MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Evil Brain from Outer Space (1965)

About the Author: Paul Andolina is one of my favorite people to talk movies with. If you like his stuff, check out his site Wrestling with Film. This was previously a part of two other Mill Creek months, the first on November 15, 2019 and the second appearance on November 24, 2020.

Evil Brain from Outer Space is a science fiction film from 1965. It happens to be a couple of the Japanese Super Giant films that have been hacked up and spliced together to make one English dubbed film. It’s an odd movie about a group of aliens who send one of their own to earth to stop the brain of the evil mutant Balazar from destroying humanity. 

Special effects films and television shows are big in Japan and they have been since Godzilla roared onto screens. The Super Giant series from the late 50’s is a bunch of stand-alone films that are about the deeds of a man named Giant of Steel or as he is known in EBfOS Star Man. Star Man is a superhero basically and he wears some pretty nifty lycra outfits, he looks like a luchador that forgot his mask at home.

Evil Brain sees Star Man coming to earth to stop a few evil doctor/scientists who are in league with the evil extraterrestrial brain of Balazar. There is a hawk that hangs out with one of these doctors and a one-legged man who serves the other. There are some pretty awesome mutants who fight Star Man in this film as well. One looks like a chupacabra from the black lagoon and has strange tendril-like fingers and makes some weird noises, if I had seen this a child I would have been scared of him immediately. I actually said out loud, “WTF is that?” while watching the movie. He is by far my favorite part of the film. The other mutant is a long-haired demon lady who doesn’t quite know how to put on her lipstick. She jumps around and scratches the air while making demonic cat noises. There are also some generic henchmen mutants as well.

I would love to see the Super Giant serials in Japanese with English subtitles but I’m not sure they can live up to the insanity that is this film. It seems longer than it is because there is too much jibber-jabber. Honestly would love to see Star Man just mess up some mutants and forgo the plot altogether. If you like psychotronic films this is definitely the one for you. I have no idea what they were thinking when they pieced this bad boy together. I’d like to believe there was some acid involved and a whole lotta pot. It is in black and white but it still is a lot of fun. 

If you have any interest in the Tokasatsu trend in Japan and want to see an earlier effort you can’t get much better than Evil Brain from Outer Space.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: The Lost City (1935)

Kane Richmond went from being a football star at the University of Minnesota as Fred Bowditch to becoming a film salesman before testing and getting the lead in the boxing serial The Leather Pushers and becoming a fixture in serials like Spy Smasher and Brick Bradford as well as playing Lamont Cranston — otherwise known as The Shadow — in The Shadow ReturnsBehind the Mask and The Missing Lady. His career moved on to playing supporting roles as well as TV work before retiring in 1966.

In The Lost City, he plays a scientist named Bruce Gordon who climbs the Magnetic Mountain and descends into the secret world of the Lemurians who are led by the evil Zolok. He’s played by William “Stage” Boyd, who was tired of being confused with actor William Boyd and added the middle name to somewhat haugtily proclaim that yes, he had stage experience. He also had a major drinking and drug problem that got so bad that — keep in mind this was during Prohibition — he started not only losing roles, but cost the other William Boyd his RKO contract because papers would print photos of the non “Stage” Boyd every time “Stage” Boyd got in trouble. This was his final role. As for his namesake, he changed his name to Bill Boyd and overcame being penniless in 1931 when RKO fired him and got the role that would change his life: Hopalong Cassidy.

When that film series ended up in 1948, Boyd had nearly bankrupted himself again by buying the rights to every film, something few actors did. He sold or mortgaged everything he owned, which didn’t pay off until he took one of his older pictures to the local NBC television station and offered it at a low rental cost, hoping that people would start talking. They did. He became one of the first national TV stars with every one of his films sold to NBC, got a new radio show and rebuilt his personal fortune.

Back to Lemuria.

Zolok has gone full Ming and created natural disasters to weaken the human race before his takeover. He’s also keeping Dr. Manyus (Josef Swickard) — and his daughter Natcha (Claudia Dell) — and forcing him to transform Lemurians into mindless giants as well as making his enemies, the spider loving Wangas, into weak slaves.

Back to Hopalong Cassidy. One of the other actors in this film, George “Gabby” Hayes, who plays the sidekick of Hopalong named Windy Halliday from 1935 to 1939. He quit that role when he felt he wasn’t being paid what he was worth and left for Republic Pictures. He had to change the name of his character to Gabby Whitaker and ended up being even more successful, appearing in 44 Roy Rogers movies, 14 Wild Bill Elliot films and 7 movies with Gene Autry. He also became a TV star once westerns became big on the new medium. While in the movies he was a gnarled up old man who spoke in strange gruff phrases, he was actually an intelligent and well-spoken man.

Gorzo, the dwarf bad guy in this, is played by Billy Bletcher, whose career is filled with nearly a hundred roles. He’s best known for playing the Big Bad Wolf and Mickey Mouse’s enemy Pete in the early Disney cartoons. He also worked with Pinto Colvig to do the ADR voices of the Munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.

The Lost City is not all that different from The Phantom Empire, taking that Gene Autry serial and moving it from a cowboy-friendly locale into the jungle. Producer Sherman S. Krellberg would edit the twelve episodes into four movies and added new footage to create new endings for each movie. The character Queen Rama and the Wangas, butthen made another version that had all of those characters and called it City of Lost Men. He also made another version of this in the 70s that is full of continuity issues.

Director Harry Revier made several early Tarzan movies but I know him best for the truly berserk Lash of the Penitentes, an early exploitation film promising women whipping themselves and, yes, delivering while cashing in on a then-well-known controversy.

As for Lemuria, it was a major obsession for occultists at this time. Theosophy founder Madame Helena Blavatsky had written a system of magic that involved Lemuria as the place where humans came from originally. We can also tie the underground world to another popular mid-20th century myth, The Shavers. Checkout films like The Mole People and the sort-of-doc Beyond Lemuria to learn more. Or ask me. I can talk about this kind of weird stuff for days.

The Lost City looks dated today but was state-of-the-art in 1935. Check it out for yourself and see how far movies have come.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: End of the World (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on October 25, 2018.

Bill from Groovy Doom and Drive-In Asylum always jokes about movies where nothing happens as being his favorite movies. If that’s true, he must absolutely adore this movie.

Christopher Lee, the main selling point of this movie, said, “Some of the films I’ve been in I regret making. I got conned into making these pictures in almost every case by people who lied to me. Some years ago, I got a call from my producers saying that they were sending me a script and that five very distinguished American actors were also going to be in the film. Actors like José Ferrer, Dean Jagger, and John Carradine. So I thought “Well, that’s all right by me”. But it turned out it was a complete lie. Appropriately the film was called End Of The World.”

The film opens with a shaken Lee as a Catholic priest trying to get to a phone call. All hell breaks loose and a diner is destroyed, with the owner blinded by coffee before being killed and the pay phone being blown up. Turns out that Father Pergado is due to be replaced by the alien Zindar. Good start. And it was the trailer, filled with science fiction machines and evil nuns that got me interested in this picture!

Professor Andrew Boran discovers radio signals that predict natural disasters.   He and his wife investigate, discovering that they come from a convent where aliens have taken over. The aliens want him to join them, as the Earth is too diseased to exist.

The leads are wooden and only seem to want to have sex with one another, yet there are no love scenes. They’re utter failures at being heroic and simply move the plot along to its conclusion, where we learn that the Earth is filled with glitter. It blows up real good!

There are some ridiculous moments, such as Lee’s true form and seeing nuns operate supercomputers. Seriously, if I just read the description of this movie, it’d sound like everything I love. But seeing the execution leaves a lot to be desired.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: House of the Dead (1980)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Bill Van Ryn is the genius behind Groovy Doom and the zine Drive-In Asylum. This was first on the site on November 28, 2018.

Ultra low budget films really turn me on sometimes, and House of the Dead has another sexy thing going for it: it’s a horror anthology. It’s one of those obscurities that received a very limited theatrical release, and was then relegated to cruising the backwaters of VHS. A recent blu ray resurrection by Vinegar Syndrome is a welcome chance to get acquainted with one of the more imaginative films of its type.

For some reason, the film was packaged theatrically under the misleading title Alien Zone, which says nothing about the actual content of the movie. It’s actually a supernatural film that deals with a man who finds himself lost in a rainstorm. He’s just come from seeing his mistress, and takes a taxi back to his hotel in order to phone his wife. The cab leaves him off in an area that isn’t familiar to him, and it drives off, leaving him stranded down a dark alley. A strange, older man emerges from the darkness and offers our protagonist a chance to get out of the rain, taking him inside the building and giving him coffee. The protagonist soon realizes his host is a mortician, and the old man insists on giving him a tour of the facility. The individual stories emerge as the mortician opens each casket and letting the protagonist look at the bodies.

House of the Dead gives you some bang for your buck, because it has four stories — five if you count the wraparound segment. The tone is definitely that of an old EC comic book, with nasty people doing horrible things and then suffering some kind of karmic justice. The first is about a schoolteacher with a disdain for children who is confronted by monsters, the second deals with a serial killer who lures women to their doom inside of his apartment, the third is about two dueling detectives who set out to murder each other, and the fourth shows an arrogant businessman’s rapid transformation into a derelict after he is trapped and tormented inside a warehouse of torture.

The stories are intriguing, although a few of them are awkwardly realized. Most disappointing is the story about the serial killer, because it starts out so damn good. It’s a found footage short, a collection of private films shot by the killer on a hidden camera. Each one shows him inviting a different woman to the apartment and finding ways to lure them into perfect position so he can murder them in front of the camera. It becomes increasingly disturbing, and you wonder where the story will go, and then suddenly it is over and it went nowhere. It had such an interesting setup, too, with a non-linear timeline and intercut news footage of the subject being attacked by camera-wielding reporters while being arraigned.

The best of the four stories by far is the fourth, which is a damn near brilliant piece of film. Most of it is performed solo by actor Richard Gates, who portrays a cocky businessman with a serious lack of empathy for others. He is confronted by a derelict outside of what he thinks is his office building, and he dismisses the man rudely, yelling after him “Why don’t you get a job?” Once inside the building though, he realizes he has walked into an unfamiliar storefront, with a vacant office space inside. Lured to an open elevator shaft by noises from below, he leans inside too far and falls down into the shaft, landing on his face. It’s a brutal moment that looks terrifyingly real, even though it’s just clever editing. This begins a gradual erosion of his humanity by some unseen antagonist; he is now in a Saw-like chamber of horrors, where he is wordlessly tormented by a falling elevator, a room where a wall of blades threatens him, and ultimately a prison cell where he is fed only bottles of alcohol. A door automatically opens some undetermined length of time later and he emerges into daylight, himself now a drunken man in a dirty suit approaching passersby for help and being rejected.

The film has a distinct visual look, which is often difficult when shooting a low budget movie. It’s not exactly striking, but it does creep into your brain a little by what it *doesn’t* show you. This movie does “anonymous and vacant” extremely well. Alleys are dark and vague, with strategically lit doorways and dark alcoves. That abandoned building is both ordinary looking and totally sinister, with simple but effective traps for its victim, almost like anybody could have set it up. Even the “house” of the title, which is purported to be a funeral home with a mortician’s workshop, is rendered onscreen only as a series of vague hallways and dim areas lit only by carefully directed lamps and bulbs, leaving most of the rooms in shadows.

A lot of the wraparound story is clunky, to say the least, like the awkward way the mortician narrator abruptly disengages from several of the stories, especially the ones with protagonists who don’t end up dead on screen (after all, he’s explaining to someone how these people ended up corpses in a funeral parlor). But the runtime is short (79 minutes), and it contains a few moments that are effectively creepy. It’s exactly the kind of thing you’d hope to find in a budget DVD collection.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Good Against Evil (1977)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on December 5, 2018.

Originally airing on May 22, 1977, this attempt at a weekly series comes from director Paul Wendkos (The Mephisto WaltzSecretsHaunts of the Very Rich) and Hammer veteran Jimmy Sangster (The LegacyScream, Pretty PeggyHorror of DraculaThe Revenge of Frankenstein).

I was really excited about the potential of this one, which promises from its Amazon listing that writer Andy Stuart (Dack Rambo) teams up with an exorcist named Father Kemschler (Dan O’Herlihy!) to battle Satan and a group of devil worshipers led by Mr. Rimmin (Richard Lynch!).

Seems like Rimmin has been after a girl named Jessica from the moment she was born, as her mother was drugged and attended to by nuns who took her baby away the moment it was born. Her mom was then killed by a black cat and Jessica is raised by his people, with her origins kept a secret.

When Andy and Jessica hook up and decide to get married, she’s unable to even get near the altar. That’s because she’s been promised to the demon Astaroth and must be kept a virgin until the beast comes back and puts a devil baby in her womb. Now, the cult that has been behind every moment of her life must keep her a virgin by cockblocking Andy at every turn.

I was totally prepared for pure 1970’s Satanic bliss, only to find myself in the midst of a relationship drama for much of the films first half. Sure, there was a flashback where a woman imagined a nearly nude and totally burned up Lynch — he came by those scars the hard way — attacking her. I was thinking — is this the TV movie version of Enter the Devil — only for cruel reality to make me learn differently.

That said, there are some good moments here, like a woman being killed by her own housecats under Rimmin’s command. And Elyssa Davalos as Jessica has plenty of great qualities that make her a wonderful horror heroine in distress. And while she’s top billed when you look this film up, Kim Cattrall makes a short appearance.

I wanted to love this. It has all the elements that you would think would lead to magic. Yet it can’t put them all together. Sometimes when you deal with the devil, you don’t get what you wanted.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: The Fury of the Wolfman (1973)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on August 23, 2020.

La Furia del Hombre Lobo is a 1970 Spanish horror film that is the fourth in the saga of werewolf Count Waldemar Daninsky, played as always by Paul Naschy. It was not theatrically released in Europe until 1975, yet an edited U.S. version played on television as early as 1974 as part of the Avco-Embassy’s “Nightmare Theater” package, along with Naschy’s Horror from the Tomb and The Mummy’s Revenge.

For those that care about these things — like me — the other films were MartaDeath Smiles on a MurdererNight of the Sorcerers, Hatchet for the HoneymoonDear Dead DelilahDoomwatchBell from HellWitches MountainManiac Mansion and The Witch.

This time, Daninsky is a professor who travels to Tibet, only to be bitten by a yeti which seems like not the werewolf origin that you’d expect. He then catches his wife cheating on him, so in a fit of passion, he murders them both before being killed himself. But this being a Spanish horror movie, that’s just the start of the trials that El Hombre Lobo must struggle through.

Daninsky is revived by Dr. Ilona Ellmann (Perla Cristal, The Corruption of Chris Miller), who wants to use him for mind control experiments. Soon, however, our hero learns that she has a basement filled with the corpses of her failed experiments. To make matters even worse, she brings back his ex-wife from the dead and turns her into a werewolf too!

There’s a great alternate title to this movie: Wolfman Never Sleeps. How evocative! That’s the Swedish version that has all of the sex that Franco’s Spain would never allow.

Naschy claimed that director José María Zabalza was a drunk, which may explain how this movie wound up padded with repeat footage from Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror and some stunt double continuity antics that nearly derail this furry film.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime. It’s also coming out on blu ray from Ronin Flix.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: The Doomsday Machine (1972)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on March 3, 2020.

You have to admire a movie that was originally filmed five years earlier under the titles Armageddon 1975 and Doomsday Plus Seven before the money stopped rolling in. The rights got sold, a new ending was filmed with totally different actors and plenty of padding got thrown in to make this — along with NASA stock footage and special effects taken from other movies.

Hell, the Astra, the main ship in this, changes its look every few minutes.

Original director Herbert J. Leder also made Fiend Without a Face. The fixed up footage came from Lee Sholem, who directed more than 1,300 episodes of television, as well as the movie Superman and the Mole Men.

Ruta Lee, who was one of the Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, stars in this. She’s joined by Mala Powers (who ran the estate of acting teacher Michael Chekov after his death), Grant Williams (The Incredible Shrinking Man), Henry Wilcoxon (the bishop in Caddyshack), former Tarzan Denny Miller, M*A*S*H* star Mike Farrell and Bobby Van, who hosted eight-year-old Sam’s favorite game show, Make Me Laugh.

You think the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey didn’t make sense? At least it didn’t abruptly end after wiping out most of the cast off-screen and Venusians try to explain the entire movie away via a voice-over.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: Embryo (1976)

Directed by Ralph Nelson (Charly) and written by Anita Doohan and Jack W. Thomas — who had stopped screenwriting for more than a decade to become a Los Angeles County deputy probation officer and write a series of books on troubled youth — Embryo finds Dr. Paul Holliston (Rock Hudson) living a life of solitude after losing his wife in a car accident, a fact that his sister-in-law/assistant Martha Douglas (Diane Ladd) reminds him of near daily.

One night, he runs over a dog — maybe he should stop driving — and ends up taking that dog’s unborn child and bringing it to healthy — if murderous — life in his lab. If he can play God like that, well, why not bring the unborn child of a suicide victim to life and have her become just about instantly 22 years old and named Victoria (Barbara Carrera)?

Despite how smart Victoria is, she’s also quickly dying as her body is addicted to the immune suppressant drug methotrexate and has no issue killing Martha to keep her origins a secret. And oh yeah — making sweet love to the much older doctor.

The end of this movie is ridiculous and I love it. I mean, rapidly aging clones drinking dead fetus fluids, the doctor watching her kill his son and chasing after her only to learn that she’s having his baby? 70s science fiction carny BS at its finest.

It goes without saying: Barbara Carrera really must have been grown in a lab. I don’t know if that kind of perfection can come from the coupling of a man and woman. It must have some kind of science added to it.

This also has a party scene with Roddy McDowell and Joyce Brothers during which chess is the main source of fun, not drinking. Sure.

Somehow, due to Cine Artists Pictures going out of business this movie is in the public domain.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: The Lost World (1925)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on October 5, 2021.

Adapted from Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1912 novel, The Lost World is most famous for its stop motion special effects, which were created by Willis O’Brien and predate his work on the original King Kong.

In some prints of this film, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle himself appeared in the opening, introducing what audiences were about to see. Just a few years earlier, he had shown a test reel of O’Brien’s effects to a meeting of the Society of American Magicians, including Harry Houdini. The audience was certain they had seen true footage of dinosaurs and Coyle refused to say where he had acquired the footage. It even made the front page of the New York Times, which said that Doyle’s “monsters of the ancient world, or of the new world which he has discovered in the ether, were extraordinarily lifelike. If fakes, they were masterpieces.”

The first feature-length film made in the United States — and probably the world — to feature model animation as the primary special effect, this was also the first movie to be played on an airplane.

Professor Challenger (Wallace Berry) has been ridiculed for announcing that dinosaurs are real, yet he accepts an offer to field a team to rescue the scientist Maple White, along with that learned man’s daughter Paula, sportsman Sir John Roxton, news reporter Edward Malone, Professor Summerlee, Zambo and Challenger’s butler Austin. I mean, if you live in style, I always say take your servant to meet some kaiju.

Well, their trip is filled with peril, plenty of dinosaurs and an apeman who nearly kills them multiple times before they bring a brontosaurus back to London. Unlike Kong, beauty does not kills the beast and the gigantic quadruped sauropod swims on down the Thames to freedom.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: This Is Not a Test (1962)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

This is Not a Test shares much in common Panic in Year Zero directed by Ray Milland. Both were low-budget productions released in 1962 and both deal with a group of strangers who come together in the California desert outside Los Angeles before/during a nuclear attack. Equally, both seem quaint in 2022. This is Not a Test, in particular presents a highly unlikely scenario for audiences who grew up on Mad Max or zombie apocalypse films. A lone Deputy Sheriff played by Seamon Glass sets up a roadblock on a lonely mountain pass to catch Clint (Ron Starr), a hitchhiking killer on the run. A truck carrying the fugitive along with a few other vehicles are stopped, giving Clint just enough time to flee into the darkness while all the other characters are introduced. We have a couple of gamblers, a married couple on the outs with their dog Timmy, a wise old man and his granddaughter Juney and – joining them later – a nice guy on a scooter. When news of a pending missile attack comes across the police radio, not only does the cop stay at his post, but all eight of the people stopped at the roadblock comply with his every command for the majority of the film. If this film were made today, Deputy Sheriff Dan Colter would either raid the delivery truck and flee the scene, or have his gun stolen and become Deputy Sheriff pork shoulder. In 1962, he’s the law and so “We have to do what he says.”

That’s not to say that things don’t go sideways. Colter is truly an idiot, making all the wrong decisions, including destroying a whole case of booze, which could not only be used to start fires in the post-apocalyptic world, but also to disinfect wounds. Not to mention act as a sedative against the coming horrors. 

Things unravel quickest for the dissatisfied married couple once the wife realizes her likelihood of survival is small. Looking for one last moment of happiness, she almost immediately falls into the arms of the truck driver, leaving her cuckolded husband to shoot himself with Colter’s gun in the very next scene while everyone else prepares the back of the truck as a shelter. While a few people choose to stay outside, the majority of the remaining group empty out the back of the truck and cover the air vents with mud. Although they initially plan to hunker down for at least 14 days, once inside, it takes all of 10 minutes for them to become exceptionally sweaty and claustrophobic. Colter kills Timmy the little dog for taking up too much air, a fight ensues and the group bursts forth from the back of the truck only to be greeted by a gang of looters in fresh from the hellscape that is now Los Angeles. 

Before any Negan-style nastiness ensues, the final countdown comes over the radio. Some of the people finally knock Colter unconscious, and take his car while the looters barricade themselves inside the back of the truck. Colter wakes up to find Clint running past, who, having been hiding in the woods for the pat 75 minutes, has no idea what’s going on. The film ends with Colter begging to be let inside the back of the truck. The screen turns white, we hear an explosion. The End. 

Despite its outdated social platitudes, It’s not a bad little movie. The location is used to good effect and the acting is pretty good. Although nowhere near as gruesome as the later films about nuclear war made in the 80s like The Day After, or the incredibly dark British outing Threads, which gave me nightmares for weeks, This is Not a Test is sufficiently bleak to satisfy fans of this well-worn subgenre. Best of all, it’s available for free on YouTube.