PURE TERROR MONTH: Night of Bloody Horror (1969)

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)?

(Bloody) Stumped?

If only that creepy dude showed up, then we’d have a movie.

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?”

“Yep.”

“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!

Tommy, please.

“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.

PURE TERROR MONTH: The Curse of Bigfoot (1975)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An American living in London, Jennifer Upton is a freelance writer for International publishers Story Terrace and others. In addition, she has a blog where she frequently writes about horror and sci-fi called Womanycom.

I cannot describe The Curse of Bigfoot (1975) as a good film under any circumstances. It features very little Bigfoot and no curse. Regardless, I’ve seen it many times. It represents a simpler time in childhood when public domain films like this ran regularly on TV stations throughout the United States. A time when we had just four channels, dammit. And we liked it that way! 

The Curse of Bigfoot (1975) contains another older hour-long B-movie titled Teenagers Battle The Thing (1958), in which a group of high school students discover a pre-historic mummy on an archaeological dig. The mummy, having been sealed up in a preserved cave for centuries, returns to life, tears off its bandages and goes on a rampage in the small town of Ivanpah. 

Although the creature is hairy and has fangs, it is never referred to as Bigfoot. It’s only in the wrap-around sequences added in the 1970s where a connection is drawn to the then-popular elusive cryptid. 

Both films open the same, with a brief explanation of the evolution of humans two million years ago and have the same opening credits. Curse then adds two modern ‘70s film-within-a-film sequences. 

First, a decidedly un-Bigfoot-like monster attacks a non-binary gender youth in the middle of a very sunny night. It ends to reveal a class of ‘70s youths using the film as a springboard for a discussion on how the various mythical monsters of the past have influenced current popular culture. Interestingly, one girl in the class is Jackey Neyman-Jones, who as a little girl, played little Debbie in another famously bad movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966.) 

Curse then treats us to several scenes of documentary-style logging in the pacific northwest where two lumberjacks named Larry and John track Bigfoot into the woods on what appears to be a very long lunch hour. When the creature dispatches Larry entirely offscreen, John stares at his friend’s body. Emotionless. It’s unclear if he’s shocked or possibly just contemplating shaving off his pathetic excuse for a moustache. 

The class then discusses whether this event really happened. The nature of the class in the film is anyone’s guess although it was actually Neyman-Jones’s drama class. If my school had offered cryptozoology as an elective, I would have totally signed up. These kids don’t seem very into it. Enter Roger Mason (Dave Flocker) a late-arrival guest speaker who immediately lays into one poor kid for his skepticism. Roger has personal experience with Bigfoot. And we’re about to hear about it. 

Roger is the only crossover character between Curse and Teenagers, whose sole purpose for showing up is to recount the story from 15 years ago. Still traumatized by the events, he repeatedly pauses dramatically between the words field and trip. Eyes closed, lips pursed, Roger guides us into the flashback i.e. the main film. 

There’s a lot of rock climbing and a lot of talking. About rock paintings, lunch – including a riveting exchange involving soda pop – and ancient prayer sticks. There are so many prayer sticks found in this movie that even the students tire of them. While handing over his latest find to the instructor Bill, one student even asks, “More prayer sticks?” Bill rolls them over in his hands thoughtfully. “Mm hmm. More prayer sticks.” End scene. 

Even when the group goes into the cave and discovers the mummy, the action is stilted despite what the dramatic library music by Ralph Carmichael (also used in the ‘50s Steve McQueen classic The Blob) would have you believe. 

Overall, the best part of this movie is the music. It wastes some great cues on scares that build up but never pay off. The music was so effective, many other directors featured it in their low budget horror and sci-fi films and it was available for a while on a CD called The Blob (and other creepy sounds) from Monstrous Movie Music records. 

After it gets the cobwebs out, the monster does a bit of skulking in the orange groves and almost has a run in with two of the kids – on their way back from buying orange pop – who remark how bright the moon is on what is very obviously a beautifully sunny day-for-night afternoon. 

“Bigfoot’s” face looks like a paper machete mask with two toothpicks glued on for fangs. The hair is patchy and mangy and its snarl sounds like the red-haired Gossamer from the old Bugs Bunny cartoons. I laugh with glee every time I see it. 

After it kills a townie in her own home, the group tries to lure the monster out of the orange grove where it’s been hiding. Someone has to go into the grove and sit watch near the raw meat they’ve placed as bait. The tension in the drawing of straws scene is palpable. Never before has a group of guys standing around casually talking been so realistically captured on film. You’ll thrill as they pull strands of hay from a random bail! Walt, the local sheriff draws the short straw and heads off to his post. 

After a long scene where everyone stands around waiting, the monster finally shows up and knocks Walt unconscious. Unable to reach him on the radio, the students, Roger and Bill go in after him. They shoot the monster but the bullets have no effect so they douse him with two buckets of gasoline and throw a flare at him. While “Bigfoot” burns, the group helps injured Walt to his feet. They all stand and watch the fire in silence. The music swells. The End. 

Despite its meandering plot, long boring sequences and a poorly executed monster, anyone interested in bad cinema and/or Bigfoot film completists should seek this one out. Its biggest oversight is that it never goes back to the classroom in the ‘70s for any closure. It would have been nice to see one of the hippie kids call out Roger on his earlier dramatics. His story was hardly the stuff that would render one witness speechless for the rest of her life as described. More like “Huh. So…that happened. Right. Boy, I sure could go for a bottle of orange pop…” 

EDITOR’S NOTE: To see Sam’s take on the movie, head over here. And to read our list of ten Bigfoot films or our Letterboxd list of Bigfoot movies, just follow the links.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)

“Eh, you’ve seen one exorcist flick, you’ve seen ‘em all,” scoffs the B&S Movies surfer.

Oh, how wrong you are, you wee demon-possession babe in the woods.

There’s nothing in the post-William Friedkin horror oeuvre that will prepare you for this German rip-off. . . . Not Assonitis’s Beyond the Door. Not de Ossorio’s Demon Witch Child. Not Bosch’s Exorcismo. Not Gariazzo’s The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. Not Mickey “Mario Bava” Lion’s The House of Exorcism. Not Cascio’s The Return of the Exorcist.

Wake up, Maggie. I got something to say to you.

None of these Italian and Spanish demon-possession soirées compare to the silver screen sleaze that is Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil. And you thought the Germans crossed the boundaries of bad taste with their Hammer Studios witch hunt rip-off, Mark of the Devil (1970)? And you thought The Eerie Midnight Horror Show threw Friedkin’s class and style out the window? Not even Tony Curtis’s pimple-on-the-neck-turns-into-an-Indian-demon-shaman buffoonery of The Manitou (1978) is up to the challenge of this X-Rated demon romp.

“I want to take communion, but not in my mouth, but down in my ‘hoo-hoo,’ you dirty nun ‘boinker,’” Magpie caresses her “triangle of death” before a priest. “When are you going to ‘screw’ your housekeeper,” she rants to Father Ed in an un-synced dub that makes Italian Giallos look in-sync.

Welcome to the X-Rated adventures of Linda Does Berlin, aka Satan’s Full-Frontal Lesbians School for Girls.

Our story beings with a Godspell-cum-Rocky Horror Show cast reject, aka a prostitute, walking down the street on a pleasant Ash Wednesday evening who launches into scenery-chewing hysterics at the discovery of an old man, Joseph Winter, crucified Jesus-style on the gate of her apartment building and . . .

Jump Cut! We’re in a record store with hot German chicks so we can meet ol’ Joe’s niece, Magdalena, who’s off to a party at her boarding school. . . . Now, if you know your Eurotrash cinema, you know the entire student body—even the headmistress and the instructors—at all-female boarding schools are red-herring “lesbians” because, well, all of the girls in Eurotrash-boarding schools are lesbians and up to some nefarious, bitchy deeds to torture the naïve innocent girl who just had a rich uncle kick-the-bucket, aka Joseph Winter.

. . . And cue the swarm of buzzing-house-flies SFX so people know shits-about-to-go-down. Ol’ Uncle Joe is sitting up in the morgue and, for whatever reason, this inspires Maggie to spaz n’ spider-arch and spew some rabies-foam and ruin the Lesbian School for Girls party. But that’s just plot piffle: We got ourselves two red-herring lesbians on the stairs giving us a “triangle of death” rub and a full-frontal rack at the 15-minute mark. What does this have to do with the plot? Nothing, it’s the ubiquitous and unnecessary “de Ossorio” lesbo-scene—so the director has a fantasy to jerk to after the day’s wrap.

Uh-oh. The eerie synth-music backing the buzzing flies . . . here we go. And Magpie is a-kung-fu fighting and trashing a kitchen and wants the school’s headmistress “inside of her.” Yes! Magpie’s gone full-frontal at 20 minutes with some invisible demon sex and Satan is going for some back-door action.

More buzzing flies . . . Mags has another episode and climbs a concrete wall like a spider monkey and takes a nap on top of ol’ Joe’s grave. Do we get a Carrie-style hand pop through the dirt? A Phantasm dwarf? It’s a dream sequence, right? Nope, she really did run away from the school to sleep on ol’ Joe’s grave. And on the way to take a cat nap on Uncle Joe’s grave, Mags hitched a ride and, big surprise, it’s time for the obligatory you-owe-me-for-the-ride rape gag so she can “wishbone” his legs . . . and rape him! Dick Hurtz, indeed.

Meanwhile, lamps and paintings are flying around on wires in the school’s attic. Why? Who cares! We have another full-frontal “triangle of death” rubbing alert at 31 minutes and Magpie’s off on another rabies-Tourette’s rant that puts Ms. Blair to shame.

Okay, I’m getting bored . . . cue the buzzing flies SFX. Now ol’ Magpie is on a McCambridge-PMS magnum opus to a priest and tearing through bibles like Jon-Milk Thor through a phone book. Will Mags kiss the priest and blow ‘em up like a water bottle (it’s a Jon-Mikl Thor thing)? Nope.

Now we’re in Exorcist II: The Heretic territory—even though that hasn’t been released yet to rip off—with the ol’ psychobabble-and-attach-the-electrodes-to-her-head-scene. Is it epilepsy? Tourette’s? Schizophrenia? Split Personality Disorder? Manic Depression? Why is no one listening to the priest? Eh, who cares? What’s up with the staircase lesbians? Are they drugging Magpie to steal Uncle Joe’s inheritance? Nope. Toss that red herring back in the water and just wait for a Paul Naschy-styled, out-of-left-field dues ex machina to appear.

So . . . the electrode-brain-scan hocus pocus tell us Mags needs some time in the county to ride horses and bicycles in a plaid mini-skirt and go-go boots to, you know, pad the film’s short running time. (This clever music video created with the film’s filler scenes—set to Cat Stevens’s “Morning Has Broken”—sums it up nicely.)

There are those flies, again. . . . Yes! Magpie’s going topless and picking up strange men in bars via pressing her nips into a windowpane. . . . Now, if I may interject for a moment: If ever the time comes when I see a woman pressing her ta-tas onto a windowpane and “wants me to give it to her now,” I just naturally assume the chick must have a demon rattling around inside of her—and I get the hell out of there . . . but this dude. . . . Yes! Full-frontal alert at 55 minutes and Magpie’s pitting two rapists against each other and one stabs the other . . . what the hell? She’s vanished into thin air.

La, la, la . . . more romantic bike rides in the countryside . . . friggin’ horses . . . a Table Tennis match with a romantic piano interlude? Okay, wait. Hold on! We may have a full-frontal moment here. . . . Nope. More horseback riding? What happened to the Table Tennis sex scene? Oh, wait! Naked piano playing and autoerotic asphyxia in the parlor. . . . Nope.

Now the cops arrested a burglar at ol’ Uncle Joe’s apartment whose babbling about the “man in black” who killed ol’ Joe. Why? Who? We’ll never know because “Joe” gave creepy-red herring-trench coat-burglar guy a push over a Hitchcockian-Vertigo stair railing at the police station. What does this have to do with the plot? It’s another red-herring tosser for the river.

Okay, so doctor dude at the psycho-chateau can clearly see Magpie is completely unhinged—devil possession de damned. Naturally, he jumps into the sack. I guess he didn’t hear the buzzing flies nesting in her Devil’s Triangle south of the 41st parallel.

Finally! We get to the Mercedes McCambridge-demon-voice-bed-flip-out scene of the movie so we can learn who in the hell this demon is and what this full-frontal lesbians excuse of a mess has to do with Magpie’s uncle and this red-herring burglar.

Welcome to the plot twist: Uncle Joe was frequenting prostitutes and his wife murdered him. So ol’ Uncle Joe, and Auntie Winter’s suicide soul, are inside our Magpie fighting each other and . . . okay, enough of that plot piffle. We have another full-frontal invisible demon rape scene at 1:15 with only seven minutes to go . . . well, whadda ya know . . . ol’ Joe, you sly-pedophile.

Are you following? Uncle Joe is the horny devil, doggy-style rapist. And all of Magpie’s mouthin’ foam moments—that was Auntie Winter. You got that? At least I think that’s what’s going on with this Euro-demon tomfoolery. . . .

Okay, so for a little back story to clear up this mess:

In the beginning of the film, during the initial investigation of Uncle Joe’s Ash Wednesday crucifixion, the headmistress of Magpie’s prep school told the detectives “how excited” Mags would be when it came time for one of her “visits” with Uncle Joe. Where do we file this uncle-niece incest insinuation? Is it a dues ex machina, red-herring, or MacGuffin incest? Someone please cue the random, Paul Naschy errant knight and out-of-left-field zombie attack. Will Mags use her demon-soul to resurrect the dead to attack the psycho-retreat? Nope.

And the flies are back so Magpie can set fire to the psycho-farmhouse and swing an axe and . . . one “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” later and . . . Magpie is spitting up a gummy fishing worm that turns into a baby garden snake. What the hell? Ladies and gentlemen: We have our Ruggero Deodato-denying-he-sliced-up-a-live-turtle-during-Cannibal Holocaust moment! Horny doctor dude just head-stomped a live snake! Call PETA. Alert the ASPCA!

Huh? We can’t file charges. The snake-evidence just vanished into thin air.

“There are things between heaven and hell,” so says horny doctor dude.

Yes, and there are things between one’s ass cheeks and the toilet.

***

For an alternate, less unhinged perspective on Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil, you can check out Sam’s take on it. Also be sure to read his reviews of the film that started the whole ‘70s Euro-demon enchilada, The Exorcist, and its sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. And where did all of this demon possession hocus pocus originate? Check out Brunello Rondi’s (Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle) Il Demonio (1963; The Demon) starring Daliah Lavi. Her spider walk exorcism scene (without wires) says it all; you won’t sleep for a week after watching it.

You want another totally inappropriate, blatant rip-off of The Exorcist? Then check out 1975’s The Return of the Exorcist.

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.

PURE TERROR MONTH: The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)

Film historians Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane have selected this movie as one of the 15 most meritorious British B films made between World War II and 1970. That has to be worth something, correct?

Director Ernest Morris and writer Brian Clemens worked together on several films, including Operation MurderOn the RunThe BetrayalThree Sundays to Live and A Woman of Mystery amongst others. Clemens would go on to write for The Avengers, as well as And Soon the DarknessDr. Jekyll & Sister HydeCaptain Kronos Vampire Hunter and creating the Thriller TV series.

Here, they are loosely adapting Edgar Allan Poe. Have you ever noticed that nearly every time I mention someone is making a Poe movie that it’s a loose adaption?

Edgar Marsh (Laurence Payne, Vampire Circus) is a shy man who is obsessed with erotica, which in 1960 made him a dangerous maniac instead of someone with an internet connection. He notices Betty Clare (Adrienne Corri, A Clockwork Orange) getting undressed and becomes overly obsessed by her, planning their future long before she’s even interested.

What she is interested in is his friend Carl Loomis, who she hooks up with after Edgar introduces them. He watches them together and then kills his friend with a poker, then buries him in his piano room. Before you can say “loosely adapted from an Edgar Allan Poe story,” he’s hearing the tell-tale heartbeat.

It’s low budget, but not a bad film. It feels very much like a TV production, which makes sense, because it was made by those that would go on to mainly work in TV.

If you don’t have the Pure Terror set — and you should — you can also watch this on Amazon Prime.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)

How have we taken so long to get this movie on to this website?

Since this movie was discovered by Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993 — which you can hear The Mads discuss on our podcast — this film has been proclaimed the worst movie ever made.

Please. I’ve seen way worse films.

In fact, Becca and I bonded over the fact that we share a strange adoration for this movie, which seems to exist in its own unique universe that doesn’t follow the laws of man.

This is a movie that was created as a bet. You read that correctly.

El Paso, Texas is where Harold Warren, an insurance and fertilizer salesman, and screenwriter Stirling Silliphant — who wrote the movie version of In the Heat of the Night and, of course, Over the Top — made a bet in a coffee shop that Warren could make his own horror movie all by himself. To be fair, Warren had done some acting himself and even appeared on Silliphant’s TV show Route 66.

Not only did Warren make that movie, he had the scent of auteur all over himself, writing, producing and even starring in the resulting movie along with theater actors Tom Neyman and John Reynolds.

Nobody in the crew had any experience making a movie. They only had $19,000 in their budget. And the result was a movie that opened to little fanfare at the Capri Theater in El Paso, where one limo drove each person one at a time, repeating the same loop, and it died except for some drive-ins in West Texas and New Mexico.

If Warren had been smart enough to put a copyright on his film, the story would have ended there. But he wasn’t. And he didn’t. So here we are.

As you can hear in the link above, Frank Conniff found Manos while looking through a box of movies for the show Mystery Science Theater 3000. The film had been playing on TV for some years — as cheap as $20 for a rental — and was available from public domain suppliers for some time. Oh you internet era readers, never having to buy films sight unseen from mail order.

Conniff would go on to say that Manos “seemed like it was maybe a crime against humanity, but you couldn’t be sure” and “has an atmosphere, a vibe” that made it appropriate for the show.”

While on vacation near El Paso, Texas, Michael, Margaret, their young daughter Debbie and their dog, Peppy — all dubbed like they’re in an Italian movie — are looking for the Valley Lodge. They’re lost and the film takes forever to find them, spending nearly nine minutes on footage of driving and a teenage couple making out and drinking.

The family finally finds a house in the middle of nowhere, which is watched over by Torgo, a satyr that moves at a glacial pace for most of the film. He was played by John Reynolds, who sadly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with a shotgun a month before the film played in his hometown. He was on LSD for most of the filming of Manos.

For some reason, the family stays the night, despite the Satanic portrait of the master and his dog with glowing eyes. They even decide to stay after Peppy the dog is killed by unseen forces and Torgo begins trying to put the make on Margaret.

Eventually, we meet the Master and his many brides as they sleep around a gigantic fire. They awaken and demand that Michael be sacrificed to their god named Manos. At this point, you may look up the fact that manos is Spanish for hands, meaning that the title of this film could be Hands: The Hands of Fate.

While all that’s happening, The Master decides to sacrifice Torgo and his first wife too. There are numerous catfights before the family escapes into the desert night, which makes no sense as this movie is both shot night for day and day for night.

When we return to the house, Michael has now taken on Torgo’s role and his wife and daughter now belong to The Master.

Often, people talk about just how hard it is to make an HP Lovecraft film. They’ve probably never seen this movie, a film that has no horizon lines, that always takes place in a world where it’s either too bright to be night or too dark to be daytime, as people say inane things and move strangely and women wear diaphanous gowns and men have smocks with giant red hands on them.

This is a movie that promises “A cult of weird, horrible people who gather beautiful women only to deface them with a burning hand!” and then makes the bold statement — nay it’s a command — “No one seated the last 10 minutes! We defy you to guess the ending… and ask you not to divulge it!”

It lives up to every bit of that hyperbole.

Despite the film’s negative reception, Harold Warren was so proud of it that he began wearing the Master’s robe every Halloween. His son now carries on the tradition. Not bad for a film where the only people who got paid were Debbie (Jackey Neyman Jones) who got a bicycle and the Doberman who got a bag of dog food. What about Peppy?

You can watch this on Tubi and the Internet Archive if you don’t have the PURE TERROR boxed set.

There’s also a sequel, called Manos Returns, that you can see the trailer for right here.

PURE TERROR MONTH: 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

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.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Grave of the Vampire (1972)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John S Berry is back with another awesome article. You can check out John on Twitter

This fine film Grave of the Vampire (at least in my opinion) was I think in the leadoff spot years ago for the inaugural Black Friday tradition I have of staying inside like a hermit away from bargain shopping hordes. Besides, I don’t imagine most places having anything I want or need except Vinegar Syndrome or Severin Films. 

I was spending the turkey time alone and decided to get out my version of the bible Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower and check some films off the massive list in the back. Not sure why I selected Grave of the Vampire but since then I think I revisit it about once a year. And if I ever run across a copy in the wild that bad boy is coming home with me to later be pushed off onto someone. It is an odd creepy and charming gem. 

Several sites and books have stated that the script is based off a book called The Still Life by David Chase. I was shocked to see yes, the Sopranos creator David Chase. I have never found a copy of the book on line or in the wild. There are rumors that it may just be an urban legend. Imagine that a movie made for $50,000 for drive ins having a myth surrounding it, I’m in.

The movie has one hell of a harsh beginning. The sound design of off breathing and a heartbeat with the visual of reverse fog is truly unsettling. A young lady and her Moe from the 3 Stooges haired fella leave a party to go to their spot, the graveyard (goth kids way ahead of their time). What should have been an oddly sweet moment is violently taken from them. 

Grave of the Vampire executes well one of my favorite concepts in horror film, books etc. It lets you, your brain and sprinting imagination fill in the gaps. There are several scenes that are violent, but you don’t see the gore. You may hear it or imagine it which can make it just as bad. 

Recently on Twitter I re tweeted about DeNiro being cast incorrectly as the talk show host on Joker. I understand the hint hint wink wink to King of Comedy, but it was just not good casting. 

For Grave of the Vampire as good as a casting choice Michael Pataki as Caleb Croft is, William Smith as James Eastman was just as uh… interesting, odd? Re watching, I forgot how odd of a choice it was for built like a brick shit house William Smith was as the hero, I mean he played Conan’s Dad and went toe to toe with Clint Eastwood in Any Which Way You Can

In pro wrestling they have a term for some guys known as a crowbar. This term for sure applies to William Smith in this film.  

“Crowbar: A wrestler that has a reputation for being stiff and difficult to work with. The most classic examples would be the Road Warriors in their early years, as they weren’t anywhere close to fully trained when they started and would simply beat up their opponents.

For the reviews I am doing for Pure Terror set this go around I am trying to stay away from straight recapping (I have even thought about doing haikus about characters). Of the 4 I am writing about I have seen 3. Those 3 I realized are (well at least to me) character studies. Interesting characters or even unique looking characters can take clunky dialog, bad editing etc. off your mind. I imagine if I watched all the movies on the Pure Terror set I would find many characters that would stick with me and have a charm all of their own. 

Here are some break downs of some characters, maybe they will peak your interest in the film. Or maybe people will wonder what the hell is wrong with my brain to analyze and come up with theories and ideas about minor characters in a discount set. 

Good Folks: 

  1. Olga: A poor widow with a good heart who decided to help young lady in need. Sadly, Olga was way ahead of the curve on the danger of pills, proclaiming to the fact they killed her husband. She takes in the poor gal and truly cares about her. 
  2. Lt. Panzer: A good man, a good cop who deserved better. A good detective with a better heart. His hunches were correct and did what a good cop does and follow up on it. His fate actually bothered me and is a disturbing scene mainly because he was such a likeable character. 
  3. Mom who sacrifices so much: Sadly, the character is never named, on the IMDB page she is just listed as The Unwilling Mother. She seemed young and had a whole life in front of her. What I took from this character is her optimism about this wretched situation she was in and how she was going to take care of this baby at any cost. Or maybe she was just in denial…

Dazed and Confused Folks:

  1. James Eastman: the walking epitome of a big galoot. Add bangs, mumbles and leisure suit and what a dream boat. Frankenstein’s monster sure but son of super suave Caleb Croft… uh no. He really has no charisma and often mumbles and when he yells his biggest line, I was wishing there were subtitles on the disc (hey $7.99 for 50 movies I am not complaining). Not sure how he had the funds or survived hunting Caleb Croft down across the world for revenge. 
  2. Anne Arthur: In a nice swerve she becomes the gal that appeals to James Eastman and not Anita. She is a literature teacher and at times sound English and mentions her English toughness as to why she is at a séance not long after finding her roomie drained of blood, cold as ice Ann. 

Bad Folks:

  1. Caleb Croft: The role is played super flat (not in a bad way more of a sociopath way) and at times pissy by Michael Pataki. He is cool, calm and confrontational as a professor, but it seems like once his fangs come out or the blood rushes to the front of his pants, he has an impulse control problem. I loved how he carried himself and the visuals of coats and suits he wore. 
  2. Anita Jacoby: She fooled me for sure. I thought she was a good gal but really was a super manipulative but attractive lady. She quickly formed a plan when it came to James and Caleb (although that one backfired). Even in death she is still trying to get what she wants and really you have to admire her moxie. So it is true bad girls are more fun, take that Anne. 

Scared Folks:

  1. Old Zack: Sweet old drunk he discovered the crime in the graveyard at the beginning. Zach decided no more grave yard sleeping and was heading to the church. Poor old guy just wanted to sleep off a drunk. 
  2. Poor girl smoking while cooking: If she just would have locked her side door to the basement. It was a nice touch that she was scared listening to a radio drama but what was in the basement was even worse than what she was listening to. 

Odd folks: 

  1. The Librarian: What a tease! Not sure what she was thinking undoing her beautiful red hair and flirting with Caleb. All he wanted was to borrow a book! 

Folks that would have been at home on the Ropers spin off sitcom:

  1. Sam and Carol Moskowitz: Carol reminds me a lot of Greta Gerwig in House of the Devil; a ditzy but beautiful blonde who seems to be in her own world. Her husband Sam has that smarmy 70s way about him, thinking he is a real tough guy. Sam also packs a gun but to be honest better chance he will get pistol whipped by someone with his own gun. 

Eastman being a crow bar finally pays off at the end with a big fight scene. I recently showed some friends They Live and of course that fight scene got rave reviews. But the father son fight at the end of Grave is on that level. Hell, I may like it more to be honest. 

The fight has things I never knew I needed in a fight scene; double ax handle blows, sports jackets ablaze and some sort of chair Krav Maga. The fight scene has a glass tope and the finish uses the good ole dog collar match. Was this the reason William Smith was cast? 

Scream Factory released a Blu-Ray this year. I am not sure how I will feel seeing a suped up and cleaned up version. Part of the charm for me with the film is the scratches and rough look of the film. But they have 2 audio commentaries which make me feel a little less weird and alone knowing at least 3 other people in the world adore this film. 

Note: As of finishing this on my lunch break, I realized I might have been to harsh on William Smith. In an odd case of synchronicity Ted Geoghegan who is an amazing filmmaker posted a heart felt post about sending letters because he was inspired to: “look up other classic genre talent and write them thank you letters. I’ll share addresses I find here, and I hope you do the same.” 

A few posts into it and this popped up:

William Smith (Conan’s dad in CONAN THE BARBARIAN!) started his career in 1942’s THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN and appeared in everything from INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS and Bill Lustig’s MANIAC COP. He’s now 86. 

Write him at: William Smith 29103 Village 29 Camarillo, CA 93012-7106

PURE TERROR MONTH: The Vampires Night Orgy (1972)

Vampires, cannibalism, graveyards, nudity, and gore. Oh, my!
Vampires, cannibalism, graveyards, nudity, and gore. Oh, my!
I’m confused. What’s going on? Who is that? Oh, my!
Why is there no apostrophe before the “s” my dear, Dorothy?
Because there’s more than one vampire, can’t you see?
So, doesn’t the “Night Orgy” belong to the vampires many;
There should be an apostrophe after the “s” I do believe.
You’re over analyzing the film, R.D;
Just turn your neck so I can feed, as
Punctuation lessons are not part of my blood cult’s creed.
I know, Helga, my dear;

You’re sick and tired of my pseudo Dr. Seuss poetry.
Yes, R.D, you are a dumbass film dweeb.
I’ll shut my mouth;
Click your heels, dear Helga;

Let’s slop across this bloody brick road.
We’re off to see the Blood Countess . . .
The wonderful Blood Countess of the Night Orgy Oz!

Now we’re talking. A film with the words “Vampires” and “Orgy” and a Paul Naschy connection! Look at that DVD cover. You got two semi-breast shots. You got one hot vamp-babe carrying a woman and another vamp-babe goin’ down on a guy’s neck!

Is this one of those rare occasions when the cheesy art work lives up to the film? Eh, sort of. It depends on which cut of the film you’re seeing. You know how it goes with American TV and video distributors: they never want us Euro-horror lovin’ horndogs have any fun!

The Naschy connection comes in two forms: First, we have heart-melting Belgian actress Dyanik Zurakowska from his Mark of the Wolfman (1968) and The Hanging Woman (1973) as a vamp-victim (she’s starred in 40 films, so you better get to a-rentin’!). Then we have Naschy’s long-time collaborator, León Klimovsky, who directs this dripping-with-atmosphere tale.

And that’s not all! Look at this cast!

We’ve got two Juan Logar alumni: American expatriate actor Jack Taylor of Autopsia (1973) and Jose Guardiola of Transplant of a Brain (1970).

Then we’ve got Maria Jose Cantudo of Paul Naschy’s Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973), Amando de Ossorio’s “Blind Dead” sequel, The Ghost Galleon (1974), Jess Franco’s Count Dracula (1970; with Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinksi and Herbert Lom), and Klimovsky and Naschy’s Universal tribute, Dr. Jekyll vs. The Wolfman (1972). Maria also went full frontal in Franco’s hardcore-porn vamp-romp, Bare Breasted Countess (1975).

And there’s Luis Ciges of Naschy and Carlos Aured’s Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (1974) and Horror Rises from the Tomb, along with Klimovsky and Naschy’s Vengenance of the Zombies (1973). Along with Helga Liné, Ciges was also in Klimovsky’s The Dracula Saga (1973).

Rounding out the cast is Manual de Blas of The Ghost Galleon and Paul Naschy’s Hunchback of the Morgue (1973), along with Charo Soriano from The Garden of Delights (1970), and Fernando Bilbao from de Ossorio’s Fangs of the Living Dead (1968) and Franco’s Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein (1972).

And . . . sigh! Dear Lord, be still my heart and hold steady my tender loins as the star of this Spanish vamp festival is Helga Liné (Eugenio Martin’s Horror Express; 1972) as the rich bitch blood countess-vampire queen of the hive. (I’m bending my head to expose my neck now, Helga!)

And with this cast—led by Helga—who needs continuity or logic?

As is the case with most Spanish horror films of the period: Two versions of La orgía nocturna de los vampires were shot: one with actors clothed and one with nudity. The clothed version was mostly for Spanish distribution while the nude version played in the rest of Europe—and the clothed ones (with more edit-killing continuity) ended up on U.S TV in the ‘70s and VHS video in the ‘80s—and appears in this Mill Creek cut (and most of the econo-friendly box sets).

Regardless of the “orgy” and the implied “gore,” there isn’t much gore and the nudity is only in three scenes—and the “orgies” are so-so. When the gore comes, it’s effective; but what The Vampires Night Orgy does have, as do all of the what-the-fuck-is-going-on shenanigans of Spanish horror films: lots of atmosphere.

And not a lot of sense: The “churchless” town is deserted, but there plenty of clean beds and the booze flows plentiful at the local tavern. But it’s the “afterworld” and the devil or a connected blood countess can make “things appear,” right? And while there’s booze, there no meat to serve the tourists to keep ‘em fat and happy. So the vamps hospitality-string along any stranded tourists that happen by, suck them dry, serve the leftovers to the survivors, then suck another one, etc., and so one. And Helga gets first choice: always. In one scene: she plugs a horn dog, sucks ‘em, then tosses the meat out the second floor window to the fanged hoards below. (Bitch be crazy! Helga I’m ready for my window toss!)

To place this film into a contemporary context with a film you’ve more likely heard of or seen: 30 Days of Night, only with its vampire town in the Carpathian Mountains run by Helga as a bus load of six tourists take the obligatory “wrong turn” and end up in the uninhabited town of Tonia, Transylvania—where the vamps are more cannibals than vamps and attack in Lucio Fulci-style, zombie wolf packs. And that pack is in full force when Jack Taylor (Luis) and Dyanik Zurakowska (Alma) barley make it out with their blood intact in an escape-by-chased car scenario. When they arrive safely in Bojoni, the town of their original destination before their detour, the superstitious townspeople pull the ‘ol Hershell Gordon Lewis Two Thousand Maniacs dues ex machina on them: there is no such town. Huh? So the vamps weren’t “vamps,” they were the ghost of vamps? Denied! What the fuck is going on here!

Eh, screw continuity. Screw logic. Screw the perpetual stupidity of the tourists. People are vanishing and dying, yet the little daughter of one is allowed to prance in the mountains and run in a graveyard with a ghost boy? Screw it. Screw the dubbing that rivals the worst in Asian cinema. Screw it. Follow the Red Brick Road to Madrid . . . Helga Liné is at the end of the line.

She’s the Wicked Witch of My West and so help me god, trust me, you’ll enjoy every bite. It’s a wonderful Spanish Oz.

About the Author: You can learn more about the work of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writers for B&S About Movies.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Satan’s Slaves (1982)

Editor’s Note: We got hornswoggled on this one. Mill Creek’s Pure Terror 50-pack doesn’t carry this Indonesia horror: it programs the British-made Satan’s Slave (1976). No worries, we reviewed that Norman J. Warren programmer as part of its inclusion on Mill Creek’s Gorehouse Greats 12-pack. You can read it, here.

Now, let’s check out the Indonesian one — with that pesky plural “S” that hung us up.

It’s time for more cheap n’ scary—yet creative—fun with another Indonesian horror film with its roots nourished in the horror films of the West—with Muslim and Hindi religious beliefs substituted for the usual Christianity-based horror themes. However, while American horror films are mostly blood and gore for the sake of blood and gore, Indonesian horror films carry a deeper religious message regarding the folly of abandoning one’s longstanding traditions and beliefs.

How accurate are the various, bargain-DVD imprints marketing Satan’s Slaves as an Indonesian version of Don Coscarelli’s cult horror hit, Phantasm?

If you go into this expecting an Asian-inspired Angus Scrimm-cum-Leàk crypt keeper guiding an army of dwarfs and flying cutlery guarding a dimensional portal with a Lady in Lavender sidekick, you’ll be disappointed. There are, however, moments of visual déjà vu with the film’s teen protagonist riding a motorcycle through a cemetery and there’s a fortune teller that knows more than she’s telling, and . . . that’s about it.

The more expansive similarities are of the narrative persuasion: Phantasm’s Mike and Satan’s Slaves Tommy are both teenagers dealing with the death of a parent and the resulting fears regarding death and dealing with loss and abandonment issues that leave them tangled in a psychological web.

As with its American antecedent, a teenager, Tommy, and his sister (instead of a “Jody”) deal with the death of their mother; their affluent-materialistic family, unable to cope with the loss, completely abandoned their already lackadaisical religious beliefs. As result, Tommy delves into black magic and searches for solace with Darminah, a fortune teller he recognized attending his mother’s funeral. Once Daraminah works her way into the family’s good graces as the family’s maid, Tommy’s friends and family members suffer violent, Omen-styled deaths and the Salem’s Lot-reminiscent shrouded ghosts and reanimated zombie-vampires appear.

Is this Indonesian horror entry worth the watch? It depends on a horror buff’s opinion. Me? I say pair it up with the shot-for-shot The Exorcist clone, Seytan (1974), and The Evil Dead clone that is Mystics in Bali (1981) for a night of fun.

Did Bach Ke Zara (2008) deliver on its reputation as Indonesian remake of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead (1981)? What are your feelings about Mystics in Bali (1981; The Leàk), its Taiwanese remake, The Witch with the Flying Head (1982; Fei tou mo nu), and the Chinese-inversion, The Corpse Master (1986; Jiang shi shao ye)—all which are rooted in the 1967 Russian film, Viy, based on the Nikolai Gogol tale?

While this Mill Creek reissue of Satan’s Slaves—as part of their Pure Terror 50 Movie Pack—is a minor curiosity for U.S audiences, it was a major, influential hit in its homeland and Japan. Sources place the domestic release of the film at 1980, but it seems to be more likely released in 1982; international distribution outside of the Pacific Rim countries didn’t occur until 1987.

Satan's Slave 2017

The film was such a substantial hit that a remake became a pet project for Indonesia’s most successful horror director, Joke Anwar (Ritual, The Forbidden Door), who cited the film (as B&S Movies’ readers cite Phantasm) as his favorite childhood film. He eventually convinced Rapi Films, who released the original, to let him do it. Released in 2017, Anwar’s remake received thirteen nominations—the most for any picture that year—including Best Picture in The Film Festival Indonesia, and became the highest grossing film of 2017 in Indonesia.

If you’re up for other films influenced by Nikolai Gogol’s classic horror tale, search out the Yugoslavian film, A Holy Place (1990), the Russian horror film, The Witch (2006), and Park Jin-seong’s excellent, Evil Spirit (2008).

There’s a non-dubbed and non-subtitled upload of the 1982 original on You Tube. Vudu has the 2017 remake.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

PURE TERROR MONTH: Point of Terror (1971)

I’ve seen way too many Dyanne Thorne films . . . and I’m proud of that fact. The only other person I know who’s seen more than I . . . is the freak that runs B&S Movies.

“Who’d the frack is Dyanne Thorne?” you ask.

You’re kidding, right? She’s Don Edmonds’s “She Wolf”!

“Who’s Don Edmonds?” you reply.

Oh, dear god. Sit down, kiddo. Ya needs sum ‘80s VHS schoolin’.

Dyanne was born in Greenwich, Connecticut (the home state of Michael Sopkiw), and got her start alongside Robert De Niro in a lost black-and-white experimental short, Encounter (1965) . . . De Niro received an Oscar nod for Taxi Driver (1976) and won an Oscar for Raging Bull (1981) . . . Dyanne was torturing female prisoners for Nazis and Oil Sheiks for Don Edmonds.

Yes, Hollywood is a cruel bitch.

Dyanne’s starred in four of the ‘70s trashiest Drive-In fests that became ‘80s video rental de rigueur: Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS (1975), Ilsa, Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks (1976), Wanda, the Wicked Warden, and Ilsa the Tigress of Siberia (both 1977). (How did she not end up in SOVs like Blood Cult or the pseudo-porn of Spine? I mean, she was half way there with the Ilsa movies.) (Oh, and Dyanne made Wanda and Tigress without Don.)

Oh, yes Dyanne. You had this wee lad at the first push of the VCR’s start button.

And so . . . with no less than three video store membership cards in hand, this celluloid connoisseur embarked on his obsession with Dyanne Thorne: Love Me Like I Do (1970), the porno-fairy tale (see, told you so!), Pinocchio (1971), her turns as Alotta (!), the Queen of the Witches in Blood Sabbath, and Boo-Boo in The Swinging Barmaids (1972). And who can forget her “mainstream” role working with Ray Sharkey and Marjoe Gortner and Robert Z’Dar in Hellhole (1982)? And would you believe Dyanne worked alongside John Ritter and Jim Belushi in the spy comedy, Real Men (1987)?

So thank you, Mill Creek. Thank you for including at least one Dyanne Thorne flick on your Pure Terror 50 Film Box Set (the recap list of all the “Pure Terror” films reviewed) so this writer can sigh and swoon over Dyanne all these years later. . . . (Wink, wink: There’s two Dyanne reviews: Jennifer Upton reviewed Blood Sabbath for Pure Terror Month. So life is good.)

The twisted mastermind behind this tale of a nightclub singer’s nightmares becoming reality—or are they?—was California-born thespian Peter Carpenter who, along with fellow actor Chris Marconi, formed a production partnership and secured a distribution deal with the epitome of film exploitation, Crown International Pictures (Orgy of the Dead, Blood of Dracula’s Castle, The Crater Lake Monster, and Galaxina, just to name a few).

Sadly, we never got to know the full potential of Peter Carpenter’s horror visions.

As the duo began working on their third sexploitation-horror romp, Middle of the Night, Carpenter suffered a cerebral hemorrhage and died* shortly after the release of Point of Terror. He made his acting debut in Russ Meyer’s Vixen! (1968) and, back in the days when X-Rated dramas were “chi-chi to see” and advertised in the movie sections of mainstream-commercial newspapers, costarred with Dyanne in the hit Swedish sex-romp, Love Me Like I Do (1970). After making his screenwriting debut with Blood Mania, Carpenter and Thorne costarred in his second feature, Point of Terror.

Is this a gory blood fest?

Nope. But you get to watch Carpenter on stage and in the studio singing his soon-to-be “hits” “This Is . . .,” “Lifebeats,” and “Heart of the Drifter” an awful (awful) lot.

It’s a psychological-sexploitation romp (add graphic kills and you’d have Spine) concerning a red pants-suited, fringe-swinging Tom Jones-clone’s descent into madness—with the occasional burst of (not-so-graphic, off-camera) violence. Do you get-off seeing an old guy in a wheelchair pushed into a pool? Have you ever wanted to see a film that was written by Mario Bava and directed by Russ Meyer and produced by Jean Rollin—who subsequently fires Meyer and hires Jess Franco to finish it because, well, you know, things worked out okay with Franco’s weirdo, X-Rated erotic-horror mystery, Venus In Furs?

Then this is your movie. Only, be warned. This isn’t as “good” as a Franco-fest. And there’s no Klaus Kinksi to class-weirdo the proceedings.

Tony Trelos (Peter Carpenter) dreams of stardom as he swings his Elvis-hips for the très chick boozy ‘n sex-starved old broads at the Lobster Lounge, who he subsequently beds (and gives ‘em “the crabs”). Things start looking up when he beds Andrea, the “young,” drunk nympho-squeeze of a wheelchair-bound music industry professional who, if we are to believe Andrea’s best friend, Andrea “put him there” because the sex was that incredible. Daaaamn, Dyanne. Damn.

Do we get to see Dyanne nekked? Yes we do! We even get her naked on a boulder—or was that her step-daughter? Oh, who cares, it’s a naked babe on a beach boulder—and her being joyfully “buoyant” in a swimming pool. Wee! However, ugh, we also get lots of Carpenter backdoor mud-flap action and many almost-see-his-family-jewels shots. Where’s Dyanne’s “triangle of death” shot? Oops, there’s those damn camera angles and edits again. Denied again.

Anyway . . . amid the Hard-R-cum-Soft-X sex rompin’ and Carpenter’s bag-o-cats caterwauling, it seems he has a “psychological break” and has dreams of a giallo-styled killer with a butch knife. And you’d think bangin’ Dyanne Thorne would be the sexual mother lode of “triangle of death” strikes . . . and he’s got a recording contract in the bag for bangin’ the old bag. Nah, Tony Trelos’s pocket rocket is always at the launch-pad; now he’s bangin’ Dyanne’s step-daughter.

Oh, did we mention that when Dyanne came o’ callin’, Tony ditched his pregnant girlfriend? Did we mention Dyanne may have killed the first wife of wheelchair-in-the-pool guy? And the step-daughter sex isn’t just “sex,” but something else? Is Peter another one of these blackout-and-I-woke-up psycho murders? Is Dyanne the murderer? Her step-daughter? Tony’s preggo-ex? Who’s Henry James-screwin’ whom?

And proving everyone—even in Hollywood—has to start somewhere: Oscar-winning editor Verna Fields—who earned an Academy Award for her work on Spielberg’s Jaws (1975) and edited American Graffiti (1973) for George Lucas—edited this Peter Carpenter tour de force.

Alex Nicol, the man behind the glass eye, closed out his directing career with Point of Terror and made his debut with 1958’s The Screaming Skull.

Some other Crown International Pictures flicks you can check out on B&S—that we actually got around to reviewing—are Low Blow, Killpoint, Nine Deaths of the Ninja, The Patroit, Sharks’ Treasure, and Van Nuys Blvd.

* It’s a “urban legend” in horror cycles: In reality, Pete didn’t die in the early ’70s. He simply left the movie business, only to pass away at the age of 56 in 1996 in Los Angeles. Or did he. . . .

Update: July 21, 2021: We’ve since reviewed Peter Carpenter’s third film — his first as a writer and producer — Blood Mania, contributed to us by guest staff writer Eric Wrazen for our month-long Mill Creek box set blowout back in February, as part of our Gorehouse Greats 12-pack tribute.

So, after discovering our review for Point of Terror — as part of his own research on the life and career of Peter Carpenter — uber fan, librarian Mike Perkins (thus his awesome research on Peter), let us know that Peter Carpenter did, in fact, die in Los Angeles, in the community of Alhambra, on April 2, 1996. Mike also discovered Peter’s birth name was Nathaniel Joseph and, prior to his work in film and music, Peter served in the Air Force.

Mike is a man on a mission: Surf over to his very cool Flickr posting featuring early photos and ephemera on Peter. Mike’s also honored Peter Carpenter by not only having Peter’s IMDb page updated with correct information, he’s also created an all-new Find A Grave entry to honor Peter’s life. Is Mike working on Peter’s well-deserved Wikipage entry? Yes, it’s currently in development.

And, for additional reading, be sure to check out this incredible (two-part) expose on Peter Carpenter’s life and career courtesy of B&S About Movies’ friend Mike Justice, on his The Eerie Midnight Night Detective Agency blog. Strap it on, as both Mikes’ fandom and research are great reads. (Thanks for turning us on, Mike #1, as this article by Mike Justice slipped by us.)

Yeah, we love our readers! Thanks for contributing to B&S About Movies, Mr. Perkins! (Yeah, we love you too, Justice.) And we love it when our readers reinforce and uplift our passions in honoring the actors and filmmakers of our youth — and not tear down our efforts. You gotta fight for the ’cause to preserve films!

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.