SLASHER MONTH: Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars (1992)

First off, that 1992 that this was made? That’s a misnomer. Much like Terror, Sexo Y Brujeria, this movie was partially made years before and then finished a decade or more later. And you’ve seen it before. And the fact that this movie was actually finished makes me overjoyed beyond belief.

Yes, Marilyn Alive and Behind Bars is really Scream Your Head Off, which was started by director John Carr and writer Philip Yordan in the early 80s. And yes, you guessed it, it was one of the segments in the infamous Night Train to Terror, a movie that has obsessed me enough to write about it more than a few times (example a and example b). While it was an unfinished film, it somehow had enough footage to make it into that bonkers anthology and even be released as its own standalone movie, which is probably all the proof you need to know just how much content needed to be out there for the dual-headed beast that was the video rental and nascent cable industry.

So even though this movie was already somewhat released twice — and shot twice, as there were nude and non-nude versions of some scenes — Carr decided to go back, grab Danger: Diabolik star John Philip Law despite the fact that he looks much older than he did in 1981 and make the movie that he always intended to film.

He also got Francine York (Secret File: Hollywood) to play Marilyn Monroe, who has been kept in an asylum for thirty years.

Obviously, the sheer weirdness of Night Train does not go away when you break it down into smaller parts.


Harry Billings (Law) was driving home with his new wife when he got sideswiped and she died, which leads to him sleeping barefoot on her grave. He tries to jump off a bridge on the very same road where this accident happened and gets brought to the asylum of Dr. Brewer (Arthur Braham, whose only other role is the mad scientist in the adult movie scenes within another Night Train component, Gretta AKA Death Wish Club AKA The Dark Side to Love), who uses his assistant Otto (Richard Moll, who has hair in one segment of Night Train and does not in this story) to abduct women and do whatever it is that evil geniuses do to ladies. And in that movie, that would be lobotomies and white slavery.

Oh yes, I neglected to mention that this movie willy nilly leaps from film footage to SOV back to film not caring about mixed media or taking you, the viewer, out of the experience.

The doctor also has a female partner, Dr. Fargo (Sharon Ratcliff, who only did this film), who has made a deal with an Arabic suit-wearing man to take all of the mind erased women and sell them to some harem on the other much more evil side of the world.

And then, after he himself is mind-wiped to serve as their slave, Harry finds Marilyn, who has been kept in a room filled with posters of herself and given to saying long moments of exposition: “The story they told me here was, when the studio dropped my contract, I was signed by an independent company to do a film. I didn’t know that it was owned by powerful people! They never intended to make the film! They insured my life for millions of dollars, and then they murdered a lookalike Marilyn Monroe, and left her in my bedroom!”

Of course, she could just be an insane woman in a mental asylum who thinks she’s Marilyn, but every time Harry steals away a new blonde for the evil powerful people, he stops in, visits her and falls in love. Most of the movie is Harry going to comical lengths to kidnap blondes, who are then electrocuted and then he goes back to try to woo the most famous blonde of all time. That’s a lot of blondes.

I mean, this is a movie in which John Philip Law goes to church and doses a believer right in the midst of mass, then takes her back to the asylum.

This movie is a mess, packed with continuity, time lapse, sound quality, film to video and just plan weird errors. Yet it has moments of great fun, like Marilyn’s long soliloquies and Moll looking through jars of decapitated heads, including one that has Harry’s name on it just waiting for him to screw up.

Now, my quest will take me to find the VHS version of Scream Your Head Off, but even then, I don’t feel like I’ll ever get off the Night Train.

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