Guest Contributor – photog – “The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms” – A Science Fiction Movie Review

Blogger photog and I decided to swap posts this Friday as a bit of cross-promotion for our sites.  photog is a multi-talented man—a writer, a photographer, and a reviewer—and he possesses a real knack for writing great movie reviews.

So when he asked me what he should write about, I proposed something related to science-fiction, a genre he knows well.  I was thrilled when he came up with a review of an Atomic Age gem, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, from 1953.  The film was apparently a major influence on the Godzilla films, and spawned a number of “creature features” in the 1950s.

You can read more of photog’s reviews, as well as his political writing, at www.orionscoldfire.com.  It’s worth checking out!

With that, here is photog’s review of The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms:

This 1953 movie is the grandaddy of all the atomic monster movies.  The next year saw the appearance of “Them,” the giant atomic ants and Godzilla which really was a sort of knock off of the “Beast From 20,000 Fathoms.”  At least theoretically this movie is based on Ray Bradbury’s short story “Fog Horn.”  But other than the one scene where the Beast attacks a lighthouse there isn’t anything in the story that informs the plot of the movie.

So, this is the story of an arctic atom bomb test that predictably thaws out an amphibious dinosaur.  After killing one member of the military team via avalanche the beast heads south to re-enter his old stomping grounds in the Hudson River undersea canyon.  On the way it capsizes a couple of Canadian fishing ships, demolishes a Maine lighthouse and flattens a Bay Stater walking along the shore of Massachusetts.  Well, for that one you really can’t blame him.  I’m sure the guy had it coming.

And as these movies usually go, the military gets in touch with an academic expert on dinosaurs who is always an old man with a funny accent who always has a somewhat attractive young woman working as his assistant.  The military provides the old professor with access to a bathysphere and the scientist descends into the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the Hudson River and is promptly eaten (or something) by the beast.

Now the protagonist (a French scientist who was somehow associated with the US Army’s arctic A-bomb test) rallies the military and leads the effort to destroy the monster as it rampages through lower Manhattan.  Early on it eats one of New York’s Finest in the person of a cop who attempts to take down the giant reptile with his service revolver.  Then the beast goes on a stroll down Broadway and crushes various cars and small buildings.  Finally, the Army moves in some bazookas and draws blood from the beast by blowing a hole in its neck.  But, wouldn’t you know it, its blood is full of virulent germs that have the soldiers keeling over after only minutes.

Fearing that explosives would start a plague the French guy proposes that a radioactive projectile be shot into the wound on the beast’s neck and thereby kill him without spreading his germs.  After swimming back into New York Harbor, the beast resurfaces at Manhattan Beach (which is in South Brooklyn) and the beast heads straight for Coney Island and begins destroying the Cyclone, the big rickety wooden roller coaster at the famous amusement park there.

The French guy and an army marksman don radiation suits and take a roller coaster ride to the top of the coaster’s highest hill in order to have a clear shot at the beast’s neck.  From that vantage point the marksman hits the bullseye and then they clamor down the side of the coaster before the beast’s death throes bury them in the rubble of the demolished ride.  Of course, the wooden ride bursts into flames proving just what a death trap it really is.  But by then the beast is dying and as we watch he breathes his last.  French guy and somewhat pretty paleontologist are now free to explore the romantic relationship that almost always await the survivors of atomic monster incidents.

This is one of my favorite old monster movies because New York is my old stomping grounds.  In fact, the beach in Brooklyn (Manhattan Beach) where the beast resurfaces was where I first met Camera Girl forty-five years ago.  So, we have that in common.  There weren’t a lot of famous actors in this movie but the special effects were handled by Ray Harryhausen and the sharpshooter was played by Lee Van Cleef of spaghetti western fame.  Now there isn’t any detectable acting going on except for the old professor played by veteran actor Cecil Kellaway.  But it combines the gung-ho attitude of all military movies before the Vietnam war era along with the silly mayhem expected when giant monsters are eating and stepping on people.  I highly recommend this silly romp but warn millennials that it was shot in black and white (the horror!).

TBT: The Joy of Hymnals

It being October, I tend to focus on the spookiness of the season.  I love Halloween, ghost stories, and scary movies, but it’s important not to get too bogged down in the chills.

So as I was going through posts from October 2019, I stumbled upon one of my old favorites:  “The Joy of Hymnals.”  My small church roped me into playing piano for Sunday morning services maybe two years ago, and it quickly rekindled an old love of hymns and hymnals.

Hymnals are my favorite items to find in old second-hand shops and antique stores (the latter of which often selling them at an egregious markup).  It’s fun to see which hymns do—and, more importantly, don’t—show up in any given hymnal.  I particularly like slender volumes, the kind that were meant for carrying from service to service or camp meeting to camp meeting, and which tend to possess hymns from the canon, if such a thing exists, of hymnody.

I even recorded and released a very lo-fi EP, The Lo-Fi Hymnal, which consists of crude recordings of my Sunday morning playing.  That short collection also includes a PDF version of today’s TBT feature.

Here is “The Joy of Hymnals“:

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The Future of Cinema

Over the past year or so, I’ve become far more interested in film as an artistic medium.  I’ve always enjoyed going to the movies, but I’m beginning to seek out more interesting and unusual fare, particularly the classics.  One reason I’m watching more films from the 1960s-1990s is because so many flicks these days are full of social justice pandering and parroting of the Leftist bromides du jour.  It’s refreshing watching movies in which people act like people, and not drones from the HR or Diversity Departments.

In The Age of The Virus, we’ve been encouraged to stay home and watch TV—a commentary on our diluted sense of “sacrifice” in the twenty-first-century West.  But that’s had an interesting impact on the cinema, by which I mean movie theaters.  With endless content on streaming services and bigger, cheaper televisions, it seems that the old movie palaces and multiplexes are increasingly obsolete.

Regal Cinemas re-shuttered its theaters across the country after making a go at reopening.  When I went to see The Empire Strikes Back and The New Mutants, there were very few people there, even during prime weekend screening times.  The New Mutants was a full-freight flick, but Empire and other classics were just $5!  Even then there were loads of empty seats—and that wasn’t just because of social distancing requirements.  I asked a manager how he was doing and he said, “Well, at least we’ve got some people here tonight.”  It does not sound good for the future of theaters.

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Movie Review: The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (1976)

After returning from Universal Studios yesterday, I decided to ease back into the week with a couple of flicks.  Hulu isn’t the best of streaming services in terms of content, but lately I’ve uncovered some good older films on the platform, and occasionally I’ll uncover some hidden gems.

To be sure, there’s a good bit of garbage, too, especially this time of year, when the budget horror flicks pop up like weeds.  I watched 1972’s The Last House on the Left last night before catching the subject of this review, and it was a lurid bit of early 70s exploitation.  It didn’t necessarily endorse the violence and depravity it depicted, but it certainly seemed to revel in it.  At its best, it was a morality tale about the dangers of the hippie movement and misguided youthful energy; at its worst, it was an excuse to torture pretty girls on screen.  I’d recommend giving it a pass.

The second film I watched, however, is one I will highly recommend:  1976’s The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.  It stars a barely-thirteen-year old Jodie Foster in a command performance, along with a young Martin Sheen, who must have been about twenty-six at the time.

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Memorable Monday: Happy Columbus Day!

I’m back from my third trip to Universal Studios this year, and I’m worn out.  Having nonstop fun in the central Florida sun for three days straight really takes it out of me—that, and driving nearly fourteen hours round trip.  I’ll be posting a delayed SubscribeStar post about the trip for subscribers later this evening, after taking a much-needed nap.

Today is Columbus Day, and outside of banks and the postal service, I’m one of the few people who doesn’t have to work today.  I’m thankful for that, and to Columbus for making his historic voyages to the New World.

The attempts of cancel culture to rewrite history have only intensified since I wrote this post one year ago.  The trend is heading into extreme territory, in which we absurdly demand people living four hundred years ago to have had the foresight to think and believe the way we do in 2020.  We pillory them and destroy their statues if they failed to genuflect properly.

The world in 1492 was a brutal place, especially in the New World.  The myth of the “noble savage” was just that—a myth.  The Native Americans were a vastly diverse array of tribes and confederations, often intensely at war with one another.  That doesn’t excuse some of the abuse they did receive at the hands of Europeans and, later, Americans, but it should dispel this notion that white people cruelly destroyed peaceful Earth worshippers.

That it doesn’t is a testament to the strength of progressive indoctrination in our schools.  We don’t name football teams, towns, and military weaponry after Native Americans because they were pagan hippies; we do so because we fought them for hundreds of years and admire their tenacity and warrior-spirit.  It’s the hard-won respect one has for a worthy opponent, even a defeated one.

So, I’ll repeat my call to preserve Columbus Day.  Here is 2019’s “Happy Columbus Day!“:

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that commemorates Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492.  It’s one of the most significant events in human history—as I tell my American History students, “we wouldn’t be here if Columbus hadn’t made his voyages”—yet the social justice, Cultural Marxist revisionist scolds want to do away with the holiday entirely, replacing it instead with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

The thrust of the proposed (or, as is the way with SJWs, demanded) name change is that Columbus was a genocidal, white male meanie who defrauded and murdered peace-loving Native Americans (who had the gall to mislabel Indians!), so instead we should celebrate the contributions of Stone Age cannibals.

Two States—Vermont and Maine (of course they’re in New England, the epicenter of neo-puritanical scolds)—have passed laws renaming the federal holiday to the SJW-approved Indigenous People’s Day.  One Maine mayor, however, refuses to bend, and has declared that in Waterville, Maine, Columbus will be honored.

Mayor Nick Isgro has garnered national attention for his stand to protect Columbus Day from the faddish winds of outrage culture:  “‘The history of mankind is not necessarily a nice one,’ he said. ‘With every great accomplishment, we could probably line up negative consequences as well as positive consequences and that goes across all peoples, all continents, all countries.’”

That’s probably one of the best, brief summaries of a proper historical perspective I’ve read recently:  we can find all sorts of nasty bits about every culture, country, and personality.  But that doesn’t detract from the greatness of their accomplishments.

The revisionists are not incorrect about Columbus:  he did, in his own misguided way, commit what we would now consider atrocities against the Arawaks of the Caribbean.  But it’s foolish to believe that the Native Americans were peaceful, “noble” savages, living in a harmonious state of nature until the evil, exploitative Europeans showed up.  That version of history is a Leftist passion play, which casts history into shades of (literal and metaphorical) black and white—and any white person must possess a black soul.

The peoples of the late fifteenth-century Caribbean were no saints.  To quote from Samuel Eliot Morrison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea (quotation c/o VDare.com):

The searching party found plentiful evidence of these unpleasant Carib habits which were responsible for a new word—cannibal—in the European languages. In the huts deserted by the warriors, who ungallantly fled, they found large cuts and joints of human flesh, shin bones set aside to make arrows of, caponized Arawak boy captives who were being fattened for the griddle, and girl captives who were mainly used to produce babies, which the Caribs regarded as a particularly toothsome morsel.

Clearly, the Arawaks weren’t polite simpletons (which is how they come across in progressive retellings) snookered by a wicked Italian.  They were fattening up little boys t be eaten, and impregnating young girls to eat their offspring!

I recently wrote about similar Native American atrocities regarding the Aztecs.  The Aztecs’ atrocities are far better understood—the massive, organized human sacrifices, for example—but there’s still this push among modern historians to cast the Spanish conquistadors as the villains.

Naturally, we have to understand these cultures and civilizations in their time and place—but we can do so without condoning their barbarism and cannibalism.  Similarly, if we’re willing to accord some historical wiggle room to baby-eaters, can’t we extend the same generosity to Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors?

Further, as I read the accounts of various Native American practices, I can see why Spanish and subsequent Europeans believed they were doing the Lord’s work to wipe out these practices:  some of them are downright demonic.  It’s fitting that the bloody temples of Tenochtitlan were dismantled and replaced with a Christian cathedral.  The Old Testament is rife with examples of pagan places of worship being destroyed and replaced with altars to Jehovah.

(Of course, if the Spanish were indeed part of God’s Divine judgment on the Aztecs, et. al., Americans should be very worried today, as we continue to participate in mass infanticide.  God is patient, but His patience does not endure forever.)

So, yes, let’s celebrate Columbus on Columbus Day.  I’m glad to be in the New World, and that we don’t line people up to be sacrificed to a sun god every day.

Columbus

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Lazy Sunday LXXXVII: Universal Studios

As I noted yesterday and this morning, I am at Universal Studios once again this year.  This trip marks my third in 2020, which I find inconceivable.  Oddly enough, The Age of The Virus probably made it possible, as Universal eliminated most of their blackout dates for season pass holders.

This trip has been a good one, and because we’ve already been a couple of times this year, there wasn’t the same push to cram everything in during our three-day stay this time.  Indeed, the park was so packed today that we left around lunchtime to lounge in the hotel a bit, and we’ll hopefully head back this evening when crowds thin out a bit.

More on that when I get around to writing this weekend’s SubscribeStar Saturday post.  Here are some past posts related to Universal Studios:

  • Universal Studios Trip” (on my SubscribeStar page) – This post was a rundown of my first trip to Universal Studios earlier this year, right before The Virus really struck big in the United States.  That seems like an entirely different world.  It was very cool in late February for Florida, which really made the trip more enjoyable.  Also, we didn’t have to wear masks, which is a luxury today.
  • Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios” (and “TBT: Phone it in Friday VII: Universal Studios“) – This hasty post, written during my first visit to Universal this year, detailed some of the highlights of the trip, particularly the old E.T. ride.  That ride is probably my favorite in all of Universal, and I fully take advantage of the child swap loophole to ride it multiple times.
  • Universal Studios Trip No. 2” (on my SubscribeStar page) – This post detailed the second trip to Universal back in July.  That was in the full heat of the Florida summer, and during the apex of the summertime Virus surge.  Universal employees were very particular about mask-wearing at the time.  They still are, but I’ve noticed they’re way more lax this time (they aren’t shouting at you for having it off when you’re off by yourself just trying to breathe free for a few minutes).

Anyway, that’s all for now.  My niece and nephews are starting to run wild in the hotel room, so I’d better get back to uncling before they dump any more snacks on the floor.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments:

Delayed Lazy Sunday

As I noted yesterday, I’m still on vacation, so today’s Lazy Sunday will be delayed as well.  I will hopefully have it written tonight.

Subscribers, I’ll post the $1 SubscribeStar Saturday post later in the week.  Sunday Doodles should get up this evening, as that’s pretty easy to slam out, even when I’m running on fumes.

Yesterday my pedometer app reported I walked just over 20,000 steps.  We made a full day of it, as Universal City was open until 9 PM.  We didn’t quite make it that long, but we certainly got the most of our season passes.

It’s another long day today, so hopefully I won’t collapse into bed like I did last night and will have something of substance for you.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Phone it in Friday XVI: Week in Review (5-8 October 2020)

I’m out of town for a few days, so I’m resorting to something I rarely do:  a week in review post.  Some bloggers feature these weekly, such as my blogger buddy Mogadishu Matt.  I sort of did one back with “Lazy Sunday LVIII: Spring Break Short Story Recommendations Recap,” but that was more a review of a week-long series of posts, not a review, per se, of the week itself.

Ah, well.  That’s just nit-picking.  Here’s what I wrote about this past week:

That’s it for this edition of Phone it in Friday.  Here’s hoping I wrote some material good enough that you don’t mind reading it (and reading about it) again.

Happy Friday!

—TPP

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