Mighty Jack (1968)

Not only did Eiji Tsuburaya co-create Godzilla, he was the man who brought us Ultraman. His Tsuburaya Productions continues to own the rights to the various Ultra series that have spun off from the original show such as Ultraman Gaia, Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman 80 and The Ultraman.

Tsuburaya considered this series his best work, as it was about people, rather than vehicles and special effects. He was inspired by the word of Gerry Anderson and sadly, the public didn’t watch the show as much until the second show, Fight! Mighty Jack, added aliens and monsters.

How much did Tsuburaya love this show? The Mighty Jack team logo is the same logo for Tsuburaya Productions.

Mighty Jack is a team of special agents that was put together to fight the evil Q — hey, how weird is that? — that is using hot ice to create weapons to take over the world. How can ice that doesn’t melt destroy humanity? Is that any stranger than the real Q — or unreal Q — which has convinced people that long-dead political leaders are ready to come back and stand for values that are the exact opposite of any they held in their real life?

Might Jack is also the name of their incredible flying submarine. But all we’re getting over here is epsiode one and six of the TV show, edited by Sandy Frank Productions, and making no sense. These kinds of movies allowed me to see plenty of cool Japanese series in my youth but as an adult, I realize that I’m only getting a remixed version of something that is much better in its original form. So I can either explore it more or laugh at it and I’d rather choose to always learn more.

Mill Creek Through the Decades: 1960s Collection: How to Ruin a Marriage and Save Your Life (1968)

David Sloane (Dean Martin) is an confirmed bachelor. However, he’s worried about the marriage of his friend Harry Hunter (Eli Wallach), who is having an affair. So David decides to steal away his friend’s mistress, thinking that it’s his employee Carol (Stella Stevens, in a part originally intended for Marilyn Monroe; by doing this movie, Jerry Lewis refused to speak to Stevens for nearly twenty years).

Yet he has the wrong woman — it’s really Carol’s neighbor Muriel (Anne Jackson, who in real life was the wife of Wallach).  You can just bet that hijinks ensue, especially when the mistresses begin to engage in collective bargaining agreements.

So yeah — these old Dean Martin sex comedies are beyond dated, but to me, they’re something akin to eating the junkiest of junk food on a snow day. They remind me of watching movies on old UHF channels in the 70s, lying under a blanket and wondering what it’d be like to be a grown-up. Hey little kid me — it stinks. Just watch Dean Martin movies and never grow up.

Fielder Cook, who directed this movie, also was behind the 1971 TV movie The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, which let to the series The Waltons. It was written by Stanley Shapiro, who also wrote Pillow Talk and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Mill Creek’s new Through the Decades: 1960s Collection has twelve movies: How to Ruin a Marriage and Save Your Life, The Notorious Landlady, Under the Yum Yum Tree, The Chase, Good Neighbor Sam, Baby the Rain Must Fall, Mickey One, Lilith, Genghis Khan, Luv, Who Was That Lady? and Hook, Line and Sinker. You can get it from Deep Discount.

MILL CREEK BLU RAY RELEASE: I Dream of Jeannie The Complete Series

I Dream of Jeannie was created and produced by Sidney Sheldon* and it seems like for a long time, he was the only person that believed in it. He originally wanted the first season to film in color — it was one of only two shows on NBC at the time not in color, but special photographic effects employed to achieve Jeannie’s magic weren’t technologically advanced enough to be in a full range of colors yet — but NBC did not want to pay it.

It was $400 an episode.

The network and Screen Gems didn’t think the show would make it to a second season. But Sheldon saw that ABC’s Bewitched was a success and bet on the show.

He was right. It was in the top 30 shows for almost every year that it was on before becoming a syndication powerhouse.

In the pilot episode, “The Lady in the Bottle”, astronaut USAF Captain Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) lands his one-man capsule Stardust One on a deserted island in the South Pacific. While wandering the beach, Tony notices a strange bottle** that moves by itself. When he rubs it, smoke and a genie (Barbara Eden) pop out.

Tony’s first wish is to be able to understand her, then for a helicopter to rescue him. Jeannie, who has been trapped in the bottle for 2,000 years, falls in love with him and follows Tony back home where she soon breaks up his engagement with his commanding general’s daughter, Melissa. It seems like this was a storyline being set up for the long game, but Sheldon realized that this romantic triangle didn’t have much rope.

Tony keeps Jeannie in her bottle until he realizes she needs a life of her own, which is mostly her using her genie powers to try and make his life better. He worries that if anyone finds out that she exists that he won’t get to be part of NASA, but his worries lead him to being investigated by psychiatrist U.S. Air Force Colonel Dr. Alfred Bellows (Hayden Rorke) with the only person — at first — that knows his secret being Major Roger Healey (Bill Daly).

Unlike many of the sitcoms of the era, I Dream of Jeannie had multipart story arcs (which were created to serve as backgrounds for national contests). For example, nobody knew when Jeannie’s birthday was and the guessing game led to a contest, with the answer being April 1. There was also a four-episode event where Jeannie was locked in a safe on the moon and fans had to guess the combination to save her and another where Tony was replaced and had to be found. But there are also several long storylines, like Jeannie’s evil sister also named Jeannie, Jeannie’s ever-changing origin story which includes Eden’s first husband Michael Ansara as the Blue Djinn, Jeannie taking over the crown of her home country Basenji and so many more.

Supposedly, Hagman was so hard to work with that the producers seriously considered replacing him with Darren McGavin. They even wrote out a story with Tony losing Jeannie and McGavin finding her, but it never ended up happening. In her 2011 book Jeannie Out of the Bottle, Eden wrote, “Larry himself has made no secret about the fact he was taking drugs and drinking too much through many of the I Dream of Jeannie years and that he has regrets about how that impacted him.”

When there were two TV movies in the 80s, Hagman didn’t return. In I Dream of Jeannie… Fifteen Years Later his role was played by Wayne Rogers and as he’s on a space mission in I Still Dream of Jeannie, he’s simply written out and Hagman’s Dallas co-star Ken Kercheval took over as Jeannie’s master. There was also a cartoon called Jeannie that aired from 1973 to 1975 that had Julie McWhirter (who in addition to being the voice in so many cartoons is also the wife of Rick Dees) play Jeannie, “Curly” Joe Besser as Babu a genie in training and Mark Hamill as Corey Anders, a high school student.

Eden has also gone on the record as saying that she never connected with another actor in the same way as she did with Hagman. They’d reunite for the 1971 TV movie A Howling in the Woods.

Why did the show end? It was still near the top thirty after all. Well, Eden believes that there were enough episodes for syndication already and the ratings had gone down after Jeannie and Nelson got married in season 5. No one except for the network wanted that and it eliminated the romantic tension of the show.

I grew up watching this show multiple times a day, often paired with its one-time rival Bewitched. Just going back through these — the original 8 episodes with Paul Frees narration instead of the theme song are a revelation — has made the end of the year doldrums so much better.

You can get all 139 episodes on the Mill Creek  I Dream of Jeannie The Complete Series blu ray set. You’ll get hours and hours of fun for a really great price at Deep Discount.

*Sheldon was inspired by the movie The Brass Bottle, which has Tony Randall’s character get a genie played by Burl Ives. Randall’s girlfriend was played by Eden.

**The bottle is actually a special Christmas 1964 Jim Beam liquor decanter containing “Beam’s Choice” bourbon whiskey. How weird is that?

Mill Creek Drive-In Classics: Single Room Furnished (1968)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

G.G. Graham is a cult film cryptid, horror hag, and exploitation film explorer of the dusty and disreputable corners of cinema history. The street preacher of Z-grade cinema can be found at Midnight Movie Monster, as well as writing for various genre sites and print publications, or on Twitter and Instagram @msmidnightmovie. Visit her Blog at www.midnightmoviemonster.com and Twitter @msmidnightmovie.

From The Pink Palace To A ‘Single Room Furnished’: Blonde Bombshells, Midcentury Celebrity And Jayne Mansfield’s Final Film

Image from the official Jayne Mansfield site at https://jaynemansfield.com

Jayne Mansfield occupies an odd place in film history, simultaneously dismissed as a cut rate Marilyn Monroe clone, and venerated as an icon of tragic kitsch. When she’s discussed, it is most often as a mascot, a bodacious blonde cocktail of the tackier excesses of the Atomic Age. A time capsule idea of feminine ideal and aspiration poured into a wiggle dress and sprinkled liberally with salacious rumors about her life and grisly urban legends of the circumstances of her sudden death. 

The blonde bombshell archetype long predated Monroe, but she (and the actresses typecast in her wake) crystallized it in the popular imagination. Rather than a cheerfully vampish Jean Harlow, or the subversive sexual frankness of Mae West, the midcentury bombshells were a lighter, sweeter version of what had already proven to be a box office success. Curvaceous, cooing, and often cast in light comedies, their gleaming blonde beauty was meant to be a non threatening balm to an era marked by paranoia, post war panic, and the lingering fear of the larger scale repercussions of Rosie The Riveter. It also photographed rather gloriously in Technicolor, the bright blonde hair a built-in ring light.

Jayne’s public image was certainly built on the Monroe model, but so were a flotilla of other actresses, with varying degrees of success. It had long been standard operating practice for studios to sign on performers similar to their established contract players. It served as a warning to studio system stars that were becoming too “difficult” and rebellious (By the late 50s, Marilyn herself was firmly in that category), or as a ready made answer to another company’s successful formulas. 

The women colloquially known as the “Three M’s” (Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, and Mamie Van Doren) may have been the most notable examples of the period, but every strata of the film business had their riff on the bombshell model. A few managed to escape into roles outside of the sweetly sexy, delightfully dizzy stereotype and build more lasting and individualistic careers (Carroll Baker, Kim Novak). Some carved out a journeyman’s living in B film and television, but never had much more than a brush with stardom (Sheree North, Carol Ohmart, Joi Lansing). 

In addition to the ever shifting landscape of US studio starlets, several international fair haired sex symbols also tried their hand in Hollywood to capitalize on the trend. (Sweden’s Anita Ekberg, England’s Diana Dors, France’s Martine Carrol). To discount an actress for being molded in the Marilyn style would have been to disqualify a sizable portion of the women on the larger scene at the time.

It was becoming apparent that studio executives’ assertions that any actress with an hourglass figure could be made a star with a double process dye job and a screwball comedy script may have been a touch overly confident. By the mid 50s, Marilyn had already begun to struggle with the mental health issues and deep rooted insecurities that dogged her her entire life. She began showing up on set late, underprepared, or not at all. Sheree North had been 20th Century Fox’s hand picked successor, but her similar measurements had not produced similar returns at the box office. 

Image from the official Jayne Mansfield site https://jaynemansfield.com

Jayne was an immensely popular pin up model, had appeared in a few small films for Warner Brothers, and was the toast of Broadway for her run in show business spoof Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. The studio swiftly bought the film rights to the play, and signed Jayne to a long term contract. Fox hoped some competition on the home lot would bring their wayward star back into the fold. 

Her first vehicle for the studio was Frank Tashlin’s punchy, visually punny rock and roll film The Girl Can’t Help It, and the film adaptation of Rock Hunter followed shortly afterward. While neither wowed critics, both films made money. The new blonde on the block showed up timely to set each day, with her lines and cues impeccably memorized. Jayne even won a “Most Promising Newcomer” Golden Globe at the end of 1956. For a time, it looked like Ms. Mansfield would succeed where so many other actresses typecast as the daft blonde had failed.

To paraphrase another fair haired icon, it was primarily because Jayne was neither dumb nor blonde. She had a knack for marketing herself that rivaled any studio flack, and a single minded devotion to publicity that makes researching her far trickier than it should rightfully be. Even generally reputable mainstream sources would print items carefully manufactured by Jayne herself, making objective accounts tricky to parse. 

While her claims of a 164 IQ may have been studio folderol to contrast her sex symbol appearance, she had attended college at multiple points in her pre fame life, a very unusual feat for a married mother —a pregnancy had forced a wedding when Jayne was just 17 — in that era. She could play both piano and violin, skills that got her hired for one of her earliest screen appearances, a 1954 episode of television show Lux Video Theatre. She was also able to at least hold a conversation in multiple languages, if not exactly a fully fluent polyglot. 

Image from the official Jayne Mansfield site https://jaynemansfield.com

Correctly assuming that the numbers the public would be most interested in would be her 40-21-35 measurements, she kept her hair bleached, her skirts tight and her door open to the press. Be it delivering Christmas gifts to newspapermen as a sexy Santa, becoming one of the early Playboy centerfolds, or causing the side eye published around the world by upstaging Sophia Loren at her own welcoming party, Jayne was always game for anything that might keep flashbulbs popping and her name in the gossip columns. When she received a sizable inheritance from her grandparents, her first purchases were a collection of furs and a bright pink Jaguar convertible, in what would become her signature shade.

Jayne’s love of publicity was initially a boon for a studio used to battling with the more reserved Monroe. She never turned down an appearance, large or small, and would reliable sign autographs and take photos with fans for hours at every single one of them, giddy as a schoolgirl at the adoration. In contrast to her flighty roles on screen, she was an affable and quick witted guest on both game and talk shows. Reporters could always call her on a slow news day for a quick interview, a cocktail, and some pin up poses. However, soon Fox was fighting with Jayne’s refusal to take their counsel at all. 

While still embroiled in a custody battle with her first husband, Jayne became entangled in whirlwind romance with bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay. This was a clear violation of his contract as set dressing for Mae West’s nightclub act, which forbid him from being seen with other women in public. There was also the nagging detail that he too was in the process of dissolving his own early first marriage. The studio wanted their new sex symbol to appear available, and arranged a series of high profile dates for the press to cover. 

Refusing to lay low until the studio could quell the coming controversy, Jayne went rogue. She used her many friendly contacts in the press to sway the public in favor of her impending marriage to Hargitay, cleverly undermining the studio’s attempt to paint her as an eligible bachelorette, and forcing them to accept the inevitable.

In terms of her public image, Jayne was simultaneously a throwback to the screen goddesses of early Hollywood, and an early progenitor of a more modern and approachable sort of celebrity. With her lavish furs, daring gowns, and dyed pink poodles, she would’ve fit right in with the excesses of 30s Hollywood. Film stars were positioned as a different strata, in a rarified air all their own. Josephine Baker walked her pet ocelots on jeweled leashes, and the champagne flowed freely for the illustrious roster of guests at Hearst Castle. Excess was both expected, and encouraged.

Jayne carefully curated an extreme burlesque of not just Marilyn Monroe, but the entire cinematic concept of a “sex symbol” up to that point, the caricature so oversized she could easily join Mae West in the ranks of assigned female at birth female impersonators. In this, Mickey Hargitay was her ideal partner, his outsized musclebound masculinity lying right on the edge of parody in the same manner as her cartoonish high femme glamour. Their shared Pink Palace mansion was a Pop Art Pickfair, a monument to movie star dreams.

For all of her throwback aesthetics, her mostly self designed approach to celebrity was much more forward thinking. The lines between “Jayne Mansfield” the persona and Jayne the actual person blurred into one pink wrapped package. When she didn’t have a film, nightclub tour or album to promote, she could entertain a public eager for details of her personal life. Her wardrobe, home, love life, and family were all part of the show. 

Her famous wardrobe malfunctions are still standard operating procedure for celebutantes seeking quick hits of attention. When she purchased the mansion that would become her Pink Palace, she furnished it with product endorsements, companies providing free goods in exchange for the constant publicity and photo spreads Jayne was sure to generate. These sorts of tactics are still key parts of the playbook for reality TV stars and social media influencers, though neither concept existed at the time. The journey from the public perception of movie stars as untouchable icons to world where supermarket tabloids gleefully shriek celebrities are just like us (while running clearly staged photos of their “ordinary” activities) is a route that can’t be accurately plotted without Jayne.

While Jayne the personality still drew crowds (including a lucrative Las Vegas residency), her acting career had failed to follow suit. Despite appearing in a few minor financial successes (Kiss Them for Me, The Sheriff Of Fractured Jaw) and receiving some respectful notices on the rare dramatic role the studio had assigned her (The Wayward Bus), the blonde bombshell label was becoming an albatross. By the dawn of the 60s her popularity was beginning to wane, and she was being loaned out to low budget foreign productions. 

The beauty queen once heralded as “the next Marilyn Monroe” became a fixture of department store openings, gracing small town parades with a bit of reflected Hollywood lemonlight. Short on the cash to maintain the lavish lifestyle her image and ever growing family required, she supplemented this income with sporadic Fox network affiliate television appearances and nightclub gigs. The film studio suddenly seemed uninterested in finding very many movie projects for her.

The cultural shift as the United States moved further into the new decade of the 60s would signal the beginning of the end of the era of the blonde bombshells. A new, more irreverent youth culture was taking hold, questioning the suburban ideal, rigid gender roles, and squeaky clean behavior espoused by Eisenhower era morality. The rock music got louder, the youth more anti-establishment. The short hems and narrow lines of mod fashion were a poor fit for the exaggerated hourglass figures of the previous decade’s sex symbols. Even the box office hold of the mighty Marilyn was slipping, with 1961’s The Misfits a critical success, but a commercial failure. Her stardom could no longer shield her from the nasty gossip regarding her personal life and erratic behavior. She lost her unfortunate battle with addiction in August of 1962.

Mamie Van Doren used her stronger singing voice and more authentic wild child leanings to stay afloat with roles in drive-in genre fare. Marilyn was deceased. Jayne became the last of the three Ms on the mainstream stage still carrying the banner of sugary sex kitten. This spotlight made her a prime target for the backlash against the naively girlish, endlessly available archetype. Her empire as a powder pink, working man’s fantasy of “companionable” femininity went from palace to prison almost overnight. 

Marilyn’s death had allowed her to be frozen in amber as a fragile, tragic beauty unaware of her sex appeal, a tortured artist in the body of a bombshell, all of her complexities as a human being tamped down in the soft gauze of a socially acceptable memorial narrative. Her death spared her the indignity of making her worst mistakes on the public stage, avoiding the humiliation of a former feminine ideal falling to earth by daring to be imperfect, to grow old and grow beyond her initial screen persona.

This left the burden of the public’s changing tastes to Mansfield. For once her instincts failed her, and she struggled to find a viable alternative in the new landscape. Jayne’s famous determination began to waver, and she took to drinking to dull her emotions. Her ambitions as a performer were buried under an endless parade of broken bra straps and bizarre bouffant wigs. Her once healthy brunette curls were thinned and brittle from years of bleaching. What had once been seen as charmingly enthusiastic ambition was now derided as the desperate camera-mad flailing of a delusional actress past her prime. 

An oddball poetry album (Shakespeare, Tchaikovsky & Me) failed to raise her profile, nor did her decision to do one of mainstream cinema’s first nude scenes in 1963’s Promises! Promises!, an utter joke of a comedy. 1964 pseudo mondo mess Primitive Love can’t possibly be explained as anything other than the collection of a check. Her personal life was also stating to crumble under the weight of her larger than life celebrity status, the marriage with Mickey Hargitay headed towards divorce. In a bit of history repeating itself, Jayne had openly moved on to other prospects before the ink had dried on the divorce decree. Unsurprisingly, this lead to another drawn out legal battle over finances and custody of the couple’s three children.

Familiarity famously breeds contempt, and Jayne’s constant barrage of publicity stunts wore thin over time. Once friendly press coverage became increasingly cutting, cynical, and tabloid. By 1965, The Beatles’ Paul McCartney — the band had had a by all accounts disastrous 1964 meeting with the actress at the legendary club Whiskey A Go Go — felt secure enough in Jayne’s status as a punchline to dismissively call the 31 year old “an old bag” in a Playboy interview.

It may seem a bit silly to expend this much energy (and some 2300 words) providing larger context on a fading star’s very minor film unceremoniously dumped onto a budget Mill Creek box set. Single Room Furnished is one of those movies where the narrative lies in how the film came to exist at all, rather than much of anything contained in the storyline of the film itself. Viewed in the middle of a box set binge, it doesn’t hold much of an individual impact. In the context of the personalities involved and specific cultural moment it resided in, the subtext gets gets far more interesting.

Initially hired to direct both Jayne and Mickey in a summer stock production of Bus Stop, a fast forwarded romance lead to director Matt Cimber — at that point still using his given name of Matteo Ottaviano — becoming her third husband. An experienced director on the stage, Single Room Furnished would be both his cinematic directorial debut and his love fueled attempt to get his new bride’s career back on some sort of viable track. A revival of Jayne’s screen career would be far more stable than the constant grind of supper clubs and small time nightclub tours.

Working with screenwriter/executive producer Michael Musto, Cimber acquired the rights to a four act play (originally titled The Walk Up) to adapt as a vehicle for Jayne. Shooting was done piecemeal in 1965 and 1966, working around Mansfield’s schedule of club dates and personal appearances. 

Further interruptions to the shooting schedule were caused by the disintegration of the pair’s impulsive, ill-fated marriage. There is record of the film receiving an extremely limited release in 1966, but the project was quickly shelved. Only after Jayne’s fatal 1967 car crash did Single Room Furnished get a shot at wider distribution. 

Executive producer Michael Musto claimed the film was unfinished, restructured with existing footage afterJayne’s passing. Matt Cimber reputedly claimed Musto spitefully shelved the film when the public focus and reaction was almost exclusively focused on Jayne’s dramatic talents rather than his screenplay. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. 

The 1966 screening didn’t make much of a splash, so the producer likely advocated for reshoots and a further polish before attempting a wide release. Jayne died before there was time or money to complete them. Both men wanted to capitalize on the posthumous public interest in Jayne, so they whipstitched together the existing footage with a pile of side characters, flashbacks and subplots. 

The most commonly seen print of the film also involves a maudlin, borderline backhanded introduction from gossip columnist Walter Winchell —a man who had protection against libel lawsuits built into his newspaper contracts— who had made Jayne a pet target of his poison pen pretty much her entire career. The fact that neither man could be bothered to rustle up May Mann, Louella Parsons, or Jayne’s other friends amongst the press is perhaps indicative of a certain bitter tinge in regards to the entire doomed enterprise.

The wide release version of Single Room Furnished an attempt at at an omnibus film filled with simple slice of life dramas. In a New York City tenement, an immigrant mother fights with her teen daughter about her circle of friends, worried she might be growing up too fast. Pop, the building’s kindly old super, tells the young girl a trio of cautionary tales about the building’s various residents as she sulks in the stairwell. Jayne plays a central role in each vignette. To add confusion to what would otherwise be a pretty straightforward 3 act structure, each narrative thread has its own flashbacks within the larger framing device.

Frankie and Johnnie are a young married couple, Johnnie just out of high school, her husband just shy of drinking age. Their entire narrative is a long conversation on a fire escape on a hot summer night. They’re talking at rather than with one another. Johnnie is studiously trying to create the closest thing she can to happy domesticity in their tiny furnished room. Frankie clearly covets the freedom and adventure of a young single man. In voice over, we learn that Frankie deserts the pregnant Johnnie, never to be heard from again.

The second segment takes up the bulk of the runtime, documenting the budding late in life love affair between two working class middle-aged dockworkers, Charley and Flo. Their relationship is temporarily imperiled when Charlie impulsively agrees to marry a down on her luck waitress named Mae, to spare her the shame of an unwed pregnancy caused by a cad of a customer who abandoned her. 

The relative inexperience of the writing and directing team shows. Very little actual adaptation has been done to the stage play to make it viable for the screen, structurally or visually. It is unclear if Jayne was originally intended to have a triple role, or if that decision was made later for either personal or practical reasons. While the framing narrative treats all of Jayne’s characters as different stages in the life of the same person, the individual segments don’t align with that idea. 

Jayne might have not been the most experienced of dramatic performers, but she’s clearly attempting distinct characterizations with unique accents, mannerisms, and wigs. Had the various stories been presented to her as three phases of a single role, it’s doubtful she would have gone through the pains to so carefully separate them. The dialog also reveals background details for each woman that don’t align to a cohesive overall narrative.

Every character speaks in long monologs, with very few changes made to adjust these lengthy expository speeches into a more movie ready form of naturalistic conversation. Matt Cimber keeps his camera static, the locked in place framing making the intimate, primarily two person scenes borderline claustrophobic. Often one character in each pairing is left silently staring into the distance as another actor pontificates. 

The ragged, jazzy score is of some atmospheric merit, but the shooting locations never feel like New York. The sets are so sparsely dressed they barely could be considered sets at all. None of Cimber’s visual choices are particularly dynamic ways to shoot a film, leaving the performers to basically fend for themselves to give the narrative any emotional weight.

The fact that the dialog is an overheated attempt at an Arthur Miller/Tennessee Williams style further slows an already talky and low stakes film. Inane conversations about kittens or clouds or fishmonger’s invoices are meant to drip with portent and meaning, the poetry in the minutiae of the working man. While a popular style at the time, it sounds quite dated to the modern ear, and in the hands of the lesser writing talents assembled, plays like a rather pretentious drama school practice exercise.

It would be tricky for even dyed in the wool dramatic actors to make this particular material land, but Jayne is doing her absolute best within the confines of the script she’s handed. The first segment is likely the roughest on her. While still youthful looking, and able to carry an exceptionally long and voluminous blonde wig, she’s openly miscast as a naive high schooler. 

The uncanny valley effect is heightened by the fact that the girlish nightgowns and teenybopper fashions the character requires don’t suit her, and emphasize the oddness of a grown woman playing a child bride. Her only real task in the scene is to stare dreamily and sigh while her on screen husband reads a catalog of his personal hopes and dreams. The top billed star of the film deserves better than occasional interjections about linens, kittens, and egg salad sandwiches. 

The second segment is the longest, and the roughest ride for the audience, because Jayne is barely in it. She disappears from the film for almost half an hour of runtime. Fabian Dean and Dorothy Keller do more credible New York accents than Jayne, but that is a damning with faint praise qualification when their turns as Charley and Flo are so decidedly low energy. What is supposed to be a sweet love story of two ordinary people finding romance later in life ends up being a showcase for all of the personal flaws that left them lonely in the first place.

When Jayne’s knocked up and knocked down waitress finally enters this narrative thread, it feels like a boon. For a sex symbol, she’s surprisingly at ease with the character of Mae, a decidedly unglamorous sort. Jayne’s trademark wiggle is swapped for a mousy slump, an ill fitting flannel shirt and a stringy brunette wig. What she lacks in nuance, she makes up for in presence that the other two sides of this ersatz love triangle lack. Quite frankly, when the alternative is watching the script attempt to wring sentiment out of Flo gifting Charley a day old fish she’s been carrying around in her handbag, Jayne’s shaky handle on a New York adjacent accent seems a pretty minor quibble.

Only in the final segment does Single Room Furnished really reach some viable drive in territory, floating into the liminal space between exploitation style vice picture and dime store gutter noir. Jayne is now the beautiful but doomed Eileen, a prostitute whose brittle surface cheerfulness barely papers over an ever deepening pile of heartbreaks and disappointments. 

This is the only segment of the movie that actually moves, utilizing a better variety of shot types and angles as Eileen makes her evening rounds, before heading home.Unfortunately, she finds an over zealous customer waiting in her apartment. Jayne is on more familiar sartorial territory here, gliding across the screen in a towering stack of blonde hairpieces, form fitting cocktail dresses, and filmy negligees. Jayne abandons her signature breathiness for her lower vocal register. There’s a light tough of a Southern lilt, but that is more likely the remnants of a childhood spent in Texas than another full fledged attempt at dialect.

While none of the stagy quality is exactly lost, this time Jayne is actually allowed to carry equal weight in the scene instead of spending long stretches stranded at the edges of the frame. There’s a bit less of a dramatic stretch for Jayne in this final character, but keeping one foot in familiar bombshell territory seems to greatly bolster her confidence. While Billy, the obsessive white knighting client keeps insisting he loves and want to marry her, Jayne’s Eileen attempts to explain to him that he doesn’t know her at all, just the facade she puts on for the customers.

As she unpacks the heartbreaks and dashed hopes that lead to her character’s current downtrodden position, Jayne actually manages a surprising bit of poignancy in the midst of a tawdry little potboiler. Her career reversals and increasing dependence on alcohol had dulled Jayne’s usual sunny demeanor, the sheen of her Hollywood dreams no longer seeming quite so bright as they once did. Perhaps this is why Mansfield manages to turn in a surprisingly raw and honest portrayal of the hopelessness that comes from being haunted by the memories of a happier time. Both Jayne and Eileen were both briefly blessed with everything they ever wanted, then were doomed to live in the shadow of those heights.

Only in the final few minutes does the film manage to effectively convey the isolation of cities, the loneliness that follows you on a quiet street or right in the middle of the crowd. Mansfield’s Eileen puts on her make up in a dead eyed daze, striding down the now nearly empty street toward another night of too many drinks and the grubby hands of grabby clients. 

Single Room Furnished is a wildly uneven whimper of a movie, but there’s a small scene in its last few minutes, that hums with an eerie foreboding. Jayne’s Eileen vamps her way around the corner, away from the street lights and the camera’s view, her bright blonde hair disappearing into a chasm of inky dark. It’s an apt metaphor for not just the fates of both Jayne Mansfield and Marilyn Monroe, but an entire lineage of Hollywood tragedies, actresses who found even the larger than life persona of a sex symbol a woefully insufficient container for the people they were, let alone all they aspired to be.

Twisted Nerve (1968)

Is Hayley Mills a giallo queen? Let’s examine the evidence: She’s in the Agatha Christie movies Endless Night and Appointment with Death, as well as the Sidney Hayers psychological thriller Deadly Strangers. Heck, That Darn Cat! has a lot of elements of confused identity and mishearing critical evidence. You know, if The Parent Trap was slightly askew, you could see its tale of twins who never knew the other existed uniting to ruin relationships as an Italian thriller.

The jury is out on Ms. Mills being a giallo star — maybe if she’d made a voyage to Italy at some point — but Twisted Nerve really feels like it could fit into the post-Bava pre-Argento world of detective movies that were coming out of that country.

Martin Durnley (Hywel Bennett, who was also in Endless Night and The Family Way with Mills) is a rich young man with an invalid brother and a mother who has moved on to her new husband. So what else does he have to do than to become someone else, the mentally challenged Georgie, and start shoplifting toys and acting like a child? Especially if it gains the interest of Susan?

This movie pushes all the buttons, starting — instead of ending! — with a square up reel* that apologizes for suggesting that mentally retarded people are murderous. It then doubles down thanks to a scene where Martin sensually rubs his own chest while staring at a stack of male muscle magazines. And oh yeah — he’s obsessed with Susan enough to stage this charade yet when her neglected mother attempts to Mrs. Robinson him, he dispatches her with an axe. There’s also a shocking moment — for Susan — where Martin just casually disrobes in front of her and instead of her reacting with any arousal, she’s just confused and perhaps even upset as his alien nature makes seeing him in a sexual manner incredibly strange.

Yet even when he gets to touch her, it’s as if he can’t. Martin once had control over Georgie and thought it was all a ruse, but it looks like now he’s lost control.

I love that this movie has pretensions toward art. It quotes “Slaves” by George Sylvester Viereck — “No puppet master pulls the strings on high. Proportioning our parts, the tinsel and the paint. A twisted nerve, a ganglion gone awry predestinates the sinner and the saint.” — while also keeping one foot firmly in the world of exploitation. I mean, the tagline is “

Even if you haven’t seen this movie, you may know its Bernard Herrmann score, which was whistled by Elle Driver as she attempted to kill The Bride in Kill Bill.

*”In view of the controversy already aroused, the producers of this film wish to re-emphasise what is already stated in the film, that there is no established scientific connection between mongolism and psychiatric or criminal behaviour.”

The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch (1968)

And this is why I love Arrow Video.

Take Noriaki Yuasa, the director of the original eight Gamera movies, and pair him with Kazuo Umezu, who created The Drifting Classroom, and have them make a movie that should be for kids but is the type of motion picture that destroys minds and reaps souls (and is filled with nightmarish visions and brutal murders).

Sayuri has returned to her family after years in an orphanage but trouble has followed her. Before she even arrives, a maid dies of a heart attack, her mother has amnesia from a car wreck and her sister won’t leave the attic, all while her father ignores them to study poisonous snakes and a fanged figure haunts her dreams.

Soon, our heroine is staying up in that attic with her scarred sister who tells her that she just wants to taste her hands and who breaks her dolls and oh yeah, rips a frog in half and throws it in her face. Yes, a kid-friendly movie.

And an amazing one at that.

The Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch is making its worldwide blu ray debut and home video premiere outside Japan thanks to Arrow. This release also has commentary by film historian David Kalat, an interview with manga and folklore scholar Zack Davisson, a trailer and an image gallery.

You can order the blu from MVD.

It’s also available on the ARROW player. Head over to ARROW to start your 30 day free trial (subscriptions are available for $4.99 monthly or $49.99 yearly). ARROW is available in the US, Canada and the UK on the following Apps/devices: Roku (all Roku sticks, boxes, devices, etc), Apple TV & iOS devices, Android TV and mobile devices , Fire TV (all Amazon Fire TV Sticks, boxes, etc), and on all web browsers at https://www.arrow-player.com.

Peter Carpenter Double Feature: Vixen (1968) and Love Me Like I Do (1970)

“The industry is in bad shape. The people in Hollywood don’t care about films. They’re only worried about lining their pockets.”
— The Tinseltown wisdoms of Peter Carpenter

Courtesy of Amazon and IMDb.

These two, lost Peter Carpenter movies have dogged us long enough!

It’s time we complete the review quartet of Pete’s four films, which includes his two writing and producing Wiseauian vanity efforts: his debut, Blood Mania (1970) and Point of Terror (1971). How much do we love Blood Mania? Well, during our month-long, February 2021 Mill Creek Box Set tribute, B&S buddy Bill Van Ryn of Groovy Doom/Drive-In Asylum reviewed it for the ‘Creek’s Grindhouse Greats set, while our friend Eric Wrazen of Festival de la Bête Noire took a second crack at it for the set.

Courtesy of Bill Van Ryn, we know that Peter Carpenter had been selected by Russ Meyer for a small role in Vixen! after Carpenter’s then girlfriend included a photo with him as part of her audition materials. A role alongside Dyanne Thorne in 1970’s softcore drama Love Me Like I Do followed, and Carpenter’s later, one-two punch of his self-produced Crown International-starring vehicles of Blood Mania and Point of Terror, made with producer Chris Marconi, undoubtedly represented a bid for establishing Peter as a working actor—a Hollywood commodity, even. A career never manifested, and Carpenter disappeared. Despite rumors that he vanished because he died, he actually simply left the movie business, although he did pass away at the too-young age of 56—in Alhambra, Los Angeles County, on April 2, 1996, under his birth name: Joseph Nathaniel Carpenter, a former enlistee of the U.S. Air Force (thanks to Mike Perkins for that bio-postscript).

As Mike Justice of the Eerie Midnight Detective Agency site correctly pointed out: Peter didn’t do much in the way of acting in these films—but, in both, he did show a natural predilection for portraying a horny, muscular man who will stop at nothing to get laid. And I’ll have to add that quality carried to its zenith, with Pete as the red-jump suit clad n’ hip-swingin’ Tom Jones wannabe in Point of Terror.

So, how we ended up here, QWERTY’ing away in the B&S About Movies cubicles about these first two Peter Carpenter films is a tale of the coolness that is B&S About Movies. And this ain’t no trope of a tale we’re telling: B&S is a family of movie lovers who love film for film—a gaggle of crazy bastards and lazy sods who write for the love of film, money in our pockets for the efforts, be damned. (In fact, it’s how our newly-posted review of The Beast (1988) came together: reader feedback to our site. Ditto for our recent “Ancient Future Week” reviews of Future-Kill (1985) and Robo Warriors (1996): reader input.)

B&S reader and uber Peter Carpenter fan, Mike Perkins, a professional librarian, reached out to us upon discovering our review of Point of Terror with questions and some new, Pete-Intel. The Perk came to tell us he’s been working with B&S About Movies’ long-time friend and contributor Mike Justice to set the record straight on Peter Carpenter’s life and career.

It all began with Mike Justice asking the February 22, 2016, question in his article: Lost Actor: What Ever Happened to Peter Carpenter? on his site. So, Mike Perkins, the insane-uber Carpenter fan he is, started digging. And the two-Mikes’ investigations led to Mike Justice posting the follow up article: Lost Actor Found: Who Was Peter Carpenter? on March 7, 2021. Then Mike Perkins took it a step further by setting up a Flickr photo tribute page, finally convincing the IMDb to updated Peter Carpenter’s page, and setting up an all-new Find A Grave tribute page. Yeah, the Mighty Perk is working on that Peter Carpenter Wikipedia page, you know it!

Courtesy of Mike Justice.

The one thing we’re all in agreement on: Peter Carpenter was Tommy Wiseau before Tommy Wiseau was Tommy Wiseau making his The Room vanity project. And that Rudy Ray Moore was the blaxploitation version of Peter Carpenter—remembering Moore took the vanity route with Dolemite. And that we need a Peter Carpenter biographical dramedy, à la The Disaster Artist and My Name Is Dolemite. And that Jason Segel—as first suggested by The Great Protrubero, one of Mike Justice’s readers—should star.

Like I told Justice: If Netflix can bank roll Jack Black as the financial-scamming Jan “The Polka King” Lewen in a bioflick, then a Peter Carpenter film can be done.

Does anyone know how to reach James Franco and Seth Rogen? A Peter Carpenter movie—Point of Stardom—starring Jason Segel as Pete, must be done—if only to get Segel into a fringed, red-jump suit. And, in the way-back machine: Judge Reinhold.

Just think of it: A world where Peter Carpenter never left the business—and Peter, instead of Judge Reinhold—ended up as one of the (many) boyfriends of Elaine Benis on Seinfeld—or Carrie Heffernan’s gynecologist on The King of Queens (i.e., Judge, again). Why did you leave the business, Pete . . . the castings you missed . . . you could have been “the Close Talker” on Seinfeld! And yes, B&S readers: we’re accepting your casting suggestions for Dyanne Thorne and Russ Meyer in the comments section, below.

In fact, speaking of castings and Jack Black: If there’s ever a Paul Naschy biopic made, Jack Black is the man for the job. From Pennsylvania’s “Polka King” to Spain’s “Werewolf King”? Jack can do it!

And . . . Jack Black can be Russ Meyer to Jason Segel’s Peter Carpenter!!!

“Uh, the ‘rails,’ R.D. We talked about this. The rails. You’re friggin’ off them, again. Please get back to the movie,” Sam “The Boss Man” Panico, implores me.

Sorry, Sam . . . the Peter Carpenter love is, eventually, gonna getcha.

So, yeah. Bill Van Ryn. Eric Wrazen. Mike Justice. Mike Perkins. Sam “the Blender Master” Panico, and yours truly: We are family, and by golly, we’ll get the job done and solve The Case of Peter Carpenter. Get this: for the fun. We’re fracked up that way. And by hook or by crook, we will get that movie made, too.

Let’s roll Vixen! and Love Me Like I Do. To the aisle seats, Robin!

Vixen!

“The story of a girl who loves the joy of being alive.”
— Now that’s how you pitch an X-rated movie

Yeah, you’re heard of this movie in the annals of X-rated films: it was the first film to be given the rating due to its sex scenes. Yes. It was a huge box office success ($8 million against $73,000) that not only inspired 20th Century Fox to green-light Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Doh!), it also triggered the “Golden Age of Porn” with the likes of the equally successful Behind the Green Door, Deep Throat, and The Devil in Miss Jones. Howard Avedis, who we just did week-long tribute on, dove into the golden showers with this take on the trend with The Teacher. And speaking of teachers: Earl Barton’s Russ Meyer-wannabe, the sleazy drive-in take-a-shower-after flick, Trip with the Teacher, was his lone attempt at some “golden age” sexploitation.

Erica Gavin* (later of Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls; stellar in Jonathan Demme’s Caged Heat for Roger Corman) is Vixen Palmer: an oversexed (big surprise), bored ne’er-do-well hottie stuck living in a Canadian mountain resort town with her naive, wilderness bush pilot husband (Larry Buchanan stock-player Garth Pillsbury, Mistress of the Apes).

While he’s off on assignments, flying tourists on fishing trips, the divine Ms. Palmer manipulates anyone and everyone to get her jollies: including an uptight, vacationing husband and wife flown by her husband, as well as a Canadian Mountie (cue Peter Carpenter to the set). Vix even dabbles in incest with her rough n’ tumble biker brother, Judd (because all Drive-In B-movie programmers must have a biker; played by Don Stroud lookalike Jon Evans). But Vix draws the line at interracial love: she won’t do the hoochie-mama with Judd’s black, riding buddy (Harrison Page, who carved a still-going, extensive U.S. TV career). Oh, and everyone has opinions on communism to go with their insights on the sexual revolution.

Sigh . . . sex and political dissertations with a side of racism: an exploitation Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup packed with M&M’s (or is that Skittles) if there ever was one.

When it comes to skin-flicks—and Meyer’s oeuvre, on whole—Vixen! is a solidly produced flick that’s well-directed with engaging cinematography. Courtesy of Erica Gavin going so over-the-top, along with Meyer working in messages on racism, communism, Vietnam, draft dodging, and the sexual revolution amid the nekked parts, this is not, not-an-entertaining flick. In fact, instead of flinching in repulsion, you actually laugh—with, not at—the film. How can you not chuckle, when Vixen and her brother lament on their special showers back when they were 12—as they have a nekked shower-sex reunion?

Look, this ain’t no 2 1/2 hour Zack Snyder zombie romp with the always career-bitching Dave Bautista: it’s a 70-minute skin flick from the limits-pushing Russ Meyer. (It could be worse: this was sliced to 63-minutes in other parts of the world.) So what’s not to likely? Take a chance, you analog masochist, to get your fix of Peter Carpenter strippin’ off that Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman’s uniform. Your own heart-breaking sighs for Peter, may vary.

Ugh. No trailers to embed. So log onto You Tube to watch them HERE and HERE. The DVDs abound, even on Amazon. Online streams. Yes. On torrent sites: don’t do it.

Love Me Like I Do

“I thought I was safe as long as I kept my eyes wide open and my knees tied together.”
— Another satisfied Peter Carpenter conquest

Writer and director Jean Van Hearn shot seven sexploitationer skinners between 1961 to 1973: Eternal Summer, Nymphs Anonymous, We, a Family, The House Near the Prado, The Hanging of Jake Ellis, Did Baby Shoot Her Sugar Daddy?, and this one—the only one starring Peter Carpenter. Oh, and Dyanne Thorne. Did we mention that Dyanne impressed Pete, here, so he cast Dyanne as his lead in his forth and final film, Point of Terror? We just did.

Courtesy of Temple of Shock in their review of Did Baby Shoot Sugar Daddy?

So . . . if you need films with soft-core kink titillations, trannies, way-too-many strippers, a world where women seduce men—while another man is dead, stuffed under a bed—all done at an Ed Woodian ineptness that makes a Doris Wishman joint look better that it should, then Van Hearn’s always-hard-to-plot-follow, seven-film oeuvre should be on your watch list.

Now, back to the Peter Carpenter love.

Sharon Sloane (Dyanne Thorne, in a bad wig) is a loyal, seemingly content suburban wife with a nice husband, Bill (Peter Carpenter, in his first leading man role), house and family—and she throws mod-swingin’ backyard parties. Well, things were content: Sharon just discovered—as a way to deal with the stress of his business ready to collapse in a takeover by his partner, Keith (the one and done Paul Flemming)—ol’ hubs cheats on her with the local, neighborhood nympho, Nanette (Maria De Aragon**, Blood Mania for Peter; the lead in 1972’s The Cremators). So, Sharon—while she attends to the woe-is-me problems of her horny-divorcee best friend (Lynne Gordon, her final film was Robert Redford’s The Hot Rock for Peter Yates)—does the only logical thing: she goes off the deep end. And so does everyone else.

  • Sharon pops off a couple o’ rounds at Bill’s squeeze, Nanette? Check.
  • Bill’s business partner, Keith, wants not only the business, but Sharon? Check.
  • Does Keith fail at goading Sharon into adultery, so he rapes her? Check.
  • Does she like it? Check.
  • Does Bill, the cheater, beat the hell out of Sharon for cheating? Check.
  • Divorce? Stressed out little ones? Check and double check.
  • Sharon and Keith run off to Las Vegas—and Sharon, the girl who won’t commit adultery—turns into the very nympho her ex, Bill, enjoys. Checky check check.

Just wow. If this is what the sexual revolution of the ’70s did for film . . . then we need Estus Pirkle to break out the bible to inspire Ron Ormond to get the cameras rolling to get our souls in check.

Look, if you’re a Peter Carpenter fan—and you were able to make it through the movie-where-nothing-happens stylings of Blood Mania, but enjoyed the mania where-everything-happens of Point of Terror—sans the musical numbers and slasher overtones of that later sex opus—then there’s something here for you to do on a Friday night.

Thanks to our bud, Mike Justice, while we do not have an online stream of the full movie to share (there’s a few torrent-to-porn uploads out there: don’t do it: unless you’re into virus alerts and site redirects), you can watch these two clips from the film HERE and HERE (but embedded, below). You want the DVD? Well, the DVDLady has multi-regional DVD-rs, if you absolutely must have it.

I’m excited! Let’s make this Peter Carpenter bioflick happen!

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.


* Did you know Erica Gavin has an official website? True story. Check it out at ericagavin.com. The link will take you into a deeper plot synopsis and backstory on Vixen!, as well as direct you to her insights on her other films.

** Maria De Aragon was under the Greedo make-up, hassling Han Solo at the Mos Eisley Spaceport in Star Wars? Is that urban legend?

The Green Slime (1968)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: When Frederick Burdsall isn’t at work or watching movies while covered in cats, you can find Fred in the front seat of Knoebels’ Phoenix. 

Way back when in a faraway place I like to refer to as “The Sixties” (It existed kids, trust me) my local movie theater would frequently show a Saturday Matinee geared to kids and it was here I was introduced to the wonders of Roger Corman, Vincent Price and numerous monsters that still thrill me today but there was one in particular that really got my 9-year-old juices going.

A few weeks before, the theater was showing a little film called The Mad Monster Party and as always, I was parked in a seat halfway up the aisle with my popcorn enjoying the spectacle. When the dust settled and it was time to go I was handed a clip-on button as I exited that simply said “The Green Slime are Coming”. Slimy and Green, huh? Yes, please.

Well, my friends, an entire freakin’ month went by before I saw it on the marquee…The Green Slime are here Saturday at noon. Setting a new record getting home I rushed into the house and did the most horrible thing I have ever done in my life…I VOLUNTEERED to do chores because the Green Slime are here Saturday and I have to be there. The things we do for our passions. Let’s take a look at this brilliant piece of monster movie fun.

An asteroid is on a collision course and it falls on Jack Rankin (Robert Horton from Wagon Train) to rush off to Gamma 3 to blast it out of the sky. The base is run by Vince Elliott (Richard Jaeckel, one of my mom’s favorite actors) who at one time was a close friend but they clashed over Lisa Benson (Luciana Paluzzi, who played Fiona Volpe in the Bond film Thunderball) who conveniently is one of the doctors on the base. There is quite a bit of macho posturing before he is welcomed aboard.

Upon reaching the asteroid they encounter a greenish ooze which puts a damper on their project and forces them to hoof it back to the ship unaware that Dr. Halverson has some on the leg of his spacesuit. As the suits are decontaminated, it causes the slime to mutate and grow into a one-eyed, tentacled monstrosity that kills with electricity. ( I REALLY need a Green Slime Pop Vinyl figure…someone get on that.) 

Nothing they do seems to harm it and if it bleeds, the blood becomes another monster….how do you kill it? After an attack on the infirmary, they decide to lure them to Block C and try to, at least, contain them but Dr. Halverson has all his research in there and the creatures are soon loose again. Deciding to evacuate, the doors won’t open because there are creatures all over the outside of the ship now and Elliott leads a team out to do battle in a last ditch effort to save their lives. How does it all turn out…Watch and enjoy The Green Slime and find out.

Directed by Kinji Fukasaku of Battle Royale, Tora! Tora! Tora! and the fantastic yakuza film Graveyard of Honor fame.

I can’t deny that there are times that I watch a favorite from my childhood and can’t believe how incredibly bad it really was…this is NOT one of them. I still get tears in my eyes when that psychedelic theme song by Richard Delvy starts up and I turn into a 9-year-old all over again and revel in the campiness of it all. I have a love for this movie that rivals the kind of love you have for family and friends and I hope I always will…..By the way…I STILL have the button.

As always, I’ll see you in the front seat of the Phoenix.

Trilogy of Terror (1968)

No, not that Trilogy of Terror.

This Brazilian movie creates new versions of stories that appeared on the TV series Além, Muito Além do Além (Beyond, Much Beyond the Beyond): “O Acordo” (The Agreement), “A Procissão dos Mortos” (Procession of Dead), and “Pesadelo Macabro” (Macabre Nightmare).

In the first segment, “O Acordo” (The Agreement), a mother discovers that her daughter has an incurable disease, so she offers her soul to Satan himself. They ask her to bring them back a virgin. This segment was directed by Ozualdo Ribeiro Candeias.

The second story is “A Procissão dos Mortos” (Procession of Dead), which was directed by Luiz Sérgio Person. A young boy’s father is the only person brave enough to face the ghosts that haunt the village.

Finally — and most spectacularly — “Pesadelo Macabro” (Macabre Nightmare) is about a young man who is afraid of being buried alive, which is exactly and to no surprise what happens. This leads to tons of scenes of women being whipped, lizards, bugs and, yes, a premature burial that all feel like they’re the exact kind of bad trip that schoolteachers warned you that those blue acid star temporary tattoos would give you if any drug dealer tried to give you free acid, which I don’t think has ever happened ever. This was directed by José Mojica Marins, who we all know as Coffin Joe, and it lives up to exactly the kind of mania you expect from this man. He was actually the host of the TV show these stories came from for 21 years and sadly, hardly any tapes of them survive.

La Sombra del Murciélago (1968)

Federico Curiel was a maniac and I mean that in the very best of ways. He wrote tons of great movies like El Baron del Terror, as well as directing stuff like the Nostradamus vampire movies, lucha films with Neutrón, Blue Demon and Santo, Westerns such as Super Colt 38 and so much more. He’s also the man who brought together so many luchadors for The Champions of Justice series.

Here, he delights us yet again with the tale of El Murcielago, a former wrestler who has become disfigured and obsessed with singer Marta Romano as he sits in his cave, wearing a jeweled robe, playing an organ and being generally awesome. He takes this beautiful girl and hides her away from the rest of the world to watch him fight and kill a series of other wrestlers until Blue Demon decides that he’s going to save the wrestling business.

The joy of lucha libre movies is that astounding things can just happen. Men can be disfigured and take over caves filled with henchman who listen as they regale them with dibble dabble keyboard musings and the rantings of a madman. Beautiful singers can be kidnapped and scream at every rat they ever see. And Blue Demon can show up and solve everything with wonderful violence.

There are also four musical numbers, which feels just about the right amount.

You can watch this on the amazing White Slaves of Chinatown channel on YouTube.