Back to the horror of the 1950s and 1960s

My house cleaning blog project of my multipack DVD sets continues with four more films—aliens, creatures, vampires, and crazed killers of the 50s and 60s.

THE MAN FROM PLANET X (1951)

The director of the horror classic The Black Cat brings us a scary spaceman movie that starts off atmospheric and compelling. A reporter heads to an isolated island after a report that a planet is hurling towards earth. He meets the few people that reside there, including some scientists, and a woman, of course.

It’s quite creepy when the woman heads into the wilderness at night after a capsule lands and sees an alien face in its small window. The group at first tries to befriend the alien when it leaves the ship—even trying sign language. Um, Mr. Scientist Man—sign language is a human-made convention. how the fuck would aliens know that form of communication if they don’t speak any human language?

Things get even better when the plot thickens with a sinister plan to target the alien. Unfortunately, it’s all downhill from there. Guys with big guns are called in for a galactic battle. Blah.

THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959)

A ship sent on a mission to Mars is found in space with only one coherent survivor on board, but she can’t remember a thing. So the crew of the new ship heads out onto the red planet to explore.

This is cheesy, cheap, goofy alien monster madness. For starters, the entire film becomes drenched in red, so creatures like a—giant spider with lobster claws and a wildcat head?—can pretty much be nothing more than an animated cartoon and come across as weird and bizarre.

Thing is, that piece of cheese is the most awesome monster in the whole movie. The others are pretty generic, and there’s way too much boring talking. Eventually the crew brings an amoeba-like life form onto the ship to ignite even more troubles, a plot device that definitely echoes in sci-fi films to this day.

FANGS OF THE LIVING DEAD (1969)

This is just the worst in 1960s vampire/castle melodrama, with some bizarrely out of place humor actually being the best part.

Don’t expect gore or scares. It’s just a woman running around her descendants’ castle acting like a damsel in distress as she learns she’s a member of a vampire family and isn’t allowed to leave the castle. Her fiancé comes looking for her with his comic relief buddy, everyone slowly begins to flash their fangs, and the best part of the film is that one vampire dude straps the fiancé up shirtless…

BONUS: the Igor type butler is a hunk from heaven. Actually, probably from hell. Even better.

THE SADIST (1963)

It’s astounding that The Sadist isn’t revered as a precursor to many of the “wrong turn” films of the present. It may be a little slow at points, but this is virtually a template for the subgenre.

A man, woman, and an older guy are heading to a baseball game when their car breaks down by a deserted service station. After some creepy moments exploring the desolate place, they are confronted by a lunatic with a gun and his crazy girlfriend.

Yeah, the fact that they’re terrorized with a gun for the whole movie is a disappointment, but everything else is classic horror. The dude playing the crazy guy is perfectly maniacal, and for the time the film was made, does some violent and even edgy stuff, such as squeezing the female victim’s boob.

There are several murders (again, gun. blah), some body reveals, and a savage battle to the end with some unexpected twists. And there’s a full circle ending technique that is a staple of the genre even today, relating back to the original (and rather odd) baseball setup.

BONUS: the good guy in the tank top is nice to look at.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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