Frazetta painted the artwork in 1963, if I am not mistaken. This particular reprint of the Burroughs classic was published by Ace Books in 1969.
“Kingdom of the Spiders” (1977) was yet another 70’s bug-apocalypse flick that aired from time to time on 1980’s television. As I recall, this one was kinda good … or at least it was scary enough to impress me as a grade-school kid. The movie wisely made use of a truly frightening adversary (and used live tarantulas for filming). And it had the kind of jarring, open-ended final scene that I hadn’t seen before for a sci-fi/horror film.
The only thing that detracted from its creep-factor was the presence of William Shatner as the lead. It wasn’t that Shatner did a poor job with the role — it was just that he was indelibly linked in my young mind to his iconic role in the original “Star Trek” (1966-1969). I simply couldn’t get past the idea that Captain Kirk was an ordinary veterinarian; it took me out of the movie. I’m willing to bet that Shatner was helming the cop drama “T.J. Hooker” (1982-1986) at around the time that I saw “Kingdom of the Spiders,” but that was a show I didn’t watch.
Anyway, if you want to catch the flick in its entirety, you can find the whole thing over at Youtube right here.
This is just a smattering of the early “Godzilla” movies that thrilled me as a kid. They played on television in the late 1970’s and the early 1980’s. Hot damn, was I happy when these came on. It was the next best thing to a holiday.
The first trailer that you see (and the photo below) is for the original “Godzilla” in 1954. That scene where he tears through the high-tension powerlines made a big impression on me as a little boy. I never forgot it. I should point out that I (like most of the world) saw the Americanized version of the movie, which was heavily re-edited and released in 1956. (That is indeed Raymond Burr that you see in the trailer.)
“Godzilla vs. Megalon” (1976) is another that I remember well — probably because I saw it as an older child.
Am I crazy, or does the “Son of Godzilla” trailer from 1969 mention “Frankenstein” for some reason? Something got lost in translation.
I am still a little surprised at the harsher criticism I’m hearing of this year’s “Godzilla: King of the Monsters.” (It was indeed brainless, as its detractors point out, but it was still fun enough for me to give it pretty forgiving review.)
Hey … if you think the new movie was goofy, you should see the Godzilla movies that I grew up with. No, I wasn’t alive in 1969, but these movies ran periodically on television in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. I was utterly awed by them when I watched them with my older brother.
But they are cringeworthy to any sane adult. Take a look at the trailer below (sorry I couldn’t find one in English), and the two clips that follow it.
Okay … this wasn’t technically a “Godzilla” movie because the radioactive (?) lizard is absent. (It might have actually been set in a different fictional universe.) This film’s putative good-guy is the eponymous “Gamera,” who is a giant, space-faring turtle with … rockets that can deploy from the rear of his shell … from the leg holes. And he employs gymnastics to fight his enemies. (See the second video below.)
There was one part of this movie that scared the heck out of me as a little kid. You see the two little boys? They’re abducted by some sexy lady aliens whose nefarious plan is to eat their brains, thus absorbing strategic knowledge of the Earth they wished to conquer. Seriously, they give the kids drugged donuts and plan to open their skulls, and that scared the $^%# out of me.
Still think the new movie was a mess?
Warren Publishing Company.
In some ways, I’m a poor excuse for a horror fan. I haven’t seen any episodes of some of the classic anthology series that my friends regard as biblically important. Such was the case with “Night Gallery” — at least until a couple of nights ago. (You can find it online, if you look hard enough.)
I checked out the 1969 feature-length pilot for the series, and I’m glad I did. It was good stuff, despite the now lamentable 1960’s music and camera effects that were occasionally distracting. I’d rate it an 8 out of 10.
There were three half-hour tales comprising the made-for-television movie: “The Cemetery,” “Eyes,” and “The Escape Route.” “Eyes” was by far and away the best written and performed, but they were all quite good. The twists for all three tales were quite satisfactory, and the tone was nice and macabre. And the cast was terrific — Roddy McDowall and Ossie Davis starred in the first segment; Joan Crawford and Tom Bosley appeared in the second. It was weird seeing such youthful versions of actors that were familiar to me in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
The format, along with Rod Serling’s unique narration, was engaging, if a little quaint. It’s easy to see how this went on to become such a popular television show.
Here’s an odd trivium -in the establishing shots for the second segment, which takes place in New York City, the Twin Towers are missing. That’s because construction had only just begun on the first tower in 1969, when this pilot was released. The entire World Trade Center was completed three years later.
Remember last week I was elated after seeing a beaver? That kinda didn’t happen. Turns out that the subject of my ecstatic interest was actually the unceremonious nutria (myocastor coypus), or, as I like to call him, the giant wannabe-beaver-rat.
I spotted the (apparently solitary) bugger again yesterday, and I was confused when I finally got a look at his rounded tail. Was it a huge rat? I followed him down the creek, because I am nothing if not a strange man with a lot of time on my hands. He appeared to submerge, swim underwater through an underground pipe for about three minutes, and then emerge casually on the other side of the road where the creek terminates in a sump.
I should have known it was a nutria before I looked him up. Believe it or not, I actually have heard of them before. A horror movie nerd like me remembers the species was supposedly used to portray giant rats for either “Willard” (2003) or its 1971 original. (I do forget which.)
They’re bad guys, too — at least from an environmental perspective. They’re an invasive, rapidly reproducing, semi-aquatic species that destroy wetlands and compete with the native muskrat. They themselves are not native; they were brought to the United States and Europe from South America by fur ranchers.
Anyway … if you’re able to catch 2003’s “Willard,” I highly recommend it. It starts Crispin Glover and R. Lee Ermey, and was penned by “X Files” greats Glen Morgan and James Wong. For the full spooky experience, first read Stephen Gilbert’s excellent 1969 novel, “Ratman’s Notebooks,” which served as the basis for both films.
Photo credit: By Philippe Amelant – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2027013.