Planet of the Vampires, directed by Mario Bava, 1965
Synopsis: A group of astronauts discover an unseen alien life form that causes insanity, forces its carriers to kill each other, then resurrects their dead bodies.
My Thoughts: Boring. Awesome to look at, but boring. The plot is confusing and slow-paced -- a deadly combination that almost put me to sleep right on the couch. Brian Salisbury watched it with me, and at some point he mentioned that the film is considered an influence on Ridley Scott's Alien. Once we got to part of the film where the crew discovered a giant alien astronaut skeleton in a mysterious spacecraft, dead from an alien that it carried inside of its body, we could see how. That's a pretty direct influence, right there. I'd recommend the movie for its overall vibe and its swinging '60s production design, but not for its entertainment value. It was a chore to watch.
Recommended If You Like: Alien, Barberella, Moon Zero Two
Village of the Giants, directed by Bert I. Gordon, 1965
Synopsis: A whiz-kid (Ron Howard!) invents a goop that causes gigantism, and it's stolen and used by rowdy teenagers.
My Thoughts: I didn't know when I started watching it that Village of the Giants was the subject of a MST3K episode, but it's certainly goofy enough. I was only really familiar with this scene, that the Alamo Drafthouse uses as part of their regular pre-show (and if you recognize the Jack Nitzche music, it was commandeered recently by Quentin Tarantino for Death Proof).
My favorite what-the-hell moment is an extended scene in a nightclub that's invaded by giant dancing ducks. Make no mistake, this is a fairly terrible movie, but it was this really odd tone to it that reminded me of a nightmare. It's obvious that director Gordon intended the film to be a fun lark for teens back in the 60s, but his choice of music sets an overly ominous tone that makes the whole thing downright weird.
Recommended If You Like: Food of the Gods, Attack of the 50-Foot Woman, Beach Blanket Bingo
Swamp Thing, aired on USA Network 1990-1991
Synopsis: The show is supposed to be a continuation of the Swamp Thing film series (based on the DC comic), in which a botanist is turned into a swamp monster and fights an evil geneticist. The show seems to be an excuse for Swamp Thing to watch stupid stuff happen to dumb people.
My Thoughts: This may very well be the worst television show ever created. The plots are completely threadbare -- things happen with no rhyme or reason or adherence to any logic whatsoever. The dialogue is jaw-droppingly terrible (Swamp Thing's declaration, "Only dumb kids dream" is a personal favorite). Most episodes consist of Swamp Thing standing behind trees watching his friends, the Kipp family, run afoul of bouffant-haired, shoulder-padded baddie Anton Arcane.
And I love every minute of it.
Recommended If You Like: Swamp Thing, Return of Swamp Thing, Tales from the Darkside, frontal lobotomies