The Wages of Sin (1966)

Somehow, this West German movie originally called The Doctor Speaks Out (Der Arzt stellt fest…) played to American audiences as The Wages of Sin and The Price of Sin. Sure, in its native country it was a mediation on abortion, but over here, it was a chance to see a woman fully nude. Never mind that she was having a baby at the time.

Being that this played the grindhouse circuit, it also came complete with a not-real doctor discussing the miracle of birth and then, yes, showing more babies come out into the world in shocking detail.

Those moments are on the Something Weird blu ray re-release that Kino Lorber has just put out. You also get a second movie, The Misery and Fortune of Women, audio commentary by film historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas a medical lecture and book pitch by Donn Davison, who released this movie in America and two baby birthing films, Life and Its Secrecies and Triplets by Cesarean Section.

What an astounding time for movies. And just think — you can have this on your shelf, just like I do, when someone is at your house and wonders, “You know, I’ve always wanted to see triplets get cut out of a human being.”

The Love Cult (1966)

Barry Mahon used the name T.A. Dee to direct this, which is kind of a bummer, because I’d put this on the good side of the Mahon film column. It was written by Forest Russell (using the name Russel Fore), who only wrote one other movie, Unholy Matrimony.

A hypnotist realizes that there’s more money — and women — if he starts a sex cult. He takes the name Brother Eros and starts to preach that “Love is all that counts.”

I dig the idea that there are old rich women who bankroll this cult because they’re elite perverts. But if you’re coming to The Love Cult expecting debauchery, this movie is near PG-13 in content.

I really do love the tagline for it, though: “Here’s a major motion picture that tells the inside story of phony religious groups that used the DEVIL for a preacher!”

Rita Bennett is in this. Despite appearing in movies for directors like Joseph W. Sarno, Barry Mahon, William Rose, and the Ameros during the nudie cutie and roughie eras, then appearing in plenty of mainstream movies like Raging Bull and All That Jazz, she never got her drinking out of control and was buried in a potter’s field, her body unclaimed after her demise.

Uta Erickson, who was in the Findlay’s Her Flesh trilogy, is also in this, as is Sharon Kent from Beware the Black WidowSome Like It Violent and Carny Girl.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: War of the Gargantuas (1966)

EDITOR’S NOTE: On one of our Drive-In Asylum Double Features, I mentioned that this is my favorite giant monster movie. I decided to bring this back — the original post was on October 7, 2019 — to explain why.

Today’s theme is close to my heart. As a young kid in the 1970’s, WFMJ-TV 21 in Youngstown, Ohio played monster movies every night at 1 AM (or later, if Tom Snyder was on). They only had so many Godzilla films before they’d run out and have to run a secondary Toho franchise.

Yes, this movie is a franchise, the sequel to 1965’s Frankenstein Conquers the World. Instead of Nick Adams, this time we have Russ Tamblyn as the American star. This is the third and final film that Toho would collaborate with Henry G. Saperstein on (in addition to the Frankenstein, they also made Invasion of Astro-Monster together).

Saperstein was an interesting guy — he specialized in licensing, working with Col. Tom Parker as Elvis Presley’s licensing agent as well as creating and selling merchandise for Debbie Reynolds, Rosemary Clooney, Chubby Checker and the Three Stooges. He’d go on to syndicate golf and bowling shows in the infancy of TV, as well as buying UPA, the studio that made Mr. Magoo. He led them to syndicating the Dick Tracy TV show, another merchandising goldmine. He also purchased the rights to the Japanese spy spoof Kokusai Himitsu Keisatsu: Kagi noKagi (International Secret Police: Key of Keys), which became What’s Up, Tiger Lily? with help from Woody Allen.

At the end of 1965, Toho informed director Ishiro Honda that his director’s contract would not be renewed, despite successes like the original GodzillaKing Kong vs. Godzilla,  the unstoppable Destroy All Monsters, Rodan, Mothra and many more. Of course, he kept directing for Toho, but now there was the stress of wondering if each job would be his last.

To add to that stress, it’s said that Russ Tamblyn and Honda were often at odds, with the American actor refusing to read his lines. Honda’s chief assistant, Seiji Tani (who would go on to be the second unit director for Destroy All Monsters) would tell the authors of Ishiro Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa: “Honda-san had to hold back and bear so much during that one. Russ Tamblyn was such an asshole.”

I don’t know how much you know of Japanese culture, but for someone to go on record saying such a thing is a major deal. For what it’s worth, Saperstein would later say that Tamblyn was “a royal pain in the ass.” As all of his lines were dubbed in Japanese, the American actor had to go back and redub the US version. He forgot all of the words, so what’s in the film is completely improvised. If only Tab Hunter, the original actor picked for this movie, stuck around.

The film was originally announced as The Frankenstein Brothers, then The Two Frankensteins, Frankenstein vs. Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s Decisive Battle and Frankenstein’s Fight. Regardless of the title, this is one of my favorite Toho films. I’m not the only one. Brad Pitt has gone on record saying it’s the reason why he wanted to become an actor. The battle between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah in Kill Bill: Volume 2 was called the “War of the Blonde Gargantuas,” with Tarantino screening the film for Hannah. And both Tim Burton, Nicholas Cage and Guillermo del Toro cite the film as one of their favorites.

Maybe it’s because of the scene where Kipp Hamilton sings “The Words Get Caught In My Throat,” which ends with one of the titular beasts grabbed her as she finishes her act. Has any monster movie been this gleefully crazy? I mean, would Devo cover any other monster movie song?

It all begins on a dark and stormy night, as a fishing boat is attacked by a giant octopus, which is then destroyed by a green giant who proceeds to decimate the boat. Only one survivor makes it, telling the authorities that it was Frankenstein.

The press picks up the story and interviews Dr. Paul Stewart (Tamblyn) and his assistant, Dr. Akemi Togawa (Kumi Mizuno, who starred in plenty of kaiju epics), who once had a baby Frankenstein in their possession.

Yes, in the original film, Frankenstein was born in a very strange way. German officers had taken the heart of the original Frankenstein’s monster from Dr. Riesendorf and sent it to Hiroshima for further experimentation. Of course, once the bomb dropped, the beast was irradiated and became a feral boy running loose through the streets, eating small animals and becoming immune to radiation. He eventually becomes a giant and battles Baragon, who would go on to appear in many Toho films (you can also see his skull in Pacific Rim Uprising).

There end up being two beasts in this one: Sanda, who is the original from the first film and Gaira, a piece of tissue that was torn off, made its way to the sea and fed off plankton until it grew into giant form. The new creature hates humans and is hurt by daylight, while Sanda attempts to save people.

The final battle, as the two monsters fight into Tokyo Bay, is amazing. Their skirmish is so violent, an underwater volcano ends up taking both of them out. Sadly, there would be no third film in the series, despite rumors that one of them would battle Godzilla in an upcoming film.

There are multiple American versions of this film, with the Saperstein cut removing all references to Frankenstein Conquers the World and the creatures called gargantuas instead of Frankensteins.

Haruo Nakajima, who played Godzilla in 11 of the original 15 movies, has claimed Gaira as his favorite role, as the costume was very easy to move in and his eyes were visible, allowing him to show more emotion.

I have a test as to whether or not I can be friends with someone. If they watch a kaiju movie and make fun of how cheap it is or how fake it looks, they have no imagination. In my mind, this movie looks incredible, with huge sets and intricate monster costumes. I’ve watched this hundreds of times and it gets better with every single viewing.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Daimajin (1966)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Daimajin takes place in feudal-era Japan. It opens with a small village being overthrown by an evil overlord named Samanosuke (Yutaro Gomi.) He kills everyone in the royal family except the young Princess and Prince Tadafumi who go into hiding on the mountain where the statue of the ancient god Majin stands. Legend has it that Majin has the soul of a warrior trapped inside him and must not be angered lest there be grave consequences.

After ten years of repression and starvation, an attempt is made to restore the old regime but Samanosuke is simply too powerful. That is, until he decides to mock Majin. He instructs his cronies to pound a chisel into the head of the statue to try and destroy it. Majin wakes up in a really bad mood and goes on a wild rampage to set things straight.

Daimajin holds up very well after more than 55 years. It is different from most giant monster movies of the 1960s in its period-piece setting makes it timeless to modern audiences. It can just as easily be called a Samurai film as a giant monster movie. There’s also plenty of good acting and special effects to be had. Sadly, we don’t get to see Majin until the final reel of the film and the action ends just as abruptly as it began. The miniature sets are extremely well photographed with some of the shots eclipsing the bigger budget efforts of the time. The supernatural elements of the story are expertly interwoven with the human drama and Majin never comes off as a fun monster the way Gamera (Daiei’s other star of the period) did. Daimajin is a serious film with very little humor to be had but it is still very enjoyable. Adding to the moodiness of the piece is a brooding score by Akira Ifukube who composed the majority of the Godzilla films over at Toho Studios. The good news is, Daimajin has been released in the U.S. in the widescreen format with its original soundtrack with Japanese subtitles. For those with Region Free players, the entire Daimajin trilogy has been released in a pristine boxed set in Japan. I suspect Majin would be pleased.

PPS (1966)

Also known as The Secret SocietyP.P.S. (Prostitute Protective Society) is when the ladies of the oldest profession smarten up when organized crime — led by Carney Bill! — tries to get protection money out of them.

The girls refuse and as the result, several of them are stabbed, shot and hung before the thick accented Madam Sue got things moving in the other direction. They aren’t giving ten percent to any man, even if they have to sit around and sunbathe and discuss what they’re going to do. Seriously, with all the murder and mayhem in this, the ladies spend plenty of time lounging around and having long conversations about their friends dying.

Also, there are no actresses credited for this. Instead, it literally stars “Madam Sue and her Time Square Girls.”

I wouldn’t say that this is a good film but it’s 62 minutes, has lots of Times Square and Coney Island footage and ends with the big bad — spoiler warning — losing his little bad. So there’s that.

You can download this from the Internet Archive.

Hallucination Generation (1966)

“You will experience every jolt…every jar of a Psychedelic Circus…The Beatniks…Sickniks…and Acid-Heads…and you will witness their ecstasies, their agonies and their bizarre sensualities…You will be hurled into their debauched dreams and frenzied fantasies!”

Hallucination Generation is pure exploitation, because it at once wants to be a warning of the dangers of pill popping while also luridly showing the drug experience, even breaking the black and white normal world for the color burst of LSD using the langauge of film that we’ve all taken from The Wizard of Oz, in that the color world is so much better than monochromatic Kansas.

Ibiza is also a place that I’ve learned from films like this and More is a den of scum and villainy, a region where rich kids come to get hooked and enter lives of crime to pay for their need to stay high.

This was released by American-International Pictures subsidiary Trans American Pictures, which AIP used to put out the scuzzy films that were too out there for them to release. Look back on that sentence and think about it: movies too messed up for AIP. I’m talking flms like Cannibal HolocaustSalon Kitty, Jess Franco’s SuccubusI Am a GroupieWitchcraft ’70, Teenage Rebellion and more.

Director Edward Mann wrote Island of Terror, Cauldron of BloodThe Freakmaker and Seizure, while directing Hot Pants HolidayWho Says I Can’t Ride a Rainbow! and Hooch. He’s one of those all over the place artists, as he also did the special effects on this movie, contributed the song “There’s a Certain Kind of Woman” to Cauldron of Blood, was a syndicated cartoonist, co-founded New York City’s Circle in the Square and was one of the forces that made Woodstock a cultural center.

Perhaps even more interesting to genre film fans is that one of the drug addicts, Bill, is played by Danny Steinmann. Yes, the same Danny Steinmann who would go on to make The UnseenSavage Streets and Friday the 13th: A New Beginning!

Did everyone involved with this movie go on to to be connected to movies I’m obsessed with? Actress Marianne Kanter would go from acting to producing and the two films she did are Blood Rage and Dark August, two dark and scuzzy films that I adore.

Renate Kasché was in everything from Emanuelle in America to Frankenstein ’80Lady Frankenstein and A Black Veil for Lisa. Tom Baker — not Dr. Who — would direct Bongo Wolf’s Revenge, which features the Los Angeles fringe eccentric cult figure as he gives a lecture on vampires and prehistoric man. It has Mike Bloomfield  — who played on Dylan’s albums — and Severn Darden playing themselves and Alan White from Yes as an art critic. You better believe I’m hunting it down.

There’s also T.J. Castronovo, who would go on to produce Tales from the Darkside and Spanish character actor Victor Israel, who was in so many movies like The Good, the Bad and the UglyThe House That ScreamedGraveyard of HorrorRiccoHorror ExpressHell of the Living Dead. He had 211 credits to his name, so he shows up in a ton of stuff.

This is why I watch movies, because even if they aren’t good, like this one, you can go down a rabbit hole discovering something better because of the people who appear in it.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Un Fiume di Dollari (1966)

A River of Dollars was released in the U.S. as The Hills Run Red. It was directed by Carlo Lizzani (Crazy Joe) and shot at the Dino De Laurentiis Studios in Rome and in the newly constructed Western town set at Dinocitta.

After the Civil War, Ken Seagull (Nando Gazzolo, who narrated Black Sunday) and Jerry Brewster (Thomas Hunter*, Death Walks in Laredo) have stolen a wagon full of money before the law closes in. They cards to see who will take the fall and Jerry stays behind and gets sent to the brig for five years.

As he returns home, he learns that Seagull never helped his wife and child, which explains why his home is deserted. Even worse, when his villainous ex-partner sends a gang to kill him off. He’s helped by Winnie Getz (Dan Duryea, The Burglar), who tells Seagull that he’s killed Brewster, who goes along with this plan and takes the name Jim Houston.

Seagull had a very similar plan, as he’s now known as Ken Milton, and has hired a crazed killer named Garcia Mendez (Henry Silva). And oh yeah — Seagull killed our hero’s wife and had his son think that he was an orphan. Someone is gonna pay and that somebody is named Seagull. Or Milton.

This is a perfectly serviceable Italian western, livened up by Silva, who is always a great bad guy.

You can get this from Kino Lorber.

*This role was intended for Burt Reynolds.

Pánico (1966)

With a name like this, I just had to review this one.

It’s directed by Julián Soler, who also made Santo vs. Blue Demon in AtlantisEl Castillo de Los Monstruos and El Hombre y La Bestia, this is a three-part horror anthology.

The first story — Pánico — has nearly no dialogue, just a young girl (Ana Martin, who is in a movie I just have to track down — La Mujer del Diablo, as its a Mexican gothic occult movie directed by Alfredo B. Crevenna) being hunted as she runs through the woods, followed by a witch (Ofelia Guilmáin, The Exterminating Angel) with a knife. She keeps seeing the same three boys over and over again, as well as the doll of a child. At the end, she ends up strangling the witch and then dying within the real world, as she had been trapped in a mental institution after the three men we keep seeing had assaulted her, which cost her her unborn child.

In Soledad, Joaquín Cordero (Dr. Satan!) and José Gálvez (the devil in Macario) have just buried the body of a girl during a plague. They soon turn against one another and the hallucinations both suffer leave them — and you — wonder who is alive and who is dead.

Finally, the last story is Angustia, which is a cover version of Poe’s The Premature Burial with some comedic elements, as a scientist and his cat both ingest chemicals that make them seem dead. He’s played by Aldo Monti, who would go on to direct the giallo-esque Santo en Anónimo Mortal and an occult thriller called Seducción Sangrienta that I also need to track down. He spends much of this story trapped in his coffin, trying to get anyone to notice that he is still alive, including his wife (Alma Delia Fuentes, Blue Demon Destructor of Spies and Peligro…! Mujeres en Acción). By the end, he of course gets buried alive and then reincarnated as a catterpillar that his grieving wife steps on.

This was written by Ramón Obón, who has over a hundred script to his credit, including Las SicodélicasThe Empire of DraculaLa Señora MuerteSanto vs. Los LobasEl Látigo contra SatanásLa Furia de Los Karatecas and Terror y Encajes Negros.

Plenty of weird fun here and it feels really experimental. The short running time really helps, as unlike modern portmanteaus, it never drags.

The Golden Bat (1966)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This article originally ran in Drive-In Asylum issue 20. You can get it right now on the Etsy store.

While many of us would consider the first superheroes to be Superman or Batman, the truth is that The Golden Bat (Ogon Batto) predates both of them by nearly a decade and is considered the world’s first comic book superhero. 

The character was created by sixteen-year-old Takeo Nagamatsu and twenty-five year-old Suzuki Ichiro in 1931. They were inspired by, of all things, Golden Bat cigarettes and the mythology department of Tokyo’s Ueno Royal Museum. However, they sought to create a hero based on science rather than magic. 

The Golden Bat made his debut in a traveling storytelling show known as kamishibai, which means paper play. He was so popular that after World War II, his adventures continued in both manga comics (including work by Osamu “The Father of Maga” Tezuka), anime and film.

I know you didn’t crack open this issue of DIA to read about obscure comics. So let me get to the reason why I’ve picked Ogon Batto to spotlight. The first live-action film starring this character was made by Toei — yes, the same studio that brought you The Green Slime, Female Prisoner 701: Scorpion and Message from Space — in 1966. 

While made in the same year that the Batmania craze was spreading like wildfire, this film is a strange mix of movie serial and Eurospy with a watchful eye toward the sentai shows that would dominate Japanese kids TV by the late 70’s. 

Professor Yamatone (Sonny Chiba, eight years before he’d make The Street Fighter for this very same studio) and his family have taken a visit to Egypt. While exploring the tomb of a legendary god of justice — you guessed it, Ogon Bat — the agents of Dr. Erich Nazo take Yamatone captive. This has something to do with Nazo’s home planet Icarus being drawn toward Earth to destroy it and a giant robot that he keeps under the sea.

As his daughter Mari begins to wail and plead for her father’s life, her tears fall into the Golden Bat’s tomb and bring him 10,000 years forward into our time from his native land of Atlantis.

This would be a strange origin story to start with, but it’s the design of Golden Bat that makes it sublime. He’s literally an aurum-armored warrior with a face like, well, a skull. He looks like the villain of the piece, more Kriminal than Superman. He pretty much invented the bat-signal, casting a giant gold bat and his laughter before each battle, before a large golden skull appears as he does. Most fights between Golden Bat and his adversaries end with most of them dead, which is strange for a hero who fights for small children.

He’s also incredibly similar to Fantomas, a fact not lost on Italian and Brazilian audiences, which renamed him as Fantaman and Fantomas respectively. Even cooler, this movie was released in Italy as Il ritorno di Diavolik or The Return of Diavolik. Deep deep down, indeed.

This is probably the point in which I should explain that the insidious Dr. Nazo looks like a giant stuffed bear with four eyes and a giant mechanical claw for a hand. His agents all have burned up faces, deploy tricks like gigantic hypno-wheels and have no compunctions menacing young children and old people.

Director Hajime Satô was also behind the senses-shattering Goke, Body Snatcher from Hell. Just imagine the weirdness of that movie, but instead harnessing it to create a superhero movie for kids. Now you have a good idea of what to expect here.

Keep an eye out for Andrew Hughes, a Turkish-born import/export businessman who inexplicably became a Japanese movie star. He was on speed dial — yes, Japanese directors had that way before we knew what it was — for anyone who wanted a Western-looking face in their film, showing up in everything from King Kong Escapes and Destroy All Monsters to Crazy Adventure, where he played Adolf Hitler. 

Sure, Golden Bat has every superpower ever — and then some — but this movie flies, making you never even realize that seventy-plus minutes of aliens, lighting-blasting staffs and skullman versus robot fisticuffs have battered your brain into jelly. 

Of course, Golden Bat’s story — not in this film, mind you — ends like every Japanese hero story ever, with both the protagonist and his arch-nemesis dead. There’s something in the Japanese culture that demands that each of its monster heroes must pay the price for their daring-do in blood. 

But The Golden Bat will return. Even death can’t hold him in her grasp when a young girl’s tears call from beyond, after all.

You can watch this movie on YouTube.

Knives of the Avenger (1966)

You can’t really judge Mario Bava’s work on this film, as he entered a troubled production and rewrote and reshot it in just six days.

After the apparent death of her husband King Arald (Giacomo Rossi Stuart, The Crimes of the Black Cat, here called Frank Stewart), Karin (Elissa Pichelli, using the Americanized name Lisa Wagner) has run from the murderous Hagen (Fausto Tozzi, billed as Frank Ross). Now, Rurik, a knife-throwing stranger (Cameron Mitchell, using the name…well…Cameron Mitchell) has rode into town like a Roman Shane and is defending her and her son Moki. Of course, Moki may also have been his son and he could very well have assaulyed Karin in the past, but I guess him learning how to throw knives — and aiming them at the right people — is some kind of redemption?

This is much closer to a western than a peblum, but when you think that Bava pretty much fixed this movie — or at least got it done — in less than a week, you have to admire his talent. That said, this is not one of his best.

This played on double bills with Gamera the Invincible, which seems like a pairing I’d never put together. It’s on Tubi, but fair warning, the print is horrible.