Frankenstein (1910)

(1910 – Edison Co. – silent) dir: J. Searle Dawley; w/ Charles Ogle, Augustus Phillips, Mary Fuller. One reel.

Almost certainly the first film adaptation of the story, and while it does try to use some of the themes from the book, conveying such a story in less than 13 minutes is a fool’s task. Still, that doesn’t excuse the trip-hammer ending so ridiculous that you can almost hear the cameraman shout, “We’re almost out of film! Write an ending, quick!” Aside from that, the film is well made (within expectations of the era). Notable is that the monster-making process is alchemical and accomplished with an interesting bit of trickery (a burning mannequin filmed in reverse). The surviving copy is a little rough in spots, but well worth a view for film historians and horror aficionados.

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Mega-Python VS Gatoroid

(2011) dir: Mary Lambert; w/ Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, A. Martinez, (Micky Dolenz cameo). No skin; mild gore.
Thanks to a crazy environmentalist, the python problem in the Everglades gets supersized. Thanks to a crazy sheriff, the gators get super-dupersized. Then it’s just gargantuan reptiles versus everybody and only two crabby women and some dynamite can save us now. Apparently, the rehashed critters were not quite enough, so they threw in a cat-fight and a Monkee to try and hold our interest. It doesn’t work. Even by the standards of SyFy channel regurgitated drivel, this one is awfully weak– lukewarm script, bargain bin FX, and half-hearted attempts at humor. Give it a miss unless you just have to see Gibson & Tiffany in a cat-fight.

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Mega-Shark Versus Crocosaurus

(2010) dir: Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray; w/ Jaleel White, Gary Stretch, Sarah Lieving, Robert Picardo. No skin; no gore.
The Big Shark chases the Big Croc because… eggs! The nervous Navy Guy and the smelly Hunter Guy run around and yell a lot because… experts! This one fails to live up to its own low standards. It almost sorta makes sense for a while, but halfway in, the screenwriter goes stark staring mad. From that point, it’s reduced to a jumble of gibbering nonsense, extra scenes for random bit players, and nukes, volcanoes, and more running and yelling. Even the FX work is weak for this entry. Actually, this flick has the odor of a broken production; as if the plot were invented in the editing room long after everyone else had moved on with their lives. Even for Critter Flick fans, this one is a miss.

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Alien Factor

(1978) writ & dir: Donald M. Dohler; w/ Dan Leifert, Tom Griffith, Richard Dyszel, Mary Mertens. No skin; no gore; no point.

Random alien beasties rip up some small-town folk. Only the crypto-biology nut can save them now. This is the sort of dime-budget drive-in drivel that fills the middle of a triple-feature. A sliver of a plot is sprinkled amongst immense amounts of padding, bad photography and ominous music. And the only payoff is some bad monster costumes and a few seconds of cute stop-motion animation. Going MST3K on this one is the only way to make it actually palatable… at least it does offer good material for that.

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Sharktopus

(2010) dir: Declan O’Brien; w/ Kerem Bursin, Sara Malakul Lane, Eric Roberts, (cameo for Roger Corman). No skin; a little blood.

The Navy invents a hybrid shark/octopus as their latest secret weapon. Um… okay, that sounds like a government thing. Anyhow, critter escapes, blah, blah, blah, you know the drill. It swims, it growls, it walks, it eats a lot – Mexico gets some tourism shots. The flick does fulfill its formula, although a bit too faithfully. They try (unsuccessfully) to make up for the mediocrity with a high bikini count. Eh, it’s passably fun if you’re desperate for a Critter Flick.

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Two-Headed Shark Attack

(2012) dir: Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray; w/ Carmen Electra (small part), Charlie O’Connell, Brooke Hogan, Christina Bach Norman. Brief bit o’ skin; mildest gore.

The usual batch of ditzy college kids battle a sinking boat, a sinking island, and a shark that can gobble two at once. This is a half-assed trifle clumsily stitched together from bikinis, teeth, bad acting, and a bit less than half a plot. The shark itself looks good enough, but it keeps changing size and the attack scenes are accomplished with quick cuts and close-ups of a rubber shark-mouth. I suppose it’s passably entertaining if you’re desperate enough.

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Mega-Piranha

(2010) writ & dir: Eric Forsberg; w/ Paul Logan, Tiffany, David Labiosa, Barry Williams. No skin; no gore.

Genetically modified piranha eat & grow & eat & grow and soon we have giant fish leaping out of the water to eat buildings – then they head for Florida where the tourists are juicier – then Navy divers shoot at them with underwater-guns. Yup, every bit as stupid as it sounds. The cartoony script, cheesy dialog and ridiculously exaggerated action do lend it some fun value – but dragging it back down again is some very ham-fisted directing (camera whoosh!) and the butt-ugliest special effects I’ve seen in a good long time. If you’re a real Critter Flick fan (with low standards), it can be passably entertaining – but avoid it if you’re hoping for anything resembling talent.

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Warbirds

(2008) writ & dir: Kevin Gendreau; w/ Brian Krause, Jamie Mann, Tohoru Masamune. No skin; no gore.

Lady transport pilots of WW2 fly a B-29 (loaded with the A-bomb)! They crash-land on an island and use captured Zeros to dogfight with pterosaurs! The colonel in charge acts manly & stuff! The only excuse for a movie this weak-minded is that the target demographic was still in diapers… even then, it would insult their intelligence… hell, this flick insults the intelligence of the dinosaurs. The CG-work was well handled – even reaching above its budget in spots – but the rest was mostly expository close-ups and antique dialog. The script blatantly ignores common knowledge, common sense, and even common respect for its audience… and seems to take itself completely seriously. A rather embarrassing waste of time.

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Mega-Shark vs Giant Octopus

(2009) writ & dir: Ace Hannah (aka Jack Perez); w/ Deborah Gibson, Vic Chao, Lorenzo Lamas. No skin; no gore.

Two super-sized prehistoric beasties with jet-speed, steel skin and Hoover appetites thaw out from the ice and eat lots of stuff. What we have here is minimal effort for a paycheck – haphazard script, dialog that would demean the intelligence of a flatworm, science padding with test-tubes full of colored liquid, and effects scenes made from brief glimpses of cheap CGI and more mismatched stock footage than in any single film since the sixties. Mildly amusing due solely to its blatant disregard for competence.

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Island of the Fishmen

(1979 – Italy – aka Screamers) dir: Sergio Martino; w/ Barbara Bach, Claudio Cassinelli, Richard Johnson, (cameo for Joseph Cotten). No skin; no gore (gore content apparently varies with cut).

Some shipwrecked sailors find themselves on an island ruled by the usual sneering megalomaniac and some murderous fish-fiends, with a vague scent of Dr. Moreau over the whole thing. Despite some promise, it really turns out to be a rather dull tale, just barely fit for a lazy Sunday matinee. It’s rather a shame, since the fish-man costumes were actually quite good.

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