Revenge of the Creature, Directed by Jack Arnold, 1955
Synopsis: The Creature from the Black Lagoon (referred to as the "Gillman" in this movie) is moved from the Amazon to Florida, as part of a theme park attraction.
My Thoughts: This was my first time to watch this film away from the MST3K commentary, and even when I originally saw that episode, I felt like the movie was probably too good for their usual lampooning. It's dated, but not a bad high-concept sequel. They could've chosen a whole new team to journey down the Amazon and run afoul of the Creature, but they didn't, so kudos for trying something new.
There's nothing particularly remarkable about it, and it plays out almost exactly how you expect it to, but as a monster matinee, you could do a lot worse. I like the scenes where the Creature is passed out face first in the water and the theme park workers have to sort of move him around in the pool, almost like walking a dog. I kept waiting for him to jump up and claw a trainer's arm off. This sequel bridges the gap to The Creature Walks Among Us, which I've always felt is one of Universal's most unjustly overlooked monster movies.
Recommended If You Like: Jaws 3D, Humanoids from the Deep
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Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, 1984
Synopsis: In a toxic wasteland, dangerous, mutated animals become agitated from their "safe" zones by a political battle over the ownership of an angel's egg, left over from Armageddon.
My Thoughts: This movie certainly set the stage for every Miyazaki film that came after, with its themes of environmental responsibility and unnervingly strange creature design. I find that there's a certain coldness to Nausicaa that's not evident in Miyazaki's other films that keeps it slightly at arm's length for me, personally. It's not only an amazing piece of animation, but an incredible work of science-fiction as well, but I prefer Princess Mononoke (even though it recycles every single one of Nausicaa's points about nature and war). I just like the characters in Mononoke a little more.
Recommended if you like: Prince Mononoke, Neon Genesis Evangelion, post-apocalyptic sci-fi
Shivers, Directed by David Cronenberg, 1975
Synopsis: A parasite that turns people into sex-starved lunatics infects the residents of a high-rise apartment building.
My Thoughts: What a killer debut from Cronenberg. I'm shocked no one else has tried "sex zombies" as a horror film device since this one -- they're terrifying. It's one thing to imagine a horde of people trying to eat you; it's another to imagine a horde of people trying to rape you.
Re-visiting the film, I'd forgotten just how effective a lot of the moments are (the scene where a man eating cherry pie by the fistful rapes a mother in an elevator, right in front of her little girl, is particularly squirm-inducing). The film is a crystal clear reaction from Cronenberg to the free love movement that was coming to a close by the mid-70s, but it's still a must-see today, even through its obviously limited budget.
Recommended If You Like: Dawn of the Dead, Slither, Invasion of the Body Snatchers