Thursday, June 14, 2018

Junesploitation 2018 Day 14: Monsters!

The ultimate terror has taken form!

61 comments:

  1. Pulgasari (1985, dir. Shin Sang-ok)

    In feudal Korea, the evil king oppresses and starves his people. An imprisoned blacksmith makes a figurine of the legendary iron-eating monster Pulgasari, which comes to life, grows in size and helps the people revolt against their oppressors.

    It's actually a pretty good and engaging movie, and there's a charm to the man-in-a-rubber-suit kaiju monster, but all that is eclipsed by the story behind this movie. Kim Jong-il admired the South Korean director Shin Sang-ok, so he had North Korean intelligence kidnap him and his wife and forced them to make movies for North Korea, not only for propaganda purposes but also because Kim was a film buff and wanted to enter them into international festivals and contests. Pulgasari is the last movie Shin directed for North Korea before he and his wife were able to escape their handlers at a film festival in Austria.

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  2. I love it when the repertory theaters in New York City come to my timely aid during Junesploitation! :-)

    Alex Winter and Tom Stern's FREAKED (1993, 80 min.) in 35mm at Brooklyn's Alamo Drafthouse for the first time.

    Hired by evil businessman William Sadler to go to South America's "Santa Flan" to promote toxic Zygrot 24 fertilizer, former child star Alex Winter and pal Michael Stoyanov run into a crazy fan (Alex Zuckerman's appropriately named Stuey Gluck) and a cute pro-environment activist (Megan Ward). Eventually this "curious quartet" (thank you, Skeletor) join previous victims of Randy Quaid's Freek Land, a place where the main roadside attractions are mutant people pumped full of Zygrot 24 for Quaid's (and an audience of undesirables') amusement. The filmmakers (including future "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwick and prosthetic artist Screaming Mad George) were granted above-average resources to bring the monster designs and warped sets to life. Crazy stuff like an uncredited Keanu Reeves playing human dog Ortiz, or Mr. T as the manliest Bearded Lady ever. Did I mention the whole story is a flashback recounted on Brooke Shield's "Oprah"-like talk show, or that Bobcat Goldthwait plays a mutant sockhead monster named, what else, Sockhead?

    The first 10-15 minutes of this "Idiot Box"-inspired comedy ("Boy, I'm glad that wasn't our plane!") give even the all-mighty "Airplane!" a run for its money as the funniest self-aware comedy I've seen. After that it's very hit (the roomy inside of the outhouse) or miss (the "milkmen escape" sequence), but every creature design and carnival-on-drugs background detail of the production design looks phenomenal. Even better than seeing this early 90's time capsule in 35mm was an unannounced Q&A with Alex Winter (via Skype) after the movie ended. BILLSPLOITATION! :-) Had I not seen "Freaked" in a theater packed with alcohol-fueled fans that were enjoying themselves, I would have probably turned off the movie 30 minutes after its gangbusters start. Worth seeing if you don't mind the 'PG-13' rating holding back Winter & Co. from cutting loose with the wacky gore.

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    1. Oh crap I have seen this! As in I have this memory of watching this as maybe a 12 year old at sleep over. It was just images of a movie that I couldn't remember what it was called or even if it was a real thing and not some dream. I am going to hunt it down it down for nostalgia. I have a memory of watching Freaked and Tommy Knockers.

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    2. Glad to have stirred those repressed memories for ya. :-)

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  3. YONGARY, MONSTER FROM THE DEEP (1967, dir. Ki-duk Kim)

    South Korea joined the giant monster phenomenon with this film, which IMDB states is a Japanese co-production. Earthquakes set off by a nuclear test in the Middle East somehow reach South Korea, creating a hole in the Earth's surface that a man in a rubber suit emerges out of to destroy lots of models. No, it is a giant monster that goes about destroying South Korean infrastructure. Somehow a scientist figures out a way to end the carnage.

    Besides the original Godzilla, kaiju movies have never held much interest for me. I was curious to see if Yongary would do anything different than others I have seen. I cannot say that it does. There was some enjoyment derived from watching the destruction of the models, though.

    The version I watched is a fullscreen English dub for TV. I wonder if the widescreen version would be a more enjoyable watch. A search online did not yield anything in the way of a Japanese print, and nothing remains of the original Korean negative. Only a battered 48-minute print is left of the Korean version.

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  4. Tremors (1990 - dir Ron Underwood)

    As long as I have been participating in Junesploitation and Scary Movie Month I have always said I will watch Tremors, I will finally watch Tremors. I finally pressed play, and my word is this a good movie. A really good movie, I loved it. I just does everything right. And the cast is awesome. And Kevin Bacon feels especially Bacon in this.

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    1. One of the greats and a staple of my childhood! When the topic of best PG-13 horror films comes up, I always say Tremors. Glad you enjoyed it!

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    2. So glad you enjoyed it! One of my faves growing up as well. It really just hits that movie monster spot. Kevin Bacon is really prime Bacon, for sure.

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  5. The Monster Club (1981, dir. Roy Ward Baker, First Time Viewing) Pretty fun horror/comedy anthology that has wraparound segments in a dance club full of monsters. As usual Vincent Price steals the show, he is clearly having a blast. Donald Pleasance is also in a segment, so you really can't go wrong. Light recommendation if you're in the mood for something pretty silly and light.

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  6. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953, dir. Eugène Lourié)

    Harryhausensploitation!

    I'm trying to work my way into '50s scifi/horror, and this was was a solid step in the right direction. The plot is pretty typical for the genre. Atomic radiation unearths a giant monster from the sea to wreck destruction on a city! I don't even have to say it, but the Ray Harryhausen monster effects are mind-blowing and amazing. But on top of that, I was more interested in the human interactions and characters than I often am with these movies. Maybe this one is better than average or I'm warming up to the genre. Perhaps both!

    Also, one of the biggest and best surprises of #Junesploitation2018 is this movie has a young Lee Van Cleef in a small supporting role!

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    1. I love 1950s American monster films, and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms is among the best. The script is stronger than the average film, and the merging of the stop-motion effects with the human scenes is extremely effective. I also appreciate the Cold War atmosphere of the film.

      Have you watched many of Ray Harryhausen's films, Daniel?

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    2. No, this was my first! And you're right, the merging between effects and human scenes is seamless.

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    3. I wanted to watch this as well, but I had to work late and didn't get around to it. I didn't realise it was a Harryhausen joint! I may have to try and sneak it in tonight!

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  7. The Blob (1988)

    I haven’t seen the original from 1953, but this is a really great sci-fi monster movie. Interesting that its not a monster from space, but a government experiment gone wrong. The effects are really good. The soundtrack is great as well, and really works great with the movie. Even Kevin Dillion is great as the young rebel punk with his leatherjacket and motorcycle. Shawnee Smith is cool as the strong capable female lead. The movie ends with a really great cliff-hanger. Too bad we never got a sequel. It really deserved one.

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    1. If you really like this movie, rewatch it with the Friends in Your Head commentary track (click 'Search' and enter 'The Blob'). Trey Stokes, one of the guys who did the special effects on the movie, is part of the regular commentary crew. His behind-the-scenes anecdotes of what it was like to work on "The Blob" are both entertaining and educational. Highly recommended. :-)

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    2. Cool Ill try and do that next time.

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  8. Swamp Thing (1982)

    What's lost with the cheesy story and bad costuming is made up for with the final fight and Adrienne Barboobs.

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  9. Monster Dog (1984)

    Alice Cooper and his band return home to find inspiration for their latest music video. Alice's hometown harbors some deep secrets and ideas about his father. The locals seek revenge, while a wild pack of dogs and a werewolf roam the streets.

    A significant lack of a satisfying monster that is rarely in frame. Not enough Cooper tunes, although the opening and closing song (the same) is fun. Cool lightning and atmosphere.

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  10. Shin Godzilla (2016)

    This was the biggest surprise of Junesploitation so far for me, I really loved it. The focus is more on the bureaucrats dealing with Godzilla’s rampage than on the big guy himself, but that doesn’t mean he’s not effective. In fact, this may be the straight-up scariest Godzilla’s ever been, he’s like a rampaging nuclear wildfire. Godzilla evolves throughout the movie and while his first couple of stages are somewhat silly looking (they’re not helped by some cartoony CGI), his final form is truly menacing, with a constant burning red glow just under the surface of his skin and a bifurcated jaw like a Blade II vampire. There are also a couple of other frightening surprises attached to his evolution (including a legitimately haunting final shot) that I won’t spoil here.

    Keeping the focus on the bureaucratic goings-on is an interesting choice (after all, somebody’s got to make the decisions to deploy all those attack helicopters and such), as it grounds the movie in humanity but a different side of humanity than we’re used to seeing in monster movies. It’s also an effective choice in that it makes us as viewers question what we would do when faced with these same kinds of questions (other than run like hell). I already can’t wait to watch this one again.

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    1. i saw it in theaters when it came to north america, in a limited run. i loved every minutes of it. well, maybe i started questioning my choice when Godzilla first gets out of the water, the thing looked way weird. but everything was fine a couple of minutes later. i loved the bureaucracy part, how the director makes fun of it all.

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    2. As a lifelong G-fan who has seen every entry in the series, I believe Shin Godzilla is the greatest Godzilla movie ever made (yes, over the original). It gives me everything I want in a Godzilla film and much more. Especially coming on the heels of the putrid American version… #FordBrody Glad you liked it!

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    3. i like the 2014 version, problems and all.

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  11. The Being (1983, dir. Jackie Kong)

    This movie's charm is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Also, the cast is game to get really goofy(even, surprisingly, Martin Landau). It also doesn't skimp on the gore either.

    #KongisKing

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  12. King Kong (1933)

    Towards the end of my favorite musical, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dr. Frank N. Furter asks, "whatever happened to Fay Wray?" Suggesting maybe her star dimmed a little early. Well her star couldn't burn any brighter here. Yes, she plays second fiddle to a large special effect (I'm off to find out how to filmed much of this), but she was still the star.

    Going into this I was a bit tepid thinking that it very well should be dated in the special effects department. Yes, a good bit of the effects are dated, but you know what I think a lot of the effects in the latest Avengers movie were dated, and this thing is older than my grandparents that are pushing 80. The real sour spot for me was the obvious projector screen scrolling sideways as the men tiptoe past a stegosaurus they just gunned down. However, it's all brought back up when King motherfucking Kong throws down with a T-Rex! That scene alone make this movie worth tracking down and sitting through. It probably would have been smarter to go less is more with the ape effects, but you can just tell the people involved were just so damn proud of what they were able to pull off, and to this day, they should be.

    I'll be checking out the original Godzilla later this evening to round out my viewing of the original sighting of the two most iconic giant monsters in the history of cinema.

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  13. Dog Soldiers (2002)

    English soldiers take on werewolves in the Scottish forrests. It’s a good indie horror that keeps it simple and has a good time not taking itself too seriously. First time watching it again since I saw it when it was released and was worried it wouldn’t hold up, and while it wasn’t necessarily as good as what I had originally thought it was still good fun.

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  14. THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (1951)
    Scientists and military men on an arctic base face off against an alien. I like how perfunctory everyone’s attitudes are. Upon learning there’s an alien, most everybody just nods and gets to work. The joke people make about this movie is how the alien is like a big carrot, and the dialogue really does overdo the “carrot/vegetable lifeform” talk over and over. Beyond that, though, this is fun ‘50s sci-fi.

    TEENAGERS BATTLE THE THING (1958)
    Teens on a school archeology trip discover a creature frozen in ice, only for it to thaw and go after them. There’s not a lot of monster action, with most of the movie just wandering around the wilderness with the whitest of whitebread teens. Allegedly, the movie was made in 1958 but didn’t get a nation-wide theatrical release until 1975. That weird fact is more interesting than the actual movie.

    THE THING (1982)
    A bona fide classic. My secret confession: As a kid, I never made it to the end of the movie because I got too scared. It took years before I finally finished it. Now I love it, of course. Rewatching it today, I continue to be in awe of how well constructed it is, from the acting to the effects to the atmosphere. My only quibble is that these guys are supposed to be research scientists, but never act like it. When the movie is this good, though, quibbles don’t matter.

    THE THING (2011)
    Like most folks, I dismissed this one outright when it was released. Now that I’ve watched it, I can almost see the good movie it could have been. Here’s a female protagonist stuck in the arctic base, surrounded by men, knowing that any one of them could turn into a monster at any time. Unfortunately, the filmmakers are less interested in that power metaphor. They’re only interested in recreating the creature effects from ’82, only in CGI this time, so the creature run and jump and climb walls like it didn’t before. I guess no one told them this might not be a good idea.

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    1. how is The Thing From Another World not on blu-ray yet?

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  15. Digging Up The Marrow (2014)

    I'm a big Adam Green fan and this movie is slowly turning into my favorite of his. It's so fun and Ray Wise is terrific. I love it.

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    1. Great choice for today. So many cool monsters!

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  16. House of Dracula (1945, dir. Erle C. Kenton)

    Despite the fact that I've seen House of Frankenstein many times (I love that movie), I don't think I've ever seen this one before. If I have I don't remember. Anyway, I thought it was real bad, but it some very entertaining ways.

    1. The way the doctor finds the Frankenstein Monster body just lying around his house is hilarious.

    2. The way Dracula is dispatched is one of the laziest things I've ever seen a movie and that made it also hilarious.

    3. Frankenstein's Monster is in this movie so they can put him on the poster.

    4. I still think John Carradine's Dracula is the worst thing about the whole classic Universal Monsters slate.

    5. The movie is way more fun once Dracula is dead.

    6. I came for Lon Chaney's Wolfman but I stayed for Lon Chaney's moustache (#Mosploitation).

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  17. The Monster Squad (1987, dir. Dekker)

    I wish I was still young enough to form a childhood attachment to movies like this. It would be the best movie of all time had I seen it 10 years prior. It probably would have gotten me into the Universal monsters, who I really know nothing about. I love how it gives the power to the kids in so many scenes. Fred Dekker was only 6 years older than me when he made this, and his ability to capture moments from those types of friendships you only can have in childhood is amazing. There are tons of funny lines, though there are also a couple that stick out as particularly bad.

    At 21, I enjoy Night of the Creeps and those characters a bit more, but maybe I'll come back to The Monster Squad 10 years from now and feel more strongly. That'd be nice. But even if I don't, there's plenty out there who have that attachment to it that time makes stronger, and that's enough for me to sleep well.

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  18. Grizzly (1976)

    Throw me a bone here and accept that bears are monsters. I read into this a bit too much and it seems to have a reputation for being a Jaws rip off. I'm not sure that I would've noticed if I hadn't looked around beforehand.

    I can accept that it may not be that good of a movie, but I was completely entertained by it. I was pretty surprised by how brutal the bear attack scenes are. There is some decent gore and over the top violence. Good to check out at least once.

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    1. Grizzly is super entertaining and definitely counts for Monster day. I love Christopher George in it!

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  19. Gorgo (1961)

    Plagiarism is the sincerest form of theft.

    (Just practicing for October;)

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  20. THE FLY (1958):

    first viewing ever. fine movie, typical of the 50s stuff. 'nothing' happen for an hour, then we see a glimpse of the monster, then we see the monster for a bit near the end. also, we have the rich family man, with the wife, kid and big house. the movie is fairly light in tone. for some reason, i thought this was a black and white movie, but it's in very bright color, which help making the mood a bit lighter. which is in stark contrast to the Cronenberg version we know better. i watched the movie from the 5 movie pack released in australia (region free), so i'll watch the other 4 movies eventually, but not tonight (damn work, tiring me out). now that i got the ball rolling, i'm really curious about the other 2 movies from the 50s.

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    1. When I was a kid the ending "help me" scene was the scariest thing in the world.

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    2. it is freaky indeed. though the surprise was a little bit killed because of the simpsons (in one of the halloween specials i think)

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  21. The Oily Maniac (1976)
    Another Shaw Bros production. A crippled lawyer gets revenge on every other character in the movie after performing an ancient ritual in a hole that’s filled with goo. Now he can transform into a pool of oil, or the hideous Scooby-Doo looking creature from the oily lagoon.

    Really hilarious creature effects mixed with some clever splicing tricks. Downsides are that the movie feels really long for being just shy of 90 minutes. Also, there’s an uncomfortable amount of interrupted rapes and random topless scenes.

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  22. The Night Watchmen (2017) Dir: Mitchell Altieri

    Man I was really looking forward to this one. It looked amusing, and the guys on Rank & Vile (which is another podcast that my fellow Fheads should absolutely listen to. I think you would like it very much) kind of liked it. Unfortunately it was borderline unwatchable for me.

    A vampire clown is unleashed in an office building to turn the workers into vampires and only some incompetent night watchmen can save us all. Horror comedy is tricky to pull off and this one fails spectacularly. The humor is obvious and juvenile while the horror is nowhere to be found, aside from some good make-up and gore effects. For example, when the vampires are killed they let loose terrible farts. Yup, that's where we're at here. Not even a cameo from Tiffany Shepis could save it. Please skip it.

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  23. Hereditary (2018)

    I don't think it would be too spoilery to say how much or how little this movie fits the theme but I planned on posting it here either way and I'll just leave it at that.

    I think it's scare-factor has been a little overhyped - at least for me (The Descent and Martyrs still rank at the top of my almost-unbearable-to-watch list) - but it's pretty unsettling throughout with a few great moments and, most importantly, some amazing performances (Toni Colette is out of this world) and it all comes together to make a very high quality horror movie that I suspect is going to get better the more I stew on it.

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  24. Slithis (1978, dir. Stephen Traxler)

    It’s kind of like the Creature from the Black Lagoon only with a worse suit. Monster attacks people on Venice Beach and that’s pretty much it. It seems super low budget and the editing is downright incompetent at times, but the acting is surprisingly decent and I had a lot of fun with the movie.

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    1. I'm so glad I wasn't the only one that watched this today. I got the Blu Ray for Xmas and this was the perfect reason to finally dive in.

      I kinda loved it. Enjoyed how it was also an investigative journalism thriller. And this group of people that come together to tackle the beast...they're fun! Like yeah, people and pets are being brutalized, and these guys want to solve the problem. But they also have a laugh! An oddly chill vibe at times that I really dug. And that detective scene! Damn what a character.

      This is the best "bad" movie I've seen in a long, long time.

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  25. ZaAt (1970)

    Boy, it was tough getting to this one today. ZaAt is a sweet movie about walking catfish panic in rural, midcentury Florida. Luckily, Florida Man's there to voice-over his way to fame and fortune with the power to intercut stock roll of sea life. Oh, did I mention he turns into a fish monster in the first ten minutes?

    This, uh, 'airy' feature doesn't distract much from current events, but when the action hits, boy does it hit. Wouldn't be out of place in the the screening room on the Satelite of Love, either. And you may think I'm joking, but God DAMN do the pop songs they put in jam, I couldn't believe it! Anyway, I look forward to seeing more Hershel Gordon Lewis contemporaries take a crack at
    Floridasploitation horror.

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    1. An edited version of "ZaAt" did make it to "MST3k" as episode #1005, "Blood Waters of Dr. Z". Have fun watching it again with Mike and the bots. :-)

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    2. Well wouldya look at that? I may enjoy this episode this Sunday with my morning coffee. Appreciate it!

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  26. The Monster (2016)

    See the title on Amazon Prime and had to watch it. I was pleasantly surprised. A touching tale of a failed relationship between a mother and daughter.

    Pretty decent creature design but it should've had a little less screen time.

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  27. Killer Tongue (1996)

    Boring, and ugly. I can’t believe Doug Bradley and Robert Englund signed on for this.

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  28. King Kong (2005)

    I unabashedly love this movie. Most complaints I've heard about it (most notable that it is way too long) are completely accurate, but I love the movie anyway. It is somehow very old fashioned and trying to be cutting edge at the same time. The Kong effects hold up pretty well, not as good as modern stuff like Skull Island or the recent Planet of the Apes movies, but it still looks mostly good. The dinosaurs, however, are not as good.

    I still can't quite figure out why I find Jack Black's Carl Denham so appealing. I feel like I should hate him, he's not particularly sympathetic and in fact gets many people killed, but somehow I'm rooting for him every time I watch it.

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  29. Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

    Just took care of some serious movie-shame with my first viewing of this classic. Everything I'd heard is true. The Creature design is awesome. Wasn't expecting that little bit of movement from his gills when he's straining to breath on land. The underwater photography is also very good. I appreciated the sense of geography staying intact even though I'm sure it was challenging to shoot and edit that footage. Julie Adam's is rad and a full on babe. All around good cast. If only it had some of that pre-code charm of the earlier Universal movies.

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  30. TerrorVision (1986, dir. Ted Nicolaou)

    Holy tomato!

    I'd seen this one years ago, and from what I remember it was just too weird for me back then. Seeing it now I had SO much fun with it. It's so wild and funny and entertaining! There's so much imagination and creativity to this thing. Everything about it is specifically designed for a particular style (and what a crazy style it is). I think it was the perfect movie for this particular night. Loved it.

    HOT TIP: If you haven't seen it, it would work for Heavy Metal day and is in HD on Prime!

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  31. The Blob (1988)

    Fantastic special effects work, a lot of which holds up incredibly well against current movies. Some scenes like the one in the sewer are downright disturbing.

    Blub

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  32. Creature From Bkack Lake (1976)

    Best bigfoot movie I've seen. Louisiana locals suspicious of the city slickers is always fun. Shot by Dean Cundey and it shows. Good performances and music help it somewhat transcend the low budget.

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  33. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

    John Phillip Law may be Sinbad, but the real stars here are Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion monsters, which consist of tiny, winged demons, a living statue of Kali, a Centaur, and a Griffyn. Tom Baker is great as the bad guy (he claims this movie won him the role of the fourth Doctor Who) and the movie also features Caroline Munro! So much to love about this movie.

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  34. Work conference be damned. I’m gonna post for everyday, even if they’re late.

    Hobgoblins (1988)

    I remember seeing this on MST3K growing up and being absolutely perplexed by this obvious ‘Gremlins’ ripoff. It was somehow much less kid-friendly (lots of dumb 80s sex humor) while also being way less scary and intense (the Hobgoblins are cute yall). I kinda missed the MST3K commentary during the slower bits of this movie, but once the Hobgoblins get loose and the fantasy sequences begin, it starts to become more fun and ridiculous. If you want better ‘Gremlins’-sploitation, go to ‘Critters’, ‘Ghoulies’, or even the ‘Troll’ movies. If you absolutely have to see this one, watch the MST3K version.

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