Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated '65 - Josh Obershaw ""

Monday, July 13, 2015

Underrated '65 - Josh Obershaw

Josh Obershaw is a genre cinema enthusiast and a budding artist who showcases his words and art on his blog, Son of '77. You can also find him on Twitter: @DoctorSplatter.

This list turned out to be as educational for me as it will be for you, the reader. It's impossible for me to ignore now that the further back in time I go, my cinematic knowledge comes up pretty short. The previous list offered me a chance to look up titles I hadn't seen before. This time around, it was a necessity. Which is good. It forces me to step further out of my comfort zone to really expand my filmic awareness. I took some time for research and viewing, and below are five movies from 1965 I feel are worth sharing.

Die! Die! My Darling!, AKA Fanatic (1965, dir: Silvio Narizzano)
Being a fan of horror punk legends, The Misfits, I couldn't pass on the opportunity to check out this film, since the group named one of their classic tunes after it. A Hammer Films release, Die! Die! My Darling! stars Stefanie Powers (Va-voom!) as Patricia, a woman who visits the mother of her dead boyfriend, Mrs. Trefoile (played by Tallulah Bankhead). A deeply religious woman who's still in mourning over the loss of her son, Mrs. Trefoile sees Patricia as a wayward soul. With the help of her house staff, the old lady imprisons Patricia in the name of salvation. Die! Die! My Darling! stands out because it's a wacky kind of thriller. It's definitely tense, but it also has a rather snappy score, some humorous moments and performances, and a little of that trademark Hammer lighting. The film is also noteworthy for Richard Matheson writing the screenplay and an early screen appearance by Donald Sutherland.

Die! Die! My Darling! is available on DVD-R from Sony, and you can rent it on Amazon.

Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965, dir: Gordon Flemyng)
Based on the extremely popular BBC television series, Dr. Who, this film was the first of two big-screen adventures produced by Amicus Productions and starring the legendary Peter Cushing as the title Doctor. However, this isn't a continuation of the show, but more of what would now be called a "re-imagining". In this iteration, The Doctor is not an alien, but a human. InDr. Who and the Daleks, he's a kindly old scientist who, along with his two granddaughters and the bumbling beau of the eldest girl, travels to a distant planet via their ship, TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space). The post-apocalypse world is populated by two species, the peace-loving Thals and the evil Daleks (The iconic villians of the series). Making the Doctor a resident of the planet Earth isn't the only deviation from the show. Unlike the mysterious and sometimes spooky tone of the series,Dr. Who and the Daleks was aimed straight at children with its colorful pallette and sense of whimsy. It's pure kids stuff. Some fans might be turned off by this version, but it is an interesting footnote in the legacy of Dr. Who.

Dr. Who and the Daleks is available on DVD from Lionsgate and is currently streaming on Hulu.

Invasion of Astro-Monster, AKA Godzilla vs. Monster Zero
(1965, dir: Ishiro Honda)
I've always enjoyed Godzilla movies since I was a kid, and since I didn't get to talk about Terror Of Mechagodzilla in the previous list, I thought, why the hell not? In Invasion of Astro-Monster, astronauts discover an alien race on Planet X who ask for help to rid them of the three-headed monster, King Ghidorah. The people of Earth let them borrow both Godzilla and Rodan, not realizing the aliens intend to use all three behemoths to conquer our world. As with every other classic Godzilla movie (with a big exception of the original), the human elements tend to be really uninteresting. Invasion of Astro-Monster wisely switches it up with the outer space plot, which makes this entry move along quick. The way-out production design and the employment of effects on top of the usual man-in-suit theatrics makes this a standout in the series.

Invasion of Astro-Monster is available on DVD from Classic Media, and is currently streaming under the title,Godzilla vs. Monster Zero, on Hulu.

Motorpsycho (1965, dir: Russ Meyer)
The same year he gave the worldFaster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, cult legend Russ Meyer also made this film. In it, a trio of bikers go around causing mayhem and rape across the desert landscape. When they assault the wife of a veterinarian (played by Alex Rocco, in his first role), the animal doc goes after them. Motorpsycho is nowhere as iconic as Faster, Pussycat! It's a pretty standard revenge tale. While there are plenty of the usual Meyer babes, unlike the ladies of Faster, Pussycat!, they're all very much helpless. Still, it's an entertaining quickie. One you can throw in if your having your own little drive-in marathon at home.

Motorpsycho is available on DVD.

Planet of the Vampires (1965, dir: Mario Bava)
Mario Bava is best known as a master of horror, and he brings the macabre to outer space with Planet of the Vampires. Two crews of astronauts are pulled to a desolate world and become prey to a ghostly race of aliens who possess the dead like parasites. The thing that sucked me into Planet of the Vampires (Yes, pun intended) was how genuinely creepy it was. Bava fused the pulp sensibility of that day's science fiction with an atmosphere of dread, with the use of lighting, fog, and sound (kudos to Gino Marinuzzi, Jr. on the eerie score). It's no wonder some point to this film as a direct influence on Alien.

Planet of the Vampires is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Kino Lorber.

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