Killer Creature Double Features From MADACY!
Sheila Chilcote-Collins | Collinswood, Van Wert, OH USA | 01/31/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I own the majority of Madacy's Killer Creature Double Features and Bucket Of Blood/ Giant Gila Monster is right up there with the best of the schlocky cheesiness of these DVDs! Bucket Of Blood is a Corman classic and Giant Gila Monster is just a stitch to watch. BAD acting, BAD sets, VERY UNSPECIAL EFFECTS... Excellent horror films that are SOOO BAD they are GOOD! Also... the cartoons that are in between the features (JUST LIKE AT THE DRIVE-IN!) are quite fun to watch also! The sound and transfer on these DVD's reek of poor quality but THAT is the VERY REASON that I love them SO! It's like listening to an old, scratchy LP on a turntable. It just doesn't get much better than this for nostalgia's sake. Keep the KILLER CREATURE DOUBLE FEATURES coming MADACY!"
Drive-In horror films with beatnicks and hot rodders
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/09/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The key thing to know about "A Bucket of Blood," the first of this Saturday night's Killer Creature Double Feature is that Roger Corman made it a year before he did "Little Shop of Horror." Both movies starred Dick Miller, both were made in less than a week on shoestring budgets (five days for $30,000), and both films constitute horror-comedy, although "Little Shop" is decidedly more over the top. But do not be surprised if you like this 1959 Corman film better.
The horror element is actually in vogue again with the release of a new version of "House of Wax" this week, since Miller plays Walter Paisley, a bus boy at The Yellow Door, an art house care that is the place to go for the Beat Generation. Paisley is a would-be-sculptor wants to be accepted by all of the cool cats, but he does not really have any talent. Then he accidentally kills his cat and when he covers it with clay he is suddenly proclaimed as having a "talent" for lifelike artwork. Another accident, of a sort, gives him the opportunity to move on to human figures, at which point Walter starts looking for new subjects. The ending strikes you as being something out of "The Twilight Zone," but up to that point it works for the most part because of the performances by Miller, Barboura Morris as Carla, and most of the supporting roles.
The comedy part comes not from the killing and sculpting but from the movie's send up of the beatnik scene. The cafe is filled with Beat poets and folk singers. Part of the reason it works is that what is happening at the cafe is not really parody, but earnest attempts in the accepted Beat style. The babble coming out of the mouth of Maxwell (Julian Burton) has the appropriate sense of pseudo-profundity and the guy walking around playing the guitar and singing is Alex Hassilev, who was about to help form the Limeliters. This movie was remade in 1995 as one of the cable television movies presented under the umbrella title "Roger Corman Presents," but that was not half the movie the original black & white, quick & dirty film is as far as I am concerned.
"The Giant Gila Monster" is one of those films where you take a real animal and having it crawl through miniature sets. The tagline for this film was: "Only Hell could breed such an enormous beast. Only God could destroy it!" But this 1959 film from director Ray Kellogg ("The Killer Shrews," "The Green Berets"--how is that for a credit combo?), filmed in north Texas for $138,000, is a lot more low-keyed than those lines would suggest. In fact, what is interesting given when this film is made is the key relationship between Sheriff Jeff (Fred Graham) and young Chase Winstead (Don Sullivan). The kid is working on his hot rod and instead of busting his chops the sheriff really functions as a mentor: he says he is concerned about the kids in town, and you actually believe it. The idea of having a movie in which a teenage hot rodder, who also sings like Pat Boone who is not a juvenile delinquent, or at least treated like one by the cops, is rather refreshing, although admittedly the character is a bit heavy on the saccharine. But Sullivan has a natural charm and the guy wrote his own songs, so give him some credit.
But since we are talking letting a Gila monster wander through miniatures in a film with teenage hot rodders, of course this movie received "MST3K" treatment (Season 4, when Joel turned Crow and Servo into "The Thing With Two Heads" as inspired by the movie of the same name"). My major complaint about this film is that the day for night shooting is so dark I have a hard time figuring out what is happening. Obviously the special effects budget is such that most of the "horror" is suggested by quick cuts rather than actually showing everything. Still, I like the way that everybody is pretty level headed in this film and deal with the giant Gila monster in a relatively intelligent manner without wasting a lot of time and effort. Yes, finding the monster, which is the size of several houses, should not take so long, but then the movie would be shorter and it is only 74 minutes anyway.
Along with trailers for both of the feature films there is one for "The Devil's Partner" and a Popeye cartoon, "Taxi-Turvy," in which the sailor and Bluto are taxicab drivers competing for the same paying customer. "A Bucket of Blood" deserves a rating of four stars, Daddy-O, and "The Giant Gila Monster" comes in for a pit stop at three stars. Because these are one of the better pairs of films I have seen to date in the Killer Creature Double Feature, I am going to round up in splitting the difference. Up next will be a double bill of dementia and depravity from a slightly different exploitation genre with "Common Law Wife" and "Jennie, Wife/Child." Know now that my expectations are not high."