Being as I was a child of the 1990s and having not even been alive in the 1950s I ended up missing out on the side of movies that helped to define the Sci Fi genre in the 1950s. Such things as the Saturday Matinees, Serials, Atomic Monster movies, etc…
With that said, I had always heard these stories from my father about the movie The Crawling Eye (1958) with Forrest Tucker (F-Troop), and when I was about 11 or 12 I discovered a great movie that was a sort of an almost spoof but not quite re-telling of a kid’s interests in the atomic monster movies of the 1950s during the height of the Cuban Missle Crises, the movie of course being the classic movie Matinee (1993) which was directed by a man that we here at ABM have enjoyed talking with more then a few times, Joe Dante (Gremlins) and starring John Goodman (The West Wing) along with others…
During my teens I have also had the opportunity to see a lot of movies that have been inspired by these old Atomic Monster Movies, Such Movies as Aliens (1979) with Sigourney Weaver (Vamps) as well as others…
But it really has not been till recently that I have begun to enjoy this truly classic genre, and their truly some times under appreciated yet totally prolific classic movies!
A few of them that I thought that I would mention here are as follows:
1: Them! (1954)
Now this recommendation is coming… But I liked this movie so much that I just thought that I would mention this movie in the here and now!
In the atomic monster movies that I have seen here, they always seem to start out with a whimper and end with a truly awesome BANG! And Them! is no different! What I mean by this is that at the beginning, all you get is the crime scenes from these attacks, but by the end, (if your like me) then you come out of this movie wanting to watch another of these types of movies right away! (Unfortunately I couldn’t because I didn’t have time to, but I was really tempted to just say screw it and go for it!)
With that said I have found that this movie had to have been the inspiration for some of the scenes from Alien and Aliens. Well I don’t wanna spoil anything for you guys, so the only thing that I can say is that if you have a chance to watch this movie and Alien and Aliens pay close attention to the scene moments when Sgt. Peterson (Played by: Ben Whitmore) is rescuing a child in the Los Angeles Sewers in Them!, and when Dallas is in the air shafts on the Nostromo in Alien
Also as a side note I thought that I would also mention the fact that (even though it is hard to find) there is a very brief cameo by a pre-Startrek Leonard Nimoy in this!
With that said, please enjoy this trailer for the movie Them! (1954):
2: Another movie that I thought that I would mention is the movie Gojira (1954):
Of course for us American’s we know this movie as Godzilla…
I mean of course we all know about Godzilla, we all know about his battles with such other monsters as Mothra, King Kong, and even a mechanized version of himself! I mean this guy has become such a staple in cinematic history that this city destroying monster could almost be said to have become a hero to us fans of these old B Monster movies!
But did you know that before Godzilla had terrorized New York in Godzilla (1998) even before he was reborn in Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn (1985) or even before his prolific battles with either King Kong or Mothra, that the mutated monster had started out terrorizing Tokyo in the early 50?
That’s right folks this movie which was directed by legendary Japanese filmmaker Ishirô Honda, tells the story about a gigantic monster that is re-awaken due to nuclear testing. This monster goes on a rampage destroying everything in his path (with his target being Tokyo Japan!)
This movie started it all, and started a fantastic franchise that has to date lasted for over 5 decades internationally!
Unfortunately I can’t seem to find a trailer for the original Japanese version of the film, but please enjoy this trailer for the Americanized version of the movie titled Godzilla: King Of The Monsters (1956)
3. The Fly (1958)
This movie which has legendary horror movie icon Vincent Price (The Pit And The Pendulum) in it, has spawned for itself a remake in 1986 with Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park series) and Geena Davis (Accidents Happen) and a sequel to the remake in 1989 with Eric Stoltz (Caprica) and Daphne Zuniga (One Tree Hill) in and of itself has become a cult icon, but we will get in to that in a second…
Before I start with the story I thought that I would explain something first and foremost. Matter transportation is the act of disassembling a solid object down to atoms and then transferring them from one machine and then re-assembling them in another machine perfectly. In theory, you can do this with all sorts of objects, from your basic inanimate objects to animals, to even humans…
This movie tells the story of a scientist/inventor, who while trying to discover how to create a matter transportation device discovers that he has become the unfortunate some times side effects of a matter transportation device. What do I mean by this? Well simply put, the idea that is posited in this movie as well as the remake series is that the machine can not have any sort of other organic matter transported with some other organic matter (in the case of this movie, a human.) The reason for this is because if say a human and a dog were to transport at the same time, they can become a sort of freakish Human/Dog hybrid!
This is exactly what happens to the Scientist/Inventor when during an experiment, a fly is transported with him from one machine to the next, thus beginning the creation of a freakish Fly/Human monster!
Earlier I mentioned that this movie has become a very influential film in popular culture… Well this is true various parts of this movie have been imitated for decades in such film and TV series as The Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles, when Baxter Stockman himself, turns in to a fly. Another example of this is in the movie that I mention above, Matinee, in which this movie is the inspiration for the movie that is playing in Matinee called Mant!
I thought that you guys might also enjoy the trailer for the original The Fly (1958):
With that said, their are a lot of other great Atomic Monster movies out there, such classics as Trantula (1955) which has a small cameo with Clint Eastwood in it! It Came From Beneath the Sea (1955) with Kenneth Tobey (The Thing From Another World).
But I thought that I would mention the ones up their because they are some of my favorite, and I also do very much believe that these are some of the most prolific movies to have ever come out of the Atomic Monster movie sub-genre!