Category Archives: 1968

Destroy All Monsters (1968).

Directed by Ishiro Honda.
Written by Ishiro Honda and Takeshi Kimura
Special Effects: Eiji Tsuburaya

Cast: Akira Kubo, Jun Tazaki, Yukiko Kobayashi, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Kyoko Ai, Andrew Hughes

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Here in Raleigh, we used to have the terrific Cardinal Theatre, a 750-seat curved-screen 70mm paradise — one of the finest places I ever saw a movie.

The Cardinal was the site of a summer movie series when I was growing up. What a marvelous place to see beat-up, sometimes-faded TohoScope prints of things like Destroy All Monsters (1968) and War Of The Garganutas (1966). For monster kids in the mid-70s (such as me and my best friend James Graham), it just couldn’t get any better.

So this is a movie that comes with a great big monster-sized chunk of nostalgia.

The United Nations Science Committee (UNSC) has established Monsterland, an island where the world’s monsters have been gathered up and confined. Here, they go about their monster business, observed by a team of scientists in an underground control center. It’s a perfect set up, until a group of alien women (Kilaakians, from the planet Kilaak) take over the scientists’ minds and unleash the monsters upon an unsuspecting world.

Godzilla (played by Haruo Nakajima) trashes New York City, Rodan attacks Moscow, Mothra (in larva form) hits Beijing, Baragon heads to Paris and Manda destroys London — all under the Kilaakians’ command. This is all a diversion, as the aliens set up their secret base near Mt. Fuji.

It takes some doing, but the monsters are freed from their extraterrestrial mind control by a team from the UNSC. The Kilaakians then dispatch King Ghidorah — and the big monster battle is on!

The moguls and the monsters.

For my money, Destroy All Monsters is the best Godzilla movie of them all. As a kid, it delivered on everything I was looking for — monsters. There’s a lot of ’em and they tear up tons of stuff. And it’s a huge step up from the previous picture, Son Of Godzilla (1967), which I loathed. Even at 11, I thought it was a juvenile piece of crap.

At this time, the Godzilla series was in decline, and Destroy All Monsters was an attempt to set things right. If you ask me, they did. But it was short-lived — the subsequent films seem to be geared toward younger and younger kids. This should’ve been the last one — allowing the King Of The Monsters to go out with a bang.

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Filed under 1968, AIP, Ishirō Honda, Kaiju Movies, Toho

Steve McQueen’s Bullitt Mustang Found In A Mexican Junkyard.

It’s a different kind of film preservation, and a very cool one at that.

The second of two 1968 Mustangs specially outfitted for Bullitt (1968) — and gloriously abused by Steve McQueen and the stunt team in the film’s chase scene, has been discovered in a junkyard in Mexico. (The other one’s locked away at some rich dude’s house, evidently.)

A restoration is underway — and I’m sure a lot of guys with deep pockets are making outlandish bids. I’d love to know how it got from Point A (San Francisco or the Warner Bros. lot) to Point B (painted white in Baja California Sur, Mexico) — and if any of McQueen’s Juicy Fruit gum wrappers are under the seat.

My iPod’s got Lalo Schifrin’s score going as I type this. And thanks to Jim Briggs for the tip.

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Filed under 1968, Film Preservation, Peter Yates, Steve McQueen

Blu-Ray News #107: The Blood Of Fu Manchu (1968) And The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969).

caslte-of-fm

Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Christopher Lee, Richard Greene

The Blood Of Fu Manchu (1968, AKA Kiss And Kill) and The Castle Of Fu Manchu (1969) — the last two pictures in producer Harry Alan Towers’ series based on Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu, star Christopher Lee, Richard Greene and the Law Of Diminishing Returns.

blood-of-fm

Directed by the Spanish cult director Jess Franco, they have their fans — and they’ll be happy to know that Blue Underground is bringing them to Blu-Ray some time this year. The previous DVD release had a lot of extras, which will make their way to the Blu-Ray set.

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The first and third Lee/Fu Manchu pictures, The Face Of Fu Manchu (1965, directed by Don Sharp) and The Vengeance Of Fu Manchu (1967) are available from Warner Archive. (I really like Face.) The second, The Brides Of Fu Manchu (1966), was released several years ago from Warners, paired with Chamber Of Horrors (also 1966). How deep you want to go in this series is a personal thing, but Lee makes a terrific Fu Manchu — and let’s not forget him as Chung King in Hammer’s Terror Of The Tongs (1961).

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Filed under 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, Blue Underground, Christopher Lee, DVD/Blu-ray News, Hammer Films, Warner Archive

RIP, Robert Vaughan.

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Robert Vaughan
(November 22, 1932 – November 11, 2016)

Robert Vaughan has passed away at 83.

Everybody’s gonna be all about The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is fine. But he always impressed me in character roles, like the punk kid in the Western Good Day For A Hanging (1959) or as a slimy politician in Bullitt (1968). The scene above, about midway through the picture, has Vaughan being a real creep and Steve McQueen being cool as he eats a peanut butter sandwich. It’s a really great scene, just two good actors doing their thing.

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Filed under 1968, Robert Vaughan, Steve McQueen

Blu-Ray News #81: The TAMI Show (1964)/The Big TNT Show (1966).

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Shout Factory has announced a twin-bill Blu-Ray of two of the greatest concert films ever made: The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) and The Big T.N.T. Show (1966). Both were shot on videotape and transferred to 35mm for theatrical release by American International. In the 50s and 60s, AIP really had the teenager scene locked down, didn’t they?

The T.A.M.I. Show features The Beach Boys (whose performance was edited out for years), Chuck Berry, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, The Supremes and Jan And Dean (who emcee the event). It was directed by Steve Binder, who also gave us Elvis’ ’68 Comeback Special.

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1966’s The Big T.N.T. Show follows the same basic format as The T.A.M.I. Show. Some say the lineup of acts isn’t as good as the first film, but with The Byrds, Roger Miller, Ray Charles and Bo Diddley on hand, I ain’t complaining. Oh, and Frank Zappa can be spotted in the audience!

I’ve always been impressed by how good these look, given they began as 1960s videotape, and am looking forward to the Blu-Ray. Essential stuff.

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Filed under 1964, 1966, 1968, AIP, Elvis Presley, Shout/Scream Factory

Gene Wilder, RIP.

Wilder Wonka

The great Gene Wilder has passed away. For those of us who grew up in the 70s, he was in so much good stuff — Bonnie And Clyde (1967), The Producers (1968), Willie Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (1971, above), Blazing Saddles (1974), Young Frankenstein (1974) and many more.

kenneth mars - producers

Wilder with Zero Mostel and Kenneth Mars in Mel Brooks’ The Producers. When you have Mostel, Mars and Wilder in the same frame, how can it not be funny?

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Filed under 1967, 1968, 1971, 1974, Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks

Dean Jones, RIP.

Love Bug LCs

Dean Jones
(January 25, 1931 – September 1, 2015)

Dean Jones, star of one of my favorite films growing up, The Love Bug (1968), has passed away at 84. How much joy did this guy usher into the world?

The-Love-Bug-90

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Filed under 1968, Buddy Hackett, Dean Jones, Disney, Herbie