Every once in a while, it’s fun to revisit the films that introduced me to the genre – films I was allowed to watch on TV at an age when I was still too young to see the hard stuff my older brothers were seeing in the theaters. Most often they were films from the 1960s, the decade that led to my glorious birth in 69! Like these four monstrous movies.
THE AMAZING TRANSPARENT MAN (1960)
I love how these old films would use positive adjectives like “amazing” and “incredible” to describe what were actually sinister villains or creatures. Clocking in at only an hour long, this black and white The Invisible Man rip-off isn’t even worth a watch.
A crazy ex-Army major holds a scientist’s daughter hostage to force the scientist to make a machine that turns people invisible. But to perfect the machine, more resources are needed. So he busts a thief out of jail to steal the materials with the advantage of invisibility. But naturally, there’s a side effect…not to mention an invisible bad guy.
Just watch The Invisible Man. Hell, just watch The Invisible Man Returns. It’s got Vincent Price.
TERROR-CREATURES FROM THE GRAVE (1965)
Not quite one of Barbara Steele’s classics of her finest era, Terror-Creatures from the Grave starts off chillingly enough, but pretty much falls apart.
A handsome lawyer is called to a castle to handle an estate, only to learn from the dead man’s wife (Steele) that he has been dead for a year. But the man’s daughter from a first marriage is basically hysterical and insists that her father must be sending a message from beyond, and that he was involved with the occult.
Creepy gothic atmosphere and eerie music abound, but as people begin dying, this often feels more like a mystery the lawyer is trying to solve.
There are some corpse-like hands that offer the promise of ghoulish creatures, but we never get to see any!
Eventually there’s a rather laughable “séance” circle confrontation with the dead man that’s a huge disappointment after all the promising monster hands that came, well, beforehand, and this turns into a simple “ghost gets revenge” flick.
THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966)
Hammer Films does zombies! A couple of years before Romero changed the concept forever, this film used the old school voodoo technique to bring them back from the dead in this period piece set in the late 1800s.
A doctor and his daughter come to a small town when a disease begins killing locals at a rapid rate. The audience is already tuned in to what the cause could be considering the film opens with a tribal voodoo ritual scene. So much for mystery. Now we just have to sit back and wait for the first zombie to appear.
The first zombie appearance is the best part of this entire film! The daughter has this whole scary adventure when she follows a friend through the woods and is then harassed by a gang of men, but it’s as she’s heading home that the fricking horrific zombie on the poster art pops up and throws her dead friend at her!
If only this zombie’s presence were felt throughout the film, but alas, it’s way underutilized.
There’s a good scene of the doctor and some other men doing a coffin stakeout and hitting the jackpot when the corpse inside reanimates, plus another awesome zombie attack that turns out to be a cheap dream sequence (damn things have been around forever, haven’t they?), but other than that, the film focuses more on the doctor investigating the possibility of someone practicing the black arts to bring the dead back to life. Yawn.
NIGHT FRIGHT (1967)
There’s nothing I love more than old b-movies that are the blueprints for every teen horror flick that exists to this day. Check this one out:
– Intro scene has a couple parked in the woods, a radio news story of a fiery crash nearby, and monster POV
– Kids driving to the scene to check out what happened before heading to a cabin to play records (awesome) and BBQ are told to go back by the sheriff.
– Fuck that. They totally don’t listen to his advice and go anyway.
– There’s a dance montage by the lake. The music is the worst because they couldn’t afford to spring for actual 60s pop hits.
While there’s nothing in the way of gore, Night Fright is filled with various chase and attack scenes leading up to the full Monty. The Bigfoot type monster is hard to see because the film is really dark, but that adds to the monstrous presence and keeps it from looking like a cheesy rubber suit. And the mere fact that this is the most contemporary feeling film of the bunch makes it my favorite. Here’s a pic I found on the Internet of the monster. Someone seemed to be able to really lighten up the image. They shouldn’t have…