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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, August 31, 2018

It! Terror from Beyond Space (1958)

Its Friday so that means another killer movie from that fabulous decade that brought us cars with giant fins, atomic horrors, and creatures from outer space. This time around I chose some creepy alien action as we see what happens when mankind decides to step foot on Mars.

The story kicks off with an expedition/rescue team getting ready to leave Mars. They were dispatched to find out what happened to the first rocket that landed there. They find only one survivor and he has an unbelievable story about a creature that came out of nowhere and carted off his crew one by one. They are taking him back to Earth to face justice for what they think are his crimes. They take off and on the way home realize that they aren’t alone. The creature has snuck aboard and is killing them off while sneaking around the air ducts. Nothing will stop the creature including bullets, grenades, a bazooka, and poison gas. What will kill it? I guess they could blow the airlock.

I have to mention the obvious. People trapped on a spaceship with an alien that is immune to their weapons. It sneaks around the air vents attacking them. Nothing stops it until they blow it out of an airlock. That sounds familiar right? Well this is the movie that many old school fans say inspired Alien. I’m not so sure that is the case, but it does seem awfully familiar. As for the movie itself I’m a big fan of this one. The plot is solid and paced quickly. We jump right into the action with the monster showing up quickly and dispatching the first crewman just a few minutes in. From there on we get to watch the crew forced into an ever-smaller section of the ship as they are forced to flee the creature. This leads to a claustrophobic feeling as they are trapped and just killing time until the creature reaches them because they have nowhere else to go.

This creature is awesome!
This is the fifties, so the creature is just a guy in a rubber suit, but it is a decent looking one. The body is nothing special, but we do get to see an alien face that is sort of disturbing. I know that to today’s audience it doesn’t have much of an impact, but I remember a younger me being terrified by it. Sometimes you can’t be so jaded by all the new monsters and have to get in touch with your inner kid to enjoy the old stuff. This is one of the better creature designs from the fifties. The deaths are pretty tame, but we do get a cool gag with a rifle being bent and the creature tearing thru the hatches is also great.

What can I say? I love these old movies and It! Terror from Beyond Space is one of the best you will see. It has a great setup, a cool monster, and a plot that gets to the good stuff and never lets up. If you like old horror and sci-fi this is the movie for you. But then if you like these flicks I imagine I’m preaching to the choir. Consider this one highly recommended.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

The Dark Cry of the Moon by Charles L. Grant

I had only read one other book by Grant called The Nestling and I honestly didn’t like it that much. I found it difficult to get thru, so I never picked another of his books up again. But then I joined a Facebook group of likeminded readers of horror novels and one of them professed their enjoyment of his work. Specifically, the book that I didn’t like. I decided to give him another chance, why else do you join groups if not to be challenged and find authors you might like or have otherwise judged incorrectly?

From the cover you can tell that this is a Werewolf story. I was totally prepared for your typical run of the mill who is the wolfman, and can they be stopped plot. And that is what I got along with the normal trappings of the old Gyspy woman and silver bullets. Here we find our main character, Stockton, having been named Police Chief on the very day that bodies start to show up. Like everyone else he assumes that it is just an animal come down from the hills, but soon realizes something is up. Helped by his housekeeper, the previously mentioned Gypsy woman, he is able to turn the tables on the beast and hunt it.

This is an excellent read. I loved and was surprised by the setting. Instead of the typical small-town America setting we get a period piece that is still set in a small American town but takes place during the Civil War. I can’t think of a horror story that I’ve read before that took advantage of the chaos surrounding the Civil War. That was very cool. The book is fairly short coming in just under two hundred pages. Not a word is wasted by Grant as he weaves a tight and straightforward tale. The monster appears on the first couple of pages with some bloody kills and is in your face until the very end. Well actually there is an expected but still fun ending where you think it is over, but is it really? Got to love these twist endings.

The book has a very universal monster movie feel to it (tell me the cover of the paperback I read doesn’t scream out Lon Chaney!) and I suppose that was on purpose. Apparently, Grant wrote a series of books based around this small town, Oxrun Station, and within that series are three that were inspired by the old Universal and Hammer movies with this being one of them. I’m going to have to track down his Vampire and Mummy tales as well now.

This is a prime example of why one should never judge an author on one book. While I might not like everything he writes I know that I need to check out the Oxrun Station series. There is some really good stuff here. I can’t say anything about his other books yet, but if you do find a copy of The Dark Cry of the Moon at your local book store I recommend picking it up.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer