Category: 1968


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!

Happy Birthday Ted Mikels!

Tedandfan-webTo celebrate Ted Mikels‘ 85th birthday today, enjoy this great and long interview with the master exploiteer–who directed such classics as 10 Violent Women (1982), The Astro-Zombies (1968), and The Doll Squad (1973)–courtesy of Nerdlocker!

PS: I want that sweater!

  

MocataI jumped at the chance to participate in the Great Villain Blogathon, mainly because it looked like a hell of a lot of fun, and because it’s been a while since I’ve participated in a blogathon.  Usually I volunteer for these without doing any research, and never know exactly where I’ll end up on the topic at hand.  Such is the case in today’s post, where I got excited to dive into my personal favorite, but flawed, Hammer horror film, The Devil Rides Out (1968).  I suppose the main “villain” in the film  is actually the Devil himself, which is logical enough, but for today, I’ll focus a bit on his chief lieutenant on earth (or, at least in interwar England), Mocata. We’ll get to the M-man in a minute, but first a bit on the film and its context.

the-devil-rides-outThe plot, in case you’ve not seen it, is pretty straight forward–a French-Russian nobleman tries to save the son of a war buddy from Mocata, the leader of a Satanist coven.

The most interesting things I learned about this film had to do with its source material–a novel published at the end of 1934 by Dennis Wheatley–and the time period the film is set in.

Wheatley’s Devil Rides Out novel was the second of a series of eleven novels published over a 37-year period ending in 1970 that featured the often-satanist-chasing nobleman, Duke de Richleau.  Wheatley (1904-77) was acquaintance of Hammer frontman Christopher Lee, who helped bring the novel to the big screen and who played the aforementioned nobleman. Devil Rides Out propelled Wheatley to new heights of success, and as the years went by afterward, he devolved it would seem, into a paranoid, overprivledged man who kept some decidely odd views:

[Wheatley] continued to cultivate his persona as “Britain’s occult uncle,” one on the side of Good who nevertheless had access to Dark Secrets that could be dangerous to lesser men. And he continued the bizarre, and increasingly ridiculous, practice of mixing worldly politics with spiritual struggle as he aged and the world around him agreed less and less with his traditionalist Tory values. “Is it possible that riots, wildcat strikes, anti-apartheid demonstrations and the appalling increase in crime have any connection with magic and Satanism?” he asked in 1971. The answer, as far as he was concerned, was a quite definite yes . . . 

. . . [Wheately and his acquaintences] Aleister Crowley, Montague Summers and a handful of other similarly dissipated, over-privileged Edwardians with too much time on their hands had in the decades before [The Devil Rides Out] been largely responsible for reviving the notion of the occult, previously thought banished to the Middle Ages where it belonged, as an at least theoretically vital force again.

What catches my attention here is that in the time The Devil Rides Out was published, and in the time in which the novel was set–it takes place in the spring of 1935, just a few months in the future, given its December 1934 publication date–was something of a revival period for public interest and fear of Satan/ists. This context had started to be explored by the late Joanna Timms, a young, up and coming Australian scholar who was cut down by cancer in 2011 at the age of 24.

Francisco_de_Goya_y_Lucientes_-_Witches'_Sabbath_-_WGA10007

Wheatley contributed to, and cashed in on revived public interest in satanist cults in 1930s Britain.

She argued that paranormal research and ghost-hunting of the sort done by the Duke in Devil Rides Out  was something of a hobby among several English aristocrats and how some of these, perhaps like the Duke, were attempting to cash in on the public interest of the time to legitimize ghost-hunting and study of the occult as a new scientific discipline.   Fascinating stuff that puts the film in a slightly different light, but I’ve dwelt on this long enough.  Let’s get on to Mocata.

In this telling, Mocata is superbly played by the late Charles Gray (d. 2000), whom we know as Bond villain Ernest Blofeld from Diamonds Are Forever (1971), and as The Criminologist from  Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975).  I say “this telling” because there is also a Devil Rides Out musical running around, which looks worth checking out.

ridesout6Mocata is a powerful practitioner of the dark arts, and not somebody to be trifled with.  When he warns you that not he, but something will come for you and your immortal soul tonight, you believe him. Do not let his gentlemany demeanor fool you, he is capable of summoning evil incarnate, and he is highly intelligent.

His background is not given much–or any–attention in the film, but making Mocata all the more powerful with the occult is his past a a priest.  At some point in the distant past, we learn from Wheatley’s novel, Mocata developed an interest and became quite a powerful occultist while serving as a parish priest in Lyons, France.  (p. 288) An unspecified scandal drove him out of the Church, and he apparently developed into a coven leader and attracted a following of aristocratic believers in the occult, possibly something along the lines of what Timms suggested about the time.

Concluding, I suspect Mocata and The Devil Rides Out are probably easy pickings for some entrepreneurial re-boot/re-imagining specialist in Hollywood, which would be a cringeworthy thing to witness indeed.  What would be lost is the unique context and some of the blend of public fascination and fear of ultimate evil that we get in the original. Unless such a (hypothetical, so far) re-imagining deals with Mocata’s back story–that he’s driven to “the dark side” because the Good betrayed him in some way, the result will be sad.

 

 

Here are the first four contests in my better-late-than-never Grindhouse Brackets.  “Submitted for your approval,” in the words of the late great Rod Serling, are the trailers for these fine flicks below. You’ll also find a poll embedded under each match-up to record your votes, which will remain open only for the next 168 hours (or, one week from today)! I’ll close these polls then, and move on to the next four matches at that point. Without further ado, today’s lineup:

Classic 1950s Horror/Sci-Fi
First up, we pit the never-should-have-been-remade science fiction classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) against the equally classic The Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954):

Horror From the 1980s, or Close Enough
Next, let’s put Christine (1983) against The Amityville Horror (1979), for more current match-up featuring inanimate objects. Amityville is not technically from the 80s, but it might as well be:

Shlock on Wheels!
Thirdly, how about a motorcycle-themed Troma vs. Herschell Gordon Lewis slugfest, with Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989) vs. She-Devil On Wheels (1968):

Animals On the Loose!
Lastly for this time, we have a couple wild animal faves, both from The Year of Our Lord, 1976:

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)

klan 1
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…

View original post 4,647 more words

Link Dump, Early April

I don’t do this as often as I would like, but here are some more cool exploitation/B-movie/old horror movie posts I’ve enjoyed lately.   I enjoy reading other posts on films that I might like to cover in this blog, and calling out some quality posts on this end of the cinema pool seems a good way to keep interest going in these sorts of films. Also, I’ve recently discovered the “re-blog” feature here in WordPress, so fellow WP users who do fine posts will find their stuff re-blogged in my “Quick Takes” section at left.

First things first: Starburst informs us that the first three seasons of Airwolf–the only ones that matter are now on DVD! I loved this show back in the day, no Saturday night was complete without the family gathered around the tube watching more mid-80s Cold War hijinx ensue from a super-chopper run by some shadowy secret organization.  I had forgotten that star Jan-Michael Vincent, whose alcoholism got the better of his career, was also in Lassie and the Danger Island segment of “The Banana Splits Adventure Hour.”

Secondly, Midnight Cinephile takes on the incredibly odd Troma flick, Video Demons Do Psychotown (1989). Bottom line:

Essentially a murder mystery, combined with a haunted house story, combined with a tale of psychics and witches, combined with a slasher film, topped off with some possession undertones and a general sense of strangeness.

Looks like the good folks at Troma put this flick on YouTube in its entirety a while back when they did the same for a hundred-plus of their back catalog:

Thirdly, having just watched Witchfinder General (1968) not so long ago, I was very keen to see Church of Splatterday Saints review Mark of the Devil (1970), which cashes in on the success of the Vincent Price classic, but with more gory violence.  As much as I enjoyed Witchfinder, I think I expected more explicit violence from it–Mark of the Devil fills that niche nicely.

Also, check out this recent interview with Michael Armstrong, who directed Mark of the Devil:

Fourthly, the “animals-on-the-loose” ripoff of Jaws entry goes to Dogs (1976) (H/T Outpost Zeta), with David McCallum.

Fifthly, Horror-Movies.ca has a nice list of seven underrated apocalypse movies that you should check out. I love this list because some unexpected stuff–way outside conventional horror fare shows up. Click through to see the rationale for including these, but here are the trailers–I’ll be (re-) watching these soon.  While you’re at it, check out the first half of a profile of the great Mario Bava here.

The 1992 version of the "Plan 9 From Outer Space" video game

The 1992 version of the “Plan 9 From Outer Space” video game

Fifthly, Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959) will again be adapted as a video game. The first adaptation was about 20 years ago for Atari ST and Amiga.  I believe Plan 9 was the only one of Ed Wood’s movie to be adapted into both a video game and a porn flick (and oddly, within about a year of one another!)

Plan 9: The Porn! (1993)

Plan 9: The Porn! (1993)

Sixthly, Horrorpedia takes on a couple fun and schlocky flicks: Kiss of the Vampirethe 1963 version of Hammer’s Christopher Lee-less Dracula sequel and Fred Olen Ray’s Star Slammer (1989), featuring reclycled footage from two other must-sees: The Deadly Spawn (1983) and Battle Beyond the Stars (1980). Any re-uses of these gems must be epic.

Lastly, 3S Horror reviews another Troma masterpiece, Lust For Freedom (1987).  Pretty standard 80s women-in-prison fare, with a couple decent one-liners:

I’ve been knocked down and insulted. I’m hot and dirty. I’m calling it a day.

Cops were dying all over the place and all I could do was act like a woman. I knew my days as a cop were over.

I saw your girlfriend french kissing a donkey on the reservation.

More linkage coming in mid-April!

Baby Love (Full Movie, 1968)

Poor Luci, she is a 15 year old English schoolgirl about to embark on a promising career as the high-school mattress.

 

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!

PosterAfter Cinema Catharsis mentioned The Flesh Eaters (1964) as an October 2013 quick pick, I knew I had to check it out.  It’s a nice early period gore flick that stands the test of time as a decent thriller.  Originally released in 1964, even though it was made in 1960-61, it was one of the follow-ups to box office smash The Blob (1958).  The behind-the-scenes lore of The Flesh Eaters also seems pretty well documented, and recapitulating some of that story seems like a nice way to celebrate its 50th anniversary: The Flesh Eaters’s premiere was 50 years ago yesterday.

First though, the film:

Arnold Drake wrote the screenplay for The Flesh Eaters

Arnold Drake wrote the screenplay for The Flesh Eaters

It would seem the most detailed, first-hand account of the making of this film comes from its screenwriter, Arnold Drake, who gave a lengthy interview in Tom Weaver’s book, Eye on Science Fiction: 20 Interviews with Classic SF and Horror Filmmakers, published in 2003.  Drake was most renowned as a comic book writer–as a dyed-in-the-wool DC guy I am most fond of his creating “Deadman.”  Arnold passed away in 2007 at the age of 83.

A couple fun stories from the interview are worth paraphrasing: first, the film was funded in part with $70,000 acquired from producer-director Jack Curtis’s wife won on a rigged game show, High Low, in 1957.  It would appear that this would have been Curtis’s first wife, whom Drake named as “Terry,” not his later wife, Paulette Rubinstein, whom Curtis married in 1964.  The fact that the show was rigged in advance was a tightly kept secret by the Curtises for a number of years, even from Drake.

On a side note: Rubinstein apparently did some of the voice dubbing for early Godzilla films, including Godzilla vs. The Thing, which IMDB fails to mention.  Also, Jack and Paulette’s daughter, Liane Curtis starred in 16 Candles, Critters, and more recently in a one-off in season one of Sons of Anarchy.  

Barbara Wilkin, was little more than a pretty face in The Flesh Eaters, according to Drake.

Barbara Wilkin was little more than a pretty face,  according to Drake.  She apparently called it a career in 1968, and left film and television after only a decade.

Anyway, the second interesting tidbit from this interview was the story about how Frank Sinatra almost got into the movie–or not.  After they had cast Barbara Wilkin the fimmakers found an unnamed woman whom Drake says was much more attractive than Wilkin who had no acting experience, but she said her boyfriend would put up whatever funds were necessary to finish the film.

Following the money, Drake and Curtis meet the boyfriend–someone named “Chester”–in Chicago, where he was putting them up in a swanky hotel right on Lake Michigan.  After pitching the film–and emphasizing and re-emphasizing that this was a low budget film–Chester was convinced and announced “Frankie owes me, from way back,” and said it was settled–he’d call Sinatra and convince him to be in this picture, and the two filmmakers would be hearing from Chester’s people. This caused, as one would imagine, a huge panic: Sinatra was obviously a huge star, and this was not the movie for him or his entourage.  A full union crew would be needed for an A-lister like him, coming at the cost of an extra half-million dollars or more.  A few days afterwards they heard from Chester’s accountant who said: “We’ve decided not to go with this venture.”  No kidding.  They never heard from the beautiful wannabe actress again.  In any case, Wilkin did a fine job, though Drake wasn’t terribly impressed with her.

This film also forced the hand of the great George Romero and the titling of his best known film, Night of the Living Dead (1968).  Originally, Romero wanted his film to be called Night of the Flesh Eaters, but a lawyer contacted him to change his film’s name, presumably on behalf of Vulcan Productions, Curtis and Drake’s production company that made The Flesh Eaters.  At any rate, to avoid a lawsuit, Romero changed the name of his classic to Night of the Living Dead, according to Joe Kane’s book on the making of Romero’s film.

The legacy of The Flesh Eaters tends to be overshadowed, mainly by Hershell Gordon Lewis’ Blood Feast, which came out the year prior to Flesh Eaters–both experimented with being more gory depictions of violence, but Blood Feast was obviously more violent by an order of magnitude.  Also, Blood Feast was a color picture, which made the severed tongues and disembowlings all the more realistic.  Flesh Eaters seems to me to be among the last of the American “monster on the loose” pictures that were a staple of drive-ins of the previous decade, and it seems a fitting end as film straddles that mainly tame and harmless genre and the increasingly graphic horror of the 1960s and 1970s.