So without further adieu…
TOP TEN JOHN AGAR SCI-FI FILMS
10. Night Fright (1967)
A secret military rocket crashes in the woods, and a couple of teenagers are murdered nearby shortly afterwards. Local sheriff Clint Crawford (John Agar) heads out to investigate. It turns out some type of creature has escaped from the rocket, and is killing off locals – and it’s up to none other than our boy John Agar to put a stop to it!
One thing I like about this movie is it has a bona fide monster in it. Sure, maybe we never get a good look at it, and maybe the scenes featuring this monster are poorly lit, and maybe the monster is nothing more than a man in a cheap monster suit… but that’s all part of the charm of Night Fright.
I have a personal soft spot for this one. There may be some John Agar science fiction films that didn’t make this list that are technically better, but I find this one a lot of fun. It is a b-movie of the highest b-movie degree -Low budget filmmaking, acting, script, and costuming, especially where the monster is concerned.
9. Journey to the Seventh Planet (1962) –
Another science fiction b-movie that is considered a real dog by many, a gem by others. In this one a United Nations space ship is headed for exploration of the planet Uranus. They land on the planet and find not the inhospitable gaseous environment they expected, but instead a lush forest and breathable atmosphere. They also discover this planet has sprung right from the mind of one of the crew members, as it is a recreation of woods he played in as a child. They quickly figure out that things from their imagination come to life, and our boy John begins conjuring up hotties from his past. Hubba hubba! All of this is too good to be true, of course, and the culprit behind it all is a giant one-eyed brain creature that wants to take over the Earth.
This is cheesy sci-fi at its best, the kind of movies you’d see on the tee-vee any given Saturday back when I was a kid. Man I miss these types of movies. Corny space costumes, blinking light control panels, stiff dialogue, bad special effects, and monsters. What more could a kid ask for?
8. Invisible invaders (1959)
Attack of the Johns here, as both Agar and Carradine appear in this one. Humans have become too much of a threat, what with their bombs, radiation and nuclear tests. Invisible aliens from outer space (actually the moon, where they have lived for thousands of years unbeknownst to humans) have invaded the Earth, intent on taking over and killing all humans. They are invisible in our atmosphere, and able to possess the bodies of the dead and control them.
This was made actually one year AFTER Plan 9 – could it be possible they lifted plot ideas from Ed Wood? John Agar plays Major Bruce Jay, and it’s up to him to stop this alien threat. Good b-movie science fiction fare here – aliens, zombies, John Carradine and John Agar – what’s not to like?
7. Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957)
This one was directed by Edgar Ulmer (The Black Cat) and stars John Agar and Gloria Talbott. An orphaned woman is bringing her fiancé home on her 21st birthday. She is told that she is actually the daughter of the infamous Dr. Jekyll. Soon thereafter a series of murders begin to occur, and she suspects that she has somehow inherited her father’s curse – kind of like a cross between werewolfism and a Jekyll and Hyde transformation. And why not – after all, they’re both really the same story from different angles, aren’t they?
This is probably the closest thing that Agar came to an actual horror movie (at least in those where he played a lead role), besides cameos in movies late in his career. Good movie with atmosphere, monsters, and a mystery to boot.
6. Attack of the Puppet People (1958)
Director Bert I. Gordon (Amazing Colossal Man) steers us squarely back into mad scientist territory here – a lonely scientist/doll maker creates a machine that can shrink living beings. He keeps them in suspended animation in tiny glass jars, taking them out like little living dolls for his own amusement when bored. Among those he shrinks are his new secretary, Sally (June Kenny), and her fiancé, Bob (John Agar). That was his first mistake. You just know John ain’t gonna take this without a fight!
Ridiculous rubber science fun in this movie – Ole Gordon had a real thing for shrinking and enlarging, didn’t he?
5. Hand of Death (1962)
I love this movie. In it John Agar plays a scientist named Alex Marsh. He develops a new nerve gas when there is an accident in the lab and he’s exposed to the gas. His body becomes a lethal weapon, killing anyone it comes in contact with… and even worse, it causes him to transform into a hideous creature that looks just like the Thing from Marvel’s Fantastic Four! He goes mad, (yet another fun little side effect of this nerve agent) and runs on a rampage in Los Angeles. The police work with his fiancée to try to stop him before it’s too late…
This movie was thought to be a lost film for years until a print surfaced. Still somewhat rare, it is a fun film. Agar transforms into a monster, one of the few times he doesn’t play the dashing lead.
4. The Mole People (1956)
Agar teams up with Ward Cleaver (Hugh Beaumont) in this Universal not so classic. Archaeologists (Agar and Beaumont) working on a remote mountain stumble upon a lost civilization buried deep within the mountain in a series of caves. There they find a race of albino humans who have slaves called The Mole Men – human forms, with monster heads and hands, they are a subjugated, mistreated race. Beaumont and Agar eventually lead the Mole Men in revolution against their captors, and try to escape back to the surface.
This is a lesser known Universal movie that has a really cool looking monster in the Mole Men. Bud Westmore was the makeup man on this one, and I really love the Mole Men’s look, especially when they come crawling up out of the ground.
3. Revenge of the Creature (1955)
1955 was a big year for John Agar, as he appeared in not one but two Universal movies that would go on to become classics. This is one of them – in this, the first sequel to Creature from the Black Lagoon, John Agar plays scientist Clete Ferguson. He and a group of scientists head back to the Black Lagoon to capture the creature. Among this group are fellow scientists Helen Dobson (Lori Nelson) and Joe Hays (John Bromfield). They manage to to capture the creature and return with it to the Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in Florida. Along the way Helen falls for the charms of Clete (naturally). But he isn’t the only one, as the creature himself has taken a hankering for Helen, and wants to show her some good old fashioned prehistoric lovin’.
GREAT movie that many believe superior to the original. I personally don’t subscribe to that theory, but then this one does have John Agar, so maybe there is something to that, after all… and a cameo by none other than Clint Eastwood himself!
2. The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) – John plays a scientist (I’m sensing a trend here) named Steve March. He’s conducting field work in the desert when he encounters an evil alien entity named Gor. Gor is a malevolent floating brain with glowing eyes that enters March’s body, possessing him. This alien is bad – and horny. He delights in the female variety of humans, and has incredible destructive telekinetic powers to boot. Will Agar be able to escape the clutches and control of Gor?
In many ways this is the ultimate John Agar film! John gets to chew some serious scenery in this one and makes the most of it, hamming it up and giving a true over the top performance. The alien is a giant, floating brain with glowing eyes! Amazing! Agar does such a great job playing the evil/possessed March that you can really tell he was enjoying the part. A must-see for Agar fans!
1. Tarantula (1955)
Tarantula is directed by the great Jack Arnold (Creature from the Black Lagoon, Incredible Shrinking Man, It Came from Outer Space). Another mad science movie, the mad scientist this time is played by Leo G. Carroll as Professor Gerald Deemer. He has created a special nutrient to help with the world’s food shortage. Problem is he has also been experimenting on a variety of live subjects as well. Among these is a tarantula that escapes into the wilderness and continues to grow to gigantic proportions. It is up to Agar (the town doctor), and Corday (the professor’s assistant), to stop this creature. They get an unexpected hand from none other than Clint Eastwood and the Air Force! Clint Eastwood and Agar together - what creature could hope to survive such odds? None, that is a certainty!
When I sat down to make this list there was no doubt what my top film would be. For my money this is by far the best sci-fi movie Agar ever made, if not the best overall movie. Highly recommended, this is probably my favorite giant monster movie.