Category: 1965


Jackie Coogan (1914-84)

Jackie Coogan (1914-84)

In our last poster collection we ran into Jackie Coogan in Mesa of Lost Women (1953); here are several of his other films. Best known as “Uncle Fester” from the original Addams Family sit-com (1964-66), he was, however, on film from 1919 to 1984, after being discovered by Charlie Chaplin himself when Coogan was just 5 years old.

Exploitation fans will note his role in a couple “teenage angst” films of the 50s, some shlocky sci-fi, some awful sex comedies in the 50s and 60s, and finally turning toward horror in the twilight of his career. He passed away in 1984 at the age of 69 after a heart attack.

Also, Yvonne Craig's first film--you know her as Batgirl from the 1960s Batman series.

1957. Also, Yvonne Craig’s first film–you know her as Batgirl from the 1960s Batman series.

Evidently, the term "weedhead" did not stick.

1958. Evidently, the term “weedhead” did not stick.

Another Jack Arnold joint--he also directed High School Confidential, It Came From Outer Space, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

1958. Another Jack Arnold joint–he also directed High School Confidential (1958), The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954), and It Came From Outer Space (1953).

Starring the quite white Julie London as the biracial wife.

1959. AKA, The Color of Her Skin, also stars the quite white Julie London as the biracial wife.

When seen in the original theatrical release, audience members were given free "beatnik dictionaries", to decipher "beat" terms and catch-phrases.

1959. When seen in the original theatrical release, audience members were given free “beatnik dictionaries”, to decipher “beat” terms and catch-phrases.

AKA: Teacher vs. Sexpot; The Beauty and the Robot; Sexpot Goes to College; and Teacher Was a Sexpot. All could be porn parodies today.

1960. AKA: Teacher vs. Sexpot; The Beauty and the Robot; Sexpot Goes to College; and Teacher Was a Sexpot. All could be porn parodies today.

First B-movie comedy to riff on Castro, only one to make it a comedy. If by "Girls Take Over" you mean girls are present a party for some soldier dudes in last 15 minutes of the film, then this is aptly named.

1962. First B-movie comedy to riff on Castro, only one to make it a comedy. If by “Girls Take Over” you mean girls are present a party for some soldier dudes in last 15 minutes of the film, then this is aptly named.

Film release delayed for three months when Note Dame University took studio to court for using NDU's name.

1965. Film release delayed for three months when Note Dame University took studio to court for using NDU’s name. Written by William Peter Blatty.

Briefly, a "Video Nasty."

1979. Briefly, a “Video Nasty.”

Coogan's last project, shot in 1978, but not released until '84.

1984. Coogan’s last project, shot in 1978, but not released until ’84.

beachgirls2lc5

If you’ve not seen these, drop what you’re doing and find them RIGHT NOW.

Anti-Film School

drive-in-theater-30

Today, a little over three hundred drive-in movie theaters remain sprinkled throughout the United States. This means that many Americans are not lucky enough to have a drive-in movie theater close by their home. In the drive-in’s heyday, small production companies would release B-movies tailor-made for the drive-in audience. There was everything from angry extraterrestrials to hip-shaking teenage beach parties, all of which are now enjoyed for their campy special effects and corny performances. Today, many of these films are available on DVD, Blu-ray, or Netflix, and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your couch. If you’re someone without the luxury of a drive-in theater nearby, you can create your own drive-in movie night right at home. Just grab any one of these out-of-this-world flicks, pop some pop corn, cook up a few hot dogs on the grill, grab a date or the kids, throw open the living room…

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Now here’s a classic film, we should see more of: 1960’s The Playgirls and the Vampire, is an early Italian exploitation/horror gem that is notable mainly for showing several attractive young Italian women running in terror through a castle in their see-through nighties. Blogger B2 claims it was the first Italian horror film to mix horror and nudity. More was definitely to come! Maybe bold for its time a half-century ago, its formula has been aped ad nauseum ever since:

You can watch the whole thing here, courtesy of AMC.

Not much to say about the film itself that has not already been said: it’s not a good film, it plods along at a dull pace, and but is interesting nevertheless for being an early horror film, and if you can get into it; it can be a lot of fun for its short run time of 76 minutes.  What I find most interesting here is its context.

Playgirls is an interesting example of a trend mentioned by Danny Shipka–of why early Italian horror films were (arguably) slow to develop:

The Italian population, still reeling from the atrocities of World War II, were unprepared to be taken [back to a] place of horror and despair in their exploitation films.

Here's your Velvet Elvis of Playgirl Maria Giovannini. No, I didn't create this.

Here’s your Velvet Elvis of Playgirl Maria Giovannini. No, I didn’t create this, but there’s more here.

Indeed, looking over the bios of the entire cast, crew, and producers of this film shows–if IMDB is complete, a bigger if for foreign films of this vintage and obscurity–that only one actor was active in the Italian film industry during the war (Alfredo Rizzo, would have been in his late 30s when the war started, and he only made two films during the war). Others–if they were old enough at the time to be employed, only became active in the film industry after the war. Obviously, the war displaced most of the Italian economy and social life, including its famous film industry, and we might assume that the cast and crew of Playgirls were doing other things–like surviving–during the war.

Given the ages of most cast members, it’s reasonable to assume that the war was a childhood experience and memory for most of the them–the “Playgirls” for which we have birth year information (Maria Giovannini, later a well known star of Italian soaps in the late-1950s, and Lyla Rocco) were between 2 and 6 years old at the outbreak of the war.

Lyla Rocco, c. 1953. She later married popular Italian actor Alberto Lupo, and helped him recover from a stroke in 1976 for him to return to television in 1978.

Lyla Rocco, c. 1953. She later married popular Italian actor Alberto Lupo, and helped him recover from a stroke in 1976 for him to return to television in 1978.

Playgirls was directed by the late Piero Regnoli–who was 21 at the start of World War II, and who only passed away in 2001. Regnoli was better known as a screenwriter, who wrote more than 100 screenplays between the 1950s and the early 1990s, the most notable of which were I, Vampiri (1956), directed by Mario Bava–whose centenary is this year–and the Lucio Fulci classic Demonia (1990).

Fun fact: Regnoli’s daughter is the world-class skiing champion, Daniela Ceccarelli,  who earned a gold medal in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Lastly, looking at the filmographies of the cast and crew, we see that subsets of the Playgirls cast also are seen in the following films:

The two leading men of Playgirls–vampire Walter Brandi, and the aforementioned Alfredo Rizzo–also appeared together in Bloody Pit of Horror (1965) and Terror, Creature from the Grave (with Barbara Steele), also from ’65:

hawk-of-the-caribbean-movie-poster-1963-1020360989Regnoli wrote and directed the financially troubled Caribbean Hawk (1963), which featured Brandi as a pirate; while Brandi and Marisa Quattrini were both in the better known 1960 Italian horror film featuring a group of dancers entering a vampire’s castle, The Vampire and the Ballerina:

So, in sum, spend some time with Playgirls, and then jump off from there to other work this cast and crew of done–together or separately–since, which is what I’ll be researching and writing about here for the foreseeable future!

Faster pussycatI took a week off, but we’re back.  The “right side” of the original bracket is decided: Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) has beat out all the competition over there, especially I Drink Your Blood (1970); She-Devils On Wheels (1968); Blacula (1972); and Ilsa, She-Devil of the SS (1975), which Faster took on directly.

This week, we wrap on the “Left Side” conference pitting two real works of art against one another. These are different kinds of movies from different eras, so a hard choice.  The winner takes on the Russ Meyers masterpiece of exploitation, above:

See you next week for the last match-up!

 

We’ve arrived, after a fashion, at our final five films, as chosen mainly by you. I say “mainly,” because one match-up that had originally ended up in a tie was re-competed, and ended up in a tie once again. To keep things moving along, I’ve made an executive decision in favor of one film.  Somehow, I doubt you’ll mind.  Because this match-up has lingered a bit, it’s thrown off our nice even numbers, so we have a final five, not final four.  Again, I doubt you mind terribly.

At any rate, here are your Final Five:

1. Black Sunday (1960), after tying with The Day the Earth Stood Still, twice.

2. The Thing (1982), after beating Witchfinder General (1968) 3 votes to 2.

3. I Drink Your Blood (1970) beat The Exorcist (1973) in a 4-0 shutout, the second shutout for IDYB in as many rounds!

4. Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) finally put an end to the reign of terror wreaked by She-Devil on Wheels (1968).

5. Carnival of Souls (1962) is still patiently waiting after beating Grizzly (1976) a couple rounds ago.

So here are this week’s match-ups, awaiting your consideration:

1960s Horror!

Go ahead, watch the whole thing!

The winner of this match takes on The Thing!

Exploitation Championship!

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xmmnfs_i-drink-your-blood_shortfilms

Do yourself a favor while you make up your mind, and give the Badasses, Boobs, and Bodycounts podcast a listen–it’s most recent episode covers this one.

The winner of the round will be our “right side” conference champ, fwiw.

I’m loving, loving, the fact that as our little contest winds down, that the most recent movie still in contention, The Thing, is 32 years old.  Also, how is it the The Thing is 32 years old already?!

This week something happened in Match-Up 6 that I had not anticipated: a tie.  So, we’ll re-compete that one (Day the Earth Stood Still vs. Black Sunday).  Also, the first shut-outs of our competition so far!  Here’s how it shook out last week:

Day the Earth Stood Still–1 vote (50%)
Black Sunday (this week’s “Movie of the Week,” coincidentally)–1 vote (50%)

Carnival of Souls–4 votes (100%)
Grizzly

The Thing–3 votes (100%)
The Birds

Witchfinder General–2 votes (67%)
Them!–1 vote (33%)

I Drink Your Blood–3 votes (100%)
Christine

The Exorcist–3 votes (75%)
ThanksKilling–1 vote (25%)

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!–3 votes (75%)
Blacula–1 vote (25%)

She-Devils on Wheels–3 votes (75%)
Toxic Avenger–1 vote (25%)

All of the above carnage brings us here.  So, here are this week’s matches:

The Re-Match!

Kurt Russell or Vincent Price?

Satan/ists!

Exploitation-palooza!

Next time, Final Four!

godzilla_2014_poster_51784To celebrate the release of the highly anticipated Godzilla film this weekend, here are the trailers of 29 previous Toho films. I don’t include non-Toho films here, especially the highly-despised 1998 Matthew Broderick version, and I’m not a kaiju-guru enough to know if this list is complete.  But it at least gets us a good start to appreciate Godzilla’s long heritage.

1.  Godzilla (Gojira), 1954

2. Godzilla Raids Again, 1955

3. King Kong vs. Godzilla, 1962

4. Godzilla vs. The Thing, 1964

5. Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster, 1964

6.  Invasion of Astro-Monster (Godzilla vs. Monster Zero), 1965

7. Ebirah, Monster of the Deep (Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster), 1966

8. Son of Godzilla, 1967

9. Destroy All Monsters, 1968

10. Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster), 1971

11. Godzilla vs. Gigan, 1972

12. Godzilla vs. Megalon, 1973

13. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, 1974

14. Terror of Mechagodzilla, 1975

15. Return of Godzilla, 1984

16. Godzilla vs. Biollante, 1989

17. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, 1991

18. Godzilla vs. Mothra (Godzilla & Mothra: Battle For Earth), 1992

19. Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla 2, 1993

20. Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, 1994

21. Godzilla vs. Destroyah, 1995

22. Godzilla 2000: Millennium, 1999

23. Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, 2000

24. Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack, 2001

25. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, 2002

26. Godzilla Tokyo SOS, 2003

27. Godzilla Final Wars, 2004

At this point, we’ve eliminated half of the films we started with, and have arrived at our Sweet 16! But before we get to that story, I have to go over this story–how Match-Up 4 shook out.

This Story 

Match-up 4 had about half the votes of 3, which is fine, and here’s how it all went down:

Hi-Brow vs. Low-Brow Horror

The Birds (1963)–3 votes (60%)
Night of the Lepus (1972)–2 votes (40%)

Come All Ye Witchfinders!

Witchfinder General (1968)–3 votes (60%)
Mark of the Devil (1970)–2 votes (40%)

Possessions ‘R Us

The Exorcist (1973)–3 votes (60%)
The Devil Rides Out (1968)–2 votes (40%)

Exploitations’ Best Leading Ladies

Faster Pussycat, Kill! Kill! (1965)–3 votes (60%)
Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS (1975)–2 votes (40%)

That Story

So, with these we have our Sweet 16.  This week we’ll work through these eight matches, so we can get at a Final Four next time out:

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951):

vs.

Black Sunday (1960)

Grizzly (1976)

vs.

Carnival of Souls (1962)

The Thing (1982)

vs.

The Birds (1963)

Them! (1954)

vs.

Witchfinder General (1968)

Christine (1983)

vs.

I Drink Your Blood (1970)

ThanksKilling (2009)

vs.

The Exorcist (1973)

Blacula (1972)

vs.

Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)

Toxic Avenger (1984)

vs.

She-Devils on Wheels (1968)

Happy Voting, see you at the Elite Eight next week!

I’m a little late this week–I was out of town for a bit last week.  Here’s how Match-Up 3 fared:

1960s Horror Pioneers

  • Carnival of Souls (1962)–6 votes (67%)
  • Blood Feast (1963)–3 votes (33%)

John Carpenter Bake-Off!

I really expected this result to be the opposite of what we got here:

  • The Thing (1982)–6 votes (60%)
  • The Fog (1980)–4 votes (40%)

Contemporary Zero-Budget Nightmares

  • Thankskilling (2009)–3 votes (60%)
  • Birdemic (2010)–2 votes (40%)

Blaxploitation Still Rules

To many, Shaft is the King of Blaxploitation, but Blacula seems to be the prince of campy blaxploitation.  Camp wins every time.

  • Blacula (1972)–9 votes (82%)
  • Shaft (1971)–2 votes (18%)

These results bring us to here, and as you can see, we have one more set of four matches to go to bring us to a Sweet 16–some of those will be blow-outs, while others could be more interesting.  So, for this week:

High-Brow vs. Low-Brow Horror

Come All Ye Witchfinders!

Possessions ‘R Us!

Strong Leading Ladies

Same rules as always–a week to vote in the above polls, and we’ll see where we’re at in another week!