A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween A-Z

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Kronos 1957

“We have half of the equation; we can turn matter into energy. But up there, they have the second half; they can turn energy into matter.”

Kronos is a film I’ll be talking about with more gusto for my series Keep Watching the Skies: The Year is 1957. Stay tuned! 🚀

Kronos is a 1957 is an above average, intelligent American science fiction film directed by Kurt Neumann with a script by Irving Block and Lawrence L. Goldman. In a decade strewn with unrelenting hogwash, Kronos’s heroical special effects should stand for something. The movie centers on a giant extraterrestrial energy accumulator, essentially it’s a machine that consumes power – called Kronos that arrives on Earth with a mission to drain the planet of its energy resources. I remember this movie really making an impression on me as a kid, with Kronos stomping its way through the desert, its electrical currents snapping and crackling between its antennae as it pounded the earth.

A colossal flying saucer mistaken for an asteroid crashes fo the coast of Western Mexico. Scientist Leslie Gaskell has been tracking an asteroid, with missiles sent to intercept it, its path is only altered slightly off course, nearly hitting New York. It finally plunges into the ocean off Mexico. Les, his fiancee and associate Vera (Barbara Lawrence), and fellow scientist Arnie (George O’Hanlon) travel to Mexico waiting to see what develops, certain that this asteroid has been thoughtfully guided by an intelligence.

Soon, a domed-like crown rises to the ocean’s surface, and it emerges from the bubbling Pacific as a monolith metallic cube with multiple tiers. Its purpose is to voraciously siphon off the Earth’s energy, and bring it back to its own distant planet. As it greedily absorbs energy the cube undergoes a mesmerizing transformation as this extraterrestrial machine over a hundred feet tall continues to grow larger in scale. It also has the power to influence unwitting people to serve it.

Scientists and military personnel are perplexed by its presence and its relentless energy-absorbing capabilities. Dr. Leslie Gaskell (played by Jeff Morrow) takes charge of the investigation, and he and his team work tirelessly to find a way to stop the alien machine before it depletes Earth’s energy and devastates the planet.

As the story unfolds, Dr. Gaskell and his colleagues develop a daring plan to confront Kronos and prevent the impending catastrophe. The film blends elements of classic 1950s science fiction with Cold War-era anxieties about the potential threat of unknown forces from outer space.

Kronos is notable for its portrayal of an enigmatic and seemingly invincible alien entity and the efforts of humanity to overcome this existential threat. It is a classic example of the science fiction films of its era and is remembered for its imaginative premise and special effects. It also stars Barbara Lawrence as Vera Hunter, and John Emery as Dr. Hubbell Eliot who is taken over by Kronos – apparent by his menacing stare and the crackling ball of electricity that enters his body at the time he needs to pull the strings and make the Dr. do his bidding. Then there is good ‘ole Morris Ankrum as Dr. Albert Stern, and George O’Hanlon as Dr. Arnold Culver.

The Killer Shrews 1959

The Killer Shrews is a 1959 low-budget science fiction horror film directed by Ray Kellogg. The story is set on a remote island, where a group of people becomes trapped by a hurricane. The island is infested with giant (small dog-sized giant), mutated shrews that are both aggressive and venomous due to a failed scientific experiment.

Captain Thorne Sherman (played by James Best) a scientist named Dr. Marlowe Craigis (played by Baruch Lumet) Dr. Radford Baines (Gordon McLendon) and Craigis’s daughter Ann (Ingrid Goude) must band together to survive the nightmarish ordeal. As the group struggles to defend themselves against the ravenous shrews, tensions rise, and they must find a way to escape the island before they fall victim to the deadly creatures who are running out of food.

“The Killer Shrews” is known for its low-budget production values, including the use of dogs dressed in shaggy costumes to portray the oversized shrews. Despite its limited resources, the film has achieved cult status for its campy charm. Close-ups of the giant shrews were filmed using hand puppets. The wider shots used dogs made up as the shrews.

Actor / co-producer Ken Curtis once commented that he had to force himself not to laugh during filming when the shrews attacked because they were basically just “dogs 
covered in shag carpet.”
The man playing Dr. Baines is Gordon McLendon He was the uncredited executive producer and financier of this and its companion feature The Giant Gila Monster 1959. He owned radio stations and a chain of theaters in Texas.

Kiss of the Vampire 1963

Kiss of the Vampire, a 1963 British horror masterpiece by Hammer that unfolds under the masterful direction of Don Sharp, with Anthony Hinds at the quill. While not part of the legendary Dracula series, this cinematic gem bears the indelible mark of Hammer’s signature Gothic horror.

The narrative elegantly trails a newlywed couple, the dashing Gerald Harcourt (Edward de Souza), and his enchanting bride, Marianne Harcourt (portrayed by the captivating Jennifer Daniel), as they embark on a European trip. Their idyllic journey takes an unexpected detour when their car breaks down near a remote Bavarian village, leaving them stranded.

Fortune intervenes as they are graciously invited to take refuge within a nearby chateau, an architectural marvel shrouded in both splendor and sinister secrets. The chateau’s enigmatic resident, Dr. Ravna (Noel Willman), reigns as the formidable leader of a clandestine cult of vampires. With beguiling allure, he ensnares the couple in his nefarious designs, with Marianne poised to join his unholy family.

As Gerald’s realization of their dire predicament dawns, he endeavors to rescue his beloved wife from the clutches of these ravenous vampires. In his quest for salvation, he seeks the wisdom of a local vampire scholar, Professor Zimmer ( Clifford Evans), forging a desperate alliance to rescue Marianne from Ravna.

Kingdom of the Spiders 1977

Kingdom of the Spiders is a 1977 American horror film directed by John “Bud” Cardos. The movie is set in a small rural town in Arizona and centers around the terrifying invasion of the town by an enormous army of aggressive and deadly tarantulas.

The story follows veterinarian Dr. Robert ‘Rack’ Hansen (played by the intrepid William Shatner) and entomologist Diane Ashley (played by Tiffany Bolling) as they investigate a series of unusual livestock deaths in the area. Hansen lives in Verde Valley an Arizona desert town, who is baffled by the death of Walter Colby’s (Woody Strode) prize calf. After he sends samples of blood to Arizona State University, entomologist Diane Ashley arrives with information about the calf’s death. It had been poisoned by a massive dose of tarantula venom.

As they dig deeper, they discover that there is a mammoth hill on Colby’s farm which is housing thousands of deadly spiders and his property is the epicenter of a colossal tarantula population explosion. As the creeping terror escalates, the townsfolk are thrust into a nightmarish world. Ashley is puzzled by the behavior as tarantulas usually don’t attack as a militarized group and are not usually aggressive to creatures that aren’t their usual prey. But these spiders are driven by a monstrous bloodlust.

They find themselves under siege as thousands of venomous tarantulas begin to overrun the town, attacking livestock, pets, and even humans. With the situation escalating into a life-and-death struggle, Dr. Hansen and Diane work together to find a way to combat the arachnid invasion and save the town from being consumed by the “kingdom of the spiders.”

Kingdom of the Spiders is a classic creature feature that capitalizes on our primal fear of arachnids and the idea of nature striking back against human encroachment. It’s known for its suspenseful and creepy atmosphere, as well as its memorable scenes of tarantulas swarming en masse. William Shatner’s portrayal of the determined hero adds to the film’s B-movie appeal among fans of a slightly above-schlocky 1970s horror cinema.

The Kindred 1987

Directed by Stephen Carpenter, Jeffrey Obrow, and Joseph Stefano (Psycho 1960 and The Outer Limits)The Kindred is a 1987 science fiction horror film that revolves around a series of dark and disturbing genetic experiments.

Genetic scientist Amanda Hollins (Kim Hunter) awakens after three years in a coma. Her son John Hollins (David Allen Brooks) is summoned to her bedside at the hospital where she urges him to destroy all her journals and anything that remains of her research and the mysterious endeavor that involved a long-lost brother of John’s she named Anthony.
John and company arrive at the abandoned country house with his girlfriend Sharon (Talia Balsam) and a few colleagues including the mysterious Melissa Leftridge (Amanda Pays). There at Shelter Cove, they discover his mother’s secret genetically engineered creation, a hybridization that still exists. Working against Dr. Hollins is the profoundly unhinged Dr. Phillip Lloyd (Rod Steiger) a competing geneticist who wants control of Anthony himself. Dr. Lloyd has planted Melissa as a spy and seeks her help to stop the destruction of Hollins’s work.
As they delve deeper into the labyrinthine mysteries of her work, they unwittingly awaken a monstrosity that lurks in the shadows—an abominable creature – a hybrid human a deep sea creature with tentacles that has a taste for human flesh. Anthony has emerged from the very cells taken from John’s tissues. This grotesque, aquatic entity, referred to as “John’s brother” stands as a testament to the macabre nature of his mother’s experiments. A battle takes place between the ethical scientists, the mad scientist, Melissa who in fact also shares some marine life DNA, and Anthony’s little squid-like buddies who can latch onto people. In one squishy gory scene, an angry gooey fetus leaps out of a clogged drain and attaches itself to someone’s face. And then there’s the little horrible beastie that springs out of a ripe watermelon and wraps its tentacles around a shocked grad student while she’s driving.

With a cinematic nod to the 1950s sci-fi genre, the scene with the creature inside the watermelon in the backseat of the car – and she is attacked with its tentacles is a bit of nostalgia.

Creative horror screenwriter Joseph Stefano (Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”) contributed to the screenplay, most notably the sequence involving the creature hiding inside of a watermelon.

Rod Steiger performed his own stunts in a scene that involved him being doused with a 55 gallon drum of methyl cellulose “slime.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space 1988

Killer Klowns from Outer Space 1988 (Photo courtesy: Trans World Entertainment)

Curtis Mooney “They took your wife away in a balloon? Well you don’t need the police, pal, you need a psychiatrist!”

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is a 1988 cult science-fiction horror-comedy film directed by the Chiodo Brothers. The movie is known for its quirky offbeat and often comical premise. Not to mention as a society our collective primal, morbid fear of clowns!

The story begins when a small town is invaded by extraterrestrial beings who resemble creepy, colorful circus clowns from outer space. Even the spaceship has the appearance of a circus tent. These alien clowns, however, are not here to spread laughter and joy but instead to harvest humans as a source of sustenance. They capture people by trapping them in cotton candy cocoons and use outlandish, clown-themed weaponry to cause havoc. Killer Klowns is seriously outrageous, demented, and hilarious!

Debbie Stone -We were up at “the top of the world” and we saw this shooting star and we decided to go look for it. But instead of finding the shooting star we saw this… this circus tent. And that’s when we went inside, and that is when we saw those people in those… those pink, cotton candy cocoons. Dave, it was not a circus tent. It was something else.

Dave Hanson What? What?

Mike Tobacco It was a space ship. And there was these things, these killer clowns, and they shot popcorn at us! We barely got away!

Curtis Mooney Killer clowns, from outer space. Holy shit!

A group of young people, including Mike Tobacco (played by Grant Cramer) and Debbie Stone (played by Suzanne Snyder), discover the bizarre and deadly threat and take it upon themselves to stop the Killer Klowns. As they face off against these colorful, goofy yet terrifying otherworldly foes, they must find a way to save their town from being completely devoured by the extraterrestrial circus. Busy character actors Royal Dano as Farmer Gene Green and John Vernon make appearances in the film. Both actors appeared in The Outlaw Josey Wales together in 1976.

Killer Klowns from Outer Space is known for its dark humor, imaginative and campy special effects, and the sheer absurdity of its premise. It has become a beloved cult classic, appealing to fans of both horror and comedy for its unique blend of genres.

Tidbits:

The scene in which a car is thrown over a cliff was initially intended to be far more spectacular – the car was to fly over the cliff and crash down to the ground. Unfortunately, the sling rope snapped because effects crew members neglected to remove the stoppers from underneath the car’s wheels. The result was what is seen in the final film, the car slowly tumbles over the edge and becomes caught on a tree.

The iconic Killer Klowns March was originally written by John Massair for his high school rock band, Crisis. The band members did not like it because the notes of the song spelled out an F major 7th chord which they felt sounded too much like Jazz.

Around the same time, MGM began production of two low-budget horror films, one of them being “Killer Clowns from Outer Space” and the other “Clownshouse” by Victor Salva. Both films are very different but with the concept of Killer Clowns. Salva creator of the controversial “Clownhouse” expressed that there was a certain rivalry between both productions to know who copied whom, but in the end the films were very different from each other.

Mooney’s (John Vernon) fate is foreshadowed early in the film when he says “Nobody’s going to make a dummy out of me”. A Klown winds up making him a human ventriloquist dummy.

Originally, Klownzilla was supposed to be made with stop motion animation. But due to production costs and limited time to shoot, they made a suit instead

This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ K…  I’ll be back with the letter L -hoping these trailers will LURE you in!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! What can’t be explained, must be explored: Watcher in the Woods (1980) & Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

WATCHER IN THE WOODS 1980

It was just an innocent game… until a young girl vanished for thirty years

Once upon a time in the 70s, Disney took guardianship of some pretty dark films. The Watcher in the Woods is one such film. Directed by John Hough (Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry 1974, Escape to Witch Mountain 1975, Return from Witch Mountain 1978, The Incubus 1982).

The film works as a teenage adventure/fantasy meets Modern Gothic story based on the novel by Florence Engell Randall with contributions to the screenplay by Brian Clemens.

An American couple Helen and Paul Curtis, played by two distinctly charismatic actors David McCallum and Carroll Baker, and their two daughters Lynn Holly Johnson and Kyle Richards as Jan and Ellie Curtis, travel to an isolated house in rural England. Bette Davis commands the screen with less blaze and more secretive self-control as Mrs. Aylwood, a strange widow who befriends the girls and whose daughter went missing 30 years ago. The two young women investigate the mysterious happenings at the manor house and stumble onto the truth behind Karen Aylwood’s disappearance. I will not spoil the reveal of this film, in fact, the DVD has alternative endings due to extensive cuts as well as additions of scenes added under the un-credited supervision of Vincent McEveety. — I can say that prefer John Kenneth Muir’s interpretation of one considered outcome as Karen leaving and returning as a “kind of Orphean Underworld story.” For those of you who might not like just one explanation, I’ll leave it as an enticement to watch Watcher through to the end/ends!

While some critics found Watcher in the Woods abysmal there are enough fans who remain devoted to the film as a cult classic. Setting some whiny moments, and a few meandering plot potholes, Watcher in the Woods maintains a certain atmospheric bubble that surrounds the story, and adds nice touches of Gothic motifs, like the abandoned church, as John Kenneth Muir says in Horror Films of the 1980s the crumbling church “representing decay.” 

I see it also as how the old waits quietly for youth to return.

SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES 1983

After he fulfills your deepest, lifelong dream…he’ll tell you the price you have to pay… Never whisper your dreams, for someone might be listening…

Both the novel and screenplay for Something Wicked This Way Comes were penned by the prolific fantasist/dreamer Ray Bradbury.

Directed by one of the most interesting directors Jack Clayton, a man who summons uncomfortable images and mind frames around dysfunction in the so-called conventional family structure, and even more diffuse in his work he personifies the children, those innocent little souls with a will that can not only be menacing but truly threatening and evil. Clayton has painted landscapes of chilling psychological horror and Something Wicked This Way Comes embraces his haunting perceptions in perfect sync with Bradbury’s malevolent story equal parts fantasy equal parts horror. Bradbury retained the nightmarish poeticism that his novel possessed in the screenplay and then adapted it to the screen.

Bradbury’s fantastic tale began as a short story entitles “Black Ferris” which was originally published in Weird Tales Magazine in 1948. Then he adapted it to his screenplay for use by Gene Kelly who unfortunately was not able to get the funding for the project. The success found Bradbury’s story when he released it as a novel in 1962 which found its way yet back once again into a screenplay in the 1970s when an interesting collection of directors were approached– from Sam Peckinpah, Mark Rydell, and even Steven Spielberg. By the time 1982 came around it was Jack Clayton (The Queen of Spades 1949, The Story of Esther Costello 1957, Room at the Top 1959, The Innocents 1961, The Pumpkin Eater 1964, Our Mother’s House 1967), who was tapped to direct the film, perhaps Spielberg might have added a great commercial veneer to the picture, but the dark dreams that Jack Clayton is capable of envisioning, I think, is the right kind of poison (And I mean that in a good way). The atmosphere of the sleepy little Green Town, Illinois, circa 1920 needed to wash off that mainstream Rockwell Painting style veneer and lay bare the secretive and dreadful things that suppurate in a small old-fashioned and quite often repressed Americana town.

For into this quaint and picturesque Midwestern town comes a dark & arcane carnival led by the mysterious Mr. Dark played exquisitely by Jonathan Pryce. And unlike the lyrical circus of The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao starring the wonderful Tony Randall, this carnival is pure evil.

The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao starring Tony Randall.

As enigmatic as Pryce is in this role, equally mesmerizing is Pam Grier who inhabits the sensuous yet deadly Dust Witch! The otherworldly train that is veiled in fog and spirit lights brings “the Autumn People”  who march through the town slowly like a funeral dirge preparing their secret ceremonies that will summon the darkness to coax and bedevil the unsuspecting yet desperate people of Green Town who are hungry for magic to change their lives.

The carnival seems to tap into the desires of many of the townspeople providing them with wish-fulfillment, to make their every dream come true. Many of the town folk like Mr. Crosetti played by Richard Davalos out of their loneliness seek companionship or Ed the Bartender played by James Stacy who lost a leg and an arm in the war would love to be that football hero again.

What ultimately happens after these unsuspecting but naive town folk should have realized that they have sold their souls and are damned for an eternity to suffer the irony of their wishes. And in the end, it is a lesson in what we desire weighed against what we regret.

As one of the vehicles for Mr. Dark’s malevolent magical conduits, he employs a menacing merry-go-round which can make the rider can grow either younger or older depending on which direction it turns.

Will Halloway and Jim Nightshade are boyhood buddies–Will sees his father struggle with feeling like an old man, while Jim waits hopelessly in vain for his father to return.

Jim buys a lighting rod from Tom Fury (Royal Dano) who warns of the storm that is coming. That night the boys sneak out into the woods and watch as the train pulls in with no one aboard. They do however learn that it is bringing Mr. Dark’s Pandemonium Carnival to their boring little town.

At the centerpiece of the story comes Jason Robards an aging father and local librarian Charles Halloway who feels he’s failed his son Vidal Peterson as Will Halloway. In the end, it is up to the two to fight off Mr. Dark who would like nothing better than take most of the town along board the malefic train to the next destination, collecting souls along the way.

With music by James Horner, and co-starring Royal Dano who sells much-needed lightning rods, Diane Ladd plays Jim Nightshades’ mother, Mary Grace Canfield plays Miss Foley who has lost her youth and beauty and is narrated by Arthur Hill as an older Will. The special effects of the 80s create a moody, fantastical little carnival nightmare that moves like a beautiful & maudlin ballet.

YOUR EVER LOVIN’ MONSTERGIRL SAYIN’ ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE IF YOU BELIEVE IT SO!