Late August at the Hotel Ozone (1967)

The difference between pre-Max Rockatansky armageddon movies and post is that the end of times is a thing to be celebrated in the 80’s. It was seen as the next step in evolution and place we’d all have to emerge from, wearing facepaint and shoulder pads. Not so in the 50’s and 60’s, where sure nuclear war was inevitable, but so was the bleak death of the human race. No one would survive to roam the wastelands and build it all over again in these films.

In this film, a group of young women roam the fallout forests, led by an older woman in military fatigues who has to keep control, especially because these women seem to be obsessed with torturing animals. Seriously, they are the wet dream of 70’s Italian filmmakers and the nightmare of any rational person watching this movie. They then find an old hotel where only one old man lives.

Yes, a depressing Czech end of the world movie with no subtitles and people killing one another over polka records. Do I know how to pick movies to watch during a global pandemic or what?

Teenage Mother (1967)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This review originally ran in Drive-In Asylum #21. You should buy it!

The film that dares to explain what most parents can’t…

SEE life begin!

SEE the actual birth of a baby!

There are some movies that I can’t wait to watch. And then there are others that I keep from watching, waiting for the right moment so that they achieve maximum viewing velocity and impact. 

For years I’ve thrilled to the trailer for Teenage Mother, with its barking voice basically shouting to no one in particular, “It happens 250,000 times a year. Where is your daughter tonight? This is the story of a girl who wasn’t careful.”

I can word for word perform this trailer for you – go ahead, ask me next time you see me in person – so I was concerned. How could the movie live up to a ballyhoo build that promises a girl who turns brother against brother, a wanton lass so scandalous that roadshow presentations of her story would come complete with split audiences for the boys and the girls, as well as a nurse to explain “the real facts of life” with a “brief lecture about how we use our bodies.” The voiceover shrilly lays it all on the line, “every parent should bring our child. It explains things you can’t” in color and Cinemascope.

Also known as The Hygiene Story, a lesser title if there ever was one, this was produced by Jerry Gross. Obviously, he learned and applied the square up reel instructional angle that the legendary Kroger Babb employed when he roadshow four-walled Mom and Dad across America for decades. While Gross only directed two other movies – Female Animal and Girl On a Chain Gang – he also produced everything from All the Kind Strangers to Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song and The Black Godfather.

More than that, Gross was the genius who bought a movie called Caribbean Adventure, retitled it I Eat Your Skin and like some mad genius, had the vision to pair it with a movie that is literally LSD on filmstock, I Drink Your Blood.

Gross brought both of the Mondo Cane films to American theaters, complete with actors hired to play natives that would dance through the aisles. He also had a hand in getting Fulci’s Zombie, Fritz the Cat, Blood Beach, Johnny Got His Gun and The Boogeyman on screens. And he possessed the carny intelligence it took to rename Day of the Woman to the much more titillating – and money-making – nom de plume I Spit On Your Grave

Nobody could title a movie like Jerry. He once said, “I guarantee that all these are selling titles. The public just cannot resist a film if the title drags them in. Stars don’t matter. Titles do!”

Jerry pulls a fast one here, as our heroine Arlene (Arlene Farber, the at-the-time wife of Gross, who appears in the film as a seedy truck driver) never even gets knocked up. She’s just lying to her boyfriend to get attention. So yeah – the movie Teenage Mother doesn’t even have a teenage mother in it, but is really about Ms. Peterson, a teacher who has angered all the parents with her sex education class. 

Beyond all that, Teenage Mother provides an odd place for several stars to get their first on-screen credit. Earl Hindman, Wilson from Home Improvement, is here, as are Lynne Lipton (the voice of Cheetara on Thundercats), Alex Mann (who appeared in movies by Joe Sarno, Barry Mahon, Doris Wishman and Michael Findlay) and most surprising, Fred Willard. In his brief moment on screen, he breaks up an attack on Ms. Peterson, an act that the future star of Fernwood 2 Night said caused boos in some of the rougher showings of this opus.

But back to the story. Our heroine being mock pregnant has the town in an uproar and the hygiene class is the culprit. 

“Teaching that stuff in school is like talking about the Devil right in church,” screams the matronly librarian – who should really speak in a hush, if you think about it – at one point. But for all the bluster of the trailer about how “this is a film about a girl who went all the way” and how this “may very well be the most important film that you will ever see,” the sleaze mostly resides in that five-minute get butts in the seats masterpiece.

I say mostly because Teenage Mother ends with the actual birth of a child – forceps and all – with the same voice as the aforementioned trailer, which I like to believe is Gross. It’s the most clinical and mechanical description of the miracle of birth you’ve ever seen, using words like Universal Joint, interior birth canal and minimal compression of the fetal head.

You have to love a movie whose climax is predicated on stock footage being shown, much less stock footage that Gross slipped some doctor fifty bucks for. 

Never let anyone tell you that this world is bereft of magic. At one point, Jerry Gross walked the Earth and instead of using his genius for the kind of things that normal humans celebrate like inventing consumer products or running for political office, he blessed us all with mind-melting reels of cinema. He taught us so many things, foremost among them the knowledge that Satan is an acidhead and that Teenage Mother means nine months of trouble.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: The X from Outer Space (1967)

Known in Japan as Uchū Daikaijū Girara (Giant Space Monster Guilala), this film is Shochiku’s first monster movie and very well may be the first Japanese film to feature a woman — Peggy Neal — with blonde hair.

It’s also the first appearance of Guilala, one of the wackiest looking kaiju you’ve ever done seen.

The spaceship AAB Gamma is on its way to Mars to check out UFO sightings when it gets sprayed with spores that develop into the giant lizard known as Guilana, a monster that spits fire, eats nuclear power, can turn into a burning ball of light and can only be defeated by Guilalalium, which turns it back into a spote that gets shot around the sun.

In the 1990s after Nikkatsu Co. — who made Gappa, the Triphibian Monster — out of business, Shochiku announced Gappa vs. Guilala, which sadly never happened.

There was, however, Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit, a movie in which Guilala attacks world leaders and KIm Jon Il tries to fire nukes at him.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Son of Godzilla (1967)

Toho’s A-list was all working on King Kong Escapes while Godzilla got what was left behind, just like what happened with Ebirah, Horror of the Deep. It’s the first movie where Godzilla’s son Minilla appears, a character created not for kids but for young Japanese women on dates who adore kawaii — or cute — versions of characters.

Minilla is discovered within his egg buried deep in the Earth, his crying disrupting a weather control system — well, that seems like a bad idea — that scientists are setting up on Monster Island, of all places. Some giant bugs called Kamacuras (Gimantis in America) try to eat the egg and Godzilla shows up to save the child and decimate those annoying insects.

Minilla grows to half our hero’s size and while he can only blow smoke rings, he’s still willing to fight a giant spider named Kumonga to save some humans, who respond to this kindness by freezing the island so that they can escape. Godzilla says, “Screw this,” and goes to sleep.

When this was released in Italy, it was titled Il Ritorno di Gorgo (The Return of Gorgo), which is an absolute slap to to the green face of Godzilla, seeing as how Gorgo is an absolute ripoff of the original film.

SON OF KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Voyage Into Space (1967)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Other than Son of Kong, no movie is as depressing as Voyage Into Space. Perhaps that’s why it wasn’t part of the first kaiju day. However, I brought it back for the second one, so try not to get too upset. This originally was on our site on December 9, 2019

Voyage Into Space is my Vietnam.

It takes 4 episodes of the 26 episode series Giant Robo, or Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, and crams them into one movie. So why does it distress me so?

I saw it when I was probably 5 years old. I was obsessed with robots, like my Mazinger Z Shogun Warrior. I had never seen a movie where the robot dies at the end. Spoiler warning — the robot blows up real good at the end.

I cried for years. I might still be crying.

Earth has been invaded by an interstellar terrorist group known as the Gargoyle Gang, which is led by Emperor Guillotine, who spends all of his time hidden on the ocean floor in a UFO. Yes, that’s just how awesome this is.

They’ve been capturing scientists to create an army of extraordinary magnitude, err monsters, to conquer the Earth.

A boy named Daisaku Kusama, or Johnny Sokko in America, where he was voiced by a woman named Bobbie Byers who also shows up in Savages from Hell and The Wild Rebels, and Juro Minami — nee Jerry Mano in the gaijin world — from the spy team Unicorn are all that stands between aliens owning this big blue rock. It gets better for them when they meet scientist Lucius Guardian, who gives a small child the power to control a robot — great logic — before he gets killed and drops a nuke on the aliens.

Man, this Gargoyle Gang — they dress like the United Nations of bad guys, donning German, Soviet and Central American military gear all at once, topping it off with designer sunglasses — are bad guys. They have all manner of horrific beasts ready to destroy Earth. In this cut down movie, which is basically episodes 1, 2, 10, 17 and 26 of the show, you get 100 minutes of pure madness.

There’s Draculon the Sea Monster, who was known as Dakolar in Japan. Nucleon the Magic Globe — also known as Globar in Tokyo. Lygon, who swallows a train. The Gargoyle Vine, which has the much cooler name in Japan of the Satan Rose. And all manner of evil henchmen like Spider and Doctor Over. The full series even has an alien mummy and a peg-legged snakeman.

Unlike most anime and Japanese movies that were sent to the U.S. at this time, nobody thought that they should edit the violence out of this. So in one episode, a kid almost gets killed by a firing squad. And yeah — the ending — where the pharaoh robot dies saving the Earth? I remember going outside and staring into the sky, punching my fist into the ground, screaming at God. No, really. I did. For days. It was so bad that my mother had to write an entirely new ending for me so that I could get on with grade school.

You can watch this on the Internet Archive. Prepare yourself to be depressed.

You can also grab this movie from Ronin Flix.

Catalina Caper (1967)

Tommy Kirk appeared in four other beach movies*: Village of the Giants, Pajama Party, The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini and It’s a Bikini World. This was part of a four-movie deal with Executive Pictures Corporation, but this was the only one that got made. It also had two great AKA titles: Scuba Party and Never Steal Anything Wet.

This was directed by Lee “Roll ‘Em” Sholem, a man who shot 1,300 movies and TV shows, including Ma and Pa Kettle at Waikiki and several episodes of SupermanCaptain Midnight and Maverick. He was assisted by cinematographer Ted V. Mikels, the man who would one day make The Astro-Zombies and The Doll Squad.

An ancient Chinese treasure gets stolen and makes its way to Catalina Island, along with Don Pringle (Kirk) and a ton of bikini-wearing ladies, as well as Carol Connors, The Cascades and Little Richard. There’s also a beautiful girl named Katrina Corelli (Ulla Strömstedt) who is engaged to the wrong man (Lyle Waggoner (Love Me DeadlySurf II).

Robert Donner, who was Mork’s boss on Mork and Mindy, is in this, as are Sue Casey (The Beach Girl and the Monster), July 1967 Playboy covergirl Venita Wolf, Michael Blodgett (Lance Rocke!) and Dan Duryea’s son Peter.

*He was also known for being in Disney films, but a marijuana charge ruined all that.

You can watch the Mystery Science Theater riffed take on this movie on Tubi.

Sex Club International (1967)

Ah man, Barry Mahon. This time you’re buying into the Eurospy trend a few years too late and treating us to the tale of secret agent Lucky Bang Bang, who has been recruited to stop the mob who is trying to shake down a madame named Carol Kane.

Lucky is played by Lucky Kargo, who was also in Venus In FursThe Hookers, The Love Cult and did stunts for A Lovely Way to Die.

At this point in watching the Mahon films one after another for a week, you start to notice a warm, fuzzy drug haze as you enjoy them. Beehive hairdos, dialogue coming in from off-camera, outright mistakes being kept in the film no matter what, narration over all of this…it’s all the same, non-titillating titillation, the movies our grandparents were sure that would send them to hell and that would be practically tame on streaming these days.

But hey — Barry was there, he was looking to give the raincoaters whatever he could and make a dishonest buck. So there’s that. And there’s also 58 minutes in this movie that will feel like 29 hours.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: King Kong Escapes (1967)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally ran on our site on June 29, 2017, making it one of the very first things ever posted. As we celebrate an entire day of Kong against Godzilla, we had to bring back this Japanese take on the big monkey.

After 1962’s Godzilla vs. King Kong, Japan had not had enough of the big ape. After all, Kong was the first beast to both defeat and not be killed by Godzilla. Four years later, Toho paired up with Rankin/Bass, the creators of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and The King Kong Show, a cartoon where Kong battled aliens, monsters and mad scientists. Interestingly, the designs for that show were by Jack Davis of EC comics fame. The show was the first cartoon produced in Japan for American audiences and was so successful, Rankin-Bass partnered with Toho for a first film called Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (or Ebirah, Horror of the Deep which is a much better title). Rankin-Bass rejected this movie as a starring role for Kong, but a lot of moments throughout point that the script was barely changed when Godzilla entered the picture. He’s revived by lightning (Japanese Kong, for some reason, gets power from the cloud…err, clouds) and the big lizard is in love with female character Dayo, which is also a Kong trait.

Finally, Rankin-Bass consented to this film, featuring Dr. No. No, not the Bond villain, but a character from the cartoon, here played by Hideyo “Eisei” Amamoto, who you may know as Dr. Shinigami/Deathgod from Kamen Rider. His voice is from Paul Frees, who listeners will recognize from many a Rankin/Bass holiday special. Interestingly enough, the German distributor of Toho’s movies often used Dr. Frankenstein’s name to sell these new monsters, claiming that he was creating all of them. So in Deutschland, the doctor goes by Dr. Frankenstein to try and tie all of these together. What does this have to do with the Frankenstein monster in Frankenstein vs. Baragon and his spawn in War of the Gargantuas? Absolutely nothing, thanks for asking!

Dr. Who’s boss is Madame Piranha, who works for an undisclosed country that wants weapons. She’s played by Mie Hama, who would go on to play Kissy Suzuki in You Only Live Twice (1967). Dr. No has invented a mechanical Kong that malfunctions just before getting that oh-so elusive Element X.  Instead of rebuilding the robobeast, No decides he needs the real Kong. Again, you may ask why. You are permitted after all. However, I have no answer for you. These things just happen in these films and you shouldn’t be watching a kaiju movie if you’re looking for logic, dear reader.

Meanwhile, Carl Nelson — our hero — and his sub get to Mondo Island, where Kong lives. Almost instantly, Kong falls in love with Fay Wray analog Lt. Susan Watson and prepares to fight Gorosaurus (who shows up again in the greatest of all Toho movies, 1968s Destroy All Monsters!). For some reason, this beast fights like a kangaroo, but Kong gives him a headlock takeover and demonstrates a kaiju form of MMA ground and pound, punching the rubbery dino again and again until a giant mutant Big John McCarthy moves him away. Just kidding. Kong beats his chest, picks up the girl and the humans just watch and wonder what to do next. They find a very Commander Scarlet mini sub and Kong gives chase, finally being delayed by a sea monster.

Actually, come to think of it, Carl Nelson is thisclose to Admiral Nelson, commander of the mini-sub Seaview on the TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1968). Coincidence?

Here’s why I love this movie. In this scene, Kong’s head has grown to way larger than before proportion. Continuity be damned, by the next scene, as he catches up to the big sub, his head is back to normal and his eyes are not bugging out. Everyone finally figures out that Kong will listen to Susan and all is as well as it can be when you’re dropping anchor off Mondo Island, which one assumes is relatively close to Monster Island.

Remember Dr. No? Well, he comes back and takes Kong from the island, even killing an old man just to do so. He also wants you to know he has nothing to do with the Timelord, even if he does look like a Japanese John Pertwee. Kong is gassed and lifted away to complete the retrieval of Element X. Some flashing light and hypnotism later and Kong is all ready to mine away, using a set of headphones that Dr. No speaks orders into.

Those wacky Germans we mentioned before? Well, in their versions of the movies, both Jet Jaguar and Mechagodzilla are referred to as King Kong. Again, you’ll have that why question in your head and the answer is simple. King Kong is a marquee name, no matter if he’s properly named or not.

But I digress. Our human heroes (this would be the time that a child version of the author would tune out until the giant monkey was ready to actually do something) seek out Kong, who looks stoned as he mines in an ice cave. The headset breaks and Kong stops listening, which means that Dr. No needs Susan, because she’s the only one Kong will listen to. If only they hadn’t had that press conference telling that to the world!

While all this is going on, Madame Piranha puts the moves on Carl Nelson, who is all super stoic and not having any of this, well, monkey business. He won’t turn on his friends, so Dr. No slaps him around and makes some threats. Kong, well, escapes by swimming in the cold Arctic waters all the way to Tokyo. The Madame decides that even she can’t deal with Kong fighting his mechanical doppelganger and wants Dr. No to just chill. Obviously, something else happened, because she decides to free the good guys.

Just in time — Mecha-Kong and Kong are about to tear Tokyo apart. Susan tries to use reason, but Mecha-Kong has flashing lights and gets Kong all baked again. Seriously — watch this movie and dispute my findings, if you will. One thing leads to another and it’s on like Donkey Kong. No — it’s on like King Kong! This is why you showed up for this movie — two dudes wearing rubber suits dressed as giant gorillas dropping buildings on one another.

Madame Piranga makes her move on the nefarious doctor, but after a slow chop-socky dance and some fighting between an end table, she gets shot in the arm. Yes. The arm. Meanwhile, Tokyo Tower is being ascended and destroyed by our ape combatants. Kong rescues the girl and climbs to the top where they invent the Skywalkers match that the NWA would use for the Great American Bash twenty years later.

Kong wins and then goes one further by tracking down Dr. No’s ship and killing him. Yes — this is a G-rated movie. Then and only then does he give up on civilization and swim away.

Toho had intended King Kong to return for 1968s Destroy All Monsters, but the rights had lapsed. The Kong suit shows up as Gorilla on the Toho show Go Greenman! (1973-1974) Weirdly enough, Toho had hoped to use Mecha-Kong to battle Godzilla, but when Turner Home Entertainment bought the rights, they decreed that Kong (and anyone looking like him) should not appear in a Japanese monster movie. Boo. Hiss.

All said, this is a pretty entertaining film. Don’t expect CGI quality. In fact, don’t expect any quality. Expect to be entertained and with a runtime of a little over 80 minutes, you honestly won’t waste much time. You are free to giggle at the silly Kong costume, but remember that in the mid 1970s, your author had big Coke bottle glasses and a bowl haircut and lived for this movie. He may still love it just that much.

This article originally appeared on That’s Not Current. You may read it at http://www.thatsnotcurrent.com/a-look-back-at-king-kong-escapes/

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Yongary, Monster from the Deep (1967)

Yongary is the South Korean cousin of Godzilla, made by some of the people who created some of Godzilla’s fiercest competition, like Masao Yagi, who built the Gamera suit.

Unlike Godzilla, Yongary — his name is a combination of two Korean words, “Yong” (dragon) and “gari” (Bulgasari) — was once a single-celled organism that grew large after a nuclear test in the Middle East. Now, he eats oil and gasoline — well, he picked the right area to be mutated — and is going full on kaiju in Korea.

At the end, he dances despite human beings trying to kill him. However, they use ammonia to kill him and it’s a total Son of Kong moment. When this played as part of the new Mystery Science Theater 3000, even the Deep 13 guys were upset by the finale of this movie.

Released in Germany as Godzilla’s Todespranke (Godzilla’s Hand of Death) and beamed directly into the brains of American monster kids by American International Television in 1969, this horned Godzilla Xerox does have some charms.

Enough that Shim Hyung-rae, the director of D-War (released in the U.S. as Dragon Wars: D-War), made a reimagining of the film called Yonggary (which was entitled Reptilian when it made to to VHS in America).

You can watch this on Daily Motion.

Run Swinger Run! (1967)

Barry Mahon may struggle to make a decent movie at times, but he’s always great at coming up with titles that make me grab his films.

This time, he’s telling “the startling story of a girl who would do anything with anybody at anytime.” “A young girl alone…marked for death by the crime syndicate!” “The exciting story of Laura…a call-girl!”

Despite their lurid titles and rampant nudity, Mahon’s films are the very antithesis of sexiness. Instead, Lauren (Gretchen Rudolph*, My Body Hungers) goes out of control, from bad teen to someone using drugs and selling sex. Then, you know, as these things happen, a sniper starts shooting at her.

Bob Strong, who is in this, is better known for writing the song “I Hear Wedding Bells,” which is in the movies Breaking Up and Grumpier Old Men. He appears alongside several women who show up in more than one Mahon film, like Susan Evans (she played Fanny Hill in more than one of his movies) and Janice Kelly.

Oh yeah! Keith McConnell is in this and his career stretches from 50’s adventure movies and TV to exploitation like this and ending his acting career as Lord Cavendish in one of the first adult — well, softcore — movies I ever saw, Young Lady Chatterley II.

*Rudolph is billed as Elizabeth Bing.