The Midnight Hour is a 1985 American made-for television comedy horror film directed by Jack Bender and starring Shari Belafonte-Harper, LeVar Burton, Peter DeLuise, and Dedee Pfeiffer. Its plot focuses on a small New England town that becomes overrun with zombies, witches, vampires, and all the other demons of hell after a group of teenagers unlocks a centuries-old curse on Halloween.Continue reading “FILM BOOK OF FEAR: The Midnight Hour (1985)”
As promised, this Film Book of Fear is on the 1953 movie, WAR OF THE WORLDS. Though this movie has been re-made into multiple series and a 2005 movie starring Tom Cruise, this is still my favorite version. This is probably one of the most-recognizable of the 50s science fiction movies, especially when it comes to the sound effects used for the martian war machines. I remember watching this film while house sitting once, with someone renting out the basement. I was watching this film and he came upstairs and asked if I was watching WAR OF THE WORLDS because he recognized the sound effects from down in the basement. For this Film Book, I am using the recent Criterion Blu-ray release of this amazing film (see my review HERE).
This entry of my FILM BOOK OF FEAR series, THE BRAIN EATERS from 1958, is another fun movie by American International Pictures. It was produced by Ed Nelson (and an uncredited Roger Corman) and directed by Bruno VeSota. Ed Nelson also stars alongside Alan Jay Factor, Joanna Lee and Leonard Nimoy, in a brief appearance.
American International Pictures put out some of the very best horror and science fiction movies of the 1950s. James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff knew their stuff when it came to marketing. They knew that their target audience were teenagers and as such made films geared toward them on a date night. They were also one of the first film companies to package their own double features to be shown at both drive-ins and regular theatres. Their marketing genius created very profitable films on miniscule budgets; films that have stood the test of time and are still so much fun to watch today.
The 1950s are known for having an almost endless supply of alien invasion and science fiction films. In fact, no era has produced more films of this type, before or since. Though many can be considered cheesy, quite a few of the entries were serious, featuring great story lines, big name actors of the time and fun special effects, many of which had never been tried before.
1951 featured quite a few entries in the alien invasion genre, two in particular that are two of the all-time best science fiction films ever released! The first one is THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD (see my coverage HERE) and the second is THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, directed by Robert Wise and starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal.
In this entry of my Film Book of Fear series I am covering a classic from 1956 called EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS! This is an interesting film in that it has a typical 50’s fun feel to it made all the better by the amazing special effects by animation master Ray Harryhausen! This is actually the first time Harryhausen animated something other than a living creature showing how creative and versatile he was.
The 50’s will go down in history as the greatest decade of all time for science fiction films. During this 10 year period we were introduced to Godzilla, Rodan, giant insects and arachnids and of course every type of alien being bent on invading Earth imaginable. It truly was a great time to be a fan of not only movies, but of science fiction. Some of these films were great; some not so great. The one thing they all had in common though was great imaginations at a time where Hollywood was chock full of original ideas.
The 70’s were a special time for me. It was a great time to be a kid for so many reasons. I still vividly remember the cool toys like Micronauts and the 8″ Mego super-hero action figures (they are not dolls). Actually, pretty much any toy made by Mego at the time was cool! During this time there was also a constant availability of horror and monster movies to be seen on television.
This was also the time period that began my interest in entomology (the study of insects). Thanks to a Christmas gift of a kit for collecting butterflies and moths, I have had this interest ever since. Instead of actually collecting them now though, I am more into photography and conservation with them.
Digging through the dusty basement today I came across a box of old VHS tapes that I actually forgot I had. While going through it, remembering what it was like to collect and watch these films on videocassette, I came across one of my favorite movies of the 50’s, Invasion of the Saucer-Men, from 1957. This copy, which came out in 1993, is unfortunately the only legal release of this classic film (in fact, most DVD bootlegs of this fun film are made from copying the official VHS release). Of all of the aliens that came out in the 50’s science fiction films, it is the saucer-men that are my favorite, created by legendary special effects artist Paul Blaisdell.