Monday, November 18, 2019

A Quick Look: THE NIGHT THE WORLD EXPLODED (1958)



   THE NIGHT THE WORLD EXPLODED is one of the lesser-known 50's science fiction thrillers, a Columbia offering that in many ways pre-dates the 70's disaster cycle (in fact, the first third is remarkably similar to EARTHQUAKE). Scientists have finally perfected a method of predicting earthquakes, and the predictions aren't good. Massive quakes become more frequent as our heroes discover a previously unknown element which explodes violently when allowed to dry out. Somehow this element is rising above it's previously underwater levels because of deeper and deeper mining operations. In fact, the planet itself is on the verge of blowing apart! Although there's some pretty silly science here (I can buy the exploding rocks, but can't swallow the notion that mining could ever be done on a scale so large as to allow these events to occur), there's also some good drama and race-against-the-clock suspense. Sort of the B picture version of CRACK IN THE WORLD. The lovely Katheryn Grant is our female lead, and ever the pixie-ish beauty. Not sure how visible it's been since released. Presumably it saw some television play, but I'm not sure I'd even heard of it during my younger years. A nice print is now available on disk in a collection of Columbia science fiction epics. Not a fantastic movie, but it's always fun to find another picture like this!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Quick Look: GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER (1972 - color)


   GODZILLA VS THE SMOG MONSTER was the last Godzilla film to get the full AIP treatment. Fans remain split as to whether the film is a classic or a turkey. When a mass of sludge rises from the sea to feed on pollutants and smog, it creates an atmosphere of poison that threatens to destroy all human life in Japan. For the first time officially cast as the hero, Godzilla gives battle to the monstrous Hedrah. As any Carol Burnett fan knows, pollution was a hot topic in the early 70's, and particularly so in Japan. Ecological horror movies became a pretty big subgenre for a few years, with films like FROGS, KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS, and today's subject. Pollution was one of a dozen things that assured mankind was not to survive the 20th Century, in addition to nuclear weapons, killer bees, and the new Ice Age. Movies, of course, capitalize on the fears of the moment, and this was a successful release for AIP. One wishes AIP had been a bit more willing to edit this one down, though, as it features a true low point* in Godzilla's career: the moment he aims his breath at the ground and flies off like a weird sort of rocket! Notwithstanding, the film is uniquely gloomy. Very dark, and slowly paced, and featuring a somber musical score that keeps things from ever getting very exciting. Another thing AIP should've cut, the film occasionally breaks for some incredibly strange psychedelic cartoon sequences. And then there's a scene in a nightclub where a patron begins hallucinating that the dancers around him are all wearing fish masks -for no reason whatsoever! On the other hand, the film has some incredible effects work, maybe some of the most realistic miniature effects ever put on film (such as an early scene in which Hedrah attacks a crippled oil tanker). As noted, a mix of good and bad keep the film's status in debate. The AIP version was released on VHS in the 80's. It later surfaced scope on the Sci-Fi Channel as the international print, "Godzilla vs Hedrah." That version, sadly, it the only cut currently officially available.

[*On the other hand, there was a moment earlier where Hedrah knocked Godzilla into a pit and then oozed a bunch of sludge over him. I'm not sure what exactly he's supposed to be doing, but he very easily could be doing what it sounds like he's doing... When finished, Hedrah audibly laughs over his foe! Wow.]

Friday, November 8, 2019

A Quick Look: MOON ZERO TWO (1969/70 - color)


   One of Hammer's often overlooked gems, MOON ZERO TWO was an unlikely blending of genres. A space opera/western one can see, but a British one? Basically, the plot is one of land-grabbing and the efforts of bad men to secure a plot where an expensive meteor will crash -or so is my memory of it. Truth is I'm due for another screening. It was briefly issued on disk alongside WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH, until someone noticed the dinosaur movie accidentally used the European print with a Victoria Vetri nude scene! The disk was pulled and now sells for around $200. Anyway, I recall MOON ZERO TWO as being an intriguing picture, but not an overly spectacular one. Even so, I often find myself humming the film's main musical refrain. Check out the space guns shaped like peacemakers! Catherine Schell would shortly go on to play the shape-shifting Mya (is that right?) in the superior second season of Gerry Anderson's Space:1999. It's fun seeing her in a space opera minus the rubber eyebrows.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

A Quick Look at TV: UFO


   I've said it before and I'll say it again: if any one television series seems to've been ripped directly from my psyche, it's Gerry Anderson's first live-action show, UFO. UFO combines science fiction, retro-futurism, and espionage glamor into a perfect package. The show details the efforts of top-secret military/spy agency SHADO to protect the Earth from organ-harvesting invaders from a distant planet. In SHADO's arsenal are cutting-edge machines including jets, rockets, submarines, cars, tanks, satellites, computers, and a fully-functioning secret base on the moon! Ed Bishop commands the whole operation, and there's just as much political and bureaucratic action as there is exploding flying saucers and undersea bases -foreshadowing the current run of dramatic science fiction shows, but doing it much better. Reportedly, the show was intentionally structured in such a way that a viewer could come in at any episode and quickly be up to speed.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Quick Look: PREHISTORIC WOMEN (1966 - color)


    The title PREHISTORIC WOMEN was re-used in 1966 by Hammer Film Studios of England. (Actually, the British title was SLAVE GIRLS.) At any rate, this PREHISTORIC WOMEN has nothing to do with the 1950 film. In it, a big game hunter comes across a statue of a great white rhino being worshiped by hostile natives. Then time freezes. Then our hero finds himself in a primitive word populated by sexy cave-girls lorded over by a cruel queen played by Martine Beswick. This is a weird one, and justifiably saw regular rotation on TNT's 100% WEIRD back in the early 90's. Somewhat disappointingly, this is the second PREHISTORIC WOMEN to not feature any dinosaurs! Still, for eye candy fans, the film delivers in spades. The same cannot be said for Hammer's other dinosaur-less cavegirl movie, CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Cartoon Cuties issue 2 on sale!





Here's the Amazon link...

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1690996161?fbclid=IwAR2zVzQL4z6H2E4hD2h-MY5geE3AP6Jd9WnzAa1VVhQJ7qQKFHkVZNe4iS8

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Been doing a lot of work for The Cartoon Cuties Log...

   As result, I've done less work for Baker's Log than I have in a while. Regular visitors may notice my new posts here have been few and far between. I hope you'll cut me some slack in this area. Meanwhile, The Cartoon Cuties Log is really starting to come into it's own. The short prose stories for the log have even been collected for a print release by InDELLible. When that book is out, I'll be sure to include a notice here.