Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Deadly Bees, from 1966, isn’t really a very good movie – it’s fine. It’s got some largely good and charming moments, some dumb moments, and some aggressively bad effects. But it has a longstanding reputation for being terrible beyond words, which comes I think from two different things. First, credited screenwriter Robert Bloch had […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: the trope that dinosaurs must always live on the slopes of a volcano about ready to pop is much […]

Sequels are always an artistically dubious risk, horror sequels not least of all. It’s still hard to process just how much worse 1955’s Revenge of the Creature is than its remarkable predecessor. Creature from the Black Lagoon is, if nothing else, one of the truly great B-horror pictures of the 1950s, and with both producer […]

When horror came back to American cinema in a big way in the 1950s, it was after receiving a face-lift: gone were creaky Mitteleuropean castles and villages, banished were old dark houses, and even the outright lifts of Expressionist aesthetic techniques were mostly snuffed out (though a genre that gets so much mileage from a […]

Gamera vs. Zigra didn’t single-handedly drive Daiei Film to bankruptcy; but as one of the last handful of movies that company released before it did temporarily wink out of existence in December, 1971, it’s a rather clear example of what was going on at the studio that forced such a drastic step. It’s a dreadful […]

It eventually had to happen, of course. Across four films from 1965-1968, Daiei’s series of films about the giant monster turtle Gamera had ranged from not too bad, to not bad enough to stop being delightful, to bad enough that their badness made them delightful. But the tank had been empty for a while, and […]

In Gamera vs. Gyaos, Daiei Film’s third film in as many years featuring the fire-breathing, flying, giant tortoise Gamera, the formula of a “Gamera film” was nailed down in its final form, while his most iconic and beloved opponent was introduced. A certain Gyaos by name, because whatever else is true of daikaiju eiga they […]

1966’s Gamera vs. Barugon is particularly noteworthy in the Gamera series for three reasons. Firstly is that this first sequel to the previous year’s Gamera was in color, where its predecessor was not; it’s frankly not clear to me why the original was in black-and-white, at that point in time, but it left that film […]

When Godzilla was released in 1954 in Japan, it inspired a huge increase in tokusatsu filmmaking in that country in the year to follow, with Japanese studios investing in science fiction in a big way. And yet very little of that influence seems to have resulted in the most obvious possible Godzilla knock-offs (or so […]

1It’s impossible to say that 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon represents the flaming-out of the Godzilla franchise, or dropping off a cliff, or any other colorful metaphor you like for a movie series just plain giving up. After all, it came out just a year after Godzilla vs. Gigan, a movie which doesn’t leave very much […]

There were Godzilla films directed by men other than Honda Ishirō as early as the second one, Godzilla Raids Again, but to all purposes, he was the man who was responsible for the series as it got off its feet: him and cinematographer Koizumi Hajime, and composer Ifukbe Akira, and effects director Tsuburaya Eiji. We […]

Every Sunday this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: Thor isn’t just the latest in a long (so long…) line of comic book adaptations, it’s also one of […]