Mill Creek Explosive Cinema set, you are one strange duck. You assault us with Crown International Pictures releases that have been seen by tens of people and then, in the middle of it all, give us a black and white war movie from the mid 60’s about women in combat. How do you do what you do?
North Korea: A bunch of citizen soldiers have to take out a mortar position and make it back to the safety of Uncle Sam, but that’s not as easy as it seems.
Jim Davis, Jock Ewing himself, leads the men. Don “Red” Barry, who played Red Ryder, shows up, as does Tristram Coffin (Rocket Man from King of the Rocket Men) and L.Q Jones, who we all know would someday make The Brotherhood of Satan and A Boy and His Dog, films that just blow my mind for how astounding they are.
Director Ken Kennedy would go on to be the set decorator for Return to Boggy Creek. He also directed the women in danger movie The Velvet Trap and the 1990 version of The Legend of Grizzly Adams, which starred Gene Edwards as Grizzly. Who? He was one of the stuntmen from the TV series. L.Q. Jones is in that, too.
This would be Margo Woode’s last film, as she played heroine Nurse Lt. Laura Fleming.
A gung ho movie about Americans winning the war in Korea. So there’s that. You can download this from the Internet Archive if you want to see a war movie that just about no one else will watch in 2020.
Written, produced and directed by Joseph Stefano, author of the screenplay for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Eye of the Cat, Home for the Holidays, Snowbeast and The Kindred, this was originally a pilot for an anthology series for CBS called The Haunted. Sadly, it was never picked up*.
Nelson Orion (Martin Landau) is an architect who has an affinity for the occult. His fiancee, Vivia Mandore (Diane Baker), is haunted by the mother of her first husband. If they want a future, the past must be dealt with.
This is way better and cooler than it had any right to be and man, I wish we could have seen more of Orion — housebuilder by day, ghostbuster by night — in more adventures.
*One theory is that the network received complaints that the movie was too scary and disturbing, so the project was canceled. Another — and potentially more likely situation — was that CBS president James T. Aubrey had originally greenlit the show and when he stepped down, they had no one in power who was interested in the series.
You can watch this on YouTube. It’s also available on DVD and blu ray from Kino Lorber.
Hopefully you joined us — and enjoyed — our “Fast and Furious Week” tribute during the first week of August as we honored the Universal franchise, along with its ripoffs and knockoffs, and the obscure and off-beat, rubber-burning drive-in epics from the ’50s through the ’80s that influenced the those films.
And guess what?
That 40-plus film blowout still wasn’t enough . . . as one car flick skidded into another, then another . . . and before we knew it, we had another 40-plus reviews. So, to get you ready for our second “Fast and Furious Week” to run from Sunday, December 6, to Saturday, December 12, we’re rollin’ out Elvis’s car racing trilogy.
Facts are facts: Elvis flicks served us heaping helpings of cheesy camp starring “The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” in a wide array of professions. He was a convict, a boxer, a cowboy, a riverboat captain, a helicopter pilot, and a cowboy — who always found the time to sway his hips and sing his latest hits for a bevy of skintight, carpi-panted ladies. And road racing, be it stock cars, Grand Prix or road rally racers, was a hot sport in the ’60s. So why not place Elvis in a flame retardant suit, strap on a helmet, and slip him into a cockpit?
Viva Las Vegas (1964)
The best and most popular of Elvis’s race excursions was his role as Lucky Jackson. He’s a down-and-out waiter and aspiring racer who dreams, schemes, and parties with Rusty Martin (Ann-Margret) as he gathers up the cash to buy a new engine for his cherished Elva Mk VI Maserati so he can enter the First Annual Las Vegas Grand Prix. His man competition is mean ol’ Count Elmo Mancini and his Ferrari 250 GT. And Yep. That’s good ‘ol Uncle Charlie (William Demarest) from the iconic ’60s TV series My Three Sons as Ann’s pop.
And get this: the music and dance scenes were choreographed by David Winters . . . yes, the very same David Winters who gave us — wow, it’s not even a Star Wars dropping — the Battlestar Galatica pile that is 1988’s Space Mutiny.
Only on B&S About Movies, baby.
Poor Elvis. Col. Tom Parker never let The King rest. But in Col. Tom’s defense: he was a master at keeping Elvis in the spotlight while he was overseas serving in the military. After Viva Las Vegas, we got seven more films within a two year period: Kissin’ Cousins, Roustabout, Girl Happy, Tickle Me, Harum Scarum, Frankie and Johnny, and Paradise, Hawaiian Style.
This time out, El is Mike McCoy, a band leader moonlighting as a race car driver who must decide between breaking up with Cynthia Foxhugh (Shelley Fabares) or lose her father’s sponsorship for the big race. This time, El’s trades out his Elva Mk VI for a Cobra 427. And keep your eyes peeled for the eye pleasing ski n’ snow bunnies that are Diane McBain — who’s determined to steal Mike from Cindy — and crushed on by his band’s female drummer, played Deborah Walley.
MGM went all out for El’s third and final race flick, casting NASCAR stars Richard Petty, Buddy Baker, Tiny Lund, and Cale Yarbrough in cameos — to help us forget we’re watching a film comprised of stock footage with El process-shot onto the race track. This time out, El is Steve Grayson, a stock racer who only has eyes for IRS Agent Susan Jacks (Nancy Sinatra) and sees his career going up in smoke thanks to bad bookkeeping courtesy of his manager’s gambling addiction. And keep your eyes open for Bill Bixby and ’60s drive-in warhorse Ross Hagan in support roles.
“We gotta win this race, Elvis!”
We’ll see you bright and early, 9 AM, on Monday, December 6th as we roll out a week of over 40 more road rippin’ and rubber burnin’ flicks, as well as a “Drive-In Friday” tribute to Drag Racing documentaries.
I love when a film series sticks around long enough to battle aliens. Hercules is no different, as now he must battle the evil Queen Samara (Jany Clair, Planets Against Us) and her army of Moon Men, who demand that children be sacrificed to bring back their dead leader.
Hercules is played by Sergio Ciani, who used the stage name Alan Steel. He got his start doubling for Steve Reeves in Hercules Unchained and The Giant of Marathon. His run of seven Hercules films is filled with crazy situations to keep the peblu genre alive, such as Hercules and the Masked Rider, which had a Zorro theme, and Hercules and the Treasure of the Incas, which started as a sword and sandal movie and became a western after A Fistful of Dollars became a major hit during filming.
If you’re expecting this movie to be true to its mythological origins, you should know that it borrows from Roman, Greek, Ancient Egyptian and Cretan stories, as well as even soem Edgar Rice Burroughs. In Italy, Steel really playing Maciste, who was a star of silent Italian cinema, but American distributors changed him to Hercules.
Look, it’s Hercules against moon men with giant heads. You should be so lucky.
Yes, you go into a movie named Racing Fever expecting b-roll footage and sure, you get it, but this is also a William Gréfe movie, which means that you’re going to get South Florida drama, in this case, the story of professional hydroplane racer Pop Gunner who has one race left in him before he passes the torch to his son Lee. But there’s also the matter of his main competition, Gregg Stevenson, who just so happens to be aardvarking with Pops’ little girl Linda.
So yeah. Gregg is already married and has a kid, which seems to complicate matters, but Linda stay with him even when he gets wasted and hits Pops with his race boat. I never saw Miss Budweiser — seriously, if you grew up in the 70’s, Miss Budweiser was a big deal — hit a human being, but there you go.
This leads Gregg’s wife and daughter to go to Lee — the son — for some reason and the daughter and the son end up shacking up too and getting knocked up and of course, someone has to get shot because this is a Gréfe movie and wow, you thought Thanksgiving was complicated in your family.
There’s also a song in it, because the kids need to dance, man. And a downer ending, because the 60’s were a drag. Look — it has some songs, it has some hunks, it has a cute girl, it has death and plenty of pathos. It’s also the movie that probably played last at the drive-in, when people were sleeping things off or getting one last round off. The IMDB reviews of this eviscerate the film when they should realize that this is exactly the movie that it should be.
For years I searched for the worst movie ever made. I’ve dove deep. So deep, that time and experience have made me realize there is no single title that unequivocally holds that title. Crap is in the eye of the beholder. Nevertheless, The Creeping Terror (1964) is definitely in the running. It is bad in just about every way imaginable.
Is it the good kind of bad? The kind where you can slam back a few shots and laugh harder than at any Rob Schneider movie ever made? Yes. Yes, it is. For even more laughs, watch the Mystery Science Theater 3000 version. The segment where Mike plays the incredibly monotonous jazz music from the film’s dance hall scene on his sweet new sound system is one of the best things to come out of that show’s sixth season. I digress.
The Creeping Terror’s story concerns a newlywed law man named Martin played by the writer and director Vic Savage. On the way back from their honeymoon, Martin and his new bride Brett (Shannon O’Neil) stumble upon his Uncle – the town sheriff – investigating a crashed alien spacecraft that looks remarkably like a camper under a tarp. It isn’t long before the monsters inside (one actually) ravage the community and start eating people left and right. It especially likes the ladies, whose bodies are pulled in head first, leaving nothing but a pair of sexy legs sticking out.
They call a scientist named Dr. Bradford (William Thourlby) and the group attempts to capture the monster to no avail. We later find out that the animals were engineered as mobile laboratories to consume and analyze human beings and send the data back to their masters. The military comes in and blows it up with a grenade. Just after transmitting the data into space, the monsters’ craft explodes. Will the aliens launch a full-scale invasion? Who knows? Who cares?
Savage’s story is far more interesting than the movie he made as chronicled in the docudrama The Creep Behind the Camera (2014.) A womanizing, physically abusive con-man with mob ties, it’s never really clear whether Savage thought he was making a good movie or if the whole thing was just a hustle to fleece investors. Given that Mr. Savage disappeared after making the movie, the latter seems to be the most likely scenario.
Technically, the film is inept. The camera work is shoddy and screen direction is minimal. What we’re left with a disjointed series of shots of people looking the wrong way at something that isn’t there sewn together by a poorly dubbed narration that tries to cover up the fact that the soundtrack was either lost or never recorded in the first place. It makes Plan Nine from Outer Space look like a masterpiece by comparison.
The design of the creature is odd, to say the least. It’s basically a giant carpet with a head stuck on. It has flexible tubing resembling dreadlocks with eyeballs on the ends for hair (which jiggle when the monster creeps) and another pair of weirdly cute button eyes on its “face.” The remaining props and sets are no better. The inside of the spacecraft is clearly a power station. The army transport vehicle is a farmer’s truck with wood paneling on the rear and the newlywed’s shabbily furnished apartment is…Vic Savage’s shabbily furnished apartment.
It may sound like I’m recommending people not watch this film. Quite the contrary. The riveting fishing scene with Bobby and Grandpa is so hilariously bad, it must be seen to be believed. In it, a young boy wanders away from his extremely round-bodied be-spectacled Grandpa fishing by a river. After a little while, Grandpa – who is wearing pants pulled up to his nipples – wanders around aimlessly yelling “Bobby! Bobby!” hoarsely for a good long while before being eaten. All while Bobby obliviously chases lizards and plays with a stick nearby. Randomly, and when I least expected it, I once received a link to this scene as a text from a friend in Los Angeles at 3am with only the word “Bobby!” as descriptor. A scene that master riffer Crow T. Robot referred to as “a portrayal of deep, clinical depression.” No matter how many times I see this scene (even without the riffs,) it never fails to crack me up.
If you’re the kind of person who loves bad movies, then go for it. If not, it’s probably best to avoid this one. To jump straight to the Bobby scene, watch below. You’ll be glad you did.
Luigi Scattini’s directing career is all over the place, hitting all the various genres of the 60’s and 70’s. There’s comedy — War Italian Style, which unites silent film legend Buston Keaton with the Italian comedian duo of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia (more on them in a bit). There’s mondo — Sweden Heaven and Hell, narrated by Edmund Purdom and featuring Piero Umiliani’s “Mah Nà Mah Nà, which would be used by Benny Hill and The Muppets. And more mondo — the magicalWitchcraft ’70, as well as Questo Sporco Mondo Meraviglioso (This Dirty Wonderful World) and Sexy Magico. There’s Eurospy — the Richard Harrison-starring Ring Around the World. And plenty of sexual themed films like La Ragazza dalla Pelle di Luna (The Girl with the Moon Skin), La Ragazza Fuoristrada (The Off-Road Girl), The Body, La Notte dell’alta Marea (The Night of High Tide, which has Pam Grier) and Blue Nude. He’s also the father of Monica Scattini, the only actress I know who could be in both One from the Heart and Ruggero Deodato’s Concorde Affaire ’79.
Saying this is an uneven film is being generous to uneven films. The moronic antics of Franchi and Ingrassia, who play bellhops, play out around Mansfield lounging about and gradually getting undressed. Her husband at the time, Mickey Hargitay, also shows up.
Yes, a movie where Jayne is a doctor — of sexual relations — whose film of mating rituals around the world is an excuse to show mondo footage. These are the movies I fill my life with and bring to you.
Credit — or blame — goes to Massimo Pupillo, who would make Bloody Pit of Horror with Hargitay, and Amedeo Sollazzo, who worked with Franchi and Ingrassia throughout their long careers.
Directed by George Sherman and Giuliano Carnimeo — I’ve been diving deep into his films, including They Call Me Hallelujah, They Call Him Cemetery, his Sartana movies and The Case of the Bloody Iris — Panic Button is an example of the movies that Jayne Mansfield had to hunt down after her 20th Century Fox contract ended.
French entertainer Maurice Chevalier and Mansfield play actors who are picked to be in a new production of Romeo and Juliet. Eleanor “Woman of a Thousand Faces” Parker and Mike “Mannix” Connors also show up.
This tale of mobsters getting involved with Shakespeare was never really successful anywhere that it played. In the U.S., it was on double bills. And hey — it has one total review on Letterboxd other than this one.
Richard E. Cunha didn’t make many movies, but he sure made some insane ones. There’s She Demons with TV Sheena Irish McCalla, fanged women and Nazis taking over an island long after the war. Giant from the Unknown, featuring a monster named Vargas the Giant and effects by Universal’s Jack Pierce. Missile to the Moon, Frankenstein’s Daughter, Girl In Room 13…none of these movies are normal.
He teams with German director Gustav Gavrin, cowboy director Ray Nazarro and Albert Zugsmith (Sappho Darling, Violated!, The Cult) for this movie. That’s because production problems — financing, location and personnel issues — caused filming to stop several times and personnel changed along the way.
What we end up with is a tale of three robbers who steal a million and end up turning on one another. Actually, it soon becomes two, with Lylle Corbett (Cameron Mitchell) killing Dolph and Darlene (Jayne Mansfield) having to deal with it.
They end up on an island where everyone wants their money and everyone is ready to kill for it. You kind of have to love a movie that offs nearly everyone in the cast, closing with Mansfield drowning herself to take the last of the money.
Mansfield called the film: “The best role of my career.” She was four months pregnant with her daughter Mariska Hargitay when she made this. Her voice is dubbed in this by Carolyn De Fonseca, who would one day do Jayne’s voice from beyond the grave for The Wild, Wild World of Jayne Mansfield.
We’ve already discussed the lunacy of Jerry Warren and his movie The Wild World of Batwoman a while back. That’s not the only bonkers movie that he’d ever make. Let’s take this movie, which is really La Casa del Terror and La Momia Azteca mixed into a new movie, along with footage that Warren shot just for this new effort. You think Puffy invented the remix? Check in with Jerry.
Warren took his scissors to all of the comedy scenes of Tin-Tan from Casa del Terror, replacing them with the Lon Chaney Jr. footage from La Momia Azteca. This wasn’t anything new for him, as he’d already released Attack of the Mayan Mummy the previous year, replacing most of that movie with newly filmed American footage. And he’d use footage from that movie to make this!
He also took two Chilean movies — La Casa esta Vacia (The House is Empty) and La Dama de La Muerte (The Lady of Death) and made Curse of the Stone Hand.
I have no idea what drive-in fans thought, thinking they’d probably seen this movie before because they totally had. They just didn’t have IMDB to look it up.
A psychic named Ann Taylor — no relation to Ann Taylor or her Loft — goes back to her past life and leads a team of archaeologists to an Aztec pyramid with two mummified bodies, one being an Aztec warrior and the other a werewolf, who just so happens to be Lon Chaney Jr., who is white and not Mexico and no one ever brings that up.
The craziest thing then happens: the Aztec warrior escapes and kidnaps the psychic. They both get hit by a car and that’s it. They’re out of the movie, never to be seen again, because they’re dead. We’re only told this fact by a newspaper that spins on to the camera.
This is the Face of the Screaming Werewolf, after all. Not the Faces of the Screaming Warrior and the Aztec Mummy.
Meanwhile, Lon Chaney Jr. goes full lycan, kills the scientist who revived him and then is stopped by Tin-Tin, who shows up out of nowhere because he’d been edited out of the movie up until now. Yes, this nameless hero just shows up unannounced and murders the werewolf with a torch, just like he did in La Casa del Terror, but now without the benefit of a lick of context.
To top that all off, two cops then discuss how there was never a werewolf at all. Yes, somehow even in the world of a Jerry Warren film, the cops can watch the truth and distort it before your eyes.