PURE TERROR MONTH: Point of Terror (1971)

I’ve seen way too many Dyanne Thorne films . . . and I’m proud of that fact. The only other person I know who’s seen more than I . . . is the freak that runs B&S Movies.

“Who’d the frack is Dyanne Thorne?” you ask.

You’re kidding, right? She’s Don Edmonds’s “She Wolf”!

“Who’s Don Edmonds?” you reply.

Oh, dear god. Sit down, kiddo. Ya needs sum ‘80s VHS schoolin’.

Dyanne was born in Greenwich, Connecticut (the home state of Michael Sopkiw), and got her start alongside Robert De Niro in a lost black-and-white experimental short, Encounter (1965) . . . De Niro received an Oscar nod for Taxi Driver (1976) and won an Oscar for Raging Bull (1981) . . . Dyanne was torturing female prisoners for Nazis and Oil Sheiks for Don Edmonds (Tender Loving Care).

Yes, Hollywood is a cruel bitch.

Dyanne’s starred in four of the ‘70s trashiest Drive-In fests that became ‘80s video rental de rigueur: Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975), Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), Wanda, the Wicked Warden, and Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia (both 1977). (How did she not end up in SOVs like Blood Cult or the pseudo-porn of Spine? I mean, she was half way there with the Ilsa movies.) (Oh, and Dyanne made Wanda and Tigress without Don, so, please: spare the server space with the e-mails.)

Oh, yes Dyanne. You had this wee lad at the first push of the VCR’s start button with these two ditties . . . or is that . . . never mind!

And so . . . with no less than three video store membership cards in hand, this celluloid connoisseur embarked on his obsession with Dyanne Thorne: Love Me Like I Do (1970), the porno-fairy tale (see, told you so!), Pinocchio (1971), her turns as Alotta (!), the Queen of the Witches in Blood Sabbath, and Boo-Boo in The Swinging Barmaids (1972). And who can forget her “mainstream” role working with Ray Sharkey and Marjoe Gortner and Robert Z’Dar in Hellhole (1982)? And would you believe Dyanne worked alongside John Ritter and Jim Belushi in the spy comedy, Real Men (1987)?

So thank you, Mill Creek. Thank you for including at least one Dyanne Thorne flick on your Pure Terror 50 Film Box Set (the recap list of all the “Pure Terror” films reviewed) so this writer can sigh and swoon over Dyanne all these years later. . . . (Wink, wink: There’s two Dyanne reviews: Jennifer Upton reviewed Blood Sabbath for Pure Terror Month. So life is good.)

The twisted mastermind behind this tale of a nightclub singer’s nightmares becoming reality—or are they?—was California-born thespian Peter Carpenter who, along with fellow actor Chris Marconi, formed a production partnership and secured a distribution deal with the epitome of film exploitation, Crown International Pictures (Orgy of the Dead, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, The Crater Lake Monster, and Galaxina, just to name a few).

Sadly, we never got to know the full potential of Peter Carpenter’s horror visions.

As the duo began working on their third sexploitation-horror romp, Middle of the Night, Carpenter suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died* shortly after the release of Point of Terror. He made his acting debut in Russ Meyer’s Vixen! (1968) and, back in the days when X-Rated dramas were “chi-chi to see” and advertised in the movie sections of mainstream-commercial newspapers, costarred with Dyanne in the hit Swedish sex-romp, Love Me Like I Do (1970). After making his screenwriting debut with Blood Mania, Carpenter and Thorne costarred in his second feature, Point of Terror.

Is this a gory blood fest?

Nope. But you get to watch Carpenter on stage and in the studio singing his soon-to-be “hits” “This Is . . .,” “Lifebeats,” and “Heart of the Drifter” an awful (awful) lot.

It’s a psychological-sexploitation romp (add graphic kills and you’d have Spine) concerning a red pants-suited, fringe-swinging Tom Jones-clone’s descent into madness—with the occasional burst of (not-so-graphic, off-camera) violence. Do you get-off seeing an old guy in a wheelchair pushed into a pool? Have you ever wanted to see a film that was written by Mario Bava and directed by Russ Meyer and produced by Jean Rollin—who subsequently fires Meyer and hires Jess Franco to finish it because, well, you know, things worked out okay with Franco’s weirdo, X-Rated erotic-horror mystery, Venus In Furs?

Then this is your movie. Only, be warned. This isn’t as “good” as a Franco-fest. And there’s no Klaus Kinksi to class-weirdo the proceedings.

Tony Trelos (Peter Carpenter) dreams of stardom as he swings his Elvis-hips for the très chick boozy ‘n sex-starved old broads at the Lobster Lounge, who he subsequently beds (and gives ‘em “the crabs”). Things start looking up when he beds Andrea, the “young,” drunk nympho-squeeze of a wheelchair-bound music industry professional who, if we are to believe Andrea’s best friend, Andrea “put him there” because the sex was that incredible. Daaaamn, Dyanne. Damn.

Do we get to see Dyanne nekked? Yes we do! We even get her naked on a boulder—or was that her step-daughter? Oh, who cares, it’s a naked babe on a beach boulder—and her being joyfully “buoyant” in a swimming pool. Wee! However, ugh, we also get lots of Carpenter backdoor mud-flap action and many almost-see-his-family-jewels shots. Where’s Dyanne’s “triangle of death” shot? Oops, there’s those damn camera angles and edits again. Denied again.

Anyway . . . amid the Hard-R-cum-Soft-X sex rompin’ and Carpenter’s bag-o-cats caterwauling, it seems he has a “psychological break” and has dreams of a giallo-styled killer with a butch knife. And you’d think bangin’ Dyanne Thorne would be the sexual mother lode of “triangle of death” strikes . . . and he’s got a recording contract in the bag for bangin’ the old bag. Nah, Tony Trelos’s pocket rocket is always at the launch-pad; now he’s bangin’ Dyanne’s step-daughter.

Oh, did we mention that when Dyanne came o’ callin’, Tony ditched his pregnant girlfriend? Did we mention Dyanne may have killed the first wife of wheelchair-in-the-pool guy? And the step-daughter sex isn’t just “sex,” but something else? Is Peter another one of these blackout-and-I-woke-up psycho murders? Is Dyanne the murderer? Her step-daughter? Tony’s preggo-ex? Who’s Henry James-screwin’ whom?

And proving everyone—even in Hollywood—has to start somewhere: Oscar-winning editor Verna Fields—who earned an Academy Award for her work on Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and edited American Graffiti (1973) for George Lucas—edited this Peter Carpenter tour de force.

Alex Nicol, the man behind the glass eye, closed out his directing career with Point of Terror and made his debut with 1958’s The Screaming Skull.

Some other Crown International Pictures flicks you can check out on B&S—that we actually got around to reviewing—are Low Blow, Killpoint, Nine Deaths of the Ninja, The Patroit, Sharks’ Treasure, and Van Nuys Blvd.

* It’s a “urban legend” in horror cycles: In reality, Pete didn’t die in the early ’70s. He simply left the movie business, only to pass away at the age of 56 in 1996 in Los Angeles. Or did he. . . .

With a little help from our friends. Peter’s career mystery, solved.

Update: July 21, 2021: We’ve since reviewed Peter Carpenter’s third film — his first as a writer and producer — Blood Mania, contributed to us by guest staff writer Eric Wrazen for our month-long Mill Creek box set blowout back in February, as part of our Gorehouse Greats 12-pack tribute.

So, after discovering our review for Point of Terror — as part of his own research on the life and career of Peter Carpenter — uber fan, librarian Mike Perkins (thus his awesome research on Peter), let us know that Peter Carpenter did, in fact, die in Los Angeles, in the community of Alhambra, on April 2, 1996. Mike also discovered Peter’s birth name was Nathaniel Joseph and, prior to his work in film and music, Peter served in the Air Force.

Mike is a man on a mission: Surf over to his very cool Flickr posting featuring early photos and ephemera on Peter. Mike’s also honored Peter Carpenter by not only having Peter’s IMDb page updated with correct information, he’s also created an all-new Find A Grave entry to honor Peter’s life. Is Mike working on Peter’s well-deserved Wikipage entry? Yes, it’s currently in development.

And, for additional reading, be sure to check out this incredible (two-part) expose on Peter Carpenter’s life and career courtesy of B&S About Movies’ friend Mike Justice, on his The Eerie Midnight Night Detective Agency blog. Strap it on, as both Mikes’ fandom and research are great reads. (Thanks for turning us on, Mike #1, as this article by Mike Justice slipped by us.)

Yeah, we love our readers! Thanks for contributing to B&S About Movies, Mr. Perkins! (Yeah, we love you too, Justice.) And we love it when our readers reinforce and uplift our passions in honoring the actors and filmmakers of our youth — and not tear down our efforts. You gotta fight for the ’cause to preserve films!

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his rock ‘n’ roll biographies, along with horror and sci-fi novellas, on Facebook.

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