50 Movie Pack SciFi Classics, Disc 10

All four in color (more or less, in one case)—with two of them featuring a form of prehistoric feminism. As I’m now finding to be common, about half of the IMDB user comments appear to be from people who either didn’t actually watch the film or were stoned or drunk while doing so—which in some cases may make sense. Note: Spoiler alert for two of the flicks–but if you’re watching these for suspenseful plot, you’re really in the wrong place.

Blood Tide, 1982, color, Richard Jefferies (dir.), James Earl Jones, José Ferrer, Lila Kedrova, Mary-Louise Weller, Martin Kove, Lydia Cornell, Deborah Shelton. 1:22 [1:23]

This is an odd monster movie, if only because the monster (a vicious marine beast) appears for about four seconds total. Set on a remote Greek island (no telephones), where a young man and his new wife come by fancy yacht to seek out his sister. She’s busily uncovering older layers of a religious painting (finally uncovering the prehistoric beast). Meanwhile, you’ve got James Earl Jones as a cynical treasure hunter blowing up underground areas to find ancient coins and treasure (and maybe unleash the beast) while otherwise drinking heavily, various girlfriends and others acting strangely, virgin pseudo-sacrifice…well, lots of good actors, good scenery, and a plot that doesn’t really go much of anywhere. Generously, $1.25.

The Brain Machine, 1977, color, Joy N. Houck Jr. (dir.), James Best, Barbara Burgess, Gil Peterson, Gerald McRaney. 1:25 [1:21]

Strange psychological experiments—four volunteers in a sealed environment with a beautiful scientist/doctor, two scientists outside, lots of mainframe computer equipment, a hammock of sorts that can apparently not only read minds but can insert things into them (maybe)—and a second team that really controls the experiment on behalf of The General and The Senator, now that they’ve killed the scientist who Found Out The Truth about the experiment. The volunteers turn out to be a seedy lot, but still may not deserve their fate, either crushed by the walls of a computer-controlled chamber gone wrong or electrocuted as they try to escape. A little too realistic in the resolution: When the man supposedly in charge of both experiments asks his superior how he expects to cover this up, the superior shoots him. (Sorry if this spoils the movie.) Otherwise—well, “establishing shots” of a house and pool appear interminably often for no apparent reason, as does a seemingly-identical sequence with the Real Control Team: This has the feel of a 45-minute TV episode padded out to 85 minutes. Zero for the incoherent plot and really awful ending; $0.75 for some interesting B-movie acting along the way. $0.75.

The Wild Women of Wongo, 1958, color, James L. Wolcott (dir.), a cast of beautiful nobodies (only Joyce Nizzari has more than one other film credit, and her role doesn’t even merit a character name). 1:11

As Mother Nature informs us in a voice-over, she and Father Time did an experiment 10,000 years ago that went wrong: They set up an island village Wongo, with beautiful women and “beastly” men—and, a few days’ walk away, another village with beautiful men (none with facial hair, all pretty boys) and not-so-beautiful women. There are also supposed ape men ready to attack everyone, but we only see two of them and they’re pretty pathetic. The alligator temple is also involved, with a mysterious revolving-stone entrance. When the son of the beautiful-men king comes to Wongo to ask the ugly men to go to the other village to fight off the apemen, the beautiful women go ape, and prevent the ugly men from killing him; this leads to all sorts of hijinks, with the beautiful women rounding up the beautiful men, the homely men finally meeting up with the homely women, lots of winking in the temple of the alligator, and an apparently happy ending. There’s also a parrot who talks a lot, which is one of several clues that this movie was done as a lark. (All of the prehistoric folk speak perfect English, but other than dress styles there are no obvious anachronisms—and we have to assume that women of 10,000 years ago were skilled in making fabric and preparing sundresses. I didn’t see any zippers, buttons, or seams; give them credit for this.) Not exactly serious anthropology, but harmless fun and fairly well filmed (but with complete nobodies as actors, albeit many of them very attractive complete nobodies). Oh, and of course there’s one catfight: You expected that, right? $1.25.

Prehistoric Women, 1950, color, Gregg C. Tallas (dir.), Laurette Luez, Allan Nixon, Judy Landon, David Vaile (narrator). 1:14 [1:13]

This movie would be a lot more tolerable if most “night scenes” (actually filmed in daytime but with smoke machines running) weren’t so obscured as to be nearly unwatchable. This time around (also 10,000 years, and the whole story is told as an expansion of a cave drawing), the prehistoric folks all speak unknown languages (mostly just names), and a really annoying narrator tells us what’s going on—including gems such as that “swan diving was invented before swans” and a tendency to tell us what we just saw happen. Anyway, in this case one women and some female children escape from a tribe where the women were really treated badly; the children grow up into beautiful young women in short cloth sundresses (with belts and purses of sorts, and in some cases strappy sandals, but few really egregious anachronisms), and dance themselves to exhaustion because—well, because they need men. So they capture some (wearing animal skins—I guess cloth is just for women) to use as husbands and slaves. The handsomest one escapes; on his way back to his tribe (in caves), he manages to discover fire. (Otherwise, it’s fair to say that the men are…well, they can’t figure out how to pick up rocks and throw them back at the women who are slingshotting them, and they don’t seem to have progressed from clubs to spears. As Harry Belafonte would say, “That’s right, the women are smarter.”) He comes back to rescue the others, gets captured, various subplots with a nine-foot giant and a flying chicken—sorry, dragon—are resolved, mostly with this burning stuff (did you know that striking any two rocks together repeatedly will cause fire just when you need it?)…oh, and of course the men turn the tables on the women. Yes, there’s a catfight in this one as well. They discover cooked meat in the process, and I guess they all live happily ever after. The acting is…well, unlike Wild Women of Wongo, there’s no reason to believe they weren’t kidding. Very generously, $0.75, if only as an early D-grade color curiosity.

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