Released in 1953, a year before Godzilla, the Beast was the original kaiju. Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion magic elevates this movie about a radioactive dinosaur wreaking havoc in New York from run-of-the-mill monster action to full-blown classic. 7/10
Villains thwart a scientific expedition to a lost city rising out of the sea, and a damsel is distressed by lava quicksand and giant crab monsters. The valiant cast battles a thin, juvenile script, cramped sets and a low budget. 3/10
A hapless US bomber crew during WWII crash land on an island inhabited by a tribe of glamour girls in leather skirts, and dinosaur stock footage from One Million B.C. The result in this 1951 lost world potboiler is surprisingly dull. 1/10
The fate of the world hangs in the balance as the mysterious alien Klaatu arrives on a diplomatic mission to Earth with his deadly robot. Oscar winner Robert Wise’s “subversive” 1951 classic was a radical call for world peace in the midst of McCarthyist blacklistings. Possibly the best of the fifties SF films, this one holds up surprisingly well today. 10/10.
A ragtag team led by Cesar Romero searches for a lost missile and finds a radioactive island filled with dinosaurs in what may be Sam Newfield’s finest film. Despite its MST3K-tarnished reputation and a whole lot of padding, it’s well worth a look. 5/10.
In 1950 former ballet master and style adviser to Mae West, Boris Petroff, produced a bewildering mishmash of pirates, Australian farm romance, western action and slurpasaurs starring later TV star James Arness. Two Lost Worlds is a low-budget patch job with new dialogue scenes edited to fit action sequences from at least three other movies. 1/10
The 1936 film serial Flash Gordon was the first American space opera brought to the screen. It’s high camp, silly and loads of fun, and boasts high production values for a serial, as well as an unusually imaginative and original script, straight from the pages of the comic strip. That the spaceships are held by visible strings and the dragons look like men in cardboard suits just adds to the fun. 7/10
Larger than life in every aspect, the original King Kong was a juggernaut, as loud, daring and unstoppable as its titular monster, it crashed into cinemas in 1933 and has refused to leave ever since. Willis O’Brien’s revolutionary stop-motion work, a multitude of amazing visual tricks and Fay Wray’s legendary screams help cover up a weak script, terrible dialogue, non-existent character arcs and woeful acting. 8/10
The original dinosaur blockbuster was released in 1925 by First National Pictures. With stop-motion animation by legendary Willis O’Brien and cinematography by multiple Oscar nominee Arthur Edeson, the film is a beauty to behold, even if the plot and pacing suffers from director Harry Hoyt’s determination to get as much dino action into the picture as possible. (8/10)
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (6/10) This 1918 short by stop-motion wizard Willis O’Brien and Herbert M. Dawley is probably the first film to describe time travel, and is a showcase for their marvellous […]
∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗∗ (6/10) Georges Méliès’ last science fiction film, released in 1912, was a magnificent swansong for an era of filmmaking. Perhaps his most accomplished film technically, but the polar adventure […]