The IMDB summary of this movie is like something out of TV Guide‘s capsule reviews: “A woman abandons her husband, changes her name, and remarries again. Complications ensue.”
The real story is that our protagonist learns that his wife’s first husband isn’t dead. And perhaps even worse than that, he’s actively working with her to kill him off so they can take his money and run. That’s when a three-way game of cat and mouse ensues.
This is the last film of Sidney Salkow, ending a three-decade career behind the camera that saw him make movies like Twice-Told Tales, The Last Man on Earth and several pirate and cowboy films. Its writer, Harry Spaulding, also wrote Chosen Survivors, Witchery, Curse of the Fly, The Earth Dies Screaming and The Watcher in the Woods.
Plus, you can spot a young Dyan Cannon, if you look hard enough.
Filmed in only 18 days on a dare, this was based on an idea by Gastaldi’s wife Mara Maryl, who also acted in the movie. Perhaps she’d seen Les Diaboliques or The Pit and the Pendulum hmm?
When he was just a boy, Christian (Giancarlo Gianni, Black Belly of the Tarantula) watched his father kill a woman and then hismelf. Now he’s come back to the house where it all happened along with his wife Helene. The only others there are Paul (Luciano Pigozzi, who we all know was Pag in Yor Hunter from the Future) and his wife Brigitte (Meryl).
As soon as the master of the house arrives, he’s seeing his father’s ghost and going mad. But is it really happening? Or is someone else trying to make him lose his sanity?
Speaking of being influenced, the beginning of the film, where Christian plays with a windup toy as he watched human lives get snuffed up, had to have been a major influence on Deep Red.
It wouldn’t be giallo if it wasn’t confusing, so please know that this is a different movie than In the Folds of the Flesh, which also had the title Libido, and yes, Spasmo is pretty much influenced by this too, down to having a main character named Christian.
The Eurospy film isn’t just the domain of the Broccolis and the Italian, Mexican and American filmmakers that attempted to make their own OSS 117, Matt Helm, Santo and Kommisar X movies to take on Bond. At times, even those of a more artistic mind got involved.
Also known as Marie-Chantal contre le docteur Kha* and based on a series of novels by Jacques Chazot, this film was written and directed by Claude Chabrol, who wrote for Cahiers du cinéma before making his own films as an originator of the French New Wave. “The Balzac of Cinema,” he was suited to making mystery films that were often indebted to Hitchcock.
His heroine is French It girl Marie-Chantal, who is played by a real-life French It girl Marie Laforêt. She was a singer who brought the folk music of America to France, including her version of “Blowin’ in the Wind” that had a B-side of “House of the Rising Sun,” along with versions of songs by Peter Paul and Mary; The Rolling Stones; Simon and Garfunkel and Marianna Faithful. Her best-known song was 1977’s “Il a neigé sur Yesterday,” which was a song about the breakup of The Beatles.
As she travels by train to spend the winter with her cousin, Marie-Chantal is given a jewel in the shape of a tiger with ruby eyes that contains a virus that can destroy mankind. Now, spies from every nation are dispatched to get the jewels from her by any means necessary.
If you’re coming to this hoping for some of high art from Chabrol, you will be disappointed. If you’d like to see a great Eurospy, though, it has its rewards.
Kino Lorber’s new release of this film — available directly from them — comes complete with trailers, a 4K restoration from the original camera negative and audio commentary by film historians Howard S. Berger, Steve Mitchell and Nathaniel Thompson.
*Even the title is a playful joke, echoing the French title of Dr. No, James Bond 007 contre Dr. No.
We’ve made it our life’s mission to watch and review — sans his twenty-plus westerns as a producer, writer and director — all of Ron Ormond’s secular and Christian films. (The westerns will get done, eventually.) And we’re almost there. We’re left with The Eternal Question (1956), a soft skin-flick of which we have yet to locate a copy — hard or streaming.
The two most recent, Ormond non-western secular flicks we’ve watched are the films headlined on this review. We spoke of Ron Ormond’s work in the jukebox musical format with Square Dance Jubilee (1949) and Kentucky Jubilee (1951), each which thread a dramatic-cum-comedy plot through the film’s many musical acts. While Varieties on Parade and Forty Acre Feud both end up on some critics’ jukebox musical lists, these two works are less plot-driven and more about capturing a variety stage show in its entirety.
Remember, at the time of the release of each of these films, the new, technical advancement of television was not as integrated into our lives as it is today. Not everyone owned a television to watch the variety show styling of Milton Berle and Ed Sullivan. So, films, such as these Ormond productions, brought the show to the silver screens in outdoor, rural America.
Forty Acre Feud
Back in the day, country music concerts incorporated comedy into their sets, and this jukeboxer is filled with a gaggle of country singers (each doing two songs), including George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Bill Anderson, Ray Price, Del Reeves, and Roy Drusky (each lip-sync their hit songs, but doing it so well, you can’t tell), while Minnie Pearl and Ferlin Husky bring on the comedy. Shot at Bradley’s Barn in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, the “plot,” of what little there is to keep the acts hitting the stage with some semblance of rhyme and reason, concerns local election shenanigans.
Ferlin Husky went on to star in two films Sam the Bossman and I really love: The Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966), and its sequel, Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967). Both are, in fact, jukebox musicals themselves, with plots about organized crime and an inherited casino, and a mad scientists hiding out in a haunted house.
By the close the decade, as televisions became more prevalent in homes, the jukebox musical format of the silver screen was rendered obsolete by the premier of CBS-TV’s “Kornfield Kounty” series Hee-Haw in 1969.
Varieties on Parade
The whole purpose of this film is to give you “60s minutes of Star-Studded Entertainment” by bringing a big-city, vaudeville stage show to the drive-in screens of rural America. Unlike Ron Ormond’s other jukebox musicals — outside of the film’s opening POV shot, as you walk up to the box office and get a ticket, then are taken to your seat by an usher — there’s no plot to speak of to thread the acts.
This time capsule gets right down to it with an endless stream of singers, dancers, and magicians. There’s a mother-daughter bicycle stunt team and a brother juggling act, while former kid actor Jackie Coogan spoofs a routine with fellow comedian and the evening’s emcee, Eddie Garr. Are you in the mood for two comedians coming out on stage dressed as a horse? A three-woman trampoline act? An aerobics routine along with slapstick interludes? Then buy a ticket for the show!
You can get both of these films — and other Ron Ormond jukebox musicals (Yes Sir, Mr. Bones) — as part of VCI Entertainment’s “Showtime USA” DVD series. The restores on both are excellent and they also offer bonus commentary tracks with in-depth examinations on all of the films in the series.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.
El Encapuchado Negro is more than just another villain for El Santo to fight. He’s a supernatural force that has been hunting Santo and his family for four centuries. That’s correct. The silver mask has been passed down from generation to generation and it has magical powers because it was created by a magician all the way back in the 17th-century.
I mean, this thing starts with monks solemnly carrying the dead body of Santo to a tomb back in 1603 and we see the black hooded man claim that he will get back at the deceased man in the silver mask no matter what it takes. That would be 1965, as the axeman shows up as Santo is wrestling Lobo Negro. Bullets don’t stop the killer and he doesn’t show up in photos, but his axe nearly kills our tecnico hero.
Santo also has a girlfriend named Alicia, but he’s certain that he has a past love that he just can’t place. He is, however, willing to pull most of his mask to show her his face and make out — but it’s definitely not Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta under the mask for this scene.
The axeman tries to kill Santo again while he sleeps — in his clothes, no less — and he leaves his axe behind. It has the date 1603 and a small occult symbol on it, but so does Santo’s mask! Oh man, as if I couldn’t get into these movies any more. Santo was saved by a woman’s scream and that woman ends up being the ghost of Isabel de Arango. If Santo can stop El Encapuchado Negro, they can fall in love again. Santo, for his part, is dumbfounded by what is happening.
That’s when we learn the truth, as Santo uses a time machine to send his brain back in time. Back then, a man was in love with Isabel, but she only loved Santo. He tried to kill our hero yet Santo beat him in a swordfight before that rudo sold his soul to Satan and got all the power — and gold and gems — he would need to gain her love. Instead, he chains her up in a dungeon and the man who would be the first Santo goes to a magician named Abraca to gain the powers of Santo.
Santo and the Inquisition capture the Black Hood who is burned at the stake — keep this same storyline in mind for El Mundo del los Muertos — but becomes a bat and flies away. Santo decides to live in a monastary as the loss of his love has destroyed his life.
Oh man. It also turns out that Santo’s scientist friend Dr. Zanoni — the one who made the time machine — was really Abraca and he jumps in front of an axe made for our silver masked superhero. Santo even tries to break up with Alicia for her own safety after the axe murderer possesses one of his opponent, but she dies that same night.
Santo finally tracks down the killer and finds the skeleton of his lost love — well, the first one, not the blonde who was just axe murdered — chained to a wall. Santo goes off and hits the madman with a torch, then impales him when he transforms into a bat. Isabel becomes human and goes to Heaven while Santo is left all alone as even the room transforms from a gothic tableau to an empty room. Man, what a nihilistic ending for our friend.
You could do worse than watching a man who can disappear and then show up ready to chop off Santo’s head at any moment. I kinda love this movie and would probably be even more into it if El Mundo del los Muertos wasn’t an improved remake.
Seriously, of all the Disney live action I’ve watched over two weeks, this is my favorite. It’s a solid mystery story that has a cat to keep kids interested, but never panders or plays down to its audience. Dean Jones is pretty solid as FBI Agent Zeke Kelso, Hayley Mills is wonderful as Patricia “Patti” Randall and Dorothy Provine as her sister Ingrid and Roddy McDowall as would-be suitor Gregory Benson are both perfect. Put them up against Neville Brand and Frank Gorshin as the duo who have kidnapped a woman* yet who are outwitted by a feline and you have a great movie.
Its writing crew was recognized for their work. Mildred Gordon, Gordon Gordon (the Gordons wrote the original book, Undercover Cat) and Bill Walsh, were nominated by the Writers Guild of America for Best Written American Comedy and the movie was nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Motion Picture.
The real star is DC** — Darn Cat — a rare movie cat who acts exactly like a real cat. He’s pretty much rude and even dangerous to everyone outside his owners Patti and Ingrid. Plus, William Demarest made me laugh out loud every single moment he was on screen, which is the hallmark of a comedic actor.
One of the Seal Point Siamese cats in this film also appears in The Incredible Journey. Let’s hear it for movie animals who appeared in more than one role!
Also — I have a weakness for fake beatniks in kid movies. Witness Canoe, played here by Tom Lowell. He’s everything plus!
*Grayson Hall, Dr. Julia Hoffman from Dark Shadows!
**In France, he is known as P.V., which comes from the French translation Petit Voyou, or little delinquent.
Tallulah Bankhead — in her last movie — absolutely owns every scene she’s in here, playing Mrs. Trefoile,the mother of Patricia Carroll’s (Stefanie Powers) deceased fiance. As she comes to London, Patricia decides to get closure by visiting the old woman. Yet within a few scenes, she’s now a captive of the hysterically religious woman and is due to be exorcised.
Trefoile also has three servants — Harry (Peter Vaughan), Anna (Yootha Joyce) and Joseph (Donald Sutherland) — who are keeping our heroine away from the rest of the world, hiding her from her fiancee Alan Glentower (Maurice Kaufmann).
Also known as Fanatic**, this is a strong entry in the psychobiddy genre that has Richard Matheson adapting Anne Blaisdell’s novel Nightmare*. It was directed by Silvio Narizzano, who also made the Dennis Hopper and Carroll Baker movie Bloodbath and Georgy Girl.
Nearly fifty years after making this movie, Stefanie Powers acted in Looped, a play based on a true story about Bankhead being inebriated and unable to loop the line, “Die! Die my darling!” for this film. The role was originated by Valerie Harper, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performancem despite the play closing after 33 performances. Harper played the role on the road until become sick with brain cancer.
*One of the many names of Elizabeth Linington, who also wrote under her real name and the alter egos Lesley Egan, Egan O’Neill and Dell Shannon.
**Bankhead sued Columbia Pictures when they retitled this for U.S. theaters.
Produced by Hammer and released by MGM, this Freddie Francis-directed movie is kinda sorta a nascent giallo, in that a foreigner in a strange land must overcome amnesia and solve a crime that the police are ineffectual at investigating.
Chris Smith wakes up in an English hospital after a car accident, unable to recall much of his life. Even four months later, he still can’t remember much and is under the care of Dr. Keller and his bills and apartment are being paid by a mysterious benefactor.
Also — he may hallucinate from time to time. And he keeps seeing a woman in a photo that he’s sure that he knows. And oh yeah, before we forget, dead bodies start showing up in the shower.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to violence, the word and the act. While violence cloaks itself in a plethora of disguises, its favorite mantle still remains… sex. Violence devours all it touches, its voracious appetite rarely fulfilled. Yet violence doesn’t only destroy, it creates and molds as well. Let’s examine closely then this dangerously evil creation, this new breed encased and contained within the supple skin of woman. The softness is there, the unmistakable smell of female, the surface shiny and silken, the body yielding yet wanton. But a word of caution: handle with care and don’t drop your guard. This rapacious new breed prowls both alone and in packs, operating at any level, any time, anywhere, and with anybody. Who are they? One might be your secretary, your doctor’s receptionist… or a dancer in a go-go club!”
You know how I always say, “They could have stopped making movies after this?” This is the movie at the center of my argument. I really don’t know how any movie gets any better than this, unless Russ Meyer is directing it.
The three worst women you’ve ever met — and also the finest — finish their dance routines at a club and then head out to the California desert where they race their car and verbally abuse one another. They are Billie (Laurie Williams), Rosie (Haji) and Varla (Tura Satana, perhaps the finest thing Satan ever made for the Lord). They follow that up by sizing up the guy mansplaining things to his girl and snap his neck before drugging his woman, Linda (Susan Bernard).
Stopping to fill up, they learn that a wheelchair-bound man and his feebleminded son are literally sitting on a treasure. So they do what you or I would do — manipulate, manhandled and murder everyone in their way.
Originally known as The Leather Girlsand then The Mankillers, this isn’t a movie as much as a religion to me. No less a cultural giant as John Waters said, “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is, beyond a doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future.”
Tura Satana is the kind of woman that if she wasn’t born, we would have created her and made her into a goddess. There have been many pretenders to her throne, but none will ever ascend it.
Seriously, I wore the t-shirt of this movie for most of the 90s before it fell apart. If you dislike this movie, we can never, ever be friends.
Why is it that we’ll remember the “bad” science fiction films and forget the, well, they’re not exactly “good,” but the better-made ones? Why do we nostalgically pour our celluloid vinegars over the likes of The Astounding She-Monster, Cat-Women of the Moon, and Fire Maidens from Outer Space, yet forget an imaginative and well-made flick from the Woolner Brothers, like Mutiny in Outer Space?
Maybe it’s because I forever have Mutiny in Outer Space jammed in my mental VCR as result of enjoying it as part of a childhood, Saturday afternoon UHF-TV double bill with Space Probe Taurus (1965) — and that both starred my childhood crush, Lydia Limpit, the sidekick to Batman’s nemesis, The Bookworm: the heart-weeping Francine York.
As for the rest who forgot — or never heard of — this humans-battle-aliens-in-space romp: you know the brothers Lawrence and Bernard oeuvre better than you realize. Like most of the Corman-quickie styled filmmakers of the time, the Woolner’s started out as Drive-In theater owners, and then began financing low-budget B-studios to fill their screens. Of course, the Woolner’s hedged the smart bet and backed the never-lost-a-dime-on-a-movie (well, except for 1974’s Cockfighter) Corman on the films Swamp Women and the teen-juvie romp, Teenage Doll. Junk cinema fans will remember the brothers’ third film, Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the best; Italian horror hounds remember Larry and Bernie best for giving U.S. popcorn noshers Antonio Margheriti’s Castle of Blood, the Christopher Lee-starring Castle of the Living Dead, and, the big kahuna of giallo, Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace (all 1964). And in the grand tradition of remembering the bad: there’s the film (IMO) that slides in nicely after Fire Maidens from Outer Space in the annals of awful, MST3k-styled sci-fi from the ’50s (and ’60s): The Human Duplicators (1965), a film that gets its wistful positraction from the fact the film’s android-making villain is portrayed by future Bond villain Richard “Jaws” Kiel. If not for ol’ Jaws. . . .
And that brings us to the Woolner’s second foray into the sci-fi genre (their third and last was Antonio Margheriti’s Bond knock off, Operation Goldman, aka Lightning Bolt in the U.S.), which they filmed in six days for $90,000 in March of 1964. Released as an undercard to The Human Duplicators, MiOS was also directed by Hugo Grimaldi. After MiOS, Grimaldi’s only other writing credit is Gigantis, the Fire Monster; he also supervised the U.S. dubs on First Spaceship on Venus, aka Germany’s Der schweigende Stern, and Giorgio Ferroni’s pseudo-Giallo, Mill of the Stone Woman.
While a quickie undercard production, screenwriter Arthur C. Pierce did his research and developed a sci-fi smart script (forgetting, of course, that he cheapjacked the sci-fi classics that are The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Time Machine with the later, not-so-classic The Cosmic Man and Beyond the Time Barrier*, respectively; he also wrote and produced the $140,000 The Human Duplicators) based on the (now inaccurate) science of the time and had his astronauts, while battling an alien fungus (and keeping the romance to a minimum), deal with the prolonged effects of travel and life in space. In addition, leads Dolores Faith (debuted in 1961’s The Phantom Planet and starred in The Human Duplicators), Richard Garland (really steps it up from his past work in 1957’s Attack of the Crab Monster), Francine York (who would later tickle our hormones in Ted V. Mikel’s The Doll Squad), and Harold Lloyd, Jr. (Frankenstein’s Daughter) are, for a B-Movie quickie, very good in their roles.
Now, before you think that’s (furry) octopus tentacles on the one-sheet, it’s actually plant tendrils, in a tale that foreshadows what we’d see in 1968 with the Antonio Margheriti-influenced The Green Slime — which had blood-drinking asteroid slime instead of plants. And the plants, here, don’t transmutate into sentient — and very goofy — red-eyed tentacled humanoids.
At first, the film began as Space Station X (after Space Station SS X-7, the rotating station of the film), then the more sensational Invasion from the Moon (since the plants came from an ice cave on the Moon), but since Grimaldi and Pierce pinched from 1954’s The Caine Mutiny (since the station’s commander cracks under pressure), why not? Voila (or is that “ecco” in Italian), the film hit theaters as Mutiny in Outer Space. And there’s no doubt to the pinching of two of the ’50s biggest alien-versus-human romps: The Thing (1951) andIt! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958). But there’s an even bigger, obscure pinch: the overly talky, dry and boring Space Master X-7 (1958). That Ed Woodian romp of the Plan 9 variety concerns itself with a fungus unleashed from an Earth-returned space probe — only that alien is metallic “space rust” and not a plant. Or slime. And it gets loose on jet liner — as it would multiple times, some 60 years later in more than a few flicks from The Asylum (that I don’t feel like looking up). Oh, and you know what: the commander in the Kubrick-inspiring Conquest of Space (1955), which, itself, probably pinched from The Caine Mutiny, cracks under the pressure and jeopardizes the station, as well.
But still . . . with all of those plot pinches (and stock footage-set pinches, which we will get into), which I hadn’t a clue of when I was a UHF-weaned kid, Mutiny in Outer Space is still pretty good and a lot of fun.
In the future-verse of 1990: Two astronauts collect geological samples from an ice cave on the moon. Shortly after returning to the station, one of them collapses. It’s discovered he has a fever-inducing welt on his leg that spreads into a fungus across his body — a fungus from the ice caves.
The upside to this Moon romp is that, unlike the other interstellar-matriarchal fails of the ’50s and ’60s that we’ve discussed this week (and during our January 2021 tribute week to those films, such as 1953’s Project Moonbase) Mutiny in Outer Space puts several strong women to the forefront: the two leads with the most screen time being Lt. Connie Engstrom (Pamela Curran; Elvis’s Girl Happy) as the station’s communications chief, and Dr. Faith Montaine as a civilian biochemist who oversees science operations.
Yeah . . . we still have the horny male astronauts, and the ubiquitous flirting, and a scene in the station’s bio-lab with an astronaut flirting with his buddy’s girl; and her fretting about hairdo-fixing for her astro-hunk’s return. (Could you imagine Ripley gaga for Dallas or a Bret-Lambert hook up?) Of course, while these girls are smart and resourceful, they (an absolutely, sci-fi ’50s plot-point must) go all damsel-in-distress hysterical when the plants-hit-the-fan. Oh, and there’s the meteor shower that hits-the-fan. And the shower results in an ice-core splitting open. Now the furry plant tendrils (that would have looked great in color instead of washy-wash black and white) are everywhere. And the station’s commander cracks. And since guns were outlawed in space, the only thing to fight with is good ol’ he-man brawn and hormone-fueled ingenuity. The final solution has to do with creating a shield to cut off the solar heat that feeds the plants. Oy!
See, I told you. It may be pinchy n’ cheap, but wow . . . Mutiny in Outer Space just keep the Murphy Law-antics comin’ at ya, and at a decent pace helped by tight edits and seamless integration of its stock footage.
What ultimately stopped Mutiny in Outer Space from achieving classic status: While the top-billed The Human Duplicators was shot in color — as result of the budget in producing the station and plant effects and sets — there were no funds left to shoot in color. Thus, we ended up with a film that has the feel of ’50s space flick (the same folly that befell the equally well-done Space Station Taurus, also released in 1965), when it was actually in production around the same time Stanley Kubrick began pre-production in 1965 on his sci-if game changer: 2001: A Space Odyssey — issued a mere three years later, in 1968. In the end, the Woolner’s boondoggled it, didn’t they? The $140,000 (IMO) wasted on The Human Duplicators should have been budgeted for MiOS, so as to make one solid, indie studio, A-styled picture to be remembered, instead of two forgotten flicks . . . flicks that lead a guy like me to spend a whole day writing a review that, maybe, a dozen people, if I’m lucky, will ultimately end up reading.
And so goes the life of a digital movie critic. Well, at least I got to use “tendrils” in a sentence. I believe that’s a first for my reviews.
It’s reported Mutiny in Outer Space is an Italian-American co-production, which is incorrect. The film was produced, in full, with an all U.S. cast, at Producers Studios on Melrose Avenue, in Los Angeles (the studio has hosted everything, from the 1944 film noir Double Indemnity to 1976’s Assault on Precinct 13). Remembering the Woolner’s worked with Antonio Margheriti on Castle of Blood and Lightning Bolt: there’s your “Italian connection,” which is result of the Woolner’s clipping footage (and possibly costumes, but more likely just astronaut footage; the numerical-letter uniform designations give it away) from Margheriti’s 1960 space romp, Assignment: Outer Space. And if the sets are familiar, that’s because they’re from another 1965 production on the Producers Studios sound stages: Space Probe Taurus. (We could easily do a B&S tribute week to all of the Drive-In and UHF-TV ditties produced at the studio.)
Don’t believe me? Compare the trailers for yourself. Both films even have romance-in-the-botany lab scenes, complete with the male astronauts making dumb plant jokes in a dorky-flirt that’d give Ross Geller pause:
You can watch a nice rip of Mutiny in Outer Space on You Tube. If I had the money and influence of J.J. Abrams, I’d do for MiOS what he did for Phantasm: restore it — in color, natch. It’s a classic. Oh, and since we’re talking about them: You can watch Assignment: Outer Space on You Tube and Space Probe Taurus on You Tube, and compare. Yep, we also found a (muddy) copy of Space Master X-7 on Archive.org and The Human Duplicators on Daily Motion.
* While junk, I’ll always have a warmed-up VCR for Beyond the Time Barrier as result of its UHF-TV double-billing with Creation of the Humanoids, itself a precursor to Blade Runner in the same way Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires foreshadows Alien.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.