Six Hilariously Bad Practical Effects Monster Movies
January 14, 2015

There are few things that warm my heart as much as an old school, practical effects monster movie. Sure, the suits look silly, but my goodness are they adorable! If at any point you need an accidental comedy to brighten your evening, look no further than these:

[NOTE: I realize the images are not equally sized. It's not easy finding good images for obscure movies.]

1. Gamera vs. Guiron (1969; aka Attack of the Monsters)

When a couple of children board a seemingly marooned flying saucer in the middle of a field, they are transported via remote control to a hidden planet within the solar system. There they find a pair of bodacious space women who want to eat their brains, thereby (somehow) learning the secrets of human civilization so they can conquer Earth.

Yeah, I don't get it either...

Meanwhile, Gamera follows the duo to ensure their safety and runs afoul of a new foe upon arriving at the just about desolate planet: a blade-headed, shuriken-tossing quadruped named Guiron.

Maybe it's the ridiculous sets that make this movie enjoyable, decked out with bubble-shaped buildings, or perhaps it's the actual monster fights themselves. For instance, there's one scene in which Gamera flies off of Guiron's back and grasps a horizontal bar, then begins spinning like a gymnast, all before landing and throwing his arms up in the air as if he were performing at the Olympics. By this point, the Gamera series had pretty much given up on trying to be serious and the producers were playing up the brand's silly elements, which made for some wonderfully cheesy experiences.


2. Prophecy (1979)
JoeTheDestroyer's image
Five Nights at Freddy's has got nothing on this beauty.

Robert Foxworth and Talia "AAADDDRIIAAAAAN" Shire investigate accusations made by Natives living in a nearby forest. Supposedly, a logging company has been resorting to illegal tactics when handling their lumber, resulting in water pollution. After Foxworth battles a rabid raccoon and spots a shark-sized trout, he begins to believe as much. Unfortunately, things go from somewhat irritating to pants-crapping horrific when he and his entourage, including Victoria Racimo (Ernest Goes to Camp) and Armand Assante (Jack the Ripper TV movie from way back) cross paths with a mutated, super-powered, insanely pissed off grizzly bear referred to as Katahdin.

I think this was meant to be the monster movie event of the summer of '79. It even featured director John Frankenheimer (Birdman of Alcatraz, Reindeer Games). However, the film turned out to be a terrific feel-bad comedy, as most of its "horrific" scenes fall victim to hilarious special effects. During one exchange between Foxworth and Shire, they discuss a very important situation involving her pregnancy and the possibility that their child could be a mutant, based on her consumption of fish from the polluted waters. Right as this drama comes to a boil, Katahdin arrives in rare form, first seen as an obvious hand puppet, then as a still-standing costume obviously riding a rail. Let's also not forget a certain accidentally funny sleeping bag death scene that's somewhat reminiscent of Looney Tunes, and a scene in which our heroes spot one of their friends in the jaws of the beast, being tossed around like a chew toy.

Fun fact: Screenwriter David Seltzer was so displeased with the alterations made to his script that he adapted the screenplay into a novel. It wasn't very successful, if my Kindle search for it, which yielded only the Spanish language version after a long check, is any indication.


3. The Last Dinosaur (1977)

Rankin/Bass and Tsuburaya (responsible for Ultraman) come together to bring you a tale of a big game hunter and the T. Rex he wishes to bring down.

You see, there exists this underwater drilling device/vessel called a "Polar Boarer." It's basically a mini-submarine with a drill on the tip. During one check of the polar ice caps, the boarer surfaces in an isolated valley heated by a super-volcano. There the crew finds/is eaten by the aforementioned theropod. All but a single survivor, of course... That one man returns, tells society of his woes during a press conference, and for some ungodly reason decides to head to the valley again with a few friends, including Joan Van Ark and Richard Boone as Maston the hunter.

Although I could laugh at the obvious suits used to depict the dinos, I will say that Tsuburaya did a fair job with them, given that this was a late '70s project. Unfortunately, I can't say the same for the questionable dialog. At one point, our heroes are assailed by a massive hairy beast. One man says, "It appears to be one of the Ceratopsians." Uh, no it doesn't. In fact, the only thing it has in common with a Ceratopsian is the fact that it has four legs. Otherwise, I wouldn't even say it looks like a reptile. Probably my favorite exchange involves the same man calling Maston out on wanting to kill the T. Rex, saying, "I thought we were only going to study it." Maston's response, which happens to currently be my phone's notification tone: "You DIIIIING DOOOONG!"

I will admit, though, that one of my favorite moments involves a fight between the Rex and a Triceratops that was inexplicably sleeping inside of a rock wall. Because they did that, right?


4. Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds (1977)

Sorry, I had extinct reptiles on the mind on the mind.

I avoided the term "dinosaur" specifically above because this film's title is technically a misnomer. The movie features two ancient animals, a Plesiosaur and a Rhamphorhynchus, which are neither dinosaurs nor birds. D'oh!

As for the plot, climate change causes a couple of petrified eggs to hatch, unleashing the above reptiles on Mt. Fuji and Lake Sai. The Plesiosaur gobbles up some random swimmers and boaters before devouring, and subsequently puking on, the mayor's daughter. Only then do authorities take the situation seriously and attempt to destroy the creatures. Meanwhile, the protagonist engages on a boring quest to discover if his father was telling the truth about extinct creatures living on Mt. Fuji. At one point, the character thinks: "My father was right! Oh crap, Mt. Fuji's erupting."

There's plenty of silliness in this motion picture, including a fight between the above animals that consists of the two of them bashing against each other while the Rhamphy produces the most irritating noise imaginable.* Aside from that, there's a bit of plesio-mayhem, including a scene in which the long-necked creature breaks through a log cabin to eat a topless girl, not to mention a pretty chilling moment where the protagonist discovers a headless horse dripping what little remains of its blood from a tree.

Fun fact: This was Toei's biggest budgeted film at the time.

*Written for dramatic effect. Everyone knows the most irritating noise imaginable is a loud three-way argument involving Fran Drescher, Bobcat Goldthwait, and Gilbert Gottfried.


5. Blood Freak (1972)
JoeTheDestroyer's image

Okay, okay, so this one looks more like papier-mache than rubber or latex or whatever the hell they use to make your standard monster suit. We'll give old Herschell the benefit of the doubt, though...

This one features a Vietnam vet and biker, Herschell, who falls for a young hippie named Anne. After several failed attempts to get the straightedge former GI to smoke a joint with her, Anne turns up the seduction and eventually convinces Hersch toke up. Unbeknownst to him, the weed had been laced with an unknown drug, which Herschell became addicted to. Instead of taking up a life of crime as most addicts might, he got an under-the-table job at a turkey farm. A couple of scientists there concoct an experimental serum and decide to try it out on Herschell, plugging a dose of their juice into some turkey before feeding it to him. The end result: Herschell becomes a drug-addicted were-turkey who can only sustain his addiction by drinking he blood of hippies.

I'm not making this junk up. This movie is about a turkey-man who kills hippies to lap up their drug-enriched blood.

I will say, unfortunately, that aside from the ridiculous premise, there's nothing much of interest in this film. Herschell kills everyone in pretty much the same manner. Heck, you even hear the same lousy studio-recorded scream each time a hippie chick bites it. The worst, though, is the occasional appearance of a narrator, who occasionally looks down obviously to read the frickin' script in a monotone voice.


6. Rawhead Rex (1986)

Based on the short story by Clive Barker (who was so appalled by the film that he asked to have his name removed from the title), this flick involves a farmer inadvertently breaking a seal on his property, thereby unleashing an ancient beast with an apparent penchant for biker fashion. The creature goes on a rampage, eventually killing the protagonist's son, which sends our hero on a mission to defeat Rawhead.

The belly laughs don't begin immediately with this film. They arrive once you see Rawhead in action, running toward the camera with his knees lifted ludicrously high and his head peculiarly cocked slightly upward, almost as if he's riding an invisible exercise device. They continue during such scenes as actor Niall Toibin's death, complete with awkward and unnecessary dubbing ("'FRAID"), or the seemingly obligatory manner with which one actress loses her top during an attack. Because it's just not an '80s horror movie unless someone shows their boobs for no reason. It's just a shame the producers didn't stick with Barker's original concept of Rawhead's appearance. I think I would've placed this movie higher on the list if it involved a bunch of Irish folk running away from an actor dressed as a giant, walking dick with teeth.

Honorable Mentions

Weasels Rip My Flesh (1979)- A short indie flick produced by an aspiring teenage director about a mutated weasel on a rampage.

Monstroid: It Came from the Lake (1980)- Mash up Prophecy with Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds and you get a goofy horror flick that's allegedly "based on a true story." Here a 60-foot-tall carnivorous amphibian noshes on some locals, only outing himself after leaving a partially eaten woman on the beach.

TerrorVision (1986)- An alien wreaks havoc on a family, and some swingers who happen to be wooing mom and dad, through their newly purchased satellite dish.

Cameron's Closet (1988)- Based on the novel by Gary Brander, this one features a telekinetic child who makes contact with a rubber monster from hell, who relocates to the kid's closet. Come for the chuckle-worthy acting, stay for the '80s music video visual effects used during the climax of the film.

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Germ Germ - January 14, 2015 (06:43 AM)
I got Attack of the Monsters on DVD for a buck on a whim when I saw it on a rack by checkout at some discount store. Popped it in with my brother and we were in tears the whole time. Fantastic movie.

overdrive overdrive - January 14, 2015 (09:09 AM)
I always liked a small-budget film called Grim because one death involved a guy's head getting crushed. It was so totally a cantaloupe or grapefruit. Made me laugh. Which was better than the bored annoyance I'd felt for the rest of the film.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - January 14, 2015 (01:37 PM)
Awesome. I first caught the movie on SyFy, back when they showed old science fiction movies instead of professional wrestling, ghost hunting shows, and bad CGI monster flicks. They had a week long marathon of Gamera movies, including that one. That was a blast...

I remember renting and "reviewing" Grim at IMDb ages ago. I was on a bad monster kick back then as well, and pretty much exhausted my local rental stores' supplies. On the plus side, I discovered some fun films like Blue Monkey and The Creepies that way. Unfortunately, I also sat through some positively rotten ones, like Dark Universe, The Abomination, and Zaat! [Note: Exclamation point was not my idea. It was part of the title.] Grim was one of the movies in that huge stack of films I watched, and I recalled not liking it much, with the exception of the hilarious skull-crushing scene. Even the instances of intense gore felt phoned in, like the producers thought, "God, this movie sucks. Let's just feature a 'shocking' scene where the monster chops up a disembodied spinal column and we'll call it a day."

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