The Phantom Planet (1961)

William Marshall was born in Chicago, Illinois. He started his entertainment career as the vocalist for Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians — Waring was “The Man that Taught America to Sing,” as well as the inventor of the first commerically available electric blender in the U.S., the Miracle Mixer, which Dr. Jonas Salk used to help mix up his polio vaccine; plus he had one of the largest collections of original comic strip art in the world — before moving to Hollywood to be an actor.

Marshall acted in twnety-five movies, including Knute Rockne All AmericanState Fair and Blackmail before becoming a director. He wrote and directed 1951’s Hello God, which starred Errol Flynn, as well as directing a movie Fynn wrote, Adventures of Captain FabianThe Phantom Planet would be his last film.

In addition to all that singing, writing and directing, Marshall also found time to get married four times. He was with his first wife, French leading lady Michèle Morgan, for seven years and they had a son Mike* (who is in this movie), then was married to Devil in the Flesh star Micheline Presle, with whom he had a daughter, director Tonie Marshall. Then, he was married to Ginger Rogers for a decade* before he found a lasting marriage– 23 years before his death — to Corinne Aboyneau.

But hey, didn’t we have a movie to discuss?

The Phantom Planet takes place in 1980, a time when In 1980, the United States Air Force’s Space Exploration Wing has bases on the Moon and is getting ready to head to Mars. The only problem is that spaceships and astronauts are disappearing. Rumors abound that it’s yet another case of phantom planets and space monsters, so Captain Frank Chapman and Lt. Ray Makonnen are called in.

Don’t get too attached to the latter, as he dies about two minutes later, before Chapman crashes on to the Phantom Planet and shrinks down to six inches in size. Now he has become a citizen of Rheton, where he will have the full rights of everyone else, but can never leave. He even has the choice between two women, the leader Sessom (Francis X. Bushman) entitled daughter Liara or the mute and kind Zetha (Dolores Faith, who disappeared from acting when she married the heir to Maxwell House, James Robert Neal, after a long courtship; she supposedly died in 1990, but there were reports of her still alive as late as 2006).

After some romantic misadventures and trial by combat with Herron, who is in love with Liara, our hero repels the evil forces of the Solarites (Richard Kiel is ond of them) before leaving behind the planet and growing back to full size.

This is the very definition of made on the cheap, as all of the film’s sets, spacesuit helmets and special effects originally appeared in the CBS TV series Men into Space. Speaking of recycling, there are some rumors that Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea reused some of these sets.

Hey but someone loved this movie! It has a Dell comic book, after all.

*Marshall’s first two wives were friends and he’d begun dating the second (Micheline over Michèle) while still married. She’d already started an affair with her co-star Henri Vidal, so he hired detectives who caught her in bed with him and Marshall got full custody of his son Mike.

Strangely enough, Marshall hated France, despite three of his wives coming from there and would call his first wife Mike because he refused to learn how to pronounce her name.

Strangely enough, Marshall had really conservative values, so when hisfirst wife moved from France to Hollywood, he refused to live in the house she built at 10050 Cielo Drive. He demanded that she sell the property, which years later would be purchased by Roman Polanski and, well, we all know how that turned out. In some level of irony, his daughter Toni was one of the people who sigbned the Free Roman Polanski petition following the director’s arrest in Switzerland in 2009.

**Actually, he produced a movie for her that bombed called Quick, Let’s Get Married and they were seperated for most of the time they were officially betrothed.

You can watch this on YouTube.


Godzilla may be the most popular kaiju there is, but at least when it comes to Toho’s stable, Mothra is number two, appearing in thirteen of Godzilla’s movies and her own trilogy in the Heisei era.

She got her start when producer Tomoyuki Tanaka hired author Shin’ichirō Nakamura to write an original kaiju story. Working with Takehiko Fukunaga and Zenei Hotta, their story The Glowing Fairies and Mothra was serialized in Weekly Asahi Extra magazine. To play the fairies, the idol singing group The Peanuts were hired, bringing a new audience to kaiju movies.

They are just two of the many odd inhabitants of Infant Island, a place whose juice can heal radiation sickness, vampire plants nearly eat trespassers and gigantic lavra can grow into fantastic moth creatures.

Let me say this again. One of the main plot points of this movie involves singing miniature women called the Shobijin who can speak directly to giant monsters.

Much like so many kaiju films, a shady businessman kidnaps them and attempts to make money off them. That plan has failed every time it’s been tried, dating all the way back to King Kong. So they call out to be rescued, singing to the egg god of their island which hatches to become a gigantic silk-spinning worm that cocoons itself until it becomes a gigantic butterfly, saving the women and taking them home.

Columbia Pictures had the rights to this movie in America and they went full William Castle selling it. They came up with a press book that told theater owners to put up signs on construction sites saying “Mothra was here” and to hire cute girls and make them walk around with signs that read “Mothra, the world’s most fantastic love story!”

They even wanted theaters to have radioactive material and geiger counters for audiences to play with. Anything to sell a monster movie, I guess.

The Dead One (1961)

The Dead One is a significant movie because it’s one of the first two zombie films made in color — the other is Dr. Blood’s Coffin — and it was made outside of the Hollywood system in New Orleans. It mostly played in Southern drive-ins, in Mexico and the UK before it disappeared for 41 years.

Shot in Eastmancolor and Ultrascope, a form of Cinemascope from Germany, The Dead One has a cool looking zombie and otherwise would be an unremarkable film other than the fact that it’s a Barry Mahon film and stands out from the rest of his output, which is either falls into the disparate genres of nudist films, roughies, propaganda movies or childen’s films.

Actually, the poster for this would like you to know just how remarkable this movie is, saying that The Dead One is “The Greatest VOODOO Film Ever Made – Filmed on Location in New Orleans Where VOODOO was introduced to the New World.”

A zombie is haunting the plantation of Kenilwort and commanded by Monica Carlton (Monica Davis, who is also in Mahon’s 1,000 Shapes of a FemaleRocket Attack U.S.A. and She Should Have Stayed In Bed), the mistress of the decaying plantation.

This is probably the most restrained Mahon film I’ve seen. It played double bills for a long time, a filler for drive-ins that would run late into the night while what happened in the steamed up cars looked a lot like the other movies Barry was known for making.


A co-production of the United Kingdom, the United States and Ireland — all united to rip off a film from Japan — Gorgo is all about a pearl diving crew taking a little monster to London and being gobsmacked when its mother comes to tear up Big Ben.

Originally, this was going to be set in Japan, then France and even Australia, but the filmmakers decided that — and I’m not making this up — no one cared about Australia.

Director Eugène Lourié already had some kaiju experience, making The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms and The Giant Behemoth.

This film also sets up that perhaps kaiju have been with us since the beginning of time and thought of as monsters, as a Viking relic shows an image of a beast called Ogra the sea spirit.

Monarch Books, who seemed ready to release a book for any giant monster movie*, put out a novel version that had way more sex than the movie. Way more meaning any at all.

Charlton Comics also published 23 issues of a comic book with pencils by Steve Ditko. They also did a three issue sequel miniseries called The Return of Gorgo and Ditko included Gorgo and Konga in a Captain Universe back up story in Web of Spider-Man Annual #6.

You can watch Gorgo on Tubi. The original version and Mystery Science Theater 3000 riff are both available.

*They also released books for Reptilicus and Konga.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Reptilicus (1961)

As Jonah taught us on the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, every country has a monster.

This movie was filmed twice in Copenhagen, Sjælland and Jylland, Denmark.


That’s because it was shot once in Danish and once in English because why dub this movie? Only Danish actress Bodil Miller doesn’t appear in the American cut because she couldn’t speak the language, so she was replaced by Marla Behrens.

Well, that was the plan.

The truth is when American-International Pictures saw the American cut, directed by Sidney W. Pink* (Bwana DevilThe Angry Red Planet), they realized that there was no way that it could play even the fourth feature at a drive-in. Ib Melchor, whose story The Racer became Death Race 2000 and who also wrote the American dialogue for Godzilla Raids Again and Planet of the Vampires, did major rework to get it into theaters.

Pink sued. Then he saw the new version of the movie and dropped the legal fight.

All they find in the beginning of this movie is Reptilicus’ tail, a fact that frightened me as a child, because it soon grows into a full creature who goes wild in Denmark until those wacky Danes ply it with downers and blow it up real good with a bazooka.

Charlton Comics — the soon-to-be home of Steve Ditko — published two issues of a Reptilicus comic book. They changed his name to Reptisaurus the Terrible and the series lasted until issue eight with one special issue. In 2012, that series was republished by Scary Monsters Magazine with the even better title of Scarysaurus the Scary.

There was also a Monarch paperback that referred to the creature as the “spawn of hell” on the back cover, which is way cooler than this movie. The book is also filled with sex, which upset Sidney W. Pink so much that he — you guessed it — sued them.

*Poul Bang did the honors in Denmark.

You can watch this on Tubi. If you have Netflix, I recommend the Mystery Science Theater 3000 take on the film.

Repost: The Devil’s Hand (1961)

Editor’s Note: We reviewed this way back on November 22, 2018, during one of our first Mill Creek blowouts with the Chilling Classic film pack of 50 movies. Now Mill Creek’s brought it back as part of their Gorehouse Greats 12-pack. Two box sets, twice the movie fun!

Also known as Witchcraft, The Naked Goddess, Devil’s Doll and Live to Love, this black and white film is all about some people in Los Angeles who want to be ahead of the Black House’s curve in San Francisco and start worshipping Satan…err, Gamba, the Great Devil God.

Probably the most interesting thing that I can tell you about this movie is that Chess Records released Baker Harris and the Knightmares’ “Theme from ‘The Devil’s Hand.” No word on how many people bought it.

Rick Turner (Robert Alda, Father Michael from the bastardized version of Bava’s Lisa and the Devil that was retitled The House of Exorcism, which strangely enough also has a similar plot to this movie, so Satan has to be behind this coincidence) keeps seeing a succubus, a nearly nude vision of a woman dancing in the clouds. Soon, he has come to a doll shop that has one in the exact image of his dreams, which is a likeness of Bianca Milan (Linda Christian, the first Bond girl).

Understandably, his girlfriend Donna (Ariadna Welter, El Vampiro) is freaked out when she finds a doll that looks just like herself. Rick is too after the shop owner Frank Lamont (Neil Hamilton, Commissioner Gordon from TV’s Batman) knows him by name. He also refuses to sell Donna her doll, instead stabbing it and causing her no end of pain.

Of course, while his lady is in the hospital, Rick becomes Bianca’s lover. She’s been sending thoughts into his mind and wants him to join her cult and takes him to a meeting, where Gamba decides if a woman lives or dies when his wheel of knives descends on a woman. She lives, but a cult member takes photos of the event.

Donna is cured by midnight and released from the hospital. There are bigger problems, as the cultist who took the photo is a reporter who Frank curses and kills like Dr. Lavey cutting out photos of Jayne Mansfield.

Soon, the cult is having another meeting to test Rick, asking him to choose if Donna lives or dies. Who knew being in a devil cult had so many meetings? It seems like an awful lot of commitment to make. He chooses her and all of the cult dies in a fire.

The film ends quite ambiguously for when it was made, as the couple thinks everything is copacetic and we soon see in the skies, waiting for him. This is one weird movie, one that feels like a waking dream.

You can watch this for free on the Internet Archive or on Amazon Prime with your membership.

The Mask (1961)

When I was just getting really into psychotronic film, I was obsessed with the RE/Search book Incredibly Strange Films. It’s where I learned all about obsessions like Blast of SilenceSpider BabyGod Told Me To and the movies of Russ Meyer, Herschell Gordon Lewis, David F. Friedman, Ed Wood, Radley Metzger, Ray Dennis Steckler, Ted V. Mikels and many more. If you don’t have a copy, I find it indispensable even in today’s internet era.

The cover of that guide had a photo of The Mask, AKA Eyes of Hell, that blew me away. It’s at the same time so goofy looking and yet so sinister, like a piece of outlaw art ready to steal your soul.

It’s taken me around thirty years to get around to watching this movie, because I was sure that it could never live up to that image. Guess what? It’s even better.

The story itself is pretty simple. Dr. Allen Barnes (Paul Stevens, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, The Black Six) has just received a tribal mask from one of his patients who has committed suicide. Whenever he puts on the mask — which demands to be worn — he goes into a trance with visions that become more violent, like some lo-fi version of Videodrome.

The thing is, how that story is told is astounding. The dream sequences shift to 3D, with some of the most bizarre imagery to ever appear in a studio picture, seeing as how this was put out by Warner Brothers. This wasn’t some movie they hid, either. It had a ton of hype behind it and patrons even got a pair of Magic Mystic Masks to see the other world with.

The majority of the movie is just fine, but much like any time a giant monster walks into a Toho film, the movie comes alive any time you hear a voice say, “Put on The Mask!” That’s when things get out of control, with fog, flame and pseudo-occult rituals filling every part of the screen. Seriously, just wait until you see just how wild this movie gets. Somehow, it’s a drug movie in 1961 with practical effects that blows anything made today with full technology out of the ozone.

Director Julian Roffman would go on to write and produce The Glove, as well as produce another startling strange movie, The Pyx. He can claim that he made Canada’s first horror movie, of the country’s first films to be exported to the United States and its only 3D movie, too.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

Nude on the Moon (1961)

Before we start, I have to explain.

As I look for movies that feature matriarchial societies, it seems like so many of them end up being straight-up male gaze fuelled fantasies. Or so you’d think, because while this movie was made by Anthony Brooks and O.O. Miller, only one of those names belongs to a man.

Brooks may have been Raymond Phelan (the writer, director, editor and one of the main actors of Too Young, Too Immoral), but Miller is really Doris Wishman, who Joe Bob Briggs referred to as “The greatest female exploitation film director in history.” From a series of nudist colony movies to movies with incredible names like Bad Girls Go to HellSatan Was a Lady and Let Me Die a Woman, as well as A Night to Dismember and two Eurospy films (Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73) starring all 73-inches of the woman with the largest bust on record, Chesty Morgan.

The truth is, this movie does introduce us to a female-run society on the moon, which for some reason is the occult-created Coral Castle near Miami, but they’re all topless. Yet like many of the nudist films of the early 60’s, this comes off as quite innocent. And unlike so many of them, this movie isn’t boring.

Dr. Jeff Huntley (Lester Brown in his one and only role) has inherited millions in his uncle’s will and is finally going to the moon with his mentor, Professor Nichols (William Mayer, who shows up as in several of these movies, like Blaze Starr Goes Nudist, which was not much of a life change).

Nichols sees Huntley like a son and worries about how dangerous the moon will be. He’s old, so he’s ready to die. But he wants Huntley to live and find a wife. After all, their secretary Cathy (Marietta) is in love with him and he doesn’t see it or doesn’t care. All he wants to do is go to the moon.

They get there, wearing brightly colored spacesuits with plenty of spaces for the lack of environment on the lunar surface to kill them. But instead, you know, they end up at Coral Castle and meet an entire planet of clothing-free ladies who are led by a Moon Queen (also Marietta) who uses her psychic powers — or maybe Dr. Jeff has never seen breasts before in person — to make our young moon-obsessed friend get obsessed over her mountain peaks.

Perhaps this explains why Jack Parsons blew himself up after falling so hard for Marjorie Cameron. I mean, you become besotten with one literal Whore of Babylon and you lose your security clearance but still get a peak on the dark side of the Moon named after you.

But I digress.

For two guys who planned a trip to the moon for years, they didn’t bring enough oxygen and also leave their camera behind, so no one will believe them that the lunar surface looks more like the aforementioned Blaze Starr’s 2 O’Clock Club.

It all works out, because that’s when the hood doctor discovers that his secretary — who he’s been ignoring forever, who sits and types the same letter all night long hoping that he will notice her — looks just like the Moon Queen. They embrace, the camera dollys back to give them some privacy and then the Professor walks in on them and just looks on approvingly. He just stands there and watches and smiles to the camera.

Keep an eye out for Shelby Livingston, who just three short years later would be chopped to pieces –just a few towns away in Kissimmee, Florida — in Two Thousand Maniacs! Lacey Kelly, who was in Bunny Yeager’s Nude Camera and Common Law Wife, is also on the Moon.

There’s also a moment where the two space-loving men discuss Dr. Jeff going to a movie, as they drive past the Variety Theater, which is showing Wishman’s Hideout in the Sun. Did Dr. Jeff recognize Pat Reilly when he also saw her up there in space?

This movie also has its own theme song, which is pretty cool when you think about it. “I’m Mooning Over You (My Little Moon Doll),” which was warbled by Ralph Young over orchestration that had been arranged by — but not credited to —  Doc Severinsen.

While not the most feminist leaning film ever, we can still point to the fact that the Moon Queen does rule her planet and you know, if you can breathe the lack of air on the lunar surface — to be fair, at the end the scientists have no idea where they’ve really come back from — you can forget puritanical mumbo jumbo and just walk around unencumbered.

After all, it worked for Blaze Starr, who was smart enough to get 4% of the profits for the 1984 movies about her life, Blaze.

The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

Tor Johnson is one of those actors who was a special effect without any help. Just by showing up on screen, he’s thrilling. In this one, he’s Joseph Jaworsky, a Russian scientist who runs from the Iron Curtain and finds his way to Yucca Flats, where radiation turns him into a mute beast. All he wanted to do was give the Americans the secrets to the Russian moon landing!

American actor, writer, producer and director Coleman Francis made this, casting his sons and himself in the movie. His oeuvre, as it were, is made up of films like The Skydivers and Red Zone Cuba. People don’t just smoke in his movies. The smoking becomes central to the entire film. Kevin Murphy of Mystery Science Theater 3000 said that the themes of his movies are ” death, hatefulness, death, pain, and death.”

The police, for no real reason or trial, shoot the irradiated Tor Johnson over and over, but he lives just enough to hug a jackalope* before he dies. The police officers in Francis’ films, which often end his stories by brutally blowing away the bad guys, may be the most realistic ones in the history of movies.

Everything in this movie is dubbed. Nobody speaks on camera. Even guns are fired off-camera and then b-roll of guns being shot is cut in. The editing is such that some characters appear to have been shot to death and then arise and come back in later scenes. There’s also a murder scene in the beginning with a naked woman in the shower being choked. That scene is only in this because Francis likes shooting nude scenes.

What’s funny is that this movie predates The Incredible Hulk and seems very much like the same  origin story. Maybe that’s a coincidence. As for Tor Johnson, he would only make one more movie, appearing without credit in Head.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*The jackalope wandered on set and Tor Johnson improvised caressing it. Man, life is awesome, isn’t it?

The Choppers (1961)

Arch Hall, Jr. appears in seven movies — all uniformly pretty rough going, to be honest — but I kind of love the guy. He’s game for whatever comes his way, whether it’s this film about chopping up cars, battling a caveman in Eegah, conquering the music industry in Wild Guitar, being a maniac in The Sadist or taking advantage of the Eurospy (The Nasty Rabbit) or Western (Deadwood ’76) genres, Hall always seems just so happy to be there.

This time around, he’s Jack “Cruiser” Bryan, part of a gang of poor teens who cruise the town and rip up cars and sell the parts for money. He’s joined by Playboy September 1959 Playmate of the Month Marianne Gaba.

The Choppers will only take up sixty-six minutes of your life, which isn’t a big commitment. It was made in 1959 but not released until 1961, because producer — and obviously, the dad of Arch Hall Jr. — Arch Hall Sr. was unable to get a distribution deal that could make him his money back. He was able to release this on a double bill with Eegah.

You also get two Arch Jr. songs! We should all be so lucky!

You can watch this on Tubi.