Riddle me this, you trash-cinema loving degenerate:
What do you get when you cross Rick Simon from a Magnum, P.I spinoff with a guy who made a movie about a brain machine with Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (The Brain Machine, 1977), then one of the too many bigfoot-horror movies with a TV western actor who appeared on Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, and Bonanza (Creature from Black Lake, 1976), then turned a Monkee into a strangler (The Night of the Strangler; 1972), and chopped up an actress who made her debut in an Alfred Hitchcock film (Women and Bloody Terror; 1970)?
Okay. Well, did you hear the one about the film that had the unmitigated gall to ask audiences: “How much SHOCK (read: yawning) can YOU stand?”, then baited said audiences with a cut-rate William Castle promotional gimmick by offering $1000 “Death by Fright” insurance policies if any relative was unable to stand the “Violent Vision” film process? (No cardboard glasses required.)
Yep. Joy “J.N” Houck, Jr. is right!
Night of Bloody Horror owes its existence to Hitchcock’s Psycho, with Gerald “Major Dad/Rick Simon” MacRaney as Wesley, the resident Norman Bates of New Orleans who’s recuperated from his screwed-up childhood-to-teen traumas and has returned from the loony bin. (Oh, right, you’re most likely younger than me: MacRaney was George Hearst in HBO’s popular series, Deadwood.)
I don’t get it.
I am completely (well, reasonably) sane and a pretty bright light bulb, overall. I have a job, good hygiene, and a great, normal relationship with my mother. Meanwhile, Norman Jr. comes home and hits a bar, gets pissed, and the delicate flowers are falling from the trees for dates. These are the types Alaric de Marnac from the Paul Naschy-universe (Panic Beats) disciplines by morning star. I see a sickle-neck chop in someone’s future.
“Did you hear that creepy Wesley Stuart is back in town?” Susan says to Kay at the local soda fountain.
“Who’s that?” inquires Kay.
“You remember, Wessy-Pissy Pants, the kid whose wacko mother used to beat him all time, so he murdered his little brother, Jonathan, thirteen years ago because he was ‘mommy’s favorite.’”
Kay’s nether regions begin to moisten. “You don’t mean the loser that the members of The Bored—shempin’ as hoods because the film ran out of money—beat up outside the club the other night?”
“Do you have his number?”
No need to call him, Kay. Wes hangs with the guys from The Bored, the resident (a real-life New Orleans) psych-rock band that caterwauls over fuzz-bass and overdriven organ about “plastic, fantastic dreams” to an LSD-reverse negative lighting effect. The band’s lead singer, “actor” George Spelvin, also shemps: he’s the red-herring Catholic Priest who has some kink-issues of his own.
Oh, shit. Wes is holding his head again. Cue the cheesy-cheap spiral effect to show he’s readying to “Janet Lee” someone. Yep, he’s having another childhood flashback and the chippy he’s doin’ the hop ‘n’ anchor with transforms into . . . his mother! So the cops haul ‘em in, slap ‘em around, give him a James Dean-Rebel Without a Cause acting-showcase moment, and call him a “fag” a couple dozen times. Hey, it was the un-PC ‘60s, after all. . . .
“You’re tearing me apart, Kay!” scenery chews Johnny.
Tommy Wiseau? What the hell are you doing here? Didn’t I already make enough comparative critiques of your oeuvre in my October “Scarecrow Challenge” reviews for Spine and Ice Cream Man?
“Don’t worry, baby face. This real Hollywood movie. Is plot twist. So, you and Sam toss football? Lisa and Becca, and that chick you’re with these days, can make sandwiches. We have picnic.”
Yeah, we broke up. And I can’t right now. I need to finish typing this review for B&S Movies’ Halloween tribute to the Mill Creek Pure Terror 50 Box Set.
“Hahaha. You’re so silly, R.D. What a story. Oh, hi doggie. . . .”
. . . And woosy-Wessie snaps and tosses his plastic water bottle. (Well, glass pop bottle, as there were no plastic bottles—or bottled water—in the ‘60s.)
“I did nawt kill her, I did naaawt. Oh, hi, R.D!”
“Oh, hi doggie.”
. . . Anyway . . . Squeeze #1 gets a knife in the eye; nurse-squeeze #2 gets an axe to the chest, then good ‘ol Doc Moss (Captain Skaggs from the short-lived 1977 series with Ernest “apoc-cabbie” Borgnine and James Evans, Sr. from Good Times that no one seems to remember, but me: Future Cop) has his rubber-hand-filled-with-red paint chopped off—followed with a cranium-chop chaser.
Outside of the opening sex and nudity scene featuring actress Lisa Dameron showing her assets and the dues ex machina-red herring combo twist at the end, you’re better off re-watching the Hitchcock original. But we love American psycho-trash cinema pretending to be Italian that can’t even live up to being a Spanish Giallo knockoff, so we’ll stick by you, Major Mac Simon.
The mystery behind the acting lead singer of The Bored: “George Spelvin” is the American stage-theatrical pseudonym equivalent to the use of “Alan Smithee” in the film world—for those who don’t want to be credited (gee, I wonder why?). According to the exhaustive music database maintained at Discogs.com, The Bored never released so much as a regional-obscure 45-rpm 7” single. None of the band members—again, who doubled as “hoods” that beat the snot out of Wesley—appeared in any other bands? I guess pseudonyms work after all; they’re phantoms. (Luckily, a fan extracted one of the band’s nameless songs from the film for your You Tube listening enjoyment.)
A more infamous rock ‘n’ roll connection of the film: The main reason why this film is remembered above all the other knock-offs in the ‘60s Psycho-inspired, Oedipal-slasher sub-genre: the film was released on August 9, 1969, the same day of the infamous Manson “Helter Skelter” murders.
Night of Bloody Horror was the first film for Gerald McRaney and Joy N. Houck, Jr. (sometimes using the acting nom de plume: J.N Houck, Jr.); they worked together a second time on Women and Bloody Terror—which Houck banged out in a back-to-back fever-dream shoot to serve as his own second feature for the family’s 200-plus chain of drive-ins. Prior to making his writing-directing bow, Houck’s Howco Pictures produced an early Roger Corman directing effort: the rock ‘n’ roll flick, Carnival Rock (1957) . . . and you can never get enough John Agar with The Brain from Planet Arous (1957). Oh, speaking of groan-inducing sci-fi cheese (that we love!) from the ’50 and ‘60s: If the score in Night of Bloody Horror is familiar, that’s because it’s pinched from the sci-fi feature, Phantom Planet (1961).
Meanwhile, as Gerald MacRaney deals with his “mommy issues” and dreams of being a sexy-suave detective in an ‘80s hit TV series, Tom Selleck is brooding over a painting of witches, one that may—or may not—be his wife, in Daughters of Satan (1972). Sound like an investigation for Thomas Magnum.
Yes, it was a hard life in the three-network universe for America’s future TV detectives.
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. He also writes for B&S Movies.