Something new here on MonsterZero NJ’s Movie Madhouse, where I will recommend some fun double features for those Saturday night’s home on the couch with your favorite beverage and best ghoul! It was going to premiere with two other titles but, in honor of Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013), I am going to start off with two of my Harryhausen favorites!…
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH (1957)
A golden oldie that is not only entertaining but, features one of sci-fi cinema’s most unique creatures courtesy of FX wizard Ray Harryhausen. A real black and white treat that is filled with old fashion thrills and chills and heaps of nostalgic charm. This sci-fi thriller tells the story of the crash landing of an American spaceship on return from a mission to Venus. Landing near the Italian coast, one of the pilots is rescued and one of the life form samples from Venus washes up on shore. The egg hatches and a reptilian alien creature now roams the Italian countryside. It’s growth out of control due to Earth’s atmosphere, it grows larger by the minute. One of the things I like about this flick is that director Nathan Juran not only portrays the creature as fierce but, sympathetic too. It’s born into a strange world where it is under constant harassment from those around it. Sometimes it seems that if the creature was left alone, it might not bother anyone as sulfur, not humans, are it’s food and it appears to be somewhat shy by nature. But, it wouldn’t be much of a monster movie if our poor displaced creature wasn’t constantly provoked and the ensuing carnage is brilliantly portrayed by FX master Ray Harryhausen. From a battle with an elephant in the streets of Rome to the climactic finale on the top of the Coliseum, there is a lot of action in this 50s classic and it is one of my all time favorites. I always rooted for the creature as a kid and still do. The “Ymir” is also one of my all time favorite movie monsters and I love this movie just as much now as when I was a kid. Also stars humans William Hopper as the heroic Col. Robert Calder and Joan Taylor as pretty medical student and love interest, Marisa Leonardo.
A classic 4 Ymirs!
THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958)
An absolutely enchanting fantasy adventure from Director Nathan Juran (20 Million Miles To Earth) and SPFX master Ray Harryhausen. This charming tale has Captain Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) tricked by a sinister magician (Torin Thatcher) into taking him to the island of Colossa under the guise of restoring the brave captain’s miniaturized Princess (Kathryn Grant) to her normal size. But, the magician actually seeks a magic lamp held by the cyclops whose genie can grant him ultimate power. This delightfully old fashioned tale is filled with high adventure and some of Harryhausen’s most iconic monsters such as the satyr-like cyclops, a sword fighting skeleton and a magnificently menacing dragon. Director Juran gives Ken Kolb’s script a fairy tale like atmosphere in which Harryhausen’s creations and the cast of characters can dwell. And the cast do play their parts with just enough panache to suit the fantasy material but, never too over the top to evoke campiness. The film plays it’s storybook-like drama seriously enough to make it work but, with a slight wink as it is, after all, a bedtime fable of sorts. A timeless classic featuring some of Ray Harryhausen’s best creatures and work