70’s arcade games-Galaxian

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1979

In 1977 Space Invaders really made an impact in what could be done with video games and it was a huge hit. It was no surprise that other shoot the alien before they shoot you games would follow. In 1979 one of the best of that variety came out in the form of Galaxian. Like Space Invaders the aliens are above and you the defending ship are at the bottom of the screen trying to blast them so it’s referred to as a fixed shooter game. However the colors are brighter, the aliens are more lively as they can dive and the overall gameplay is faster and certainly more of a challenge. This game spawned three arcade sequels in the 80’s including 1981’s Galaga which was also a huge hit. Galaxian was in every arcade during it’s day and has certainly left an impression on gamers from that time.

Galaxy Invader

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1985

 

This meteor thing flashes by and eventually this kid finds and alien in  his basement. Some kids have all the luck all I had in my basement was cobwebs and spiders. The alien goes wondering around the countryside and scruffy drunk Joe shoots it causing the saggy green visitor from another world to drop what looks like a styrofoam ball. Joe snags and later whacks it in front of some others with similar IQ’s. The device produces a popping sound leding Joe to deduce that it is an alien weapon of great power and importance. Joe continues to wear his favorite non-flattering ripped white t-shirt as he recruits locals drunk rednecks to help him hunt for this critter er alien. All these guys are up some whoopin, hollarin and chasing an alien through a small area of woods so that’s what they do. They eventually capture this rubber suited monstrosity. Some people with good intentions but not so much sense free the alien. Joe continues to basically act like a rear end while yelling and bossing around everyone else. Plus he tries to rape a woman and he keeps wearing that horrid shirt. Eventually the remaining family members manage to knock Joe off a cliff and kill him. Wait wasn’t this supposed to be alien movie? Yes, I think so but hey roll the credits before they try and keep this thing going.

The negatives-Wait, I have to think about this film again? The acting is pretty poor all the way around. It ranges from overacting as far as it can go to being so wooden that I can’t distinguish the actors from the trees they are standing next to. The alien suit doesn’t look so bad in the shadows, but in full daylight it’s rubber nature is on full display. If you ever wanted to film an alien invasion movie watch this first to know what not to do.

The positives-Don Dohler made some really terrible movies, but he knew they were bad and went at it anyhow. Most of his film like this one were filmed in the county next to mine so the exteriors look very similar to where I live and I like that part. Dick Dyszel is in this one as Dr. Tracy and you may not know that name, but he was and still is Count Gore De Vol the horror host I grew up seeing. So even though this was a crap part in a crap film for him I still enjoyed seeing him trying to act in the kind of film he loved.

This will be a tough film for most people unless you are from central Maryland or love laughing at really bad monster films. Fortunately I fall into both those categories so i kind of liked this film and have actually made it through like 4-5 times.

Devil girl from Mars

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1954

Who’s in this?

Hazel Court plays a model here. She was a model and then was in films such as the classic Curse of Frankenstein, Dr. Blood’s Coffin, The man who could cheat death, The Raven and more. She sadly died in 2008.

Patricia Laffan as Nyah (Devil Girl) from Mars. She spent about two decades in film and tv. Perhaps most known for Quo Vadis.

Adrienne Corri plays Doris the barmaid. Likely most known for being the victim in the rape scene in Clockwork Orange. She did quite a bit of tv and films, but her last credit is listed as being over 20 years ago.

Hugh McDermott as Michael Carter a smug poop eating reporter with a face you want to punch. Scottish born actor who spent four decades in various films and shows. Was still acting when he passed awat at the age of 65 in 1972.

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Excuse me but I traveled here from Mars and appear to have forgotten my pants.

What’s this about?

This girl works at this quiet little tavern/Inn and then her misunderstood boyfriend shows up although everyone else thinks he’s a no good  bum. She tries to keep his secret that he is running from the law. This old scientist and the most annoying male reporter ever looking for a metorite crash site or a drink or both. The goofhead reporter starts flirting with a model staying there blah, blah, blah I’m a reporter and a lunk head blah, blah, blah. Oh, wait a minute isn’t there supposed to be a devil girl you know from Mars in this movie? I hear all the best devil girls from there. Finally something that looks like a glowing bumpy doorknob comes to land. Well, I’ll be a flyin’ saucer oh, hold on this is England so I say good chap that looks like one of those floating items that we put under our teacups. Out of the spaceship thinamabob comes an alien dressed in a leather outfit complete with mini-skirt and cap plus she has a cape, So obvious she is way cooler than anyone at the inn. To make what can seem like a long movie short Mars needs dudes to repopulate the planet. So the younger guys here have the chance to go be with a bunch of alien woman likely also all in leather mini-skirts so they say-no. What? Oh, my we are appaled by such and offer and turn up our noses at it. Oh, well the devil girl shows off her laser gun and her robot buddy who looks like an old toaster or an old coffe maker or something else old. Eventually the people in the house find out about the innkeeper’s daughter being an escaped convict so they tie him up. Yet eventually he gets free and agrees to go to Mars to repopulate the planet. It’s a ll trick and he blows up the ship and himself plus the devil girl in the leather mini skirt and her bit old lunky robot ooops I mean her rather large mechanical contraption, old sot.

The negatives-The first 20 minutes or so are very slow. This is based on a play and you can tell. It’s feels stiff at times. Hugh McDermott annoyed the beejeezus out of me.

The positives-The basic story is crazy enough to be interesting. Glad they went with black and white it likely helped not just the effects but the landscape as well. Love the scene where Patricia Laffen is slowly making her way over the hill towards the inn. Patricia Laffen tries hard with a part that easily could have been a serious disaster.

Overall a likable enough although odd little film.

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Oh look a giant old style remote control.

The Alien Factor

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Cinemagic
1977 (That’s what it says after the film, but I have also seen 1976, 1978 and 1979 listed in various sources for this film as well)

Directed by Don Dohler-Dohler was a Maryland based film maker who worked on a number of low budget horror and sci-fi films between 1976 and his death in 2006. In the 1960’s he came up with the idea to make a magazine about how to do special effects for amateur filmmakers. In the 70’s he started that magazine and it was called Cinemagic. He kept the magazine going for 11 issues before selling it to Starlog press who kept it going a number of years.

Who’s in this? Tom Griffith as the barely interested in much of anything Sheriff Cinder whose hobbies include riding around aimlessly and frowning, *Richard Dyszel as the greedy Mayor Wicker, Don Leifert plays mustached Ben Zachary an adventurer, inventor and amateur astronomer who may not be what he claims to be, Mary Merton as Edie Martin who has a knack for wandering into trouble in the woods, the film also has a number of other people who either don’t last long, don’t contribute anything or both of the above.

*Richard “Dick” Dyszel is better known as legendary horror host Count Gore DeVol. If you grew up in Maryland, DC, northern Virginia area during the 70’s and 80’s and loved monster films (as I did) then you probably know him. He continues to play the Count at convention appearances and has had a weekly internet show since the late 90’s.

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What’s this thing about?
We get views of a bunch of planets before settling on our very own little planet…that would Earth. A young couple are sitting parked in a field drinking, making out and just going as wild as they can in a small budget film. Then they are menaced by a being that looks like a pile of moldy trash. The police find the body of the male of this wild couple and he’s dead while his partner is in shock. The sheriff is trying to find out more, but a trio of local “concerned citizens” or young toughs as they may have called themselves show up. They want answers from the sheriff and are worried about an animal lurking in their woods. The sheriff wisely shoves them away for now. We see a crazy goof on his motorcycle, remember that because believe it or not that will come into play soon. Another couple is out in the woods (must be a local pastime) they separate and the woman sees a glow going over a being that looks like a muddy person with his insides on his outside. He is standing next to something that looks like a couple of freezers stacked up. It is supposed to be a spaceship. The woman flees towards the road and whack she runs into the motorcycle goof and they both go flying like they were shot out of a cannon. The motorcycle guy is okay, but the girl has bad cuts on her face and she’s out at least. The motorcycle guy does the honorable thing and…oh, no wait he actually takes off like a real jerk. Then the mud face inside out alien guy gets tired of standing shirtless by his freezer ship and comes over to heal the hurt woman via bright animated lights. Back at the doctors they tell the sheriff that it may have been an animal that killed the guy at the beginning or maybe it wasn’t they just don’t seem sure. This part is definitely what those in the movie business would refer to as filler and we the viewers refer to as a boring waste of time. At least some action is stirring up out at woods as the three toughs from earlier and a woman have just arrived after doing some drinking to venture off in the woods with their guns. Well, yee-haw them boys are going to stop whatever attacked the dude from the start of the film. They talk about their big plan and then slap, smack, rip the moldy trash alien makes short work of the three dumb toughs while the woman screams and gets away. Boy this alien likes taking it to the guys. Not long after this a guy leaving his house gets attacked by an invisible menace which is always the worst kind of menace although they are easy on the budget. Suddenly three kids are throwing a ball up in front of the sunset for what seems like five minutes. Wait did someone put in a different film? Nope, eventually these kids stumble upon the above man who has now turned blue and scaly. The doctor says this looks like a disease that caused aging. I wasn’t aware that aging made one so blue and scaly, but she’s the one playing a doctor. Mayor Wicker comes to the sheriff and tells him to figure this mess out because an amusement park will be built nearby and that means money for the town, but bizarre murders might scare off this project. Meanwhile down at the local honky-tonk virtually nothing is going on except a really crappy band plays a song that make me wish the aliens had ripped my ears off earlier. Then a guy leaves this dive and heads to his house. No, wait there’s more then he lays down in bed. Oh, wait he hears noises, grabs his gun and very slowly makes his way to the basement where a tall fuzzy looking thingamig scratches him and puts him out. Maybe he should have had someone spray for these things earlier. Now a guy named Benjamin Zachary shows up telling the mayor he is associated with an observatory from not far away and they saw a meteor landing not long ago and asks to go and look for it. The mayor tell Zachary that they have murders out in that woods recently but says it’s okay to go out there (?). The mayor tells the sheriff about Zachary. The sheriff practices his hobby of frowning and says he doesn’t trust Zachary. The mayor and Zachary head out to the happening woods. The electronic scores blares trying to make these two going into the snow covered woods seem more exciting than it is. Suddenly yowzers there’s a spaceship laying out in the snow and it’s a big ‘un. They find an alien body that looks like a shriveled reptile with a mop for hair. The shriveled alien passes some light onto Zachary before dying. Zachary tells the mayor the being passed knowledge onto him but they have to get out because the ship is gonna blow and kablooie it does right after they high tail it out of there. Back in town Zachary tells the sheriff, the mayor and the recently added Edie and Steven that the alien told him that he had three specimens in his ship when he crashed and these specimens escaped so they are the ones killing dudes in this town. Only the sheriff thinks this story is odd or that it’s strange that Zachary got this knowledge from a dying alien by way of a glowing light. Edie and Steven end up in the woods hoping to help capture an alien, yeah maybe they hoping to catch a bigfoot and ride on the Loch Ness monster too. Hey, it’s woods and around here you go out there and you run into…the garbage alien who pursues them. Suddenly a blast of sound hits and garbage creature falls over the like a, well a bag of garbage. Turns out Zachary was so clever that he figured this alien was like a big bug and that sticking a big honking speaker in the woods and then blasting sound when the alien came around would kill him. Hey, what do you know it worked. The mayor comes out of his house and the tall, fuzzy legged alien rips the mayor’s face open and plops him down. Eventually the sheriff and his deputy go after this monster trying wildly to bring him down with no luck. Then ker-plunk a big needle flies into the alien’s chest (or as my 8 year old said that monster just got shot in the boob). The alien falls down and goes boom and Zachary comes out with a big silver gun that shot out the needle. He had taken venom from alien number one and put it in this needle to kill alien number two. This Zachary sure doesn’t seem quite normal. The sheriff gets a call from the nearby observatory to let him know that they indeed have never heard of a Mr. Zachary and the sheriff for the first time in the movie seems happy. Edie is out in the woods again, buy this woman some sense please. She comes upon Mr. Zachary getting his tail kicked by a translucent creature that loos like part alien and part worm. Mr. Zachary gets smacked around some more before killing this big beast with a stick. Uh was that a poison dipped stick? No. Maybe a multi-spiked stick? Nope. Heck, it didn’t even look pointy, but whatever works I guess. Edie comes to check on Mr. Zachary but he tells her to stay back plus he sounds different and we can’t see his face. He informs her that he is from the same planet as the one that had the ship earlier and he (Zachary) was coming to destroy those three creatures before they caused more damage on earth. Then he reveals that he looks like the other alien complete with mudface and inside out bumpy veins. Edie screams, the sheriff shows up and shoots Zachary dead. Uh… didn’t that alien just get rid of all the creature that had been killing the townspeople? No time for making sense it’s time to roll the credits and it’s over and done.

Stats-
Number of aliens killed by a stick-1

Number of times the alien costumes look lame- about 5 which less times than they look decent

Number of people in the sad honky tonk- I think about ten, but my attention was fading due to the rotten club band.

The negatives? Although there are some action scenes of sorts in this film there are plenty of slow parts with people just yammering away contributing nothing. The acting is what you’d expect from a very small budget film which is to say that along with some alright performances there are some wooden performances and some wide eyed over acting too. Killing the final alien with a stick is a major hangup, that just smells of cheapness and hurrying.

The positives? The make-up on the aliens if actually decent considering the budget and when this film was done. The tall alien is likely using platforms or stilts which works pretty well. The scene where spaceship is on it’s side and the Mayor and Zachary and discover it looks quite good. The plot is overall decent although it takes a while to get to the heart of the matter. Don Leifert was far from great, but he gave easily the best performance here as the semi-mysterious Mr. Zachary.

Who should see this? This film was made down the road from where I live so I was interested in it for that reason. People are split on this film as it gets panned by plenty, but has some fans as well. It has serious problems, but a decent plot and some alright effects for the time and budget. I feel like Dohler really liked sci-fi and tried to make a sci-fi film that was the best he could do with the resources he had. The results are varied, but effort was good.

There you go.

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