Scream Baby Scream (1969)

My grade of three out of four iron crosses can’t be trusted, so don’t get mad at me if you google searched Scream Baby Scream on my recommendation and end up hating it and me (though you probably already do), and then look up my address to try to kill me because you thought I endorsed the movie because I’m telling you right now that it’s a shitty movie.

From the start, it’s clear that this ain’t no high budget affair and that we’re dealing in H.G. Lewis territory.  The direction is only slightly better than an H.G. Lewis film but the lighting is so piss poor, you’re gonna be looking at a black screen for seconds at a time and these aren’t transitions.  Also the two main characters are completely unlikeable, with the male one constantly having a pissy attitude about everything (i.e. “what babe, you’re dancing?  Congrats on being a piece of shit!”) and his girlfriend being a narcissistic, art snob who exemplifies the cliched “free spirit” of the time when she’s just another hussy looking for cheap kicks.  Furthermore the dialogue scenes go on interminably making one (such as me) forget I was even watching a horror movie in the first place.  Oh, and the gore makeup looked like shit.

So, you’re probably wondering what the hell was good about it?  Well, nothing.  I kid, I kid!  In my estimation, the way the movie wrapped up and the shock ending made the movie worthwhile for me even if I found most of it annoying or frustrating.

The main plot concerns a weirdo going around disfiguring people as inspiration for his twisted art.  It’s pretty obvious who is doing the deed, but the result is actually kinda creepy even if the effect comes off as totally cheap.  Also the supposedly sophisticated, European artist doing the killing sounds like the killer in Blood Feast, so that should clue you on the level of acting you’re dealing with.  The two main characters are art students, and they have two other friends who are also a couple, and the group goes around to hippie clubs, drops acid and watches a psychedelic band play.  There’s also a fun acid trip sequence that takes place at a zoo, so that’s another plus, and I liked the mansion setting at the end as well.

Oh and I should mention the zombies.  Yes there are zombies.  Their makeup is really poor and they barely do anything worth noting.

Screenwriter Larry Cohen would go onto write It’s Alive and Q: The Winged Serpent.  I have the worst taste in movies.


The Deadly Bees (1966)

Hey!  That’s a pretty good rendering of Suzanna Leigh, the movie’s lead character!  For my second installment in the two part series of non-Hammer films that were directed by Hammer directors, here’s a pretty lame but occasionally fun thriller called The Deadly Bees.  To be honest there’s really nothing to complain about since the movie delivers exactly what it promised; it’s just that, ya know, deadly bees aren’t exactly the most exciting form of screen danger and, when you direct the movie like you would any other Hammer horror film, that is by trying to build up suspense and not just have a constant flow of action or violence, you tend to turn your movie into a snoozer.

The movie also tries to be really hip and modern, opening up with a sequence at a TV studio where we see a completely pointless and wasted performance from the Birds (not the Byrds), a wicked R&B, mod rock group who had Ronnie Wood before he was in the Creation and the Stones.  The focus switches to Vicki Robbins (Leigh) a popular singer, who passes out on camera due to exhaustion (surely not from drugs!) and, as a result, gets carted off to some island (actually an obvious “small village” set with a painted backdrop) to stay with some assholish, bee-obsessed professor guy.

As you would expect, things start to go wrong when bees start attacking people (and the family dog).  But who’s bees are they?  The assholish guy who is mean to his wife and flirts with the local barmaid or is it the very friendly but somewhat suspicious other scientist?  Oh the mystery was killing me!  Actually it wasn’t at all.  I really didn’t care.

If anything I was actually kind of frustrated by the lead character.  Half the time she’s acting like a super sleuth, constantly snooping around, putting on the thoughtful face every time she found something and half the time she acted like a complete moron.  Ya know: book smarts vs. street smarts, I guess.  “Hey, I’m gonna kill you with my bees, hahahah!!!”, “oh, then I better just stand here gawking at you and not run even though you’re giving me ample opportunity to get away!!!”

And now, here’s Joi Lansing singing “Web of Love”!

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

How can you go wrong with a film that’s a mash-up of The Day the World Ended, Panic in Your Zero! and The Last Man on Earth and crams it all into 62 non-boring minutes?  If you get bored at something like that, then you need to take your ADD medicine more often.  The Earth Dies Screaming is great and it’s directed by Terence Fisher yet it isn’t a Hammer film!  How’s about that, eh?

Just to prove to you that this movie isn’t full of shit, the movie just begins with everyone dying!  Planes fall from the sky, trains crash and people just like totally drop dead within in the opening sequence!  You know from the get-go that something ain’t right!

But, because a film needs characters, some people inexplicably survived and, as you might have expected per your viewing similar films such as the above mentioned and, of course, Night of the Living Dead, a bunch of strangers meet by happenstance and have to both fend off the bad guys and deal with each other.

And, as you might have also guessed, the characters are all archetypical.  You’ve got the sensible leader guy, the double crossing guy who you never quite trusted, a wimpy guy (who, in this case drinks a lot), the wimpy guy’s wife, another woman who is okay, a younger guy and his girlfriend and an adult couple who are about to have a kid.  All of them meet up at a house and basically just try to figure out how to defend themselves against the radiation shooting, killer robots who stalk the village streets.  But here’s the crazy thing; if you’re looking for another source from which Night of the Living Dead riffs from, look no further than the zombies which eventually also become part of the problem.

So yes, The Earth Dies Screaming has killer robots and zombies!  And guess who created the zombies!!!  Give up?!  THE KILLER ROBOTS!!! HAHAHHAA, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT?!  Considering it was released in 1964, don’t expect any real gore but there is action and people getting shot and killed in other ways.  Given the movie’s short run-time and quick pace, the solution to the problem – at least in their tiny village – seems a little too easy to come by but, hey, whatever.  The outer space, radio controller thingy that was controlling the robots couldn’t have anticipated the humans would be smart enough to knock down a tower, could they?  Oh, was that a spoiler?  Sorry.