The Brain (1988) **½

The Televangelists who fleeced cash from their guileless flocks were only half the story. While the religious right was peddling lies on the airwaves, a crop of self-help psychologists descended on daytime TV, targeting those who were ideologically, but crucially not intellectually, immune to seduction by televangelism. By the 1980s many American had turns away […]

Donovan’s Brain (1953) **

The Thing From Another World (1951) was a temporary game changer for the way that Hollywood approached the sci-fi/horror genre. Producer (and director in all but name) Howard Hawkes brought his customary rapid-fire, overlapping dialogue into the world of aliens and mad scientists. The trend would not last of course, within a few years serious […]

The Space Children (1958) ***½

Director Jack Arnold’s record is decidedly mixed when it comes to his 1950s sci-fi and horror films. Creature From the Black Lagoon (1953), an inescapable classic is also, stylistically at least, an extremely conservative, even retrograde film. So much so that his monster, the Gill-Man, was welcomed into the pantheon of Universal Studios monsters, the […]

Fiend Without a Face (1958) ****

During the early stages of the Cold War, Soviet spies had an incomparably easier time keeping tabs on their American enemies than the other way around. Part of it was due to experience: decades under the iron-fisted rule of a paranoid despot had bred an internal security force that freer nations dreaded and envied in […]

The Brain From Planet Arous (1957) ****½

Sometimes you hear a concept for a film and you know that you’ll love it right from the start. Such is the case with today’s film, which is a story of an American nuclear physicist possessed by an evil alien balloon monster. Ok, the monster isn’t supposed to be a balloon, that’s just the easiest […]

Missile to the Moon (1958) ***½

B-grade 1950s sci-fi movies have a rating system all their own, and one whose logic is not immediately apparent to new viewers. What separates Robot Monster (1953) and Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) from The She-Creature (1956) and Fire Maidens From Outer Space (1956)? All those movies are pieces of crap, cheaply made, poorly […]

Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956) *

The Lost City of Atlantis is accepted by most incredulous people as an ancient myth and by most credulous people as a real civilization possibly built with the aid of alien technology. Surprisingly few people know Atlantis’ true origin as a rhetorical device by conservative, aristocratic Athenians that wanted their polis to abandon its naval […]