Category Archives: 1958

Blu-Ray Review: Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958).

Directed by Nathan Hertz
Produced by Bernard Woolner
Written by Mark Hanna
Director Of Photography: Jacques R. Marquette
Film Editor: Edward Mann
Music by Ronald Stein

Cast: Allison Hayes (Nancy Fowler Archer), William Hudson (Harry Archer), Yvette Vickers (Honey Parker), Roy Gordon (Dr. Isaac Cushing), George Douglas (Sheriff Dubbitt), Ken Terrell (Jess), Otto Waldis (Dr. Heinrich Von Loeb), Eileen Stevens (Nurse), Frank Chase (Deputy Charlie)


First saw Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman (1958) when I was 12. I was already pretty entrenched in horror and sci-fi movies from the 30s to the 60s, and while this one wasn’t much to write home about, I loved it. Still do, and there’s even more to love with the new Blu-Ray from Warner Archive.

The lovely Nancy Fowler Archer (Allison Hayes) seems to have pretty much everything. $50 million bucks (in 1958 money). The famous Star Of India diamond. A swank second home in the desert. A loyal butler (Ken Turrell). And a gorgeous 1958 Imperial Crown convertible.

She also has some mental health issues, a drinking problem, and a real dirtbag of a cheating husband (William Hudson). Those three things come to a head one night when she comes across a huge, glowing orb from outer space — and the bald giant (with an effeminate, but insanely hairy arm) who lives inside it.

No one believes Nancy, naturally, but her husband decides to use it for all its worth — a way to send her away forever while assuring his access to all that money. This pleases his boozy, floozy girlfriend, Yvette Vickers.

Eventually, Allison Hayes, the orb and the giant come together again — and she’s soon 50 feet tool and sleeping on top of the pool house. As doctors (played by Roy Gordon and Otto Waldis) discuss her predicament, all we see is a very large, very unconvincing fake hand — probably the same hand we saw as the giant, now de-haired. Some effects are not special.

The actual “attack of the 50 toot woman” is limited to the last 10 minutes, with regular-sized people pointing upward and telling is what Miss Hayes is doing, as she heads toward the bar to find William Hudson and Yvette Vickers.

It’d be really easy to laugh off Attack Of The 50 Foot Woman as a ludicrous piece of junk if it wasn’t for the pros that put it together. Director Nathan Juran (using the Nathan Hertz pseudonym he reserved for really cheap movies) and editor Edward Mann keep things quick and snappy. There’s a tongue-in-cheek approach to the whole thing that really works in its favor. And it doesn’t play at all like a normal 50s sci-fi film — the scheming, philandering husband features almost as much as the mysteriously growing wife.

Some may feel the movie could be better (I love it just as it is), but we’ll probably all agree this Blu-Ray can’t be improved. The transfer is up to Warner Archive’s typical exacting standard — framed and dialed-in perfectly. We get the wonderfully overstated trailer that promises far, far more than the film delivers. And it picks up the commentary from Tom Weaver and Yvette Vickers (RIP) that graced the original DVD release. Plus, they let Reynold Brown’s original poster art shine on the cover.

I grew up on movies movies like this. And thanks to Warner Archive, I’ll grow old seeing this one look absolutely splendid. Highly, highly recommended.

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Filed under 1958, Allison Hayes, Monogram/Allied Artists, Nathan Juran, Warner Archive, Woolner Brothers, Yvette Vickers

Blu-Ray News #316: It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958).

Directed by Edward L. Cahn
Starring Marshall Thompson, Shawn Smith, Kim Spalding, Dabbs Greer, Ray Corrigan

It! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958) provided a clear, if somewhat cheesy, inspiration for Alien (1979). It’s a cool little monster movie, not just an interesting footnote in the history of a blockbuster. It’s also quite effective, making much of what is decides not to show us. Ray “Crash” Corrigan, the B Western star and owner of Corriganville, plays the monster. United Artists sent it to theaters with Curse Of The Faceless Man, also directed by Edward L. Cahn.

Kino Lorber is bringing It! The Terror From Beyond Space to Blu-Ray, where its widescreen (vs. full-frame) framing will make some of that aforementioned cheesiness fall away. Highly recommended.

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Filed under 1958, Dabbs Greer, DVD/Blu-ray News, Edward L. Cahn, Marshall Thompson, United Artists

A Night At The Movies, Halloween ’64.

One more of these before I start saving ’em for next year. The D&R Theater in Aberdeen, Washington, went all Universal International. Brides Of Dracula (a Hammer import) and The Leech Woman (both 1960) had been paired by U-I when they were originally released.

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Filed under 1958, 1960, 1964, A Night At The Movies, Coleen Gray, Halloween Marathons, Hammer Films, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, Universal (-International)

RIP, Jerry Lee Lewis.

Jerry Lee Lewis
September 29, 1935 – October 28, 2022

As far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest single strips of motion picture film in existance is Jerry Lee Lewis banging out the title song to High School Confidential! (1958) — in CinemaScope!

Mr. Lewis has passed away at 87. He was the last of those Sun Records artists who built the prototype for Rock N Roll — Elvis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison have already left this earth.

Jerry Lee’s Sun singles are indeed classics, but I love the country records he made for Smash in the late 60s every bit as much. Guess today I’ll be spinning In Loving Memories, his gospel album from 1971.

You will certainly be missed, Mr. Lewis.

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Filed under 1958, Albert Zugsmith, Elvis Presley, Jack Arnold, Mamie Van Doren, MGM

Blu-Ray News #314: Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman (1958).

Directed by Nathan H. Juran (as Nathan Hertz)
Starring Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers

Warner Archive has announced Nathan Juran’s Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman (1958) as one of their December releases. I’m sure there are some folks out there asking, “Why?” If you don’t get it, I don’t think I could ever explain.

No one has ever accused this of being a good movie. The director Nathan Juran even decided to use a pseudonym, Nathan Hertz, the same name he used for Brain From Planet Arous. And like Arous, 50 Ft. Woman is a hoot, its entertainment value is in no way related to its budget (just $88,000, they say) or its quality as a film. Me, I’ll watch anything with Allison Hayes in it, from Chicago Syndicate (1955) and Gunslinger (1956) to Zombies Of Mora Tau (1957) and The High Powered Rifle (1960). Oh, and Tickle Me (1965) with Elvis.

Attack Of The 50 Ft. Woman was originally released as half of an Allied Artists twin bill with Roger Corman’s War Of The Satellites (1958) starring Dick Miller. Must’ve been a fun afternoon at the movies. By the way, this was remade in 1993, starring Darryl Hannah.

Haven’t seen any specs for the Blu-Ray, but I’m sure it’ll be widescreen and will look terrific. Hope they keep the commentary by Yvette Vickers and Tom Weaver that was on the old DVD. It was cool to listen to Ms. Vickers.

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Filed under 1958, Allison Hayes, Dick Miller, DVD/Blu-ray News, Monogram/Allied Artists, Nathan Juran, Roger Corman, Warner Archive, Yvette Vickers

A Night At The Movies, Halloween 1961.

Folks in the Kansas City area really had it going on around Halloween of 1961. Blood And Roses (1960), Circus Of Horrors (1960), Hammer’s The Mummy (1959) — and depending on which theater you chose, either Blood Of The Vampire (1958), Jack Arnold’s Monster On The Campus (1958) or The Thing That Couldn’t Die (1958).

Tough decision, but I think I would’ve chosen Blood Of The Vampire (for Barbara Shelley) at the Dickinson Theater. What would’ve been your pick?

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Filed under 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, A Night At The Movies, AIP, Barbara Shelley, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, Halloween Marathons, Hammer Films, Jack Arnold, Jack Asher, Peter Cushing, Terence Fisher, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray News #372: The Brain Eaters (1958).

Directed by Bruno VeSota
Starring Edwin Nelson, Joanna Lee, Alan Frost, Cornelius Keefe, Leonard Nimoy

As a kid, I spent more time studying TV Guide than my stuff for school. I was looking for was stuff like The Brain Eaters (1958), and when something turned up (often on WRAL’s Sunrise Theater), it was like I’d won a contest or something. While I love great movies like The Searchers (1956) or Citizen Kane (1941), it’s junk like The Brain Eaters than turned me into the movie nut I am today. Bet it worked that way for a lot of y’all out there, too.

So, it’s with a lot of nostalgia and glee that I report that Scream Factory is bringing The Brain Eaters to Blu-Ray later this month — in a limited edition of just 1,500 copies.

The story goes that actor Bruno VeSota wanted to direct, so he turned to Roger Corman. With Corman’s help, The Brain Eaters was made for less than $30,000. They got a distribution deal with AIP who paired it with Bert I. Gordon’s The Spider (1958) — and cooked up a great ad campaign for ’em (see the poster up top from Benson, North Carolina’s Benton Card Company). By the way, Scream Factory has already done a Blu-Ray of The Spider.

A big metal spiral-shaped thing turns up in rural Illinois, then people end up dead with weird parasites attached to the back of their necks. It’s got a bit of an Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1956) thing going on — and was eventually wrapped up in a plagiarism suit from Robert A. Heinlein, who claimed The Brain Eaters ripped off his 1951 novel The Puppet Masters. And Leonard Nimoy’s name is misspelled in the credits, but he didn’t sue.

You don’t really recommend a movie like The Brain Eaters. You already know if this is your kind of thing. You can bet Scream Factory will have it looking as good as it’s ever gonna look, so grab one before they’re gone!

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Filed under 1958, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Roger Corman, Shout/Scream Factory

Blu-Ray/4K News #366: Touch Of Evil (1958).

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Filed under 1958, Albert Zugsmith, Charlton Heston, DVD/Blu-ray News, Janet Leigh, Kino Lorber, Orson Welles, Universal (-International)

Blu-Ray Review: Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958).

Directed by Richard E. Cunha
Written by H. E. Barrie
Cinematography: Meredith Nicholson
Film Editor: Everett Dodd
Music by Nicholas Carras

Cast: John Ashley (Johnny Bruder), Sandra Knight (Trudy Morton), Donald Murphy (Oliver Frank/Frankenstein), Sally Todd (Suzie Lawler), Harold Lloyd Jr. (Don), Felix Maurice Locher (Carter Morton), Wolfe Barzell (Elsu), John Zaremba (Lt. Boyd), Robert Dix (Det. Bill Dillon), Harry Wilson (The Monster)


With Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958), The Film Detective has topped their exquisite Blu-Ray of Giant From The Unknown. Shot in less than a week in May of 1958 for about $65,000, Frankenstein’s Daughter is a typically glorious, wonderful late-50s junk movie.

Richard Cunha directed a handful of films, including Frankenstein’s Daughter, that I have a real fondness for, regardless of whether they’re any good or not. Caught this one on the late show as a teenager, when I was soaking up as much of this stuff as I could get my hands on.

At the time, I was enticed by stills in some monster movie books and magazines, and by the fact that John Ashley was in it. I’d seen Ashley in Larry Buchanan’s abysmal The Eye Creatures, a 16mm AIP TV movie from 1967 (and a remake of 1957’s Invasion Of The Saucer Men) — and, of course, the Beach Party pictures.

John Ashley: “Frankenstein’s Daughter was really rock bottom. But the people involved were very nice, especially Dick Cunha, the director.”*

Richard E. Cunha was born in Honolulu in 1922. He attended LA’s Art Center School. After the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December, 1941, Cunha enlisted in the Air Force and served in their First Motion Picture Unit, making training films at the Hal Roach Studios (nicknamed “Fort Roach” at the time).

After the war, Cunha started his own company, making industrial films and commercials — and he shot some early TV shows. He’d later work as DP on Death Valley Days and Branded.

It was in 1957 that Cunha began his run of low-budget monster movies: Giant From The Unknown, She Demons, Missile To The Moon and Frankenstein’s Daughter. Each were done in about a week for around $65,000. They’re a load of cheeseball fun, with personal favorites being Frankenstein’s Daughter and Missile To The Moon (I’m a sucker for those guys-reach-another-world-and-find-a-society-of-women movies). It’s hard to put your finger on what makes Cunha’s movies somehow better than the other one-week wonders from the same period, but they are. 

But our focus today is on Frankenstein’s Daughter. It’s got yet another member of the Frankenstein family conducting the family business under an assumed name (the very lame Oliver Frank). Oliver is working as a lab assistant and spiking the fruit juice of his boss’s niece Trudy (Sandra Knight) with a secret formula that contains something called Digenerol. While all this is happening, Trudy has recurring dreams of turning into a monster. And if all that’s not enough, Oliver is also assembling a female version of the typical Frankenstein brand of “perfect being.” All that, and it’s got a Playboy Playmate in it (Sally Todd, February 1957). Sounds awesome, don’t it?

On Blu-Ray, this thing looks terrific — nice and clean and sharp, framed the way it should be (1.85), with surprisingly punchy audio. Never thought I’d see it look like this.

Then there’s all the extras, and The Film Detective really piles ’em on. For starters, there’s a commentary from Tom Weaver (who also wrote some stuff for the packaging). Then there are two terrific documentaries: Richard E. Cunha: Filmmaker Of The Unknown (complete with some interview footage) and John Ashley: Man From The B’s. I loved ’em both. This is an all-around wonderful release, my favorite so far from The Film Detective.

It’s really easy to recommend this thing, especially to fans of such nonsense. Here’s hoping that The Film Detective gets around to She Demons soon (Missile To The Moon got a pretty solid Blu-Ray release from Snappy Video).

* From Interviews With B Science Fiction & Horror Movie Makers by Tom Weaver

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Filed under 1958, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, John Ashley, Richard Cunha, The Film Detective

Blu-Ray News #365: Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949).

Directed by William Castle
Starring Howard Duff, Shelley Winters, Dan Duryea, Tony Curtis, John McIntire, Gar Moore, Leif Erickson

Kino Lorber is continuing their terrific noir Blu-Ray series Film Noir: The Dark Side Of Cinema with Volumes VI and VII.

Volume VI contains John Brahm’s Singapore (1947), with Fred MacMurray, Ava Gardner and Roland Culver; George Sherman’s The Raging Tide (1951) with Shelley Winters, Richard Conte, Stephen McNally, Charles Bickford, Alex Nicol and John McIntire; and William Castle’s Johnny Stool Pigeon (1949).

In Castle’s picture, Federal agents need Johnny Evans (Dan Duryea), who’s doing time in Alcatraz, to rat on some drug dealers and hit men. Johnny’s not to hip to the idea. It’s a solid effort from Castle. Recommended.

Volume VII will contain Byron Haskin’s The Boss (1956) starring John Payne; Sidney Salkow’s Chicago Confidential (1957) with Brian Keith, Beverly Garland and Dick Foran; and Dana Andrews, Dick Foran and Marilee Earle in Jacques Tourneur’s The Fearmakers (1958).

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Filed under 1956, 1957, 1958, Ava Gardner, Beverly Garland, Dan Duryea, Dana Andrews, DVD/Blu-ray News, Film Noir, Fred MacMurray, George Sherman, Jacques Tourneur, John Payne, Kino Lorber, Richard Conte, Tony Curtis, Universal (-International), William Castle