Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blood Bath (1966)

I remember back in the 90's, when Roger Corman was producing remakes of some of his classics-movies like "Piranha", "Humanoids From the Deep", "Wasp Woman" and "Not of This Earth" got the remake treatment. While some most likely cried foul, others knew it wasn't the first time he had one of his movies remake for some cash. "Not of This Earth" had already been remade in the 80's, and in 1966 Jack Hill directed "Blood Bath", which is something of a remake of "A Bucket of Blood."

Antonio Sordi (William Campbell) is an artist that likes to do paintings of women that are near death, and said paintings are a hit. Sordi also likes to live in a bell tower, and believes he's actually a vampire. As women he's painted are reported missing, tensions start to build, other artists grow suspicious and Sordi's sanity begins to further disappear...

"Blood Bath" is kind of a hit and miss affair to be honest. The direction by Hill and co-director/co-writer Stephanie Rotham (also a bit of an exploitation vet) is fine, but the script is everywhere, feeling more like a collection of sometimes effective, other times ill-thought out. The acting is sometimes good (Campbell does a fine job, and Sid Haig is fun in a supporting role) and other times pretty poor (most of the actresses are here more for eye candy than they are for their skills as thespians.) It's pretty short (62 minutes), doesn't have any fat in it's story and moves at a reasonable pace, but little about it is surprising, especially if you've seen "A Bucket of Blood." Finally, that movie's level of satire is missing here, as it all feels like a rather standard mid 60's horror movie than it does anything special. That's a shame too, because the idea of an artist trying to capture death is fascinating, but it's never actually explored.

As a whole, "Blood Bath" is at least worth a weekend afternoon viewing, but it doesn't offer a lot that's particularly memorable either. It's pretty much the definition of "Eh, it's okay."

Rating: 5/10

Friday, January 25, 2013

Night of the Devils (1972)

Giorgio Ferroni is not a name that most horror fans talk about. Granted, that's most likely because he only directed two movies within the genre, but they are notable entries none the less. His first was 1960's "Mill of the Stone Woman", which came out the same year as Mario Bava's "Black Sunday" and is one of the best early Italian horror movies of all time. His other is the surreal take on the vampire film "Night of the Devils", which, while not as good as his prior horror tale, is still worth watching.

In the backwoods of Italy, Nicola (Gianni Garko) has been through hell, and is in an asylum because nobody believes his tale. His is a tale of finding a woman in the road, which leads to his car crashing. He finds what he thinks is refuge in a cabin. When patriarch Gorca (Will Vanders) tells him to leave at night, strange events revolving around buried coffins, curses and vampire turn horrific.

While the heavy exposition to the dreamlike narrative can be exhausting, and the twist at the end leaves a lot to be desired, "Night of the Devils" is for the most part a strong tale of atmospheric horror. The whole thing is all about mood, and by God this sucker is full of it. The whole thing breathes with unease, and Ferrioni understands how to draw that feeling out so that the bloody third act packs a punch. Speaking of which, the third act is pretty strong stuff for this era, sometimes capturing the poetic approach to violence that the likes of Dario Argento and even Jean Rollin would capture in their best work, whilst other times serving as brutal and uncompromising in the face of the creepy atmosphere beforehand.

It's also capably acted, with Vanders in particular standing out as the tormented head of a curse family. The direction manages to be solid throughout, as Ferrioni uses everything-fog machines, soft lighting, bright colors-to his advantage, creating the feeling of a nightmare. Oh, and the score by Giorgio Gaslini is effecting and haunting, with electronic cues, haunting strings and psych rock passages perfectly befitting the picture and it's bleak tone.

It's a shame that Giorgio Ferroni only did two horror films in his time. Watching them, I couldn't help but think that he could have become one of the celebrated names within the genre had he made more. Still, at least we have two to remind us of what he was capable of.

Rating: 8/10

Monday, January 21, 2013

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Club (1994)

There's not a whole worthy of interest in today's entry, the mid 90's Canadian horror film "The Club." Really, it's just another in a long line of straight-to-video movies from that time that nobody remembers, so the fact that it isn't on DVD is no big loss. It is on Netflix instant though, and opens with the Miramax logo, so I'm sure either Lionsgate or Echo Bridge will be putting it out on one of those budget movie packs soon.

Anyway, the plot deals with a night at the prom, where all kinds of unsavory people-a rapist teacher (Kim Coates) and an abusive boyfriend (Zack Ward) are amongst the many forgettable people there. When the clock hits midnight, these two and some others find themselves in some sort of limbo between heaven and hell where a bunch of random things happen. The man anchoring all of this (Joel Wyner) is actually a demon, and he wants their souls.

That's it pretty much. Granted, the acting is actually pretty good (Wyner steals the show, clearly having a ball and injecting some much needed humor into the proceedings) and the score by Paul Zaza (whose genre credits include "Prom Night", "My Bloody Valentine", and "Popcorn" to name a few, though he also scored "Porky's" and "A Christmas Story") is spirited and effective. That's about all the kind things I can say about this.

The film in itself plays out like a weak version of "Night of the Demons", as whatever sex and violence is pretty tame for the large part. It also makes no sense, often leaping from one "frightening" scene to the next without any real context or basic narrative structure. On that end, it kinda reminded me of Dante Tomaselli's "Horror", only without that films reverence for Italian and American horror from the 70's and early 80's. Then there's the conclusion, which is a headache of an ending and is confusing to boot. It especially doesn't help that out of the rest of the non-contextual nature of the film, this was the most head scratching element of all.

I can't see most horror fans getting excited for this, as it's a mostly dull movie that doesn't deliver enough of what some may want, and feels more like watching a rather uneventful nightmare instead of an actual movie. Go read a book or something instead.

Rating: 3/10

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Fire with Fire (2012)

I promised myself that I wouldn't see another movie that has 50 Cent in it (or anything that he produced through his Cheetah Vision film label) ever again. Of course, I had to to break that promise, so here we are with "Fire With Fire." Thankfully, Mr. Cent only has a cameo, and for a Grindstone Entertainment production, this is actually a watchable movie. It's not a good movie per say, but I'll take whatever improvements I can get at this point.

Josh Duhamel stars as Jeremy Coleman, a fireman who sees a store clerk and his son gunned down by David Hagan (Vincent D'Onofrio), who you know is evil because he has a swastika tattooed to his chest. After testifying against him, Coleman's girlfriend Talia (Rosario Dawson) is nearly killed by a hit-men, which finds him under witness protection thanks to the likes of Mike Calla (Bruce Willis, who looks like he'd rather be anywhere else than this.) However, Jeremy knows that this isn't enough, and that Hagan and his cronies won't stop until he and Talia are dead, so he decided to take actions into his own hands.

I'd be lying if I said that "Fire with Fire" is worth owning, or that it's a good movie. The movie has plenty of plot holes (we know that Calla lost an old partner to Hagan, but it's barely explored) and only some of the performances are worth a damn. Duhamel is a handsome face, and he tries, but he's just not that good of an actor. The plot is nothing special, but it's a shame that it doesn't do much with what could have a more fun premise in the vein of 80's vigilante movies.

That being said, some of the performances here are actually fun, with Onofrio stealing the show as a white supremacist douche with quite the criminal record, though his fake Southern accent is pretty amusing. It also manages to get some solid character actors such as Richard Schiff and Vinnie Jones showing up, which doesn't add any class, but it makes the proceedings more bearable. Best of all, it's actually a decently directed movie that gets away with some fun action scenes and inspired camera angles, and at 98 minutes, it moves at a reasonable clip and feels more like a time waster than it does a waste of time. Whether or not that sounds like a recommendation is up to you.

There's not a whole lot about this that's memorable in the least. However, it doesn't do anything offensively bad, and as a Netflix stream or Redbox rental, you could do a lot worse. It's at the very least an improvement for the folks at Grindstone Entertainment, so it actually gives me hope that someday, they'll be able to make a fun straight to video movie someday.

Rating: 5.5/10

Sunday, January 13, 2013

RIP David R. Ellis

He may be most well known for "Snakes on a Plane", but for my money, he directed the best of the "Final Destination" movies.

The Crow 2037: A New Age of God's and Monsters (Script Review)

And now, for something completely different, By that, I mean a review for a movie script that was never made. So, here goes.

I have conflicted feelings when it comes to Rob Zombie. I think White Zombie's "Astro Creep 2000" is the second best Groove Metal album ever made, and the prior album "Le Sexorcisto" is almost as good, though I don't care much for his solo work. As a director-well, I love "The Devil's Rejects", but I find "House of 1,000 Corpses" to be less than satisfying. "El Superbeasto" is an amusing concept, the the execution is nowhere near as funny as it thinks it is. The less said about his "Halloween" movies the better.

All of that out of the way, his first movie wasn't supposed to be "House of 1,000 Corpses." It was supposed to be "The Crow 2037: A New Age of Gods and Monsters." Originally intended to be a follow up to "The Crow: City of Angels", it fell into the wayside after that movie tanked with critics and was poorly received by audiences (even though it did make it's money back) and "The Crow: Salvation" only played in one theater and was unceremoniously dumped to video. He apparently rewrote it as "Black Racer X", though whether or not that becomes a movie is yet to be seen (it probably won't.)

The movie starts on October 31st, 2010. A young boy and his mother (who probably would have been played by Rob's wife) are killed by a Satanic priest (who would have been played by Christopher Lee) for a cult who worship "the fallen one." The boy rises from the dead...and then grows up to be a tough as nails assassin. How a dead body would grow up is beyond me. Twenty seven years later, life is good-until painful memories start to resurface, and since this is a Crow movie, he soon begins to seek revenge.

I will give Rob this much-the script has all kinds of ambition, and is different from all of the other Crow movies. Whilst this still has the action with horror undertones feeling of the other films, it's also heavily indebted to science fiction. It also has some great visual ideas (a "Red Riding Hood" inspired vignette and a torture chamber inspired by Frankenstein's laboratory from the old Universal horror films), though that's where the good points end.

For one thing, a lot of this doesn't really feel like "The Crow." It lacks the tragic romance of those movies, and feels a lot more like what would happen if some fan fiction authors tried to mix "The Crow", comic books, old horror movies and anime into an incoherent mesh of things that are supposed to be cool, but aren't. Random mutants, alien gods and bouts of ultra violence peppered with a too cool for school anti hero might seem like a good idea at first, but "The Crow" it is not. The end result makes little to any sense, and I can't help but be glad that it didn't get made.

It's also sloppily written. None of the characters apart from the dark priest are interesting. It's mostly a bunch of tough guy posturing and "cool" one liners with little tension or reason. Plus, the crow itself doesn't figure a whole lot into the store. Sure, the main character is mostly invincible and  there's a crow, but as I said, nothing about it feels like "The Crow." It feels like something made by somebody who has a very thin grasp on the mythos and what made the original so great. It's different, but that doesn't make it good.

Rating: 3/10

Classic Poster Art: I Drink Your Blood (1970)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dracula 2000 (2000)

Everyone has their guilty pleasures. For some, it's the "Underworld" series. For others, it's a slasher movie or zombie movie they know is bad, but they like it anyways. If you've read this blog, you know that I have my guilty pleasures. One of my guiltiest pleasures of the last decade? Patrick Lussier's "Dracula 2000." This is a movie that falls into the line of "hip and cleaver" horror movies that came after "Scream" and where unable to capture what made that movie so special. Yet, unlike the other wannabes, this is actually a fun time.

Dracula also seems to be repelled by buttoning his shirt up

One night, a gang of thieves (Omar Epps, Sean Patrick Thomas, Danny Matherson and Jennifer Esposito) break into a manor that they think contains all kinds of riches. What they end up getting in return is something worse than that in Dracula (Gerard Butler), who proceeds to turn all of them into vampires. Now, Abraham Van Helsing (Christopher Plummer) and his assistant Simon Sheppard (Johnny Lee Miller) must find a way to stop the ancient vampire and his growing army of the undead (which also includes Jerri Ryan and pop singer Vitamin C.)
In the process, they soon find themselves traveling to New Orleans, where Dracula is located, and has his eyes set on Virgin Megastore clerk Mary (Justine Waddell), who has some sort of connection to both Dracula and Van Helsing in a twist you see coming a mile away. You do however, get a twist about Dracula you don't see coming, which is actually a good one to boot. In the process, I try to figure out if Virgin Megastores still exist.*
 The vampire should get that checked out.

From the get go, I can tell you that this is hardly a great movie. The plot occasionally feels convoluted. Like many horror movies from this time, it hasn't aged too well and sometimes feels like it's trying to hard to be "hip" (Dracula watching a Monster Magnet video and liking what he sees-I doubt he's be a fan if he actually existed.) in a way that just feels awkward. All of that being said, this is still a fun time that doesn't take itself too seriously, but unlike something like "Urban Legend", actually has some nice one liners and genuine laughs along the way. It also doesn't overstay its welcome and moves at a pretty brisk pace, and thankfully doesn't have too much fat in the story.

The movie is also surprisingly well directed for a major studio genre movie from this period. Lussier manages to get away with some arresting visuals (the highlight involves Mary being stalked by Dracula's brides in a blood red room with red window drapery) and fun action scenes that make up for the lack of Gothic atmosphere. In doing that, he goes for a more lighthearted one that puts more emphasis on actions scenes and one liners. Thankfully, the cast is game (save for Waddell, whose performance is a bit awkward) and clearly having a lot of fun with the material on hand. Butler in particular seems to be having a good time, clearly relishing the chance to play an all around evil villain with dark sexuality (thankfully not going the route of "tormented romantic figure") and menace. Finally, I mentioned that there was a twist so

It turns out that Dracula is actually Judas Iscariot. Granted, they could have went further with this angle, but it's actually a surprisingly original take on the origin story of the legendary vampire
*end spoiler*

Just another Mardi Gras. Only with less women flashing their breasts for beads.

At the end of the day, I can't really say that I recommend "Dracula 2000." It's not what anyone would call a classic in the genre. However, I find it to be a satisfactory bit of cinematic junk food that doesn't do anything outstanding, but still manages to work better than it has any right to. You can have your "Underworld" movies. I'll take this instead.

Rating: 6.5/10

*I just looked at Wikipedia-yep, they still exist.

Anyways, since this came out in 2000, it has soundtrack made up of rock songs. The breakdown: Slayer and Pantera get away with some decent tunes, System of a Down does a nice cover of Berlin's "Metro", Monster Magnet has a fun, organ driven rocker in "Heads Explode", and the Static X song is shockingly tolerable. The rest is just a bunch of lousy Nu Metal that serves as a painful reminder of what was popular back then.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Genocide (1968)

Among the things I got for Christmas, the one I can say I am happiest with is the "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set. This is entry #37 in Criterion's ongoing "Eclipse" series, and here focuses on the genre efforts that the well respected Japanese studio Shochiku made from 1967-68. Needless to say, it's something of a treasure trove for fans of offbeat genre films. Without further adieu, let's look at an film in this set.

Shochiku and it's brief foray into horror and science fiction is something that fascinates me. Sure, every country releases it's fair share of horror films, and it's always (well, almost always) great to see other countries take on genre cinema. However, this one was so brief (only one year) that it's particularly refreshing to see it remembered to this day. Well as they say, all good things must come to an end. So let's get on to the last movie in the "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set, the "nature run amok" film "Genocide."

Whilst headed to an island, A U.S. B-52 carrying a hydrogen bomb is attacked by a huge swarm of insects, causing the plane to crash. As it turns out, these particular insects are able to cause people to go insane and/or die. As the survivors of the crash and those on the island try to find a way to stop this, it appears not all is what it seems...particularly with the case of Annabelle ("Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell" actress Kathy Horan.)

It's interesting to see that this is from "The X From Outer Space" director Kazui Nihonmatsu. Sure, it has some incredibly ridiculous moments that need to be seen to be believed (the insects chanting "Genocide" and the various convoluted twists revolving around Annabelle), but unlike that movie, this is a dark, deadly serious science fiction/horror drama that has some serious things to say about environmental disasters, military meddling and nature's role as a great equalizer. It's also a better acted movie than that film, with performances throughout managing to resonate with the viewer in one way or another. Oh and this is probably the most exploitation like of the movies here, with of insect-maimed flesh, bikini clad babes, over the top melodrama, ripped off shirts and more.

It's also not as fun as that movie, and is the weakest of the films. That's not to say it's a bad movie-it's actually a decent time and offers some pretty memorable and strange moments. It's just that the whole thing tries to juggle too many social themes (war, the horrors of the Holocaust, man's inherently cruel nature and the strained relationship between he U.S. and Japanese governments-both of which are portrayed as being cruel and indifferent) and so many different plot points (conspiracies, romance and deceptions abound!) that it kinda feels confusing. I can tell that  those behind this are taking all this seriously, and the nihilistic tone is actually pretty fitting. However, by trying to do too many things at once, a part of it feels a bit like a missed opportunity. With a tighter script, this could have been a lost gem.

As a whole, this should be of interest for fans of movies where nature get's payback, and for fans of the bleaker side of science fiction/horror movies. However, don't expect some sort of undiscovered gem. Just expect a bizarre B-movie with big ambitions that, while not reaching all of them, makes for a perfectly watchable experience.

Rating: 6/10

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Living Skeleton (1968)

Among the things I got for Christmas, the one I can say I am happiest with is the "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set. This is entry #37 in Criterion's ongoing "Eclipse" series, and here focuses on the genre efforts that the well respected Japanese studio Shochiku made from 1967-68. Needless to say, it's something of a treasure trove for fans of offbeat genre films. Without further adieu, let's look at an film in this set.

Many Japanese horror films deal with ghosts in some form or another. This isn't a recent phenomenon either. From Nagisa Oshima's "Empire of Passion", Masaki Kobayashi's "Kwaiden" to Nobuhiko Obayashi's completely insane "House" gave the Japanese public tales of spirits long before "Ringu" and "Ju-on" captured the imaginations of so many horror fans. In a way, it makes sense that Shochiku would follow up the bleak science fiction/horror hybrid "Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell" with a film with a more supernatural bent in "The Living Skeleton." Japan has a rich folklore filled with tales of ghosts, so why not try their own spin?

Years ago, a ship that held gold was taken siege by it's crew, who then proceeded to kill the captain, his passengers, a scientist and a girl named Yoriko (Kikko Matsuoka.) In the present (well, 1968 but whose counting?) Mayumi's sister Saeko (Matsuoka again) is still coping, and has found refuge in a priest (Masumi Okada). When Rumi and her boyfriend (Yasunori Irikawa) decide to go scuba diving, they find the skeletal remains of the murdered passengers. Soon, the vengeful spirits of those killed (including that of Mayumi) begin to return, and they have one thing in mind: revenge.

Out of the four movies included in Criterion's "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set, "The Living Skeleton" is the most artistic and all around best of the lot. The direction by Hiroshi Matsuno (his sole credit too) is top notch throughout, creating a tone of pure dread and hopelessness. It's also capably acted, with Matsuoka in particular standing out as the tormented Saeko. Oh, and if you like blood, then this is the bloodiest of the films presented as well. Granted, it's hardly a splatter fest, but if the sight of maimed bodies, scarred flesh and a knife punctured eyeball tickle your fancy, then this might be for you. That being said, this is something that fans of Gothic horror will appreciate more than the gore crowd.

Also worthy of  mention is how unafraid the film is to take inspiration from horror movies from other countries. The look of the film brings to mind the foggy, Gothic horrors of the productions Universal and RKO made in the 30's and 40's (there's hint of mad science in the end), while the tone and atmosphere is very reminiscent of classic Italian horror films such as "Black Sunday" and "Mill of the Stone Woman." I also find it interesting how this movie's tale of watery vengeance from beyond the grave is somewhat reminiscent of a later movie in John Carpenter's "The Fog", and I can't help but wonder if this movie served as an influence on that one. As for fans of camp, well the skeletons look kinda goofy and the ship looks more like a toy than a model, but other than that this is a sombre outing that sticks with you to the end.

For fans of supernatural horror and old fashioned scares, "The Living Skeleton" is a must, and is a seriously under appreciated gem that's begging for rediscovery. I know it's the movie in the box set I'll revisit the most, and I can't wait to watch it again.

Rating: 9/10

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell (1968)

Among the things I got for Christmas, the one I can say I am happiest with is the "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set. This is entry #37 in Criterion's ongoing "Eclipse" series, and here focuses on the genre efforts that the well respected Japanese studio Shochiku made from 1967-68. Needless to say, it's something of a treasure trove for fans of offbeat genre films. Without further adieu, let's look at an film in this set.

Among many things, Japanese genre films are known for political and social commentary. Toho's Kaiju films dealt with the horror of radiation, capitalist greed, pollution and the price of science going too far. The genre films of Takashi Miike have dealt with broken families, sexual politics and attitudes towards homosexuality. Films like "Suicide Club" deal with parental flaws and generational gaps. The list goes on, really.

So in that regard, it makes sense that after the lighthearted fun of "The X From Outer Space", Shochiku studios next genre outing would be a more serious minded film with a noticeable political slant. For this, they went with "Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell." You can tell this from the get go, with mentions of a European ambassador being assassinated in Japan. Anyways, during a plane hijacking, it's noticeably that the sky has mysteriously turned red, and after it crashes, the survivors notice something-and that something is a UFO. As it turns out, the hijacker in question is now being controlled by a blob-like alien parasite that turns it's victims into vampire-like killers. Why? Because the Gokemidoro species from space has something in mind for earth, and it isn't pleasant...

As I said, there is some noticeable political undertones here, mainly from the cowardly behavior of Senator Mano (Eizo Kitamura.) While most of the cast tries to find a way to survive or defeat the alien menace, he just sips booze and in the process, had some darker motives for the plane flight. It's obvious that the film has some issues with political corruption in it's home country, but it take it's biggest shots at the Vietnam war thanks to a story about an American flight attendant (Kathy Horan, who isn't exactly the best actor) whose husband was killed during the war. Granted, resentment for the war wasn't something new, but it's interesting to see the issue tackled, even if it is handled a bit clumsily.

Apart from that, "Goke" is a fun, atmospheric science fiction/horror hybrid that brings to mind the works of Mario Bava (especially his film "Planet of the Vampires.") The whole thing is laced with dread and hopelessness, as the viewer can feel that no matter what, things are not going to turn out alright. Adding to this is the color scheme and cinematography, which proves that such things can be a real booster. The prominent reds and blues that saturate the screen bring to mind not only the aforementioned "Vampires", but also what would happen if Dario Argento's debut film had been a science fiction film instead of a giallo. That out of the way, there's still plenty of model effects and campy visuals to satisfy fans of these kinds of movies. Just don't expect the playful spirit of the studio's prior film. This is mostly bleak stuff.

For fans of old school sci-fi/horror films, "Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell" is a good time that has enough downbeat atmosphere and kitschy visuals to appeal to both camps.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The X From Outer Space (1967)

Among the things I got for Christmas, the one I can say I am happiest with is the "When Horror Came to Shochiku" box set. This is entry #37 in Criterion's ongoing "Eclipse" series, and here focuses on the genre efforts that the well respected Japanese studio Shochiku made from 1967-68. Needless to say, it's something of a treasure trove for fans of offbeat genre films. Without further adieu, let's look at an film in this set.

Needless to say, Godzilla and his pals had something of an impact on the box office. People worldwide were flocking to see Toho studios Kaiju films, which was great for the studio. Not only did they have something that was a smash hit in their home country-it was big worldwide. So of course, others tried to capitalize. In Korea, there was "Yonggary." London gave us "Gorgo." Denmark offered the world "Reptilicus." Even America go into the action with "The Giant Mantis" and "The Giant Claw." I'm sure that Toho was amused and pleased that for a change, a Japanese Studio was giving the rest of world a run for it's money instead of the other way around.

Of course, other studios in Japan tried to capitalize on this. Daei gave the world the "Gamera" and "Daimaijin" films. Toei released "The Magic Serpent." Nikkatsu responded with "Monster From a Prehistoric Planet." However, the most out there of these movies was "The X From Outer Space", which came from the well respected Shochiku studios (who gave the world films such as "Tokyo Story" and "Night and Fog in Japan"), which also kick started a brief foray into the world of genre films.

The spaceship AAB Gamma has been sent to Mars so it can investigate reports of UFO's that seem to be surrounding the area. After running into a strange UFO (which, according to one scientist, "Looks like a giant omelet!") that leaves some strange spore-like substance on the ship, the crew decides that would be a nifty idea to bring a sample with them. This of course, turns out to be

That's because said sample soon turns into a giant monster that begins to run roughshod on Japan because apparently Godzilla or one of Gamera's enemies were on vacation. Also, the monster is named Guilala, and he looks like...well, he looks like this

What's interesting about "The X From Outer Space" is that is all starts out a lot like other space themed science fiction movies from the time. There's a bouncy theme song, it's got plenty of cool model and miniature effects, there's plenty of matte paintings, and everyone seems more interested in chilling out and drinking cocktails while bachelor pad music plays than they are solving whatever crisis is at hand. When Guilala does show up, thing takes a turn for the "what the hell" and doesn't look back. Thankfully, there's a sense of fun to most of the proceedings, as if the people who aren't taking all of this too seriously.

It's also interesting that even though he craves radiation like a certain mutated dinosaur and it's obvious as all get out that the people behind the movie are doing everything they can to compete with him/rip him off (it even breathes fire!), the whole thing has a lighthearted atmosphere to it. There's little to no attempt at trying to do some sort of social commentary like some of the "Godzilla" movies (or "Mothra" or the genre films Shochiku released afterwards.) This is a to the point monster movie that simply wants to entertain the audience, and damn it, it succeeds. The whole thing is so thoroughly goofy (I dare you not to laugh when an airplane crashes into the monsters head for no reason other than some sort of directorial goof), campy and all around fun that it's impossible not to enjoy what's going on here. Only the most stuffy shirted type could not be charmed at the nuttiness on display.

At the end of the day, "The X From Outer Space" is nothing more than a light but charming little Kaiju film. It doesn't have the muscle of the best "Godzilla" movies, but it doesn't need it. It's campy, light entertainment that just happens to be a lot of fun, and that's all I asked for.

Rating: 7.5/10