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Category Archives: Movie Reviews 1958

Horror of Dracula, 1958.From the DVD case: Dracula (Christopher Lee), a centuries-old nobleman damned to an eternal half-life, travels from his native Transylvania to London. In the lurid nightlife of his adopted city, he finds new victims. He also finds Dr. Van Helsing (Peter Cushing), a scientist who becomes the Count’s implacable foe in a deadly game of bat-and-mouse. (1958, color)

Mark says: Hammer Production’s Horror of Dracula is the standard by which I measure all other vampire films. More than Universal’s Dracula with Bela Lugosi, Horror of Dracula brought true chills to the imaginations of the youth of my generation.

Christopher Lee (Horror Hotel, The Wicker Man) plays the celebrated fiend with power and grace, and an animal magnetism that his female victims can not resist. He’s charming when need be, and is appropriately gruesome when in the throes of blood lust.

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Night of the Blood Beast, 1958From the DVD case: The first man into space is killed during his re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists sent to investigate the wreckage discover evidence of an extraterrestrial stowaway alongside the astronaut’s corpse. This insidious force from outer space, reanimates the dead man’s body, using it as a breeding ground for alien embryos. The horrified scientists take refuge in a remote research station while the blood beast picks them off one by one. In a fiery, other-worldly climax the monster reveals his intentions in a dramatic confrontation between the space invader and the forces of Earth. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: The people who wrote the DVD description above should be sued for false advertising. The blood beast certainly does not pick them off “one by one.” In fact, only one person is actually killed by the beast in this picture. I would take issue with the “other-worldly climax,” too, but we’ll leave the description as is for the sake of a synopsis.

Though this movie was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski, it definitely has the cheapie production values of Gene and Roger Corman, who are producer and executive producer, respectively.

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Attack of the 50 Ft Woman, 1958

From the video case: No one will believe Nancy Archer has encountered an alien from space in the desert one dark night. The local sheriff and her doctor think she’s suffering from hallucinations. Her husband, who’s openly having an affair, wants Nancy committed to an asylum so he can take her money and enjoy a life of lustful luxury. But it becomes quite obvious that Nancy is telling the truth when she turns into a 50-foot woman who soon becomes a towering menace as she seeks out her husband to get even. Driven by her murderous rage, the enormous woman stalks through the town destroying everything in her path, determined to take matters into her own giant hands to satisfy her gargantuan craving for revenge. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: Attack of the 50 Ft Woman stars two 1950s B-movie sex kittens in roles for which they will forever be linked. Allison Hayes (The Crawling Hand) plays the angry 50-foot giant, and Yvette Vickers (Attack of the Giant Leeches) portrays the “other woman,” on whom Allison exacts her revenge.

William Hudson (The Amazing Colossal Man) plays the philandering, and very disagreeable husband, Harry Archer.

This movie is so cheap, it rivals Plan 9 from Outer Space as one of the worst movies ever produced. Of course, I mean that in the most complimentary way. It is a perfect delight to watch. The special effects are horrendous (they especially seem to have trouble depicting giant hands) and the dialog, though not as quotable as Plan 9, is corny and laughable. For example, Harry Archer to his wife: “Now you pulled a boner tonight and you know it!”

Every now and then someone will speak of the great feminist statement 50 Ft Woman makes. Personally, I wouldn’t waste time trying to find any message in this film. You will enjoy it more for what it truly is, a good bad movie.

Every mark I give this movie is for pure camp value.

Attack of the 50 Ft Woman is directed by Nathan Hertz, aka Nathan Juran (The Deadly Mantis, The Brain from Planet Arous).

Scene to watch for: Harry, attempting to give his wife a lethal injection, discovers that she has turned into a large papier mache hand.

Line to listen for: “Astounding growth!”

Note: I’ve never seen the 1993 remake of this movie starring Darryl Hannah, but I can’t imagine it being nearly as fun.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

House on Haunted Hill, 1958.From the DVD case: Vincent Price is wonderful as the sinister owner of an old, dark and evil mansion located on a haunted hill. He bribes several of his enemies with an offer of $10,000 each, if they would spend the night in the crumbling mansion. He gives each of his guests a tiny coffin containing a handgun and proceeds to set in motion gadgets and devices aimed at frightening his visitors into using their weapons. Terror, murder and the supernatural make this one of producer/director William Castle’s best films. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: The DVD description above is not entirely accurate, and in fact, is just plain wrong in places, but it will suffice for a loose synopsis of the film.

The one thing the description does have right is that Vincent Price (House of Wax, The Fly) is wonderful as the sinister millionaire, Frederick Loren. He plays the role as the cool, cold-blooded gentleman we’ve come to expect from Mr. Price. Carol Ohmart is his lovely, and it turns out, just as sinister, wife, Annabelle Loren.

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From the DVD case: Something is definitely amiss with the menfolk in this classic 1950s sci-fi thriller. A distraught Marge Farrell (Gloria Talbott, We’re No Angels) is growing increasingly alarmed over the changes in her new husband, Bill (Tom Tryon, The Cardinal), who’s been acting strangely ever since their wedding night. And for good reason: Bill – and most of the other men in their small town – have been taken over by sinister aliens who have arrived on planet Earth to marry human women with the hope of reviving their dying race. Marge has stumbled onto their terrifying plan, and must now convince someone – anyone – to believe her before the aliens completely inhabit the bodies of the entire male population. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: This movie gets a few points just for it’s great campy title. I have to admit, though, that it took awhile for this film to warm on me. At first it seemed like a rip-off of such 50s greats as It Came from Outer Space, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and Invaders from Mars. But what this movie lacks in originality, it makes up for with an intriguing story and a 1950′s suburban charm.

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Monster on the Campus, movie still.

From the video case: Fear stalks the seemingly tranquil halls of Dunsfield University with the arrival of a prehistoric fish, the coelacanth.

The terror begins when a student’s (Troy Donahue) lovable pet dog laps up water bloodied by the fish and becomes a savage wolf, attacking Madeline Howard (Joanna Moore). Next, paleontology professor Donald Blake (Arthur Franz) is accidentally “bitten” by the coelacanth and blacks out, only to find that a hulking beast has killed one of his friends.

When Blake and two students watch an insect undergo a startling transformation after biting the coelacanth, the picture becomes clearer: Somehow, contact with the fish’s prehistoric blood causes a total collapse of evolution, turning animals – and humans – into mindless, murderous monsters. (1958, b&w)

Mark says: This is a slightly updated version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The substandard acting is only matched by the substandard special effects, which include Arthur Franz in a monkey mask and a large, and an obviously plastic, dragonfly.

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