It’s been a while since I last did a round-up of the films from my Nightmare Worlds 50-movie DVD set. This is because I’ve seen all the watchable ones, and the ones which are left are really bad. So I’ve been a bit slow in watching them. Anyway, here they are:
The Manster – an American reporter in Japan makes friends with a Japanese scientist, is wined and dined by him, introduced by him to the best of Japanese culture, falls for the scientist’s glamorous assistant despite being married… but it’s all a plot by the scientist so he can experiment on the reporter. Which turns him into a two-headed monster. It was all something to do with the scientist’s wife who had turned into a monster years before. More interesting as an early 1960s depiction of life in Japan than a monster movie.
They – AKA Invasion From Inner Earth. A bunch of Canadians have been holidaying up in the mountains, and when they return to civilisation they discover everyone has died of some strange plague. The only thing I remember from this film was that one of the characters was really annoying, and I was glad when he died. It was only a shame it took so long.
How Awful About Allan – Anthony Perkins is the eponymous Allan. A fire at home blinds him, kills his overbearing father, and scars his sister. Some time later, his sight partially returns – he can see blurred shapes, but little else. He moves back home with his sister. But there’s a stranger in the house, a lodger who creeps about and whom Allan never gets to actually meet. The sister claims there’s nothing unusual going on. Of course, it’s all a cunning revenge plot. A made-for-tv Monday afternoon psychological thriller from the early 1970s. Watch it while doing the ironing.
The Phantom Creeps – I suspect the title is verb-noun, rather than adjective-noun. The Phantom – or is that one of the Creeps? – is Bela Lugosi, a mad scientist with a secret laboratory hidden in his basement. He invents lots of useful gadgets, including a belt that makes him invisible, and sets about taking over the world. Well, California. Muahaha. This is another serial edited down to a feature. It shows.
Panic – I’m pretty sure I watched this one, but I have no memory of it. It must have been that good. Something to do with a model, and an old woman who’s a serial killer. Who said watching these films was into turning into a chore, eh?
Purple Death from Outer Space – another Flash Gordon serial chopped up to make a feature film. The dastardly Emperor Ming has spread some sort of dust across Earth, so Flash, Dale and Zarkov head off the Mongo to whip up support for an attack on Ming to stop his dastardly plan. I can’t honestly remember how this one differs from other Flash Gordon serials I’ve seen. They all seem to be played like pantomimes, the rocketships would look more convincing if the effects people just lobbed them through the air, and there’s a silliness to them which will strike you as either charming or risible. Oh yes, one of Ming’s dastardly henchmen in this one is called Lieutenant Thong.
The Return of Dr Mabuse – Gert Fröbe (i.e, Auric Goldfinger) is a police inspector. An Interpol agent is murdered, and Fröbe investigates. All the clues suggest the murderer is a man who was in prison at the time. And is still in prison. It never occurs to Fröbe that someone might have let the murderer out. When further clues suggest criminal mastermind Dr Mabuse is behind it all, it doesn’t occur to Fröbe that the prison warden might be Mabuse in disguise. This film was dubbed into English, and its setting moved to Chicago. Which strangely appears to have everywhere signposted in German…
Radio Ranch – gosh, kids, it’s the Singing Cowboy himself, Gene Autry. This film is like a 1930s thinly-disguised product-placement fest, except the brand they’re selling is Autry himself. At the eponymous ranch, the kids of his fanclub, the Thunder Riders, tangle with, well, the real Thunder Riders. Who live in a scientifically advanced city deep under California. And every now and again, they ride en masse through a valley near the ranch. For some unexplained reason. It’s The Coming Race meets Hollywood star vehicle meets some kids’ club film.
Ring of Terror – this was more like one of those terribly earnest US government information films from the 1940s than a horror film. Remember kids, sex can give you diseases that make your brain rot. Or something like that. A terribly earnest medical student suffered a childhood trauma involving a corpse. As you do. So when his frat brothers dream up an initiation ritual involving a ring for his girlfriend, and a corpse in the mortuary that isn’t really a corpse… well, it all goes horribly wrong. Yawn.
Robot Pilot – an inventor invents a remote-control kit for normal-sized aeroplanes – so, not “robot”, then. He demonstrates it to the company CEO, but it fails. So he hies off to the desert with the test pilot to work on it some more. Enemy agents get wind of the invention and try to steal it. Oh, and the CEO’s spoilt daughter decides to drive from somewhere to somewhere along a route which takes her and her aunt close by the desert ranch where the inventor and test pilot are living. Their car breaks down, and they’re rescued by the two men. Who decide to teach the spoilt daughter a lesson – with the CEO’s collusion – by treating her as a slave for a bit. But she and the test pilot fall in love, and I can’t really see why this film is science fiction or even included in a DVD set called Nightmare Worlds.
Terror at Red Wolf Inn – there’s this inn, called the Red Wolf Inn. And it’s terrible. Oops. Terrifying, I mean. A young female student wins a holiday at the titular hostelry, and is surprised when, one by one, the other young female guests disappear. But there’s always plenty of food. Meat, that is. And it’s no good running away, because the local sheriff is in on it.
UFO: Target Earth – this opens with “members of the public” discussing UFOs, as if it were a documentary. They’re actors, of course. The scene then shifts to a laboratory… Apparently, this filmed was touted as a highly-realistic study of ufology. In actual fact, it’s an extremely dull, cheap, and badly acted film about a UFO which has landed at the bottom of a lake. I remember very little else about the film, and I don’t consider that a bad thing.
Star Odyssey – Italian space opera nonsense. I thought StarCrash was bad, and Cosmos: War of the Planets worse. But this one definitely beats both of them. There’s a villain who looks like someone has scribbled all over his face, a pair of really irritating robots (male and female – you can tell which is which because the female one has eyelashes), an actor who thinks he’s a hero (or was it vice versa?) and camps it up something terrible, and… and… It’s one of those films you put on if a guest has overstayed their welcome. If they don’t leave after watching the first ten minutes of it, you only have to wait until they start frothing at the mouth and fall over, and then you can drag them outside and leave them.
Prisoners of the Lost Universe – I suspect Richard Hatch leaves this one off his c.v. He, and two others, are accidentally transported to a parallel world inhabited by fur-clad barbarians ruled by John Saxon. Hatch must defeat Saxon before he can return to Earth. So he does. That’s about it. Best avoided.
Sadly, the boxed set is not yet finished. There are still a few more to watch. However, I can say this much already: the next time I see a boxed DVD set of 50 sf films going for around ten quid, I’ll think twice before buying it…