Category Archives: AIP

RIP, Quinn O’Hara.

Quinn O’Hara
January 3, 1941 – May 5, 2017

Quinn O’Hara didn’t make many movies, but if you turn up in an AIP Beach Party movie and an episode of Dragnet, that’s resume enough for me. She has passed away at 76.

She’s seen above with Aaron Kincaid in Ghost In The Invisible Bikini (1966). It’s one of the weaker ones in the series, but it’s got Boris Karloff, Basil Rathbone, Harvey Lembeck (as Eric Von Zipper), Nancy Sinatra and The Bobby Fuller Four(!). Miss O’Hara is quite funny as Rathbone’s nearsighted daughter.

She worked pretty steadily on TV in everything from The Beverly Hillbillies and The Man From UNCLE to CHiPs and Dallas. She eventually became a nurse.

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Filed under 1966, AIP, Basil Rathbone, Bobby Fuller, Boris Karloff

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

Blu-Ray News #115: The Angry Red Planet (1959).

Directed by Ib Melchior
Produced by Sidney Pink
Starring Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen

This cheap. weird-looking science fiction picture was shot in 10 days for $200,000. The creepy miniatures, solarization and red tinting (advertised as CineMagic) make the Martian sequences pretty effective. As a kid, I was certainly impressed.

Since its effects and camerawork, from the great Stanley Cortez, are its claim to fame, it’s terrific that Shout Factory is bringing it to Blu-Ray. It’ll be great to see its widescreen framing restored — and hopefully the “Angry Red” will not be the muted orange of previous video releases. Guess we’ll find out this June.

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Filed under 1959, AIP, Ib Melchior, Shout/Scream Factory, Sidney Pink

Why Aren’t These Out On DVD?

kelly-parker-pressbook

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of movies sitting on our collective DVD and Blu-Ray Want Lists. But coming across this pressbook for a twin bill of Machine Gun Kelly and The Bonnie Parker Story (both 1958) — while doing some research on William Witney — got me thinking what a fun widescreen, hi-def package this would be.

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Filed under 1958, AIP, Charles Bronson, Roger Corman, William Witney

Blu-Ray News #99: The Screaming Skull (1958).

poster_for_the_screaming_skull

Directed by Alex Nicol
Starring John Hudson, Peggy Webber, Russ Conway, Alex Nicol

American International’s posters are often better than the films they promote. Make that much better. The Screaming Skull (1958) was one of their masterpieces, complete with the promise to bury you for free if you died of fright while watching the movie (there’s a prologue covering it on the front of the picture). Pure genius. Of course, William Castle used a similar gimmick the same year with his Macabre.

Scream Factory has announced an April release for The Screaming Skull on Blu-Ray. For those of us who can’t get enough of these AIP pictures in hi-def, that’s good news indeed.

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

DVD News #95: Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967).

gappa_1967

Directed by Haruyasu Noguchi
Starring Tamio Kawaji, Yoko Yamamoto, Yuji Okada

Why am I writing about Gappa: The Triphibian Monster (1967), which under its American TV title, Monster From A Prehistoric Planet, is already available from just about every public doman video company there is? Mainly because I get a real kick out of typing the phrase “giant reptilian chicken monster.” Ah, life’s simple pleasures.

The deal with Gappa is this. It’s a Japanese Kaiju film, from Mikkatsu Studios instead of the usual Toho, that never saw theatrical release in the US. American International sent it straight to TV in 1968 as Monster From A Prehistoric Planet. It’s more or less a remake/ripoff of the British (fake Kaiju) monster movie, Gorgo (1961). In it, a sea monster is discovered and brought to London, only to have its angry mother trash the city to get her kid back. In Gappa, the monster is a “bird-lizard” — a giant reptilian chicken with green scales, and both cheesed-off parents come to Japan in search of their offspring.

monster-from-a-prehistoric-planet

As a kid, I had the 200′ Super 8mm version from Ken Films. Since it focused on the monster stuff, I was very happy with it. Mill Creek Entertainment has brought it to DVD before, and it’s bringing it around again as part of a five-picture set called “Freak Fest.” Not sure what the source is — hopefully, they used something that preserved the original Scope photography rather than AIP’s panned and scanned TV material. The other films are Killers From Space (1954) with Peter Graves, the Gamera movies Destroy All Planets (1968) and Attack Of The Monsters (1969), and Sound Of Horror (1964).

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Filed under 1967, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray News, Kaiju Movies, Ken Films, Mill Creek

Blu-Ray Review: The TAMI Show (1964)/The Big TNT Show (1966).

tnt-show-rm-lc

I’m a big fan of 60s music by the likes of Jan & Dean, The Beach Boys, The Byrds, James Brown, The Rollings Stones and Roger Miller, and the concert movies The TAMI Show (1964) and The Big TNT Show (1966) have been on my Must See List for decades (the combine-the-two-into-one-VHS-tape thing, This Was Rock, doesn’t count.)

Both shows were shot on an early hi-def TV system, then transferred to 35mm for theatrical release — thanks to a process called Electronovision. So while I knew the music was great, I’ve always wondered how good they’d look when I finally got the chance to see them.

gpg-tami-0610

There was no reason to worry. The new Shout Factory Blu-Ray package gives us both films, The TAMI Show and The Big TNT Show, looking splendid — taking into consideration that these are basically high-end kinescopes. They’re widescreen (1.78 for TAMI, 1.85 for TNT), as they were in theaters, and the monophonic sound is absolutely glorious.

Which performances you like best is a matter of personal taste, with the fabled James Brown/Rolling Stones sets being obvious standouts. (The Stones do “It’s All Over Now!”) Roger Miller really knocked me out in the second picture — it’s a real treat to see him in these prime years — and The Byrds are really cool (the image is sharp enough for us to see the sweat pouring off of David Crosby, who’s wearing a cape/coat/wrap thing during their handful of songs). It’s a really diverse mix of incredible talent — so many of these acts have made their way into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

These movies serve as a remarkable time capsule, documenting a time when popular music was on fire. If the music of this period is your bag, this double feature is essential.

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Filed under 1964, 1966, AIP, DVD/Blu-ray Reviews, Shout/Scream Factory