She Freak (1967)

Claire Brennan plays Jade Cochran, a diner waitress who hates freaks and sadly for her, she’s pretty much in a remake of Tod Browning’s Freaks but, you know, 35 years later and somehow with a lower budget. Within minutes — and just one ferris wheel ride — she’s the wife of circus owner Steve St. John (Bill McKinney) and moments after that, rough trade Blackie Fleming (Lee Raymond) is treating her how she likes being treated behind her new old man’s back and then, even sooner than that, Steve’s dead at the hands and switchblade of Blackie and Jade owns it all.

Again, if you saw Freaks, you know how this all ends, the comeuppance of it all, right? The effects are rudimentary but effective and I mean, you can’t call a movie She Freak and not have a she freak.

Directed by Byron Mabe (The Acid EatersSpace ThingNude Django) with inserts from Donn Davison. Donn was the manager of Florida’s Dragon Art Theatre and one of the guys who would work four-walled theaters and talk marks into buying gimmicks. He also narrated the trailer for The Crawling Thing and Creature Of Evil.

This was written by Michael B. Druxman (who also wrote Cannon movie Keaton’s Cop) and producer David F. Friedman, who produced this and also plays the carnival barker. He learned how to make movies in the army and when he was discharged, he sold army-surplus searchlights. His first customer? Kroger Babb, perhaps the most carny of all carnies. And this, Friedman entered the world of film, working with Herschell Gordon Lewis, making more money in softcore and retiring when hardcore took over.

Filmed during the Kern County Fair and the Ventura County Fair, She Freak takes advantage of the rides and attractions of West Coast Shows, which was such a major company that they could do five carnivals in different locations at the same time. Most of their crew are in this.

Even though Jade and Shorty (Felix Silla) are at odds in this movie, the truth is there’s a thin line between love and hate. This movie started a nine year affair between the two that was kept a secret, even when Brennan gave birth to Silla’s son.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Way Out (1966/1967)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs 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 or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

The little-seen Way Out is a gem for fans of obscure cinema with quirky histories and happily, it’s way better than it should be. I first saw it as part of a double bill released by Something Weird Video along with the hippie-themed Ghetto Freaks (1970.) 

A cautionary tale about drug use, the film was made by director Irwin S. Yeaworth, Jr. following the sci-fi hits The Blob (1958) and Dinosaurs! (1960.) Right about now you’re probably wondering how in the hell that happened. It turns out Yeaworth was extremely religious in his private life, serving in both presbyterian and non-denominational evangelical ministries with Billy Graham. No doubt, the church funded its production. 

As if that wasn’t weird enough, Way Out is based on a play written by and starring former junkies who turned to religion to replace (ahem…I mean cure) their addictions. That’s right. Not a single actor in this film was an actual actor. And yet, the film boasts exceptionally good acting and ticks all the boxes meeting modern standards for representation. 

Set against the backdrop of the slums of The Bronx in the 1960s, the film tells the stories of young (mostly Hispanic) people, struggling in poverty. The main character Frankie (Franklin Rodriguez) has a strained relationship with his drunk cop dad. Despite the hardship of life in their neighborhood, Frankie meets and falls in love with a lovely, innocent young lady named Anita (Sharyn Jimenez.)

Anita watches as one by one, Frankie and his buds fall into the clutches of addiction and turn to crime to keep from getting dopesick. When Frankie gets arrested, he’s forced to go cold turkey in jail. He comes out clean, having turned to Jesus for a “way out”, but his world is turned upside down when he finds out everything that happened while he was away. His best friend was killed by the police and two other friends are in prison.

 Worst of all, when he visits Anita, he finds a totally different girl from the one he pined for from inside his cell. The pure girl he fell in love with is gone. The new Anita is a trash-talking, world-weary junkie turning tricks to feed her habit. It does not end happily. And yet it does. 

Following the conclusion of the main story, there’s a short epilogue featuring the entire cast marching toward the camera singing a religious hymn in celebration of the fact that they’re all still clean and sober. Is it religious propaganda? You bet it is. Frankie makes the jump from joint to junk ridiculously fast. Its assertion that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” is blatantly incorrect based on modern science, but the film nonetheless paints a grim picture of the ease with which people back then people gained access to heroin. 

The best parts of this movie are the acting and the real-world locations. Not a single person in the film was a professional. These people lived this life for real, living in shabby, sparely furnished rooms, meeting on filthy rooftops to shoot up with shared, dirty homemade needles fashioned from eyedroppers. It’s so realistic that some scenes make other drug films like Sid and Nancy and Trainspotting (1996) look glamorous in comparison. No one in those films ever tried to pour milk down the throat of an OD victim.   

For a night of depression-inducing “entertainment”, Way Out would make an excellent companion piece to other less glamorous New York-centered drug films like Panic in Needle Park (1971) or Requiem for a Dream (2000.) 

Despite its heavy-handed message, it’s a film that makes you root for the principles. Especially knowing they’re baring their souls for us onscreen. When it was over, I couldn’t help but wonder what happened to the cast in the years following its completion. Franklin Rodriguez has a few more credits to his name on imdb, but he probably deserved a bigger career. 

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: How to Kill 400 Duponts (1967)

April 16: Shaken, Stirred, Whatever — Write about a Eurospy movie that’s kind of like Bond but not Bond.

Also known as Arrriva Dorellik, this stars Johnny Dorelli as Dorellik, a character that he played on the television show Johnny Sera that is obviously inspired by Diabolik. His Eva Kant is Baby Eva, played by Margaret Lee, who was a big Eurospy star, appearing in Our Agent Tiger, Agent 077: From the Orient with Fury, Kiss the Girls and Make Them DieDick Smart 2007Secret Agent Super Dragon and OSS 117 – Double Agent. She also somehow made it through 12 movies alongside Klaus Kinski, as the pairing of the two was quite popular.

This movie actually came out before Danger:Diabolik and the producer of the movie, Dino De Laurentiis, sued the makers of this film and made them change the title (which means Here Comes Dorellik) to How to Kill 400 Duponts. What’s funny is that this film’s Inspector Ginko, known as Police Commissioner Green, is played by Terry-Thomas, who ended up being in the De Laurentiis-produced movie.

As for the story, Dorellik must kill everyone with the last name Dupont if he wants to inherit a large fortune. It’s all rather silly instead of a true Eurospy movie, but the ending, where Dorellik and Green switch faces to their surprise is pretty funny.

Director Steno was a brand name for Italian comedies for years. The script was written by Franco Castellano and Giuseppe Moccia, who wrote fifty movies together and directed twenty.


DEAF CROCODILE BLU RAY RELEASE: The Tale of Tsar Saltan (1967)

Deaf Crocodile Films, in association with distribution partner Seagull Films and with restoration from the original camera negative by Mosfilm Studio, has created a new restoration of famed Russian fantasy filmmaker Aleksandr Ptushko’s Skazka O Tsare Saltane.

Adapted from the Alexander Pushkin fairy tale, this movie is beyond gorgeous.

Driven from the Russian court by her evil sisters while Tsar Saltan (Vladimir Andreyev) is at war with cannibal trolls, Tsarina (Larisa Golubkina) and her infant son Prince Gvidon are tossed in a cask and launched into stormy seas. Somehow, her son (Oleg Vidov) has grown to adulthood and helps them to make it to an island where he falls in love with a human swan — a wereswan? — princess (Kseniya Ryabinkina) while dreaming of seeing his father again. So he asks the swan to transform him into an insect so he may spy on the evil sisters and learn how he and his mother can finally return to their home.

This is a movie filled with sheer magic, like a town trapped in time that must be rescued, monstrous sea giants, lion statues that come to life and a singing squirrel that is a puppet that will warm even the coldest  of hearts. The fact that this movie is now coming out in the U.S. and can be streamed and purchased on blu ray is the kind of miracle that shows that we are truly in the golden age of physical media.

Deaf Crocodile has already released two other Ptushko films, Ilya Muromets (The Sword & the Dragon) and Sampo (The Day the Earth Froze). They’ve described his work as a combination of Walt Disney, Ray Harryhausen and Mario Bava, which sounds too fantastic but I can assure you is completely true. If you’re wondering if you’ve heard of this creative force, he co-wrote Viy.

You can get The Tale of Tsar Saltan from Deaf Crocodile. It features a newhour-long video interview with legendary visual effects artist and film historian Robert Skotak on Aleksandr Ptushko and the history of Soviet fantastika filmmaking, moderated by Dennis Bartok of Deaf Crocodile Films, a new commentary track by comics artist (Swamp Thing), film historian and author Stephen R. Bissette, a new essay by film historian and professor Peter Rollberg (Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema) and box art by Tony Stella.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Creature with the Blue Hand (1967)

Based on the Edgar Wallace novel The Blue Hand and part of a long-running series of krimi adaptations by Rialto Film, this was bought by New World Pictures and issued as a double feature in the U.S. with Beast of the Yellow Night. Man, how good was life then?

Klaus Kinski plays Dave Emerson, who chokes out a nurse and escapes from a mental hospital before running to the castle of his twin brother Richard — also Kinski — as a black robed killer roams the grounds and kills people with his astounding blue claw with razorblades on the fingers, like something out of a giallo. For example, oh, Death Walks at Midnight. Or A Nightmare On Elm Street, which came 17 years after this.

Director Alfred Vohrer keeps things moving and it all looks gorgeous if indebted to Mario Bava. That said, aren’t all movies made after him? There’s also an incredible insane asylum sequence, featuring rooms filled with mice, rats and one female patient who just strips all day and night. This is the kind of movie world where you just want to live inside it, except that, yeah, there’s a killer on the loose and the cops are as always ineffectual.

Coming out just three years before giallo would surpass the krimi while using many of the same ideas from Edgar Wallace, this film reminds me that I need to get deeper into watching these German detective movies.

Creature With the Blue Hand later re-edited in 1987 with new gore inserts by producer Sam Sherman for his company Independent International — wow, I love that so much — and released to home video as The Bloody Dead. The extra scenes — almost ten minutes of new footage — was directed by Warren F. Disbrow and his father Warren Disbrow Sr.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: Peter Falk 4-Film Comedy Collection: Luv (1967)

As a kid, I only saw the end of Clive Donner’s directing career — TV movies like Babes In Toyland and Spectre and weird stuff like Old DraculaThe Nude Bomb and Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen.

At one point, he was a big part of the British New Wave, making movies like What’s New Pussycat?Nothing but the Best and The Caretaker.

Luv wasn’t well-received by critics, but I think it was just the inevitable backlash against what the old guard was told was the next new thing.

The story begins with Harry Berlin (Jack Lemmon) about to jump off of a bridge before he is distracted by an old friend he barely remembers, Milt Manville (Peter Falk), who can’t stop bragging about how good his life is. Harry has a plan, though. He plans on leaving his wife Ellen Manville (Elaine May, who went on to write many a romantic comedy) and hopes that Harry can take care of her when he’s gone.

The problem? Milt and Ellen love each other more than they love their new spouses, so they try and get Harry to fall for Milt’s Linda. Either that or he’s going to have to really jump off the bridge.

I kind of love the poster for this, which panders to hippies, who were all either avoiding theaters or waiting for Easy Rider.

Luv is part of the Peter Falk 4-Film Comedy Collection from Mill Creek Entertainment, along with The Cheap DetectiveBig Trouble and Happy New Year. You can get it from Deep Discount.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa Visits the Magic Land of Mother Goose (1967)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on December 24, 2020.

Happy holidays, everyone. To help celebrate, this is the first of two very horrifying holiday options for you to watch. Despite Santa being in the title of this movie, he only briefly appears, but that isn’t why we watched this movie. No, we’re here because this is another film in the career of Herschell Gordon Lewis that we had to check off.

Yes, parents that dropped their kids off at the theater for an all-day matinee in 1967 probably had no idea that just a few years earlier, the man they are trusting with the psyches of their children made Blood Feast.

So how did this even happen? Well, producer J. Edwin Baker was also a spook-show performer known as Dr. Silkini — his act was The Asylum of Horrors — and he hired Lewis to make a movie for his friend magician Roy Huston.

Huston plays Merlin, making this the second baffling holiday movie* I’ve seen where Santa joins forces with King Arthur’s closest confidant. I have no idea why this is a thing, to be perfectly honest.

The film starts with Santa Claus chilling out on the day after Christmas by reading some Mother Goose, which puts him to sleep. This section is tacked on, of course, to the original film so that they could get more money out of it. It’s also so shoddily made that we can audibly hear Lewis yell cut.

As for the movie itself, Old King Cole calls Merlin, a rag doll who is legally never referred to as Raggedy Anne (or Annabelle, for that matter), Prince Charming, Sleeping Beauty, Mother Goose and a ghost who they originally called Casper before an audio edit saved the production from a lawsuit onto the stage for singing, something resembling dancing and the kind of magic tricks that you could have bought from a mail order store to bore your friends with.

Do you remember — if you’re a jerk like me — how much you hated up with people school assemblies? This is just like being stuck at one of those, with Lewis just plopping his cameras down and shooting whatever happened on stage.

There’s so much hand work and goofy acting tics and a witch that gets set on fire and not Raggedy Ann is just horrifying and the real magic trick is that somehow the hour running time of this feels like a hundred years. But hey, it’s Christmas and I have pledged to watch everything the Godfather of Gore ever did, so if you’re going to hit the highs of She-Devils on Wheels and Two Thousand Maniacs! then you’re going to suffer the valleys on the journey.

*The other is, of course, the Mexican mind melter known as Santa Claus.

ANOTHER HOLE IN THE HEAD FILM FESTIVAL 2022: The Curse (A Praga) (1967, 2022)

Coffin Joe may be dead and yet he lives. How else do we have a new film that he hosts? Yes, through the fire and the flames, he comes back to us, warning us about making a joke of the unknown world. Perhaps he would also do well to warn us that if you see a witch in the countryside, there’s really no reason to take her photo.

José Mojica Marins, the human repository for the evil being known as Coffin Joe, originally filmed The Curse for his Brazilian TV show in 1967, but it was lost when a fire burned down the station two years later. In 1980, he started a second version, but production was halted due to financial issues. The existing footage went missing until 2007 when producer Eugenio Puppo rediscovered it while preparing a retrospective of the work of Marins.

Years of intensive restoration later — including shooting new scenes and recovering the lost dialogue with the assistance of a lip-reader — The Curse is making its U.S. debut along with a making of documentary The Last Curse of Mojica.

Based on a story in the graphic novel series O Estranho Mundo de Zé do Caixão, this near-hour-long story has Juvenal (Felipe Von Rhine) and his girlfriend Mariana (Silvia Gless) meeting that witch we discussed above (Wanda Kosmo) and deciding that it’s not only a good idea to take that photo but also to be rude to her. He’s soon left with a gaping and festering wound in his side that demands raw meat at all times or it will destroy him. Of course, his lover would make the perfect meal to stop that insatiable hunger, right?

How magical is it that we can find this film as part of our lives? All hail Coffin Joe. You shall never die.

This movie was part of the Another Hole in the Head film festival, which provides a unique vehicle for independent cinema. This year’s festival takes place from December 1st – December 18th, 2022. Screenings and performances will take place at the historic Roxie Cinema, 4 Star Theatre and Stage Werks in San Francisco, CA. It will also take place On Demand on Eventive and live on Zoom for those who can not attend the live screenings. You can learn more about how to attend or watch the festival live on their Eventlive site. You can also keep up with all of my AHITH film watches with this Letterboxd list.


Shot in 1967 around Dallas, Texas, who could foresee a time when this monster movie would be re-released in England under a whole bunch of titles like E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nastie, E.T.N.: The Extraterrestrial Nasty, The Extraterrestrial Nastie and The Extraterrestrial Nasty. How did people feel when they rented this and got a movie about an alligator that mutated in space?

Directed by James A. Sullivan (who also directed Fairplay, a western family comedy, and The Pickle Goes In the Middle, a gangster comedy about taking over a fast food restaurant; he also edited Manos: The Hands of Fate and Brutal Fury) and written by Russ Marker (who himself directed The Yesterday Machine and The Demon from Devil’s Lake), this is the kind of movie where people allowed their own houses to be used for the production. No one got rich, but hey, we’re talking about this movie fifty years later.

NASA experiment Operation Noah’s Ark sends a whole bunch of animals to the moon and back just to see what will happen with them. What has happened with that kind of scientific method, the kind that says, “Just shoot a monkey into space, fuck it?” Gentlemen, tonight we’re going to blow up the moon.

Fantastic Four-style cosmic rays blast the ship, which falls back to Earth and crashes in Satan’s Hollow, Texas because Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina was, well, not near Texas where this was shot. Then some college students get the bright idea to throw a party at the crash site because, well, look kids have never been smart. The kids of the sixties who want to go back to a great America were dumb enough to party where a UFO crashed and thought ducking and covering would save them when the nukes rained down.

Sheriff Clint Crawford (John Agar) and Professor Alan Clayton (Roger Ready) know there’s only one way to kill a monster: blow it the fuck up. They do. We cheer. The end.

But anyways, Brenda Venus is in this. I am certain she is not a real person. Here’s why: she’s in movies like FMDeathsport and this, but at some point in her life, bought a book at an auction that had Henry Miller’s address in it. She wrote to him, he wrote back and became her mentor. They wrote about 1,500 letters to one another over four years.

She’s in Night Fight.

Sure, I guess.

KINO LORBER BLU RAY RELEASE: The Blood Beast Terror (1967)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on September 6, 2020. It returns thanks to a Kino Lorber blu ray reissue, featuring a 2012 2K restoration, new audio commentary by novelist/critic Kim Newman and writer/editor Stephen Jones and the trailer. You can get it from Kino Lorber.

When you mention 1960’s British horror films, most people are going to think of Hammer. Or Amicus. But there’s also Tigon, the very small studio who could, and by could, I mean make some astoundingly strange movies.

Witchfinder General, The Curse of the Crimson AltarThe Blood on Satan’s Claw…these are the movies that make me think that England in 1967 was an insane place to be.

Vernon Sewell directed this thriller about young and good looking men having their throats torn open and drained by a killer so frightening that whomever it is has driven the last eyewitness mad, claiming that a horrible winged creature with huge eyes is the killer.

Detective Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) responds by thinking that a giant eagle — no, not the Pittsburgh-based grocery store — has to be the murderer.

If this development has you happy, then good news. This is the kind of stiff upper lip British low budget fun you’re looking for. Yes, I struggled to include this in either the werewolf or vampire weeks we’re planning because it features a weremoth who lives on human blood. A weremoth! What will they think of next!?!

Cushing considered this the worst of his many films. Scanning his vast resume should tell you just how low this must be, but he was acting in as many films as he could to pay for the care of his wife Helene, who was suffering from emphysema. She would die four years later and by all accounts, he never recovered.

This played on double bills with the 1962 Italian film Slaughter of the Vampires.