which scientific – technical rationality is applied to the management of social, economic and cultural life…

… this new system of organization was seen by many as inherently totalitarian system which both created conformity and repressed dissent.”

the last man_on earth zombies

Vincent Price fights off zombies from a plague that wiped out most of the human race in Richard Matheson’s adapted screenplay from his story I Am Legen- The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The outsider narratives– were illustrated as contrasting and conflicting to accepted norms, we see this with Richard Matheson’s writing (I Am Legend which became Vincent Price’s agonizing journey as The Last Man on Earth 1964, and later The Omega Man 1971 and Jack Arnold’s films involving “the reoccurring preoccupation with alienation, isolation and estrangement” -Jancovich- seen in Creature From the Black Lagoon 1954 and The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957.

Creature Black Lagoon

Grant Williams protagonist Scott Carey becomes engulfed in a glittery mist of atomic dust particles in The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957 the film exudes anxiety of his diminishing masculinity by not only losing his literal size, his physical height but he loses his maleness as a husband and as a regular man. This estrangement become a journey of his eternal soul and it’s place in the vast unknown other-world.

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Grant Williams is feeling ‘literally’ like such a small man.

shrinking sublime transcendance

There would be films that embrace the dystopia narratives, and curiosity with technical advancements like robots!

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Fritz Lang’s iconic robot in Metropolis (1927)

Forbidden Planet Robby Robot

Robby the Robot and Walter Pidgeon as Morbius in George Pal’s take on William Shakespeare’s The Tempest as Forbidden Planet 1956

These Science Fiction/Fantasy films have left a deep and abiding impression on so many of us. Whether you grew up actually seeing them for the very first time, or becoming a new fan who is excited to embrace the heart and soul of a genre that made you think beyond what if? Either way, Science Fiction is an exploration of our imaginations, both glorious and often terrifying but it’s a genre that is here to stay, and the 1950s in particular truly rang the alarm bell that is still reverberating today!

Added to the mix in many of these film favorites was the essential mechanism of ‘not being believed’ added to the fear and paranoia of the moment!

The Face of Paranoia

THE FACE OF PANIC_PARANOIA BODY SNATCHERS

Invasion Anxiety

tv3QQht

FEAR OF THE ATOMIC BOMB! The Atomic City 1952 trailer

I see you with my million eyes!

fly

Hey big fella got a light!

Godzilla King of the Monsters

The theremin ‘the dulcet tones’ that wavered throughout sci-fi and beyond!

clara rockmore theremin

‘The modern world’

1952

It’s intermission time! Head out to the snack bar for some 50s refreshments!

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LOST WORLDS AND SPACE TRAVEL

Destination Moon

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Directed by Irving Pichel and producer George Pal along with a screenplay by Robert Heinlein took a very documentary approach to the narrative and the landscapes. The film stars John Archer as Jim Barnes, Warner Anderson as Dr. Charles Cargraves, with Tom Powers and Dick Wesson. The film was a critical success an revived the Sci-Fi genre.

Destination Moon 1950 was an attempt to show a serious technical side to space travel. based on what science actually knew at the time. Actually it was in response to a spread that ran in Collier’s Magazine of series of paintings done by artist Chesley Bonastell of gleaming space craft.

Steven Spielberg had said of the picture, “DESTINATION MOON is a scientific attempt to create suspense based on no bad guys no villains and no aliens.

Similar to almost Apollo 13 (1995) or Marooned 1969)

George Lucas says “At the time it was a very provocative idea because nobody had ever seen anyone go to the moon.” 

Though it’s been called the precursor to 2001 Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick never admitted to having seen the movie. Which is highly possible, and given his genius we’ll take his word for it.
Destination Moon on the surface

In the midst of the Cold War, the film reflects America’s desire to conquer, and according to the generals in Destination Moon, the moon would be the ideal location for a strategic military base of operations. And thus the race for America to get there first. There’s also a conflict seen as there were those who would embrace the new technologies and those who saw the impending modernity as a threat or a ‘bad thing’.

Pichel and Pal wanted to situate this film farther away from the fantastical science fiction ‘soap opera’ serials of the 1930s. Physicists and astronomers were consulted in order to stay true to the realistic view Heinlein, Pichel and Pal desired as their vision of the future. They also used striking paintings by Chesley Bonestell to imagine the gorgeous lunar landscapes along with designer Ernest Fegte who create the realistic cratered look of the Moon.

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Destination Moon gear

The film features the first lunar landing that was envisioned as realistic and not melodramatic or surreal. The crew led by actor John Archer manage to land on the Moon but they run out of fuel, that they seem doomed to be stranded. They lose all the excess weight in order to get the ship space worthy again, but till they are over the weight limit. In a noble act of courage and sacrifice Dick Wesson (Tom Powers) figures that he can remove his cumbersome pressure suit and re-enter the ship a lighter and better man in order to save the rest of the crew…

destination-moon

Dr. Charles Cargraves: You can’t buck public opinion; I’ve tried. Have you seen this?
[Newspaper headline: MASS MEETING PROTESTS RADIOACTIVE ROCKET]
General Thayer: That isn’t public opinion – it’s a job of propaganda!
Jim Barnes: You’re almighty right it is. Manufactured and organized – with money and brains. Somebody’s out to get us.

The Flying Saucer

the flying saucer

The FLying Saucer 1950 saucer

Directed by Mikel Conrad, stars Mikel Conrad as Mike Trent, Pat Garrison as Vee Langley, Hantz von Teuffen as Hans, Lester Sharpeas Col. Marikoff Roy Engel as Dr. Carl Lawton and Denver Pile as Turner! Because we feared the Russians in the early 1950s much of the paranoia around UFO sightings were connected to those pesky Reds! When CIA secret agent Mike Trent tracks a flying saucer to Alaska he finds out that it is a ship built by scientist Dr. Carl Lawton who hopes to sell it to the Americans!

The Flying Saucer screaming woman 1

The Flying Saucer 1950

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Pat Garrison and Mikel Conrad-50s cool!

Col. Marikoff: Mr. Trent, you’re giving us a great deal of trouble. Why didn’t you stay in New York with your drunken friends of the night club?

Mike Trent: I sobered up.

Prehistoric Women

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Laurette Luez

Laurette Luez as Tigri

prehistoric_women_1966_Martine Beswick

Prehistoric Women would find a resurgence in the 60s! Here’s British actress Martine Beswick in the 1966 movie with the same title!

Prehistoric Women (1950) Directed by Gregg C. Tallas Shown from left: Jo Carroll Dennison, Joan Shawlee, Laurette Luez, Kerry Vaughn, Mara Lynn (bending over), Judy Landon
Prehistoric Women (1950)
Directed by Gregg C. Tallas
Shown from left: Jo Carroll Dennison, Joan Shawlee, Laurette Luez, Kerry Vaughn, Mara Lynn
(bending over), Judy Landon

Directed by Gregg  C. Tallas, (Siren of Atlantas 1949) offers an adventure sci-fi fantasy film. Prehistoric Women stars Laurette Luez as Tigri, Allan Nixon as (Mesa of Lost Women 1953, Pickup 1951) Engor, Joan Shawlee as Lotee, Judy Landon as Eras, Mary Lynn as Arva, Jo Carroll Dennison as Nika, Kerry Vaughn as Tulie, Tony Devlin as Rulg, James Summers as Adh, Jeanne Sorel as Tana, and Janet Scott as Wise Old Lady.

As Bill Warren puts it in his wonderful series Keep Watching the Skies published by the awesome McFarland Press-Prehistoric Women “Were this picture not so naive, it would seem more sleazy than it does. It’s not good in any way, but has a certain daffy charm because of it’s unsophisticated unbelieveability.”

Prehistoric Women 1950 Engor and Tigir

Prehistoric Women Engor discovers fire

The Commentator:And Engor called it Firee, which was his word for Fire.”

The film is narrated documentary style because the cast are primitives who Amazonian cave-women and had little to no dialogue, it just adds to the laughable style and god awful Cinecolor production. I’d like to know how they got a turkey vulture to wear a mask poor thing, the film is so blurring it’s hard to tell what the hell is flying up in the prehistoric blue sky… scourge of the skies indeed! Still, prehistoric films, though considered mostly adventure stories seems to be included in books on the Sci-Fi genre. Though it could also easily be branded as a very cheap sexist exploitation romp!

Prehistoric Women 1950 the scourge of the skies

Look it’s a flying dragon the scourge of the skies!

Bill Warren cites a review from the Monthly Film Bulletin: “They assert feminine superiority ruthlessly, setting their captives to hard labour, clubbing them intermittently and cutting off their escape… {Engor-} (the intelligent troglodyte who invents fire) uses a flaming torch to destroy a giant winged dragon (a disguised turkey vulture they must have tortured off set by putting fake ears and beak on it) that threatens their encampment {and}the girls are stunned with fear and admiration and surrender unconditionally.”

Tigri and her clan hate men but realize that they are sort of needed for some things, so they capture a bunch of fellas and try to force them to become their mates. But when Engor, escapes and discovers fire gets re-captured and not only slays the “flying dragon the scourge of the skies” but uses the fire to fight off the ugly brute who threatens their lives Tigri has a change of heart and all is right with the primitive world again. The women start running around panicked and screaming hysterically and the men are once again in charge… it’s ludicrous.

This giant is a real 9 foot giant… named Guadi in the film is Johann Petursson The Viking Giant was the Tallest Man From Iceland and traveled with Ringling Bros. Circus!

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Prehistoric Women 1950

The Commentator: “Strangely enough, the swan dive was invented before the swan.

Rocketship-X-M

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GASP AT THE DARING COURAGE… AS THEY THUNDER BETWEEN PLANETS ON A RUNAWAY ROCKET!

Directed by science fiction story aficionado Kurt Neumann ( Secret of the Blue Room 1933, Half a Sinner 1934, Island of Lost Men 1939, a slew of Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan pictures, She Devil 1957, the outstanding Kronos 1957, and The Fly 1958 ) Rocketship X-M stars Lloyd Bridges as Col. Floyd Graham, Osa Massen as Dr. Lisa Van Horn, John Emory as Dr. Karl Eckstrom, Noah Beery Jr. as Maj. William Corrigan, Hugh O’ Brian as Harry Chamberlain, Morris Ankrum as Dr. Ralph Fleming, and Sherry Morland as the Martian girl.

Cinematographer Karl Struss   (Sunrise 1927, The Great Dictator, 1940, Limelight 1952, The Fly 1958) and art direction by Theobold Holsopple create at times a sublime and beautifully desolate landscape using matte paintings, miniatures among the technical effects. For all the scenes on Mars, the film is tinted a pinkish sepia tone (filmed partly in The Mojave desert). Struss lenses an landscape that is eerie and atmospheric.

Rocketship X-M was a B picture designed to beat DESTINATION MOON in the movie theaters, and even with it’s grim ending, it actually did better at the box office. Director James Cameron called it an ‘Anodyne answer to Destination Moon 1950.’ It was a cautionary tale about how we will not be able to control this new technology. It’s a warning about too much hubris surrounding this powerful technology that sometimes ‘precedes a tragic fall’-Mark Hamill.

The crew finds the remnants of a Martian Civilization that was destroyed by it’s own technology much like the revelation in Ridley Scott’s Alien 1979.

The film though with it’s bleak message is quite a surprisingly interesting science fiction tale about a trip to the moon, by way of Mars that is interesting because of it’s earnestness and visual style. And to be honest a lot more interesting and characters more full of life than with it’s predecessor in 1950 Destination Moon.

Rocketship XM Staffing Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Berry Jr. You heard this year's Oscar Winner for Best Actor credit his father for his acting career. Well here he is folks. Third from the left: Lloyd Bridges.
Rocketship XM
Staffing Lloyd Bridges, Osa Massen, John Emery, Noah Berry Jr.
You heard this year’s Oscar Winner for Best Actor credit his father for his acting career. Well here he is folks. Third from the left: Lloyd Bridges.

Rocketship XM Osa and Lloyd and deep thoughts

Rocketship XM the crew inside their ship

rocketship-x-m on Mars

Rocketship XM the crew investigates the landcape

Rocketship X-M sepia exploring

Rocketship X-M

German director Neumann came to Hollywood in 1925 and became best known for his work on The Fly. (1958) Rocketship X-M is a sober and beautifully filmed piece of science fiction realism blended with romance and crisis. Like Destination Moon ,it features the first manned rocket-ship to the Moon that winds up knocked off course winding up on Mars, stranded on the bleak landscape where the crew led by Dr. Karl Eckstrom stumble upon a dome-shaped structure and an odd metallic mask. They deduce from all the radioactivity that there must have been a superior race of intelligent beings who had once inhabited the planet but fell victim to some kind of atomic catastrophe, leaving only a few mutant savages to forage the bones of the now desolate planet.

Rocketship XM the surving race

These crazy looking bald Martians sort of remind me of Pluto in The Hills Have Eyes 1977

Rocketship XM attacked by the Martian savages

The crew is eventually besieged upon by the remains of that once thriving Martian race, which in a shocking reveal shows Sherry Moreland the Martian girl to have a lifeless stare as she is blind. The Martian trogldyte attackers kill Dr.Eckstrom, and Maj. Corrigan, wounding Chamberlain. Col. Floyd Graham and Dr. Lisa Van Horn make it back to the ship, but don’t have enough fuel to get back home. In a very intense and poignant scene as the two hold each other and embrace their inevitable fate with a transcendent fatalistic sense of hope, much like Grant Williams at the end of The Incredible Shrinking Man, the lovers watch through the view finder as they plunge toward Earth to their deaths, in a darker film ending– as they crash. Rocketship X-M seems to have brought the warning not to earth in the form of Klaatu the benevolent, but has placed us on a hostile planet much like Planet of the Apes that gravely warns us that our future could very well wind up the same way if we pursue atomic weapons.

Rocketship XM the Crash landing

Lloyd Bridges holds Osa Massen It ends badly for everyone. As they look out the porthole “it’s only seconds now, try not to be afraid” She clings to him-Suddenly she is not afraid anymore. She feels like something is lifting them up and holding them right before they crash…

Osa Massen sees her tragic end as a new beginning she sheds her fears and finds a courageous way to embrace their impending death. It’s a rather poetic scene when they hold each other and look out at the view finder and watch as life rapidly escapes them. It’s a very dark ending.

Doomed to crash and burn Floyd and Lisa cannot control the technology. There is a conflict with the machines and mechanisms we build that can either annihilate  us or set us free to explore and thrive.

‘Their last desperate hope is for transcendence”

ROCKETSHIP X-M — Director John Cameron calls it a ‘dualistic dance’ with technology -referring to the end being so nihilistic potentially– then the head of the program says they’ll start construction tomorrow.

Already on Earth they are planning another mission called Rocketship X-M2!

Rocketship XM no gentlemen the X-M was not a failure tomorrow we start on the construction of the X-M2

PROGRESS MARCHES ON-“No gentlemen the X-M was not a failure tomorrow we start on the construction of the X-M2”

 

Floyd: I’ve been wondering, how did a girl like you get mixed up in a thing like this in the first place.

Dr. Lisa Van Horn: I suppose you think that women should only cook and sew and bear children.

Floyd: Isn’t that enough?

[Floyd and Lisa comfort Eckstrom, who was mortally wounded by a Martian’s axe]

Floyd: Murdering savages!

Dr. Eckstrom: No Floyd. Poor fear-crazed despairing wretches. Pity them. Pity them!

STAY TUNED FOR MORE-coming up! 🚀 The Year is:

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A Very Ghoulish & Giffy Halloween from your ever lovin’ MonsterGirl!

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THANKS TO RETRO-FIEND FOR ALL THE SKIN-CRAWLING GIFS!!!!!

 BE SAFE AND HERE’S WISHING YOU A SPOOKTACULAR HALLOWEEN FROM THE LAST DRIVE IN…!!!!!!

Postcards From Shadowland: Huge Halloween Edition! 2013

09_metropolis_workers
Metropolis 1927
earth vs the flying saucers
Earth vs the Flying Saucers 1956
uninvited_610
The Uninvited 1944
Bedlam
Bedlam 1946
103-MadMonster4
The Mad Monster 1942
masque-du-demon-1960-15-g
Black Sunday 1960
Annex - Veidt, Conrad (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari)_01
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920
Tales From the Crypt
Tales from the Crypt 1972
1941_Wolfman_img5
The Wolf Man 1941
a NightMonster2
Night Monster 1942
Bela Island of Lost Souls
Island of Lost Souls 1932
carnival-of-souls
Carnival of Souls 1962
Annex - Chaney Jr., Lon (Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man)_05
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man 1943
Annex - Chaney Sr., Lon (Hunchback of Notre Dame, The)_01
The Hunchback of Notre Dame 1939
Annex - Chaney Sr., Lon (London After Midnight)_05
London After Midnight  1927
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein
Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein 1948
Annex - Chaney Sr., Lon (West of Zanzibar)_02
West of Zanzibar 1928
una O'Connor
The Invisible Man 1933
Annex - Cushing, Peter (Daleks' Invasion Earth - 2150 A.D.)_02
Daleks’ Invasion Earth -2150 A.D. (1966)
The Man from Planet X
The Man from Planet X (1951)
Annex - Karloff, Boris (Bride of Frankenstein, The)_05 2
The Bride of Frankenstein 1935
Chaney in the unknown
The Unknown 1927
amityville_horror
The Amityville Horror 1979
Annex - Karloff, Boris (Man They Could Not Hang, The)_NRFPT_03
The Man They Could Not Hang 1939
Corridors of Blood
Corridors of Blood 1958
Annex - Krauss, Werner (Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The)_01
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari 1920
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (Ape Man, The)_01
The Ape Man 1943
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (Chandu the Magician)_01
Chandu the Magician 1932
time-of-their-lives
The Time of Their Lives 1946
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (Ghost of Frankenstein, The)_01
The Ghost of Frankenstein 1942
Invisible-Man
The Invisible Man 1933
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (Raven, The)_03
The Raven 1935
Annex - Churchill, Marguerite (Dracula's Daughter)_02
Dracula’s Daughter 1936
bloody-mama
Bloody Mama 1970
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (Son of Frankenstein)_02
Son of Frankenstein 1939
Annex - Lugosi, Bela (White Zombie)_01
White Zombie 1932
Annex - Marshall, Tully (Cat and the Canary, The)_01
The Cat and the Canary 1927
Annex - Naish, J. Carrol (Dr. Renault's Secret)_NRFPT_02
Dr. Renault’s Secret 1942
black sunday
Black Sunday 1960
Kill Baby Kill
Kill Baby Kill 1966
Annex - Price, Vincent (Abominable Dr. Phibes, The)_01
The Abominable Dr. Phibes 1971
Bela-Dracula_04
Dracula 1931
Annex - Price, Vincent (Dragonwyck)_01
Dragonwyck 1946
Annex - Price, Vincent (House of Wax)_01
House of Wax 1953
Annex - Price, Vincent (Raven, The)_01
The Raven 1963
Dracula's+Daughter
Dracula’s Daughter 1936
Annex - Rathbone, Basil (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The)_01
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes 1939
annex-karloffborisbrideoffrankensteinthe_03
the Bride of Frankenstein 1935
Beauty and Beast
Beauty and the Beast 1946
shrinking man
The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957
32093_Invasion-of-the-body-Snatchers-1
Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1956
tarantula
Tarantula 1955
village-of-the-damned-original
Village of the Damned 1960
catandcarary2
Cat and the Canary 1927

Bates Motel sign

silent-night-bloody-night
Silent Night, Bloody Night 1972
Freaks wedding-feast
Freaks 1932
west-of-zanzibar
West of Zanzibar
Chaney He Who Gets Slapped
He Who Gets Slapped 1924
Family Plot Karen Black RIP
Family Plot 1976  (rip Karen Black)
Curse-of-the-Demon-5
Curse of the Demon 1957
Devil_Girl_From_Mars03
Devil Girl From Mars 1954
Doctor Cyclops still
Dr Cyclops 1940
evelyn-venable-doubleWeb
Double Door 1934
rosemarys-baby-1968-
Rosemary’s Baby 1968
barbara-steele-and-vincent-price-pit-and-pendulum
Pit and the Pendulum 1961
experiment-in-terror
Experiment in Terror 1962
eyeswoaface
Eyes Without a Face 1960
demon fireball its in the trees
Curse of the Demon 1957
a behemoth PDVD_000
The Giant Behemoth 1959
frankenstein bride Mae Clarke
The Bride of Frankenstein 1935
ghost-of-frankenstein
The Ghost of Frankenstein 1942
haunted_palace_23
The Haunted Palace 1963
night of the demon true believers
Curse of the Demon 1957
he_who_gets_slapped
He Who Gets Slapped 1924
Hitchcock's Blackmail
Blackmail 1929
House on Haunted HIll -Nora-Mrs.Slydes
House on Haunted Hill 1959
house
House of Frankenstein 1944
images
The Haunting 1963
Night of the Living Dead
Night of the Living Dead 1968
Island of Lost Souls
Island of Lost Souls 1932
Metrópolis
Metrópolis 1927
it-came-from-beneath-the-sea
It Came From Beneath the Sea 1955
The-Crawling-Eye
The Crawling Eye 1958
itcamealien2
It Came from Outer Space 1953
it-came-from-outer-space-07
It Came from Outer Space 1953
Lifeboat
Lifeboat 1944
lionelatwill8
Man Made Monster 1941
Lon Chaney in The Monster
The Monster 1925
Murnau's Faust 3
Faust 1926
night-demon-macginnis
Curse of the Demon 1957
NightMonster1
Night Monster 1942
Poster - Day the Earth Stood Still, The_30
The Day the Earth Stood Still 1951
r2 d2  4The Thing-0
The Thing from Another World 1951
The Devil Commands
The Devil Commands 1941
stepford wives
The Stepford Wives 1975
screaming-skull2
The Screaming Skull 1958
Smoking Frankenstein friends are good
the Bride of Frankenstein 1935
Swimming with Julie
The Creature from the Black Lagoon 1954
The Black Cat Karloff and dead wife
The Black Cat 1934
The Black Cat Ulmer Karloff & Lugosi
The Black Cat 1934
fly
The Fly 1958
The Ghost Ship Lewton
The Ghost Ship 1943
The Invisible Ray
The Invisible Ray 1936
the leopard man
The Leopard Man 1943
freaks
Freaks 1932
The Man They Could Not Hang Karloff in Lab
The Man They Could Not Hang 1939
The Man They Could Not Hang
The Man They Could Not Hang 1939
The Mummy Karloff
The Mummy 1932
psycho
Psycho 1960
The Thing From Another World
The Thing from Another World 1951
The-Mummys-Ghost
The Mummy’s’ Ghost 1944
the undying monster
The Undying Monster 1942
jane_eyre-
Jane Eyre 1943
The Woman Who Came Back
The Woman Who Came Back 1945
the-amazing-colossal-man-pic-4
the Amazing Colossal Man 1957
the-incredible-shrinking-man
The Incredible Shrinking Man 1957
the-seventh-seal-
The Seventh Seal 1957
The+Haunting
The Haunting 1963
The Devil Commands
The Devil Commands
thing-from-another-world-pic-3
The Thing From Another World 1951
UndyingMonster+%2836%29
The Undying Monster 1942
Unholy 3 Lon Chaney
The Unholy 3 (1925)
Vampyr
Vampyr 1932
I walk with a zombie
I Walked with a Zombie 1943
the exorcist
The Exorcist 1973
carnival-of-souls-
Carnival of Souls 1962
White Zombie
White Zombie 1932
Zita JohannIsland-of-Lost-Souls-3
Island of Lost Souls 1932
Zounds-Herman Munster
Munster, Go Home! 1966

Special appreciation for several of the fabulous images courtesy of Dr. Macros High Quality photos!

HAVE A VERY SAFE & HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM YOUR EVERLOVIN’ MONSTERGIRL!!!!!!

The Fantastically Huge World of Mr. B.I.G: Bert I. Gordon – An Intermission with special guest blogger GoreGirl!

Bert I. Gordon is just TOO BIG to do in one short post. Hell, I never really do anything in a small way as by now you’ve come to know my style. The fabulous, hysterical, well-informed and outrageously amusing GoreGirl of Goregirl’s Dungeon one of THE BEST blog sites around, has given me the great honor of gracing The Last Drive-In with her enjoyable take of Mr. B.I.G. I thought it would be a perfect segue or Intermission between Part I and Part II of this special feature on the man who brought us giant sized menaces and campy diversions. So without any further ramblings from yours truly, I hand the stage over to the fantastical GoreGirl with her:

GoreGirl's Dungeon header

THE ABC’s Of  B.I.G.

Back in July 2009 I did a feature called The Coop of Cthulhu: Five Horror Films that Feature Chickens where I cited Bert I. Gordon’s Food of the Gods. When you are the new kid on the block in the world of blogging it takes some time to get yourself noticed; you are just a drop in an ocean as big as the world. It took a while before I received a comment of any kind, but the most exciting thing that happened to me that first year was receiving a comment from Mr. Gordon on the aforementioned post. When Jo asked me if I would like to contribute something for a feature she was doing on Bert I. Gordon I jumped at the chance. I was long overdue to cover some of the director’s work. In preparation for the feature I read his autobiography The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G. His nickname Mr. B.I.G. not only represents his name; Bert Ira Gordon but his love for giant creatures. Your lesson today is to learn your B.I.G. ABCs…

A is for Attack of the Puppet People. Attack of the Puppet People was made in 1958. Starring John Agar, John Hoyt and June Kenney; it is the story of a lonely doll-maker who creates a machine that shrinks people. His tiny prisoners inevitably attempt to escape their strange situation. Attack of the Puppet People has been a favourite since childhood. Born well after the film was released I enjoyed the 50s monster movies on Sunday afternoon television and than on video in the early 80s. There were countless films from the 50s with giant creatures in all shapes and sizes but very few had a premise with tiny creatures/people. The idea of which filled my childhood imagination with wonder. I would often daydream about shrinking my tattle-telling little sister.

John Hoyt Attack of The Puppet People

Attack of The Puppet People by the phone

B is for Beginning of the End. Beginning of the End was made in 1957. Starring Peter Graves and Peggy Castle; it is the story of a journalist who has discovered a species of giant grasshoppers created at an experimental state-run farm. She attempts to make her discovery public despite a government/military cover-up. Mr. Gordon discovered the difficulties of working with live grasshoppers; you can’t really teach a grasshopper to “act” and you cannot prevent them from eating each other either!

Beginning of the End

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Beginning of the End lobby card

C is for The Cyclops. The Cyclops was made in 1957. Starring James Craig, Gloria Talbott, Lon Chaney Jr., Tom Drake and Duncan Parker; it is the story of Susan Winters who has financed a trip to Mexico to search for her fiancÈ Bruce whose plane went down three years previous. She arranges a small four seat plane and hires pilot Lee Brand. Accompanying Susan is Bruceís closest friend Russ Bradford and Martin Melville who hopes to find uranium. The quartet finds more than they bargain for when they discover the area is inhabited by giant animals. And that is not the only surprise that awaits the group. Although most of The Cyclops was made in and around Los Angeles, Gordon decided he would film several reels of footage in Tijuana to add in to the final product. Unfortunately while there he was arrested and his camera and film confiscated. Gordon avoided jail time by paying the arresting officer off but his film was exposed before it was returned to him, rendering it unusable.

The Cyclops lobby card

The Cyclops

The Cyclops

D is for Kirk Douglas. Bert I. Gordon was hired by a Japanese Ad Agency to do a series of commercials with Kirk Douglas. The commercials, intended strictly for a Japanese audience were for a coffee product and were filmed in Kirk Douglas’ Beverly Hills home.

Kirk Douglas drinking coffee

kirk-douglas-spartacus

E is for Earth Vs. the Spider. Earth Vs. the Spider was made in 1958. Starring Ed Kemmer, June Kenney and Eugene Persson; it is the story of a giant spider found in a cave that is killed and brought to the gymnasium of the local high school to await a team of researchers. The creature as it turns out is not deceased and is revived by rock music! The giant spider wreaks havoc on the small town. Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico was the perfect location shoot for Gordon’s Earth Vs. the Spider but there was one problem; he was not permitted to light the Caverns in any way. Apparently light fosters the growth of organisms that would destroy the cavern’s surfaces. Unable to film on location, he shot photographs to use as background plates.

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Earth vs The Spider lobby card

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F is for Food of the Gods. The Food of the Gods was made in 1976. Starring Marjoe Gortner, Pamela Franklin, Ida Lupino, Belinda Balaski and Ralph Meeker; it is loosely based on H.G. Wellsís book of the same name. A meteorite crashes near a small farm that causes a liquid to ooze from the ground. Some rats drink the liquid which causes them to grow to huge proportions. A group of various visitors including a man and his pregnant wife are forced to fight for their lives against the giant rats and a host of other giant creatures. The Food of the Gods was filmed on Bowen Island in British Columbia! Not only made in the motherland but in the province I live in. A former boyfriend’s family had a cottage on beautiful Bowen Island which I visited several times. Gordon built several miniature sets and hired several “rat-trainers” for the shoot. Windstorms and snowstorms made shooting difficult but the always inventive Gordon simply wrote a snowstorm into the story.

Food of the Gods Ida Lupino lobby card

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G is for Grand Prix. The Food of the Gods was awarded the Grand Prix du Festival International Du Paris Fantastique 1977 (Fantasporto).

Food of the Gods rats and volkswagons

H is for How to Succeed with (the Opposite) Sex. How to succeed with Sex was made in 1970. Starring Zack Taylor, Mary Jane Carpenter and Bambi Allen; it is the story of Jack desperate to get his lovely fiancÈe in bed before their wedding day and her refusal inspires him to purchase a book on seducing women. I have not seen Gordon’s foray into sexploitation so I really can not comment except to say; it appears from what I’ve read that there are no giant creatures in this film.

How to Succeed with Sex

How to Succeed with Sex lobby card

I is for The International Film Festival of Catalonia. Mr. Gordon’s career was honored in 1998 at The International Film Festival of Catalonia in Stiges Spain where thirteen of his titles were shown.

J is for Leroy Johnson. Stuntman and actor Leroy Johnson appeared in Gordon’s 1962 film The Magic Sword as Sir Ulrich of Germany. Needless to say the man performed his own stunts in pretty much every role in which he was cast.

Leroy Johnson stuntman

K is for King Dinosaur. King Dinosaur was made in 1955. Although Serpent Island is listed as his first feature film in his autobiography; IMDB lists King Dinosaur as his first. A new planet called Nova is discovered in the solar system and two couples are sent to explore it. The planet is inhabited by creatures great and small including the titular creature. Made on a micro-budget King Dinosaurís simple effects were particularly troublesome. The iguanas were uncooperative cast members who refused to move. Gordon went to the local library to read up on Iguanas and found out that they go into a hibernation state in temperatures lower than 120 degrees. A few bathroom heaters fixed the problem and got the little actors moving.

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King Dinosaur

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L is for Ida Lupino. The lovely and talented Ida Lupino was featured in Gordon’s Food of the Gods as Mrs. Skinner; one of the last films she did before retiring from acting. Mrs. Skinner is the owner of the farm where a meteor landed that caused the animals of the area to grow to massive proportions. Poor Mrs. Skinner’s husband is eaten by giant rats!

Ida Lupino

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M is for Magic Sword. Magic Sword was made in 1962. Starring Basil Rathbone, Estelle Winwood and Gary Lockwood; it is the story of George the son of a sorcerer who tricks his mother in order to conjure up a suit of armor, a horse and a magic sword. George sets out to save the princess who has been kidnapped by the evil Lodac. The princess is being guarded by a two-headed fire-breathing dragon! Gordon stepped aside on the effects in The Magic Sword and let Fox’s art department create the film’s two headed fire-breathing dragon. Gordon preferred that real fire was used instead of being added in the optical lab. While the creature was not as large as it appeared in the film, it was still one of the largest creatures to appear in one of Gordon’s films and required two men to operate its movements.

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the delightfully wonderful Estelle Winwood in The Magic Sword

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The Magic Sword lobby card

Bert on the set of The Magic Sword

N is for Necromancy. Necromancy (aka The Witching) was made in 1972. Starring Orson Welles, Pamela Franklin, Lee Purcell and Michael Ontkean; it is the story of a witches’ coven in the town of Lilith headed by Warlock Mr. Cato. The local radio station in the town where Gordon filmed coincidently had the call letters CATO; perhaps a little black magic at play here? Okay probably not.

necromancy

Pamela Frankin necromancy

Necromancy nightime grave

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O is for Michael Ontkean. Michael Ontkean best known and beloved by me for his role as Sheriff Harry S. Truman in Twin Peaks appeared in Gordon’s 1972 film Necromancy as Frank Brandon.

Michael Ontkean

P is for Picture Mommy Dead. Picture Mommy Dead was made in 1966. Starring Don Ameche, Martha Hyer, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Susan Gordon (her fourth appearance in a Gordon film); is the story of Susan who has recently come home after spending time in an asylum where she was recovering from the shock of her mother’s fiery death. Now living with her father and his new wife whose greedy intentions are less than noble. Picture Mommy Dead is the best film in Gordon’s resume and a real unappreciated gem with great performances. Hedy Lamarr was initially cast as Susan’s mother Jessica but was arrested the week before filming for shoplifting. Zsa Zsa Gabor was cast instead.

Picture Mommy lobby card Don Ameche Zsa zsa

Susan Gordon

Martha and Susan

Picture Mommy Dead portrait Zsa Zsa

Q is for Faith Quabius. Faith Quabius appears in Gordon’s 1973 film The Mad Bomber as Martha; a personal favourite Gordon film of mine. Although Ms. Quabius has an itsy bitsy resume her last name starts with “Q”.

Faith Quabius in The Mad Bomber
Faith Quabius in The Mad Bomber
Faith Quabius Soylent Green with Edgar G Robinson
Faith Quabius Soylent Green with Edgar G Robinson

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You littered now pick it up
Chuck Connors as The Mad Bomber “You just littered… now pick it up”

R is for Rathbone. The great Basil Rathbone played the evil wizard Lodac in Gordon’s 1962 film The Magic Sword. Although officially born in South Africa, Rathbone was raised in England. The Magic Sword was released in England under the title St. George and the 7 Curses and would receive a curious rating from the censors in England; a film that was intended to be for general audiences. The film had a problematic and almost non-existent run in the country.

Basil Rathbone

Basil Rathbone in The Magic Sword
the great Basil Rathbone in The Magic Sword

S is for Satan’s Princess. Satan’s Princess was made in 1990. Starring Robert Forster, Lydie Denier and Caren Kaye; is the story of an ex-cop hired for a missing persons case whose clues all lead back to the sensual Nicole and a satanic cult. Satan’s Princess is Bert I. Gordon’s last film to date. Generally speaking Gordon uses closed sets and limited crew for sex/nude scenes but on the request of his lead actress Lydie Denier her husband was permitted to watch her perform a scene where she takes part in a Lesbian orgy.

Satan's Princess

T is for Tormented. Tormented was made in 1960. Starring Richard Carlson, Susan Gordon, Lugene Sanders and Joe Turkel; it is the story of a man tormented by his dead lover, whom he could have saved but chose not to so he could marry another. Gordon is always working with a tight budget and schedule and often has to get creative to capture the shot he needs. In the case of Tormented a lighthouse was an important part of the plot, but it was not in the budget to travel with his cast and crew. Gordon simply shot footage of his ideal lighthouse in Salem, Massachusetts and melded it with his California footage. The magic of movies!

Tormented Richard Carlson

Tormented lobby card

Tormented Juli

U is for University of Illinois. Bert I. Gordon was the special guest at the University of Illinois’ 20th Annual Insect Fear Film Festival February 15, 2003.

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V is for Village of the Giants. Village of the Giants was made in 1965. Starring Tommy Kirk, Johnny Crawford, Ron Howard, Joe Turkel, Beau Bridges and Joy Harmon; is the story of a group of teenagers who steal the concoction of a brainiac kid that makes things grow to huge proportions. The teenagers ingest the goo and terrorize their community! This movie is a ton of fun and was Gordon’s first picture with AVCO Embassy. Look out for the adorable Toni Basil who was in charge of the film’s dance numbers!

Village of the Giants

Village of The Giants lobby card

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W is for War of the Colossal Beast. War of the Colossal Beast was made in 1958. Starring Sally Fraser, Roger Pace, and Duncan Parkin; it is the sequel to Gordon’s The Amazing Colossal Man (1957). After the events of the first film a series of food truck robberies tip authorities off to the possibility that the Colossal Man is still living. After discovering him in a remote Mexican mountain range they drug and transport him back to America where he escapes and wreaks havoc. Although the horrifically mutated Col. Glenn Manning is the primary focus of War of the Colossal Beast; the character speaks just one word in the film “Joyce” his sister’s name.

War of the Colossal Beast Lobby Card

War of the Colossal beast

X is for Xenonarc Lamp. This has absolutely nothing to do specifically with Bert I. Gordon, but I couldn’t find anything else for X. An Xenonarc Lamp is a high-intensity lighting device used in motion picture projection and eye surgery. Mr. Gordon was a film fan from an early age. At six his mother would drop him off at the local theatre and pick him up in time for dinner. He became friendly with the people who ran the theatre and was even allowed to sit in the projection booth and watch them change the reels. Sometimes if the reels broke during a film they would even let young Burt fix them; he learned to do this simply by observing. Gordon is a director through and through and cites the type of cameras he used often throughout his biography so this seemed like an appropriate “X” word.

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A XenonArc Lamp… very cool… go figure

Y is for Yacht; which Mr. Gordon planned to buy after he moved to Hollywood to become a filmmaker.

The SS Minnow Yacht of Gilligan's Island fame
The SS Minnow Yacht of Gilligan’s Island fame

Z is for Zsa Zsa Gabor. Okay, officially this should be under “G” but come on we all know Zsa Zsa by her first name don’t we?! Zsa Zsa plays Jessica Flagmore Shelley in Picture Mommy Dead; the deceased mother of Susan Shelley whose horribly death by fire caused little Susan to spend time in a mental institution. Zsa Zsa celebrated her birthday on the set of Picture Mommy Dead.

Zsa in pink

Zsa Zsa Gabor

*information for this post was taken from Bert I. Gordon’s IMDB page and his autobiography The Amazing Colossal Worlds of Mr. B.I.G. You can buy his book at his official website http://www.bertigordon.com

http://www.bertigordon.com/
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0330026/?ref_=tt_ov_dr

________________________________________________________________________

That’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed this amazingly fantastical tour of the alphabet as seen through the eyes of the GREAT GoreGirl...

Grab yourselves some Mild Duds and sit tight, I’ll be back with Part II of The Fantastically Huge World of Mr. B.I.G. Bert I Gordon

Love ya all in the hugest way… MonsterGirl

The Fantastically Huge World of Mr. B.I.G: ♛ Bert I.Gordon: Part I- ‘Glorious Gigantism, Tiny Living Dolls, Spurned Ghostly Trollops, Grand Guignol with Zsa Zsa Gabor and Orson Welles as a Devil Worshiping Raiser of the Dead!’

Mr. B.I.G. Himself- BERT I. GORDON: The B-Movie Giant!

Bert I Gordon

Bert Ira Gordon is an American Film Director most known for his science fiction and horror B-movies, such as The Amazing Colossal Man, Beginning of the End, Attack of The Puppet People, Food of the Gods and Village of the Giants, and awarded the prestigious Grand Prix du Festival International Du Paris Fantastique in 1977.

Bert I Gordon in 2006
Bert I Gordon at the Monster Bash in Pittsburgh 2006 holding a mask from his film The Cyclops (1957)

Much of Bert I.Gordon’s earliest work did in fact deal with the theme of gigantism and giant beasties for which he used the method of split screen and rear-projection to create his special effects. He’s been nicknamed Mister B.I.G. which also stands for his initials, though it’s a cheeky reference to his love of all things over sized.

He began making home movies in 16mm which was a thirteenth birthday present from his aunt. He started out making commercials and editing for British television and then…

vintage-cinema--king-dinosaur!-wallpapers_25808_1440x900

It was in 1955 that he made his first feature KING DINOSAUR , but it wasn’t until 1957 that he began his association with b movie moguls Samuel Z Arkoff and James H. Nicholson for American International Pictures. You can see a great documentary about the A.I.P. story, check out… It Conquered Hollywood! The Story of American International Pictures (TV 2001)

Samuel Z. Arkoff
Samuel Z Arkoff American International Pictures

In 1960 he wrote, produced and directed The Boy and the Pirates  featuring then child star Charles Herbert and Gordon’s own daughter Susan Gordon who was eight when she starred in his Attack of the Puppet People. Susan then went on to act in two other of her father’s films,  Tormented (1960) and Picture Mommy Dead (1966). She appeared in The Twilight Zone episodeThe Fugitive’ as Jenny the little girl with the leg brace who befriends a shape-shifting alien ruler Old Ben (J. Pat O’Malley) who lams it because he doesn’t want to be king anymore.

J.Pat O'Malley and Susan Gordon on The Twilight Zone's 'the fugitive'
J.Pat O’Malley and Susan Gordon in
The Twilight Zone (Episode #90): “The Fugitive” (airdate 3/9/62)
featuring a cameo of she creature Beulah by Paul Blaisdell as one of Old Ben’s incarnations.
The Boy and The Pirates featuring Timothy Carey
The Boy and The Pirates (1960) featuring great character actor Timothy Carey, Charles Herbert and Bert’s daughter Susan Gordon.

All three Bert, Charles and daughter Susan had appeared at the 2006 Monster Bash in Pittsburgh, although sadly Susan passed away in 2011 from Thyroid cancer, Bert continues to appear at the Monster Bash each June, hosting and moderating a special screening of The Amazing Colossal Man on April 27, 2012. How I wish I could have been there for that!

Glenn Manning is the Amazing Colossal Man Bert I Gordon-lobby card

H.G. Wells
the brilliant mind of H.G.Wells, visionary writer of classic fantasy and science fiction

In 1976 he made the adaptation of H.G. Well’s The Food of the Gods with Ida Lupino, Ralph Meeker  and Pamela Franklin, then again in 1977 he released Empire of the Ants based again on another  H.G Wells novel featuring the sassy Joan Collins prior to her success on Dynasty.

Ida Lupino Food of The Gods
Ida Lupino is being terrorized by a horde of giant rats in Bert I. Gordon’s adaptation of H.G.Wells Food of The Gods 1976
Food of the Gods
Marjoe Gortner isn’t having much fun fighting off giant rats either in Food of The Gods