Thanks to the 2 neighborhood theaters there were lots of movies to go see. And space exploration continued to be a major theme with "Journey To The 7th Planet" which followed a crew of astronauts led by John Agar and "Reptillicus" alumni Carl Ottessen heading to Neptune of all places set in the year 2001. The crew encounter their worst fears and greatest desires on the planet all brought about by a one eyed brain creature that lived underground. The brain beast wanted to take over the astronauts bodies and go back to earth they even think the beautiful women they found on Neptune are going back to earth with them but it turns out to be all in their minds.
What do you do when a new kind of plant is able to move about and paralyze you with a sting and then eat your decayed body? First you try to run, but what if you're blind? That was the premise of "Day Of The Triffids". The Triffids arrived on earth during a meteorite shower and were activated by a second light show that caused blindness to anyone watching it. Sailor Bill Masen (Howard Keel) is recovering from eye surgery and misses the light show. In the morning he finds a blinded London and tries to get out of the city, meeting a young girl who ran away from school and was in a boxcar in a train when the meteorites fell. The pair go to France and meet Christine Durand (Nicole Maurey) at a chateau. When the chateau is over run by both escaped convicts and the Triffids, the 3 leave for Spain to make their way to the naval base at Cadiz where there are people who can see. Masen finds out the Triffids are attracted by sound and leads them away from a house in a truck that plays music and he and the young girl Susan and Christine make their way to a submarine...end of story right? NO! The film was short and producers needed extra padding time so they film additional scenes with Kieron Moore and Janette Scott as a husband and wife team of scientist (Tom and Karen Goodwin) trapped in a lighthouse surrounded by Triffids. Tom finds that seawater will dissolve the Triffids and uses it on them. Now end of story. This was one of my favorite science fiction films of all time. My friend Kathy got a big laugh out of the crowd in attendance for the movie when as the Triffid was re-generating, she shoulted "pull youself together!" For those with a sharp eye, a Triffid shows up in a spaceship in the film "E.T".
Nuclear bombs are dropped on Los Angeles and other American cities by someone called "The enemy". This is how "Panic In Year Zero" directed and starring Ray Milland begins. The Baldwin family are going on a camping trip when the war begins and Harry decides they will keep their plans. What follows is a look at how this family copes with changing values and behavior by people when they believe as Rick Baldwin (Frankie Avalon) says "no rules or regulations" anymore. Harry tries to keep his family protected, but he realizes he has begun to behave the same way as those he is trying to protect his family from. They find a girl who had been held hostage at a farm house by men who would come in to have sex with her. Harry and Rick kill the men, who raped his daughter Karen and make their way back to civilization. A low-budget but very powerful film that I recommend a viewing.
We remember the 1933 "King Kong", a classic. We remember the 1954 "Godzilla" a classic also. Bring them together for the battle of the century with Toho's "King Kong vs. Godzilla". This is not a stop-motion Kong but a suit-mation (man in a suit) monster but who cares. It was the highest grossing film in the Godzilla series and I remember the theater being packed when I saw it. The two giants battle and tear Japan apart in the process until both fall into the sea. We see Kong swim away at the end, in the Japanese version we hear the roars of both creatures and there was no such thing as an "American ending" and a "Japanese ending" which was supposed to have either Kong or Godzilla win. For the American release there were added scenes filmed with Michael Keith, James Yagi and Harry Holcombe. The Japanese version featured some veteran Godzilla actors such as Kenji Sahara, Tadao Takashima, Yu Fujuki, Mia Hama, Jun Tazaki and "Godzilla" alumni Akihiko Hirata. The film was an original idea of Kong creator Willis O'Brien who envisioned "King Kong vs. Frankenstein" but was said to have been saddened when he saw Kong portrayed by a man in a suit.
Double features were the norm in up until the late 70's and when I went to see the "Horrible Dr. Hitchcock", the companion film was "The Awful Dr. Orloff" and maybe this explains why I don't like or trust doctors. Orloff (Howard Vernon) wants to fix his daughter's face by using skin grafts from others who just so happen to be alive. It's another version of "Eyes Without A Face". Orloff is assisted by his blind henchman Morpho. This is believed to be one of the first horror films made in Spain. Little did I or anyone know that Orloff and Morpho would return in numerous films over the years.
1962 came and my movie going started to take off more. Still going with Mom to one of the several neighborhood theaters, sometimes going with Pop or with a neighbor and her daughter, weekends were at the movies.
"Hands Of A Stranger" was a remake of "Hands Of Orloc" the 4th adaptation of the original. Pianist Vernon Paris (James Stapleton) has his hands destroyed in a car accident and becomes the recipient of a double hand transplant but realizes the hands are of a murder victim. Paris knocks over a candle starting a fire which causes the death of his girlfriend and becomes unstable, killing the son of the driver who caused the accident, another doctor and finally tries to kill the doctor (Paul Lukather) who performed the surgery before he is gunned down by police.
"The Horrible Dr. Hitchcock" was set in the 1800's with the good doctor being a necrophiliac. Hitchcock (Robert Fleyming) drugs his wife for sexual activities but administers an overdose. Years later he re-marries and brings his new wife (Barbara Steele) to the castle to use her blood to bring the rotted corpse of his wife back to life. When Fleyming found out the film involved necrophilia, he tried to get out of it but his agent said no, he was locked in. He did give a good performance.
"Slaughter Of The Vampires", another black and white Italian film this time involved the resurrection of vampires in the 1800's. A newly married couple acquire a castle in Germany and and the bride is visited by a vampire (Dieter Eppler). Louise becomes weaker and weaker and her husband Wolfgang seeks the help of a physician to find out what can be done. Dr.Nietzche (Luigi Batzella) is too late but helps Wolfgang stake Louise and her maid Corrine, who has become a vampire and finally dispatch the male vampire with the spikes of an iron gate. The opening with the woman being staked by a crowd of people and she was screaming was un-nerving for a 9 year old but it didn't keep me from wanting to see more.