Welcome to the Crypt!

Welcome to the Crypt!

Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

“It’s Alive!” … “It has been established that persons who have recently died have been returning to life…” … “But then after a while ... you come back.” That’s right, we’re back! The Unimonster’s Crypt has been reanimated, and for once, it has nothing to do with Herbert West. It’s been a long absence, fellow creepies, but we’re back to stay, with a redesigned Crypt, new material, and more surprises to come in the near future.

First up, though, we have our returning cast of ghouls to entertain and inform you. Senior Correspondent Bobbie has a review of Will Smith’s latest ‘take your kid to work’ project, After Earth. Your friendly ol’ Unimonster hasn't seen it yet … will Bobbie's review make me want to rush out and grab it? Will it inspire you to do so? Read the review and find out. Then S. J.’s back with a look at a subject that’s currently buzzing through fandom—MST3K, Rifftrax, Cinematic Titanic, The Film Crew. Call it what you will, in whatever form you know them, the guys behind Mystery Science Theater 3000 are suddenly exploding onto the scene, with live appearances streamed to theaters, NatGeo specials, even the original series will soon be back on the air, and S. J. is here to give you a glimpse into the background of the ‘boys and the bots’.

Then I weigh in with a review of the best movie about the Greco-Persian war of the 5th Century, BC that I've seen in … oh, I’d say seven years. Yep, it’s 300: Rise of an Empire! Then I discuss sharing these movies that we love with the next generation, and why you shouldn’t feed teenagers after midnight.

So enjoy the reading, join our Facebook page and let us hear from you, and … STAY SCARY!

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01 April, 2014

A Reintroduction, and a Rededication

The Unimonster

Let me introduce myself.  My name is John Stevenson, but for the past decade or so I've written on the world of Horror, Sci-Fi, and Exploitation Film as your friendly neighborhood Unimonster.  Seven years ago, I started this site, the Unimonster’s Crypt, as a way to bring you, the reader, my thoughts on these genres that we love; a sort of op-ed on horror film.  Other sites exist to bring you the latest news, and believe me, they are much better at it than I could be.  One thing I can do that is unique is share my opinion on matters that touch upon genre film.  In the past, that has included such diverse topics as Universal’s often cavalier treatment of the Monsters, the joys of dollar-store DVDs, and the Halloween memories of a child of the ‘70s.

However, this page has been dormant for nearly two years now, for a number of reasons.  Too little time, and too many demands upon that time.  The demands of writing a book, which tends to monopolize what time I can spend at the keyboard.  The lack of an internet connection for much of that time.  However, the foremost reason I was absent from here was simpler than that, yet harder to overcome.  For some time, I felt that I had run out of things to say.

I’ll go into more detail on that in the first article below [Next Generation, Next Steps], but suffice it to say that that is no longer true.  I’m still working on the book, I still have too little time, but I do have things to say and to share with those who love genre film.  For those who were readers of this page before the hiatus, welcome back and thank you for trying us again.  There have been some changes, but hopefully we've managed to hold on to the things that make the Crypt unique and enjoyable.  Senior correspondent Bobbie is still here, though she may be scaling back her writing to just when her muse insists, and S. J. is back, and will be expanding her role to include more than her MST3K reviews.  There will also be more surprises coming in the months ahead, things that we hope will keep the Crypt fresh and new.

For those of you new to the Unimonster’s Crypt, welcome!  Please make yourself at home, and feel free to let us know how you like what we have to offer.  As you’ll soon discover, while we cover all aspects of horror and science-fiction here, we tend to gravitate towards the classic end of the spectrum … and by classic, we don’t mean something from 2002.  Classic here means pre-1990 at a minimum, and usually much older.  There’s a reason my nom du horreur is the Unimonster … it’s my way to recognize the great Universal monsters, the creatures and killers that first fired my love of Horror more than forty-five years ago.  You’ll see that they still figure prominently in my love of genre movies, and in my writings on the subject.  I hope that you will come to appreciate them as I do, if you don’t already.

And for everyone who visits us here in the Crypt, please enjoy … and Stay Scary!

Next Generation, Next Steps

The Unimonster

Recently, I've taken a little hiatus from writing this column.  Work, other projects, life in general, all conspired to keep me from focusing on what has long been one of my true loves—writing about the world of Horror and Exploitation film.  To be honest, I was burnt out … unable to find new inspiration, or new ideas, in the current horror offerings; and tired of rehashing older classics that, though well-loved, had been thoroughly explored in these pages.  Though I still loved the genre movies, I had begun to believe that I had run out of things to say regarding them.

It was at this point, quite frankly a low one for the ol’ Unimonster, that something happened that changed my outlook on the situation, and reawakened my muse.  The Uni-Nephew, with whom I've always shared a love of the big-budget super-hero, sci-fi, and fantasy blockbusters, turned fifteen.  Suddenly, he began to take more of an interest in horror films; even those gore films which a short time before would have been far too intense for him.  We saw several of the new crop of horror at the theater or Drive-In; this only fueled his desire for more.  Of course I, being the doting uncle, was all too pleased to serve as his guide to the genre that I love so much, and have since I was far younger than he.  Now, frequent “movie nights” have become an anticipated event for the Unimonster, the Uni-Nephew, and his cousin the Rug-Monkey.  The Monkey has long been a horror fan, and was eager to get a crack at the Crypt’s Movie Room.

The typical aftermath of "Movie Night."
The typical movie night begins with my picking the boys up at my sister’s after work, and ends in the not-so-wee hours of the morning when I dump them off again.  In between, there’s a twelve hour long festival of pizza, chicken tenders, nachos, Mountain Dew© and Monster©, farting and fart jokes … and of course, horror, action, and exploitation movies.  In short, everything that your average fifteen-year-old male finds entertaining—well, nearly everything.  The movies we watch run the gamut, from gut-munching zombies to stoner comedies.  They've been introduced to the FEAST trilogy, and the original DIE HARD; Jess Franco and Rob Zombie.  The movies themselves are less important than the act of viewing them together, of exposing them to great movies.  Most are selected for sheer entertainment factor, but at least one movie per session is intended to expose the two novices to some aspect of great horror, some movie that they need to see in order to further their education.  It might be Neil Marshall’s superb 2002 werewolf film DOG SOLDIERS, or it might be Sam Raimi’s classic THE EVIL DEAD (1982).  The purpose of these picks is to present a lesson—a lesson wrapped in an easy to enjoy, eye-candy shell.  Both boys, unfortunately, suffer from a malady all too common among the young:  An eagerness to dismiss anything that’s older than the latest YouTube upload.
This prejudice isn't easy to overcome, but it can be done.  The key is to gradually acclimate them to ‘classic’ horror.  Though I’d love to screen the Universal horrors so beloved of my childhood, or the giant bugs and alien invaders of the 1950’s, I know both the boys would rise up in revolt at the indignation of sitting through a (shudder) black-and-white movie.  At least, they would now.  But with every movie that they watch, their tastes grow more refined, more appreciative of the great wealth of cinema that’s available if one only looks past Hollywood’s remakes, sequels, and uninspired knock-offs.  Soon perhaps, they’ll ask to see those Universal Horrors that captivated me more than forty years ago.

At least that is my hope.  Like all good things, I know that ‘movie nights’ won’t last long.  The Uni-Nephew is already looking forward to the day he’ll have his learner’s permit in one hand and a steering wheel in the other, and, like his sister before him, he’ll find that there are much more entertaining things to do than hang out with one’s uncle.  That’s okay … that’s life, and I understand that.  It’ll still hurt when that day comes, but I’ll understand.  I just hope that before that day comes I can pass along to him a lasting love for genre film, and an ability to appreciate the great horror films of the past hundred years, be they silent, black-and-white, or whatever.  That will be my gift to him.

And his gift to me will be the knowledge that I still have things to say about these movies that are, and have always been, such an important part of my life.

Unimonster's Screening Room: 300-- Rise of an Empire

Title:  300: Rise of an Empire

Date of Theatrical Release:  7 March, 2014

MPAA Rating:  R
Reviewer:  Unimonster

Seven years ago, I proclaimed Zack Snyder’s epic vision of Frank Miller’s graphic novel 300 the Movie of the Year for 2007.  It had everything that makes a movie great … well almost everything, unless you want to count Gerard Butler’s shaved pecs as breasts, which I don’t.  Rumors of a sequel began almost immediately, though I wasn't quite sure how such a feat would occur, with the Spartans lying slaughtered on the field of Thermopylae.  It took a while, but Zack Snyder, Kurt Johnstad, and Frank Miller finally figured out a way to revisit the Greco-Persian wars—by putting them to sea.  300: Rise of an Empire focuses on the battle of Salamis, fought in September, 480 BCE, roughly concurrent with the battle of Thermopylae.  The Athenian fleet, commanded in part by a general named Themistocles, decisively defeated the Persian fleet commanded by the Persian emperor Xerxes I, and Queen Artemisia of Caria, located on what is now the southwest coast of Turkey.

With Snyder busy with the directing chores on last summer’s blockbuster Man of Steel, Noam Murro was chosen to helm the project.  Murro, whose only feature prior to this was the 2008 film Smart People, had originally been named to direct the Bruce Willis action sequel A Good Day to Die Hard, but dropped out to take this assignment instead.  While he seemed an odd choice when announced, it’s hard to find fault with the decision, as the finished project will attest.  Working with a script penned by Snyder and Johnstad, the same team that brought 300 to the screen, Murro keeps the action flowing at a reasonable pace, though it does come across as a bit more ‘talky’ than its predecessor.

Leading the cast is Sullivan Stapleton, an Australian actor with a great deal of experience in television in his home country, though he has made occasional appearances in American productions, most recently 2013’s Gangster Squad.  He plays Themistocles as a man devoted to the ideal of a united Greece, with all the separate city-states banding together to resist the Persian onslaught.  Stapleton is very good as the Athenian general, convincing the viewer of his faith in a pan-Hellenic alliance.  I doubt that this will prove to be the breakout role for him that Leonidas was for Butler, but time will tell.  Opposite Stapleton is Eva Green, as the commander of Xerxes’ navy, Artemisia.  This is really her movie, and she commands every scene she appears in, as well as helping to provide the one thing that the first movie lacked—a healthy dose of female nudity.  Some familiar faces from the first movie appear—Lena Headey as the Spartan queen, Gorgo, David Wenham as Dilios, Andrew Tiernan as Ephialtes, and of course Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes.  However, with the exception of Santoro’s Xerxes, this is not their movie, and they take up little screen time.

I took the Uni-Nephew with me to see this one on its opening weekend, and I must say both of us loved it.  We saw the 2D version, but I would say that had there been a 3D version starting at the same time, we would’ve opted for that; this is a movie that begs to be seen on the big screen, in three dimensions.  The effects were spectacular, the photography beautiful, and, just as the first did, it perfectly captures the mood and style of Miller’s graphic novels.  My recommendation is simple: if you loved the first film, you won’t be disappointed here.  But don’t wait for the home video release—get to the theater and see it, now … in 3D.

Trash Palace Dumpster-- Bobbie's Best of the Bad: After Earth (2013)

Title:  After Earth

Year of Release—Film:  2013

Year of Release—DVD:  2013

Reviewer:  Bobbie Culbertson

The year is 1000 AE, which stands for "After Earth," a time when Earth, ravaged by pollution, has been rendered uninhabitable for human life.  General Cypher Raige (Will Smith), the emotionally void legendary head of the Ranger Corps, is heading out on his last mission before retirement.  Cypher's wife Faia (Sophie Okonedo) convinces him to take their petulant son, Kitai, who recently failed his promotion to Cadet, along for some father/ son bonding. During the flight, the ship encounters a meteor shower and, although warned against flying through it, Cypher orders the crew to stay the course.  The badly damaged ship crash-lands on Earth and all aboard are killed.  Except Cypher, who has two badly broken legs, and Kitai, who is unhurt.
Discovering their rescue beacon has been damaged, Cypher orders Kitai to walk to the rear of the broken-in-half ship, now lying 100 kilometers away, and retrieve the other rescue beacon.  If Kitai fails this mission, they will both die.  So begins Kitai's dangerous journey through uncharted land and past the blind but fear-pheromone smelling combative alien creatures called "ursas" where he battles apes and giant eagles to save his father and prove his worth.

Knowing before-hand that After Earth had won the Razzie for Worst Actor (Jaden Smith), Worst Supporting Actor (Will Smith) and Worst Screen Combo (Will and Jaden) and having read a multitude of scathing reviews, I tried not to let those influence my opinion.  Now I am left wondering if After Earth deserves the abysmal 11% Rotten rating at Rotten Tomatoes.  So, in order to remain unbiased, I interviewed an Average Joe audience member:

Me:  Sir, after having finished watching After Earth, what are your immediate thoughts about the movie?

AJ:  It needed more people in the script.  It was too ambitious a movie for just two people.  They got rid of the entire supporting cast so quickly, they should have all been wearing red shirts from Star Trek!

Me:  You have stated you are a fan of Will Smith.  What is your opinion on his acting in this movie?

AJ:  Will has shown he can do comedy well as proven by the Men In Black trilogy and he can do drama, such as in I Am Legend.  In After Earth, it felt phoned in.  Like he was purposely under-playing his role so as not to over-shadow his son's acting.  The acting felt sluggish.

Me:  And what did you think of Jaden's acting in this?

AJ:  Jaden shows signs of growing up to be a decent actor.  But he hasn't got the chops yet to lay an entire multi-million dollar movie on his 14 year-old shoulders.  Maybe a TV show ... like on Nickelodeon.  Or Fresh Prince.

Me:  Do you have any thoughts on the directing?

AJ:  M. Night Shyamalan has sucked the life out of every movie he's directed since Signs in 2002.  In After Earth, he proves he's just another has-been hack for hire!  Still, no worse than The Last Airbender.

Me:  On a scale of zero stars for worst film ever made to five stars for greatest picture since the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, what score do you give After Earth?

AJ:  2 stars.

Me:  Why so high?

AJ: Really rad special effects and CGI! Had it not been for that, I'd have walked out of the theater half-way through this movie.

Me: Thank you so much for your time!

It's rumored that Will Smith came up with the plot to this movie while playing a video game with friends.  Maybe that explains why After Earth felt like a video game with motionless Cypher sitting drearily as he monitors Kitai’s actions though his video screen and sternly instructs his son's every move.  Even the precious few times Kitai disobeys his father's commands and goes by his gut-instincts feel as if he's less than a budding hero and more like the insubordinate pre-teen that he is.  This is heightened by the let-us-walk-you-through-this script.  An effortlessly gifted father who presses his less-talented son to follow in his foot-steps.  Real life?  Or …After Earth?


For the Love of Laughter, Horror (and Hosts), and CHEESE!

S. J. Martiene

For as long as I can remember I have enjoyed a good laugh, a good fright, and have been exposed to my fair share of bad movies.  Growing up with Bugs Bunny, The Marx Brothers, Bob Hope, Carol Burnett, Johnny Carson, The Dean Martin Roasts, and the endless one-liners from the ORIGINAL Hollywood Squares game show, I became quite skilled with the “aside”, sarcasm, innuendo, and just downright belly-laughing guffaws.  Oh yeah, I failed to include HEE HAW in that mix (along with too many other names and shows).  That show instilled its own kind of humor which is still with me to this day.  During my pre-teen and teenage years, I was fortunate to spend some of my movie-watching hours at the drive-in.  To this day, I can remember vividly some of the shock, schlock, and shivers.  I remember the taste and the smell of the popcorn, the anticipation of the Intermission Countdown, and the crackle of the speakers. All of these are wonderful memories indeed, and helpful to drown out the painful thoughts of the hometown drive-in that was destroyed to make room for a strip mall.

Accompanied with this outside-the-home movie enjoyment, we had our own TV Horror Host (The Fear Monger).  Between his Saturday night escapades, I was exposed to arguably the greatest TV decade EVER, particularly for the horror, suspense, and crime genre.  Seriously, with fare like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The NBC Mystery Movie, Circle of Fear, and movies like The Legend of Lizzie Borden, Crowhaven Farm, Don’t be Afraid of the Dark, and Gargoyles how could I NOT love it!!  I still watch these on coveted DVDs today!!!  Ah the 70’s, full of highs and many personal lows, but little did I know that it would be nearly another 20 years of living before another show would cram EVERYTHING together for me in a nice, neat Cowtown Puppet Show package.

FAST FORWARD:  March 1992

So I went to school, went to work, had moved to South Florida where I would meet my future husband and we would start our family.  In March ’92, I was watching The Comedy Channel (Comedy Central’s first name), and I discovered something beautiful.  There was this guy, with two robots, in a spaceship theater, and they were TALKING through The Crawling Hand. It was love at first sight.  Whenever work and life schedule would permit it, I was watching this show.  Then, I noticed the show always ended with a salute to “The authors of the First Amendment and The Teachers of America” AND then it would say…”KEEP CIRCULATING THE TAPES”.  SO I started recording the episodes as often as I could.   And it is this show that I have taught my boys to love and that we are STILL watching a quarter-century later:  Mystery Science Theater 3000.

As many know, MST3K started as a local show in Minneapolis (KTMA) in 1989 and was the brain-child of comedian-extraordinaire, Joel Hodgson.  It revolved around a maintenance guy (Joel Robinson played by Hodgson) who worked for two nefarious characters, Dr. Erhardt (Josh “Elvis” Weinstein) and Dr. Clayton Forrester (Trace Beaulieu), at Gizmonic Institute.  He was forced into a human experiment of watching painfully bad movies to break his spirit. Erhardt and Forrester thought that the success of this experiment would further their advancement in conquering the world.  Joel, getting lonely in space, created robots from things he found around the ship.  These robots would become his children, friends, and sparring partners and two of them would even accompany him into the theater to share his movie experiences:  Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot.

Josh Weinstein gave Tom Servo life during the KTMA year and the “official” Season 1 on Comedy Central.  Trace Beaulieu managed Crow T. Robot from the beginning until MST3K left CC to join The Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) in 1997.  All of them, along with Kevin Murphy (Future Tom Servo), Michael J. Nelson (future host), and Bill Corbett (future Crow T. Robot), Frank Coniff (TV’s Frank who replace Weinstein in Season 2) and many others added their own comedy touches within the writing of the show.  The humor would normally stay current with many pop culture references to the 60’s and 70’s (which I identified with completely).  Every once in awhile, there will be a topical political joke or pun that could get lost in future years.  The greatest thing about this show is that it was great at being an “EQUAL OPPORTUNITY POLITICAL JOKESTER”.  What I mean by that is that the SHOW did not take sides, and I loved that so much.  I remember that is why I loved Johnny Carson because he railed BOTH sides of the aisle.  For this reason and because the show never strayed from what it was – three characters sitting and making fun of movies, it will likely remain a cult favorite.  And let’s face it, most of us have talked to our TV sets all our lives!!!   AND…they got to do it in a THEATER…..now THAT was cool.

Another element that endeared me to Mystery Science Theater was it contained many characteristics of the “Horror Host” movies so prevalent in my younger years.  I became acquainted with the opening segments and skits between commercial breaks.  As a kid, I always felt this broke the tension of the very SCARY movies being aired that night.  As an adult, I found these bits filled with dry humor and wonderful sight gags that I continue to use today.  The tribute to the Horror Host was quite evident.  There were mad scientists, invention exchanges, running jokes from episode to episode, cheap props, and the destruction of civilizations – all neatly confined on the bone-shaped ship called The Satellite of Love.  Of course, there was an Umbilicus that connected them to Deep 13 (The Mads’ Lair), but that is going to lead to some tedious detail about the show’s final years…and well…..JUST WATCH, okay?????  In addition, there were all kinds of visitors and intruders on the SOL over the years; from Demon Dogs to Nanites.  Even a quarter-century after its birth, MST3K is still gaining fans and getting DVD releases each year.  Not bad for a show that used broken pieces of a Hungry Hungry Hippo game and Millennium Falcon model as parts for the set.
Lastly, the show EMBRACED the bad movie.  Lord knows that if Hollyweird knows how to put out one product well, it is the cheesy flick.  Not all of the MST3K library includes the horror/sci-fi genre either, sometimes it would delve into the Action (MST3K #614 San Francisco International), Fantasy (MST3K #505 The Magic Voyage of Sinbad), Teenage Angst (MST3K #507 I Accuse My Parents), and the occasional Ed Wood or Coleman Francis film (because they deserve their own category, don’t they? ... hmmmm???).  Personally, I love the horror and science fiction genres the best; HOWEVER, many laughs are to be had at the expense of these other films, along with the short subjects that sometimes accompany movies who’s running times needed padding.  If you are a child of the 1960’s, you may remember actually viewing some of those short subjects in school.  Personally, I remember seeing Keeping Neat and Clean (MST3K #613 The Sinister Urge) in one of our Health Classes, AND I am pretty sure I also was lucky (ahem) to see The Chicken of Tomorrow (MST3K #702 The Brute Man). I’m sure there were many others too.  It’s a shame today’s kids are not exposed to these cinematic morsels, but MY BOYS ARE…. hee hee hee.  And no, don’t call CPS, it is NOT an enforceable offense – I've checked.

We are fortunate today that Mystery Science Theater lives on through tapes, DVDs, and even is streamed through Netflix, Hulu, and shows can be found on YouTube.  Many of the show’s members branched out to do their own incarnations of MST3K in other ventures.  Joel Hodgson headed Cinematic Titanic which did live appearances and DVD releases.  They disbanded in 2013 as members (which included Frank Coniff and Trace Beaulieu) decided to do other projects.  Hodgson revived the old Comedy Central format of an MST3K Turkey Day celebration by running a humorous and heartfelt marathon on a YouTube channel on Thanksgiving Day 2013.  It was simply AMAZING!!!  The most successful spin-off has been the RiffTrax collaboration of Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett.  The RT crew leaves NOTHING unscathed:  Shorts, serials, good movies, bad movies, blockbusters, or the blockbuster.  They utilize video-on-demand where customers have the option to download the movies to their own devices OR purchase DVD’s.  RiffTrax can also bypass excruciating “rights” purchases by just selling commentaries to movies most of can rent or readily acquire.  Do you know how much fun it has been to watch ALL the Star Wars movies completely riffed???  It is sheer joy, my friend…pure joy.
In conclusion, if you like to laugh and you don’t mind some of your precious little films getting stepped on, seek out Mystery Science Theater 3000, Cinematic Titanic, and RiffTrax.  DO IT!!  Do it NOW…..DON’T LOSE ANOTHER DAY!!!

18 July, 2012

In Memoriam

In Memoriam
by S. J. Martiene 

On July 3rd and July 8th, respectively, the entertainment world lost two of its legendary citizens:  Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine.    Both actors left a long legacy of films and TV work to keep generations of fans indulged forever.   We take this moment to pay tribute to them both.

Ernest Borgnine (born in 1917) made his film debut in 1951’s CHINA CORSAIR as gambling room owner, Hu Chang.  Borgnine, usually cast as a heavy, landed roles in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY and of all things, JOHNNY GUITAR.  Borgnine won an Oscar for his role as a lonely butcher in 1955’s MARTY.  He also co-starred in two movies with Bette Davis:  A CATERED AFFAIR and BUNNY O’HARE (which if you have never seen it, count your blessings).  Borgnine’s resume blossomed in the 50’s and 60’s with such movies as THE DIRTY DOZEN, THE WILD BUNCH, AND ICE STATION ZEBRA, MCHALE’S NAVY and an appearance on THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW.  This is something he shared in common with Andy Griffith, along with his long friendship with George “Goober” Lindsey who passed away earlier this year.

In the 1970’s, Borgnine ran the gamut of genres between his TV and movie appearances.  This list includes THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, HOLIDAY HOOKERS, and the acclaimed TV mini-series, JESUS OF NAZARETH.  Not to leave out the younger audience, his voice-over work will always be remembered as Mermaidman in SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS.  Finally, one of his bad movies will live on as MERLIN’S SHOP OF MYSTICAL WONDERS was lovingly skewered on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (episode #1003).

Ernest Borgnine is survived by his wife, Tova, his children, and his younger sister.

Andy Griffith (born in 1926) began his film career with a bang.  In 1957’s A FACE IN THE CROWD, Griffith commands attention as Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a two-bit hood turned megalomaniac superstar.  If the 1957 Best Actor Nominees had not included such stalwarts as James Dean, Rock Hudson, Laurence Olivier, Kirk Douglas and Yul Brynner, I believe Griffith would have had a shot at it.  Yes, he was THAT good. 

Shortly thereafter, Griffith reprised his stage role in a film version of NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS (and began his collaboration with Don Knotts).  He continued to do movies until he made history with an appearance on THE DANNY THOMAS SHOW in the character of Sheriff Andy Taylor.  Shortly thereafter, THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW premiered and ran nearly the entire decade of the 1960’s.  Since then, it has never been off the air.  

The 1970’s and early 1980’s, Griffith did few feature films, had a few not-so-popular television series, made guest appearances on TV shows, and made several made-for-TV movies.  In 1983, Griffith was afflicted with Guillain–Barré syndrome, paralyzing him from the knees down and he was unable to walk for several months.  It wasn’t long after this serious health issue that he began this writer’s favorite Andy Griffith character, Benjamin Matlock.  MATLOCK, a series about a lawyer from Atlanta, ran from 1986-1995.  In several of the episodes his co-stars included ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW cast members Don Knotts, Aneta Corsaut, Jack Dodson, and Betty Lynn.  Griffith was not without showing more of his “dark side” in television movies.  In UNDER THE INFLUENCE (1986) and GRAMPS (1995), he played both murderous and alcoholic characters.  Griffith is survived by his wife and daughter.  He was preceded in death by his son, Andy Griffith, Jr. in 1996.

To say both of these actors will be missed is an understatement.  Fortunately for us, syndication and the availability of online streaming and DVD’s, their bodies of work will never fade away.

Matinee Monsters and Summer Memories

When I was a child, growing up in northeast Florida, summers were a time for the three things that were instrumental in making the Unimonster into the man he is today.  One was the days spent at the nearby Jacksonville Beach, swimming, playing, and soaking up the sun.  These days were the hallmark of my summers—until one July when I watched the movie that would forever end my joy in going into the ocean, JAWS.

The second was summer nights spent at the Drive-In, smuggled in hidden in the trunk of a car, then unceremoniously turned loose by an older sister who was perfectly content to corrupt the fragile young minds of myself, my younger brother, and our cousin—as long as we left her alone for the four or five hours the features ran.  She would take us to see whatever movie we requested, regardless of rating or age-appropriateness.  It was under her charge that we first saw movies as diverse—and inappropriate—as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, BLOOD FEAST, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE … and BARBED WIRE DOLLS.  It was in those long-ago nights that my love of, and appreciation for, that peculiar form of cinema known as the Drive-In movie was born … a love that still remains strong to this day.

The third formative experience of my childhood summers was the “Kiddie Show.”  A combination of movie-going experience and day camp, mothers desperate for a brief respite from bored, full-of-energy children would load us up by the car-full, hauling us to the Regency Square Twin Theater.  Every Wednesday, cars would line-up to disgorge hordes of screaming, running children, as anxious for something to do as their harried mothers were for them to do it.  It resembled the landings on the Normandy beaches, only not so well organized.  It didn’t matter to us what the feature film would be that day.  The feature changed every week, but the ritual leading up to it never did.

It began with the arrival of Monday morning’s paper.  We’d rush to grab the section containing the movie ads, for it contained the all-important coupon needed to get in for half price—25¢.  Paying 50¢ for a day’s worth of entertainment might sound like a real bargain for moviegoers inured to $10 tickets for one movie.  But in 1974, a quarter was real money—I could buy a comic book for less than that—and parents, especially mine, were more frugal and less indulgent than today’s variety.  There would be a second chance at the coupon in Tuesday’s paper—miss that one, and it meant a ten-minute lecture from my dad on how hard he’d had to work to get two quarters when he was my age.  There was usually a smart-alecky comment on the tip of my tongue during these lectures—my personal favorite involved the lack of horses to be shod in our neighborhood—but I had too much sense to do more than look contrite and nod my head.

Coupon or not, Wednesday morning would find us (usually my brother Mark, our cousin Andy, and myself) lined up with a couple hundred of our compatriots, waiting to be let in to the theater.  As soon as we hit the lobby, we’d get a box of popcorn and a coke, included with the admission.  We would be quickly herded into the auditorium, the sound of hundreds of kids talking, laughing, and shouting rising to a deafening pitch.  The noise would continue unabated until the lights went down and the show began.

First would come the cartoons—often Woody Woodpecker; sometimes Tom & Jerry or Droopy Dog.  Seldom would we get the first-class Warner Brothers cartoons, even though Bugs Bunny was featured on the newspaper coupons.  Two or three cartoons would easily kill a half-hour, and all were enjoyable.

Next would come something that you had to be a part of to remember.  It was an audience participation short subject, a series produced in the early 1930s by Andrew L. Stone entitled “Race Night.”  Each episode featured a number of racers comically competing in a variety of races—boats, airplanes, bicycles—and each member of the audience would have a numbered ticket that corresponded to one of the numbered racers … sort of like the Keystone Kops meets Wacky Races.  These were much more fun than they sound, and there was always the chance that your racer would win.  One fine day mine actually did, and those of us lucky enough to be holding his number walked away with a transistor radio—AM only.  I remember it worked almost to the end of that night, doubtless a record for the brand.

The preliminaries out of the way, we’d get down to the feature presentation.  Though earlier I said that what the feature film might be on any given Wednesday was unimportant, that’s not completely true.  We would’ve shown up regardless of what was on the marquee, that’s true enough.  But there was definitely a wide gulf between what we considered a “good” movie and what wasn’t.

The lowest point on the totem pole (at least in the Unimonster’s opinion), below even the worst that K. Gordon Murray could import, was the series of Pippi Longstocking movies.  Four films had been pieced together from the 1969 Swedish television series based on the Astrid Lindgren books, dubbed into English, and imported for the American market.  While I can’t speak for every kid who attended those shows, among my friends and I, the Pippi Longstocking movies were universally detested.  First, and yes, I know that now it would be considered politically incorrect and sexist to feel this way, but young boys in the early 1970s simply were not going to accept a girl heroine able to lift a horse over her head.  Second, even were we ready to accept such a character, the plain truth of the matter was that these movies were bad—I mean Coleman Francis-bad.  And third, we knew what we wanted in a movie—and it wasn’t Pippi!

A (very) small step up were the various films imported by producer K. Gordon Murray [for more on this fascinating filmmaker, please read Santa Claus vs. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians: the Legacy of K. Gordon Murray, 21 December 2011, by Senior Correspondent Bobbie Culbertson].  Murray would find his stock in trade in Mexican and European distributors’ catalogs, buy a print, dub it into English, and strike off a couple dozen copies—usually licensed, but such legalities weren’t too strictly observed in the 1960s and ‘70s, especially by showmen who learned the craft at the feet of the legendary Kroger Babb.  Most of Murray’s films weren’t horrible—just too juvenile for those in my age group to enjoy … even in the ‘70s, his syrupy-sweet take on fairy tales was unbearable to anyone who had successfully completed potty-training.

Almost passable were the various Disney Live-Action movies to which we would occasionally be treated.  Movies such as THE SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON or THE LOVE BUG were far more entertaining than the average movie that was served up to us.  Even better were the various sword-and-sandal pictures—Hercules, Samson, Colossus, and my personal favorite, Sinbad.  These movies were great fun, even if in retrospect they were a little ridiculous.  We didn’t care if they were considered campy, even then—we loved them.

But the best we could get, the movies we hoped to see named in the coupons each week, were Toho (as well as Daiei and Nikkatsu) Studios’ Kaijû films.  Of course, we had never heard the term Kaijû, nor did we care who made them.  They were “Godzilla” movies, whether the big G was the star or not.  Gamera, Gappa, Godzilla—they were one and the same to us.  They all meant giant monsters stomping the hell out of Japanese cities—and that equaled great entertainment.  Each of us had our favorite—mine, as I’ve written previously, was Rodan—but all were worth watching.  If I gained nothing else from those summer days spent at the local theater, then the enduring love I have for Kaijû Eiga (Monster Films) would make them hours well spent.

The end of the Kiddie Shows came not long after I aged out of them.  Studios and distributors began requiring theaters to run the same films at night that they ran during daytime, matinee hours—thus putting an end to the weird, wonderful, wacky films that were the staple of such programs.  It’s a shame.  In this time when kids are under constant pressure to grow up before their time, it’s easy for those of us who can remember simpler times to look back with warm nostalgia … and feel a little sorry for our children.

DVD Review: Haunted Horror Double-Header: THE WOMAN IN BLACK and THE INNKEEPERS

Title:  Haunted Horror Double-Header:  THE WOMAN IN BLACK and THE INNKEEPERS

Year of Release—Film:  2012 / 2011

Year of Release—DVD:  2012 / 2012

DVD Label:  Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / MPI Media Group

One of the Unimonster’s favorite genres of Horror is the Ghost film—haunted houses, haunted people, ghostly places.  Unfortunately, that genre of late has fallen victim to the so-called “found footage” movie; that species of film inaugurated with the abysmal 1999 movie THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT.  Featuring grainy, out-of-focus video which looks as though your Uncle Carl shot it at the family reunion, the found footage movie exploded in popularity following the blockbuster success of 2007’s PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, which grossed more than $107 million on a budget of roughly $15,000.  Cheap to produce, the appeal of such movies to both studio execs and aspiring filmmakers is easy to see, and the Ghost genre is uniquely well-suited to such films.

As a fan of classic Horror, though, I find something lacking in most of these films.  Too often, the reduced cost of production means that scripts which would not have passed muster using the conventional studio process are being made into films, definitely a mixed blessing.  While it’s true that the major studio method of choosing which scripts to produce seems to involve eight men in suits killing anything that smacks of originality, it also manages to weed out the really bad ideas—the ones that really shouldn’t see the light of day, such as QUARANTINE, the thoroughly unnecessary remake of [REC].

That wasn’t always the case, of course—for more than fifty years Hollywood’s best and brightest worked in the genre, bringing us films such as THE HAUNTING, THE INNOCENTS, THE UNINVITED, GHOST STORY, THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, and THE CHANGELING—films that delivered both scares and stories, quality horror and quality entertainment.  Recently, however, two Ghost films were released which harken back to those glory days of the ghost film: Ti West’s low-budget thriller THE INNKEEPERS, and the resurrected Hammer Films’ THE WOMAN IN BLACK.

According to the DVD cover, THE INNKEEPERS stars Sara Paxton, Pat Healy, and Kelly McGillis, though the real star of the film is the 121-year-old Yankee Pedlar Inn, in Torrington, Connecticut.  The inn, still a popular destination for tourists, played host to the cast and crew, and served as the primary location for filming.

Paxton and Healy play Claire and Luke, the last two workers at the inn, as it prepares to close its doors for good.  There’s little for them to do, as the hotel is virtually empty, and they spend most of their time playing pranks on each other and investigating the inn’s reputed haunting, by the ghost of a jilted bride named Madeline O’Malley.  O’Malley, so the legend goes, hung herself in her room many years ago, after being left at the altar by her fiancé.  The owner of the hotel, finding her body, hid it in the cellar to avoid the bad publicity.

Luke claims to have encountered the ghost, and Claire is envious of his experiences in the hotel.  They explore the inn, deserted save for a woman and her young son, with recording devices, hoping to capture proof of the haunting.  Into this peaceful, if morbid, setting comes a retired actress, Leanne Rease-Jones (Kelly McGillis), who now lectures on spiritualism and alternative healing.  She acts as a catalyst to Claire, inspiring her to seek out the spirits in the house with even more persistence.  In doing so, she realizes that, perhaps, the spirits don’t wish to be found.

The movie proceeds at a staid, lazy pace, something which will no doubt turn off a generation raised on YouTube clips.  For those of us of, say, a more experienced generation, who aren’t conditioned to expect three decapitations and a disembowelment before the opening credits, our patience will be rewarded.  The result is a good ghost story.  Not great, but certainly worth the price of admission—or rental.

The second feature on our double-bill is the movie that brought the words “Hammer Horror” surging back into the forefront of fandom.  The second film adaptation of Susan Hill’s 1983 novel of the same title, James Watkins’ THE WOMAN IN BLACK stars Daniel Radcliffe in his first post-HARRY POTTER role, along with Ciarán Hinds and Shaun Dooley.  The story is superbly adapted by screenwriter Jane Goldman, and Watkins crafts an excellent film using what has always been Hammer’s strengths:  Quality acting and creating the perfect period atmosphere.

Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe) is a London solicitor struggling to overcome the emotional disaster of his wife’s death during childbirth.  He’s raising his young son alone, and while he’s a loving, devoted father, the rest of his life is spiraling downward.  His job performance has declined to the point where he’s been given one last chance to save his career.  A client of his employer’s has recently died, and he has been assigned the task of journeying to her home on Eel Marsh Island to inventory her papers and belongings.  His employer makes it clear—if he fails to complete this charge, his services will no longer be required.

Upon his arrival in the village of Eel Marsh, Kipps is greeted with distrust, suspicion, and outright hostility by the locals.  Only Sam Daily (Hinds, in a superb performance that should be recognized in award season but probably won’t) and his wife Elisabeth show him any kindness and hospitality.  His efforts to carry out his duties out on the island are hampered by factors both geographical and human.  First, the island is more of a high point on the salt water marsh, approachable only by a narrow causeway.  When the tide is in, the causeway is flooded and impassable.  Even this obstacle is made more difficult to overcome by the fact that no local will go anywhere near the island, or the manor house which occupies it.

Shortly after his arrival, Kipps begins seeing a mysterious figure, a woman dressed entirely in black mourning garb.  After each appearance, tragedy strikes the small village, and the reason for the villagers’ hostility becomes apparent.  But, mindful of his employer’s warning, Arthur continues his work at Eel Marsh House.  Soon, he discovers the cause of the troubles, but can he correct the injustice done in time to quiet the vengeful ghost—and save himself?

The cast is excellent, led by Radcliffe and Hinds.  Radcliffe is a bit young for the part of Arthur Kipps, but still manages to pull it off rather neatly; and Ciarán Hinds is by far the best actor in the film.  And the cast can’t help but shine given the overall quality of the production.  It’s as though it were filmed at the old Bray Studios, Hammer’s former home; the atmosphere is pure, vintage Hammer, and I love it.  Anyone who loves classic Horror should have this film in their collection.
So, while summer mega-budget, Super-Hero blockbusters fill the local Cineplexes, remember that there are options out there for those craving a good, old-fashioned, spine-tingle or two.

Junkyard Film's Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month: THE BLOB (1958)

Title:  THE BLOB

Year of Release—Film:  1958

Steve McQueen (credited here for the last time as Steven) was almost 30-years-old when he agreed to play rather unconvincingly the part of 17-year-old Steve Andrews in THE BLOB (1958).  His co-star, Aneta Corsaut, was 25-years-old when she agreed to take the role of Jane Martin, Steve’s prudish teen love interest.  While out in Steve’s car, indulging in some 1950’s post-War necking, they see a meteorite fall into the near-by woods.  Realizing that a hot space-rock was the most exciting thing on the menu for the evening, Steve drives over to see where it fell.  However, before they arrive, the meteorite is probed by an old farmer who gets some of the enclosed red ooze on his arm.  When the teens find him, he’s frightened and is pitifully whimpering “Save me” to the horrified pair.  Steve and Jane rush the badly injured man to the town’s only doctor who is preparing to leave town to attend a convention in a near-by city.  Leaving the farmer with the doctor, Steve and Jane leave to tell their equally middle-aged teen friends of what they’ve just experienced with Jane whining all the time about finding the farmer’s little dog.

Meanwhile, the doctor, having called his nurse into the office, discovers the old farmer completely enveloped in the throbbing, moving gelatinous and now much larger red glob.  Quickly consuming the doctor and his nurse, the blob next traps Steve and Judy in a local grocery store, where the duo hides in the walk-in freezer.  The blob first tries to squeeze in under the door but rapidly retreats from the cold.  Now, thoroughly alarmed, the teens rush to tell the police what has occurred but with typical us-against-them mentality, the cops don’t believe them.  The “kids” next round up all their middle-aged teen friends and get them to help warn the towns-folks of the impending invasion by setting off all alarms and sirens in the town.  This insures a scene of silly slapstick as one old man does not know which of his volunteer uniforms to don ... the fire fighter’s outfit or his Civil Defense uniform.  Still, some teens resist this effort and attend an all-night movie marathon at the local theater.  As the red ooze squeezes through the projection booth window, the terrified audience runs screaming from the theater into the streets, the now-gigantic red blob oozing behind them.
Witnessing this, the town’s adult population finally believes Steve and Judy but it’s too late as the blob once again traps the teens, along with Judy’s little bratty brother, inside a near-by diner (why it does this instead of simply eating the hundreds of by-standers is best left to the blob).  The diner, now encapsulated by the red menace from outer space (Get it, folks?  Red Menace!  The Cold War!), has power lines dropped on it, hoping the electricity will kill the blob but it only sets the diner on fire with our teens now trapped in the basement.  Steve grabs a fire extinguisher and shoots it at the flaming door, forcing the blob to withdraw.  Realizing it’s the cold that repels the thing, Steve screams “CO2!” repeatedly.  The High School principal, along with some of students, breaks into the High School (guess the principal forgot his keys) and, using the heisted extinguishers, freeze the blob solid.  The Army finally arrives and, boxing the thing up, drops it at the North Pole as Steve eerily predicts the onset of global warming by quipping “As long at the Arctic stays cold.”  The words “The End” slither across the screen before ominously forming into a question mark.

Although this is one of the first science fiction movies to be shot in Technicolor, it’s a surprisingly cheap film.  Scenes like the diner catching fire are not shown but rather told to us by on-lookers.  And it’s not a terribly suspenseful movie, either, as the town is populated by the cleanest-cut rebels without a clue teens and the two police officers are your typical good cop vs. bad cop types, with the good cop firmly on the teens’ side.  However, for its time, the special effects are surprisingly effective using a good mixture of stop action and reverse photography.  Steve McQueen, using his best Method Acting training, is far too sincere and serious for such a fun little movie about killer slime.  Still, in 2008 it was nominated (but lost to KING KONG) as Best Movie To Watch At The Drive-In. Originally intended as second-billing to I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE, it was the far more popular movie and was promoted to a first-run status.  It’s bizarrely cheerful theme song was co-written by Burt Bacharach and Mack David, who did the cork-popping honors by pulling his finger out of his cheek.

A belated sequel followed in 1972 as BEWARE!  THE BLOB (also known as SON OF BLOB) and was directed by ‘Dallas’ star Larry Hagman.  A re-imagining was released in 1988 and starred Kevin Dillon and Shawnee Smith as the beleaguered teens.  In 2011, director Rob Zombie announced he would do another remake but, as of this writing, there’s been no movement on the project.

In July each year film geeks flock to Phoenixville, PA where many scenes in THE BLOB were filmed.  During Blob-fest, there’s a weekend-long street party with a costume contest, an amateur filmmaking contest and live reenactments of some of the film’s scenes, culminating in the Blobfest Run-out from the Colonel Theater.

And finally, for those of you who prefer your monsters more homegrown and leathery (not to mention fire breathing!), there’s the G-Fest, held each year in Rosemont, IL from July 13-15, to celebrate all things Gamera and Godzilla!

See you at the Cons!

Cambot's Voice: MST-212--GODZILLA vs. MEGALON

Cambot’s Voice by S. J. Martiene

EXPERIMENT 12:  Godzilla vs. Megalon

Summertime….and the movie-watchin’ is easy.  It is EASY especially when the temps hover between 105 and 110.  I mean, who really wants to spend time in the outdoors when air-conditioning is much more pleasing to us poor humans.  Each summer, my boys celebrate Kaijune and Kaijuly.  During this time of year, they watch as many Japanese monster films (RUBBER SUITS A MUST) as they can.  So, what better time to peek in on one of MST3K treatments of said genre.  Though the title plasters Godzilla as the lead monster against villain, Megalon, he barely makes more than a cameo appearance.  Man-made robot, Jet Jaguar is the “hero” here, Megalon the monster….and another villain played by Gigan and the people of Seatopia.  Oh yeah, three annoying human leads in Goro, Roku, and Hiroshi (aka Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy) are also in this film, along with the Japanese Military, and Oscar Wilde.  Confused yet?  Don’t worry, you will be.
Without further delay, from 1973 (though not release in the States until 1976), GODZILLA VS. MEGALON:


Credited cast:
Rokuro 'Roku-chan' Ibuki
Emperor Antonio of Seatopia
Lead Seatopian Agent
Seatopian Agent
Truck Driver (as Gen Nakajima)
Truck Driver's Assistant
Man from Unit 1
Japan Special Defense Forces Chief
Gaigan (as Kengo Nakayama)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Antonio's Aide (Radio Operator in White)
Courtesy of www.imdb.com

In the opening segment, J&TB talk about everything they have on the day’s show.  Robert Goulet, Moms Mabley, elephants, and silly putty are on the agenda.  Crow asks about “pain”.  Dr. Forester  has bandaged up Frank and laments “The Rosie Grier head is not taking”.  Joel begins his invention exchange with one of my favorite lines:  “If you’re like me and I know I am”.  He is making homemade Halloween costumes include:  The Floor of a movie theater, missing child milk carton “Have you seen me?” (Servo), aluminum foil-over-the-head Iron Man, and Jiffy Pop Popcorn.  Dr. F has his own costume idea as a Foosball Goalie.   Frank puts an air filter over his head and is Geordi Laforge from STAR TREK:  DS9.

The movie begins with a newsreel about a nuclear explosion in the Aleutians in 1971.  They then show the effects of explosion on Monster Island .  “Whenever they test nuclear explosions, it’s the monsters who suffer”.  (Crow)  Now, Godzilla is ticked off….explosions everywhere into the opening credits.  We quickly shift to a scene of a young boy on a ridiculous watercraft and his two male companions.  SUDDENLY, there’s an earthquake.  The boy, Roku, cannot get out of the water.  The water starts to bubble, things are desperate.  “Well this is what happens when you go into the water less than a half-hour after eating.” (Joel)  Because the male companions have a Bat-belt (I am only guessing here), they produce a rope to shoot out to the boy and reel him in like Today’s Catch.  “Let’s go on a picnic.  We have our food, drinks, and 50 ft. of uncoiled rope.”  (Crow)  “Note to myself:  Never vacation on an active volcano.” (Crow)  The waters continue to rumble and roar while the trio looks on.  They drive off and suddenly it is night (or just very blue…one cannot say).  They find their apartment has been broken into.  “OH MY GOD!!  THE HUMIDIFIER COMMITED SUICIDE!!!”  (Crow)  The perpetrators are still in the room and a brawl breaks out.  Everyone seems to be okay….but it is hard to tell with all the blue lighting.  Male #1 (Hiroshi) races off after the perps.  “Mach a go go! Mach a go go!  Mach a go go, GO!!!”  (J&TB)   Goro  (the inventor) checks damage in the apartment.  It seems the VERY LARGE robot in the middle of the floor is safely intact.  For some reason, the movie felt a screech-filled chase scene was integral to the movie’s progression.  Back at the apartment, the trio discovers some “magic rocks”.  We smoothly transition to Robot-building, the following day, and Roku riding a self-built motorbike thingy.  Goro and Hiroshi admire the robot.  “Hal is reading your lips!”  (Joel).  Discussions take place about the volcanic activity.
The movie switches between the bad guys and the male leads.  We find out here the robot has been christened, Jet Jaguar.  The bad guys have caught up to Roku.

Crow and Servo are looking at pictures they aren’t supposed to be looking at.  Joel walks up and they say they are working on their monster drawing.  Each bot tries to one-up the other’s descriptions.  “My monster is as silent as tomorrow.  He kills in the night.  He has been ... acquainted.”  (Crow)  Joel gets tired of listening to them and leaves.  The bots go back to their picture-looking and start to argue over their robot drawing stories.

The bad guys break in and call Seatopia.  The leader of Seatopia calls for war on the earth.  He calls on Megalon.  “Great he’s going to take over the world with interpretative dance”.  (Crow)  With much fanfare, Megalon appears.   “If Siegfried and Roy got a wake-up call, I think it would something like this.” (Joel)  “It’s Edward Scissorhands.” (Crow)  “What a hothead.” (Servo)  “He awakes with the worst special effects of the morning.” (Servo)  Back to the trio:  We find Goro and Roku tied up in the back of a truck.  “I have to go to the bathroom”.  (Servo)  Hiroshi  is knocked out in his apartment and the bad guys are using his equipment to control Jet Jaguar.  Hiroshi wakes up to the bad guy (Oscar Wilde look-a-like) using his machinery.  “I am going to read parts of The Picture of Dorian Gray.  I want you to be honest about it.” (Crow)  The captives free of their bonds but are still in the truck…on their way to Seatopia.  After a lame fight, Hiroshi escapes to save his friends.  “Rex Dark, Eskimo Spy”  (Joel)  “Rex Dark pops the clutch and tells the thugs to eat his dust”  (Crow)  “Action sequences filmed in Confuse-o-Vision”  (Joel)  “Suddenly, we’re watching MANNIX”  (Crow)  Mercifully, Megalon flies up out of the ground.  “Alright, forget everything you’ve seen until now!”  (Crow)  Megalon follows Jet Jaguar, cities are evacuated, and there is a huge military response.  Goro and the boy are about to be dumped into a dam….but…wait……What is that noise?  IT’S MEGALON.  “Here’s a preview of my Broadway show”  (Crow)  Hiroshi arrives to save his friends.

This segment is a tribute to Rex Dart, Eskimo Spy.  A video with the montage is seen at the link below:

Hiroshi saves his friends from certain doom.   Megalon commences to destroy the dam.  “Pretty impressive, huh?  Well that was just the beginning.”  (Crow)  Jet Jaguar circles the area and Goro tries to control him with a medallion around his neck but that only works when he has a clear line of sight.  Aforementioned military starts shooting at Megalon.  “Someone better tell Raymond Burr, he’s late.”  (Servo)  Goro consults with the military to try and regain control of Jet Jaguar.  Goro succeeds and is sent to fetch Godzilla.  Seatopia is not pleased.  The military battle against Megalon continues.
“Meanwhile in fashionable Palm Springs”  (Servo).  Hiroshi and Goro steal a remote control airplane.  Jet Jaguar finds and summons Godzilla (in flagless semaphore).  “What’s that?  Dad’s trapped…..in  a coal mine?  In Deadrock Canyon?”  (Servo)  Jet Jaguar flies off and Godzilla tries to fly.  “I can fly!!  I can fly!!  I can’t fly!!!!  I can swim.”  (Crow)  And with that, Godzilla is on his way.  More model-crushing by Megalon continues.

Hiroshi and Roku return to the apartment and beat up the bad guy.  “THAT’s for Lady Windermere’s Fan!!  That’s for The Picture of Dorian Gray!!”  (Servo)    Seatopia calls for Gigan.  Jet Jaguar has achieved free will and does not respond to commands.   Jet Jaguar GROWS to fight Megalon.  “Just call me the Orkin Man.”  (Crow)  “HIKEEBA!”  (Servo)  “He’s got a foreign object!”  (Crow)  “He IS a foreign object.”  (Servo)  Godzilla has …..ALMOST….arrived.   Suddenly, Gigan arrives and is fighting Jet Jaguar as well.  *Enough beating on the breasts, let’s get to it!!”  (Crow)  Crow wants arms like Gigan or Megalon.  “You will bow down before me, Jet Jaguar!”  (Crow)  Jet Jaguar gets a beat down by the other two  monsters.

Crow and Servo are Orville Redenbacher and his grandson.  The younger Redenbacher laments that their lame attire is why he cannot find chicks to breed with him.  The elder says it is his empire and he decides the hairstyles.  The banter ends in screaming, crying, and the loss of an inheritance.  You know, regular family stuff.

GODZILLA FINALLY ARRIVES!!!  “Well, it’s about time, Mr. Mark Spitz.  Have a nice swim?” (Crow)  “I have come to chew sushi and kick butt, and I’m ALL out of sushi!”  (Crow)   “Listen, you don’t want to die, and I don’t want to have to kill you.”  (Joel)  “Take your time, thanks Godzilla”.  (Joel)  “This kind of reminds me when we beat up Rodan.  You know, the good old days.”  (Crow)  “Hey!  You smell something?  It smells like LIZARD!!”  (Servo)  “I like you.  I think I’ll kill you FIRST.”  (Crow)  The battle is on:  Megalon and Gigan vs. Godzilla and Jet Jaguar.  J&TB do a play-by-lay of the battle.  “Hurts, don’t it?”  (Joel)  “Even if Godzilla loses, he’s aces in my book.”  (Crow)  Godzilla and Jet Jaguar are surrounded  by a ring of fire, but eventually  fly out and dispense their final destruction.  “Monster’s are flame-broiled not fried, folks.”  (Joel)  For some reason, Godzilla drops on his tail and races to the final punch to Megalon.  “No Japanese actors in rubber suits were killed in the making of this film”.  (Servo)  Jet Jaguar and Godzilla shake hands.   Godzilla exits.  Goro, Hiroshi, and Roku meet up with Jet Jaguar and the movie closes with the Jet Jaguar song.  “I never liked you kid”  (Crow) 

Joel gives the robots their new arms.  The Bots are not pleased, except Servo does like his flamethrower arm.  Joel wants to segue into THEIR version of the Jet Jaguar Song.  “You do it, I’m bitter.”  (Crow)  Servo introduces it.

Jet Jaguar Song

Back in Deep 13, Dr. F and TV’s Frank are playing a game of Super Mario.

I hope you enjoyed this little rubber-suited entry into the Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Kaiju library.  Copies of the skewered Godzilla movies are hard to find as Toho made sure they didn’t see the light of day for very long.  Thankfully, you can find it on YouTube, so enjoy!!!!