Gamera vs. Guiron (1969)

Gamera tai Daiakujū Giron was released in the U.S. — on TV only — as Attack of the Monsters. At this stage in the Gamera series, the special effects are starting to not feel so special and there’s even more padding than in past films. But you know, Guiron looks so awesome — he has a giant sword nose and throws shuriken from around his eyes — that I can’t help but love this movie.

Two boys find a flying saucer and are taken on an adventure into space, where Gamera magically appears and rescues them from an asteroid field. But then, they go into hyperspace and a new Gyaos appears to attack their ship. That’s when Guiron shows up and slices that beast — which just gave Gamera so much grief — into small little bits, even beheading it, which seems way too far for what is supposed to be a kiddie film.

It turns out that the Space Gyaos are all over this planet called Terra, which is on the other side of the sun. Somehow, those scientists — some of the dumbest smart people in the world are in the Gamera movies — have never found their planet.

There are also twin alien women named Barbella and Florbella who control Guiron, who eventually gets out of control and cuts their spaceship in half. Florbella then kills the injured Barbella, explaining that useless members of their society are euthanized. What is she, in charge of the stock market?

Finally, Gamera does what you’ve wanted him to do all along: he slices that monster in half. Yes, unlike Godzilla, Gamera straight up eviscerates and annihilates his foes. Gamera would just heat blast them. Nope. Gamera is like, “You’re not getting up from this one.”

You can watch this on Vudu and Amazon Prime.

Dead of Night: A Darkness at Blaisedon (1969)

Between producer Dan Curtis, director Lela Swift, writer Sam Hall, Robert Cobert’s music and Thayer David and Louis Edmonds in lead roles, this pilot for a TV series seems like you’re watching an episode of Dark Shadows. Trust me, that’s not a bad thing.

Angela Martin (Marj Dusay, who was on All My Children and Guiding Light) is a young woman with a haunted house named Blaisedon on her hands. Luckily, two ghost hunters named Jonathan Fletcher (Kerwin Mathews, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) and Sajid Rowe (Cal Bellini, born in Singapore as Khalid Ibrahim, who enjoyed a quarter century of playing any minority that Hollywood needed; he was that ethnically ambiguous) are on the case.

It has many of the hallmarks of Dark Shadows — long forgotten relatives, ghosts, possession and the idea that nearly every housekeeper has some dark, sinister secret. The fashions are also pretty great

While the series wasn’t bought by ABC, they did air it on August 26, 1969. You can catch it as an extra on the Dead of Night DVD or watch it on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

The Sidehackers (1969)

What the hell is a sidehacker?

It’s racing motorcycles with sidehacks, which is a sidecar with a rail but no sidewalls or seat. As the bikes race, the passenger rides and tilts around curves. Sidehacking is also known as sidecarcross or sidecar motocross racing. The fact that it has a movie made about it doesn’t astound me. After all, I’ve watched movies about arm wrestling (Over the TopHands of Steel) and even games that don’t really exist like BASKetball and The Game from The Blood of Heroes.

Surely I can make it through a movie about side hacking, I thought. But man — what a ride. I nearly wiped out.

Ross Hagen, who was in SupercockThe Devil’s Eight and Alienator (amongst many others), plays Rommel, who is a bike mechanic who dreams of sidehacking stardom. That’s a thing, I guess.

He runs into JC (Michael Pataki!), another sidehacker who is abusive to everyone in his gang, including his girl Paisely, who promptly tries to seduce our hero. Or protagonist. Or guy we’re supposed to get behind. He turns her down, JC beats her up and blames Rommel and then the gang all descends on our man and his lady Rita (Diane McBain, Wicked Wicked).

Robert Tessler, a stuntman who formed Stunts Unlimited with Hal Needham, is in this, as is the writer of the film Tony Huston (he also would write The Hellcats) and Hoke Howell (Humanoids from the Deep).

This was directed by former Broadway dancer — and husband of Goldie Hawn — Gus Trikonis, who also brought The EvilMoonshine County ExpressNashville GirlTake This Job and Shove It and Supercock to the big screen.

It ends as all biker movies must, with the hero killed for no good reason. Ah 1969, when the kids had given up on life.

You can watch this with help from Mystery Science Theater 3000 on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969)

Based on The Forbidden Garden by Ursula Curtiss, this movie was produced by Robert Aldrich, America’s finest purveyor of hagsploitation. After all, this is the same man who made What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte. 

This time, your crazy older women are played by Geraldine Page and Ruth Gordon, despite Page only being 43 at the time of filming.

Claire Marrable (Page) is the widow of a prominent businessman who died in debt, giving her only a briefcase and his collections of butterflies and stamps in death. Upon moving to Tucson to be closer to her nephew George, Claire begins her career of serially killing housekeepers.

Soon, she begins a cold war with both her newest housekeeper Alice Dimmock (Gordon) and Harriet Vaughn, a much younger widow. Peter Bonerz, who was Dr. Jerry on the original Bob Newhart Show is in this, too.

Lee H. Katzin — who directed the first episodes of Man from Atlantis and Automan — replaced Bernard Girard (Dead Heat on a Merry-Go-Round) as the director of this movie after only one month of filming.

At one point, Aldrich announced that he would make a third What Ever Happened to… film. What Ever Happened to Dear Elva?, based on the novel Goodbye, Dear Elva by Elizabeth Fenwick, was planned but never made.

Box Office Failures Week: Hello, Dolly! (1969)

While Hello, Dolly would win three Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Best Score of a Musical Picture and Best Sound — while also being nominated for four other Academy Awards including Best Picture — the movie was a failure and took years to finally break even.

The filming of the movie was filled with arguments between nearly everyone. Co-stars Barbara Streisand and Walter Matthau came to blows on the hot June day with Robert Kennedy was killed. All it took was a sneeze to set the cantankerous Matthau off, who supposedly yelled, “You might be the singer in this picture, but I’m the actor! You haven’t got the talent of a butterfly’s fart!”

Streisand remembered it differently, that Matthau just went off on her, leaving her crying for days.

Director Gene Kelly saw it as a typical dispute about stepping on each other’s lines and thought that a quick meeting resolved everything.

But to the public, the story became the diva Streisand against the henpecked and suffering Matthau.

Matthau definitely had no love lost for the singer. When he and co-star Michael Crawford visited a nearby racetrack and noticed that a horse named Hello Dolly was racing. Matthau refused to bet on it because it reminded him of Babs. Crawford placed a bet anyway and that horse won the race. As a result, Matthau now also refused to talk to Crawford.

That said, Streisand also battled Kelly over the “Before the Parade Passes By” scene, with the singer going over the director’s head and bringing in the producer, behind Kelly’s back. 

To top all that off, choreographer Michael Kidd warred with costume designer Irene Sharaff and Kelly to the point that he and the legendary song and dance man were no longer speaking to one another.

This was an incredibly expensive film and the costs started when the movie hadn’t even been filmed yet. In order to get the play off Broadway — a clause in the 1965 film sale contract specified that the film could not be released until June 1971 or when the show closed on Broadway, whichever came first — Fox had to pay $2 million dollars for an early release escape payment.

The film’s final budget — $24 million dollars ($186 million in today’s money) nearly took down 20th Century Fox.

But hey — the movie is awesome. Seriously, it’s the loudest, biggest, play it to the back row musical extravaganza ever. Just by 1968, did the kids want to see a musical like this any longer? One wonders, as the same studio also released Star and Doctor Doolittle, two more musical stinkers. Only a re-release of The Sound of Music in 1973 would reverse the studio’s fortunes.

All of New York City is excited because Dolly Levi (Streisand) is back in town. Never mind that Barbara was about twenty or more years too young to play this part, robbing the original play of its emotional resonance.

She’s here to find a wife for Yonkers-based half-a-millionaire and full grump Horace Vandergelder (Matthau), but of course, she really wants him all for herself. There’s also the matter of artistic Ambrose Kemper (Tommy Tune), a young artist who wants to marry Horace’s niece Ermengard. And then there are the two employers of Vandergelder’s Hay and Feed, Cornelius Hackl (Michael Crawford, yes, Condorman) and Barnaby Tucker (Danny Lockin, who played the role on Broadway afterward; he was killed after being stabbed a hundred times in the 70’s) who are looking for love themselves.

One of the women they’re after is Irene Molloy, who is played by Marianne McAndrew. After this movie, she’d marry Stewart Moss and star with him in The Bat People. The other is Minnie Fay, who is played by E.J. Peaker, who is also in Graduation Day.

The highlight of the film is the Harmonia Gardens scene, where Dolly arrives to great bombast and Louie Armstrong singing in a scene that never fails to make me cry. Hijinks, of course, ensue and everyone winds up with the person they deserve and all live happily ever after, even if it seems like Matthau’s character will always be cantankerous.

Seriously, that Harmonia Gardens set is unlike anything we’ll ever see again. In all, this sequence took an entire month to film. It filled an entire sound stage and had three levels, with a main section, a dance floor and an upper mezzanine. It’s so massive that the wall behind the check-out girl is the same wall as the ballroom from The Sound of Music and the ornate glass windows were reused to create the dining room skylights in The Poseidon Adventure. You can also see the sets reused as the mutants’ Grand Central Station tribunal room and ruined St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Beneath the Planet of the Apes. And the fountain also shows up in The Towering Inferno.

If we didn’t have this movie, how else would WALL-E learn about love? And believe it or not, this was the first movie commercially released on home video in the United States.

BONUS: You can listen to us discuss this movie on our podcast.

Night, After Night, After Night (1969)

A Jack the Ripper-type serial killer is loose and it looks like the most obvious suspect is a transvestite judge. Yes, it’s 1969 in London and there’s all manner of kinky goings-on, as this proto-slasher and Argento-predating giallo gleefully shows.

It’s directed by Lindsay Shotneff, who also brought you Devil DollCurse of the Voodoo and several James Bond-esque films like Licensed to Kill, No. 1 of the Secret Service, Licensed to Love and Kill and Number One Gun.

I’m fairly obsessed by late 60’s and 70’s London, with all its tawdry excesses and scandals. This movie fits right in, a scummy, darkly shot film that earns its U.S. video release title, Night Slasher.

Linda Marlowe, who would later appear in Shotneff’s films The Big Zapper and The Swordsman as Harriet Zapper, is in this. So is Jack May, who would be the voice of Igor on TV’s Count Duckula. And Jack May, who was in a series called Adam Adamant Lives!, which aired on the BBC in 1966 that I have to track down. It’s all about adventurer Adam Adamant, who was frozen alive in a block of ice by his arch-nemesis the Face. In 1966, he’s revived into the swinging world of 1960’s London, much like a reverse Austin Powers, getting right back to a life of adventure. Ridley Scott made his directing debut on this show.

So yeah. London. Sex. Murder. Tough cops. Hippies. Tough talk. Thick accents. It moves faster than most British crime films at the time and you won’t feel like you wasted your time, governor.

The Mad Doctor of Blood Island (1969)

Ten years after we first got to Blood Island, we’re back. Eddie Romero and Gerardo de Leon are back in the directing chair and this time, they’ve brought even more blood, beasts and boobs than they did in their last effort, Brides of Blood.

This film was syndicated to TV as Tomb of the Living Dead and is also known as The Mad Doctor of Crimson Island, because in some states like Rhode Island, the word blood wasn’t allowed to be used when advertising a movie.

After Brides of Blood, John Ashley discovered that the film was so well-received that distributors asked him to make more. He moved to the Philippines and got to work.

The film starts with an initiation, as at some theaters, you were given a packet of green liquid and asked to recite the oath of green blood so that you could watch the unnatural green-blooded ones without fear of contamination. Years later, Sam Sherman said that he came up with this idea and when he drank one of the packets, he got incredibly sick. The film’s other gimmick is to rapidly zoom in and out, like Fulci on speed, any time a monster shows up. That was to cover the bad special effects, but it made plenty of theatergoers sick. Man — bad green liquid and frequent pans and zooms. It’s as if they wanted kids to puke!

A woman runs naked through a jungle before a green-skinned monster kills her. Yes, that’s how you start a movie!

Then we meet our heroes, like pathologist Dr. Bill Foster (Ashley), Sheila Willard (Angelique Pettyjohn, who was famously in the Star Trek episode “The Gamesters of Triskelion” as well as early 80’s hardcore films like Titillation, Stalag 69 and Body Talk) and Carlos Lopez (Ronaldo Valdez, who would become the first Filipino Kentuck Fried Chicken Colonel).

The captain of the ship that got them there tells them how the island is cursed and how its people bleed green blood. Everything falls apart — Sheila’s dad, who she hoped to take home, is now a drunk. And Carlos’ mother refuses to leave, even after the mysterious death of her husband.

It turns out that Dr. Lorca has been experimenting on the natives, who just want to be healthy. Instead, they’re getting turned into green beasts that murder everything they can. Look out everyone! I hope you’ve drank your green blood before this all began!

Angelique Pettyjohn claimed that the love scene with John Ashley was not simulated. Well, seeing as how Severin finally found the uncut film and I haven’t seen any penetration, I think she’s full of it. But who am I to doubt her?

To make this even better, the American trailer of this is narrated by Brother Theodore!

You can get this from Severin or watch it on Amazon Prime.

The Witchmaker (1969)

I first encountered this movie halfway through a showing in the middle of the night and had no idea what it was. That’s something that people that stream movies miss out on — the total confusion and need to know that arises when you discover a completely deranged movie in the middle of its running time in the small hours of the night.

William O. Brown only made one other movie, One Way Wahine. That’s a shame because I totally love what he had happening here in The Witchmaker. It’s just plain strange in the very best of ways.

Somewhere in the swamps of Louisiana, young women are being killed and drained of their plasma by Luther the Berserk, who is part of a coven of witches that has drawn Dr. Hayes (Alvy Moore, Hank Kimball from Green Acres) and his group of psychic investigators.

The coven’s leader Jessie — who appears in young and old forms — wants a member of Dr. Hayes’ group named Anastasia (Thordis Brandt, who played an Amazon in In Like Flint), who has supernatural ancestors, to join them.

There’s an interesting and probably unintended theme running through this movie, where the straight-laced older male scientists want to save the buxom blonde Anastasia and the witches and warlock just want to free her (and you know, make her a wanton woman. Can the patriarchy win out?

Six years later, this movie was re-released under the title Naked Witch with footage that earns it that title.

Alvy Moore was also the producer of this movie and would team with L.Q. Jones again to make A Boy and His Dog and The Brotherhood of Satan. You can also buy the blu ray from Ronin Flix.

You can watch this on Tubi and Amazon Prime.

Angeli Bianchi… Angeli Neri (White Angel …Black Angel) (1969(

Angeli Bianchi… Angeli Neri comes from director Luigi Scattini, who started his career as a journalist before directing movies like Primitive Love with Jayne Mansfield and War Italian Style with Buster Keaton.

One of the best things about this mondo film — a genre that is pretty much reality TV before that was a thing or the kind of shows that most folks love on cable today — is the collaboration between composer Piero Umiliani and director Luigi Scattini.

As the film was shot mostly in Brazil — where else would you go to show off the world of black magic, devil-worshipping and pagan rituals — the soundtrack was partly record there with the help of local musicians and instruments before being finished in Rome with artists like Alessandro Alessandroni and his octet vocal group Cantori Moderni (who composed the music for The Opening of Misty Beethoven and The Devil’s Nightmare), Nora Orlandi (who wrote music for The Sweet Body of Deborah and The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh) and Edda Dell’Orso, who provided wordless vocals to the scores of Ennio Morricone.

The score is a psychedelic treat, combining modern and ambient tones of 1969 with bossa nova and samba. That’s kind of perfect for this X rated exploration of the occult circa 1969.

This film is the tamer side of Witchcraft ’70, just with non-violent nudity in the place of the madness that American audiences demanded. It also has a billion times better time, because it makes you wonder — exactly what am I getting into? All occult movies should feel that way for their audiences.

This movie also has so many amazing poster designs that I couldn’t decide which to use for the article. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are several of them.

The Girl from Rio (1969)

Jess Franco, come on down. Welcome back to B&S About Movies! I see that you’re here today with The Girl From Rio, a sequel to The Million Eyes of Sumuru and based on Sax Rohmer’s Sumuru character. You did have help on this one — it was written and produced by Harry Alan Towers, who collaborated with you on films like 99 Women, Venus in Furs, Marquis de Sade: Justine, Eugenie… The Story of Her Journey into Perversion, The Bloody Judge and Count Dracula. He also produced the White Fang film that Fulci directed and 1983’s Fanny Hill, a movie that was my girlfriend for many years in the 1980’s.

Let’s take a break from you and discuss Towers, whose career started as the son of a theatrical agent who became a child actor. He began syndicating radio shows before producing films, including five Fu Manchu movies. In between all that, he ran a vice ring that implicated the United Nations, JFK, Peter Lawford and Stephen Ward, one of the central figures in the Profumo scandal.

But back to you, Mr. Franco. This movie, you did it all. You had women. You had violence. And you had pans in to the sun that lasted for over a minute in the place of any narrative. God bless you.

A co-production between West Germany, Spain and the United States, this movie is also known as The Seven Secrets of Sumuru, City Without Men, Sumuru Queen of Femina, Rio 70 and Future Women.

Secret agent Jeff Sutton shows up in Rio with millions of bucks and walks right into a war between British gangster Sir Masius (George Sanders, an actor so well known that The Kinks mentioned him in song) and Sumuru (Shirley Eaton, a sex symbol who was Jill Masterson in Goldfinger). This lady boss runs the secret world of Femina, gathering women ready to conquer the world. And when things get bad, she chooses death — don’t worry, she makes it out alive — rather than giving up her power.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime with and without the crew from Rifftrax.