Tales from the Crypt Episode 60: Well Cooked Hams

General Information

Director: Elliot Silverstein

Writer: Andrew Kevin Walker

Cast: Martin Sheen, Billy Zane, Maryan D’Abo, John Kassir, Martin Sheen, Martin Sheen, Martin Sheen, Candi Brough, and Randi Brough

Composer: Walter Werzowa

Air Date: 11/3/1993

 

Overview

After murdering and stealing the act of Zorbin the Magnificent (Martin Sheen), struggling magician Miles Federman (Billy Zane) seeks further assistance from Kraygen (Martin Sheen)—an illusionist whose Box of Death routine grants him tales-from-the-crypt-well-cooked-hamsthe success that Federman craves. Refusing to reveal the secret of his magic, Kraygen is promptly killed by Federman, who—upon premiering his new act before an audience—pays a terrible price for his evil deeds.

Benefiting from the talents of Martin Sheen and Billy Zane, “Well Cooked Hams” offers a variety of entertaining performances to compensate for a bland, unoriginal premise. That being said, this episode should receive criticism for its awkward pacing, absence of character development, and failure to generate excitement leading into the climactic scene.

 

Pros

tales-from-the-crypt-well-cooked-hamsThe acting of Zane (known for playing the Collector in Demon Knight, a Tales from the Crypt spin-off movie) will likely appeal to fans of the comical, over-the-top villains frequently featured in this series.

Additionally worth praising are the gore effects (i.e. stab wounds and acid burns) showcased in “Well Cooked Hams,” providing make-up enthusiasts and fans of visceral horror with a compelling reason to view this episode.

 

Cons

“Well Cooked Hams” is marred by a lack of suspense prior to the (already quite predictable) twist ending, which, though fittingly gruesome, may disappointtales-from-the-crypt-well-cooked-hams Tales from the Crypt viewers of a critical mindset.

Also problematic is the performance of Sheen—an otherwise exceptional actor whose Russian accent, in addition to being rather silly and exaggerated, can make Kraygen’s dialogue somewhat difficult to understand. (For endowing each of his three characters with many unique and memorable personality traits, however, Sheen deserves commendation for his portrayals of Kraygen, Zorbin, and cameraman Thomas Miller.)

 

Analysis

tales-from-the-crypt-well-cooked-hams“Well Cooked Hams” contains a worthwhile (albeit extremely obvious and self-explanatory) lesson on the consequences of substituting hard work and dedication with a lazy, uninspired approach to building a successful career.

 

Concluding Comments

Forgoing the black humor and atmospheric tension of a typical Tales from the Crypt entry, “Well Cooked Hams” is a mediocre season-five installment. The chemistry of Sheen and Zane should nevertheless be praised for adding flavor to the stale, if not thoroughly tedious, subject matter and execution of this episode.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 76: Still Valley

General Information

Director: James Sheldon

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Gary Merrill, Vaughn Taylor, Mark Tapscott, Jack Mann, and Ben Cooper

Composer: Wilbur Hatch

Air Date: 11/24/1961

Production Code: 4808

 

Overview

Traveling to a small town on a scouting mission, Confederate Sergeant Joseph Paradine (Gary Merrill) discovers a company of Union soldiers frozen in time. Investigating further, Paradine encounters an old man named Teague (Vaughn Taylor)—athe-twilight-zone-still-valley warlock who, perceiving the Yankees as invaders, claims to have cast a spell on every soldier passing through the valley. To assist Paradine in defeating the Union Army, Teague reveals a book of witchcraft that—in order to be used effectively—requires the reader to align himself with Satan.

Despite benefiting from a clever and original premise, “Still Valley” is marred by copious exposition, languid pacing, and conflict resolution of an anticlimactic variety. For the above reasons, Civil War buffs and Rod Serling enthusiasts alike may wish to avoid this offering.

 

Pros

Exemplifying the bravery and determination that one might expect of a patriotic soldier, character actor Gary Merrill should be praised for his performance in this episode.

 

Cons

Upon meeting Sergeant Paradine, the old man portrayed by Vaughn Taylor (whom fans of The Twilight Zone will recognize from “Time Enough at Last,” “I Sing the Body Electric,”the-twilight-zone-still-valley “The Incredible World of Horace Ford,” and “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross”) offers a plodding, long-winded explanation of black magic and how it can be used to overpower the Union Army. Though necessary for revealing important details to the viewer, Paradine’s conversation with Teague is drawn out to the point of extreme tediousness, leaving no opportunity for tension or suspense to accumulate prior to the final scene.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-still-valleyIndicating that the ends do not necessarily justify the means, “Still Valley” employs a fantasy-themed trope (i.e. witchcraft) to explore an interesting ethical dilemma.

 

Concluding Comments

“Still Valley” is a poorly executed episode of The Twilight Zone. Serling’s thought-provoking use of a supernatural horror concept should, however, be commended by the audience.

 

Overall Quality: 4/10

 

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Tales from the Crypt Episode 59: House of Horror

General Information

Director: Bob Gale

Writer: Bob Gale

Cast: Keith Coogan, Michael DeLuise, Courtney Gains, Brain Krause, Jason London, Meredith Salenger, Wil Wheaton, Kevin Dillon, John Kassir, Bill Kohne, and Shannon Day

Composer: Alan Silvestri

Air Date: 10/27/1993

 

Overview

Led by pledge master Les Wilton (Kevin Dillon), fraternity hopefuls Arling (Wil Wheaton), Henderson (Jason London), and Waters (Keith Coogan) must reach the top floor of a haunted house in order to complete their initiation. Desperate totales-from-the-crypt-house-of-horror win the affections of Delta Omega Alpha Sorority leader Mona (Meredith Salenger), Arling and the others agree to attempt the challenge—unprepared for the horrors that await them.

This season-five entry deserves criticism for its clichéd premise, annoying characters, and overuse of traditional horror tropes. Tales from the Crypt fans may nevertheless enjoy “House of Horror,” which benefits from a variety of elaborate gore effects, an antagonist whom the average person will immediately and thoroughly despise, and a surprising—albeit poorly executed—plot twist involving the aforementioned Delta Omega Alpha Sorority.

 

Pros

tales-from-the-crypt-house-of-horrorKnown for playing punks, bullies, and troublemakers, Kevin Dillon (whom horror enthusiasts will likely recognize from the remake of The Blob) should be commended for his hateful performance in this episode. Worth praising in particular are the taunting, obnoxious tendencies of Dillon’s character, which compel the audience to root for his untimely demise.

 

Cons

In contrast to season one’s “Lover Come Hack to Me” and “Television Terror” from season two, “House of Horror” fails to generate the creepy, atmospheric tales-from-the-crypt-house-of-horrortension that one would typically associate with a haunted house setting—likely a result of the excessive fake-out moments (e.g. characters mistaking strawberry jelly for blood and a crude, cheap-looking dummy for an axe murderer) featured throughout the tour of said haunted house.

Also problematic is the twist ending, which, though somewhat clever, occurs without a prior hint or suggestion that could allow viewers—at least those of an astute nature—to determine the true culprit(s) in advance of the climactic reveal.

 

Analysis

tales-from-the-crypt-house-of-horrorDespite many goofy and exaggerated sequences, “House of Horror” contains a valuable message on the dangers of taking a practical joke too far.

 

Concluding Comments

“House of Horror” is a hackneyed and over-the-top installment of Tales from the Crypt. Certain aspects of this episode may, however, appeal to those in search of a gory, spooky offering to watch during Halloween season.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 75: The Midnight Sun

General Information

Director: Anton Leader

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Lois Nettleton, Betty Garde, Tom Reese, Jason Wingreen, June Ellis, and William Keene

Composer: Van Cleave

Air Date: 11/17/1961

Production Code: 4818

 

Overview

As the Earth approaches the sun at an accelerated rate, Norma (Lois Nettleton) and Mrs. Bronson (Betty Garde)—the last remaining residents of an old apartmentthe-twilight-zone-the-midnight-sun complex—must endure extremely high temperatures on both a daily and nightly basis. Additional problems arise when a physically imposing, mentally unstable man (Tom Reese) breaks into the apartment and helps himself to a bottle of fresh water—the most valuable commodity on the entire planet.

Employing a doomsday scenario to expose the true (i.e. selfish and depraved) nature of the average human, “The Midnight Sun” deserves its reputation as a classic, insightful episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially phenomenal are the performances of Tom Reese, Betty Garde, and Lois Nettleton, which add an air of realism to the (exceedingly improbable) notion of the sun gradually engulfing the Earth over a span of several weeks.

 

Pros

Due to budgetary constraints and a running time of only twenty-five minutes, “The Midnight Sun” fails to convey the full and devastating extent of athe-twilight-zone-the-midnight-sun worldwide apocalypse. Nevertheless, the premise of a modern society on the brink of collapse is made credible, engaging, and deeply unnerving by the reactions of Mrs. Bronson, a landlady who struggles to behave in a calm and rational manner when affected by heatstroke; Norma, an artist whose paintings of the sun seem to reflect a sense of impending doom—much in contrast to her ostensible optimism; and a housebreaker who, despite having been a “decent man” in the past, holds two women at gunpoint while stealing water from a refrigerator: convincing depictions of the panic, insanity, and hopelessness that would plague the human race during an extinction event.

 

Cons

None.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-the-midnight-sunSimilar to “The Shelter” from earlier in season three, “The Midnight Sun” indicates that the majority of people remain civilized only when afforded the comforts and luxuries of an advanced civilization, instead abandoning concepts such as morality, altruism, and basic human decency upon reverting to survival mode.

 

Concluding Comments

A harrowing glimpse into the primitive side of man, “The Midnight Sun” should be commended for its compelling drama coupled with an apocalyptic setting. Also remarkable is the twist ending featured in this episode, which serves as a testament to the ability of Rod Serling—creator of and frequent contributor to The Twilight Zone—to skew the perception of his audience.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

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The Twilight Zone Episode 74: Deaths-Head Revisited

General Information

Director: Don Medford

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Joseph Schildkraut, Oscar Beregi, Karen Verne, Robert Boon, and Ben Wright

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 11/10/1961

Production Code: 4804

 

Overview

Gunther Lutze (Oscar Beregi), once a captain in Hitler’s SS, returns to Dachau concentration camp for the first time in seventeen years. While reminiscing fondly over atrocities committed during the war, Captain Lutze is approached by the-twilight-zone-deaths-head-revisitedthe ghost of prisoner Alfred Becker (Joseph Schildkraut) and put on trial for maiming, torturing, and executing thousands of inmates under his supervision.

By offering a personal perspective on the devastating aftermath of the Holocaust, “Deaths-Head Revisited” explores the human capacity for evil through heart-wrenching drama. There are times, however, when Captain Lutze comes across as a one-dimensional stereotype of a Nazi war criminal, thereby preventing the audience from comprehending his atrocities (or more specifically, the motivations thereof) through a meaningful or lasting framework.

 

Pros

the-twilight-zone-deaths-head-revisitedConfronted with the demons of a past life, Captain Lutze gradually transitions into a raving, tormented shadow of his former arrogant self. In one scene, for example, the ghostly moans of Lutze’s tortured victims prompt the captain, eyes bulging with terror, to bellow in agony before collapsing on the ground and sobbing hysterically—a well-acted, haunting display that will appeal to viewers who possess a firm sense of justice.

 

Cons

Even when forced to answer for his crimes against humanity, Captain Lutze—a cartoonish villain with no apparent motive beyond pure sadism—makes littlethe-twilight-zone-deaths-head-revisited if any attempt to justify himself in a logical, compelling, or emotionally persuasive manner (e.g. shifting blame to his superiors, downplaying the extent of his terrible misdeeds, and presenting other excuses to portray himself in a positive or innocent light). Many will thus find it difficult, if not thoroughly impossible, to understand or relate to the character of Lutze, who lacks a human element to counterbalance his vile, sociopathic tendencies.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-deaths-head-revisitedThough hampered by a lack of nuance, “Deaths-Head Revisited” rightly indicates that the greatest monster of all lies within the human soul—a disturbing notion that benefits from the penetrating insight of Rod Serling.

 

Concluding Comments

The second episode of The Twilight Zone to feature the talents of Oscar Beregi Jr. (known for appearing in season two’s “The Rip Van Winkle Caper”), “Deaths-Head Revisited should be commended for its dramatic tension, top-notch performances, and powerful subject matter. Especially profound is the central message presented in this offering, which draws an important distinction between revenge and retribution.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Tales from the Crypt Episode 58: Two for the Show

General Information

Director: Kevin Hooks

Writers: A L Katz and Gilbert Adler

Cast: David Paymer, Vincent Spano, Traci Lords, John Kassir, Wesley Thompson, Steve Kravitz, and Willie Gault

Composer: Nicholas Pike

Air Date: 10/20/1993

 

Overview

In a fit of rage, Andy Conway (David Paymer) brutally murders his adulterous wife Emma (Traci Lords), packs her body in a large suitcase, and books atales-from-the-crypt-two-for-the-show train ride to Chicago. Suspicious, Officer Fine (Vincent Spano)—a policeman with marital issues of his own—relentlessly pursues Andy in the hopes of gathering evidence against him.

By forgoing black comedy elements in favor of a straightforward murder mystery scenario, “Two for the Show” may appeal to fans of the psychological thriller genre. The twist ending featured in this episode should, however, receive criticism for its flawed execution (no pun intended).

 

Pros

tales-from-the-crypt-two-for-the-showMaking effective use of the villain protagonist trope, “Two for the Show” encourages the audience to root for and relate to Andy in spite of his homicidal behavior. Particularly suspenseful are the interactions between Andy and Officer Fine, who, by stalking and harassing the main character, causes the viewer to feel empathy for a cold, unremorseful killer—a testament to the storytelling abilities of A L Katz and Gilbert Adler.

 

Cons

Attempting to conceal Emma’s body, Andy cuts up his wife in a bathtub before stuffing her parts into a suitcase. Though potentially gruesome, thetales-from-the-crypt-two-for-the-show dismembering scene is marred by the cheesy, fake-looking props used to represent Emma’s severed head and limbs.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

In the final scene, Andy (having inadvertently swapped the tags on his suitcase with those of a stranger) is accused of killing Officer Fine’s wife and hiding her body in the train—a problematic conclusion given that Fine, whose intention all along was to frame another man for a murder that he himself committed, had no opportunity to locate Andy’s tags and place them on his own luggage container.

 

Analysis

tales-from-the-crypt-two-for-the-showAs opposed to the majority of Tales from the Crypt episodes, “Two for the Show” ends on a cruel and extremely unfair note—an aspect that may disturb individuals with a powerful sense of justice.

 

Concluding Comments

For showcasing strong performances in a highly intense narrative, “Two for the Show” should be commended by those who enjoy horror movie settings of a subtle, non-supernatural variety. Certain Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts may nevertheless care to avoid this episode, which fails to complement its compelling subject matter with realistic gore effects and a darkly satirical tone.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)

General Information

Director: Jun Fukuda

Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa

Cast: Hiroshi Ishikawa, Yuriko Hishimi, Minoru Takashima, Tomoko Umeda, Toshiaki Nishizawa, Zan Fujita, Kunio Murai, Gen Shimizu, Zeko Nakamura, Kuniko Ashihara, Akio Murata, Noritake Saito, Yasuhiko Saijo, Naoya Kusakawa, Wataru Omae, Haruo Nakajima, Kengo Nakayama, Koetsu Omiya, and Kanta Ina

Composer: Akira Ifukube (Stock Music)

Release Date: 3/12/1972

MPAA Rating: PG

 

Overview

Posing as humans, giant cockroaches from the M Space Hunter Nebula kidnap engineer Takashi Shima (Kunio Murai) and imprison him in Godzilla Tower—the main attraction of World Children’s Land, a monster-themed amusement park. Assisted by manga artist Gengo Kotaka (Hiroshi Ishikawa), hippie Shosaku Takasugi (Minoru Takashima), godzilla-vs-giganand third-degree black belt Tomoko Tomoe (Yuriko Hishimi), Machiko Shima (Tomoko Umeda)—sister of Takashi—discovers that the alien cockroaches intend to eradicate the human species and later recolonize the Earth. Receiving a hidden message, Godzilla and Anguirus leave Monster Island to defend Japan from Gigan and King Ghidorah—space monsters controlled by the Nebula M Aliens.

Godzilla vs. Gigan is a plodding, juvenile entry in the Showa series. For introducing Gigan (a favorite among Japanese monster enthusiasts), however, this film should be requisite viewing for fans of the kaiju eiga genre.

 

Pros

godzilla-vs-giganShowcasing some of the best destruction footage since the original version of Godzilla, the scenes in which Gigan and King Ghidorah—both pawns of the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens—wreak havoc upon Tokyo should be commended.

 

Cons

On more than one occasion, Godzilla “communicates” with Anguirus in a language that only monsters can understand. An embarrassing addition to an already problematic film, the Godzilla/Anguirus conversations (depicted through speechgodzilla-vs-gigan bubbles that display the dialogue of each daikaiju) will likely induce cringing from the audience.

Though hardly the first Toho production to employ stock footage, Godzilla vs. Gigan fails to incorporate sequences of past kaiju battles in a seamless and coherent manner. Astute viewers will note, for instance, that despite occurring within a span of several hours, the tag team match involving Godzilla, Anguirus, Gigan, and King Ghidorah constantly transitions between night and day—obviously a result of slapdash editing.

 

Analysis

godzilla-vs-giganSans the preachiness and lack of subtlety whereby Godzilla vs. Hedorah is defined, Godzilla vs. Gigan offers a commentary on the long-term consequences of abusing and disregarding the environment.

 

Concluding Comments

A drawn-out, forgettable installment in the Godzilla franchise, Godzilla vs. Gigan is marred by a thin script and an overlong (albeit mildly entertaining) climax. Science fiction buffs may nevertheless appreciate certain aspects of this film, which benefits from a then unique twist on the alien invasion trope (i.e. intelligent, extraterrestrial insects disguising themselves as human beings).

 

Overall Quality: 4/10

 

This review is dedicated to original Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima, who passed away on August 7, 2017 at the age of 88.

 

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Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971)

General Information

Director: Yoshimitsu Banno

Writers: Yoshimitsu Banno and Kaoru Mabuchi

Cast: Akira Yamauchi, Toshie Kimura, Hiroyuki Kawase, Toshio Shiba, Keiko Mari, Yoshio Yoshida, Haruo Suzuki, Yoshio Katsube, Susumu Okabe, Kentaro Watanabe, Wataru Omae, Tadashi Okabe, Shigeo Kato, Takuya Yuki, Eisaburo Komatsu, Yukihiko Gondo, Haruo Nakazawa, Haruo Nakajima, Kengo Nakayama, Yasuzo Ogawa, and Koji Uruki

Composer: Riichiro Manabe

Release Date: 7/24/1971

MPAA Rating: PG

 

Overview

Arriving from outer space, Hedorah—a microscopic alien lifeform—feeds on the waste material present in the oceans of Earth, later growing into a 60-meter-tall, godzilla-vs-hedorahacid-spewing daikaiju whose toxic emissions pose a terrible danger to the people of Japan. Only Godzilla, apparently determined to stomp out the world’s pollution, can save humanity from Hedorah in his ultimate form.

Arguably the most bizarre installment in Toho’s kaiju eiga franchise, Godzilla vs. Hedorah (also released as Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster) will appeal to fans of campy, B-grade science fiction films. Nevertheless, this movie deserves criticism for its dated subject matter, incongruous direction, and overly heroic portrayal of Godzilla.

 

Pros

godzilla-vs-hedorahGodzilla vs. Hedorah relies upon dark color palettes to accentuate the gritty, ominous nature of the so-called Smog Monster, which prove most effective during the serious, action-heavy battles between Godzilla and his opponent. (Certain musical selections from composer Riichiro Manabe do, however, hamper the foreboding qualities of Hedorah’s presence in this film.)

 

Cons

By amalgamating the child-friendly spirit of All Monsters Attack with the somber, haunting atmosphere of Gojira and Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Hedorah fails to maintain a consistent tone from start to finish. Especially distracting aregodzilla-vs-hedorah the film’s cartoon segments, which, though cleverly animated, frequently clash with the images of death, deformity, and devastation featured in this offering.

Assisting the JSDF, Godzilla employs his atomic breath to activate two giant electrodes that, if utilized correctly, will evaporate all of the moisture inside Hedorah’s body. In addition to its plodding and repetitive execution, the climactic scene is marred by one significant flaw: despite being a mindless creature driven only by destructive tendencies, Godzilla somehow discovers that a man-made mechanism can be used to extinguish Hedorah with relative ease.

 

Analysis

godzilla-vs-hedorahSimilar to the original version of Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Hedorah conveys a political message (i.e. a not-so-subtle commentary on the consequences of environmental pollution) through a monster-themed premise.

 

Concluding Comments

Godzilla vs. Hedorah is a mildly entertaining, if uneven, entry in the Showa series. Japanese monster enthusiasts in particular may enjoy this production, which benefits from many bleak and moody sequences reminiscent of Ishiro Honda’s 1954 masterpiece.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

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Tales from the Crypt Episode 57: People Who Live in Brass Hearses

General Information

Director: Russell Mulcahy

Writer: Scott Nimerfro

Cast: Bill Paxton, Lainie Kazan, Brad Dourif, Michael Lerner, John Kassir, Pat Asanti, and Raushan Hamond

Composer: Brad Fiedel

Air Date: 10/13/1993

 

Overview

With the help of his mentally challenged brother Virgil (Brad Dourif), ex-con Billy DeLuca (Bill Paxton) attempts to take revenge on ice cream vendortales-from-the-crypt-people-who-live-in-brass-hearses Mr. Byrd (Michael Lerner)—the man responsible for Billy’s two-year prison sentence. While robbing a warehouse operated by Virgil’s annoying employer Mrs. Grafungar (Lainie Kazan), however, things go horribly awry for the DeLuca brothers.

Combining top-notch gore effects (e.g. severed limbs and gunshot wounds) with comedic undertones, “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” should be mandatory viewing for Tales from the Crypt enthusiasts. Especially terrific are the performances of Bill Paxton (known to horror fans for appearing in Aliens, Near Dark, and The Terminator) and Oscar nominee Brad Dourif, the antics of whom serve to simultaneously disgust and amuse the audience.

 

Pros

Despite complying with the immoral plans of his brother, the character of Virgil—a grown man who spends his time reading comic books and debating whethertales-from-the-crypt-people-who-live-in-brass-hearses Robocop, Darth Vader, or the Munsters would win in a fight—exhibits many childlike tendencies that may, at times, evoke sympathy from those of a sensitive or compassionate nature. On more than one occasion, for example, Virgil recoils in fear and struggles to maintain his composure when insulted by Billy or Mrs. Grafungar—a pitiful, albeit convincing, portrayal of a person with extremely low intelligence and emotional maturity.

 

Cons

“People Who Live in Brass Hearses” is marred by an illogical, if not absurd, twist in the climactic scene.

 

Analysis

tales-from-the-crypt-people-who-live-in-brass-hearsesThough hardly profound or thought-provoking, “People Who Live in Brass Hearses” contains a worthwhile lesson on the dangers of consuming oneself with hate, bitterness, or vengeful ideas prompted by past offenses.

 

Concluding Comments

“People Who Live in Brass Hearses” is a clever, entertaining episode of Tales from the Crypt. Black comedy buffs are therefore advised to view this offering, which, in spite of its over-the-top subject matter, benefits from the combined efforts of Paxton and Dourif—two exceptionally talented character actors.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

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Space Amoeba (1970)

General Information

Director: Ishiro Honda

Writer: Ei Ogawa

Cast: Akira Kubo, Atsuko Takahashi, Yukiko Kobayashi, Kenji Sahara, Yoshio Tsuchiya, Yu Fujiki, Noritake Saito, Yuko Sugihara, Sachio Sakai, Chotaro Togin, Wataru Omae, Tetsu Nakamura, Yukihiko Gondo, Shigeo Kato, Rinsaku Ogata, Haruo Nakajima, and Haruyoshi Nakamura

Composer: Akira Ifukube

Release Date: 8/1/1970

MPAA Rating: G

 

Overview

En route to the planet Jupiter, space probe Helios 7 is infiltrated by Yog—an alien composed of pure energy. Arriving in the South Pacific, Yog takes possession of Gezora, a mutated cuttlefish; Ganimes, a giant stone crab; a massive water turtle space-amoebanamed Kamoebas; and corporate spy Makoto Obata (Kenji Sahara). With the help of his friends, photographer Taro Kudo (Akira Kubo) devises a plan to defeat Yog and his terrestrial accomplices.

Space Amoeba (entitled Yog, Monster from Space for the AIP release) deserves criticism for its languid pacing, uninspired creature conflicts, and heavy use of plot contrivances during and immediately prior to the climactic scene. This film should nevertheless be noted for introducing Kamoebas, known for his appearance in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. of the Millennium series, to Toho Studios’ kaiju eiga franchise.

 

Pros

space-amoebaBenefiting from solid performances and a serious, camp-free atmosphere, Space Amoeba adds an air of credibility to the bizarre premise on which it operates. Specifically, the human reactions toward Gezora, Ganimes, and Kamoebas convey a believable sense of fear that should allow the audience to overlook, at least partially, the extremely fake and goofy qualities of each monster.

 

Cons

Toho’s first daikaiju film produced after the death of Eiji Tsuburaya, Space Amoeba is marred by cheesy special effects and creature costumes of a space-amoebahighly unconvincing nature. Gezora, for example, lacks a realistic appearance on par with that of the giant octopus from King Kong vs. Godzilla—an obvious drawback of substituting a live marine animal (e.g. a squid or octopus) for a clumsy, cheaply made suit featuring human eyes and rubber tentacles.

Also problematic is the fight sequence between Ganimes and Kamoebas, which, due to its awkward choreography and hackneyed resolution, will likely disappoint fans of the rousing, memorable kaiju battles that one would expect of a typical Ishiro Honda offering.

 

Analysis

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Concluding Comments

An underwhelming effort from the director of Gojira, Space Amoeba should be avoided by all but the most diehard enthusiasts of the kaiju eiga genre. Certain viewers may, however, appreciate the subdued and occasionally solemn tone of this film.

 

Overall Quality: 4/10

 

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