End Zone 2 (1970)

Whatever side you’re on when it comes to the controversy between whether Mikey Smash or William Mouth played Smash Mouth in the sequel to Warren Q. Harolds’ 1965 slasher End Zone, you can say quite simply that they’re both better than Snead Crump when it comes to menacing Angela Smazmoth (Julie Kane). Now that there’s a restored version of this never-released to the public slasher, well, now we can all fight that same fight all over again.

And hey — whatever happened to that final half hour of this movie? Have you seen it? Did you check it out when it played with The Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb and The Evil Eye?

Put together from six partial prints and a partial Italian internegative — that explains why the language changes — this is the film that didn’t just give birth to the American slasher, it also influenced movies like Let’s Scare Jessica to Death.

Shh…I like keeping up the premise that this is a lost movie, so don’t tell anyone that it works because it’s just as rough and ramshackle as those pre-78 slashers that we love so much like My Brother Has Bad Dreams and Scream Bloody Murder (which ironically nearly shared a title). I also think it’s kind of wild that in the same year we’ve had two double features based around slasher movies of the past based around football (this pairs with The Once and Future Smash; the other entry is The Third Saturday In October and The Third Saturday In October V).

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: La Vampire Nue (1970)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally posted January 9, 2022.

Either you get into the druggy vibe of Jean Rollin or you think it’s the most boring filmmaking ever. But me, well, I’m nodding off and living inside the languid pace of his films and looking for those moments when masked maniacs wander the streets and indiscriminately murder people and the film doesn’t really feel like cluing you into what’s going on because why should it? You have to earn it.

I mean, what if you went to a party where a woman’s photo is projected on a screen and she kills herself in front of the guests so that a strange woman in an orange nightgown can drink her blood and then your photo comes up next?

None of these things will ever happen to any of us. We’ll never have days where we don’t see the sunlight and realize we’re the first humans to be immortal. At least I don’t think we will. I mean, wouldn’t it be great? But then I wonder, would my acid reflux get bothered by certain types of blood?

I mean, the basic description of this movie says: “Wealthy and decadent industrialist Georges Radamante rules over a strange secret suicide cult and wants to achieve immortality by figuring out a way to share the biochemistry of a young mute orphaned vampire woman.”

If you don’t want to watch that, well, I don’t know what hope there is for you to experience magic.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing this on Thursday, January 5 at 7:30 PM at The Little Theatre in Rochester, NY (35mm print with tickets here) and Thursday, January 12 at Central Cinema in Knoxville, TN. For more information, visit Cinematic Void. If you can’t get there, I recommend the Arrow Video UHD edition.

Other than the films of Mario Bava (Blood and Black LaceThe Girl Who Knew Too Much), there’s no other film that has no influenced the giallo. In fact, the most well-known version of the form starts right here with Dario Argento’s 1970 directorial debut. Until this movie, he’d been a journalist and had helped write Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West.

Sam Dalmas (Tony Musante) is an American writer suffering from an inability to write. He’s gone to Rome to recover, along with his British model girlfriend (yes, everyone in giallo can score a gorgeous girl like Suzy Kendall). Just as he decides to return home, he witnesses a black-gloved man attacking a girl inside an art gallery. Desperate to save her, he can only watch, helpless and trapped between two mechanical doors as she wordlessly begs for help.

The woman is Monica Ranier and she’s gallery owner’s wife. She survives the attack, but the police think Sam may have had something to do with the crime, so they keep his passport so he can’t leave the country. What they’re not letting on is that a serial killer has been wiping out young women for weeks and that Sam is the only witness. That said — he’s haunted by what he’s survived and his memory isn’t working well, meaning that he’s missing a vital clue that could solve the crime.

As you can see, the foreign stranger who must become a detective, the missing pieces of memory, the black-clad killer — it’s everything that every post-1970 giallo would pay tribute to (perhaps rip off is the better term).

Another Argento trope shows up here for the first time. It’s the idea that art itself can cause violence. In this film, it’s a painting that shows a raincoat-clad man murdering a woman.

Soon, Sam is getting menacing calls from the killer and Julia is attacked by the black-clad maniac. The police isolate a sound in the background of the killer’s conversations, the call of a rare Siberian “bird with the crystal plumage.” There’s only one in Rome, which gets the police closer to the identity of who is wearing those black gloves (in truth, it’s Argento’s hands). It’s worth noting that the species of bird the film refers to as “Hornitus Nevalis” doesn’t really exist. The bird in the film is actually a Grey Crowned Crane.

Alberto, Monica’s art gallery husband, tries to kill her, finally revealing that he has been behind the attacks. Ah — but this is a giallo. Mistaken identity is the main trick of its trade. And even though this film was made nearly fifty years ago, I’d rather you get the opportunity to learn for yourself who the killer really is.

I may have mentioned before that my parents saw this movie before I was born and hated it to a degree that any time a movie didn’t make any sense, they would always bring up “that weird movie with the bird that makes the noises.” Who knew I would grow up to love Argento so much? It’s one of those cruel ironies that would show up in his movies. I really wonder if my obsession with giallo and movies that are difficult to understand is really me just rebelling.

An uncredited adaptation of Fredric Brown’s novel The Screaming Mimi, this film was thought of as career suicide by actress Eva Renzi. And the producer of the film wanted to remove Argento as the director. However, when Argento’s father Salvatore Argento went to speak to the man, he noticed that the executive’s secretary was all shaken up. He asked her what was wrong and she mentioned that she was still terrified from watching the film. Salvatore asked her to tell her boss why she was so upset and that’s what convinced the man to keep Dario on board.

The results of all this toil and worry? A movie that played for three and a half years in one Milan theater and led to copycats (and lizards and spiders and flies and ducklings and butterflies and so on) for decades. Argento would go on to film the rest of his so-called Animal Trilogy with The Cat O’Nine Tails and Four Flies on Grey Velvet, then Deep Red before moving into more supernatural films like Suspiria and Inferno.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Santa and the Three Bears (1970)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Barry Mahon! This was first on the site on March 27, 2021.

Yes, the same man who made The Sex Killer and Run Swinger Run also made an animated kids movie. Look, it’s all exploitation. In the 50’s, Barry Mahon was exploiting fears of Communism and then went from nudie-cuties to roughies in the 60’s and in the 70’s, he realized that the kids of the raincoater crowd could add some money into his pockets, too.

Mahon’s parts of the movie only ran in the theatrical version of this, in which a grandfather and his two young grandchildren sit and talk for four minutes before we see some toys, decorations and for some reason, a kitten. So yes, Barry is known for movies where women in states of undress sit and talk about nothing in particular. This is the kid version of his signature directorial move.

This is also not the only Barry Mahon Christmas or children’s movie I’ve endured. There’s also a cartoon about two little bears who believe in Santa and all their mom — voiced by Jean Vander Pyl, who was Wilma and Pebbles Flintstone and Rosie the Robot’s voice — wants is for them to settle down and hibernate. I get it. I used to wake up at 3 AM on Christmas morning and these days, I feel like apologizing to my parents for the horrific holidays of me being a toy-obsessed maniac child.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Night Gallery episode 2: Room with a View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy

Originally airing on December 23, 1970, Night Gallery expanded to three stories for this episode.

“Room with a View” was directed by Jerrold Freedman (A Cold Night’s Death) and written by Hal Dresner (The Eiger Sanction) and it’s all about a bedridden man named Jacob Bauman (Joseph Wiseman, Dr. No) who learns that his wife Lila (Angel Tompkins, Murphy’s Law) is sleeping with someone else. His revenge scheme involves the young nurse (an unbelievably young Diane Keaton) who is there day and night with him.

“The Little Black Bag” is directed by Jeannot Szwarc (Jaws 2, making that two Jaws directors who worked on Night Gallery) and written by Rod Serling from a story by C.M. Kornbluth. It tells the tale of William Fall (Burgess Meredith) finding the medical bag of Gillings (George Furth), a doctor from the future. This same story was also adapted on the show Tales of Tomorrow with Charles S. Dubin directing.

“The Nature of the Enemy” is directed by Allen Reisner and written by Serling from a story by Cyril M. Kornbluth, a science fiction writer who died way too young. The director of NASA (Joseph Campanella) tries to keep control after life is found on the surface of the moon.

The second episode of this series — much like the first — doesn’t live up to the promise of the pilot. Soon, though, this would get much better.

Night Gallery episode 1: The Dead Man/The Housekeeper

Originally airing on December 16, 1970, Night Gallery returned from its pilot a year later with two new stories, starting with Serling walking out of a floating gallery and saying, “Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way—not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspended in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”

The first story, “The Dead Man,” was written and directed by Douglas Heyes (Kitten With a Whip). Based on the short story by Fritz Leiber, it’s a very Amicus-style story of Dr. Max Redford (Carl Betz) and Dr. Miles Talmadge (Jeff Corey) discussing a medical technique in which different taps can make a person sick or well. One of those patients, John Fearing (Michael Blodgett), has come back numerous times sick from a variety of afflictions despite looking like the picture of health. Meanwhile, Reford’s young wife Velia (Louise Sorel) is falling for this paranormal patient. Of course, the doctor ends up causing the death of his patient and the mental collapse of his wife.

“The Housekeeper” was directed by John Meredyth Lucas and written by Heyes. Cedric Acton (Larry Hagman) is married to Carlotta (Suzy Parker), a rich woman who is cruel to him. He hopes to move the brain of his new housekeeper Miss Wattle (Jeanette Nolan) into the body of his gorgeous young wife. It’s a comedic instead of a frightening story — Night Gallery would suffer from more of this in the second season — but Hagman is good, just coming off his run on I Dream of Jeannie.

MILL CREEK NIGHTMARE WORLDS: How Awful About Allan (1970)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was originally on the site on May 19, 2020.

Along with What’s the Matter With Helen?, this movie is one of the two collaborations between writer Henry Farrell and director Curtis Harrington.  It was the ABC Movie of the Week on September 22, 1970 and has stood the test of time as one of the better TV movies. And there’s some stiff competition for that.

Shot in just 12 days, it stars Anthony Perkins as Allan Colleigh, who has psychosomatic blindness after an accident — he left paint cans too close to a fire — that killed his abusive father and scarred his sister Katharine (Julie Harris from the 1963 version of The Haunting).

After Allan returns to their home after time in a mental hospital, he’s convinced that everyone is out to get him, including a new boarder with speaks in a hoarse whisper and one of his sister’s ex-boyfriends on the phone.

Joan Hackett — who was in two great TV movies, Dead of Night and The Possessed — appears as Allan’s former girlfriend. She gets caught up in his mania as rooms of the house explode into flames and he’s kidnapped by that mysterious ex.

How Awful About Allan has plenty of actors as comfortable on the stage as they were on the big or small screen. Perkins agreed to wear special contacts that completely made him blind so that his performance would be more realistic.

This didn’t get great reviews when it came out, but do the movie we love ever do?

You can download this on the Internet Archive, watch it on Amazon Prime or just use this YouTube link:

BLUE UNDERGROUND 4K UHD RELEASE: Quiet Days In Clichy (1970)

Based upon the long-banned novel by Henry Miller and featuring a soundtrack by Country Joe McDonald, Quiet Days In Clichy is considered to be the most daring film adaptation ever of one of the most controversial authors in history.

In May of 1970, the United States Government seized the only English-language prints of this movie on charges of obscenity. It was ultimately cleared in Federal Court, but the film mysteriously disappeared shortly after its release. Now more than 50 years later, a restoration has appeared from Blue Underground.

Joey (Paul Valjean) is an American writer. Carl (Joey Wayne Rodda) is his European friend. Most of the film is about their lack of money yet easy availability of women of all ages and situations, from sex workers to underage girls and married women who have lost their husbands.

Directed by Jens Jorgen Thorsen — who courted controversy over sex much in the same way as Miller — this is a gorgeous black and white film that while not outright pornography has the same story beats, as it moves from one sex scene to another. It’s definitely something worth seeing, but by no means expect gorgeous looking lovemaking. It’s down and dirty real life with all the mess that means.

I did really enjoy how Miller’s words were literally written all over the film at points.

The Blue Underground 4K UHD release of Quiet Days In Clincy has both ultra HD blu ray (2160p) and HD blu ray (1080p) widescreen 1.66:1 feature presentations. It has extras including interviews with Country Joe McDonald and Henry Miller’s editor and publisher Barney Rosset, a Midnight Blue appearance by Rosset, a deleted scene, a trailer, a gallery of posters, stills and book covers, and court documents. You can get it from MVD.

SLASHER MONTH: The Wizard of Gore (1970)

I have seen too many slashers because I also watched this last year.

This movie is a miracle, because so much went wrong. The actor playing the monstrous Montag the Magnificent walked off the set following a confrontation with Fred Sandy and crew member Ray Sager had to take over the role. And as for the effects, they were basically two dead sheep soaked in PineSol. I can’t even imagine how much everything stunk, like the smell of an adult bookstore before they started making couples friendly places. Handling all those sheep organs was director Herschell Gordon Lewis’ son Robert.

Yes, it’s amazing that a movie with such primitive effects and non-trained actors works so well, but that’s just the weirdness that are the films of Lewis, movies that seem to exist inside vacuums of non-action punctuated by blasts of nausea-imbuing viscera.

Every night, Montag takes the stage and has long-winded speeches about the nature of reality before murdering a woman in front of an audience, then showing that it was all a trick. Then, the same woman dies the same way later that night. Reporters Sherry Carson (Judy Cler) and Greg (Phil Laurenson), along with her boyfriend Jack (Wayne Ratay), know that Montag is behind all of this. They just need to prove it.

The end of this movie breaks from what we expect and goes full psychotic. As they sit on the couch, Jack peels off his own face and reveals Montag before shoving his hands into the stomach of Sherry, who laughs in his face and disputes the illusions and the very nature of Montag’s reality, sending the entire movie back to the very beginning of this movie, creating a loop of reality as Sherry turns to her man and says, “You know what I think? I think he’s a phony.”

This movie was still playing drive-ins twelve years after it was made on several five movie bills. It was known as House of Torture but there had to be maniacs yelling at the screen, astounded to see a movie they had seen many times before. Man, what a magic time.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE 13: Carnival of Blood (1970)

13. A Horror Film That Takes Place at a Fair, Carnival or Amusement Park.

Leonard Kirtman mostly directed adult, churning out titles like The Seduction of CindyUp Desiree Lane and Confessions of a Candy Striper, often using the name Leon Gucci. This is one of the few movies he made without penetration yet it has all the feel of a New York City-made porn from 1970.

Shot in Coney Island — I would not be surprised if there were no permits and no one had any idea they were even filming — this movie revolves around the people who are killed after winning a teddy bear at the booth of Tom (Earle Edgerton) and his hunchback-heaving assistant Gimpy (John Harris, the stage name for Burt Young!).

There’s a district attorney called Dan (Martin Barolsky) who gets called down to investigate, but he’s so dumb that he brings his fiancee Laura (Judith Resnick) along to the carnival and man, defund the slasher police.

No set dialogue. Scuzzy looking footage. Gore from the Herschell Gordon Lewis school of pause on the guts. A great moment where a tunnel of love ends with a screaming survivor and a headless blood spraying victim. So much repetition. Sound effects out of nowhere. Folk music. Cool jazz. A drunken sailor. Bad relationships. Death is everywhere.