1950s Sci Fi/Creature B Movie Flicks HoF


Creature With the Atom Brain...this one hooked me right at the start and thanks to it's snappy dialect and efficient direction it kept me hooked. It's neat in that it's basically a noir crime film and like so many of those from the 1950s it's based on police procedural of a strange case. A very strange case of dead people being remotely controlled and powered by radium. For a b budget film I was impressed with the number of shooting locations and sets. I especially liked the mad scientist lab with it's walls covered in lead shielding to stop the U.S. military from detecting the radiation. The 'control device' they planted in the heads of the corpses was cool! And the technological explanation about how the dead could be remotely controlled sounded at least like it made some sense.

@Allaby I enjoyed the movie!
At this juncture I'll mention Roky Erickson - he was a musician who produced several songs that were based on old horror & sci-fi movies. One of these was Creature with the Atom Brain. Erickson would sometimes even incorporate his rendition of pieces of the movies' soundtracks into the songs as he does with this one.

The Abominable Snowman (1957)

Oh! this was a good one. If you guys only watch a couple of these, you might want to consider this little known gem. I was impressed by how serious the film takes itself, it's not a cheesy fun film...Instead it's well written and thought provoking, much along the lines of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

First off I was impressed with the world building as the film immerses the viewer in the world of a high altitude Tibetan monk monastery. The monastery set was convincing and I loved the actual footage of the expedition into the Himalayan mountains. I just read that those scenes were shot on the Pyrénées in France. Even the studio scenes where we see the actors close up still match the overall look of the Himalayan mountains.

The third act was an unexpected plus as I hadn't expected a deeper philosophical view from the film. I haven't seen many Hammer films but if The Abominable Snowman is any indication of their quality of work I'll have to watch more from that studio.
@Siddon Good one!

Gog (1954)

Really good movie, really bad movie poster! I swear when I seen the movie poster I thought this would be a fun but super cheesy film...I mean it is named Gog and in 3D. Boy was I wrong! This is a smart film, very science orientated and detailed. It was also quite surprising in just how grisly the deaths in this film are. The print I seen was restored and looked great especially as it was done in color. Look for the early product placement from the Coca Cola company.

@beelzebubble Thanks for a very different sci fi b film! I enjoyed it.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms -

The opening credits for this movie really raised my anticipation since they have two of my favorite Rays, i.e., Bradbury and Harryhausen. While it wasn't fully paid off, I still had a good time. A common trait of movies like this one is scenes requiring our heroes to convince others of something that is very hard to believe, usually to no avail. The scenes that prove that Professor Nesbitt and company are not just making things up are always satisfying, especially since each one is a win for science, which as we know doesn't always happen in the real world. Harryhausen's animation of the dinosaur is up to his high standards, especially during its attack on New York, which also seems so real due to how many extras it features. The practical effects of the building destruction in this scene and others like the one with the lighthouse deserve praise as well as prove that the real thing is no substitute for CGI.

With that said, I like it, but I don't quite love it: for one, it could have been a little less about the science and more about the characters. I would have liked more "coffee chats" with Tom and Lee, in other words. Also, the scene where it's revealed that the dinosaur is carrying infectious diseases isn't paid off to my liking. I still had a good time overall, and if anything, I have an easy recommendation for someone who wants to see a movie like this that's not subtle about the dangers of meddling with nuclear weapons.

The Blob (1958)

The Blob is a classic of the genre...doesn't mean it's a good film. As a matter of fact when it comes to the script and performances from the actors it's Plan 9 From Outer Space level bad. Steve McQueen is near thirty and Aneta Corsaut is her mid twenties and they look it. But they are supposed to play teenagers hiding from their parents...the comedy for me is in later scenes McQueen kept his wedding ring on. That is objectionably terrible writing, casting, and directing. And a lot of the supporting cast is just bad and weird even for the genre.

The flip side though is Thomas E. Spalding's cinematography is incredible. At times I felt like I was watching a Sirk film with the angle's and the shot compositions. I was bored listening to the actors speak for most of the film but I was never bored with what I saw on the screen. The FX in the film are practical and gorgeous you kinda know how they are doing it but you also don't care because it's so well shot.

Destination Moon (1950)

I seen this like 10 years ago and I believe it was Captain Steel who told me about back then. On my second watch I liked it even better. This time around I appreciated the first half of the film more with it's explanation about how U.S. industries came together to put a man on the moon. It's not the U.S. government doing the moon launch, it's big business. Sound familiar?

I also appreciated the striking similarities between this 1950 sci fi and the actual Apollo moon mission. Now this is from memory and I didn't bother to Google any of it, but I believe there was a probe sent to Mars in the 90s, who's high gain antenna was 'froze' because some technician lubed the antenna's gear and the lube froze in the coldness of space. That same thing happens in the movie. I also remember that Neil Armstrong on Apollo 11 upon decent to the moon's surface couldn't find a suitable landing spot and had only a few seconds of fuel left when he finally put down the craft. The same scenario happens in the movie.

Destination Moon gets a lot of things right and did it almost 20 years before we actually landed on the moon. As a movie today it might not be the funnest b-sci-fi flick I've seen...but...it held my attention and I found it interesting.
mainly for the realism.
@Captain Steel Thanks!

Attack of the Crab Monsters -

Like so many other '50s B-movies, this is another cautionary tale about using nuclear weapons. Even though the monster is not a giant lizard, it doesn’t deviate from their formula that much, but I still had a pretty good time. From the radio being sabotaged to the island literally and randomly becoming smaller, the stakes are high, and there's something very creepy about the crabs speaking in their victims' voices as if they are ghosts haunting them. Speaking of the crabs, that they absorb their prey's bodies and retain their personalities is a clever touch and makes me wonder if they inspired the aliens in John Carpenter's The Thing. Also, for the whole thing coming across like it was filmed over a weekend at a rich friends' house, kudos goes to the performers for keeping things professional and taking the material as seriously as anyone could possibly take a story about killer crabs, which is undoubtedly due to the Roger Corman touch. Again, it treads pretty familiar territory; plus, our heroes could have used a bit more personality. I’m still glad I watched it, and if anything, I admire its makers' resourcefulness.

I'm gonna try to sneak one of these tonight.
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I watched The Tingler (1959). Directed by William Castle, The Tingler stars the legendary Vincent Price as a pathologist who discovers a parasitic creature. This was fun! Vince Price gives a very entertaining and effective performance. The screenplay is above average for this kind of film. There are some fantastic scenes. The film is creepy and spooky in an enjoyable sort of way. It's a real scream! I've only seen 3 William Castle films so far and this is my favourite of the ones I have seen. I do want to eventually see more. I've now seen 25 Vincent Price films and this would be in his top 5 for me.
Vincent Price is always a treat. I've seen a couple of his films and he's always the highlight.

As for Castle, I've only seen The Tingler and House on Haunted Hill. Both a lot of fun.

Creature with the Atom Brain

Low budget film making is an art form in it's own right. Often times filmmakers miss the little things or take short cuts that hurt the film. Creature with the Atom Brain doesn't do that. I am very glad I watched this after The Blob because while The Blob had better FX this was the better film.

This is like a weird sci-fi noir where a group of cops are hunting a mysterious Nazi scientist and his gangster employees. The casting was done right here...all the guys are in their 40's and 50's which is what the story needs. The set pieces are perfect simple and clean giving us that retro-science fiction look that we need from this era. But the other thing is how the monsters are just a little bit bigger than the cops. It's a little touch like that, that is so nice to see.

My only complaint is that the story isn't as cohesive as it needs to be. Another 10-15 minutes of runtime to tighten up the plot would have been perfect this was something that I enjoyed very much.

Destination Moon (1950)

An historical oddity of a film, this was made 20 years prior to the Apollo missions and they managed to get a number of things correct. They also got a number of things wrong but still as a historical piece it's an interesting watch. The issue with the film is that it's also a fairly dull story likely wasn't dull in 1950 but it's pretty dull now.

Four astronauts go to the moon they have an old guy a captain a side kick and some other guy. Nobody stands out in this film accept for Joe who is really really really annoying. I don't know if right now I can think of an offensive Italian American stereotype that was as bad as Joe. His job in the film is to in essence be an idiot and ask dumb questions...also he cracks wise about the starting pitcher for the Dodgers and the hot date he's got. It was just cringey....and a distraction.

It's a really shame the film has that distraction because the matte painting is undeniably gorgeous(though we know the Moon doesn't look like that) and many of the effects looked pretty good for 1950. Still I found my mind drifting I don't even remember what caused the third act to get set up and this is an hour after watching it. I didn't hate the film but I also didn't enjoy it I was just fascinated by it as a historical piece.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

I watched some time back when I was watching the Ray Harryhausen movies. The plus is the stop motion animation and the way Harryhausen gives the illusion of life to the giant dinosaur. In one scene the soldiers fire at it and it turns around to avoid being directly hit by fire. That scene added alot but it made me feel sorry for the creature who was only doing what it was born to do. It was refreshing to see that the scientist who had a German accent wasn't evil but was a handsome and smart man. Cecil Kellaway is always a joy to see on the screen. The story itself didn't do much for me, but the destruction scenes in the city were done well.

Thanks @SpelingError

The Deadly Mantis (1957)

I applaud the naked theft of The Thing From Another World, Tarantula, and Them!...this was like the Tarantino of B-movie monster films!. This is one of those films that's fun but it's also not really that great. The film lives and dies based on the Mantis effect and you can't really make the Mantis move so through out the film the filmmaker makes a number of efforts to keep the puppeteers right off frame.

While the film rips off a lot of other B-Movies the first act is really solid in the arctic. It would have been better if they would have stayed their and tried killing off members of the cast like a Creature from the Black Lagoon. Taking the film to a second location was a mistake because what were the stakes for the film?

The Deadly Mantis -

Of all the '50s movie monsters, I'm the most glad that this one doesn't exist. Considering how much ice has melted over the years, we'd be swarmed with them! But anyway, I had a lot of fun with this movie which if anything, defines resourcefulness. The mantis is not the most expensive looking puppet and the buildings and vehicles it ransacks are obviously models, but I still found it terrifying. The scale of the creature in the models makes him seem humongous and that buzzing noise is bound to haunt me. While more talk than action seems to be a trademark of this genre, this one had just enough cake and frosting, if you will. It helps that the character scenes intersperse the technobabble with more romance and comedy than I expected like all the scenes where the military men are overjoyed to see a woman. It's also nice to see a finale that trades action for horror for a change. In short, I had a lot of fun with this and can imagine it being a gateway movie for this genre. Oh, and that Italian boat captain is so stereotypical, he might as well be wearing a chef's hat and flipping pizza dough.

Has anyone seen the MST3K version of this movie? Is it any good?

The Deadly Mantis -

Of all the '50s movie monsters, I'm the most glad that this one doesn't exist...The scale of the creature in the models makes him seem humongous and that buzzing noise is bound to haunt me.
Yeah, that buzzing noise it made when it flew was my favorite part, nicely done. But I wish instead of 'roaring like a giant lion' when attacking it instead made a series of loud clicks...That would've been freaky.

Yeah, that buzzing noise it made when it flew was my favorite part, nicely done. But I wish instead of 'roaring like a giant lion' when attacking it instead made a series of loud clicks...That would've been freaky.
Agreed, a roaring insect would be pretty terrifying, but a more insect-like sound would have been more appropriate.

I'm two for two for Nathan Juran movies now. I'll have to check out more of his work. Looks like he also made B-movie classics Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and Jack the Giant Killer.

Yeah, that buzzing noise it made when it flew was my favorite part, nicely done. But I wish instead of 'roaring like a giant lion' when attacking it instead made a series of loud clicks...That would've been freaky.
Very good point

How do you guys feel about the flimmaker doing basically the same ending as Them!?

Or this is a film that you haven't seen....because that kind of colored my feelings of this film quite a bit.

Very good point

How do you guys feel about the flimmaker doing basically the same ending as Them!?
Or this is a film that you haven't seen....because that kind of colored my feelings of this film quite a bit.
I've seen Them and plan on rewatching it sometime, I don't remember the ending to well but yeah The Deadly Mantis seemed a lot like Them.