VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: The Illustrated Man (1969)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the August 30, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Beyond Bird with the Crystal Plumage, there’s one movie my mother has already brought up that she hated. And that would be this one.

The book that these stories come from has eighteen of them, but Howard B. Kreitsek and Jack Smight picked these three for the film without ever speaking to that book’s author, Ray Bradbury. The tattooed man who appears in the book’s prologue and epilogue would become this film’s main story and be played by Rod Steiger.

The funny thing is that when Steiger takes off his glove to reveal his entire hand is tattooed, it’s played off as a horrific moment. A half century after this movie was made and nearly every one of my friends has this many tattoos.

Carl the tattooed man meets Willie and uses his skin illustrations to show tales throughout time. The ink came from a mysterious woman named Felicia and at the end of the film, Willie sees his death at the hands of Carl in the only bare patch of skin on the Illustrated Man.

The stories that are told include “The Veldt,” which takes place in the future and has children who study within a virtual version of the African veldt. Soon, the lions will solve this issue of their parents. “The Long Rain” has solar rains* that drive an entire crew to madness in space. And “The Last Night of the World” predates The Mist with parents that must decide if their children should survive the end of the world.

The final story — and its bleak ending — is exactly why my mom hates this movie. The fact that she may have told me all about it when I was a kid may have given me nightmares.

This movie didn’t do well critically or financially. Rod Serling, who would be the expert on adapting short stories to film, called it the worst movie ever made.

*Their spaceship is recycled from Planet of the Apes, Beneath the Planet of the Apes and Escape from the Planet of the Apes.

SALEM HORROR FEST: Prague Nights (1969)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This movie was watched as part of Salem Horror Fest.

Deaf Crocodile Films, in association with distribution partner Comeback Company, has restored this little seen in the U.S. late 1960s Czech occult/horror anthology. Prazske Noci (Prague Nights) is inspired by Black Sabbath and features episodes directed by Milos Makovec, Jiri Brdecka and Evald Schorm.

I love how they referred to this movie: “a gorgeous and supernatural vision of ancient and modern Prague: caught between Mod Sixties fashions and nightmarish Medieval catacombs, and filled with Qabbalistic magic, occult rituals, clockwork automatons and giant golems.”

I mean, I’m already in love.

Filmed during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Prague, Prague Nights begins with a businessman named Willy Fabricius (Milos Kopecky), lonely and lost in a foreign city, but looking for not love but some form of lust. And then he encounters the much younger, more gorgeous and way more mysterious Zuzana (Milena Dvorská), they travel through the sleeping city in her vintage limousine. As her driver Vaclav (Jiríi Hrzan) pulls into a cemetery, she begins to tell him the three stories that make up this movie:

In Brdecka’s chapter “The Last Golem,” Rabbi Jehudi Löw (Josef Blaha) has already created and used a golem, a gigantic silent homunculus from living clay. Emperor Rudolf II (Martin Ruzek) hears of this and wants to use the supernatural being for his own aims and even when told it can’t be revived, a less moral young rabbi named Neftali Ben Chaim (Jan Klusak) claims he can make it happen. But will his lust for the mute servant (Lucie Novotná) and need to inspire her be his undoing?

“Bread Slippers” — directed by Schorm — introduces us to a countess (Teresa Tuszyńska) who indulges all of her passions, whether for kisses from the maids, the sweetest of cakes or affairs that would scandalize her town. She’s pushed twin brothers into a duel for her heart that killed them both and now she’s led Saint de Clair (Josef Abrham) into death at his own hand. And all because he couldn’t get her the shoes she asked for, shoes made of — you read the title — bread. While the peasants go hungry, the countess literally steps upon what they yearn to eat.

Yet a strange shoemaker (Josef Somr) can and once he delivers them, he steals her away to an abandoned mansion, a place filled with mechanical servants, dust and cobwebs. A place where she will dance forever with her many victims.

Makovec’s “Poisoned Poisoner” shares the adventures of a murderess in the Middle Ages who kills off sex-crazed merchants set to the music of  60s Czech pop star Zdeněk Liška. Yet what happens when a woman who kills men and takes not only their money and jewelry but their hearts falls for one of her victims?

Prague Nights ends with the truth of Zuzana and why she needed the businessman so badly on this — and only this — night. What we have experienced is pure gorgeous cinema, a world that is so unlike so much of what we’ve seen that it very nearly feels animated. Colors change from black and white to monochromatic to more colors than we can nearly stand; cars drive into graves; lovers can be trapped in Hell forever. Yet it all makes your heart and mind and eyes sing. This film is pure magic and yet another film that Deaf Crocodile has put in front of me and won over every fiber of my being with.

There’s also another Czech anthology, Pearls of the Night, that I now need to track down!


A group of rebels taking on the Jin invaders during the Southern Song Dynasty are led by the Iron Mistress (Han Hsiang-Chin) and Wei Shing (Pai Ying). Another revolutionary named Hsin Tsuan (Chien Tsao) says that she may be a strong fighter and able to gather an army, but she has no plan. He offers to be the brains, but Wei Shung feels like he could be playing not just his leader, but the object of his unrequited affection.

Yet according to the actual history of China, Hsin Tsuan is supposed to be Xin Qiji, who wrote under the name Jiaxuan. He became a fighter to gain a measure of revenge against the Jin and had a twenty-year career of military service. He then retired and began writig ci, which are porms written to match existing melodies. He constructed more than six hundred of these poems and became widely admired and imitated for his skill with words, not just swords.

Here is one:

Partridge Sky

When I was young

I waved a flag to lead a thousand soldiers

horses too

how my men

fashioned arrows

of silver at night

they brought

down the moon

now the enemy owns it

I come back

I’m nobody

now thinking of the past

how one

sighs to be neglected

Spring won’t bring back the black to my bread

you can’t imagine the tracts I wrote on tactics for this country

In return I’m given this poor field bent mattock

and some weather-worn to me titled “how to grow tree”

Directed by Tsun-Shou Sung and written by Shih-Ching Yang, this has a lot of growth in the film for all of its characters to go along with the swordplay.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can watch Iron Mistress is an online only movie at the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023! Tickets are on sale right here!

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: The Love Factor (1969)

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

Directed by Michael Cort, who wrote it with Alistair McKenzie and Christopher Neame, The Love Factor is also known as Zeta One. It’s about secret agent James Word (Robin Hawdon) telling his boss W’s Ann (Yutte Stensgaard, Some Girls Do) about his latest adventure just as we also meet Zeta (Dawn Addams, The Vault of Horror) and her cadre of alien women from the planet Angvia — get it, it’s an anagram for vagina — who are trying to find new girls for their planet while also fighting off Major Bourden (James Robertson Justice) and his henchman Swyne (Charles Hawtrey).

Zeta has a formidable force of extraordinary magnitude, including Brigitte Skay (Isabella Duchess of the Devils), Anna Gael (Nana), Wendy Lingham, Valerie Leon (Queen Kong), Kirsten Betts (Twins of Evil) and Carol Hawkins (The Body Stealers).

Released in America by Film Ventures International four years after it played England as Zeta One, it was first shown as The Love Slaves and the next year was renamed The Love Factor. It was produced by Tigon and Vernon Sewell directed some of the scenes.

This is like Bond, Barbarella and pop art mixed with pasties, go go boots and the kind of humor that has the secret agent show up late and just want to make love to the many, many aliens he’s battling. It doesn’t make much sense, but who cares? It starts with a thirty-minute strip poker scene that really goes nowhere as well, but when you’re having fun, who is looking at the run time?

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Temptress of a Thousand Faces (1969)

April 14: Tiger Style — Grab a Shaw Brothers film and write about how great it is.

At once a Shaw Brothers film, a Eurospy action movie and kind of like the Hong Kong Danger DiabolikTemptress of a Thousand Faces is why I watch movies.

Officer Chi-ying (Tina Chin-Fei) is trying to hunt down the Temptress, who she publically dares to come after her. The Temptress agrees to this by stealing her identity, flirting with an entire club full of men and cleaning out a jewelry store while wearing Chi-ying’s face. Our heroine’s name gets cleared by her photographer boyfriend Inspector Yu (Liang Chen), who ends up being the one in peril when dealing with the titular villainess and her army of henchwomen.

Yes, the Temptress really does have a thousand masks, maybe even more, as well as an unlimited supplies of knockout gas and scantily clad women ready to answer her every command. This is a movie that at once has a strong female heroine and antagonist, but also one that has fan service aplenty, like the Temptress appearing being bathed by her handmaidens and Chi-ying fighting barefoot in a near see-through gown, but the men around them are such morons that they can’t help but shine, no matter how much of the male gaze gets thrown their way.

There’s a bomb that gets deactivated with seven seconds left — just like Goldfinger — as well as a volcano base — just like You Only Live Twice — and even the Bond theme playing just because, well, this movie is a riot and unafraid where it’s taking stuff from. That’s how good it is.

It all ends with Chi-ying battling the Temptress after she wears the face of our heroine and makes love to her man while she’s forced to watch. A twin adversary kung fu spectacle, topped only with our heroine and her reclaimed man shooting near thousands of bullets and wiping out an entire base full of dedicated domina female supertroopers.

I may not have any power over Arrow, but I know another Shawscope box set has to be coming. I dream that this and Infra-Man end up on it, movies that show that the Shaw Brothers made more than just their typically amazing kung fu movies.

You can watch this on YouTube.

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Dear Murderer (1969)

April 14: Tiger Style — Grab a Shaw Brothers film and write about how great it is.

Tu Chang (Peter Chen Ho) has a problem.

His boss Yeh Kuang Lung (Liu Kei) thinks so much of him that he’s prepared to give him the ultimate compliment by awarding him his beloved daughter Jenny (Betty Ting Pei, she whose apartment is where Bruce Lee scandalously died within) in marriage.

The problem?

Tu Chang has already made company typist Lan Fen (Pat Ting Hung) pregnant.

Even worse, she promises to tell the boss unless he does the right thing.

That means killing Lan Fen and going all Poe on her, walling her dead body into an abandoned house.

Yet this is a Shaw Brothers movie and the dead never stay quiet in their stories.

Unlike many of their movies, this was directed by a Japanese filmmaker, Shima Koji, and is a remake of his movie Kaidan otoshiana. It’s a bit slow, but it looks gorgeous and man, that poster, right?

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The Assassination Bureau (1969)

Based on an unfinished novel by Jack London published posthumously — it was finished by Robert L. Fish — in 1963, this Basil Dearden-directed movie was written by Michael Relph and Wolf Mankowitz. Reporter and women’s rights champion Sonia Winter (Diana Rigg) doesn’t just want to expose the Assassination Bureau Limited, she wants to destroy them and have its chairman, Ivan Dragomiloff (Oliver Reed), assassinated.

This delights Dragomiloff, who goes back to the teachings of his father, who started the killing cabal and said that they needed to only kill people who deserved to be killed. Now, his father’s colleagues kill for money instead of reasons of morality, so he dares them: accept Winter’s contract and kill him before he murders them.

From Paris and Zurich to Venice and Ruthenia, they battle the killer elite in humorous battle, climaxing in the entire Assassination Bureau — and their true leader, Lord Bostwick (Telly Savalas), who was Winter’s boss who got this whole business started — to protect the world’s leaders as they enter peace talks while a bomb-bearing zeppelin hovers overhead.

Later this same year, Rigg and Savalas would battle again in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

I really had fun with this movie, as sure, it’s a 1969 big budget and somewhat aged spy epic from a time unfamiliar to my American eyes. But man, Rigg is a delight and Oliver Reed is wonderful. And Telly seems to be having a great time, too.

The Arrow Video release of The Assassination Bureau has new audio commentary with authors Sean Hogan and Kim Newman; Right Film, Wrong Time, a 30-minute appreciation by critic, broadcaster and cultural historian Matthew Sweet; a trailer; an image gallery; a reversible sleeve featuring two original artwork choices and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Katherine McLaughlin and a set of six reproduction lobby cards from the original release. You can get it from MVD.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: The Sin of Adam and Eve (1969)

Miguel Zacarías is the same Michel Zacharias that executive produced Demonoid and The Bees, but before that he directed fifty-five films and wrote fifty-one. He directed and wrote this film and must have really enjoyed bringing religious films to the screen, because he also directed Jesus: Nuestro Senor, Jesus: el Nino Dios and Jesus, Maria Y Jose.

Yet this movie was sold in America by New World and that was probably because for most of the movie, Jorge Rivero (billed as George Rivers; you may know him as Mace from Fulci’s Conquest or from the Santo movies he co-starred in like Operation 67 and El tesoro de Moctezuma or the movie Fist Fighter and Fist Fighter 2 where he played the amazingly named C.J. Thunderbird) and Kandy (sold in America as Candy Wilson; she only appeared in one other film, Si vous n’aimez pas ça, n’en dégoûtez pas les autres, which translates as If You Don’t Like It, Don’t Disgust Others) are naked for the entire movie. Other than Kandy’s long hair spirit gummed to her chest and strategically placed scenery to keep one from seeing full frontal, this movie doesn’t skimp on the naked time, but then again, Rivero and Kandy have nearly perfect bodies.

This movie is set inside what 1969 thought the Garden of Eden looked like and after that apple gets bit into, well, it also turns into the best stock footage available as well as animal madness and this being Mexico, one can imagine that the ASPCA was nowhere near the set of this movie. There’s also a moment when giant flaming wooden daggers literally rain down, keeping Adam and Eve from finding one another until the end, when they have found loincloths and I’ve never been more upset about original sin.

Supposedly, Kandy was an American tourist lured into being in this movie. Can a Biblical film be sleazy? God bless you, Mexico.

ARROW BLU RAY RELEASE: The House That Screamed (1969)

Spain’s first major horror film production, The House that Screamed — AKA La residencia and The Boarding School — was based on a story by Juan Tébar. Because the cast had both English and Spanish actors, it was shot in both languages and then dubbed into English in post-production.

Directed and written by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador (Who Can Kill a Child?), it takes place at a school for girls — reforming them and making them acceptable wives for their future husbands — in 19th century France run by Headmistress Señora Fourneau (Lilli Palmer). Teresa Garan (Cristina Galbó, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) is a newcomer to the school and instantly notices just how strange of a place it is. For example, she always feels like she’s being watched.

Fourneau rules the school by the whip — quite literally, she has no problem beating her students into submission — and has Irene Tupan (Mary Maude), an older student, as her near WIP second-in-command.

Yet things are not alright. Students keep going missing, Teresa is bullied when the girls discover that her mother is a prostitute and Luis (John Moulder-Brown), Fourneau’s son, is in love with Teresa despite the rules of her mother, who believes that none of these girls are good enough for him. He was once interested in Isabelle (Maribel Martín, The Blood Spattered Bride) until his mother roughly help his face and intoned, “These girls are not good enough for you. What you need is a woman like me!”

That’s when the film literally goes Psycho and wipes out a main character and the narrative transforms an antagonist into the protagonist. The horror, however, is nowhere near over for anyone. That whole idea of Luis finding a woman just like his mother comes back to haunt the headmistress.

This movie is gorgeous, predating Argento’s Bird With the Crystal Plumage by a few months and Suspiria by eight years. It’s as much a slasher as a gothic horror movie and works as both, as well as having elements of giallo and women in prison films. Yet above all, it remains classy and has lush colors, incredible cinematography and luscious interiors, making this quite the furniture movie. Even better, you can see the movies that took from it — Pieces might be a tribute movie — even if it’s not a movie that’s discussed all that often in the U.S.

I hope that the new Arrow Video release can change that.

It comes with a brand new 2K restoration from the original negative by Arrow Films along with an audio commentary by critic Anna Bogutskaya. Extras include interviews with John Moulder-Brown, Mary Maude, Juan Tébar, the director’s son Alejandro Serrador and Spanish horror maestro Dr. Antonio Lázaro-Reboll. There’s also alternative footage from the original Spanish theatrical version, trailers, TV, radio spots and an image gallery. It comes inside a reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch and has an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Shelagh Rowan-Legg and double-sided fold-out poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Colin Murdoch. You can order The House That Screamed from MVD.

BLUE UNDERGROUND 4K RELEASE: Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site during the first Jess Franco month on February 1, 2022. I’m excited, though, because it’s been released on 4K UHD by Blue Underground.

The Blue Underground 4K UHD released oh Marquis de Sade: Justine has a brand-new 4K restoration from the uncensored original camera negative with Dolby Vision HDRand loaded with extras, including the alternate Deadly Sanctuary cut in HD for the first time ever.

It also has new audio commentary by film historians Nathaniel Thompson and Troy Howarth, an interview with Jess Franco and writer/producer Harry Alan Towers, Stephen Thrower discussing the film, an interview with Rosalba Neri, the French trailer, a poster and still gallery and in addition to the Deadly Sanctuary version, the shorter U.S. edit of the film in HD.

You can get it — and should — from MVD. 

After The Blood of Fu Manchu, producer Harry Alan Towers and Jess Franco wanted to make a more adult film and this movie was the result, made with a million dollar budget, which isn’t much for some people but would be one of Franco’s largest budgets.

There were still some issues, like how Rosemary Dexter (Eye in the Labyrinth) was supposed to play the lead, yet she was moved to the smaller role of Claudine when Romina Power was chosen by a Hollywood moneyman to play the lead. Franco was unhappy with her in the movie, saying “most of the time she didn’t even know we were shooting” and that he had to rewrite the story and move away from DeSade as she was so hard to reach.

Justine and Juliette (Maria Roma) are sisters who live in a convent, a place they’re taken from when he dies and leaves his gold behind. While Juliette goes to stay at Madame de Buisson’s (Carmen de Lirio) house of ill repute, learning the skills of the oldest business, her sister Justine goes to the church, where a priest introduces her to du Harpin (Akim Tamiroff), who hires her on as a maid, but it’s all a scheme to steal from his master and use her as a stooge, yet Justine escapes prison thanks to Madame Dubois (Mercedes McCambridge, can this movie have more great actors in it? Yes, it can.).

While all this is going on, Juliette and another prostitute named Claudine (yes, Rosemary Dexter who was supposed to be the lead) kill their boss and a client, stealing gold and going on the run all the way to Madame Dubois. The men there end up trying to assault her more innocent sister, as she runs to the home of an artist named Raymond (Harald Leipnitz) before being caught in the murderous games of the de Bressacs (Horst Frank and Sylva Koscina), which ends up getting her branded with an M — for murderess — on her breast.

I kind of love that every decision that Juliette makes is stuff like killing people and drowning her crime partners while Justine ends up trapped in all manner of Little Annie Fanny situations like being kidnapped by Father Antonin (Jack Palance) and his order of ascetics. Instead of studying and meditating, they’re making filthy love to anything that moves. When Father Antonin offers to free Justine from this world by making her a sacrifice, but she escapes yet again, finally finding her way back to her sister.

Meanwhile, the Marquis de Sade (Klaus Kinski) has hallucinated this all while stuck in prison, obsessed as always with female flesh. I mean, when Rosalba Neri is in the story you’re imagining, wouldn’t you? Also — just as a warning — Rosemary Dexter was 16 when she made this. Fair warning.

People often ask me, “What’s the one Jess Franco movie I should watch?” Depending on how well you can handle this material, this would be the best produced of his movies, filled with gorgeous settings, period perfect costumes, a wonderful Bruno Nicolai score and perhaps the most focused Franco I’ve seen, despite the fact that he wasn’t getting to make the movie that he wanted to make. And if you’re a maniac, I have a bunch more to tell you about.