Posts Tagged ‘Darwin


Raw Meat (1973)

This actually isn’t the first time I’ve written up Raw Meat, the film we chose for the 15th day of 31 Days of Horror. When I started this blog ages ago, my intent was to only write up schlocky shit shows. In my experience, muddling through a bunch of crappy horror films is kind of a tough job; I’ve definitely watched more worthless pieces of crap than hidden gems in my day. But, the hidden gems are so great that I thought it would be worthwhile to act as a resource for dorks like myself to find out whether or not a b-movie was good enough to gamble on. Then I watched Raw Meat, wrote up what I thought was a stupid post, deleted it and didn’t write again for three years or so. That’s a long way to get the point across that I wish I hadn’t deleted that post, because writing a post a day for October is getting tough! But I’m gonna power through guys, I’m gonna do my best!

Patricia returns to her cold-hearted American boy after a lover's quarrel.

Patricia returns to her cold-hearted American boy after a lover’s quarrel.

Alex and Patricia are a young couple in love hitching a ride home on the London Underground. Alex is an American asshole who doesn’t want to help a possibly dying man passed out on the stairs; just a drunk, he says. Patricia is a kindlier Brit, who insists they inform security of the sick man. After rushing back, security in tow, the mysterious man is gone. They checked his wallet to make sure he wasn’t a diabetic (“they have cards, you know”) so at least they know the guy’s name; and this guy wasn’t just your Average Joe. What would an OBE be doing passed out on the steps of a subway station, or taking the subway at all? At least that’s the first question Inspector Calhoun (Donald Pleasence) asks the troubled couple.

Donald Pleasance enjoys a cuppa.

Donald Pleasence enjoys a cuppa.

But Calhoun knows the couple haven’t done anything wrong. No, something much darker and more disturbing is going on in London’s subway system. Calhoun has a hunch it may have something to do with an abandoned construction project from years ago; the private company funding the operation went bankrupt right at the moment when an avalanche trapped its workers, both men and women, underground. They couldn’t afford to save the workers, and the station, in the end, was never built. Instead, what became the Underground known today was built atop it. There couldn’t still be survivors, could there? That would be impossible, right?

She couldn't be happy underground.

She couldn’t be happy underground.

Wrong, of course: turns out the forgotten workers had turned into plagued Morlocks. The last of their clan just lost the soon-to-be mother of his child, and he’s hungry for blood – and for a new mate! If only Alex hadn’t left Patricia alone in that tube station…

Raw Meat is a surprisingly good little horror flick, though I must say it was not as good the second time around. I think that’s all because my expectations were so damn low the first time I saw it that I was totally surprised it was a competently made movie. The next time around I was showing it to Q, and usually when I’m showing a movie to someone I get super-critical about it: ‘does this person like this movie?,’ ‘Gosh, that scene was too long!’ or ‘god damn this movie is trying really hard to make Donald Pleasence look like a quirky cop!’

Did I forget to mention Christopher Lee's cameo? I guess that's 'cause it's literally like two-minutes long.

Did I forget to mention Christopher Lee’s cameo? I guess that’s ’cause it’s literally like two-minutes long.

In the end, Raw Meat is definitely worthwhile, but of course I’d say that; it’s a film about a bunch of forgotten workers who died doing their job, all at the hands of the greedy corporation that put them there in the first place. Those that didn’t die survived to become the terror of the urbanites riding the very system built over their living graves! A pretty great idea for a horror film, but the execution is a bit lacking. The story is slow in parts, particularly the scenes underground. It’s clear that the filmmakers are very proud of their make-up and special effects departments, but the scenes are so dark, sometimes it’s hard to make it out. Perhaps the blu-ray looks a bit better than the DVD version I’ve got. Either way, it’s definitely a perfect candidate for any Halloween party!


Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

On this, the 7th day of 31 Days of Horror, we bring to you only the best: a $1 purchase from an antique mall starring William Shatner! Believe it or not, after over 300 posts we still haven’t made it to a Shatner movie. How is that even possible? No better time to remedy the situation than during 31 Days of Horror.  So, without further ado, I present a masterpiece of 1970’s sci-fi horror: Kingdom of the Spiders.

The town of Verde Valley, Arizona is a sleepy little place. The weeks before the county fair are the most exciting for everyone in the town, and farmer Walter Colby is sure that his prized calf will take home first place! That is until the healthy calf suddenly falls ill without explanation or warning. Frantic, Colby calls in Rack (yes, his name is Rack; don’t worry, there’s a story behind that!) Hansen (Shatner) for help.

Little diddy 'bout Rack & Diane...

Little diddy ’bout Rack & Diane…

Unable to save the calf, the best Hansen can do is send samples to the university in Flagstaff. Worried that he’ll be quarantined, Colby can only sit and wait to hear the fate of the rest of his livestock. Hansen doesn’t seem too worried about that; he thinks his calf’s illness is an isolated, though strange, incident. All that changes when sexy, blonde out-of-towner Diane Ashley comes zipping into town in her flashy car and snazzy big-city suit! She comes from the university with the news that the calf was killed by… wait for it… SPIDER VENOM!

Hansen is incredulous: first of all, a woman is trying to tell him that one spider killed a cow? Silly, silly women; what has the world come to making women scientists?! Everyone knows women are meant to be subdued, and Hansen will surely have his way with Miss Ashley. After all, what woman wouldn’t eventually fall prey to Dr. Rack Hansen’s charms? But I digress; back to the matter at hand: spiders. Yeah, okay so our smart city lady posits that spiders, no longer able to subsist on their normal meal of insects due to the overuse of insecticides like DDT, have now banned together to attack livestock and humans in order to survive. Armed with the knowledge of the enemy, can Hansen & Ashley save Verde Valley from the spiders’ evil web?!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

This pilot is covered in spiders!

Kingdom of the Spiders might be the best buck I’ve ever spent. As surely most of you are aware, movies like this are almost always a gamble, and very rarely does the viewer come out on top. I knew that we’d be in for some enjoyment; Shatner is almost always entertaining, and he definitely lives up to his reputation here as over-actor extraordinaire. But Shatner isn’t the only thing entertaining about Kingdom, it offers the whole kit and caboodle of b-horror fun; cheesy special effects, ridiculous storyline, all sorts of distressed damsels, and some of the slowest-moving villains on screen.

Perhaps the best part about Kingdom is that it’s a 50’s movie made in 1977. If it had been in black and white and had a different star, I totally would have mistaken it for something of that era. Is it an homage to the creepy crawler flicks from the 1950’s, or is it just totally behind the time? Perhaps its concerns over environmentalism update it a bit, but its attitudes towards women and the way it is filmed make it seem like it came from another time. And that is another reason why it is such a joy to watch.

This girl's bed is covered in spiders!

This girl’s bed is covered in spiders!

This is a really dumb movie. The dialog is dumb, the story is dumb, and the people in the film are pretty dumb. But it is an absolute pleasure to watch; the pacing is just right, and in a movie like this that is typically what either saves the day or squashes its potential. It’s the perfect drive-in movie, or heck, the perfect Halloween movie! I’ll confess to being afraid of spiders; I’ve even woken up several times with night terrors caused by a dream where spiders were flying at my face, and this movie didn’t even scare me. It was just sheer, dumb fun. Next time you’re in the mood for some mind-numbing sci-fi horror, this is your movie!


Godzilla (2014)

godzillaposterTo say I have a soft spot for Soviet propaganda films isn’t exactly accurate; I’m certainly no authority on the subject, but there is one in particular I consider to be a favorite: Ballad of a Soldier. It’s a story about Alyosha, a very young soldier who shoots down two tanks. As a reward for his heroics, his superiors offer him anything he wants. All the young boy really wants to do is make it home to his mother, so he can help repair her roof. He only has a few days to get there and back, but he is determined. Along the way, he meets a lot of people, many of whom are missing their loved ones in the war. The valiant young soldier goes out of his way to help those in need, knowing that it will cut his trip home with his mother even shorter.

In the end, our young hero gets little more than a hug and a kiss with his mother, and then he’s off to battle again, never to return home. But what a guy! A real citizen. A true role model. If only everyone could be like young Alyosha.

What the fuck does this have to do with Godzilla, you ask? Well, Gareth Edwards’ 2014 remake of the Japanese classic giant-monster horror film is little more than military propaganda, with a whole crap-ton of sappy, tear-jerking family drama to round the whole damn thing out.

Ford Brody (yeah, that’s the hero’s name, Ford fucking Brody) has a history with nuclear energy. As a young boy growing up in Japan, his parents were bigwigs at the local nuclear power plant. It’s the usual perfect-family-how-could-anything-disturb-their-happiness bullshit, until one day something goes terribly wrong, and his mother (Juliette Binoche, totally wasted in this role, and why the fuck is she in this anyway?) dies, unable to escape the reactor’s core, or something. His father (Bryan Cranston) takes it pretty hard of course, and fifteen years later is arrested after he’s caught in the quarantine zone, attempting to retrieve old documents and discs from his family’s former home.

Enter steely-eyed Ford, freshly returned home to San Francisco from the war. Just after telling his droopy-eyed child that he’ll still be around tomorrow, he gets the call that his father needs help. So he flies off to Japan, where they go into the quarantine zone again only to find out that there’s no radiation there at all. So, what the hell’s going on? Well, there’s a giant fucking monster (let’s call it MUTO, or Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Object, because everything should be named like we’re in the fucking war room) feeding off all the radiation, silly, and it’s about to blow. And it does, and the shit hits the fan. And wherever the shit hits hardest, you’ll find Ford, willing to “do whatever it takes” to save the world from monsters, even if it means postponing his homecoming yet another day. What a guy.

The Americans swiftly take over because, America, fuck yeah!, and Ford has no problem suiting right back up for military duty. After all, he was warned that returning to civilian life is “the one thing they don’t prepare you for.” Good thing for Ford that the MUTOs are signaling one another across the Earth so they can breed. How the fuck will America save everyone? Oh, I know, I know! Let’s detonate a fucking nuclear bomb 20 miles off the coast of San Francisco, that’s a good idea, right?

If only the Americans listened to the advice of the wise, sage, Japanese scientist man (Ken Watanabe) who warns us all that our human arrogance will be the death of us. Seriously, instead of throwing more radiation out there, why don’t we just let the giantest giant monster of all, Godzilla, take care of it? Let them fight it out! There’s a natural balance to these things, after all.

No, the Americans didn’t listen, and (surprise!) their brilliant plan backfired! The MUTOs carried the nuclear warhead into the heart of downtown San Francisco; what better nourishment for a brood of fetal MUTOs than a nuclear warhead? D’oh! I guess it’s all in God(zilla)’s hands now. Oh, and Ford’s, because is there anything that guy can’t do?

Whatever. At least now we get to the good part: monsters fighting. This is what I came for in the first place. Just so you know, I’d estimate there’s a total of 10 minutes of sweet giant monster fights in this movie, which is, of course, over two hours long. There are some really great visuals of the monsters fighting throughout San Francisco. But there’s pretty much nothing else new, interesting, thought-provoking or entertaining in this movie. Why should I be surprised? And where the fuck did everyone’s sense of humor go? Why are all these movies loaded with sentimental music and sappy family bullshit?



The Land that Time Forgot (1975)

Half U-Boat nightmare, half Darwinian adventure, The Land that Time Forgot is the first of many Amicus films to come on Shlock Wave, and what a great place to start!

Our hero emerging from the U-Boat.

Our hero emerging from the U-Boat.

The setting is 1916, somewhere on the high seas. A German U-Boat sinks a British passenger ship, and only a few survive. Lucky for the survivors, Bowen Tyler (the William Shatner of this operation) is the son of a guy who made a bunch of submarines. He plots with the crew of the downed British ship to take over the U-Boat. They succeed, and after a few scuffles the U-Boat ends up in the Arctic circle, or something like it. The Captain of the U-Boat, Von Schoenvorts, is certain the land they see is the legendary island of Caprona, founded by an explorer a century or so ago who was unable to reach the land because, well, he didn’t have a U-Boat.

Exploring Caprona.

Exploring Caprona.

So the ragtag group of frenemies take the U-Boat through the icy waters surrounding the island and find a beautiful place with… plesiosaurs? Neanderthals? Pterodactyls? Oh my! Good thing some of the Neanderthals are friendly and show them where the crude oil fields are. Also a good thing these guys know how to refine oil (!), at least enough to get the U-Boat home! The nasty humans, of course, ravage the land, raping it of its oil, murdering Neanderthals and slaying beasts left and right. I think the Earth gets mad, because a volcano erupts and really puts a damper on things.

Thoughtful cavemen.

Thoughtful cavemen.

I would be happy to watch more movies like this, which is good news because I think there are at least 2 sequels! There’s nothing quite like the complete misunderstanding of biology, zoology and evolution captured on film. And yes, those are definitely wires in that holding up that pterodactyl! This movie is loaded with hammy acting and silly special effects, and it still manages to look really awesome. This is a perfect Saturday afternoon hangout movie.

Pterodactyl on wires!

Pterodactyl on wires!


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