bijou reviews – XYZ

X from Outer Space

Aka Big Space Monster Guilala.

The following review of X FROM OUTER SPACE (1967) is reprinted with the outrageously kind permission of the good folks Teleport-City,  where we BijouFlixers hang for fun and inspiration.

Thanks, Keith!

Sadly enough, I’ve had this film sitting around on my cluttered shelves in a storage room next to my office for about ten years now, and I only got around to watching it very recently. Let me back up a bit. It wasn’t until I decided to get my the curtains in my office redone with swanky Roman Shades that a good reorganization of all my space took place. Roman shades ??? you might ask. What was I thinking? Actually it’s not so crazy. I chose from three styles of fabric roman shades deciding on flat Roman shades which have a sleek styling with great functionality. The flat roman shade folds neatly when raised and works well in any setting. I chose a blackout lining for these custom roman shades that efficiently blocked out all light. A great feature when I wanted to screen a movie. The flat Roman shades are the most functional and were recommended in situations such as mine where one anticipates raising and lowering the shade multiple times a day. I do that a lot. Anyway, in the process of cleaning up my office for the installation of the shades, and a new desk and comfy chair, I might add, I also reorganized the storage room which is when I discovered X FROM OUTER SPACE.

Now before I start this review, there’s two other thing I would like to mention that changed my life and the lives of my two dogs. I discovered the convenience of dog doors. I was over at a friend’s house and saw the cat / dog door they had installed for their pets. No more dog walking or letting the animals in and out of the house. Great I thought. No more interruptions while I am enjoying a movie or having to get some reviewing done. I found the installation a bit intimidating, so I had it done professionally. I bought an electronic dog door that open only for my pets when they are wearing a special collar key. I was told that electronic dog doors are much better for keeping unwanted animals such as skunks, raccoons, feral cats and your neighbors’ dogs out of your house, since the door opens only for the animal wearing a special collar. The doors have radically changed for the better, to say the least!

And now to the second thing which has changed my life, the discovery of playing online slots USA player-friendly games on my mobile. Whoa, what a difference it is waiting for my flights at the airport. Honestly what a blast playing online slots. I happen to choose the free games, but if playing for money is your thing, go for it. Boy, does the time fly. On my last trip I nearly missed my plane since I wasn’t listening to the boarding calls. Fortunately, my traveling partner tapped me on the shoulder and got my attention. When I travel by myself, I better set the alarm on my mobile. Gotta say, mobile devices get better all the time.

What a sad, pathetic fool I have been! Oh in so many ways that rings true, but for the purposes of this review, let’s restrict it to the fact that I’ve one of the absolute swankiest, coolest Japanese monster movies of all time sitting right under my nose, and I didn’t even know it.

Imagine GODZILLA with a severe dose of OUR MAN FLINT or any of the Matt Helm films. Imagine Gerry Anderson’s UFO meets Japanese kaiju eiga. Imagine flying to the moon where men in silver space suits recline in bean bags, sip

martinis, and cut the rug with their female counterparts, who have taken the time to switch out of their shiny space suits and into orange cocktail dresses. Then throw a giant monster smashing up Japan into the works, and you will just barely begin to fathom

how insanely cool this movie is.

Perhaps my favorite moment takes place as the rocket leaves Earth. The film, after being rather light-hearted for the first forty minutes, gets pretty heavy when the monster appears and starts knocking things over. The music gets all Akira Ifukube-esque on us, and is thundering and serious. But man alive, as soon as those mad cats get in the rocket and head toward the moon, the swank Bruno Nicolai music starts up immediately, making for an odd juxtaposition of moods.

X FROM OUTER SPACE makes me wish the future had turned out more like it was supposed to, with women in cocktail dresses and mini-skirts, go-go boots and metallic purple hair. Why oh why did we let Ridley Scott color our future when men like Gerry Anderson had it so, so right long before? I want my rocket pack, God damn it!!!

The effects here are decent. Once again I will ask all people who like to sneer at the effects in films like this to please watch American films from the same era! Back then, we were all flying pointy rockets into space that shot out sparks and

left a plume of blue smoke wafting up behind us. The effects in this and most other Japanese films of the day were just as good, and more times than not, better than the same stuff from America. But we tend to overlook this. I love the 1960s special

effects aesthetic. There was a remarkable amount of ingenuity and craftsmanship that went into every scene. Think of how damn long it takes to build a small scale replica of Tokyo just so you can blow it up. It’s a craft and a dedication, not to mention a pioneering spirit in film-making, that I respect and long for again.

All that aside, X FROM OUTER SPACE is simply one of the quirkiest, most enjoyable sci-fi films I have ever seen. How often can you get finger-snapping cocktail music and retro-future bliss AND a giant monster smashing Tokyo all in one serving? It’s almost like I expect the scientists to go, ‘Well, we’re stuck,’ and give up, only to have [the late] James Coburn, clad in a turtle-neck, step from the shadows and go, ‘Perhaps me and my all female team of go-go dancing karate masters can help.'”

What Critics Say:

“The most realistic moment in the movie: a future where space travel has become so pedestrian that you go out to party the very night you return.” — STOMP TOKYO

“The poor vision afforded to the wearer of this particular rubber suit is painfully apparent in a couple of scenes. Notice how Guilala’s head is tilted back while stumbling across the set. I imagine the actor was desperately peering around in an attempt to figure out what was going on. Good luck buddy, I have the benefits of perfect vision plus third person perspective and haven’t a clue, but it is still plenty of fun.” — BAD MOVIES.org

Like this flick? See also: HUMAN VAPOR

Yeti: Giant of the 20th Century

Aka Yeti – il gigante del 20. secolo & Big Foot. Starring Antonella Interlenghi aka Phoenix Grant. Directed by Gianfranco Parolini aka Frank Littlewords.

In the wake of Dino’s KING KONG remake came many endless knock-offs and flix “aping” the formula, such as APE, et al. One such picture was the cult fave YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY (1977). To call it laughable is to rob it of its much sublime pleasures, such as the wondrously horrid score (complete with theme song pop singers billed as The Yetians — no joke!) and Ed Wood ghost-directed special non-effects.

Unless you already have seen YETI, it’s truly hard to prepare yourself for the jaw-droppingly bad surrealism ahead. In many aspects, the production values are so hit-and-miss (one moment polished, the next crazily not) that it feels a bit unkind critizing YETI for being anything other than what it is. After all, it’s not like we’re going to see the director’s cut or special edition of this anti-classic any time soon.

The Kong-sized plot has too many twists and turns to bother delineating, but the essence is obvious enough: a giant-sized Yeti is found frozen in the Artic. Of course, it doesn’t take the humanoids long to figure out a way to defrost the big guy, and — as soon as some corporate espionage subplots play out — let Yeti loose in the streets of downtown Toronto to do what shrieking Sasquatch do best in Bigfoot flix: wreack havoc. 

An elfin-looking (read “gay”) kid minus the ears (played by Jim Sullivan) and the smoldering “Jane” (played by stunning Antonella Interlenghi, who later starred in CITY OF THE WALKING DEAD) are part of the background scenery, standing in as a pair for Jessica Lange. While neither as diverting as eye candy nor as well-acted, at least there is some vague hint of lusting sensuality and sexual tension just beneath the surface performances by the duo (though it may simply be the director’s subconscious desire to sleep with both actors creeping through the lens, who can say?).

And speaking of repressed sexual conflicts, try this one on for, er, size: Yeti is nothing more than the male sexual desire run amok, not unlike Moebius’ Id run amok is the

source of the nightmare in FORBIDDEN PLANET. Every towering phallic symbol Yeti sees around him once “freed” in the city threatens him and his “issues” about his size (or lack thereof, if Bigfoot lore in this highly-controversial area of genitalia is to be believed without skpeticism). Trapped in a gigantic jungle of turgid towers that never go “flaccid,” Yeti’s sexual Ego is so threatened that it responds the only way it knows how: with ape-shrieking fists of poundin’ fury! While true believers in Freud are now wretching, true believers in The ‘Squatch know whereof we speak and are nodding their heads.

Was any of this clap-trap really there, even subconsciously, when the director made YETI? Probably not, especially judging from the aesthetic results, which indicate sheer production alone was a challenge beyond attainment in many cases. But the absence of any visuals or themes suggesting otherwise makes YETI a curiousity piece worth considering, then, as well, as the naive display of directorial bravado on hand reveals much to the patient viewer who seeks to speculate on motives that were perhaps not addressed on set but were nonetheless preserved on film. 

After all, who is to say what “matters” most in an artist’s work later, much later, in history? The cultural zeitgeist of a by-gone era is often better captured in the original time’s heights by those trying to “emulate it” rather than those who truly began it, as the former often reduce what is “working” about the pop mythos and distill it (with a potency about like moonshine, to bootleg!).
Kind of like the way a crappy Xerox only

retains the bare, contrasty bones of a document after so many copies. In this sense alone, YETI: GIANT OF THE 20TH CENTURY truly lives up to its billing; you’ll be searching your collection many late hours trying to find a flick that tops “Worst of the 20th Century” better — or is that worse? — than YETI.– Notes by J.J. Gittes.

What Critics Say:

  “A director’s tour de farce. It is one of the worst films ever made. Finding that out was a sublime pleasure which only z-movie afficianados can appreciate… be literally dazed by the less than special effects, crappy storyline, and bad sets which make up the crazy world of YETI!” — Bristolsales, IMDB.com

”Prepare yourself for the attack of the 50-foot Oak Ridge Boy!… the gigantic Abominable Snowman with the world’s largest mullet.” — Program Notes, SCHLOCKTOBERFEST ’03

”So low is the budget that the yeti and humans practically never share the same frame…topping it off is an atrocious musical score which often sounds like a cheap reworking of Excalibur’s ‘Camina Burana,’ at a few points with embarassing lyrics sung my ‘The Yetians.'” — Mike Martinez, KULT MOVIE MAXIMUS

“Features some of the most hilarious blue-screen ‘giant’ effects you’ll ever see, but my personal favorite effect is the enormous, immobile Yeti legs they built for one scene where the filmmakers actually dare to place Yeti and the humans in the same shot… a must-see for all fans of bizarre cinema.” — Acidxian, IMDB.com

”I saw this movie while I was in the Navy. For free. In an outdoor theater, which was lucky, because otherwise I would have had to batter down a wall to get away… stands out in my personal experience as the single worst movie I have ever seen.” — Lanzman, IMDB.com

”An ok monster flick, compared to the hundreds of horrendous American flicks made. Way better!!!!” — GreatMovieCritic4ever, IMDB.com

Like this flick? See also: CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE; MANBEAST; SNOWBEAST; NIGHT OF THE DEMON; SASQUATCH, THE LEGEND OF BIGFOOT
Zontar, Thing from Venus

Zontar, the Thing From Venus/The Eye…
John Ashley, Cynth…
Best Price $10.99 
or Buy New

Starring John Agar, Anthony Houston, Susan Bjurman, Pat DeLaney, Neil Fletcher & Bill Thurman. Written & Directed by Larry Buchanan.

Larry Buchanan.

Mention that name where 2 or more film buffs are gathered and a fight is only minutes away. Some say he is a totally creative genius who could stretch a dollar to lengths even Roger Corman never dreamed of. Others say “Get serious!” and insist he is a talentless hack. 

Well I happen to like his movies and think even his colour remakes of AIP black and whites from the 1950’s show innovations not explored in the original. Like, take ZONTAR, THING FROM VENUS (1966) — please! — his ‘unofficial’ remake of IT CONQUERED THE WORLD. John Agar is great in the Peter Graves role and Tony Houston is… okay, he is no Lee Van Cleef (jinkies, when that guy just squinted a smart person ran for the hills!) but he justice to the role of a scientist blinded by false promises of an artificially created better world.

Susan Bjurman is great in the role of Houston’s wife. Remember in the original film when Beverly Garland delivered the classic line “I hate your living guts for what you’ve done to my husband and my world!”? She was all about concentrated anger. Ms. Bjurman spits out the same line through tears of anger, desperation and sadness. Both women convey honest emotion but I tend to think Ms. Bjurman’s reaction is a little more

sincere considering the situation.

Zontar himself (itself?) is just so totally original; scaly with three eyes and bat wings and launching “control devices” that look like winged

lobsters. Both he (it?) and “Beulah” from the original are fear inspiring because they are so totally alien from our own species. It is, like, just so totally highly unlikely we could ever co-exist.

I missed the ubiquitous Bronson Canyon that was in the climax of the original but Tony Houston brandishing a homemade laser gun (such an improvement over Lee Van Cleef’s blowtorch) is a great study of a man whose dreams have been, quite literally, murdered. Put this film and THE EYE CREATURES together and you have a whole Saturday afternoon of fun in your own living room drive-in. — Notes by Countess Zarina Suspiriorum.

What Critics Say:
  
 “For me, the name ‘Larry Buchanan’ will always suggest one film in particular: ZONTAR, THE THING FROM VENUS… It was listed in TV GUIDE for a Saturday afternoon, and once I read the title, I knew I needed to see it… I’m sure you’re all questioning my sanity. I’ve actually had some good things to say about a Larry Buchanan film!” — THE BAD MOVIE REPORT

”The badly needed remake of Roger Corman’s IT CONQUERED THE WORLD! With flying bats and a turncoat Earth scientist doing his bidding, the world is Zontar’s oyster!” — ROTTEN TOMATOES.com

“If you can ever find this film, and you feel the need to see a truly stupid picture that you want to laugh at, by all means this is the one…a film that truly captured it all.” — EPINIONS.com

”El cierre es digno de una pelicula clase z.” — CINEFANIA.com

“Isn’t quite so bad as its cult reputation would lead you to believe… it later inspired memorable parodies on SCTV and THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW, as well as Boston’s underground ZONTAR, THE MAGAZINE FROM VENUS.” — TVGUIDE.com
“This deliciously campy sci-film has developed a minor cult following. It chronicles the exploits of a Venusian bat-creature who tries to take over the Earth by invading the mind of a hapless victim.” — Sandra Brennan, ALL MOVIE GUIDE

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