Man-made monsters

The Black Sleep

While Basil Rathbone, Herbert Rudley & Akim Tamiroff pull their weight in this talky 1956 monster mash, it’s incomprehensible that Lon Chaney, John Carradine, Bela Lugosi & Tor Johnson have all been consigned to shuffling mutely in the corners. 5/10

Top 25 Non-English SF Films Pre-1950

Much of the heritage in SF movies comes from non-English language films from the first half of the 20th century, many of which are largely unknown to an English-speaking audience today. Here we list the 25 greatest non-English language science fiction movies made prior to 1950. How many have you seen?

Indestructible Man

A 1956 cult classic, this gangster-monster mashup with Lon Chaney Jr. as a super-charged avenger suffers from the cutting of most of Chaney’s lines, and with them key scenes. Decent performances & good location shooting make it worth a watch. 3/10

Forbidden Planet

Based on Shakespeare, MGM’s 1956 epic starring Anne Francis & Leslie Nielsen is a landmark SF movie. The pulpy premise of space explorers saving a virgin from an alien monster hides surprisingly serious and adult themes. 9/10

Day the World Ended

A small group of survivors hole up in a bungalow after a nuclear war, hoping to outlast the fallout and the mutants raging beyond the picket fence. Roger Corman directs the 1955 cheapo efficiently, but it spends too long treading water. 3/10

Tarantula

A scientist trying to end hunger creates a giant spider that runs amok in a small desert community. This 1955 classic is not director Jack Arnold’s best work, but even so, it’s one of the best giant critter movies of the 50’s. 6/10

Bride of the Monster

Ed Wood’s 1955 schlocker is a love letter to the film’s star Bela Lugosi and the monster movies of the thirties, and as such it is quite charming, despite its ineptitude. And despite ill health, Lugosi is magnetic in his last first billing. 5/10

Gog

Strange deaths occur at an underground US research facility controlled by a computer. Suspicion falls on two helper robots, Gog and Magog. This 1954 Ivan Tors thriller in colour has a great setup, but feels more like a science lesson than an SF film. 5/10

El monstruo resucitado

As enthusiastic as it is bewildering, this operatic Mexican 1953 medical horror film is a clunky passion project. Throwing in everything but the kitchen sink, it’s a mix between The Phantom of the Opera, Frankenstein and Mystery of the Wax Museum. 6/10

Donovan’s Brain

The disembodied brain of ruthless millionaire Donovan takes telepathic control over the scientist keeping it alive in a fish tank. Based on Curt Siodmak’s novel, this 1953 effort is at its best a taut SF chiller, at its worst a confusing tax fraud potboiler. 5/10