APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 30: The Scare Film Archives Volume 1: Drug Stories!

Something Weird has made out lives so much richer, saving the strange, the smutty, the scary and everything in between. Working with the American Genre Film Archives, they created this mixtape of sheer lunacy which adds up the scare films of the past. You’ll never do drugs again until the next time to do drugs.

This blu ray has the following movies, all uncut and in 2K:

Beyond LSD (1967): This movie astounded me because instead of telling parents that their kids are maniacs, it tells them to listen to them because they’re going through some things. How is this even real?

Director Paul Burnford mainly made shorts and documentary films, like 1944’s Nostradamus IV and the 1943 blood transfusion ten-minute epic Brothers in Blood. He also directed the first movie in the Rusty series and an entry in the A Crime Does Not Pay series, Dark Shadows, which is about a psychiatrist matching wits with a killer.

In short — it’s less about drugs and more about how to treat your kids. It’s still relevant today.

The Bottle and the Throttle (1961, 1968): Narrated by Timothy Farrell, who was one of the two narrators and the psychiatrist in Glen or Glenda, as well Girl Gang, Pin-Down GirlDance Hall RacketTest Tube BabiesThe Violent YearsJail Bait and many more. He was also a bailiff for the Los Angeles Marshal’s Department when he was acting in movies like Paris After Midnight, which was raided by the Los Angeles Vice Squad during filming.

A bunch of kids a drinking beach beers — Budweiser, Schlitz and Hamm’s — and Bill has had one too many. He ends up driving home and killing a child and breaking the back of her mother. Was it worth it?

Do you remember that wheel of how many drinks you had and how long until you sober up back in driver’s ed or health class? Man, I used to think of that all the time and here I am, now trying to gauge edibles which are magical and unpredictable lunacy when compared to whiskey.

The major difference between the 1961 and 1968 films is that the former is made with the help of the Culver City Police Department and the Culver City Unified School District while the latter is made with the West Covina Police Department. I’d like to think these organizations were scammed and paid twice for one movie.

“The little girl died on the way to the hospital and the mother will probably never walk again. No matter how your trial comes out, you’ll always have to live with those facts, won’t you Bill. A child dead. A mother crippled. Not a pleasant future to face at the age of 18.”

Pure nihilism.

Sidney Davis Productions also made The DropoutBoys Beware (an anti-homosexual scare movie), the Ib Melchior-directed — yes, the guy who wrote Death Race 2000 and directed The Angry Red Planet — Keep Off the GrassSkateboard Sense and LSD: Trip or Trap!

Curious Alice (1971): Dave Dixon, the Culture Czar, was the lead DJ of the legendary “Air Aces” on Detroit’s rock station WABX and the first person to play Sabbath, The Doors, Led Zeppelin and The Doors in the Motor City. Beyond co-writing Peter, Paul and Mary’s “I Dig Rock & Roll Music,” he co-wrote this animated film that explains drugs through Alice In Wonderland which is totally right on with the kids and four years after Jefferson Airplane did the same thing in “White Rabbit.”

The art in this movie is mind-boggling, however, and you’ll be entranced as Alice learns about LSD from the Mad Hatter, speed from the March Hare, heroin from the King of Hearts and barbituates from the Dormouse.

Made by the National Institute of Mental Health in 1971 and meant for use with ten-year-old students, if I had seen this before my teen years I would have done all the drugs in high school. The National Coordinating Council on Drug Education agreed, writing that viewers “may be intrigued by the fantasy world of drugs” after watching it.

The Distant Drummer (1970): A short-lived series of four 22-minute American documentary films that warned the kids about drugs, these were all directed by William Templeton (The Fallen Idol) and written by Don Peterson.

The first two movies in this series, A Movable Scene and A Movable Feast, were narrated by Robert Mitchum, who served 43 days at a California prison farm for possession of marijuana in 1948, a conviction that was overturned in 1951.

Here’s just a sample of Mitchum’s speech: “Thousands of snapshots on police station walls remain the only link between many of America’s most affluent families and the children who embodied their great expectations. Nearly everyone in the hippie community smokes marijuana — whether they call it pot, grass, hemp, gage, joint or mary jane — the marijuana is the basic background for the shared drug experience. The experience is shared to such an extent that roach pipes are always in demand — a roach is a marijuana butt and it requires some form of holder for those last few drags. The new generation, whether they are runaways or rebels-in-residence, use marijuana as a symbol of discontent with the basic values of the establishment. For some, there exists a social imperative beyond flaunting society’s rules — for these adventurers the mind-expanding drugs open a window on a whole new frontier…”

The other two parts, Bridge from No Place and Flowers of Darkness, were narrated by Rod Steiger and Paul Newman.

Drugs, Drinking and Driving (1971): Herbert Moskowitz is now here to explain why you should never mix the three things in the title. I love that this movie has no issues with using the Mission: Impossible theme over and over and over, flaunting copyright law with each successive refrain.

This also seems pre-Jackass with a stunt where two drivers are each given drugs, one amphetamine and one barbituates, and then told to drive for 36 hours straight until they either pass out or wreck their cars.

LSD: Insight or Insanity (1967): “Now, everybody who takes it admits that there’s always the risk of a bad trip, a bummer, a freak-out, even a flip-out. But, why be lame, baby? Give yourself a real kick. Yes, a kick in the head!”

That’s Sal Mineo talking in this Max Miller-directed (the same dude who made the Sonny Bono anti-drug movie Marijuana) film which explains what LSD is, how it’s made and when people take it they jump in front of cars and take leaps off cliffs like Diane Linkletter out of the windows of the Shoreham Towers, blamed on LSD even if the last person who saw her alive — Edward Dunston — may have also was the last person to see actress Carol Wayne alive. Then again, both Dunstons could be different people and for some other reason, people seem to confuse them with David E. Durston, the man who taught us that Satan was an acidhead in I Drink Your Blood.

See, I may make some detours, but I always get you back on the road.

This ends with a Russian Roulette freakout and Mineo singing over the closing credits, which inform us that everyone in this movie was not an actor. You won’t be surprised.

LSD 25 (1967): Directed by David Parker and written by Hank Harrison — the father of Courtney Love — this movie is narrated by an LSD tab which proves that the creators of this may very well be getting high on their own supply.

“Today, you’re high. Tomorrow, you’re dead.”

Yes, LSD starts all happy explaining all the good things it does and by the end, your fingerprints can’t get out of any police database.

So go ahead and take that sugar cube. You’ll learn all the secrets of the infinite and then, you know, you won’t be able to tell anyone.

Because you’ll be dead.

Narcotics the Decision: Goofballs and Tea (1958): Written by Pittsburgh native Roger Emerson Garris, who was the story editor for the Sherlock Holmes TV series, this police training film is all about barbituates and marijuana. Yes, people once called drugs these words.

Narrated by Art Gilmore, who was on Dragnet and voiced the radio announcer on The Waltons, this movie lets kids know that it starts with sneaking their parent’s booze and ends up with you in jail, dead or worse. Avoid weed, avoid malt shops, avoid everything.

None for the Road (1957): Margaret Travis wrote 83 shorts that we know of, movies like The Other Fellow’s FeelingsHealth: Your Clothing and Rowan and Martin on the Driveway One Fine Day, an industrial film for Phillips 66 Petroleum where the future Laugh-In stars run a gas station. This movie, too.

But the director? That’s Herk Harvey, who made around four hundred or more industrial films like Shake Hands with Danger. And one very important movie, Carnival of Souls.

Three men all use alcohol in different ways: not at all, a little and too much. They’re like the lab rats that we later see injected with alcohol, which sounds like a good way to spend a weekend. But wow, we’ve been warning people about drunk driving for 65 years and not everyone listens.

The Trip Back (1970): It’s no accident that an episode of Strangers With Candy was titled “The Trip Back.” Jerri Blank on that show is literally the star of this movie, Florrie Fisher, played for comic effect.

Fisher was married four times by the time she filmed this speech, first an arranged marriage, then to a pimp, then another drug addict and finally to a man she met via the mail. She credited her recovery to Synanon, which was originally established as a drug rehabilitation program and became one of the most dangerous and violent cults America had ever seen.

Wait, what?

Founded by Charles E. “Chuck” Dederich Sr., Synanon — a mix of togetherness (“syn”) with the unknown (“anon”) — was an alternative community centered on group truth-telling sessions called the “Synanon Game”, a form of attack therapy during which participants humiliated one another and exposed each other’s innermost weaknesses. There are theories that Dedereich was given LSD by Dr. Keith S. Dittman and Dr. Sidney Cohen, as well as encouraged to start Synanon as part of the CIA MK Ultra program.

Headquarted in a former beachfront hotel in Santa Monica called the Club Casa del Mar, women who joined Synanon had to shave their heads. Men were given forced vasectomies. Pregnant women were forced to abort their babies. Married couples were broken up and had to take new partners as the group became the Church of Synanon.

After Synanon’s transition into an alternate society in 1968, the game became a 72-hour ordeal for most members. The program of rehabilitation went from two years to a lifetime rehabilitation program, as they now preached that addicts would never truly be well enough to return to society.

Throughout this period, San Francisco area media covered the adult and child abuse caused by the church, but were often sued for libel by Synanon’s lawyers. If all of this sounds like Scientology, well…there was a group within the group called the Imperial Marines authorized to beat members into oblivion.

When NBC started reporting on the church in the late 70s, executives received hundreds of threats and Paul Morantz, a lawyer who had helped members escape, had a de-rattled rattlesnake placed in his mailbox. It bit him and put him in the hospital. A police search found a tape of Dederich speaking about Morantz, saying: “We’re not going to mess with the old-time, turn-the-other-cheek religious postures. Our religious posture is: Don’t mess with us. You can get killed dead, literally dead/ These are real threats. They are draining life’s blood from us, and expecting us to play by their silly rules. We will make the rules. I see nothing frightening about it. I am quite willing to break some lawyer’s legs, and next break his wife’s legs, and threaten to cut their child’s arm off. That is the end of that lawyer. That is a very satisfactory, humane way of transmitting information. I really do want an ear in a glass of alcohol on my desk.”

The teachings of Synanon influenced groups like CEDU, Daytop Village (the very place Nancy Reagan visited and became aware of the drug problem, which led to Just Say No), Phoenix House and those boot camps that always show up on daytime talk shows.

Back to Florrie Fisher.

An interview with David Susskind led to her appearing on The Mike Douglas Show, speaking at schools and an autobiography, The Lonely Trip Back. This film captures her speaking at a New York City high school, barraging the audience with a rambling dissertation on turning tricks, six of her marijuana friends all dying in the chair, jailhouse sapphic antics and shouting things like “I now know that I can’t smoke one stick of pot! I can’t take one snort of horse! I can’t take one needle of cocaine because I am an addictive personality! And that’s all I need is one of anything. Ya know I need one dress. If I happen to like this dress in tan, I buy the same dress in green and black and pink. This is the type of personality I am!”

Despite how horrible Synanon was for some, it worked for Florrie. Sadly, she died during the lecture tour she’s on in this movie due to liver cancer and kidney failure.

This movie is totally worth the price of this entire blu ray.

Users Are Losers (1971): Think drugs are for teens? This kid is saving up his milk money to pay for his habit, doing odd jobs and being incredibly thrifty just to get some marijuana. It made me think, parents are always on kids for throwing their money away, but this kid knows what he wants, works hard for it and then is selfless and shares what he gets with his friends.

Some kids also find one of their friends dead on a mattress and some young narc says, “If you blow pot, you’re blowing your future.” Get off my TV, kid.

Plus, you also get DRUG STORIES! NARCOTIC NIGHTMARES AND HALLUCINOGENIC HELLRIDES, a full-length mixtape from the AGFA team.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I must go blow some pot. Get toasty toast. Go clambaking. Fly Mexican Airlines. Run within an endless field. Walk the green ducks. Roll into the Backwoods. Be a ninja. Do some chiefing at the Rooney statue.

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 21: Final Curtain (1957)

Narrated by Dudley Manlove (Eros from Plan 9 from Outer Space) and intended for TV, Final Curtain would have been an episode of Portraits of Terror. If it seems familiar, well, that’s because some of the footage would be in Night of the Ghouls.

That said, a complete version of the episode was long thought lost until a copy was found by Jason Insalaco, great-nephew of one of Ed Wood’s returning players Paul Marco.

Duke Moore (Lt. Harper from Plan 9) is the actor — in a role intended for Bela Lugosi  wandering a theater, stalked by a vampire (Jeannie Stevens, whose only other role was in Night of the Ghouls, but that doesn’t really count because it’s just repurposed footage from this short).

Wood would recycle dialogue from this in his book Orgy of the Dead. Sadly, the world would never see a weekly series from Ed and we’re all the worse for it.

You can watch this on Tubi.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 20: The Story of Mankind (1957)

Hendrik Willem van Loon wrote and illustrated The Story of Mankind in 1921, telling brief chapters of the history of Western civilization, always asking “Did the person or event in question perform an act without which the entire history of civilization would have been different?”

Thirty years later, former publicist Irwin Allen chose the book as his first non-documentary film, directing, writing and producing the film with the goal of only having an actor and actress appear in the film before changing up his strategy and taking a page out of the recent box office hit Around the World In 80 Days and having a cast of nearly fifty stars tell the story. Oh yeah and lots and lots of repurposed b-roll from other movies and stock footage.

Ronald Colman is The Spirit of Man and Vincent Price is Mr. Scratch. They’re testifying in front of a tribunal that will decide the fate of mankind, who has created a Super H-Bomb, and the powers that run the universe will determine whether they stop the bomb or allow it to destroy the human race. That leads to a cavalcade of stardom, with Hedy Lamarr as Joan of Arc,  Virginia Mayo as Cleopatra, Agnes Moorehead as Queen Elizabeth I, Peter Lorre as Nero, Charles Coburn as Hippocrates, along with all three Marx Brothers in their last film together.

But wait — there’s more. Cesar Romero! John Carradine! Dennis Hopper as Napoleon!  Francis X. Bushman as Moses! Jim Ameche, taking over the role his brother made famous, Alexander Graham Bell!

All on sets that seem made for TV with dialogue made for the grade school stage. Yes, The Story of Mankind certainly is something else. Everyone in this showed up for one day to film their part and were all paid pretty well. So who cares if the movie is so strange, kind of like a religious epic with no religion.

When asked if the film was based on a book, Colman replied, “Yes. But they are using only the notes on the dust jacket.”

There was a comic book though. Dell released an adaption written by Gaylord Du Bois with art by Bob Jenney.

APRIL MOVIE THON DAY 5: The Undead (1957)

In the mid-1950s, reincarnation was in and The Search for Bridey Murphy was being made, so Roger Corman asked Charles Griffith to write a script, which was originally called The Trance of Diana Love, which is a great title, and was to be in all iambic pentameter.

Griffith said, “I separated all the different things with sequences with the devil, which were really elaborate, and the dialogue in the past was all in iambic pentameter. Roger got very excited by that. He handed the script around for everybody to read, but nobody understood the dialogue, so he told me to translate it into English. The script was ruined.”

I can’t even add up how many wasted hours that was.

Mel Welles, who played Smolkin, told Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Makers: Writers, Producers, Directors, Actors, Moguls and Makeup “it was a wonderful script and it probably would have been the cult film rather than Little Shop of Horrors had it been shot that way. But either Roger or someone at American-International Pictures didn’t think it was commercially viable to do it that way and at the last minute a decision was made to rewrite the script without that.”

Quintus Ratcliff (Val DuFour) is a psychic researcher who has spent years in Tibet to learn how to mentally regress someone back into their past life. He wants to prove to an old professor that he can do this, so he hires Diana Love (Pamela Duncan) for $500 to place her into a trance for two days.

She’s soon back in the Middle Ages, trapped in the mind of her ancestor Helene, accused of witchcraft. Diana is able to inform her past self of how to escape, so she heads into the night and meets up with the real witch Livia (Allison Hayes) and even Satan himself (Richard Devon).

Using the link between Diana and Helene, Quintus comes back in time, hoping to convince Helene to avoid her death and change history.

With Billy Barty as an imp and Dick Miller as a leper, this Corman film may have been a cheap one — and one that caused him stress with the bad smelling fog and budget issues — but it’s a fun idea well told. You can’t even tell that it was shot inside a supermarket.

You can watch this on Tubi.

I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)

Five months after American-International Picture’s I Was a Teenage Werewolf, Herbert L. Strock (The Crawling Hand) directed this follow-up, which has British professor Professor Frankenstein (Whit Bissell, who was also the mad scientist in AIP’s first teenager as a monster movie) coming to America to assemble his monster from the bodies of teenagers who didn’t make it through Dead Man’s Curve.

He’s the kind of scientist who has no problem feeding former Lois Lane Phyllis Coates to alligators (AIP’s Herman Cohen kayfabe stated that the alligator had been used to dispose of the bodies of the victims of serial killer Joe Ball from a small town outside San Antonio, which I love) or cutting off the face of a boy on Lover’s Lane (Gary Conway, The Farmer) for his undead monster.

How did AIP not follow this up with I Was a Teenage Dracula?

The Giant Claw (1957)

Directed by Fred J. Sears (Don’t Knock the RockEarth vs. the Flying Saucers, Teen-Age Crime Wave), The Giant Claw is somehow inspired by matter and anti-matter, as well as la Carcagne, the mythical bird-like banshee from French-Canadian folklore. Yes, some heady material, but then this movie has one of the goofiest — and most awesome — monsters ever.

Producer Sam Katzman originally planned to utilize stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. This movie didn’t have the money for that, so he hired a Mexico City effects studio who sent him a marionette that, well, looks like a monstrous turkey. Seeing as how he spent fifty dollars on the monster, I think he got so much more than what he paid for.

No one in the movie knew what that creature looked like until they saw the movie. This really embarrassed lead actor Jeff Morrow, who was there to see the movie live in his hometown and every time the monster showed up, people laughed louder, until the actor ran home and started drinking. I mean, Morrow must have felt the same way when he was in Octaman.

Obviously, the poster artists never saw the special effects either. That said, the film is also quite aware of the UFO sightings of the day, which is what they think the monster is until scientists discover that it’s an evil bird from an antimatter universe.

This is a pretty nihilistic film for the time, as the evil bird kills people without a thought when it isn’t destroying every building it can.

The Giant Claw is one of four movies on Arrow Video’s new Cold War Creatures: Four Films From Sam Katzman set along with The WerewolfThe Zombies of Mora Tau and Creature with the Atom Brain. Each film has a 1080p blu ray presentation, along with a fully illustrated 60-page collector’s book featuring extensive new writing by Laura Drazin Boyes, Neil Mitchell, Barry Forshaw, Jon Towlson and Jackson Cooper, as well as 80-page collector’s art book featuring reproduction stills and artwork from each film and new writing by historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette, the former artist of Swamp Thing. Plus, you get two double-sided posters featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin and reversible sleeves for each movie with original and newly commissioned artwork for each film by Matt Griffin.

The Giant Claw has extras including an introduction by critic Kim Newman Brand, commentary by critics Emma Westwood and Cerise Howard, a visual essay from Mike White examining the theme of Cold War paranoia in Sam Katzman monster movies, a trailer, an image gallery and a condensed Super 8mm version of the movie.

You can get this set from MVD.

The Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)

You have to feel for the deep sea divers in this movie. Sure, they have to deal with their boss, rich businessman George Harrison, but now to get the diamonds out of the wreck of a ship that sank sixty years ago, they have to deal with not only a curse, but the ship’s undead zombie crew who must remain there until the curse is removed or the diamonds are destroyed. This is getting into some Return of the Curse of the Creature’s Ghost-like shenanigans, right?

Somehow, fate has decreed that I watch multiple Alison Hayes films as of late. Between Gunslinger,  The UnearthlyThe Crawling Hand and this movie, I really have come to enjoy seeing her show up. Marjorie Eaton — who was the physical actress who played Emperor Palpatine in the non-special editions — is also on hand.

The prologue to this movie says, ‘In the darkness of an ancient world — on a shore that time has forgotten – there is a twilight zone between life and death. Here dwell those nameless creatures who are condemned to prowl the land eternally — the Walking Dead.” That’s right, this movie used Twilight Zone two years before Rod Serling and 46 years before the comic book. And wow, zombies sure got different a decade or so later.

The Zombies of Mora Tau is one of four movies on Arrow Video’s new Cold War Creatures: Four Films From Sam Katzman set along with Creature with the Atom BrainThe Werewolf and The Giant Claw. Each film has a 1080p blu ray presentation, along with a fully illustrated 60-page collector’s book featuring extensive new writing by Laura Drazin Boyes, Neil Mitchell, Barry Forshaw, Jon Towlson and Jackson Cooper, as well as 80-page collector’s art book featuring reproduction stills and artwork from each film and new writing by historian and critic Stephen R. Bissette, the former artist of Swamp Thing. Plus, you get two double-sided posters featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin and reversible sleeves for each movie with original and newly commissioned artwork for each film by Matt Griffin.

The Zombies of Mora Tau has plenty of extras, including an introduction by Kim Newman, commentary by critic Kat Ellinger, a visual essay exploring the intersection of mythical horror creatures and the rational world of science in the films of Sam Katzman by critic Josh Hurtado, the theatrical trailer and an image gallery.

You can get this set from MVD.

The Black Scorpion (1957)

This movie has a good FX pedigree: Willis O’Brien, creator of the stop-motion animation effects for the original King Kong, was the special-effects supervisor. There’s an urban legend that the spider pit creatures that were cut from that film show up here. While Ray Harryhausen’s An Animated Life would claim that many of O’Brien’s models  were still in storage at RKO when this was made, many of them were pretty decayed by that point.

An earthquake happens in Mexico and a new volcano rises, along with someone who believes that a demon bull has come out of hell. If only it could be so simple. Instead, the beasts are gigantic prehistoric scorpions.

How do you kill a monstrous scorpion? You fill an arena with meat and then shoot it with a spear that’s attached to an electric cable, then spark that thing up. You have to admire that level of ingenuity.

October 1958 Playboy Playmate Mara Corday was probably used to this kind of thing by this point, having already dealt with Tarantula and The Giant Claw. I can see dealing with one giant monster, but three? Yeah. That’s being a magnet for kaiju.

An even bigger coincidence is that six of the actors in this movie — Carlos Rivas, Mario Navarro, Pascual García Peña, José Chávez, Roberto Contreras and Margarito Luna — all appear in another Willis O’Brien-animated giant monster movie, The Beast of Hollow Mountain.

The Amazing Colossal Man (1957)

Lt. Colonel Glenn Manning (Glenn Langan) has been given orders to keep his men safe from a nuclear blast, but when a civilian glider crashes close to the area, he races out to save the day. He ends up getting blown up real good — one would argue exactly like Dr. Bruce Banner five years later — and has third-degree burns all over his body. Then, the bad news. The plutonium blast has caused his old cells to stop dying while the new ones multiply at an accelerated rate. That means that he’s growing ten feet a day and there’s no sign of it stopping.

Before long, his heart and brain can no longer support him and he’s running wild, decimating the olf Vegas strip and throwing giant syringes at scientists before taking a tumble off the Hoover Dam directly into next year’s War of the Colossal Beast.

Jim Nicholson of American International Pictures made this movie because The Incredible Shrinking Man was a success and he had the rights to Homer Eon Flint’s The Nth Man, which is about a man ten miles tall. Charles B. Griffith was hired for the script ad Roger Corman was brought on board to direct but soon dropped out. You know, if you’re going to make a movie with way too big or way too small people, get the man whose very name says BIG: Bert I. Gordon.

The Unearthly (1957)

Dr. Charles Conway (John Carradine) is experimenting with artificial glands to make people live longer, working with Lobo (Tor Johnson) and his assistant Dr. Sharon Gilchrist (Marilyn Buferd, a former Miss California). Those that get these glands think they’re getting one surgery and get shuffled off for something else.

One of those patients is Grace Thomas (Allsion Hayes, Attack of the Fifty Foot Woman; she died as a result of nutritional supplements, specifically a calcium supplement that had abnormal levels of lead), who is suffering from depression which means that she’s due for some surgery that will help John Carradine live eternally.

Originally called The House of Monsters, this was filmed over approximately five days and is the third movie in which Johnson played Lobo (Bride of the Monster and Night of the Ghoul would be the others).

Director Boris Petroff, using the name Brooke Peters, also directed Anatomy of a Psycho. I’ve heard that the writer of this movie, Jane Mann, was Petroff’s wife. I’ve also heard that its a pen name for Ed Wood.