Despite beginning his career as a lawyer, Samuel Z. Arkoff — today’s Birthday Boy — wound up as a successful producer in the world of Hollywood. It’s true that your kids probably don’t know his name, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. After all, many of the movies Samuel Arkoff produced are kid-friendly and extremely entertaining (sometimes to the point that it’s fun to laugh at the bad effects of movies made in the 1950s). We’ve compiled a list of four of his movies that are definitely worth watching with your little ones. Although, now that Blockbuster is no longer in the picture, it might be hard to get your hands on a rent-able version. At the very least, we suggest hitting up YouTube to watch these hilarious — and slightly bizarre — trailers.
Invasion of the Saucer Men, 1957
In order to sum up this movie properly, it’s necessary to quote the trailer: “Naturally…Lovers’ Lane is full of frantic lovers. Unnaturally…the sky’s full of flying saucers!” That’s right — a set of teenagers claim they’ve seen flying saucers and aliens, but, of course, nobody believes them. The little alien men are, in classic 1950s’ style, too fake to be terrifying. In fact, they’re kind of cute when they waddle around, although that’s probably not what the director wants you to think. Sure, it’s about aliens, but it’s certainly harmless enough for your kids to enjoy.
Ski Party, 1965
Ah, young love. Ski Party is another addition to Arkoff’s classic Beach Party series, but this time — you might want to sit down for this — it’s about skiing instead of surfing. Ski Party is a welcome break from the monsters that sandwich it on this list. Two young men, Todd and Craig, pretend to be girls in order to spend more time with, well, girls. It’s a plot that has been done before and will undoubtedly be done again, but it’s certainly entertaining. And, get this, James Brown makes a smooth, he-can-dance-better-than-you-can appearance. Trust us — this is a movie you will enjoy just as much as your kids.
Yog: The Monster from Space, 1970
Yog, it turns out, is far more disgusting than the saucer men from 1957. In fact, out of the four movies on the list, this is probably the one that your smaller kids should avoid — especially if they have a weak stomach. Again, thanks to the astounding leaps in special effects over the past 40 years, your children will probably be well aware of the fact that the monster is fake. Actually, they’ll probably lean over and whisper something like, “Hey, mom, how’d they make that puppet so big?” Anyway, to put it simply, aliens have created monsters on an island as a means of taking over the world. There’s some violence, and some up-close and personal shots of a grotesque monster, but remember that the movie was made in the 1970s and, therefore, can’t be too scary.
The Land that Time Forgot, 1975
Perhaps more historically stable than the Yog and the Invasion of the Saucer Men, The Land that Time Forgot is set in World War I. Don’t worry — it’s not a war movie. Well, perhaps you could call it a war-against-dinosaurs movie. Or a war-against-prehistoric-men movie. But it’s nothing like Blackhawk Down or The Deer Hunter. A German U-boat gets lost and ends up on the land of Caprona — also known as the Land that Time Forgot — and those who had been aboard the submarine discover dinosaurs and neanderthals. It’s a bit like Jurassic Park. Well, no, it just also has dinosaurs. Nonetheless, check out the trailer and see what you think.
Of course, Arkoff made far more movies than just these four, but we figured we’d give you a guide to his more kid-friendly flicks so you can enjoy his birthday with your little ones. Unfortunately, Arkoff passed away in 2001, but his legacy lives on in the form of dinosaurs, Yog, and multiple sets of small alien men.