Check out his Underrated '86 & '76 lists as well:
Curse of the Swamp Creature:
Some filmmakers are an “acquired taste.” Ingmar Bergman, Jesus Franco and Doris Wishman are three that I would include in that category. Then, there is the occasional filmmaker who is the acquired taste of no one and yet they have quite the respected (sort of) oeuvre. Larry Buchanan, come on down! Buchanan’s films are (almost all) boring. That’s one of Larry’s general trademarks. I said in a review somewhere at some point (I think it was for Monster Dog) that “this film was the first film ever made where the director was asleep the whole time.” Larry Buchanan made a career out of making films that seem as if he’s sound asleep all the time. Curse of the Swamp Creature is one of these. There is a swamp. Some decent actors. A mad scientist. A monster. I watched this film for maybe the fifth time two weeks ago… and I can’t remember a damn thing that happened in it. But, I’ll be darned, I did enjoy watching it when it was on. Buchanan’s films are big comfortable blankets. Put one on and get cozy and, hey, if you fall asleep… so what. Maybe you’ll see the director in your dreams. Curse of the Swamp Creature isn’t the best Buchanan. It’s Another Buchanan. In the right mood, this is the right film.
Island of Terror:
Peter Cushing and a bunch of scientists go to an island where some sort of strange, globby monster is killing people. The film has a lovely atmosphere and some gore that, frankly, surprised the heck out of me. It’s no classic but it is one that I had never heard of until Svengoolie showed it a while ago… with a warning that things would get gruesome. So, I had to stay tuned in. And, I got caught up in the movie. It feels a bit like a Hammer film but it isn’t. Cushing is great, as always. (He was Doctor Who that same year.) And, then there’s that gore. It is shocking and painful and awesome and good. If you want to watch a horror film you’ve probably never seen, Island of Terror should fit the bill.
The Ghost In The Invisible Bikini:
Boris Karloff and the Beach Party squad. More or less. Look, I love the Beach Party movies from AIP. Every year, I have several rituals that are movie-related. I will spend a Sunday watching the Back to the Future trilogy. (If you don’t love Part 3, we need to talk.) I will spend a week watching the seven Police Academy movies. I’ll watch Mame twice a year. And, I will watch the seven Beach Party films. Technically, Ghost only fulfills half of the name. No beach, all party. But, it is considered (by people better than me) to be a Beach Party film so I’m in. There are ghosts. There is partying. There is great music. The vibe is spooky comedy and I love it. Hook this up with The Ghost of Dragstrip Hallow and that is a Double Feature of the Gods.
Jimmy the Boy Wonder:
H.G. Lewis made a kids’ movie. (Actually two but the other one came out in 1967.) Lewis brings to this film the same technical skill, narrative know-how and ability with actors that all of his other films have. This is the only film I’ve ever watched three times in a row. I am in awe of this film. Sadly, it’s also probably the one film of his that will never make it to Blu-Ray. (Along with the other kids’ film, I imagine.) It should. In fact, there are many crazy ass kids’ movies from the 1960s/ 1970s that should hit Blu-Ray. (Yes, The Force on Thunder Mountain, I include you.) They never will. Sigh. You notice I’m not telling you about what happens in Jimmy The Boy Wonder? You got that right. Go see it for yourself. It brings me great joy. It must do the same for at least one other person. I believe that. Don’t make me send Mr. Fig after you.
Manos, the Hands of Fate:
I first saw Manos on WPIX around 1986. It was on at 4:20 AM. I hit Timer Record on the old Beta and got myself a pretty sweet copy. I think I’d read about it in The Golden Turkey Awards. I thought the film was odd but no worse than any other odd film I was watching around that time. (Robot Monster seemed much stranger.) Then, it showed up on MST3K. I remember saying “Oh, I’ve seen this. It’s weird.” And, everyone in the dorm room looked at me with eyes that said “Who brought this a-hole?” Since then, there are many who say this to me. There are also many who say that Manos is the worst film ever made. Well, first, go watch Night of Horror and then get back to me. Second, go and watch the film with no pre-judging involved. In fact, buy the Blu-Ray and make an evening out of it. It is amateurish. It is technically inept. (I have used a Bell & Howell 16MM camera to make a short film and ‘inept’ seems to be what that camera was designed for.) Yes, everything about the film is technically wrong. I got it. In the end, after all that, what we have here is a strange, slightly disturbing, weird as hell journey into the psyche of a fertilizer salesman. I love it. More than I love Night of Horror in fact. There’s another great double feature waiting to happen.
Munster, Go Home:
I love when TV shows become theatrical films. In 1966, we got A Man Called Flintstone, Batman and this film. Finally, a chance to see our favorite Monster family in color. Herman is Green! The rest of them are… well, they’re all undead colored. (I’d like a crayon in that color, please.) Herman is green because he’s made up of bits from dead bodies. As a kid, that never occurred to me. But, it sure is odd to think about. I watched this film a lot when I was young. It made me laugh, which the TV show rarely ever did. It was great to see the monsters looking good and getting in car races! Munster Go Home is no masterpiece but it is a fun film that brings Herman, Lily, Grandpa, Eddie and a Fake Marilyn (Geri Reischl?) to us. Writ large! Yes, it does take them out of Mockingbird Lane, which is too bad. Yes, I don’t think it’s as good as the Get Smart film that never got made would have been. (It became the three part A Man Called Smart saga instead.) But, the chemistry between Fred Gwynne and Lewis is never better. The supporting cast is alternately snotty and snooty. And, the moment where Herman yells for Car 54 is genius.