Category: 1965


And she lived to tell about it! I must try this soon!

Stigmatophilia's gore splattered corner of insanity.

In honour of cult UK label 88 Films releasing two Ted V Mikels films in the same week, The Doll Squad and The Corpse Grinders, I woke up with possibly one of my most inspired/ or silliest (depending on what your stance on shlock z-grade movie making is) ideas I have ever had. Not only will I be providing you lovely folks with full reviews of the aforementioned 88 Films releases, but I decided it was time for a Ted V Mikels movie marathon, 6 films in 12 hours. Would I survive with my brain cells intact? Would I ever be the same again? Read on to find out what happened….

The Black Klansman (1966)

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I start the day out right with a good piece of social commentary, Ted V Mikels style, in The Black Klansman aka Brute aka a whole bunch of other names (depending on the possibility of…

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Here, Mrs. I Love Terrible Movies and I put together a fun little 32-team bracket featuring bad guys/monsters/villains of horror and exploitation films I’ve seen in the past year or so.  In case you forgot who’s who, I’ve embedded the film trailers below.

Tweet me or comment on this post by a week from today (1 April) for your faves to advance to the Sweet 16.

Yeah, yeah, I know this is going to finish up well after “March Madness” will–sue me.

Klaatu vs. Gill-Man

From Outer Space … A Warning and an Ultimatum

Clawing Monster From A Lost Age strikes from the Amazon’s forbidden depths!

Asa Vajda vs. Dr. Phibes

The Undead Demons of Hell Terrorize the World in an Orgy of Stark Horror!

There are two sides to Dr. Phibes…..both of them EVIL!

Jaws Ripoff-a-Thon!

They’re waiting to slither you!

18 Feet of Man-Eating Terror!

The Man vs. Fuad Ramses

She Escaped Death. Now It Wants Her Back!

A Weird, Grisly Ancient Rite Horrendously Brought To Life In Blood Color!

 John Carpenter Face Off!

Man is The Warmest Place to Hide

It is night. It is cold. It is coming.

Birds vs. Lepuses

…And remember, the next scream you hear could be your own!

How many eyes does horror have? How many times will terror strike?

Mothra vs. Them!

SEE the armies of the world destroyed! SEE the BIRTH of the world’s most terrifying monster! SEE the war of the GIANTS!

A horror horde of crawl-and-crush giants clawing out of the earth from mile-deep catacombs!

Jeff Morrow Slapfest!

PLANET ROBBER TRAMPLES EARTH…STEALING ENERGY FOR OTHER WORLDS!

Flying beast out of prehistoric skies!

Cars vs. Houses!

Body by Plymouth. Soul by Satan.

Houses Don’t Have Memories

Battle of the Nihlistic Cult Leaders!

Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head.

You’re Invited To Orville’s “Coming-Out” Party…It’ll Be A Scream…YOURS!!!

Recent Zero-Budgets!

Why did the eagles and vultures attack?

Gobble, Gobble, Motherfucker!

The Devil You Say?

The beauty of woman, the demon of darkness, the unholy union of “The Devil’s Bride”

Somewhere between science and superstition, there is another world. The world of darkness.

Vampire Madness!

His bite was outta sight!

It will cost you sweat and tears, and perhaps… a little blood.

Badass Bitches!

The most dreaded Nazi of them all!

Russ Meyer’s ode to the violence in women

Treevenge vs. Troma

The first Super-Hero… from New Jersey!

Badass Biker Babes!

They’re Looking for a Few Good Men.

See! Female Hellcats Ruling Their Men With Tire-Irons As Their Instruments Of Passion!

Godzilla gettin' his warface on

Godzilla gettin’ his warface on

Godzilla and Mothra are, IMHO, the best dynamic duo pair of the kaiju eiga (Japanese giant monster) movies.  I hope Godzilla, as just about everyone’s top movie monster of all time, needs no introduction.   He first appeared in Gojira in 1954, which was recut, and had some scenes added with Raymond Burr to make the (modified) story accessible to American audiences in Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1956).  A new Godzilla movie comes every few years in Japan, and he returns just in time for the 60th anniversary of the franchise in a new American blockbuster next year.  There are about 30 Godzilla movies to date.

mothra_480_posterMothra was the first of several kaiju monsters to be introduced into these films, starting in 1961, which is why she’s the other half of this dynamic duo. She also has the most interesting relationship with Godzilla.  She’s Godzilla’s frenemy–sometimes an enemy, sometimes a friend.  In her debut, Godzilla vs The Thing (1964), the two are definitely enemies, as the human protagonists make an appeal to Mothra’s people who worship her as a deity to enlist dying the giant moth in their fight for survival against the marauding Godzilla.  Other times, such as in Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster (1965) Godzilla and Mothra, with Rodan have put their differences aside to take care of Ghidrah:

Emi & Yumi Ito as the Shobijin in Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964).

Emi & Yumi Ito as the Shobijin in Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964).

You can watch Mothra in seventeen films since then, not all of which feature Godzilla.  Her most recent outing was Godzilla: Final Wars in 2004, the franchise’s 50th anniversary film.  The thing about Mothra that makes her unique in the kaiju menagerie are these freaky-deaky priestess-fairies that are never far from the giant moth.  These Shobijin (“small beauties”) are maybe 6 inches tall for no particular reason, and have that odd and unnerving need to sing and speak in unison.  They are Mothra’s only way to communicate directly to the human world–the shobijin are telepathically linked to the beast on behalf of a previously undiscovered, but thoroughly irradiated civilization, apparently living on a Polynesian island close enough to the old US and French nuclear test range.

BugsBunny3C_LongShotCOLORBack to what the interplay and relationship between this dynamic duo brings to the overall story–and I should mention before going too much further that the occasion to think about this is the “Dynamic Duo” blogathon hosted by the Classic Movie Hub and Once Upon a Screen blogs–I see the introduction of Mothra into the emerging Godzilla franchise as sort of a transitional phase for Godzilla–Mothra is the character overseeing the movement of the franchise becoming more marketed to kids, which was in process by 1965, and reached its full flower in 1969’s All Monsters Attack (also known as Godzilla’s Revenge) about a kid finding the confidence in himself to stand up to local bullies by imagining how make-believe in the Godzilla world in which Godzilla’s (talking) son Minilla has the same sorts of troubles with Gabara.  Needless to say the franchise’s intended audience has changed over the years, and it soon returned to making movies targeted at adults.

Mothra’s origins–on screen, and the resonances of Japanese culture she carries–are another unique feature that give her a special relationship to Godzilla among the the other kaiju.  Mothra’s modus vivendi with humanity is rooted in ancient Japanese fables with the  shobijin playing the role of keeping lines of communication open between the human world and the monster world.  This gives the much more recently nuclear-created Godzilla, depending on which origin story you go with, a certain connection to the mystical realm, which I’m sure the fanfic community is all over, but this connection fades in light of so many non-mystical kaiju creations and the mundane political purposes the kaiju are put to.  For instance, in Invasion of the Astro-Monster (or, Godzilla vs. Monster Zero) from 1970, Godzilla, Rodan, and Ghidrah all fall victim to mind control of aliens seeking to take control over the Earth.  This is a fun political yarn illustrated by great monsters, but not one with the mystical overtones that Mothra’s sensibility brings to the table.

21696_537142606307955_2048925905_nI’ll finish with a couple illustrations of how the broader culture has apparently internalized the Godzilla-Mothra relationship, both in the realm of politics, interestingly.  Exhibit A: a short news article in the Talking Points Memo editor’s blog a couple years back in which the Fox News Channel  was interviewing some dingbat Islamist staging protests in favor of bringing “sharia law” to the US, a marginal issue, that Fox predictably glommed onto.  This was framed on TPM through the lens of the Godzilla-Mothra relationship as “two cartoonish clowns [Fox News and the Islamist protester] doing battle and the only problem is you don’t know who to root for because they’re both so ridiculous.”  The author also implied that enjoying these films showed “unrefined tastes,” which I might take some exception to (ahem).

GodzillaMothraExhibit B is the minor meme that came with last year’s presidential campaign here in the US. The Godzilla-Mothra presidential ticket strikes a fun nerve–and party activists are currently prepping for 2016, according to their Facebook page, but note we didn’t see Godzilla paired with any other potential kaiju running mate, though a Godzilla-Ghidrah ticket would have me collecting signatures on my block.

Durston on the set of IDYB, 1969.

Durston on the set of IDYB, 1969.  Source.

We all know Durston, who passed away a couple years back at the age of 88, as the director of I Drink Your Blood.  But what else did he do?  In this post, I want to share a bit of what I found from rooting around to give a fair shake to Durston’s film career.  I’m not sure I’m any closer to feeling like I understand the man, but giving a little more on his body of work he left us is hopefully a step in the right direction.  Limiting to feature films–as opposed to his radio and TV credits (a comprehensive list of these contributions here)–in the thirty years ending in 1994, Durston acted, wrote, directed, produced or edited not quite a dozen films, from exploitation fare as in IDYB, by far his most famous film, to gay hardcore porn.  Not the most prolific career, but an interesting one, to be sure.

Some say of Durston, reflecting on films such as Stigma (1972), Blue Sextet (1970), and Felicia (1964), let alone Manhole (1978) and Boy-Napped (1975), that he, in the words of Classic TV History Blog “seems to have been one of those figures who hovered on the fringes of the movie industry for decades, carving out a marginal career with an energy that surpassed his talent.”  While Stephen Thrower, author of Nightmare USA: The Untold Story of the Exploitation Independents (FAB Press, 2007) remembers Durston in a much more positive light.  Both could well be true.

According to Randall Rutledge‘s problematic book, From Movie City to Music City USA: My Journey through Showbiz and how it Works [sic] (Magic Valley Publishers, 2008), Durston started as journalism major in Missouri, but ended up a contract player in George Cukor’s Winged Victory in 1944.  Durston’s IMDB entry, which contains a lot less work and awards than Rutledge claims he accomplished–Durston did not earn seven Emmys, for example–says he was also in the cast of Winged Victory’s Broadway production.  He worked as a writer and producer on a couple of radio and television shows in the 1950s (Navy Log, Your Hit Parade), presumably learning various jobs behind the camera.

il_570xN.140569380Durston took the helm of several films in the 1960s.  First up was Felicia in 1964, but since it was not released in the US, not much info about it is readily available.  It did have a novelization (see bookcover, right) by the very prolific Michael Avallone (writing as Mark Dane), and probably the first film role by a young–he’d have been about 24 at the time–Raul Julia.  The lead was played by Louise Allbritton.

ab_251430_0_TheLoveStatueLSD was the topic of his next film, The Love Statue, in 1965. This was an early exploitation movie about the drug, and Durston actually dropped acid (under the watch of a physician) to get a better feel for his subject matter.  The name of the film was changed from The Love Drug to The Love Statue when newspapers of the day would not run ads with the former name.  In 1967 Durston directed the English dubbed version of the pathbreaking 1964 Turkish film Susuz yaz (also known as “Dry Summer,” or sometimes as “Reflections”).  However, Durston did not have anything to do with the original making of this one.

This brings us to I Drink Your Blood in 1970, which I won’t dwell on much here since I talked about it at length last time.  This film was inspired by a couple things on Durston’s mind: an article about a rabies outbreak abroad, the then-recent Manson murders, and tales from a friend who’d just emerged from a cult. These fun little vignettes come together in IDYB.  For more information on IDYB’s history, especially on the existence of several different cuts and its cult status, see Horror at the Drive-In: Essays in Popular Americana (McFarland, 2008).

The next year, Durston put out The Blue Sextet, a vampire movie starring two actors from I Drink Your Blood–Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury and John Damon.  The latter was also a producer for The Blue Sextet. Blue Sextet

In 1972, Durston’s other moderately famous film, Stigma  came out, which launched the short career of Phillip Michael Thomas, as a physician suffering horrible racist slurs while treating a super duper virulent STD in a small town:

Another I Drink Your Blood actor makes an appearance in this one: Rhonda Fultz (the pregnant and inexplicably bewigged “Molly” in IDYB)

From here, Durston’s career as a filmmaker goes into its swan song. Durston had “always had a hand in the specialized and insular netherworld of gay hardcore porn,” according to Landis and Clifford’s indispensable book, Sleazoid Express (2002).  Durston wrote and directed these last couple films under the name “Spencer Logan” and/or “David Ransom.”  In 1975 he made Boy-napped! a hardcore gay porn film starring the late Jamie Gillis-who, as it happened, passed away just a few months before Durston in 2010.  In 1978 another gay hardcore film Manhole was made, also with Gillis.  Landis and Clifford say this last film was called Manhold, not Manhole, as IMDB has it, and that it was not released because one of the cast members got a role in Escape from Alcatraz, and the association with gay hardcore would have been bad for this unspecified person’s career, as well as for Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster.  At any rate, I don’t have much elaboration on Durston’s apparent long relationship in this  “insular netherworld” of the cinema world.  Durston seems to have left cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, returning only in 1994 as the editor of Hard Drive, an independently produced softcore flick.

There’s not enough information here to get a sense of Durston as an individual, nor much about his legacy.  So to jump to the conclusion that Durston “seems to have been one of those figures who hovered on the fringes of the movie industry for decades, carving out a marginal career with an energy that surpassed his talent” seems too harsh, especially since most accounts of him dwell on his cult hit I Drink Your Blood, and them list out his other work without saying anything more about Durston or his work.  Hopefully, I’ll find more info to fill in some of the gaps here.

Next time,  I’ll see what I can find about IDYB’s main tour de force, Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury, who passed away in 2003.