ARROW BOX SET RELEASE: Giallo Essentials: Blue Edition

Arrow Video continues its exploration of giallo with its fourth box set after the Black, RedYellow and White editions of Giallo Essentials.

In the early 1970s, when the giallo boom was at its peak, producer-turned-director Luciano Ercoli made  three standalone — but thematically linked — giallo films all starring his wife Nieves Navarro under the name Susan Scott. This set shares those movies in one convenient and well-priced edition.

The Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion (1970): Minou (Dagmar Lassander, The House by the Cemetery) loves her husband, Peter. But Peter is cold and only really seems to care about work. All she does all day is pine for her husband and take care of a turtle. Yep. You just read that correctly.

One night, a mysterious stranger attacks her, cuts open her clothes and then warns her: her husband is a killer.

The mysterious man is proven correct when a man who owed Peter money shows up dead. He demands that she come to his home, where he blackmails her into sleeping with him. Seeing as how he has recorded their tryst, he now has more material on her.

Even her friend Dominique (Nieves Navarro, All the Colors of the Dark, who was married to the director, Luciano Ercoli) can’t be trusted, as Minou finds photos of the blackmailer in provocative poses in her possession. When she finally gets the police to investigate, the man’s home is empty and Dominique tells the police he never even existed. Oh yeah. Dominique was once Peter’s woman before Minou. So there’s that.

Minou has a nervous breakdown and overdoses on tranquilizers before sobering up and learning that it’s all been a plot against her from the beginning. But come on — if you’ve watched any giallo, you knew that going in.

Despite its lurid title, Forbidden Photos of a Woman Above Suspicion isn’t filled with sex or even all that much violence. It’s more about alcoholism and how women were taught that they had to have the skills to land a man, but not what to do with their lives to make them fulfilled beyond just a relationship.

Director Luciano Ercoli has some gorgeous shots in here that really take advantage of the space age 1960’s aesthetic. And a bossa nova score by Ennio Morricone keeps this film bouncing. It wouldn’t be the first giallo I’d recommend, but it’s not the last, either.

Extras include commentary by Kat Ellinger; Private Pictures, a documentary featuring interviews with Navarro, Ercoli and Gastaldi; an appreciation of the music of  70s Italian cult cinema by musician and soundtrack collector Lovely Jon; a Q&A with Lassander; the Italian and English trailers and an image gallery.

Death Walks On High Heels (1970): 

A man is stabbed on a train, leading the police to question Nicole (giallo queen Nieves Navarro) about diamonds that are missing. Her life turns upside down, as she begins to receive disguised phone calls asking about the diamonds and a blue-eyed masked man attacks her in her boudoir. She then remembers that her jealous lover Michel owns contact lenses in that color, so she runs away with an older eye surgeon to the coast of England. But Michel isn’t far behind…

The first of three giallo directed by Navarro’s husband, Luciano Ercoli, this is what the genre should be: shocking, lurid, bloody and oh so fashionable. It also makes a deft turn from what we expect from the form into an actual mystery film.

There’s a plot twist here that honestly shocked me, so I won’t spoil it. While the other two films in the Ercoli giallo trilogy are much better, this is still a quality film worthy of your time. Some critics decry them as Ercoli making movies just to feature his wife, but if you had a quality woman like Navarro in your life, I bet you’d do the same.

This comes with audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas, an introduction to the film by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, an interview with Ercoli and actress Navarro, Gastaldi explaining how to write a successful giallo, an interview with composer Stelvio Cipriani and Italian and English trailers. These extras are a sheer joy for giallo lovers and what an opportunity to hear from Ercoli, Navarro and Gastaldi.

Death Walks At Midnight (1972): Nieves Navarro is a true queen of giallo, appearing in All the Colors of the Dark, Forbidden Photos of a Lady Above Suspicion, So Sweet, So Dead and Death Walks on High Heels. Here, she makes her third film with her husband, Luciano Ercoli.

In this one, she plays a fashion model named Valentina who agrees to help her journalist beau study LSD. But while she’s dosed and in the middle of a photo shoot, she watches a man brutally murder a woman with a spiked gauntlet. He thinks she’s just hallucinating and publishes her account, but she believes it’s real. And when the killer starts stalking her, she really starts to worry.

The entire opening of the film is one big acid freakout and everything that follows is the bad trip, the comedown and reality brutally intruding into drugged out bliss. This is a film packed with brutal violence and plenty of gore, but it makes sense. The movie demands it.

The end, when everything is wrapped up by the killer (killers?) is pretty great, as the many red herrings are discussed and the entire plot is finally explained to us. If everything before felt like a nightmare, this is bracingly cold water directly to the face.

Even better, Navarro portrays a heroine who doesn’t faint at the first sign of danger. She deals with the ineffectual police and indifference of her boyfriend with aplomb.

And yes — this film is packed with bonkers crazy fashion — a metal/glass silver wig and a strange sculpted wall feature prominently — so if that’s why you love giallo, you’ll be quite happy here. Me? I loved every minute.

This release comes with audio commentary by film critic Tim Lucas, an introduction by screenwriter Ernesto Gastaldi, an extended TV version, a reflection by Gastaldi reflects on his career in the crime film-writing business and Desperately Seeking Susan, a visual essay by Michael Mackenzie exploring the distinctive giallo collaborations between director Luciano Ercoli and star Nieves Navarro. If you love giallo — or are just getting into it — all of these extras will open deepen your love for the form; Lucas is one of the best commentary track experts there is.

This limited edition Arrow Video box set comes in rigid packaging with the original poster artwork in a windowed Giallo Essentials Collection slipcover. You’ll enjoy 2K restorations for all three films as well as reversible sleeves for each film featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by The Twins of Evil and Gilles Vranckx.

You can get this from MVD.

VIDEO ARCHIVES WEEK: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970)

VIDEO ARCHIVES NOTES: This movie was discussed on the December 6, 2022 episode of the Video Archives podcast and can be found on their site here.

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, the creators and writers of Sherlock, credited this movie as a source of inspiration for their project. It attempts to tell the real story of Sherlock Holmes (Robert Stephens) and Dr. John Watson (Colin Blakely).

It is made up of two stories. In the first, a man named Rogozhin (Clive Revill) wants Holmes to have a child with ballerina Madame Petrova (Tamara Toumanova), but he tells her that he is in love with Watson. Whether or not that is true is left up to the viewer. In the second, Holmes rescues the drowning Gabrielle Valladon (Geneviève Page) and she asks him to save her husband, which leads him to Loch Ness, a place where he sees the legendary sea serpent and learns that his brother Mycroft (Christopher Lee) is creating a submarine for World War One. Queen Elizabeth says that the ship is unsporting, so Mycroft allows the Germans — posing as monks — to steal it and arrests Valladon, who is actually a German spy named lse von Hoffmanstal.

Director Billy Wilder said of the film, “I should have been more daring. I have this theory. I wanted to have Holmes homosexual and not admitting it to anyone, including maybe even himself. The burden of keeping it secret was the reason he took dope.” That said, Holmes does fall for the spy and is so moved by the revelation of her death that he disappears into his room to do cocaine.

When this came out on laserdisc, several deleted scenes — some not even filmed — were included. The first is a framing device that would have Dr. Watson’s grandson picking up a box full of his grandfather’s writing; a scene on a train that would take Holmes and Watson to 221B Baker Street; “The Curious Case of the Upside Down Room” in which Watson creates a case to get Holmes out of his drug haze; “The Adventure of the Dumbfounded Detective” of which only the script survives and Holmes discussing winning a race and a night with a sex worker. He had fallen for another girl and wanted to keep his purity, only to learn that the girl and prostitute were the same person, which is why he is emotionally uninvolved; “The Dreadful Business of the Naked Honeymooners,” a story where Holmes asked Watson to solve a case and two epilogue scenes where Holmes avoids being involved in the Jack the Ripper investigation and another that was similar to the end of Wilder’s Some Like It Hot.

The Loch Ness Monster in the film actually sank into the water and was lost for fifty years. The model was built by Wally Veevers with a neck and two humps. Wilder wanted no humps, which made the model too heavy. It sank and needed to be made all over again. In 2016, after sightings of Nessie in one section of the Loch, the lost model from the movie was brought back above the surface.

Ghetto Freaks (1970)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Regional independent film made in Cleveland, Ohio and released originally under the titles Love Commune, The Aquarians, The Wages of Sin, and Sign of Aquarius, this pseudo-musical was one of many from that era that attempted to capitalize on the hippie trend and the popularity of Hair. Then it was released again more than a year later under this version, with a new marketing campaign to capitalize on the popularity of Blaxploitation films. 

How might these two genres cross over? Well, they don’t. Ghetto Freaks is the same movie as the earlier versions, with two minutes of footage added. Thie new scene features an African American guy in a robe performing some sort of blood ritual and has nothing to do with anything else in the film. With a cast of mostly white kids, plus one black guy and no literal ghetto freaks, it must have been a disappointing experience for anyone who went into this version expecting the next Shaft.  

In 2023, it serves as a wonderful time capsule. The clothes, hairstyles, lingo, and furniture are far out, man. It’s a slice-of-life film where the cast randomly breaks into song and dance. The narrative follows the daily (sometimes mundane) activities of a group of hippies. They pretty much do what you’d expect them to. They panhandle and bitch about “the man” to anyone on the street that walks past them. They protest the war in Vietnam go to a club (owned by co-director John Pappas) to listen to groovy music. One evening, the main man Sonny (Cincinnati’s Paul Elliot) meets a naïve runaway teen girl named Donna (Gabe Lewis) who joins their commune.  

Back in their squat, Donna is inducted into the hippie life. They sit around, smoke pot, philosophize endlessly, dance around nude, paint each other and have group sex. There’s one scene of a pregnant girl going on a really bad acid trip, allowing the directors to get creative with lenses and lighting.  

There’s also something resembling a plotline where a dangerous drug dealer threatens Sonny and Donna’s newfound happiness by pressuring Sonny to sell drugs for the neighborhood gangs. Donna dies tragically because of Sonny’s refusal. 

Released on a double bill with the far superior anti-drug message film Way Out (1967) by Something Weird in 2009, it’s unclear where Ghetto Freaks stand on the issue. The filmmakers include some scenes that make it look fun and other scary ones. While their efforts to grab as wide an audience as possible are noteworthy, it didn’t work. Hence the alternate titles, re-releases, and re-vamped marketing campaigns. 

Older people from the Cleveland area will likely get a thrill from seeing all their favorite places preserved on film as they existed in the late 1960s. For the rest of us, it’s slow going. 

APRIL MOVIE THON 2: Matalo! (1970)

April 30: How the (Not) West Was Won — A Western not made in America.

It would take other film industries decades to equal the sheer volume that the Italian exploitation machine could accomplish. In the four years since Django and five since A Fistful of Dollars and West and Soda, a traditionally animated movie whos escreation predates Leone’s film, hundreds of cowboys thundered out of the European West and several genres emerged, from comedies and zapata westerns to films centered on the tragic hero, horror westerns and this film, which is uncatagorizable but could maybe be an acid horror art deconstruction.

Cesare Canevari only directed nine movies, but wow if he didn’t hit nearly every genre: an early Western (Per un dollaro a Tucson si muore), giallo (A Hyena In the Safe), an early Italian Emmanuelle (A Man for Emmanuelle), Eurospy (Un tango dalla Russia), Ajita Wilson’s first movie (The Nude Princess), late era giallo with plenty of sleaze (Killing of the Flesh) and Naziploitation (the go all the way madness that is  The Gestapo’s Last Orgy).

It starts with a desperado named Bart (Corrado Pani) walking through the town as cocky as possible, despite the fact that he’s headed to the gallows. He even puts his own neck in the noose, knowing that some Mexican bandits are about to save his neck. His walk back out of town is even more audacious, as he’s just stood on the precipice of death and watched the chaos that he has ordered come true. He somehow tops that by killing off the men who saved him before meeting up with his friends Ted (Antonio Salines) and Phil (Luis Dávila) in a ghost town where the movie decides to slow down as they explore an abandoned hotel as electric guitars scream and wind blows through every frame of this film.

They’re joined by Mary (Claudia Gravy, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, Tuareg: The Desert Warrior), a snarling force of female nature that finds herself strong enough to be on the side of stagecoach robbing evil. That robbery seems to cost Bart his life and the film switches gears as the gang hides out in the ghost town, abusing an old woman until Ray (Lou Castel) and a younger widow (Mirella Pamphili) arrive and they too are abused by the gang. Luckily, Ray has a horse who seems smarter than him and he’s quite good with a boomerang, which this movie uses for wild POV shots as he whips them at the gunmen.

What’s wild is that a year earlier, Dio non paga il sabato (Kill the Wickeds) was directed by Tanio Boccia and it’s nearly the same movie but shot as if it were a normal film, not the sometimes wandering, other times hyperfocused Matalo!

10TH ANNUAL OLD SCHOOL KUNG FU FEST: The Grand Passion (1970)

Lu Xiao-Ling (Polly Shan-kuan) and her brother Lu Liu (Pai Ying) are young rebels and part of the Southern Song Dynasty. Tasked with moving a document that will allow two allied armies to finally come together to defeat the despised Jin army that has occupied China, this film is about the clandestine meetings and secret paths that the two will undertake to save their homeland. Also, Lu Xiao-Ling has the wildest martial arts weapon ever: she can throw coins with deadly efficiency.

This week, I’ve touched on how it took King Hu years and years to make A Touch of Zen. In fact, it took so much time that assistant director Tu Chung-hsun made A City Called Dragon while the cast and crew was waiting. But it also took so long that Yang Shih-Ching also took the cast and crew to make this movie.  And when you have fights between Polly aand Pai Ying against Lung Fei, Shan Mao, Chang Yi kwai and Chen Shi Wei, well, the results won’t be boring.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can watch The Grand Passion Friday, April 28 at 7:15 PM

in Theater 1 at Metrograph and Subway Cinema in New York City. It’s part of the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023!

Tickets are on sale right here!

10TH ANNUAL OLD SCHOOL KUNG FU FEST: A City Called Dragon (1970)

King Hu’s A Touch of Zen took so long to make that his assistant director Tu Chung-Hsun and the cast made a whole different movie, the one you’re about to read about.

Shang Yen-Chih the Jade Dragonfly (Feng Hsu) is in trouble. She was supposed to get plans to defeat the invading Manchu army from her contact in Dragon City and when she gets there, he and his entire family — nearly eighty of them — are dead. Now, she has to find the plans, get revenge on Commander Bu Lung (Shih Chun) and get out alive.

Sure, it’s wuxia, but it’s closer to a spy movie than an out and out fight film. That’s what makes this stand out and it’s still wild that everyone went back to working on A Touch of Zen and King Hu was probably waiting for a particular plant to be in bloom or a roof to have the perfect aged look that had to come from nature and not paint.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can watch A City Called Dragon on Sunday, April 23 at 7:15 PM in Theater 1 at Metrograph and Subway Cinema in New York City. It’s part of 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: Bloody Mama (1970)

April 5: Roger Corman’s birthday — Whether he produced or directed the movie, share a movie for Corman’s birthday.

PS: Thanks to Joe Sherlock for pointing out that — like always — I confused Bloody Mama with Crazy Mama.

Gene Siskel gave Bloody Mama 1 star and said that it was “92 minutes of sado-masochism, incest, satyrism and voyeurism woven into a disgraceful screenplay. In fact, the whole treatment might be called embarrassed Bonnie and Clyde.”


As far as a hero in this movie, I guess it would be Ma Barker (Shelley Winters), a woman so damaged by the constant assaults of her brothers and father that she’s emerged as a woman constantly in demand of new lovers and attacking everyone around her. She leaves her husband George (Alex Nicol) and takes her sons Lloyd (Robert De Niro), Arthur (Clint Kimbrough), Herman (Don Stroud) and Fred (Robert Walden) on a murder-filled crime spree across America.

Herman and Fred get busted, so the gang adds gunman — and new lover for Ma — Kevin Dirkman (Bruce Dern) and prostitute Mona Gibson (Diane Varsi). But Kevin and Fred were once in a prison relationship, so this makes him resent his mom. Lloyd starts feeling the same way after a girl he’s fallen for — and by fallen for, I mean raped several times — named Rembrandt (Pamela Dunlap) gets drowned in a tub by Ma. Things get even worse when the boys see Sam Pendlebury (Pat Hingle) — a millionaire they’ve kidnapped — as their father figure and when they release him, Herman takes over, punching Ma in the face.

Stroud punched Winters so hard that he put her in the hospital for a day.

As the family makes its way to the Everglades, Lloyd overdoses, Mona runs and the remaining gang shoot an alligator with a tommy gun, which brings everyone and anyone the law has their way. Spoiler. No gang member makes it out alive, with Herman horrifyingly blowing his brains out with a machine gun and Ma dying on the porch, screaming and shooting and taking as many cops with her as she can.

The credits say that any similarity to anyone living or dead is coincidental, but the final title says that any similarity to Kate Barker is intentional. Was Ma Barker really in charge of her gang? J. Edgar Hoover stated that she was “the most vicious, dangerous, and resourceful criminal brain of the last decade.” Others claim that he said that because his agents went wild when capturing the gang and killed them all, even their innocent mother.

In the book John Dillinger Slept Here: A Crooks’ Tour of Crime and Corruption in St. Paul, 1920–1936, it’s stated that “Her age and apparent respectability permitted the gang to hide out disguised as a family. As Mrs. Hunter and Mrs. Anderson, she rented houses, paid bills, shopped and did household errands. Alvin Karpis was probably the real leader of the gang, and he later said that Ma was just “an old-fashioned homebody from the Ozarks.” She was superstitious, gullible, simple, cantankerous and, well, generally law-abiding.”

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: The Student Nurses (1970)

When Roger Corman got New World Pictures running, he hired Stephanie Rothman — who started working for him since 1964 as his assistant — to write and direct its second film. Rothman had no idea what an exploitation movie was until she saw a review that called her movie one.

She said to Interview, “I had never heard that term before. Roger never used it. So that’s how I learned that I had made an exploitation film. Then I went and did some research to find out exactly what exploitation films were, their history and so forth, and then I knew that’s what I was doing, because I was making low-budget films that were transgressive in that they showed more extreme things than what would be shown in a studio film, and whose success depended on their advertising, because they had no stars in them. It was dismaying to me, but at the same time I decided to make the best exploitation films I could. If that was going to be my lot, then that’s what I was going to try and do with it.”

The genius of Rothman is that she could take the expected — men have fantasies over nurses — and make a movie that sure, has all the nudity that the exploitation tag demands, but also challenge viewers and make them see more than just breasts.

In an interview with Henry Jenkins, she said, “…we were free to develop the story of the nurses as we wished, as long as there was enough nudity and violence distributed throughout it. Please notice, I did not say sex, I said nudity. This freedom, once I paid my debt to the requirements of the genre, allowed me to address what interested me… political and social conflicts and the changes they produce. It allowed me to have a dramatized discussion about issues that were then being ignored in big-budget major studio films: for example, a discussion about the economic problems of poor Mexican immigrants… and their unhappy, restive children; and a discussion about a woman’s right to have a safe and legal abortion when, at the time, abortion was still illegal in America. I have always wondered why the major studios were not making films about these topics. What kind of constraints were at work on them? My guess is that it was nothing but the over-privileged lives, limited curiosity and narrow minds of the men, and in those days they were always men, who decided which films would be made.”

Keep in mind, Rothman made this in 1970, when women were still fighting to be seen as equal.

There are four student nurses, all sharing the same house as they navigate the adult world for the first time. Phred (Karen Carlson) is in love with Dr. Jim (Lawrence P. Casey) but accidentally ends up in his roomate’s bed. Sharon (Elaine Giftos) loses her objectivity when helping a terminally ill boy try and live. Lynn (Xenia Gratsos) decides that hospitals aren’t really treating people that really need it, so she starts a free clinic with a revolutionary named Victor Charlie (Reni Santoni). Priscilla (Barbara Leigh, who didn’t just date Elvis and Steve McQueen, but was the first live model to wear the Vampirella costume on the cover of the magazine) is the free spirit that ends up in the arms of a drug dealing biker who knocks her up and drives away, leaving her all alone to get an abortion from Dr. Jim, Lynn and Sharon in a brutal scene that Rothman juxtaposes with tender lovemaking moment.

It’s all very Valley of the Dolls but with a message and not sheer insanity inside. And it moves, let me tell you, it flies. Acid trips, love, loss, pain, growing into who you will be. There are a lot of big messages in here. And yes, lots of breasts. But those are the prerequisites for Rothman to tell her story. Corman asked her to direct a sequel to either this or The Big Doll House, but she turned both down. After The Velvet Vampire, she left for Dimension Pictures. After nearly a decade of trying to make movies her way, she quit around 1978. She told the Austin Chronicle, “For a few years I ran a small proto-union for a group of University of California professors, doing their lobbying and writing a political newsletter about labor issues of concern to them. Then, starting with a small inheritance, I began to invest in commercial real estate.”

She’s said she looked back on her career with both satisfaction and regret, never making the movies she really wanted to make. Even then, she made something out of nothing.

As for Corman, he nearly owned the market on young girls doing jobs in a sexy way after this, including more nurses (The Young Nurses, Private Duty Nurses, Candy Strip Nurses and Night Call Nurses), models (Cover Girl Models), stewardesses (Fly Me) and teachers (Summer School Teachers and The Student Teachers).  They’re good, but not this good.

You can watch this on Tubi.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Scream of the Demon Lover (1970)

Scream of the Demon Lover goes by many names. Blood CastleIl castello dalle porte di fuoco (The Castle With Doors of Fire). El Castillo de FrankesteinKillers of the Castle of BloodAltar of BloodEl asesino del castillo sangriento (The Bloody Castle Killer). Scream of the Demon LoverLe monstre du château (The Castle Monster). Murhaaja kauhujen linnassa (The Murderer In the Castle of Horrors, what a title!). Ivanna: El castillo de la puerta de fuego (Ivanna: The Castle With the Doors of Fire). Mördaren i skäcken hus (The Killer In the House of Horrors). Das Geheimnis von Schloß Monte Christo (The Mystery of Castle Monte Cristo).

In the U.S., New World Pictures cut it down to 78 minutes so it could fit on a double feature with The Velvet Vampire. It was also syndicated for television with all of the nudity missing, of course.

Biochemist Dr. Ivana Rakowsky (Erna Schurer, Strip Nude for Your KillerDeported Women of the SS Special Section) is a very rare thing: a woman in an Italian gothic horror film who is capable and not just a damsel in distress — well, she is at times, but work with me here — but a capable scientist who travels to the castle of Baron Janos Dalmar (Carlos Quiney, who played Zorro in three films, Zorro’s Latest Adventure; Zorro, Rider of Vengeance and Zorro the Invincible) to assist him in his experiments. She has some problems getting there. The only person that will give her a ride to the castle, Fedor (Ezio Sancrotti), tells her that she’ll die in there and then tries to assault her.

The Baron isn’t very kind to her either. Not at first, as he believes no woman can be a scientist. She shows him that she can handle it, even if his housekeeper Olga (Cristiana Galloni) has issues with her. Also, seeing as how this is an early 70s Italian/Spanish horror movie, there are also plenty of psychosexual moments. You see, Dr. Ivana sleeps in the nude and she has dreams where a scarred man visits her bedside and tortures her. Somehow, in the midst of all this, these two mismatched leads fall in love after science fonds them.

Castle Xenia has many secrets. After all, Igor Dalmar, the last owner, blew himself up real good and the Baron is his brother. Igor’s body is in a milk bath and he wants Dr. Ivana to help him bring Igor back to life. Olga, in case you didn’t guess, used to be with the Baron. And the new maid, Cristiana (Agostina Belli, who somehow went from being in movies like this and The Eroticist to being in the original Scent of a Woman), seems to want the lady doctor more than any man in this movie that still has his skin on.

As you can imagine from the town in the open of the film, young women are dying and everyone thinks it’s the Baron. The man who keeps torturing the good doctor with a red hot poker and fumes while whispering, “Stay pure,” hints that these girls have all died because they weren’t virgins. And even more to the case of whodunit, each of these young ladies has lost their innocence to the Baron before they were killed. So who is it? Olga, who hates every women who gets near her forever lost lover? Cristiana? Or is Igor perhaps not so bereft of life? And why does the Baron have a library of werewolf and occult books that rivals Danzig’s?

Director José Luis Merino also made the Paul Naschy movie The Hanging Woman, another movie with a ton of other titles but I prefer Beyond the Living Dead.

This movie hits all my buttons. Foggy castle. Strange science. Gorgeous young scientists with diaphanous see-through gowns carrying candelabras through a cobwebbed castle. Gnarled up monsters sneaking their way through the countryside with dogs howling in the Bava-esque moonlight. Man, I’ve been thinking about this since I watched it and every review I read that says that it’s a boring dubbed Italian piece of schlock makes me want to conduct sinister experiments in the night and get this thing up to a higher rating on IMDB while unleashing my hound — a five-pound chihuahua — on anyone with the bad taste to dislike this epic.

This movie is part of Severin‘s Danza Macabra box set along with The Monster of the OperaThe Seventh Grave and Lady Frankenstein. It’s exciting to be able to get the full version, uncensored, with the kind of quality that Severin delivers for this movie.

NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Angels Die Hard (1970)

The first film that New World would distribute, Angels Die Hard knows what works: bikers, sex and action. It’s directed and written by Richard Compton, who also made Macon County Line and Return to Macon County. With a tagline that shouts right in your face, “CHOPPER OUTLAWS!..riding their hot throbbing machines to a brutal climax of violence!” you know exactly what this movie has to offer.

Blair (Tom Baker, not the Time Lord) and Tim (William Smith!) share top billing, but come on. You know who I think is the star of this movie. After all, William Smith makes every movie better. There’s literally no real plot, as the film follows the biker gang — look for Dan Haggerty riding an iron horse — as they go from town to town, fighting, drinking, drugging and, well, making unsweet love to anyone they can get their hands on.

When one of The Angels named Seed gets killed — probably by the fuzz, right? — and the guys are still treated poorly despite saving a little boy from a collapsed mine, the small town and the cops still hate them and man, no biker movie ends without a rumble against the law and sheer sadness for the gang, except for She-Devils on Wheels but that movie is set in an alternate universe where female biker gangs rule the world.

The town of Whiskey Flats is an America we never will see again, a place where carnivals just randomly pop up, where people hang out in the diner and no one feels bad about being born and dying in the same dusty town. The Angels roar in as filthy animals, lawbreakers who don’t want to stay in one place and dream of the open road that extends out forever. The town’s undertaker Farragut (Alan DeWitt) ends up following them as a silent observer, not stopping any of their stomping on convention or laws or morals but watching, just watching, even when they send Seed to the great highway up above by unloading their bladders all over his coffin.

It might seem like this movie meanders all over the place and yeah, it does. But it’s meant to be seen at the drive-in, probably in the back of a car or standing next to your bike and in no way would you be sober or straight for it. Seen through the bottom of a glass or filled with pharmaceuticals, it takes on the air that it should, reminding one of when bikers didn’t ride for sociopathic real estate mogul reality show charlatans and instead were truly free. That is, if any of us could be.