Blu Release – 4/5
Monster a Go-Go
Director(s) – Bill Rebane (The Capture of Bigfoot, Twister’s Revenge) and Herschell Gordon Lewis (Moonshine Mountain, Scum of the Earth)
Starring – Philip Morton (TerrorVision, Viewer Discretion Advised), June Travis (The Case of the Black Cat, The Gladiator), and George Perry
Release Date – 1965
Rating – 2.5/5
Tagline – “An astronaut went up… a “guess what” came down!”
I think we are in the golden age of movie collecting. We have so many boutique labels bringing us movies in high definition that would normally never see the light of day. I’m not talking Evil Dead and Dawn of the Dead getting another re-release on a different format but movies I’ve never heard of getting remastered and restored for the first time since their theatrical release.
A few weeks ago Arrow Video announced the release of the Bill Rebane box set called Weird Wisconsin. I was really intrigued by this. Up to this point the only Rebane film that I had seen was Blood Harvest which was released by Vinegar Syndrome. Not long after the announcement of this release I received the blus to review from my friends over at MVD. I couldn’t wait to dig into it so I started with 1965’s Monster a Go-Go.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows an astronaut that crashes back to Earth in his shuttle but they are unable to retrieve his body. They suspect he perished in the crash but when bodies are discovered drained of life they suspect that he lived and is mutated by the radiation he was exposed to while in space. **Spoiler Alert**
Blood Harvest is an extremely rough slasher but the cheesy and campiness of the film makes for a very fun movie experience. I was hoping that even though these films are twenty some odd years apart that the cheesy would still be as entertaining here as it was in Blood Harvest. Sadly, it wasn’t. Monster a Go-Go is not a bad film but it’s not as fun either. It’s a bit slow, predictable, and lackluster.
The acting in this one is solid enough but far from perfect. The characters are very cliched and flat but they work well enough for the story. The cast is dedicated to their roll but their performances do come up a little short at times. The story for this one is one we have seen many times before especially by 1965. An astronaut returning to Earth mutated is nothing we haven’t seen before especially in sci-fi films of the 50s and 60s. Because of this the film is rather predictable but it does offer up some fun even if you know exactly where it’s going.
Finally, the film has several deaths that take place off screen. No blood or gore for this one but we do get some make-up effects that makes the scene work. It’s nothing spectacular but they do their job. Overall, Monster a Go-Go is far from perfect. Its a fun one for a first time watch but you have to be open to it. It’s predictable but not THAT bad.
Invasion from Inner Earth
Director – Bill Rebane (Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, The Giant Spider Invasion)
Starring – Paul Bentzen (The Alpha Incident, The Demons of Ludlow), Debbi Pick, and Nick Holt (Bigfoot and Wildboy, The Next Step Beyond)
Release Date – 1974
Rating – 3.5/5
Tagline – “They’ve been waiting millions of years for this moment”
It looks like I may or may not have my work cut out for me as I dig through this Bill Rebane Weird Wisconsin box set that was sent my way from MVD and Arrow Video. I started my Rebane movie marathon with Monster a Go-Go which wasn’t too bad but wasn’t what I was expecting. When it was over I immediately hit play on the second film in the second set which was 1974’s Invasion from Inner Earth. What a contrast to the first film this one was. Honestly, I loved it and this really got my hopes up for the following films.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows a group traveling by plane when they encounter some strange sites like the air traffic controller telling them that everyone is dead. They are able to land and make it to a cabin which is remote and located deep in the snow covered mountains. While they try to piece together what is going on one of them suspects that aliens are responsible but they soon discover that the attack on mankind came from within the Earth and not from space. **Spoiler Alert**
I didn’t know what to expect from Invasion from Inner Earth but this one really surprised me. I grew up on post-apocalyptic horror and sci-fi tales and this one was one of the better ones. It had a Dawn of the Dead look while having a deep dive sci-fi basis. I loved it and could see myself digging into it again. It’s the atmosphere that made this one so much fun.
The acting in this one is surprisingly well done. The characters do feel a little cheesy and cliched for the most part but the cast does a surprisingly solid job in their performances. It’s the characters that make this one so enjoyable. Though the characters are generic and cliched they still fit with the story very well which makes it that more entertaining.
The story for this one is one we haven’t seen before but it does have a unique spin to it. Decades before the 70s we had horror and sci-fi flicks where the worlds population was wiped out by disease, aliens, comets, and so forth. However, there wasn’t many horror tales before then that featured the hollowed Earth theory. Though this was just a tiny part of the story it was still the basis for the entire film and I enjoyed that aspect. I loved the set up of the film following the survivors as they were secluded in the woods surrounded by snow with no food. It created a very claustrophobic setting that made the film work in my opinion. I enjoyed it and even though it was simple it was still very story rich.
Finally, the film has some deaths but they are mostly off screen with no blood or gore. The movie has a made for television quality about it which would explain the lack of blood and gore. Overall, Invasion from Inner Earth was very enjoyable. It was cheap and far from perfect but I really liked this one. Fans of 70s post-apocalyptic sci-fi tales will enjoy this one. It’s well worth it.
The Alpha Incident
Director – Bill Rebane (Blood Harvest, Twister’s Revenge)
Starring – Ralph Meeker (The Dirty Dozen, The Food of the Gods), Stafford Morgan (The Witch Who Came from the Sea, Cleopatra Jones), and John F. Goff (The Fog, They Live)
Release Date – 1978
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “It was a gift from the red planet… Uncle Sam had the ultimate solution”
My Bill Rebane marathon has now reached the halfway mark. So far I haven’t been disappointed. Sure, Monster a Go-Go could have been better but I’ve seen a hell of a lot worse horror titles out there. However, I was really surprised by Invasion from Inner Earth. I really liked that one which made me even more excited to go deeper into the Weird Wisconsin set. The next film in the set was The Alpha Incident which has an amazing poster. Most vintage posters do a poor job at stirring imagination but I fucking loved the artwork on the poster and this was a solid entry in the box set as well.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the employees of a train station who are forced to quarantine when the conductor of a train carrying a microorganism from space accidentally breaks open a vial. Tension builds as the staff becomes uncooperative with the scientist accompanying the shipment forces them to stay in the station against their will. **Spoiler Alert**
The Alpha Incident is not as fun as Invasion from Inner Earth but I enjoyed it. It’s a small scale thriller that features a simple story and great acting. It’s not the most memorable film in the set but it works for a first time watch. The acting in this one is very well done. I really enjoyed the wide range of characters. The cast does a phenomenal job at bringing them all to life. With that being said, they are very plain and generic but they fit the film very well.
The story for this one is simple but it works for the scenario that we get. I really enjoyed the small setting the film takes place in and the suspense really makes it stand out. It does get dull at times but if you stick with it the pay off is worth it. Finally, the film doesn’t have a high body count but we do get one very enjoyable death that I’m still thinking about. The practical effects are a little on the goofy side but this death scene was worth it. I truly enjoyed it and wish the film had several more just like it. Overall, The Alpha Incident is a slow burn and very dialogue rich but I really enjoyed it. Some of the bulk could have been cut from this one but it’s fun as is. I highly recommend it.
The Demons of Ludlow
Director – Bill Rebane (The Alpha Incident, Invasion from Inner Earth)
Starring – Paul Bentzen (The Devonsville Terror, The Godfather of Green Bay), Stephanie Cushna (Stingray, Hunter), and Carol Perry (The Game)
Release Date – 1983
Rating – 3/5
Tagline – “Can you escape the curse of Ludlow?”
When I started Weird Wisconsin I was really looking forward to The Demons of Ludlow. This is one of the notoriously bad Bill Rebane flicks that I’ve seen others in the various horror groups bash for sometime now. The artwork was fun for this one but I was really excited at digging into one of his mostly disliked films. With that being said, when it was all said and done I actually enjoyed this one. Sure, it was bad but I enjoyed it.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows the small town Ludlow who is cursed stemming back to when it was first founded during colonial times. As the town celebrates their bicentennial the local preacher is hellbent on warning the people about the evil spirits that live in an old piano. **Spoiler Alert**
The Demons of Ludlow felt like a made for television movie that gave me the same vibes as Mr. Boogedy. It’s cheap and cheesy as fuck but most of you know that this is the kind of movie that I really enjoy. The aesthetics and horrible acting made for a fun experience that I truly enjoyed. It’s not going to be for everyone but if you like campy 80s horror then you wont find a campier 80s movie than The Demons of Ludlow.
The acting in this one was not as good as the previous films in the set. The cast is very inconsistent. They would deliver solider performances in some scenes while other scenes were very dull and lackluster. When you mix that with the generic characters you get a film full of fairly forgettable scenes. The story for this one is what really pulled me in. If the cast was a little better or directed it would have been one hell of a film. We get a haunted house style story with pilgrims (?) living in a piano who come back for revenge on the families that did them wrong. This was very different and another reason I was continuously thinking about the film Mr. Boogedy. I loved the story and the pacing was actually fairly well done.
Finally, the film has some bloody moments with some very cheap practical effects. The effects in this one are nothing like the others films of the time. They were very cheap and amateurish but they fit the film oddly enough. Don’t expect gore but you will get a fun decapitation. Overall, The Demons of Ludlow is not as atmospheric as the previous two films but it had it’s own charm. It’s shitty but a fun kind of shitty. I recommend it.
Director – Bill Rebane (Monster a Go-Go, The Alpha Incident)
Starring – Tom Blair (The Fury, Sure Fire), Jim Iaquinta (Rana: The Legend of Shadow Lake, The LEgend Trip), and Carol Perry (The Demons of Ludlow)
Release Date – 1984
Rating – 2/5
Tagline – “In this hotel they check you out in a box”
I was only familiar with Rebane’s film Blood Harvest and Rana prior to going into the Weird Wisconsin box set. In fact, I had no idea he helmed Rana until I was on his imdb page working on my reviews for the previous films. Though I only knew so little about him prior to this I still had heard about bad most of his films were.
His reputation aside, I actually had fun with The Alpha Incident, Invasion from Inner Earth, and The Demons of Ludlow. Monster a Go-Go wasn’t entirely bad but it’s one I probably will never watch again. The turning point in this set is 1984’s The Game. This movie was just a mess and, much like The Demons of Ludlow, feels like a made for television movie.
**Spoiler alert** The film follows three wealthy people who run an annual competition inviting over a random assortment of people to stay in the mansion and see if they can last while the three scare the wits out of them. The game has went smoothly for several years but this time around someone is killing the guests behind their backs. **Spoiler Alert**
The Game started out with the similar look of The Demons of Ludlow so I was really excited about that. However, the film quickly went south with laughable acting, a chaotic story, and no pay off. I feel like this may have been two stories that were quickly written together and rushed into development to get a movie out there. Regardless, I don’t see Twister’s Revenge being this bad so this has to be the low point of the set.
The acting in this one is bad. The fake southern draw, the laughable dialogue, the overreacting. The cast has no direction and the scenes suffer from it. I try to find something positive when I review a movie but there is nothing positive when it comes to the acting in this one. The story for this one could have been an extremely fun one if the film would have went all in. Instead, it’s extremely messy and difficult to follow. There is too many character arcs and the editing makes the movie jump around to the point it feels like you are watching episodes of a television show edited together.
Finally, the film has some creature effects that I enjoyed but if you want a bloody flick this is not for you. The made for television look strikes again when it comes to the red stuff. Overall, The Game is the bottom of the barrel so to speak. It was a tough one to finish and by far the worst film in the set. Skip it.
Director – Bill Rebane (Blood Harvest, Monster a Go-Go)
Starring – Dean West (Blood Harvest), Meredith Orr, and David Alan Smith (Sons of Anarchy, Desolate)
Release Date – 1988
Rating – 2.5/5
Here we are. After several days I’m finally at the end of my Bill Rebane marathon. The Weird Wisconsin box set from Arrow Video has some ups and downs but I would be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy myself. Invasion from Inner Earth is, hands down, my favorite in the set but The Alpha Incident and The Demons of Ludlow were still solid films.
Monster a Go-Go had some moments but missed it’s mark while The Game was almost unwatchable. Now, I move on to the final film in the set, Twister’s Revenge. This is the only film in the set not labelled a horror title. Instead, this sci-fi comedy is a completely different film in tone of style and atmosphere. It fell short but still had some fun moments.
**Spoiler Alert** The film follows three idiots who are trying to score some serious cash when they hear that a man and his future wife has put an extremely expensive computer in his monster truck. However, when they try to steal the computer they learn that the monster truck is equipped with state of the art A.I. and is sentient. In the heat of the moment they decide to kidnap the man’s wife instead. The man and the truck team up to get her back. **Spoiler Alert**
Honestly, when I got this set in for review I just assumed that Twister’s Revenge would be the shittiest movie in the set but it wasn’t. Hell, there was even times I enjoyed this odd little flick. I don’t want to watch it again unless I was heavily intoxicated but I had fun with it to an extent.
The acting in this one is funny which makes the film as funny as it is but it does get bad at times. The characters are what makes this one as fun as it is but there is some scenes that left me wondering where the director was when they went through their lines.
The story for this one is so far out there but it has it’s moments. A killer vehicle with a mind of it’s own is nothing new even in 1988. However, this hixploitation spin on it could have been so much more fun than it was. The movie relies too much on the bumbling idiots instead of the truck which becomes a bit dull at times. It’s a bit repetitive at times but there was some fun moments.
Finally, the film isn’t a bloody one. We have some monster truck fun and a few laughs but no blood or gore. Overall, Twister’s Revenge is not as bad as you would expect but its extremely difficult to watch at times with some laughs scattered throughout. It’s worth at least one watch.
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
Six Bill Rebane films, all newly restored from the best surviving film elements: Monster A Go-Go (1965), Invasion from Inner Earth (1974), The Alpha Incident (1978), The Demons Of Ludlow (1983), The Game (1984), Twister’s Revenge (1988)
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentations on 4 Blu-ray discs
Original uncompressed mono audio for all films
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Straight Shooter, a multi-part interview with director Bill Rebane about the making and release of each film in the set
Who is Bill Rebane? A definitive brand new feature length documentary by historian and critic David Cairns, featuring contributions from filmmakers, fans, historians, critics, and the cast and crew who worked with Bill Rebane [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
Fully illustrated 60-page collector’s booklet featuring extensive new writing by historian and critic Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of Exploitation Independents [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
Reversible poster featuring newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
Reversible sleeves featuring newly commissioned artwork for each of the films by The Twins of Evil
DISC ONE – MONSTER A GO-GO + INVASION FROM INNER EARTH
Straight Shooter Part 1 and Part 2, two newly filmed interviews about the making of Monster A Go-Go and Invasion from Inner Earth with director Bill Rebane
Brand new interview with historian and critic Kim Newman about the films of Bill Rebane
Twist Craze, and Dance Craze, two early short films by Bill Rebane
Kidnap Extortion (1973), a newly restored industrial short directed by Bill Rebane
Stills and Promotional Gallery
DISC TWO – THE ALPHA INCIDENT + THE DEMONS OF LUDLOW
Straight Shooter Part 3 and Part 4, two newly filmed interviews about the making of The Alpha Incident and The Demons of Ludlow with director Bill Rebane
Rebane’s Key Largo, a brand new visual essay by historian and critic Richard Harland Smith
The Alpha Incident original trailer
The Demons of Ludlow original trailer
Stills and Promotional Gallery
DISC THREE – THE GAME + TWISTER’S REVENGE
Two presentations of The Game (aka The Cold) in 1.85 and 1.33 aspect ratio
Straight Shooter Part 5 and Part 6, two newly filmed interviews about the making of The Game and Twister’s Revenge with director Bill Rebane
Discovering Bill Rebane, brand new presentation by historian & critic Stephen R. Bissette about his personal connections with the films of Bill Rebane and their importance to regional film making in America
The Game original trailer
Twister’s Revenge original trailer
Stills and Promotional Gallery
DISC FOUR – WHO IS BILL REBANE? (2021) + BONUS
Who is Bill Rebane? Exclusive new feature length documentary by historian and critic David Cairns on the life and work of the Wisconsin auteur, featuring historians, critics, filmmakers, plus cast and crew members who worked with Bill Rebane
King of the Wild Frontier a new almost two-hour impassioned conversation with historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette about the films of Bill Rebane
Invasion from Inner Earth outtakes from the shoot
The Alpha Incident outtakes from the shoot
The Demons of Ludlow outtakes from the shoot
The Giant Spider Invasion original trailer
Gallery of Behind the Scenes stills
Stills and Promotional Galleries for the rest of Rebane’s filmography