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Snowtown Murders, The Blob (1988), Extraordinary Tales, and Attack of the 50-Foot Woman
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 188
We’ve got our usual collection of four horror films and a short film for you this week. This week, our oldie film is the "Attack if the 50 Foot Woman" from 1958. We'll watch the animated "Extraordinary Tales" from 2013, the remake of "The Blob" from 1988, and the based-on-true-events story, "The Snowtown Murders" from 2011. This week, we'll also look at TWO short films!
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Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Written by Mark Hanna
Stars Allison Hayes, William Hudson, Yvette Vickers
Run Time: 1 Hour, 5 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
There’s not enough actual attack of the 50 foot woman. It’s kind of long and drawn out. The science is bad and without much explanation. The special effects are sporadic in quality. All in all, it’s pretty mediocre.
We hear on the news that there’s a strange fireball that came out of the sky. The fireballs have been seen in various places around the world. They predict the stranger from space will be over California at any time.
The floating ball parks in the middle of the country road, making Nancy stall her car. She screams repeatedly as a giant hand reaches down for her.
Meanwhile, Nancy’s husband Harry is making out with Honey, his girl on the side. He only stuck with Nancy because he couldn’t get alimony. Honey suggests that Harry would get everything if Nancy died. Nancy has been admitted to the mental hospital a few times. The two talk about hatching a plan. She doesn’t drink anymore, but all she needs “is a little help,” says Honey.
Nancy runs to the sheriff, still screaming. She insists that she’s not drunk, but they don’t believe her crazy story since she’s hysterical. Harry gives the deputy cash to go away and pretend they couldn’t find him. The sheriff and the deputy do find Nancy’s car on the road, but the giant ball is gone. “As long as she's paying most of the taxes around here, we’re playing along with her,” grumbles the sheriff. They don’t find anything, but she thinks it was after her giant diamond necklace.
Nancy goes back to her huge estate where Harry tells Jess the butler to scram. They fight about Honey; she knows, and he denies it. She calls him a miserable parasite, only after her money. She tells him that she saw a satellite in the middle of the highway and then a giant came out looking for her diamond. Amazingly, he doesn’t believe her either. Harry puts her to bed and pockets her diamond; the most famous diamond in the world, the Star of India. Back at the bar, Honey tells Harry that she’s tired of waiting.
In the morning, Harry calls Dr. Cushing, who says that Nancy is suffering from nervous exhaustion. Nancy has calmed down, liquored up, and knows what Harry is up to. Jess the butler looks on very judgmentally. Nancy hears her story told on the TV, and they make her sound crazy. She’s possibly hallucinating the broadcast. She wants to go out to the desert and find that thing that she saw.
Nancy and Harry drive all over the desert looking for a giant and his ball. They don’t find anything, which proves she’s only fit for the asylum. Then, on the way home, they both see it. She runs up to the thing and beats on the side. The giant, bald alien inside grabs Nancy.
Harry freaks out and drives away, leaving her there. Harry goes home, packs up his stuff, and is attacked by the butler. The two men fight, and Jess calls the sheriff. Harry goes to pick up Honey and leave town. Later, they find Nancy on the roof of her pool house.
The sheriff, Dr. Cushing, and Jess the butler talk about Nancy’s condition, and they think Harry assaulted her. Nancy has also been contaminated with radiation somehow. Honey thinks Harry should tamper with Nancy’s medication and give her an overdose– if he has the nerve. He goes home, and we see that he does have the nerve. But when he sneaks into Nancy’s room, he sees that she’s grown huge.
The next morning, meat hooks and chains arrive along with an elephant syringe. They bring in Dr. Heinrich, an expert. He wants to do surgery to figure out what is wrong.
The sheriff finds a giant footprint outside the house. The sheriff starts to think that maybe Nancy isn’t a lunatic. The sheriff and Jess the butler decide to follow the footprints back to their source. They soon find the big spherical alien ship. They find a door and go inside. They find Nancy’s diamond, along with a bunch of others. Perhaps they are used as a power source. Then they find the owner of the spaceship and high-tail it out of there. The giant destroys their car and then leaves.
Nancy wakes up, and she’s not only huge, but she’s also chained to the walls. She breaks out of the house and goes on a rampage. She starts playing with the electrical lines outside Tony’s bar, which is where Harry and Honey are hanging out. She attacks Tony’s bar and scares everyone inside. Nancy drops stuff on top of Honey until Honey is killed. She reaches inside and pulls out Harry. The sheriff shoots Nancy a few times, but it doesn’t slow her down. He shoots the big transformer on the power pole, and that knocks her down and kills her. Harry’s dead too.
How did all of Nancy fit inside that bedroom with a hand that big? There’s literally zero science of any kind here, so it all just sorta happens. The special effects are awfully cheap, with both Nancy and the giant alien often being translucent, and many of the interactions are just with a giant hand prop.
The acting here is pretty melodramatic and overwrought in most scenes. It’s only an hour and seven minutes, but it really feels slow and stretched out in some places. There’s just not enough of the 50 foot woman and too much soap opera nonsense.
It’s really not very good at all.
Extraordinary Tales (2013)
Directed by Raul Garcia
Written by Edgar Allan Poe, Raul Garcia, Stephan Roelants
Stars Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Julian Sands, Guillermo del Toro
Run Time: 1 Hour, 13 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s an animated collection of Edgar Allan Poe tales, with some very famous voice talent and interesting animation styles.
I’m not going to spoil the individual stories, as these are fairly straightforward retellings of some of the most famous stories of all time. If you don’t already know these Poe stories, then watch this film for a quick version of each.
In the wraparound story, a creepy, mysterious woman talks to a raven while visiting a cemetery. She says that the crow is obsessed with death, and he’s a poet. Poe himself even. Credits roll.
The Fall of the House of Usher
Narrated by Christopher Lee. A young man goes to visit his sickly old friend and his very strange sister in an even stranger, crumbling old house. Could a curse be involved somehow?
The Tell Tale Heart
Bela Lugosi narrates this one. A strange black and white telling about a young man, an old man, and a creepy vulture-like eye. Mayhem and guilt ensue.
Back in the cemetery, the statue continues to talk to the crow about death and the crow’s refusal to join death.
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
Julian Sands narrates this one, a tale of mesmerism and death. Can hypnosis prevent death, or does it just make it worse?
The Pit and The Pendulum
Narrated by Guillermo Del Toro. The Inquisition sentences a man to death. There are rats and a pit involved.
The Masque of the Red Death
Not really narrated, but features the voice of Roger Corman as Prince Prospero, a man who throws a lavish party at a bad time and comes to regret it when an unexpected guest arrives.
Back in the cemetery, the raven wants to make sure his words will never be lost to time, and death assures him that they won’t be. The bird then flies off into the light.
These aren’t full readings of the classic Pow stories; these are abridged and shortened versions, but the plots and twists remain. There are long quotes from the source material at points, but a lot of the repetition and excess description has been cut out.
The animation style is quite interesting. The first segment looks like it’s all computer generated, but done in an exaggerated style with paperlike textures. The second is almost entirely black and white with a few splashes of red. The third looks very much like pages from a comic book. The final story looks like an animated oil painting. They’re all very well done.
Short Film: Crockpot (2022)
Directed by Ty Jones
Written by Ty Jones
Stars Patrick Rea, Ty Jones
Run Time: 7:58
Terror awaits a young couple as they fight about going to the young man's parents’ house the next day for Thanksgiving. His mother bought her a crockpot so that she can complain about how the wife can’t cook at the big dinner tomorrow.
The worst monsters are quite often the Mothers-in-laws of the world… but not always.
Or, yeah, maybe always.
This short film is really good; the meal may not be great, but the film is good.
Short Film: Witch Hunt (2022)
Directed by Evan Gorski
Stars Tyler Steelman, Catherine McCafferty, Josh Futcher
Run Time: 8:39
A man photoshops a pair of men kissing and threatens to tell one of the men’s wives. He then crosses the man’s photo off from what appears to be a yearbook photo with a bunch of other faces crossed off.
The doorbell rings and a woman passes out right into the man’s arms. She’s dirty, so he has her take a shower; being the perv that he is, he peeks. Then someone else comes to the door, and things get weird.
Bullying has many forms. Even in the time of the Salem Witch Trials.
I can’t say the ending was a surprise, but I was never quite sure that’s the way it was going to go. Very cool!
The Blob (1988)
Directed by Chuck Russell
Written by Theodore Simonson, Kay Linaker, Irvine H. Millgate
Stars Shawnee Smith, Kevin Dillon, Donovan Leitch
Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
A true reboot of the 1958 original that follows the story very closely. They even went with adults playing high schoolers again. It’s dialed up to ten by comparison though with a lot more violence, gore, and scares. The practical effects still hold up really well, and overall it’s very entertaining.
As credits roll, we see shots of what appears to be an abandoned town. We see that it’s abandoned because almost everyone is at the high school football game. Paul gets the winning touchdown while Meg is the cheerleader he likes. Elsewhere Brian Flagg is a badass; we can tell because he throws a beer can into nature and rides off on his motorcycle; he crashes cause he’s really a loser.
Back in town, Sheriff Herb Geller and Fran Hewitt, the restaurant server, flirt and talk about when the tourists will show up for ski season soon. Outside, Herb warns Brian that he’s about to turn eighteen and will be tried as an adult for his next infraction. Brian talks to mechanic Moss about how the past few years hasn’t had any snow, and the town is nearly bankrupt. And borrows tools to fix his cycle.
Scott goes to the drugstore to buy condoms, and the reverend is right behind him in line. The reverend and the druggist aren’t at all judgmental, but Scott blames it all on Paul. Turns out the pharmacist is Meg’s father, which goes awkwardly when Paul picks her up for their date.
Out in the woods, the homeless man watches a meteorite crash nearby. Very nearby. He goes to investigate and pokes the glowing rock with a stick. Something gooey comes out and gets on his hand. Brian runs into the man, who seems to be out of his mind in pain. Paul and Meg run into the crazy man on the street with Paul’s car. The trio drives the man to the hospital.
A bit later, Paul notices the man has been halfway eaten by the thing. Paul calls the sheriff and is almost immediately absorbed into the blob himself, leaving only an arm behind. The sheriff and Deputy Bill want to catch the perpetrator, and Brian is an easy target. Meg tells them all what she saw, but no one really believes her.
Scott and Vicki are making out the car. He gets out to get more drinks out of the trunk and doesn’t see the blob crawl into the open door. Vicki appears to be asleep, so Scott unbuttons her blouse and finds that there’s something in there that he wasn’t expecting. The now-much-larger blob goes into the sewers to head toward town.
The police interrogate Brian, but the sheriff realizes he couldn’t have done all that to the homeless man or Paul. They turn him loose, and Meg picks him up on the street outside. He doesn’t believe her story either. Brian and Meg go to Fran’s place for some food, and the sheriff heads over there for his late date with Fran. George the dishwasher works hard to unclog the sink until something really nasty comes up. Suddenly Brian and Fran are believers.
Brian and Meg hide in the freezer, and the thing quickly retreats after trying to get under the door. Fran calls the sheriff’s station from the pay phone, and the blob engulfs the whole booth, with her in it. Just before the end, she sees the sheriff– inside the blob. Reverend Meeker sees the blob slurp into the sewer again, then goes into the smashed-up diner to see if anyone needs help and finds a few pieces of frozen blob that broke off in the freezer threshold - glittering as crystals - which he puts into a jar.
Meg and Brian go into the woods to find Deputy Bill, but they find government scientists and soldiers instead, led by kindly Dr. Meadows. He’s looking for killer germs from the meteor. They are put under quarantine. Brian jumps out of the moving truck, but Meg goes along for the ride.
In town, at the movie theater, Meg’s brother and his friend are watching a Friday the 13th ripoff when the blob oozes into the projection booth and kills the projectionist.
Back in town, the government is rounding up everyone and putting them in quarantine.
At the theater, things go haywire, and there’s a stampede. Meg and the two kids get out of the theater, but end up having to flee to the sewer.
Brian hides and watches the scientists, who reveal that the meteorite was an American satellite that contained biological samples. Dr. Meadows remarks how their little virus is all grown up now. This was a biological weapons test which has gotten out of hand. He learns that Dr. Meadows isn’t such a nice guy after all. Capturing the creature alive is priority, the townspeople are expendable.
The army decides that there are three main junctions in the sewers, and all they have to do is seal off all three to trap it down there. Meg loses her brother’s little friend to the monster, which is now huge. She runs into Brian, and the two play tag with the blob and military guys in the maze of sewers. They eventually get up out onto the street.
Suddenly, there’s a standoff between Brian, Deputy Bill, and some of the military. Meadows tries telling Bill and the public standing around that Brian is infected and needs to be locked up. Brian points out Meadow’s lies that don’t add up. Just then, the blob tentacles up out of the sewer and eats Meadows in front of everyone. Now that they know the truth and the boss is dead, the army guys do what they can to kill the creature. A barrage of gunfire and explosives into the tunnel will take care of the problem, right?
Nope. This only angers the blob, which surges right up through the pavement and goes on a rampage down Main Street. Guns don’t help. A flamethrower doesn’t go well at all. Meg uses a fire extinguisher on the reverend and puts it together that the creature doesn’t like the cold. Reverend Meeker is badly burned in the chaos and huddles, babbling that this is the end time, it’s all been prophesied.
Brian goes back to Moss’s garage and steals the snow-making machine and starts hosing down the blob with the frozen mix. That slows it down until it flips the truck. Meg grabs some explosives from a dying soldier and sets the timer to blow up the cold chemical tanks. When the bomb goes off, the creature is frozen solid into a pile of glittering crystals. Meg and Brian embrace; a happy ending.
Some time later, in summer, we see the scarred Reverend Meeker doing a tent sermon, warning the end is coming. He still has a sample of the blob in his jar, so he knows it will be soon.
It’s a lot more violent than the 1958 original, that’s for sure. It’s faster moving and less talky than the original, but still mostly keeps to the same story outline. It’s an updated remake without being a reboot, re-imagining, or anything stupid like that. It’s just an updated retelling of the same basic story. About the only really new plot element is the biological warfare angle, but that really doesn’t have a huge effect on the plot.
The creature here is much more lively, with tentacles and arms rather than just being a blob of jelly. This was still in the age of practical effects, but it’s much more effective than the original.
The Snowtown Murders (2011)
Directed by Justin Kurzel
Written by Shaun Grant, Justin Kurzelm Debi Marshall
Stars Lucas Pittaway, Daniel Henshall, Louise Harris
Run Time: 1 Hour, 59 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s not strictly horror. It’s ordinary people doing horrible things to kids and each other. Based on true events in fact. It’s very grim and realistic, not a happy movie and hard to watch in places. But overall a strong thumbs up.
We hear a voiceover about Jamie, the narrator, having a dream about finding a man in his living room with his throat cut. Inside the man’s slit-throat is a Chihuahua that yaps at him.
Jeffrey asks Elizabeth out on a date. She asks him to watch Jamie and the little kids tomorrow since she has to go see her ex husband. Jeffrey, who lives across the street from them, takes photos of all the kids in their underwear, except for Jamie, who has to do it naked. The next day, Barry comes over to see Elizabeth, and he’s very creepy, but we don’t see why he’s come to the house. Later, Elizabeth just seems to know what Jeffrey did and beats him up as the boys watch silently. She calls the police and then they all go to church.
The next morning, someone new, John, makes breakfast for everyone after “dealing with” Jeffrey the night before. He gives them all a ride on his motorcycle. John then buys everyone ice cream later. John gets the kids to vandalize Jeffrey’s house. John and his friend Rob are very anti-pedo, and they seem to deal with this problem on a regular basis from various offenders.
The next morning, John is in the yard cutting up kangaroos with an ax. They mash up the bits and pieces and then pour it all over Jeffrey’s porch. Not long after, they watch Jeffrey pack up and move away. John teaches Jamie how to ride the motorcycle by himself. Jamie’s older brother Troy picks on him, which quickly escalates into Troy raping Jamie.
Barry tells John about all the perverts in town, and John takes notes. John and Jamie get their heads buzzed. Jamie stays over at John’s house, and we see that John has a crazy wall. John knows what’s been going on with Troy and gives Jamie a gun. John tells Jamie to shoot John’s dog– right there in the kitchen. Jamie’s not too happy to do it, but he does as he’s told and shoots the dog.
We hear an answering machine message that Barry has left town for a while. John’s watching Ray, a guy who flashes children at the bus stop. Jamie tags along to learn the ropes. Jamie hangs out with his friend Gavin and joke about the bomb shelter that John is digging in the backyard. Elizabeth gets upset when she finds her bathroom all bloody. We hear Ray leaving a voice message saying that he’s leaving town. There’s lots of pervy people leaving voice messages about leaving town, never to be seen again. Elizabeth and John have a fight, and Jamie warns her not to mess things up. Marcus is Elizabeth’s ex and the boys’ father. His friend is Dave. Are they a couple?
John takes Jamie out to the barn and shows him a dead body. It’s Jamie’s smoking buddy Gavin. He’s also got Barry in there. Jamie gets upset and pukes. John, Robert, and Jamie pack up Gavin’s stuff and paint his car a different color. Later, John and Robert torture Troy as Jamie watches. They torture him until he leaves a voice recording that he’s leaving town; then they strangle him repeatedly. Eventually Jamie finishes the job. “Good boy,” says John. Afterward, they all go out to dinner. Jamie tells Elizabeth that Troy left over money, but he doesn’t know where he went.
We get a murder-montage, where we see that John, Jamie, and Robert kill several more people. Jamie even impersonates one of them, Fred, at his doctor’s office. He gets “Fred” signed up for government assistance checks.
John finds Gary, a kid that Jamie knows is a harmless “spastic.” Gary shows the boys his snake that eats rats. Later, John finds Jamie high on heroin, passed out in the car. Their fourth accomplice, Mark, admits that he was high and mentioned something about killing men to his girlfriend, Verna. John warns Jamie to get off the drugs; the people they kill aren’t even noticed, so why get so upset?
Elizabeth knows something is amiss and sends her two youngest sons to stay with their father. John plays the recording of Verna “leaving town” for Jamie. Not long after, John, Robert, Jamie, and Mark carry concrete into an old building. This is where they stash the bodies. Mark doesn’t leave with them.
Jamie tells his dad’s friend Dave that he wants to sell him a computer. They spend the day together, but they go to the building where the bodies are stashed. John and Robert are there waiting for them…
“On May 20th, 1999, police located human remains inside barrels at a disused bank in Snowtown, South Australia. Two more bodies were later found buried in the backyard of 203 Waterloo Corner Road. On May 21st, 1999, several arrests were made.”
John Bunting is Australia's worst serial killer, with eleven murders. Jamie did a plea deal and got a life sentence; he might be released in 2025 on parole.
Last week, we crossed Africa off our list of vacation destinations after watching Saloum (2021), and this week, Australia is off the list as well.
The interesting part is that John is really good with the little kids; he’s probably the best father-figure they’ve ever had. Jamie rarely speaks, which gives him a psychotic creep factor, even though he seems to start out as a good kid.
It’s not really incredibly gory, but Jamie’s reactions often show how horrifying the scene is, even if we don’t get to see all the bloody details. I’m not clear on what David’s crime was; at first we thought he was the dad’s boyfriend, but we later see that that wasn’t the case.
It’s pretty twisted. The acting is good, the camerawork is great. Everything looks cheap and dirty, but still realistic. Actually, that’s probably the best part of the film; that it feels so realistic. This is exactly the way something like this would actually happen.
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