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The Monster Collection: 16 Movies [3 Discs] [DVD]
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Overview

Synopsis

Creature from the Haunted Sea
This early bit of "B"-movie fluff from Roger Corman and company is a hastily slapped-together melange of crime thriller and monster flick, laced with enough ham-fisted satire to make the entire mess enjoyable. The plot centers on a two-bit crook (Antony Carbone) who offers to transport a band of exiles from a war-torn Caribbean country -- along with a coffer of cash, which he intends to keep for himself. After killing his charges and dumping their bodies in the ocean, he blames their deaths on a sea monster told of in local legends -- a beast which eventually shows up for real. The lush tropical settings of this weekend wonder are the same lush tropical settings seen in Corman's Last Woman on Earth, which employed most of the same players as well. Corman protégé Monte Hellman served here as second unit director before embarking on his own low-budget film career. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Moon of the Wolf
Filmed for television, this story concerns a series of killings in the Louisiana bayou. The sheriff on the case believes that a werewolf is behind the murders. The film was adapted from a book by Leslie H. Whitten. ~ John Bush, Rovi

The Giant Gila Monster
In The Giant Gila Monster, most of the plot is given over to a group of hot-rod enthusiasts, headed by nice-guy Chace Winstead (Don Sullivan), who sometimes breaks into song. Before long, the titular gila monster, which is just that -- a real gila monster -- is lumbering about on miniaturized sets terrorizing the community, killing at random, knocking over trains and barns, and in general making a nuisance of itself. When the monster threatens to devour Chace's kid sister, he attempts to dispatch the beast with a hot rod full of nitroglycerin. The Giant Gila Monster was originally released on a double bill with The Killer Shrews. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Lady Frankenstein
This lurid but entertaining Italian/Spanish twist on the Frankenstein legend begins with Baron Frankenstein (Joseph Cotten) being assisted in his research by his sultry daughter Tania (Sara Bay). The doctor's first attempt at a stitched-together creation results in a lumpy, pop-eyed monstrosity with little of the expected respect for its creator. In fact, the monster begins its rampage by murdering the Baron and escaping into the surrounding village. The younger Frankenstein returns from medical school with newly-acquired surgical expertise and a desire to follow in her late father's footsteps. She soon begins work on a creation of her own by transplanting the brain of her brilliant but deformed assistant Charles (Paul Müller) into the body of a brawny handyman. The result is a handsome and powerful male creature not only capable of destroying the original monster, but virile enough to satisfy his creator's overwhelming sexual appetites. Tania is apparently quite eager to test the latter, and she does quite frequently, as indicated in the film's numerous softcore sex scenes. This lengthy romantic interlude is cut short when the first monster returns to finish what he started. Directed by Mel Welles (who B-movie fans will remember as Gravis Mushnik from Roger Corman's cult classic Little Shop of Horrors), this film plays like a sexually-obsessed version of an early Hammer production. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Attack of the Giant Leeches
This hysterical drive-in favorite pits a community of swamp-dwelling yokels against the silliest-looking monsters since the shag-rug aliens of The Creeping Terror. Despite the strange sucker-marks found on a dead trapper's blood-drained body, and a man's story of seeing his unfaithful wife and her lover dragged into the swamp by the creatures, the police refuse to acknowledge that something freaky is going on. Only after more trappers disappear does the local game warden decide to take action, which he does with a vengeance. When the leech lair is discovered in a cave beneath the swamp, explosives are employed to blow them to little rubber bits. It's hard to be too critical of this early film from prolific TV-director Bernard L. Kowalski (Night of the Blood Beast), since executive producer Roger Corman allocated a budget for this production that would hardly cover the catering bill on a major studio film -- even in 1960! Look carefully to spot the scuba tanks beneath the leech costumes. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

The Mad Monster
Bland former child actor Johnny Downs earns top billing in this low-budget horror film, but the real star is that most psychotic of all the mad doctors George Zucco. The British-born character actor plays Dr. Lorenzo Cameron, a discredited -- and quite mad -- medico who has discovered a way to turn his helper, Pietro (Glenn Strange), into a wolf man. The lycanthropic experiments succeed only too well and although Dr. Cameron spouts plans of turning his discovery into a weapon in defense of the civilized world ("men who are governed by one collective thought, the animal lust to kill without regard for personal safety! Such an army will sweep everything before it," Dr. Cameron promises), he instead unleashes his creation on those fellow scientists who had engineered his ouster from academia in the first place. Before long, however, the good doctor is unable to control the wolf man, who threatens to kill everything in his past, and only newspaper reporter Tom Gregory (Johnny Downs) and Lenora (Anne Nagel), Cameron's innocent daughter, may be able to stop the monster. A perennial cult favorite, The Mad Monster was released on the heels of The Wolf Man (1941), but cost a fraction of Universal's elaborate lycanthropic exercise. ~ Hans J. Wollstein, Rovi

She Demons
Irish McCalla, the statuesque heroine of TV's Sheena Queen of the Jungle, heads the cast of She Demons. Shipwrecked on a volcanic island, spoiled heiress Jerrie Turner (McCalla) and explorers Fred (Tod Griffin) and Sammy (Victor Sen Yung) fall into the clutches of unreconstructed Nazi scientist Osler (Rudolph Anders). Experimenting exclusively on beautiful, busty women, Osler hopes to create a race of super-persons, infusing his subjects with a powerful element known only as Character X. Fred and Sammy race against time to save Jerrie from becoming another of Osler's hideously mutated victims. She Demons is another triumph from director Richard Cunha, whose science-fiction quickies of the 1950s are among the worst films ever made. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

King of the Zombies
Set in the Caribbean shortly before the U.S. was drawn into WWII, this zombie chiller tells the tale of an American special agent who, along with his butler and a pilot, is sent out to find a missing American Admiral, whose plane crashed on one of the islands. Unfortunately, the hero's plane also crashes. Fortunately, a suave but sinister German doctor with a very strange wife is there to help them. The doctor explains that his spouse is in a strange trance and he is trying to find a cure. The butler soon discovers that she is not the only one; the island is teeming with zombies. When the butler tries to tell his employer, the employer refuses to believe in "voodoo hocus pocus." The butler and the pilot find themselves entranced. Fortunately, the agent is still around to solve the mystery of the zombies and to confront the culprit, an enemy spy. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

The Sound of Horror
In this low-budget horror movie, Greek treasure hunters discover a nest of prehistoric eggs. They break an egg and accidentally release a deadly, invisible force that begins noisily shredding all humans in its path. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Snowbeast
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

The Beast of Yucca Flats
This groaner from profoundly untalented "auteur" Coleman Francis involves the scenario (one couldn't exactly call it a 'story') of a tubby Soviet scientist (Tor Johnson -- who else?) who is pursued by nefarious agents into a nuclear testing area, whereupon an A-bomb blast infuses him with enough radiation to power a small Midwestern town. Supposedly transformed into a rampaging monster, Tor looks exactly the same, albeit with tattered clothing and a constipated expression. In the fine tradition of The Creeping Terror and Coleman Francis's own Red Zone Cuba (starring the director himself, who resembles Tor's scrappy older brother), this is shot with virtually no dialogue and overlaid with hilariously pretentious and obtuse narration... the phrase "a flag on the moon" pops up so often it could be used in a drinking game. The most enjoyable aspect of this movie is its remarkably short running time. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

The Monster Maker
The disfiguring disease of acromegaly-which grotesquely extends the bones and distorts one's facial features-was the "gimmick" in the PRC horror opus The Monster Maker. J. Carroll Naish stars as Markoff, a mad doctor who has no qualms about experimenting on human beings. Markoff's unwitting victim is famed concert pianist Lawrence (Ralph Morgan), who is injected with the doctor's acromegaly-inducing serum. It is Markoff's intention to extort a great deal of money from Lawrence before providing an antidote-and also to win the hand of Lawrence's pretty daughter Patricia (Wanda McKay). Though the film is as lumpy and unconvincing as Lawrence's rubbery facial makeup, the flawless performances of those old barnstormers J. Carroll Naish and Ralph Morgan carry the day. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Sisters of Death
When five sorority sisters gather together for a reunion, they discover that the deadly secret they share has come back to haunt them. ~ Erin Demers, Rovi

The Atomic Brain
This weird, morbid little sci-fi thriller stars Marjorie Eaton as a filthy-rich but decrepit old widow who has devoted much of her wealth to funding the dubious (to say the least) scientific research of Frank Gerstle, who has constructed a mad lab in the widow's basement in order to perfect a technique in which an infusion of atomic energy (or something) will enable him to transfer the widow's brain into a young and sexy physique. To this end, three subjects are solicited through a want ad (under the pretense of employing a housekeeper). The three young women, all of different nationalities (represented by horrendous accents), are subjected to the old woman's scrutiny, until she selects the prime candidate... as the others become fodder for the doctor's pet projects. Needless to say, things don't turn out quite as planned: people are burned, torn apart by man-beasts, and get their eyes ripped out -- one poor lass even winds up with the brain of a cat. This has a certain perverse charm and is competently directed (excepting some boring stretches) by Joseph V. Mascelli -- who, in spite of his work on this film and Ray Dennis Steckler's The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-up Zombies, would later publish a well-known book on cinematography. ~ Cavett Binion, Rovi

Beast From Haunted Cave
Director Monte Hellman (who would later direct a young Jack Nicholson on two low-budget westerns) earned his low-budget wings on Filmgroup's bizarre fusion of hostage/crime thriller and big-rubber-monster flick -- a quirky juxtaposition employed to similar effect 35 years later in From Dusk Till Dawn. The story begins with a team of gold thieves hiding out in a ski resort cabin after a heist, taking two people hostage as they prepare to smuggle their loot across the Canadian border -- unaware of the giant, icky-looking spider-monster lurking in a nearby cave, which preys on anyone unlucky enough to stumble near its lair. The film's woodland exteriors add a richness lacking in the typical dusty desert settings of this film's genre contemporaries. The cobwebby monster is played by Chris Robinson, later the star of General Hospital. ~ 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

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