In the mid-1950s, reincarnation was in and The Search for Bridey Murphy was being made, so Roger Corman asked Charles Griffith to write a script, which was originally called The Trance of Diana Love, which is a great title, and was to be in all iambic pentameter.
Griffith said, “I separated all the different things with sequences with the devil, which were really elaborate, and the dialogue in the past was all in iambic pentameter. Roger got very excited by that. He handed the script around for everybody to read, but nobody understood the dialogue, so he told me to translate it into English. The script was ruined.”
I can’t even add up how many wasted hours that was.
Mel Welles, who played Smolkin, told Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup “it was a wonderful script and it probably would have been the cult film rather than Little Shop of Horrors had it been shot that way. But either Roger or someone at American-International Pictures didn’t think it was commercially viable to do it that way and at the last minute a decision was made to rewrite the script without that.”
Quintus Ratcliff (Val DuFour) is a psychic researcher who has spent years in Tibet to learn how to mentally regress someone back into their past life. He wants to prove to an old professor that he can do this, so he hires Diana Love (Pamela Duncan) for $500 to place her into a trance for two days.
She’s soon back in the Middle Ages, trapped in the mind of her ancestor Helene, accused of witchcraft. Diana is able to inform her past self of how to escape, so she heads into the night and meets up with the real witch Livia (Allison Hayes) and even Satan himself (Richard Devon).
Using the link between Diana and Helene, Quintus comes back in time, hoping to convince Helene to avoid her death and change history.
With Billy Barty as an imp and Dick Miller as a leper, this Corman film may have been a cheap one — and one that caused him stress with the bad smelling fog and budget issues — but it’s a fun idea well told. You can’t even tell that it was shot inside a supermarket.
You can watch this on Tubi.