October 20th, 2014
|11:19 pm - 31 Days of Halloween: Night of the Blood Beast|
Guys, there's a lot of garbage on Netflix.
I mean, a lot.
There's plenty of good stuff too, but there's a really high volume of crap because Netflix is a good way to distribute independent films, and the barrier to getting your movie on Netflix has nothing to do with quality.
Tonight I got together with a few friends and we spent several minutes scouring Netflix for a horror movie to watch. It's hard, you know? All the poster art looks the same these days, and if you're not already familiar with a movie it's hard to determine from the artwork whether it's going to be any good at all. And then even if you decide something looks good, nine times out of ten it ends up being torture porn. Frustrating.
After awhile we settled on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, mostly because we knew that no matter the quality of the actual movie, the commentary would make it watchable. But which episode should we choose? Somehow we landed on Night of the Blood Beast. It was mostly an arbitrary choice--somebody in the group expressed a preference for a Mike-hosted episode over one hosted by Joel, and Mike happened to be in this one.
But it was a good one. Night of the Blood Beast is a really bad Roger Corman film from 1958 in which a rocket ship crash lands, killing its occupant, an astronaut named Corcoran. The crashsite is near a space agency facility, so a team of scientists come out to investigate and recover the body. The condition of Corcoran's body is unusual--his blood pressure is consistent, and his blood isn't congealing properly. The scientists put some of his blood under a microscope, and we see that is teeming with unusual, large cells that look like they were animated by Hanna-Barbera.
Corcoran's body disappears, and the radio stops working. Someone is attacked outside the facility by a large creature, and it is assumed that an alien stowed away aboard the rocket, and is responsible for the disappearance and the electrical disturbance. Then Corcoran shows back up alive and well, and a physical examination shows that he's carrying shrimp-like alien fetuses; Corcoran is going to be a mom!
Night of the Blood Beast is weird and boring and not very good, and when the Blood Beast shows up, it turns out to be more of a bear/parrot who Just Wants to Be Our Friend. Irreconcilable cultural differences arise, and the humans win because the humans always win in this type of movie.
The film was directed by Bernard L. Kowalski (who I've never really heard of), and produced by Cormans Gene and Roger. Roger Corman made plenty of bad movies, but this one in particular seems to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. Gene is responsible for the story, but the screenplay was written by then 21-year-old Martin Varno who was apparently livid at the Corman's butchery of his script. It is possible that Varno scripted a better movie than the finished product, but if I were Varno I'd have simply washed my hands of this mess. The commentary of Mike and the 'bots seemed especially good in this episode, possibly because my friends and I were in the right mood for it, but also because there's just so much bad science and bad dialogue in this movie to ridicule. Even so, it felt a little tedious. The original film runs 62 minutes but felt much longer.
MST3K often trims movies for time, but I doubt they made many (if any cuts) to Night of the Blood Beast. In fact, they rounded out the episode with a short film from 1956 called Once Upon a Honeymoon, in which a newlywed songwriter struggles to write a song (as in, with lyrics) for a ballerina (as in, not a singer). While he chainsmokes and pulls his hair out, his wife dances around the kitchen and bedroom imagining all the different colors of telephone they might buy. My description of Once Upon a Honeymoonprobably makes no sense, but I assure you that it's accurate. Also, there's an invisible angel standing on their roof, pouring glitter all over everything. This is also an accurate statement.
As with every episode of MST3K, the exploits of Mike and the 'bots on the Satellite of Love are documented in the intro and an outro. In this case, Dr. Forrester's mom, Pearl, has come to visit. The internet says she wasn't a new character in this episode, but she's not quite the same Pearl Forrester we see in later seasons of the show.
Anyway, look, I don't know what else to say about this one. The movie is terrible, the commentary is top notch, and the interstitials are average, but I never cared terribly for the interstitial segments anyway. Oh, and I learned that telephones are available in a variety of drab colors.
Here's the trailer.