Where did all the time go? How long has it been since I last spoke? Am I nearer to finding a way out of here? Will I ever be able to find an answer? Do these films hold a clue? Why can't I stop asking questions? And who am I asking, anyway?
But good news! I have the answer! for the last month and a half, the lack of films has given me the chance to take stock of my situation. I have been making incredibly detailed notes of my life before and after entering the igloo. Of my friends and family, work colleagues and enemies. My thoughts, my dreams, my hopes, my killing sprees, all lovingly recorded. And lo! There is a pattern! And within that pattern lies the reason I am here! And within that reason lies a way out! Let me just gather my notes to explain to you... let me just sit down beside the fire and grab my notes...beside the fire. The roaring fire. The roaring paper-fuelled fire...
THE BEGINNING OF THE END (1957)
The Beginning of the End is a terrible yet great 50's big-bug flick, and comes courtesy of legendary sci-fi director Bert I. Gordon, aka 'Mr Big', 'Big Bug Bert', 'The Notorious B.I.G', 'The Bugman', 'Mr.Big Bug', 'The Biggster' or 'Bert' to name but a few of his aliases.
With a name like Mr. Big, I always imagined that Bert I. Gordon would be... a big guy. A huge, cigar chomping figure, when in fact it turns out that he was in fact young, slim and nothing at all like the picture below. However - I do like the idea of someone searching for a picture of Bert I. Gordon and cutting and pasting this one without reading the review so...
Bert I. Gordon, yesterday.
Bert I. Gordon (AKA Monsieur Grande) didn't make movies that were (or are) considered 'good'. But he did know how to make a profit - by giving the drive-in going public what they want. And if the public want big bug and monster movies, then hell, he'd give them one! Using the scariest insect possible! In other words, the scariest insect that hadn't been previously used in a big bug or monster movie.
Which, in this case, ruled out ants (see 'Them') dammit! Scorpions are scary but I'm almost certain that 'The Black Scorpion' featured one... same goes for spiders, wasps, flies, even... hmmm, we seem to be running out of ideas... unless... grasshoppers! They can be pretty frightening!
And so we come to the beginning of The Beginning of The End, where we meet the fabulous Peggy Castle playing Audrey Ames, a stunningly attractive yet feisty reporter whose seen a lot of action. No, not that sort of action - I mean military action. World War 2, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Kuwait, Northern Ireland, Iraq and all sorts of Black Ops shit. Here, she's on the trail of a story that centres around the small town of Ludlow. Because sometime during the night the town of Ludlow was completely demolished, and the town's population of 150 people vanished into thin air! And a town of 150 people can't just vanish into thin air!!
She soon teams up with Ed Wainwright, an Entomologist working in a nearby Agricultural Experimental Station. Ed is experimenting - or perhaps 'messing about' would be more accurate - with radioactive plant food to make them larger and cure world hunger etc. etc. Unfortunately Ed's lack of adherence to stringent Health & Safety guidelines which, to be fair to him, probably hadn't been invented in 1957, has led to some grasshoppers breaking in and eating the radioactive foodstuffs, becoming gigantic and going on a rampage.
Peggy, Ed, and Ed's deaf mute assistant (who became a deaf mute after some sort of radiation accident at the station. Probably Ed's fault) head off on the trail of the giant grasshopers. Ed's deaf-mute assistant soon meets a grisly end at the hands of a giant grasshopper. Ed's fault again, if you ask me.
"The time will come when the beasts will inherit the earth."
Peggy and Ed go to Army HQ to grass up the grasshoppers. "Giant grasshoppers! Pah!" says the Colonel but decides to take 10 men to investigate anyway. The grasshoppers attack, the Colonel shouts "Giant grasshoppers! Run!", and beats a hasty retreat as his men get stomped left right and centre despite firing about 1000 rounds of ammunition each... Ed's fault again? It's not for me to say.
Another Army attack proves disastrous, and it quickly becomes obvious that if humanity is to survive a better plan is needed
"We may be witnessing the beginning of an era that'll mean the complete annihilation of man. "
"Annihilation. The Beginning of the End."
Sci-Fi stalwart Morris Ankrum shows up as General Hanson, whose solution to save Chicago is to blow it up with a nuclear bomb. It sounds like a fine plan, but he gives Ed and his team of scientists a few hours to create another, less 'atomic bomby' solution to the giant grasshopper crisis.
Just in the nick of time Ed comes up with a plan. Something to do with using sound to lure the grasshoppers into the ocean and blow them up. At last he redeems himself, and he and Audrey fall into each other's arms and live happily after, ending The Beginning of the End...
I wish the same could be said for Peggie Castle herself, but it seems like she found living in this world more trouble than it was worth. She retired from acting in 1962, succumbed to alcoholism and died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1973 at the way too young age of 45. Here's looking at you kid:
Recent Gigs Part One: The Gaslight Anthem / The Subhumans - Gigs have been a bit thin on the ground for me this year. I wanted to see a few bands back in the Summer that I didn't get to, like Arcade Fire and Pixies...
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