CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Nightmare in Wax (1969)

Cameron Mitchell is making his fourth appearance in the Chilling Classics box set with this movie, but I know that he has to be in even more. From voicing Jesus in The Robe to the 1951 version of Death of a Salesman, Mitchell had plenty of big roles in even bigger films. But we’re not here to talk about those. We’d rather talk about his appearances in movies like Night Train to Terror (his segment also appears as another stand-alone movie, The Nightmare Never Ends), The Demon and Blood and Black Lace.

This time out, Cameron is Vince Rinaud, an FX artist who is disfigured by Paragon Pictures studio boss Max Block, who was also a rival for the attention of actress Marie Morgan. Yes, all it takes to ruin a man is to throw wine in his face and then a cigar. Who knew?

Leaving movies behind, Vince gains an eyepatch and a wax museum, while Paragon quickly loses four of their stars. Is it a coincidence that they soon appear as wax statues in Max’s museum?

This movie is pretty much a direct ripoff of House of Wax, except instead of dead bodies being under the wax, Vince uses a serum to turn people into zombies that just stand there under his control. There are also two cops who are the worst detectives this side of a giallo on the case — one of them is Bud Cardos, who appeared in Satan’s Sadists and directed The Dark!

But hey — Cameron Mitchell wearing a cape and an eyepatch. If that makes you happy, we’re happy you’re reading our site.

If you don’t have the Chilling Classics box set — and why don’t you after an entire month of us writing about it? — you can watch this on Amazon Prime free with membership.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: A Bucket of Blood (1959)

Today’s article for Chilling Classics month comes to us from El Paso, Texas. He’s part of Ghoul Inc. Productions, a DIY group who are inspired by Roger Corman, Larry Buchanan, Frank Henenlotter, Herschell Gordon Lewis, Edward D. Wood, jr., S.F. Brownrigg, Barry Mahon and others. He’s an awesome guy and I know no one better to tackle this Corman film!

When I asked Sam at B & S About Movies for a word count on this article before I began writing it, His response of “As many as you want!” was both encouraging and daunting. This is an article on a Roger Corman film starring Dick Miller, Roger being the one guy that has had a bigger impact on my filmmaking and overall attitude towards films in general than anyone else, and Dick being perhaps the most prolific character actor of all time. This has the potential to become very long winded. However, Sam asked me for an article, not a book, so self-discipline, do your thing!

A Bucket of Blood was released on October 21st, 1959, and tells the story of Walter Paisley (Miller), a shy little guy who busses tables at The Yellow Door, a hip coffee joint that caters to beatniks. Walter spends his days cleaning up after the pretentious clientele who treat him poorly, yet he dreams of one day being an artist and rubbing elbows with them. Walter’s boss, Leonard (Anthony Carbone, Creature from the Haunted Sea, The Pit and the Pendulum and a few other Corman flicks) is a particularly unlikable prick, and treats our boy Walter like dirt. One night after a typical shift, Walter returns home to his dingy little one-room apartment to find that his landlady’s cat, Frankie, has gotten into the walls. With no real malicious intent, Walter decides the best way to get Frankie out is to cut through the drywall with a large kitchen knife. As you can imagine, this does not go well, particularly for Frankie. Shocked and terrified that he accidentally skewered Mrs. Swickett’s beloved pet, he gets the idea to cover Frankie’s carcass with sculpting clay, and turn him into a work of art. The next day at the Yellow door, Walter’s “Dead Cat” sculpture, complete with protruding knife, is a big hit with the beat crowd, particularly with one Maxwell Brock (Julian Burton, also in Corman’s Masque of the Red Death), who seems to be the epicenter of the local scene. Suddenly, even that beret wearing tool Leonard is treating Walter with some respect, as is Walter’s crush, Carla (played by Barbara Morris, another Corman alum with Wasp WomanThe Trip and Machine Gun Kelly to her credit). It would seem that Walter’s horse has finally come in, as he goes from forgettable busboy to art sensation overnight. Unfortunately, all that glitters is not gold, and Walter begins to attract the attention of Yellow Door regular and undercover cop Lou Raby, who tails Walter home one evening after an overly enthusiastic female admirer slips Walter a vial of heroin. Detective Raby knocks at Walter’s door and promptly lets himself in once the door is opened. He begins to grill Walter about the heroin, but it’s clear to us in the audience that Walter had no idea what he was given. Walter is a sweet, mousey, gullible little man that we can’t help but like, so Lou’s persistent badgering comes off as just another example of poor Walter being bullied. It is for that reason that when Walter panics and bashes Lou’s skull in with a frying pan that we can’t help being just a bit relieved, and Walter comes off as vindicated. But alas, Detective Raby was no house cat, and Walter has just committed murder. Fortunately, he still has plenty of sculpting clay, and Voila! “Murdered Man” is created, and becomes Walter’s latest masterpiece!

With “Murdered Man”, Walter has become a bonafide artist, has folks desperately trying to outbid one another for his work, and shows up at The Yellow Door wearing a beret, carrying a cane he calls his “Zen Stick” and orders Papaya Cheesecake and Yugoslavian white wine. Fame went to his head very quickly. And although he has become a bit of a pretentious jerk, He’s still just likable enough to keep us rooting for him. We can see that he is in way over his head, but all we can do is pretty much sit back and watch this whole thing run its course. When Carla suggests that Walter sculpt her, he promptly but politely refuses, as that would surely mean the end of Carla. However when the overly obnoxious blonde diva Alice (Judy Bamber of 1963’s Monstrosity) hints that she’d let Walter sculpt her, he responds with “I just might”, with a murderous glint in his eye! 

Shot in just five days with a budget of $50,000 and using a recycled set from the film Diary of a High School BrideA Bucket of Blood was written by Charles B. Griffith, who also collaborated with Corman on Little Shop of HorrorsBeast from Haunted CaveSki Troop Attack and Death Race 2000 as well as directing a half-dozen films himself (including Up from the DepthsForbidden Island and Eat My Dust! starring Ron Howard). Griffith was also instrumental in helping Roger capture the comedic tone of the film, as he did with Little Shop of Horrors. Corman found the idea of doing comedy a bit unnerving, stating in an interview once “If you make a comedy and no one laughs, you’re dead!”. Griffith, however was born into a vaudeville family, and his parents even offered advice on how to make the comedic aspects of the film work. In addition to being a skilled filmmaker, able to make things happen with minuscule budgets and insanely tight schedules, Corman was (and is, for that matter, still kicking in his 90’s these days) a great businessman and very sharp at making pictures that will pique the interest of the movie-going public. The beat scene was a subculture of the 1950’s that brought us the work of one Jack Kerouac, but compared to other subcultures that have been overly exploited in films over the years (Bikers, Hippies, Gangsters etc.) Beatniks never really got a whole lot of screen time, the only other film from the era that comes to mind would be Julian Roffman’s The Bloody Brood, featuring a young Peter Falk, also released in 1959. Corman and Griffith reportedly spent several evenings frequenting beatnik coffee bars and hangouts in doing research to make the characters as “authentic” as possible. 

Is A Bucket of Blood one of Corman’s best films? I suppose it depends on who you ask. What the film is to me, however, is 64 minutes of kooky fun. Like many of Corman’s early work, or just about any other wacky 1950’s horror/sci-fi/monster fare, it’s not exactly “terrifying” or even mildly disturbing, but a fun little flick for those who truly appreciate these films for what they are, and how they came to be. 

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: The Revenge of Dr. X (1967)

It’s been said that this movie is based on a 1950s screenplay by Edward D. Wood Jr., but he isn’t credited. He probably should be — this has his weird hands all over it. Even stranger, the first American video release had credits for a completely different movie, the 1969 Filipino film The Mad Doctor of Blood Island.

Also known as Venus Flytrap and Body of the Prey, this movie sat unreleased for 3-4 years, depending on who you ask, before it was unleashed on the moviegoing public. Just look at this amazing VHS box art, which has nothing to do with the actual film.

It’s all about Dr. Bragan, a NASA mathematician. After realizing that if his numbers are off by even the slightest decimal point, he could be sending men to their deaths, he has a nervous breakdown. His assistant suggests he goes to Japan to recuperate.

He’s played by James Craig, who was also in Bigfoot and The Tormentors, but his real life is way more interesting than any of the films that he was in. Once heralded as the successor to Clark Gable — indeed he took over many of his roles once Gable was drafted — his life took a turn thanks to drinking and bad relationships. His first marriage to Mary June Ray ended after 15 years due to claims of spousal abuse. His second marriage to Jill Jarman would not last the year, ending with him being threatened with arrest for not attending their divorce hearing. It was alleged that he broke into her home, beat her and cut up all of her clothes. That said, four years later, she’d kill her eleven-year-old son and commit suicide. A third marriage also ended in divorce. After the mid 1970’s, Craig retired to become a real estate agent.

But back to The Revenge of Dr. X. In Japan, Dr. Bragan stays at a hotel with his beautiful assistant, Dr. Hanamura (Kami), whose phonetic dead readings tell us she’s in love with this guy who is way too old for her and acts way too creepy, giving her unnecessary compliments about her looks before he even really knows her. He also begins experiments on a Venus Flytrap plant he brought from America, customs be damned. After he crosses it with a carnivorous undersea plant that he has nude pearl divers get for him — exploitation movie logic — and blasts it with lightning, is it any wonder that it’s soon eating puppies and people?

Come for the stock footage and library music. Stay for the strange plant person. If you think you know what a bad movie is and you haven’t seen this one, well, you don’t know what a bad movie is.

You can catch this on Amazon Prime.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Sunburst (1975)

Sometimes the Chilling Classics rewards you with magic. Other times, it assaults you with a film like Sunburst, also known as Slashed Dreams.

Robert (Peter Hooten, the original Dr. Strange) and Jenny (Katharine Baumann, The Thing with Two Heads and now a handbag creator) are going up to the woods to find their friend, Michael (Robert Englund), who has left the world of capitalism behind for a simpler one in the woods.

Once they’re up there, they run into one of a store owner played by Rudy Vallee. In his era, Vallee was one of the biggest teen hearthrobs ever. Here, he’s singing and trying to sell our protagonists a knife. You can also see Vallee in The Phynx and Michael Winner’s strange family film, Won Ton Ton, the Dog Who Saved Hollywood. Seriously, if you’re a fan of old Hollywood, that movie has so many cameos that your head will spin.

Anyways, while skinny dipping, two hooligans (James Keach and David Pritchard, the writers of the film) attack Robert and rape Jenny. Michael saves them, then Robert has a mudwrestling fight with the two men, who run away. Jenny reads a poem from Khalil Gibran and…that’s the end of the movie.

To no surprise, this slice of 1970’s post-hippie weirdness comes from James Polakof, who was also behind the lost woman in the 1970’s trying to make sense of it all by having sex with the devil movie Satan’s Mistress.

To make matter worse — or better — the film features seven songs by Roberta Van Dere, including one titled “Animals Are Clumsy Too” and “Theme from Sunburst.” Actually, best of all, the version of this film on the Chilling Classics set has a video effect over the Sunburst title, replacing it with a keyed out box and the words Slashed Dreams.

Why a movie about Deliverance-esque hillbillies raping and attacking a couple ala Straw Dogs needs a legendary jazz crooner and numerous Carol King sounding songs is beyond me. I met James Keach once, as his son’s band (he was once married to Jane Seymour) was playing a benefit for the charity my agency did work for. If only I had seen Sunburst, because I would have driven him insane asking a million questions about this movie. Or maybe he would have loved the fact that someone had actually seen it.

You can get this in the set or pick up all on its lonesome from Cheesy Flix.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: The Ghost (1963)

An Italian horror remake of 1955’s Les Diaboliques, I’ll give you one reason to watch this movie: Barbara Steele. Otherwise, it’s a brooding take on murder and gaslighting. And while this is directed by Riccardo Freda, stars Steele and has a character named Dr. Hichcock, it is not the same movie as The Horrible Dr. Hichcock. While this movie was shot right around the same time, it is also not a sequel per se. There are some people who care about these kind of things. Like me.

The ailing Dr. Hichcock and his housekeeper Catherine are engaged in a seance whole his wife Margaret (Steele) is having a love affair with Dr. Livingstone (Peter Baldwin, who in addition to acting in this movie and I Married a Monster from Outer Space, went on to become a director, being behind the camera for TV movies such as the aborted Revenge Against the Nerds TV show pilot, The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Girls Get Married and The Brady Brides series follow-up).

Soon, the doctor is dead and Catherine, Margaret and Livingstone get none of the money. And the key to his safe? Well, he’s literally taken it to the grave. Every time they think they get close or find the money, they’re thwarted. And soon, Catherine the maid is possessed and throws shade on the lovers, convincing Margaret that she should kill the not so good doctor.

The close is where this movie turns the screw. Hichcock has been alive and well the entire time and he murders Catherine, his co-conspirator, and incriminates Margaret. She had been planning suicide and poured a glass of poison, which Hichcock thinks is poison. He begs for the antidote, but she walks away to be arrested for Catherine’s murder. As the movie closes, Hichcock seals himself away inside his castle to die.

Should you watch it? Do you like gothic romantic horror ala Bava but want to see one with none of Bava’s directorial flair? How much do you love Barbara Steele? That should inform your opinion. The good news is that if you have an Amazon Prime membership, you won’t have to pay anything to watch it.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: The Devil’s Hand (1961)

Also known as Witchcraft, The Naked Goddess, Devil’s Doll and Live to Love, this black and white film is all about some people in Los Angeles who want to be ahead of the Black House’s curve in San Francisco and start worshipping Satan…err, Gamba, the Great Devil God.

Probably the most interesting thing that I can tell you about this movie is that Chess Records released Baker Harris and the Knightmares’ “Theme from ‘The Devil’s Hand.” No word on how many people bought it.

Rick Turner (Robert Alda, Father Michael from the bastardized version of Bava’s Lisa and the Devil that was retitled The House of Exorcism, which strangely enough also has a similar plot to this movie, so Satan has to be behind this coincidence) keeps seeing a succubus, a nearly nude vision of a woman dancing in the clouds. Soon, he has come to a doll shop that has one in the exact image of his dreams, which is a likeness of Bianca Milan (Linda Christian, the first Bond girl).

Understandably, his girlfriend Donna (Ariadna Welter, El Vampiro) is freaked out when she finds a doll that looks just like herself. Rick is too after the shop owner Frank Lamont (Neil Hamilton, Commissioner Gordon from TV’s Batman) knows him by name. He also refuses to sell Donna her doll, instead stabbing it and causing her no end of pain.

Of course, while his lady is in the hospital, Rick becomes Bianca’s lover. She’s been sending thoughts into his mind and wants him to join her cult and takes him to a meeting, where Gamba decides if a woman lives or dies when his wheel of knives descends on a woman. She lives, but a cult member takes photos of the event.

Donna is cured by midnight and released from the hospital. There are bigger problems, as the cultist who took the photo is a reporter who Frank curses and kills like Dr. Lavey cutting out photos of Jayne Mansfield.

Soon, the cult is having another meeting to test Rick, asking him to choose if Donna lives or dies. Who knew being in a devil cult had so many meetings? It seems like an awful lot of commitment to make. He chooses her and all of the cult dies in a fire.

The film ends quite ambiguously for when it was made, as the couple thinks everything is copacetic and we soon see in the skies, waiting for him. This is one weird movie, one that feels like a waking dream.

You can watch this for free on the Internet Archive or on Amazon Prime with your membership.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon (1973)

If all Juan López Moctezuma directed was Alucarda, he’d still be celebrated. Throw in the fact that he was behind the camera for El Topo and also created this little piece of strangeness and you can see that he’s someone to be celebrated.

A journalist has traveled to Dr. Maillard’s (Claudio Brook, AlucardaThe Devil’s Rain!) remote mental institution to write a story about the progressive treatment the doctor offers: patients are free to roam and fully live out their fantasies. However, when he gets there, the reporter learns from the doctor’s daughter Eugenie that he hasn’t met the real doctor, just one of the inmates that is quite literally running the asylum and randomly quoting Aleister Crowley. Even better — Susana Kamini, Justine from Alucarda, shows up as a cult priestess!

Imagine if Hammer or Amicus made a movie in Mexico, with all of the dialogue in English, and fed massive amounts of drugs to everyone involved. That’s pretty much how I imagine that this film was made. It’s also an Edgar Allan Poe story (The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether), but really, it’s also a costume drama with more powdered wigs than a British courthouse. And man, has there ever been so sensationalistic a title?

Will you like it? Not if you’re expecting a horror movie. Again, the Chilling Classics set confounds expectations, seeming like it will only feature the worst schlock and somehow embracing Mexican art cinema. I can only imagine that there’s a basement in the Mill Creek offices where the maniac that chose the films for this set signed off on it with a feather pen and a giant flourish, exclaiming, “I hope this makes someone’s brain melt!”

Beyond watching this on the Chilling Classics box set, you can also find it on Amazon Prime. If you want a much better looking copy of this film, Mondo Macabro released it as The Mansion of Madness, complete with a brand new digital transfer and Guillermo dl Toro discussing the director.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

John S Berry really came through, getting this next Chilling Classics movie our way on a quick deadline. I watched this movie too, so I can feel the pain that he had to go through. I never want anyone to do anything I wouldn’t do, you know? You can check out John on Twitter

When it comes to the world of cinema (especially bargain, Mill Creek sets) I often remind myself at just how difficult it is to get a movie made, any movie. I try to live by the Shock Waves podcast credo of how the movie that you didn’t like somewhere it may live as someone’s favorite movie and to be positive.

We really do have enough negative bullshit going on many fronts these days (and most days) to let it soak into what a lot of us like, movies. When I am not a huge fanboy, supporting pied piper or when my neck is sore from shaking it I just repeat the mantra “It was not for me. But if you liked it please enjoy, it was not for me.” I guess this is my cinema version of the Bill Burr philosophy of “fair enough.”

Maybe this is too much philosophy for a movie by a western movie involving Frankenstein’s Monster directed by a man who had close to 350 known films. But really isn’t this the 1966 version of indy cinema in the vein of Abe Lincoln vs. Zombies?

William Beaudine also made Billy the Kid vs. Dracula in the same year. Maybe he shot them back to back or maybe these were some passion products that he always wanted to do. He could make films fast and cheap, according to IMDB “Instead of shooting full coverage of scenes, he would shoot only what he knew was absolutely necessary. This saved both production time and raw stock, an important factor at the Poverty Row studios where he worked.”

The film has a few things going for it. On my second viewing after a long day, I appreciate it more. The previous night even with sleeping in and a nap under my belt I dozed off about half way thru and decided I would attempt later. The poster artwork has a distinct style and I wonder what young kids thought in the context of the times. Did they laugh at the crazy concept or did they wonder what the evil lady and Monster had in store of the Robin Hood of gunfighters?

This movie is made for when you can’t sleep at 3AM or an afternoon when you are home sick from school. I cannot imagine watching this many more times but I am hoping to snag the version with Joe Bob Briggs commentary once it is somewhat affordable on the eBay. I am not sure if it is anyone’s favorite movie or ranked in their top 20 but it has its charm, unlike the lead who plays Jesse James John Lupton.

He is a very slender blonde hair guy and does not seem to have any charm or wit to his personality. Lupton reminded me of Jim Varney (Ernest Goes to…) with a thin blond mustache. Is it wrong that in my fantasy booking of a remake I have Ernest playing Jesse James and William Smith from Grave of the Vampire playing loveable oaf muscle man Hank Tracy? But I am sure the budget was not huge but I am sure Beaudine was able to turn a profit.

The film has some good ideas for the story but it never really has a scary or creepy vibe. It starts off with a pretty bland western feel (I have probably seen too many shoot ’em up carve ’em up Spaghetti Westerns) and Jesse James is seen as a noble outlaw. His big galoot of a buddy Hank Tracy is trying to win them some money in a fist fight. Hank is a huge dude and I instantly think he is going to be the star of the movie. Nope, Hank wins his fight IE does all the work and Jesse just threatens the would be welcher and gets their money.

Most of the town folk are leaving and the Frankenstein bro and sis are running out of folks to experiment on. Dr. Maria Frankenstein is actually the granddaughter of Dr. Frankenstein and she works with her brother Dr. Rudolph (who looks like a Grandpa) on various mind control, raising from the dead, super soldier kind of experiments. Seems like mainly what they get done is ruining Maria’s hair with a rasta painted helmet and either killing off the person or injecting them with some good ole skull and crossbones poison.

Luckily Maria just happens to flip thru the right book and figures out why her experiments failed. She needs a strong man and lucky for her one will soon land in her lap. Meanwhile back at the ranch, Jesse and Hank have been double-crossed by the remnant of the Wild Bunch. Hank takes a bullet for Jesse and they are on the run.

They run into Juanita and her family and she decides to take them to get help for Hank. The Frankensteins patch up Hank and don’t trust Juanita. Jesse must be giving off some sort of pheromone because not only does Juanita decide she loves him but Maria is smitten too (funny scene her brother teases her for actually being human and she paintbrushes him). But really he is more into his badass outlaw persona and chooses to stay on the run.

I am not too sure why they wouldn’t be into Hank. He is built like a brick shit house and seems very loyal and sweet. Jesse comes across cranky and moody and he smokes a lot so he probably has hot trail breath as well. Hank does not come across too bright but neither does Jesse. Jesse is easily conned and taking this noble approach way to far.

Jesse is sent away for “medicine” which is really a note incriminating himself so he will get caught. Before he goes on his mission Juanita (who is probably the smartest one) begs him not to go. She sees it is a trick and Jesse in his pompous ass fashion tells her a version of a man has got to do what a man has got to do and leaves to the near town.

Even after her begging him he has no inkling to maybe take a peek at the letter just in case. This arrogant SOB doesn’t even hold up to any light and try to read the letter. Nope he figures Dr. Maria is so smitten with him she is on the up and up.

Jesse gets some revenge and Juanita calls him on his macho BS as she has seen what Dr. Maria has done to poor Hank. Hank was smitten with Maria before he was Igor and Maria cannot stand the thought of Jesse becoming a mindless beast. Actually with Maria controlling him maybe he would have a little more charm. Juanita goes to get the Sheriff and saves the day and Jesse. At the end, Jesse rides off with the Sheriff and I am not sure if he is going to jail or to hang from a willow tree.

The film ends with a sad ending for Hank. Sadly for him, Juanita was a pretty good shot with her eyes closed but lucky because there were no gaping bullet holes in his chest. Poor Hank is buried and to add insult to the injury his grave says “Hank Tracy He was Jesse James’ friend.” Come on! The guy can’t even have top billing on his own headstone!!!

Jesse James is an egomaniac and I wish Hank as Igor would have squeezed him until he was just a hat and a bad mustache. Hank would have lived out his days with Juanita raising a family, they would have saved money on horses on account of Hank could be the plow horses.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Track of the Moon Beast (1972)

This entry was written by Bill Van Ryn, who is the creative force behind the website Groovy Doom and the zine Drive-In Asylum. Somehow, he’s tackled nearly every yeti related film on this box set. Thanks, Bill!

Filmed in 1972, Track of the Moon Beast never received any significant theatrical distribution. It sat shelved for years after completion, and IMDB claims it premiered June 1, 1976, but I’ll be damned if I can find an ad for any theatrical engagements in any newspaper archive.  The first appearances I can document are when it came to TV in 1978, and after that it was a frequent item on local stations desperate to fill their late night slots. Even though the film takes place in the early 1970s (a fact that the fashion and decor will never let you forget), the plot for this is straight out of classic 1950s science fiction.

A young man named Paul (Chase Cordell) is struck by a tiny shard from a falling meteorite from the moon. The shard has embedded itself in his head, and for some reason this causes him to transform into a rampaging lizard monster whenever the moon rises.  He happens to be friends with a local professor who connects this bizarre turn of events with an ancient Native American legend, although nobody can stop Paul’s deadly transformations.

Track of the Moon Beast boasts an interesting creature design by Rick Baker and Joe Blasco, about on the level with Baker’s monster suit work for 1971’s Octaman. It’s a throwback ‘man in a suit’ monster movie, and the majority of the film is just total camp. Even its most ridiculous moments are played with a serious tone, and the experience of watching the limited actors devour the absurd script makes it an easy target for riff trackers, both professional and amateur.

There is one scene in the film that I found extremely effective: after Paul transforms for the first time, we see an older man and his wife who are in the middle of a fight. The wife is angry and has locked the drunken man outside, threatening to go to bed and leave him out there all night. They are ridiculous caricatures, and we know he’s going to be attacked by the Moon Beast, but the film presents it in an unexpected way, focusing on the wife’s stunned look of horror as she hears the sounds of it attacking and killing her husband just outside their front door.  The camera pans from her frozen face to a large pool of blood that has started to seep under the door, and for a few moments the film actually seems capable of something.

Although it never lives up to that moment again, Track of the Moon Beast probably would have ended up with a better reputation if it had just been a little more lighthearted. The nihilistic aspects of the story are a real bummer, made even worse by the fact that there is actually some real chemistry between Chase Cordell and Leigh Drake, who plays Paul’s girlfriend Kathy.  It’s almost by accident, but they do seem very natural together, and Kathy of course is about to find out the cruel truth that every girl who ever dated a werewolf could have told her: there’s no future when you fall in love with a man who transforms under the moon. There’s a scene where Paul and Kathy overhear a doctor in an adjacent room casually discussing the fact that Paul’s condition is hopeless and he is doomed to die. Although the film veers off into a ludicrous climax at this point, it’s hard to shake the fact that a man is given a medical death sentence on screen and runs off into the desert with intentions of suicide. The fact that he turns into a man-lizard and disappears in a supposed shower of cosmic rays might make you smile, but you’ll either be asleep or seriously bummed out when it’s all over. I couldn’t blame you either way.

Don’t have the Chilling Classics box set? You can watch this for free with an Amazon Prime subscription.

CHILLING CLASSICS MONTH: Shock (1946)

Dr. Cross (an amazingly young Vincent Price) is treating a young patient for shock, as she went into a coma when she saw a man kill his wife with a candlestick. But what if that man ended up being Dr. Cross? And how will she escape?

Lynn Bari plays the Doctor’s lover/nurse Elaine, and if you know anything of noir, she’s never a leading lady but always the seductress, a “sultry, statuesque man-killer” as Wikipedia refers to her. Sadly, her career fizzled by the 1950’s, “sabotaged by unresolved problems with her domineering, alcoholic mother and three marriages.”

Once Dr. Cross realizes that Janet knows he’s the killer, Elaine convinces him to overdose her on insulin and give her shock therapy, which sends her into a coma. He can’t find it in his heart to kill her, but his nurse won’t help him save her, so he chokes her. Luckily, Dr. Harvey saves the day and all is well — but things sure got close.

If you don’t have the Chilling Classics set, you can always watch this on Amazon Prime. Actually, since the original copyright holder never secured the rights, it’s in the public domain, so you can find it pretty much anywhere.