Saturday, May 2, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic blues has me watching cheesy monster movies every time my anxiety and depression puts a writer’s block between me and the books, cartoons, columns, comics and pitches I’ve wanted to work on for the past several weeks. It’s taken me a while to get my head back in the game. I’m determined to make amends for all that lost time, even if it’s only to myself.

Since I watched so many cheesy monster movies, some of them for the second or third time, I plan to salvage some of that time by writing about the they-were-new-to-me films for your entertainment and edification. Get the knives and cutting boards out, my friends. We’ve got some slicing to do.

First up is RAGE OF THE MUMMY, a 2018 low-budget movie written and directed by Dennis Vincent, who also plays the title character. I don’t hate the mummy costume, but that might just be me searching for something positive to say about this film. Here’s a brief summary of the film:

Defying an ancient curse, a group of occultists steal thirteen sacred relics from the tomb of Prince Horus-Kan in order to feed their supernatural powers. Now, the three thousand year old mummy prince must hunt down the stolen relics and bring deadly vengeance upon the perpetrators. For Detectives Blake and Crawford, the body count is piling up. Can they stop the mummy from his deadly rampage?

This movie is a clumsy combination of live action and comic-book-style artwork. The art isn’t bad, but it’s obviously used as a way of keeping the budget down. It basically stands in for what would have been special effects.

The unfolding by the plot is utterly predictable. The mummy walks around, often in daylight and without anyone noticing him, visiting the occultists. He kills them and takes back his sacred relics. A few other folks are slain for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Even at just ninety minutes, the movie seemed padded. It just goes on and on without any appreciable twists.

For the most part, the acting and the writing are serviceable at best. Scott Croushore, playing Detective Blake, was the standout of the cast. Which I know sounds like more damning with faint praise than I intend. I’d love to see him in something with good writing and a budget higher than pocket change. The movie earned a 4.5 on the Internet Movie Database.

I watched Rage of the Mummy for free on Amazon Prime. All it cost me was the hour-and-a-half I would have otherwise spent feeling the shadow of coronavirus doom drawing ever closer. I don’t regret my decision to watch it.


Sometimes Amazon Prime serves up an unexpected gem. ALIEN TRESPASS [2009] is one of those jewels. Here’s the synopsis:

After crash landing near a desert town, an alien enlists the help of a local waitress to re-capture a monster that escaped from the wreckage of his space ship.

Written by Stephen P. Fisher and directed by R.W. Goodwin, the film channels the sci-fi movies of the 1950s. Its humor comes from its keen imitations of those creature features, but it’s a respectful humor that never denies how much fun those films were. Especially for the kids of my generation.

Eric McCormack stars as scientist Ted Lewis and the alien Urp who possesses his body to track down the human-eating Ghota. You could call the performances wooden, but I give more credit to McCormack. He nailed both personas.

Waitress Tammy (Jenni Baird) longs to leave her tiny town to pursue a career as an artist. Her character is resourceful. Her feelings for Urp and vice versa make for an interesting romantic quadrangle, since the alien is in the scientist’s body. Kudos also go to Jody Thompson. She’s not given as much screen time as I’d have liked, but she’s terrific as the scientist’s sexy wife Lana.

The small town’s skeptical police officers are played by Dan Lauria and Robert Patrick. Both are solid in their roles.

The movie has its chilling moments and tragic deaths. Viewers get to know some of the Ghota’s victims before they meet their deaths, which adds emotional weight to the film. The victims aren’t merely statistics. However, don’t expect too much from the creature suit. It’s interesting, but not compelling.

Alien Trespass is definitely worth watching. If you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free.


I could have watched KING COBRA [1999] on Amazon Prime, but I had a DVD of this direct-to-video movie and decided to watch that. Your guess is as good as mine as to when I purchased the direct-to-video DVD. My impulse control is virtually non-existent when it comes to cheesy monster movies. Here’s the IMDb synopsis:
A mutated snake escapes from a laboratory and terrorizes the residents of a small California brewery town.

Save for the brewery angle, which I kind of like, that could describe a half-dozen different movies.

Minor spoiler: the town brewery is unveiling its new beer. This is a big festival-type event. Murray Hamilton guests as the mayor who doesn’t want to shut down the festival. Not actually. I made that up for shits and giggles. However, Eric Estrada does make a brief appearance as a gay event planner and, boy howdy, does he give one offensive performance. Someone should call human resources over at the California Highway Patrol.

This is a pretty standard creature on the loose feature that has a few good things in it. There’s a nice human story in young doctor Brad Kagen (Scott Hillenbrand) leaving the small city to pursue a career at a big city hospital and leaving behind his police officer girlfriend Jo Biddle (Casey Fallo).

Pat Morita is good as snake hunter Nick Hashimoto, especially when he makes no attempt to conceal his contempt for mad scientist Irwin Burns (Joseph Ruskin). Courtney Gains is absolutely bizarre as an even madder scientist. Folk singer Hoyt Axton is fun as the town’s mayor and, during the closing credits, sings a very odd ditty about  the title character. Tragically, “Seth is the Devil” never managed to make the Billboard Hot 100.

The giant snake Seth isn’t a masterpiece of special effects. You’re always aware that it’s a mechanical snake, though there are a few nice stare downs with those doomed to die. However, the scene where the town’s senior doctor meets Seth is worth nothing. It’s the best and most chilling scene in the movie.

King Cobra is what it is, a low-budget monster movie made to cash in on the sensation that was Jaws. It was actually started before Anaconda, but production problems saw it released after the bigger budget movie. If you can watch it for free on Amazon Prime, it’ll just cost you 93 minutes of your life. If you live in the area and want to borrow my copy, I’ll put it out on the back porch for you. Social distancing is my jam.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff. Stay safe.

© 2020 Tony Isabella

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