Prince of Space (1959)

Planet Prince was a 1958 Japanese tokusatsu made by Toei Films that was made in the wake of the success of Super Giant (Starman in the U.S.) that went from a 49 episode TV series to two theatrical movies — Planet Prince and Planet Prince: The Terrifying Spaceship — released one week apart.

Prince of Space is both of those movies smashed together, edited and dubbed into English. His enemy, the Ambassador Phantom of the Silver Planet, has been renamed Dictator Phantom of the Planet Krankor. To make things even goofier, the American translation of our hero’s real name — Waku-san — is Wally. Hey everyone! Here’s Wally to save the world!

The Dictator Phantom is really pretty great. He looks like a chicken masked Darth Vader and is given to saying things like, “Come on out or we’re gonna kill some children!” and “I will arrive tomorrow night at precisely eight o’clock. At that time I shall make my wishes known to you. You will obey them…or die! Have a pleasant night’s sleep!”

The man who wrote all this, Masaru Igami, was also behind Johnny Sokko and His Flying RobotKamen Rider and Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds.

You can watch this on YouTube.


The Rebel Set (1959)

For a movie that promises “The big jolt from Beatsville!” this movie really delivers a pretty standard crime movie, with the owner of a coffee shop (Edward Platt from Get Smart) hiring three of his beatnik customers to be part of a robbery.

Gene Fowler, Jr., who directed this, was mainly known as an editor. Probably his best known work in that endeavor would be It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. He also directed a few other movies, including I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Married a Monster from Outer Space. He was also an uncredited director on the 1978 film The Astral Factor.

I. Stanford Jolley, who was the voice of The Crimson Ghost in that famous movie serial, plays a beat poet named King Invader, which is a great name.

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater version of this movie on Tubi or download the original cut from the Internet Archive.

Teenagers from Outer Space (1959)

“We are the angel mutants
The streets for us seduction
Our cause unjust and ancient
In this B film born invasion”

The Misfits, “Teenagers from Mars”

Teenagers from Outer Space was written, produced and directed* by its star Tom Graeff, who sold the movie to Warner Brothers and made no money from it. It did play a double bill with Gigantis the Fire Monster, which is really Godzilla Raids Again.

Shortly after making this movie, Graeff decided to change his name to Jesus Christ II, saying that God had shown him truth and love. In his second — His second? — ad in the Los Angeles Times, Graeff even listed semons at churches. However, when he applied to have his name legally changed, the Christian Defense League fought to keep that from happening. He also took out an ad in Variety in 1968 claiming that he’d sold a screenplay for more than anyone in the history of movies. After the ad appeared, he was publicly attacked by LA Times columnist Joyce Haber. Graeff claimed that Robert Wise and Carl Reiner were part of this movie, so Haber outed him as Jesus Christ II. Graeff’s career was over and a few years later, he would kill himself by carbon monoxide poisoning.

It also turned out that Graeff and David Love, who played Derek the alien in this, were lovers in a time where that could destroy careers.

This is somehow a movie about Thor — producer Bryan Grant, who had to sue to get his money for this film — searching for Gargons, a lobster creature that’s a delicacy across the galaxy. He also likes to shoot lasers at dogs. Meanwhile, the alien teen Derek, a member of the underground, escapes and runs wild on Earth.

This is the very definition of a movie made on a budget. Masking tape is used as costume decorations on surplus military uniforms for the aliens, while stock footage takes the place of special effects. The same skeleton is used for every dead body, a toy laser gun and a sound mixer — clearly labeled as a multichannel mixer — shows up as alien equipment and all of the music used comes from library cues. You’ll recognize it from other low budget films like Red Zone CubaThe Killer Shrews and Night of the Living Dead.

Yet Graeff was kind of a genius, as he invented a process called Cinemagraph that allowed him to pre-recorded some of the film’s dialog for several scenes and synch it with the actors reading their lines later.

Sadly, the stress of making this film, its failure and the dissolution of his friendship with the producer caused his decline.

*He also did the cinematography, special effects, and music coordination.

Cuban Rebel Girls (1959)

The last filmed appearance of Errol Flynn was not a major Hollywood movie, but instead a strange piece of B-movie propaganda directed by Barry Mahon and starring Flynn’s lover at the time, Beverly Aadland, who was seventeen at the time that this movie was made. A year after this, her boyfriend William Stanciu died after a struggle between the two of them over a gun and she was made a ward of the state. This would also be her last film, although she did appear in some documentaries made about Flynn.

Errol Flynn plays Errol Flynn, who has arrived in Cuba on behalf of the Hearst Press to write about Castro and the Cuban rebel girls. He then also meets Beverly (Aadland) and Jacqueline, who have raised $50,000 to give to the rebels to purchase weapons.

After the making of this movie, Aadland got into a brawl with Flynn’s second wife, Nora Edington, at her birthday party. Nora claimed that she took exception to Aadland calling the actor elderly. For what it’s worth, he looks exhausted in this movie and would die of a heart attack two months before its release.

So yeah. A pro-pre-Communist Castro Cuban movie with a major star who narrowly beat statutory charges having an underage relationship with one of his co-stars, as directed by the man who would bring us Confessions of a Bad Girl and Run Swinger Run. This is why I have a web site.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Beginning Responsibility: Lunchroom Manners (1959)

In fifth grade, I had a teacher that showed us every movie that our school system had, no matter what it was about. Eventually, he ran out of films and would just show us home movies of his family while he slumped into his chair and drank whiskey from his thermos.

Imagine my surprise when the films he showed me started appearing on the Pee-Wee Herman Show when it aired on HBO!

A young boy named Phil learns from a puppet named Mr. Bungle — yes, that’s where the band got their name — that having the right table manners and acting properly in the lunchroom will get you ahead in life. Yet buried within this nine minute and thirty-two second film is the conformity that so many comedians and creatives would battle against.

Beyond the unable to pigeonhole band, I can point to Raw Footage, a 1977 Roberta Findlay adult film that named a character after Mr. Bungle. And as art also becomes one great flat circle, the band sampled that movie for the segment that plays between “The Girls of Porn” and “My Ass Is On Fire” on their first album.

Amazingly, a YouTube user named Andrew Patrick Ralston edited all the sex out of that movie so that you can just enjoy the amazing dialogue.

I have no idea who wrote or directed Beginning Responsibility: Lunchroom Manners, a movie that I have watched hundreds of times. All I know is that Ross L. Allen, Dr.P.H., the Director of Education for the College at Education at Cortland State University of New York, Division of Health, Physical Education and Recreation approved this. I can only imagine that Dr. Allen also had a thermos filled with booze and wasn’t shy about sleeping in front of his students either.

Just remember: “You shouldn’t run in the lunchroom. Only Mr. Bungle would do that.”

You can watch this on YouTube.

Carving Magic (1959)

Have you ever wanted to learn how to properly carve the meat from an animal? Any animal? Good news. The fine folks at Swift and Company and their at-home economist Martha Logan are here to show you how to properly carve along the fibers of meat and render any animal into a great tasting cut for your guests’ enjoyment.

But why am I sharing this with you?

Read on…

Hey wait — isn’t that Harvey Corman? And William Kerwin? Surely, this has a much deeper meaning, knowing that that twosome went on to appear in The Living Venus together. They were cast in that movie because David F. Friedman and Herschell Gordon Lewis watched this and said, “Those are our guys.”

This is beyond a meat carving movie. It’s a meat carving movie within a meat carving movie, like a meta turducken, if you will. That said, if you do pay attention to this — and aren’t vegetarian — you’re going to learn plenty about how to ensure that everyone at your table gets the perfect portion.

Man, 1959 was a wild year. You could go to dinner at another couple’s house and those people would dress like they were going to the opera and after a meat-filled meal, they’d pull out a giant movie projector, set up a screen and show you an educational short about the differences between chopping up ham and a leg of lamb. What a time to be alive, right?

El Hombre y El Monstruo (1959)

If I’ve learned anything from watching Mexican films, it’s that you should never make a deal with el diablo.

If you’re like Samuel Magno (Enrique Rambal, The Exterminating Angel), you finally get your dream of being a concert pianist to come true. Then every time you play Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No. 1, you turn into a monster.

Directed by Rafael Baledón, who acted from 1938 to 1994 as well as directing La Muñeca Perversa, Muñecas Peligrosas and Orlak, El Infierno de Frankenstein, this is 78-minutes of Mexican gothic horror, with the curse only stopped by the protagonist’s demanding mother.

It’s literally FaustDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Werewolf all in one movie, with special effects on par with El Baron del Terror. If you aren’t rushing to find this movie right now, what’s wrong with you?

Kaitei Kara Kita Onna (1959)

While on a beach vacation, a young man falls in love with a beautiful woman who tells him that she lives by herself in the sea. That story is backed up by the village’s fishermen, who believe that she is the female partner of a shark that they had killed several years ago, now back for revenge.

This was directed by Koreyoshi Kurahara, who is best known for the film Anarctica, which was remade in America as Eight Below.

Oddly enough, Hisako Tsukuba, who plays the myserious sharkwoman, would do more than appear in several more Japanese films like The Golden Bat. That’s right, after changing her name to Chako van Leeuwen, she would produce Piranha, getting her name in the credits as a producer or executive producer for every sequel and remake. Maybe she really did know something about murder in the ocean.

I’d say that this is in many ways similar to Night Tide and The Witch Who Came from the Sea, but seen through Japanese eyes. It’d be fascinating to watch all three of these movies in a row.

The Blood Sword of the 99th Virgin (1959)

On my second tour of Japan, someone in Tokyo told me, “You sound like you’re from Osaka,” and I took it as a compliment. Then my friend told me, “That’s like someone in New York City saying you sound like your accent is from West Virginia.”

Magatani Morihei’s Kyujukyu-honme no Kimusume is set in the remote mountains of Iwate Prefecture, which in the same way my particular dialect of Japanese sounds so, well, Appalachian, this section of the country is pretty much the Ozarks.

Which brings us to another fact about Japan: they can be the most polite and racist people at the same time. While we were in Osaka, a truck with bullhorns was driving around giving political speeches about keeping Japan Japanese, not directed at gaijin Americans like us per se, but more Asian races like Koreans.

Iwate is the second largest prefecture in Japan, but also one of the least inhabited, being mostly mountains and those that live in the hills are seen as primitive people and discriminated against even by others in Iwate, much less the rest of Japan.

In this film, some of those locals have spent their lives making swords. Sadly, one of these swords is cursed and in order to appease their ancestor, they must continually kill virgins with it and bathe the blade in their blood.

There’s also the matter of the Fire Festival, which is a Shinto tradition. One of the most famous is in the Hokuriku Shinetsu region, which takes place every January 15. Villages carry torches to burn down a shrine, while the unlucky males of ages 25 and 42 defend the shrine or sing and chant respectively. The Fire Festival dispels evil and ensures happy relationships. The pro wrestling group Zero1 has also run a Fire Festival tournament from July to August every year, with the winner being given a ceremonial sword.

Well, the locals just won’t celebrate their festival properly. When hikers start getting attacked, the cops get involved, including Bunta Sugawara, years before he would be in the Battles Without Honor or Humanity series. Yoko Mihara, star of so many “pinky violence” films and movies with astounding titles like Girl Divers at Spook MansionBlackmail Is My LifeNude Actress Murder Case: Five Criminals and the infamous School of the Holy Beast, also appears.

The past of Japan — virgin killing rituals, witches and all — comes up hard against cops in helicopters with sniper rifles. This was a pretty controversial movie due to how it portrayed the mountain folk — it was never banned — so I was happy to see it.

The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow (1959)

The follow-up to Hot Rod Gang, this American-International Pictures film was released as a double feature with Diary of a High School Bride, which like all AIP movies has an astounding title.

Much like the late era beach party films, this one is tired of the genre — AIP had so many car-related movies released in a short period — and pokes fun at its conventions.

The Hot Rod Gang gets kicked out of their clubhouse, so they move into an old deserted mansion. As part of the grand opening of their new place, they have a Halloween party where everyone shows up as their favorite monster, except a real monster sneaks in and starts dancing with the girls.

Tommy Ivo, who appears in this, was a legitimate drag racer and several of the cars were his. The real monster is Paul Blaisdell, who recycled two of his effects, which come from the films The Astounding She-Creature and Invasion of the Saucer Men. As for the ghost, it doesn’t show up until forty minutes into this movie.

Hey, kids, “alive to the jive” and watch it on You Tube. We found two songs from the film, “Tongue Tied” and “He’s My Guy,” on You Tube to enjoy, embedded below.