JESS FRANCO MONTH: La mano de un hombre muerto (1962)

The Sadistic Baron Klaus concerns a series of murders in the remote village of Holfen, a place that still may be haunted by a 17th-century baron who maintained an elaborate torture chamber that hints at the erotic nature of the horror that Franco would spend much of the rest of his career detailing.

Could it be one of the Baron’s ancestors, Max Von Klaus (Howard Vernon)? Or youngest male descendent, Ludwig (Hugo Blanco), who is warned by his grandmother on her deathbed that their family is cursed? Either way, Inspector Borowsky (Georges Rollin) and journalist Karl Steiner (Fernando Delgado) are trying to get the answers.

So yeah — it’s kinda, sorta a nascent giallo, but also a nascent Franco, because having a woman stripped topless, whipped and menaced by a hot poker had to be practically incendiary in 1962 and it presages the many outrageous things that the director would unleash over hundreds of his movies to come.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

This movie is also on the ARROW PLAYER. Head over to ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at

JESS FRANCO MONTH: Gritos en la noche (1962)

The Awful Dr. Orloff stars Howard Vernon stars as the surgical villain, who with the help of his blind minion Morpho, is out and about and taking the flesh of women to fix the face of his daughter.

Concerned with how the film would be handled by Spanish censors, Franco made a safe version for his home country and another for British and Spanish audiences that had some nudity. And still, Spanish censors were worried that this movie would damage the reputation of their country, so Franco set it in France.

Sure, it’s a riff on Eyes With a Face, but it also is the kind of movie that Franco would return to again and again, even making a sequel two years later, El Secreto del Dr. Orloff and remixes like The Vengeance of Doctor MabuseJack the Ripper and Faceless.

This is where Franco starts and the films that follow would riff on these themes, like a doom band surrounded by smoke playing the same notes over and over but so loud that your head starts to buzz and you keep hearing the same notes and then the riff changes and for Franco, that’s a quick zoom and women just lounging as murders happen all around them and then the riff gets heavier and chugs and moves and you’re in another reality where blind men are ordered by their masters to get alabaster skin for the daughter they love and you can’t wait to buy a shirt before you drive home in the snow.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

The Awful Dr. Orloff is also on the ARROW PLAYER. Head over to ARROW to start your 30-day free trial. Subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly. ARROW is available in the US, Canada, the UK and Ireland on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices, Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1960s Collection: The Notorious Landlady (1962)

What a pedigree this movie has:

It’s written by Blake Edwards (the director of Operation PetticoatBreakfast at Tiffany’sDays of Wine and Roses, the Pink Panther movies, 10Victor/VictoriaMicki & MaudeBlind Date) and Larry Gelbart (A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the ForumTootsie and the creator of the M*A*S*H* TV show), and was directed by Richard Quine, who also made Bell, Book and CandleHow to Murder Your Wife).

How about this cast? Jack Lemmon as diplomat Bill Gridley, Fred Astaire* as his boss Franklyn Ambruster and an effervescent Kim Novak as Carly Hardwicke, the titular landlady, a woman who all of her neighbors believe killed her last husband, Miles. Sure, there was no body, but there’s plenty of evidence.

You can excuse Bill, who falls for Carly immediately because Novak is just so charming in this movie. Everyone man that meets her falls under her spell. Yet is she a killer? That’s why Scotland Yard wants Bill to spy on Carly, but there’s no way he can stay objective.

How weird is it that every time Lemmon and Novak teamed up on screen — Phffft! and Bell, Book and Candle**would be two other examples — she played a landlady?

And keep your eyes open, TV fans, as this was shot on the so-called Columbia Ranch, the same location as the fountain from the beginning of the show Friends.

*As a former performer in movie musicals, Quine has some smart direction here, as every time Astaire appears, he walks to the camera, much as if he’s getting the opportunity to dance. While he was retired from dancing movies, he still does his own stunts in the scene where his character follows Novak through the bad side of town.

**There are a ton of references to this movie throughout The Notorious Landlady.

Mill Creek’s new Through the Decades: 1960s Collection has twelve movies: How to Ruin a Marriage and Save Your Life, The Notorious Landlady, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Chase, Good Neighbor Sam, Baby the Rain Must Fall, Mickey One, Lilith, Genghis Khan, Luv, Who Was That Lady? and Hook, Line and Sinker. You can get it from Deep Discount.

Mill Creek Drive-In Classics: Women of Devil’s Island (1962)

Oh, how I love Italian sci-fi, horror and adventure flicks — in this case, a cross-pollination of pirate and women-in-prison flicks — as women slop around the 19th century island sands and jungles in formal wear; a land where make-up never runs or smudges and nary a bead of sweat drips from their perfectly-shaped brows. Oh, and they’re all (implied) lesbians . . . and nary a breast or triangle-of-death shot, appears. But those French-period military uniforms and gowns are impressive. . . . Did Paul Naschy make this movie? If you’ve seen his works Panic Beats and Horror Rises from the Tomb, you know what we mean.

The star of this slave-woman-panning-for-gold tallywacking is U.S. TV western star Guy Madison who starred as “U.S. Marshall James Butler” for seven seasons on The Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok. But B-Movie stalwarts will remember Guy best for his pre-television, early ’50s westerns Massacre River, Drums in the Deep South, and The Charge at Feather River. Then there’s the sci-fi and horror classics (well, they are to me) On the Threshold of Space and The Beast of Hollow Mountain, made during his television series’ hiatuses.

Then, as we’ve discussed many times at B&S About Movies: the actors of the 1950s that we loved — such as Gordon Mitchell and Richard Harrison (Three Men on Fire) — saw their careers cool into the acceptance of European audiences. For Guy Madison, as with Mitchell and Harrison: the sword-and-sandal epics, beckoned. So, after knocking out Slave of Rome and Sword of the Conqueror — and before knocking out films for the Italian film industry in every Neapolitan-ripped off genre imaginable — such as Executioner of Venice from my UHF-TV days — as only the Italians can finance, Guy found himself on a boat (okay, well, he shows up, later, as the camp’s new administrator) transporting scantily-clad women to France’s famed Devil’s Island penal colony off the coast of South America.

If you know your Nazisploitation* films (and we know you do), Third Reich-styled chaos, ensues, — only not as violently or sleazy — with the females forced as mining slave labor under the boot of corrupt commandants and guards. Then in steps Guy’s “new sheriff in town” who’s going to clean up the camp’s corruption. Yeah, he falls in love with a prisoner as he catches a bit of gold fever.

Yeah, Domenico Paolella, who directs — and cranked out 40-plus films between 1940 to 1979 (I’ll always remember his 1977, Death Wish-cum-Dirty Harry romp, Stunt Squad via the VHS ’80s) gets the history all wrong, and the women slopping through dirtless, rubbery swamps — only to remain perpetually stunning throughout — is pretty dumb. Well, at least we have Michèle Mercier who, while getting her start with drek like this, thanks to her leading role in the later, three-film Angélique series, rose to instant stardom and rivaled Bridgette Bardot for our testosterone-beating hearts.

Alas, a remake with Shannon Tweed and Christopher Lee was never meant to be.

Mill Creek’s copy on the Drive-In Classics set is, needless to say, pretty rough. At least it scratches another (again, G-rated mild) “women in prison” flick off your completists list. During the UHF-TV ’70s, when you’re stuck with braces and acne and couldn’t part with your Molly Hatchet concert shirt, the divine Ms. Mercier — under threat of whippings, molestation, and lechery — was a date for a Friday Night fantasy.

We found two clean rips on You Tube, here and here.

* We ramble and babble about about Nazisploitation and Women-In-Prison films in our reviews of Achtung! The Desert Tigers, The Gestapo’s Last Orgy, the trailblazing Love Camp 7, SS Experiment Camp, and the genre documentary, Fascism on a Thread: The Strange Story of Nazisploitation Cinema (2020).

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

Premature Burial (1962)

The third of Roger Corman’s Poe movies, this time Corman decided that he wanted to make his own Por film outside of his deal with American-International Pictures. He got his financing through Pathé Lab, the company that did the print work for AIP.

While he wanted to use Vincent Price, he had an exclusive deal with AIP, so he hired Ray Milland.

Then, on the first day of shooting, James H. Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff of AIP showed up, told Corman they were working together again and excited that they’d convinced Pathé to bring the movie back to them after threatening to pull all their lab work.

Guy Carrell (Milland) is a British aristocrat who suffers from catalepsy and worries that he will only appear dead and be buried alive. This nearly ruins his marriage to Emily (Hazel Court, who shows up in so many movies that I love, such as The Raven and The Masque of the Red Death) as he goes mad at the slightest mention of death and even passes out when she plays the piano. But hey — they get married anyways, even if he makes an incredibly complex coffin that he can escape from.

Let me tell you, the dream sequence where he does get buried alive? I saw it before I was ten when forced to visit the home of other children instead of getting to watch movies at home alone, as I have preferred my entire life. They went and played some game and I grabbed the TV Guide and found a horror movie. That sequence completely destroyed me and I remember walking onto their porch and staring into the sunset and wondering how the adults could be so carefree when death was stalking our every waking moment. Yeah, I was a weird kid and grew up to be even more odd.

But hey — Dick Miller shows up as a grave robber!

You can watch this on Tubi.

Captain Clegg (1962)

Based on the Reverend Doctor Christopher Syn series of books by Russell Thorndike — just like Disney’s The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh which was released a year later — this Hammer film was called Night Creatures* in the U.S.

A sailor (Milton Reid, who wrestled as The Mighty Chang and showed up in three Bond movies) has his tongue removed fromhis mouth and is left behind to die on an island after attacking the wife of pirate captain Nathaniel Clegg.

However, when we get back to England, the prevailing theory is that Clegg has been hung by the Royal Navy and rests in the Romney Marsh. However, by night, glowing spectral riders known as the Marsh Phantoms are terrorizing the people of the village of Dymchurch.

Captain Collier rescued that sailor and keeps him as a slave. He arrives in the village to investigate rumors of smuggling, attacking bars and safehouses before he finds a secret passage in the home of Jeremiah Mipps (Michael Ripper), a coffin maker, that leads to the smugglers’ headquarters. When the mute sailor goes into their lair, he meets clergyman Dr. Blyss (Peter Cushing), who he attacks and even tries to open the grave of Clegg.

Is Clegg still alive? Is he one of the phantoms that roam the night? Are the villagers in on it? All of these questions have very easy answers, but this film has so much style that you just enjoy it. It’s directed by Peter Graham Scott, who created Into the Labyrinth, which aired in the U.S. as part of Nickelodeon’s The Third Eye, along with The Haunting of Cassie Palmer, Under the Mountain, Children of the Stones and The Witches and the Grinnygog. It was written by Anthony Hinds, who wrote a ton of films for Hammer, including The Curse of the Werewolf**, The Kiss of the VampireThe ReptileFrankenstein Created WomanTaste the Blood of Dracula and many more.

In Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2, the band in the movie is Captain Clegg & the Night Creatures. It’s Jesse Dayton, who played as the band Banjo and Sullivan for The Devil’s Rejects.

*Hammer was planning to adapt the Richard Matheson story I Am Legend into a film that would be titled Night Creatures. The British Board of Film Classification told them that they would not pass the film — the script must be sent to the BBFC before a movie is filmed — and because Hammer had promised Universal a movie with that title, Captain Clegg became Night Creature.

**The werewolf star from that movie — Oliver Reed — is in this in a rare heroic role.

Burn, Witch, Burn (1962)

Based upon the 1943 Fritz Leiber novel Conjure Wife, this movie was called Day of the Eagle in the UK before getting a title that sounded more like a horror movie for American audiences. The book had already been adapted once before as Weird Woman in 1944 and then one more time afterward in 1979 as Witches’ Brew.

The American version also has an opening in complete blackness where the voice of Paul Frees reads a spell intended to protect the audience from the evil within the film. Filmgoers also were given a special pack of salt and the words to an ancient incantation. Man, going to the movies used to be awesome. American-International Pictures knew how to sell an occult movie!

Written by a combination of Charles Beaumont (The Masque of the Red Death, several great Twilight Zone episodes), Richard Matheson (I Am LegendDuel) and George Baxt (Shadow of the Cat, The City of the Dead), this is the story of Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde, Klytus from Flash Gordon), a man who discovers that all of his career success is due to the magic skills of his wife. As soon as he demands that she burns all of her magical ephemera, everything in his life goes wrong

By the end of the movie, his rational view of the world must confront the fact that magic truly exists. It also posits that women are the magic workers of the world and that men just stumble through, a view I can completely agree with.

Ring of Terror (1962)

Despite playing college students, nearly everyone in this movie is pushing forty. If you can get past that, well, there’s a lot more wrong with this movie, but it’s just weird enough that it’s worth watching.

Medical student Lewis Moffitt (George E. Mather, who was 42 when this would made* and would go on to supervise the miniatures and optical effects for Star Wars) is afraid of the dark, ever since he saw a dead body when he was a little kid. Now that he’s in college — he must be a non-traditional freshman — the fraternity he’s trying to rush makes him steal a ring — a Ring of Terror? — from a dead man.

Clark Paylow, who directed this, was the second unit guy on so many beach movies and the production manager for The Conversation and Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

*Actually, he was 35, as this was shot in 1955 and not released for several years after it was finished.

You can watch the Mysery Science Theater version of this movie on Tubi. You can also download the original cut of this movie on the Internet Archive.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962)

The third film for both Kong — well, Son of Kong doesn’t feature him — and Godzilla and the first in color for both, King Kong vs. Godzilla gave Toho the idea to keep making Godzilla movies after retiring him for seven years.

The original idea came from King Kong stop motion animator Willis H. O’Brien, who had the idea that Kong should fight a gigantic Frankenstein’s Monster. He gave a script to producer John Beck, who gave Toho the idea to make this movie. Maybe he was inspired by the fact that Toho kept trying to make Frankenstein movies? Or maybe he liked that the Godzilla movies were released in Germany as Frankenstein movies, with the explanation that Dr. Victor Frankenstein had created all of the many creatures that Godzilla does battle with?

Kong creator Merian C. Cooper hated the very idea of this movie, saying “I was indignant when some Japanese company made a belittling thing, to a creative mind, called King Kong vs. Godzilla. I believe they even stooped so low as to use a man in a gorilla suit, which I have spoken out against so often in the early days of King Kong.” He even tried to file a lawsuit against Toho, Universal and Beck before discovering that he did not hold the sole rights to Kong.

Director Ishiro Honda actually had a theme that was anything but banal. Perhaps he and Cooper should have just spoken in person, because Honda was against the TV industry in Japan, which was pushing the envelope further and further, including airing a Fred Blassie pro wrestling match that was so intense that two elderly viewers had deadly heart attacks. I’ve always found that story to be pure Blassie hyperbole, but it really seems true.

This led to the idea that Pacific Pharmaceuticals would want to boost. the ratings of the shows they advertise on and bring a giant ape back from Faro Island. At the same time, the iceberg that Godzilla has been trapped in for nearly a decade hits a nuclear submarine and the big green monster is free once more. So he does what anyone would. He goes back to Tokyo to destroy everything.

Kong pretty much is the babyface in this, constantly getting set on fire and dropkicked and knocked out by the humans. Yet Japanese King Kong has an advantage over his American cousin. That’s because electric power and lightning give him energy, enough to finally defeat Godzilla, whose survival is unclear at the end of the film*.

Special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya and Honda didn’t agree on the softening of Godzilla in this movie, which would only increase as time went on and his appeal to children became his biggest selling point.

For selling the story idea to Toho — once called King Kong vs. Prometheus — Beck got rights to all nin-Asian territories. He brought together a crew of writers Paul Mason and Bruce Howard with editor Peter Zinner (The Godfather) to make an Americanized version of the movie that would combine scenes from The Mysterians with a Westernized soundtrack remixed from several movies, including Creature from the Black Lagoon, Bend of the River, Untamed Frontier, The Golden Horde, Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, Thunder on the Hill, While the City Sleeps, Man Made MonsterAgainst All Flags, The Monster That Challenged the World, The Deerslayer and the TV series Wichita Town.

Both films were a big success, so much so that Toho wanted to make another one called Continuation: King Kong vs. Godzilla. This led to Mothra finally battling Godzilla and the idea of a shared universe being born decades before Marvel. Toho also tried to make more King Kong movies, but RKO refused. They did help Rankin/Bass make King Kong Escapes in 1967 and reused the suit for Goro on Ultra Q.

Thanks to Famous Monsters of Filmland and their sister publication Spacemen, the rumor that Japanese audiences got an ending where Godzilla won persisted to the point that major newspapers reported it as a fact and it showed up in Trivial Pursuit. That said, the Japanese version does end with Godzilla’s roar and then Kong’s, as if the creatures were saying goodbye and making a curtain call, ala The Bad Seed. In the American version, only Kong is heard.

Take it from Art Adams, who knows all things kaiju. The double ending story is just a myth.

*King Kong a bigger box office star and Godzilla was still a villain at this point in the series. That’s why Kong gets top billing and wins the battle, which Toho confirmed in their book Toho Films Vol. 8, which says, “A spectacular duel is arranged on the summit of Mt. Fuji and King Kong is victorious. But after he has won…”

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Varan the Unbelievable (1958 and 1962)

How can a movie be made twice with the same footage and not be the same movie? Welcome to the world of kaiju cinema, where American producers only wanted the monster footage so that they could add in familiar Western faces and all monster kids wanted was more time for rubber suited destruction.

Originally made as Daikaijū Baran by Tomoyuki Tanaka, the creator of Godzilla, this was acquired by our friends Crown International Pictures — the company I love so much that I made a Letterboxd list to ensure that I see every one of the films they released — and put on a double feature with a re-edited, shortened and retitled East German/Polish science fiction movie they called First Spaceship on Venus.

Where the Toho film is filled with menace and an astounding close where Varan goes bonkers and destroys everything he possibly can, the American movie has Myron Healey* as Commander James Bradley (he was also a military man in The Incredible Melting Man) and as a kid, he would be the kind of leading man that I was instantly bored watching.

I mean, who would you rather watch? An embittered old army guy or a god monster who looks like a flying squirrel?

You know why I love Toho? Varan shows up briefly in Destroy All Monsters. Ah, if only we got to see more of him than this one film, which was originally a co-production with the ABC Network!

*This may be a made up story, but supposedly Healey believed he was going to shoot his scenes in Japan like Raymond Burr and not in Bronson Canyon. When Healy guested on Perry Mason, he shared the story with Burr, who told him that all of his scenes in Godzilla were shot on a Hollywood set.