THE CAPE CANAVERAL MONSTERS (1960)

This obscure sci-fi flick was directed by Phil tucker of ROBOT MONSTER (1953) fame and released directly to television. The plot involves two extraterrestrials sent to Earth to disrupt the space program at Cape Canaveral and prepare the way for an invasion force. Hiding out in a secret laboratory in a mountain cave, they also plan to capture Earthlings, primarily women, and transport them back to their planet. At the beginning of the film, the two aliens Hauran and Najda, appear only as small circles of light, their natural form. They need human bodies to accomplish their dastardly deeds. So they find a man and woman (Jason Johnson and Katherine Victor), arrange for them to die in a car crash, and take over their dead bodies, which allows them to walk through the movie like zombies with decaying flesh. The accident severs one of the man’s arms. The enterprising female alien picks it up and calmly asserts: “I’ll sew it back on in the laboratory”. The rest of the story involves Cape Canaveral scientists working with local law enforcement to defeat the aliens in order to keep Earth safe for truth, justice, and low budget film making.

Speaking of low budgets, this 68 minute gem must have cost considerably less than Mr. Tucker’s beloved classic ROBOT MONSTER. The special effects are few and not very special. The actors appear to be mostly amateurs, with the exception of Miss Victor, who starred in a few other sci-fi movies of the period: TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1959) and THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN (1966). She manages to inject some dark intensity into her portrayal of Nadja.

The film was shot mostly in Griffith Park in Los Angeles, using the same caves where Mr. Tucker shot ROBOT MONSTER. This explains why mountains are seen near Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Worth seeing for anyone who loves Grade Z sci-fi and horror. I plan to watch this one again and again. But be forewarned. No monsters appear in the picture. Only a couple of alien zombies who look exactly like Jason Johnson and Katherine Victor.

 

DRAGSTRIP GIRL (1957)

From American-International Pictures, that bastion of low budget teenage turbulence, this epic was directed by Edward L. Cahn.  Hot rod heroine Fay Spain, new in town and anxious for kicks, uses her ample cleavage to drive a big wedge between not-so-friendly racing competitors Steve Terrell (poor, honest good guy) and John Ashley (rich, arrogant bad guy). In no time at all, everyone’s engine is revved up over something or other (usually Miss Spain’s cleavage), pistons are firing out of control, and teenage angst is in high gear. It all comes to a riveting climax at the Big Stock Car Race. Meanwhile, there is a tragic accident, several fist fights, and lots of wild rock ‘n’ roll dancing at the local pizza palace. Also featuring Frank Gorshin and Tommy Ivo. Mr. Ivo would eventually give up acting and become a real race car driver. Life imitates art!

A typical AIP flick of the period with all of the teenagers portrayed by 25-30 year old actors. Great fun from the starting gun to the finish line!!