And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
Could be worse...could be an Aundrey II...or a Triffid...I'm just sayin'...

Could be worse…could be an Aundrey II…or a Triffid…I’m just sayin’…

John W. Campbell Jr. published the novella Who Goes There in 1938 and went on to inspire the next generation of alien invasion stories, usually involving duplication, replacement, and the resulting paranoia. Who Goes There escaped the printed page and became The Thing from Another World in 1951, the same year Robert Heinlein published The Puppet Masters, which non-Heinlein fans might facetiously describe as “Who Goes There 2.0.” (If we want to be dicks about it.) Two years later, our “friends” at 20th Century Fox chose to distribute a little independent horror movie called Invaders from Mars. The year after that, Collier’s Magazine began serializing a novel from 5 Against the House author Jack Finney called The Body Snatchers.

With all these other Alien Invasion films making such a big splash, Poverty Row studio Monogram Pictures had to snatch up the film rights. It had no choice, having been around since 1931 and gained a well-deserved reputation for low budget Westerns (which weren’t all that bad), Bowery Boys comedies (which weren’t all that funny) and Bomba, the Jungle Boy adventures (which really were all that racist and then some). Like any small timer, Monogram hoped for some respect, and so transmuted itself into Allied Artists Pictures. It began fielding “B-plus” films with at-the-time-insane production costs, sometimes climbing north of one million dollars. Continue reading



Dirty Harry (1971)
Is a caption for this really nesessary?

Is a caption for this really necessary?

It’s one of the most-quoted films of all time, the basis for entire sub-genres, and the film most directly responsible for giving Clint Eastwood a post-Spaghetti Western career. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find five people in the same place who’ve actually seen Dirty Harry for what it is. I, for example, had never seen it in its entirety until last week. That’s what happens when you spend your childhood watching shitty monster movies (or even good monster movies, for that matter).

I got burnt out, is the thing. Wrestling with Captain America really got to me, but considering what it did to Christopher Lee, I got off easy. So I decided to recharge my batteries by reaching back to a now-officially-classic piece of American film making. It was time to plug one of the more-obvious holes in my personal cinematic education. It was time to start counting shots. Continue reading