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12 Creature Features [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Attack of the Monsters
When nasty children-eating aliens invade Earth, it is up to Gamera to save the day. ~ Iotis Erlewine, Rovi

El Buque Maldito
This is the third installment in Amando de Ossorio's "Blind Dead" series featuring the legions of the undead Knights Templar -- a sect of medieval monks who were executed in the 15th century for their occult practices and who periodically rise from their tombs to torment the living. This chapter puts the Templars on a ghostly Spanish galleon (which looks like it was built from a ship-in-a-bottle kit), cloaked in perpetual fog and roaming the seas in search of victims. When two bikini models are set adrift as part of a sporting-good chain's publicity stunt, they are seized by the flesh-eating ghouls. The company's frantic CEO sets out in his yacht to find them, accompanied by the head of the modeling agency, one of the models' friends, and an expert on Templar lore. They eventually collide with the galleon, whereupon the meandering plot finally gets down to business. The blind, slow-moving zombies shamble up from below decks and wait patiently, as always, for their shrieking, flailing victims to stumble into their clutches. This is one of the creepier entries in the series, making good use of the confined, fog-shrouded sets (presaging very similar scenes in John Carpenter's The Fog), and only wavers during long shots of the cheesy-looking model ship. The shock ending is also remarkably effective. Followed by the final chapter, Night of the Seagulls. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Twisted Brain
Also known as Twisted Brain, Horror High is a no-budget fright flick set in -- you guessed it -- a high school. Nerdy student Pat Cardi is picked on by everyone in the free world: his parents, school bullies, pretty girls, even the school janitor. Spending a lonely evening in his basement lab, Cardi creates a serum that turns him into a monster. Here's the crayons...fill in the blanks as to what happens next. None of the supporting cast members of Horror High have ever been heard from again. Could it have been foul play or foul acting? You be the judge! ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Crater Lake Monster
This bargain-basement dinosaur romp finds a backwoods community terrorized by a massive plesiosaur, aroused from its hibernation at the bottom of Crater Lake by a meteorite impact. A dull police manhunt subplot drags things down in the second act, but there's some cheesy fun to be had as long as David Allen's lumbering stop-motion beastie is onscreen, munching down on the locals like a lumpy, waterlogged beast from 20,000 Fathoms. This drive-in favorite is notable mainly as an example of the burgeoning stop-motion animation skills of Allen, whose career ranged from TV commercials (remember Mrs. Butterworth?) to steady feature work under the aegis of producer Charles Band, with whom he collaborated on numerous productions. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Land of the Minotaur
Brian Eno composed the score for this horror tale about a cult (led by Peter Cushing) which kidnaps Greek tourists for their ritual murders. Also known as Minotaur and The Devil's Men. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi

The Wasp Woman
This goofy but entertaining horror cheapie from producer-director Roger Corman and company involves the efforts of a questionable scientist working for cosmetics magnate Susan Cabot, who is developing a new rejuvenating beauty cream derived from an enzyme secreted by wasps, intended to make women look eternally youthful. A vain woman obsessed with restoring her lost beauty, Cabot insists on being the first test subject. The solution proves remarkably effective at first, transforming her into a sultry raven-haired vixen...until she begins to take on the predatory traits of a giant female wasp, setting out on a nocturnal killing spree. Originally double-billed with The Beast from Haunted Cave, this cheesy monster mash inspired the less-amusing Leech Woman and was later remade for 1980s audiences (i.e., with a higher sex-and-gore quotient) as Evil Spawn. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Bride of the Gorilla
This silly, stagebound but entertaining little monster-mash from Universal horror writer/director Curt Siodmak stars burly Raymond Burr as a steward on a rubber plantation whose romantic tryst with the boss' wife (Barbara Payton) eventually leads to the employer's murder. When one of the voodoo-practicing servants of the ex-boss learns of this, he concocts a magic potion which transforms Burr (apparently) into a "sukaras" -- a kind of were-ape which roams the village by night, savaging the locals and sparking a plodding investigation by the local constable (Lon Chaney, Jr.). Enjoyable if only for its relentless goofiness, with an ending that will have most viewers wondering if Siodmak forgot to include a reel or two in his final edit. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Gammera the Invincible
One of the most fearsome of the Japanese monsters to hit the screen in the early 60's makes his debut in sci-fi thriller. As tensions between America and the Soviet Union rise to a fever pitch, U.S. troops shoot down a Russian bomber which is flying low in an Arctoc region. The bomber crashes, and its payload of hydrogen bombs explode upon impact. The blast releases and awakens Gamera, a gigantic fire-breathing turtle which had been frozen under the ice since prehistoric times. The newly revived monster makes his way to Tokyo, Japan, where he begins to lay waste to the city. As emminent scientist Dr. Hidaka (Eiji Funakoshi) searches for a way to defeat the monster, a young boy named Yoshiro (Yoshiro Unchida) develops an unlikely friendship with Gamera. For the film's American release, additional scenes were added featuring U.S. actors Brian Donlevy and Albert Dekker. The spelling of the monster's name was also changed; he's Gammera with two M's in this movie, but just Gamera in the sequels which followed. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

Horrors of Spider Island
This German-Yugoslav coproduction first surfaced in 1960 under the title Ein Toter Hing Im Netz. Egyptian leading man Alex D'Arcy plays a talent agent who escorts seven gorgeous chorus girls to a club date in Singapore. En route, their plane crash-lands in the ocean. D'Arcy and the girls make their way to a seemingly idyllic island, where they come across a huge spider's web-and the dessicated body of a scientist. The giant spider sinks its teeth in D'Arcy, turning the poor fellow into a werewolf! Then the fun begins, depending upon your idea of fun. Released in America to general distinterest in 1962, It's Hot in Paradise fared no better a few years later, when it was recut and retitled Horrors of Spider Island. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

In this made-for-television chiller, an enormous and angry Bigfoot launches a campaign of death and destruction against the skiers who have disturbed its home. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Kong Island
Bearing only a passing connection to King Kong -- and even that probably came to promoters as an afterthought -- this phenomenally silly Italo-Spanish sci-fi foolishness (originally titled Eva, La Venere Selvaggia) seems to have been conceived more as a vehicle for the frequently nude Esmerelda Barros. Barros plays Eva, a sultry jungle girl raised by apes, who is captured by a mad scientist (gangster-movie veteran Marc Lawrence) and his cohorts. The fascist-leaning loonies have been busily rounding up the island gorillas, planting electronic transmitters in their brains with the intent of creating an unstoppable remote-controlled army of robotic ape soldiers. To Eva's aid comes a lusty explorer (Brad Harris), whose intentions seem something less than noble. Eventually a disgruntled King Kong-like super-ape arrives to avenge his smaller kinfolk and stomp the daylights out of the evil homo sapiens. Silly but fun, in an Ed Wood sort of way. Also known simply as Kong Island and Eva the Wild Woman. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

The Creeping Terror
Considered by many to be one of the worst films of all time, this hilarious anti-classic riffs on its one-note premise of two gigantic piles of crudely-stitched carpet swatches and rubber tubing running rampant through a hick town. Oh, and there's some pseudo-scientific blather about the two monsters being alien sample collectors of some sort, studying human weaknesses by gulping down every brain-dead redneck and 30-year-old teenager they can find. (The would-be victims are remarkably accommodating; most of them gape like stunned carp as the monster approaches, then suddenly swan-dive into the hungry fellow's maw.) Leaping bravely to Earth's defense are a severely inbred deputy and a smug, nattily-dressed pretend-scientist. It's hard to say whether the relentless, sleep-inducing narration obscuring most of the dialogue (apparently several reels of the film's original dialogue track were destroyed) is a blessing in disguise, sparing the viewer from the almost certain agony of watching the "leads" (i.e. the director's cousins and in-laws) attempt to act. At any rate, audiences are left with some of the goofiest setpieces ever committed to celluloid: the first alien's attack on a portly gentleman (who clearly outweighs his attacker by at least 300 pounds); the deputy's barely-concealed discomfort at watching his boss tongue-wrestle with his wife; the uncouth interruption of a hideous sock-hop by a slam-dancing monster; and the oft-noted tendency of the aliens to sport running shoes. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

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