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Category Archives: Movie Reviews 1970s

Moon of the Wolf, 1972From the DVD case: After several locals are viciously murdered, a Louisiana sheriff begins to suspect that he may be dealing with a werewolf. (1972, color)

Mark says: The first thing that grabbed my attention regarding this movie, is that it stars one of my favorite scream queens from the 1950s, Barbara Rush (It Came From Outer Space, When Worlds Collide). She’s a bit older in this film, and dressed in a ridiculous 70s wardrobe, but she still maintains her scream queen charm.

This made-for-tv movie features some recognizable character actors as well: David Janssen is Sheriff Aaron Whitaker; John Beradino is Dr. Druten, and Geoffrey Lewis plays local hillbilly and werewolf victim, Lawrence Burrifors.

Because Moon of the Wolf was made for television, I’m giving it more slack than I would give a theater release. The acting is solid and the plot line is not too ridiculous, though it does have some soap opera elements.

Moon of the Wolf fails as a mystery, because it is quite obvious early on which character is the werewolf. We are given three suspects to ponder, but any novice tv detective could solve this case blindfolded. The main clue is that the killer is left-handed, and Sheriff Whitaker wastes no time in asking each suspect if he is a southpaw.

The werewolf does not actually show himself until nearly the end of the story. There’s no transformation scene, and when we finally do get a good look at the critter, we are apt to laugh. The poor beast looks like someone rubbed black shoe polish on his nose.

Still, this is a fun movie, and worth a view especially if you are a fan of werewolf flicks. I picked up this DVD gem, brand new, for only $2.50 at a local video store. I would say the entertainment value was certainly worth the price of admission.

Directed by Daniel Petrie.

Scene to watch for: Dr. Druten and Sheriff Whitaker don’t seem to have any qualms about drinking hard liquor on the job.

Line to listen for: “Well, we’re lucky you ain’t got a pocketful of dimes, aren’t we?”

Mark’s rating: ! ! ½ out of 5.

IMDB Link

Empire of the Ants, 1977

From the video case: In this chiller based on H.G. Wells’ terrifying novel, Joan Collins is an aggressive land developer trying to turn a swampy island into an exclusive residential community. In the process, her builders rupture a can of atomic waste that has washed ashore. A colony of ants feasts on the substance, which causes them to grow into voracious monsters with heightened intelligence and cunning. The night of Marilyn’s gala opening arrives, and the ants are ready. With a vicious persistence, the monsters attack the guests, cutting off their only means of escape. Forced into the jungle, their only hope of survival is a risky, one-in-a-million chance that could destroy them all. (1977, color)

Mark says: Every now and then I watch a movie that is so bad that I actually feel embarrassed for the cast. Empire of the Ants is just such a movie.

Don’t get me wrong, this movie has plenty of merit as a schlock great, and I enjoy it immensely. When you see Bert I. Gordon’s name (Earth vs The Spider, Tormented) attached to a film (in this case, producer and director) you know you are in store for a few good chuckles. But he really outdid himself with this monstrosity. The laughs come so fast and often that Henny Youngman would be envious.

Just when your sides are aching from laughter with the horrendous 1970s dialog, the “special” effects of the giant ants come on screen to finish you off. This movie shows no mercy. The characters are so unlikable that you’ll find yourself cheering whenever the creatures kill off another castaway. But this movie is fun. Terrible, terrible fun. Be sure to watch it with friends to share all the schlock goodness.

Look for Robert Lansing (4-D Man) in the role of Dan Stokely and Jacqueline Scott (Duel) as Margaret Ellis. Tom Fadden (1956’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers) plays Sam Russell.

If you want to watch a genuinely good giant ant flick, let me recommend 1954’s Them!

Scene to watch for: Harry and Velma emerge from their shack haven to find themselves surrounded by giant schlock ants.

Line to listen for: “You’re so terrific in the sack that it almost justifies the extensive salary that I have to pay you.”

Bonus: Pamela Shoop, one of the stars, shares stories and photos from the filming of Empire of the Ants.

Mark’s Rating: ! ! ! out of 5.

IMDB Link

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