The Killer Wore Gloves (1974)

I am consumed by near-constant nerves and worries, pains that can only be assuaged by late-night viewings of only the rarest and most deranged examples of film. So when I see a movie with the titles of Hot Lips the KillerLe Calde Labbra del Carnefice (The Hot Lips of the Executioner), La Muerte Llama a las 10 (Death Calls at 10) and The Killer Wore Gloves — because it’s a giallo and dammit the killer better wear gloves — then all my being up at 3:15 AM like the haunted bastard son of Ronnie DeFeo all pays off.

Peggy (Gillian Hills, A Clockwork OrangeBlow-Up) is worried that she hasn’t heard from her boyfriend Michael for months as he’s been covering the dangerous war in Vietnam. She’s also rented out the loft in her apartment to a friend of a friend of a friend named John Kirk Lawford, whose body shows up dead. And where’s our heroine On the way to meet Michael at an abandoned airplane hangar when a gloved killer — the movie MUST live up to its title, right? — tries to kill her. And now, another man shows up with the name John Kirk Lawford and a whole bunch of money shows up in our heroine’s apartment

Peggy wears the type of outfits — and lives in the type of bonkers apartment, complete with a fabric Frankenstein’s monster hamper — that only exist in 1970’s giallo. Let’s face it. Our girl has a giant egg in the middle of her flat.

Poor Peggy. Every man in her life is absolutely horrible and despite people shooting at her and showing up dead all around the place, she never informs the police or seeks any help. Oh to be a giallo heroine, constantly having to wear leather mini-dresses and have all manner of skeevy men offering you money for sex, just plain sex or sex with lots of violent death as a side dish.

Director Juan Bosch also wrote Secta Siniestra, in which a woman pregnant with the Anti-Christ is menaced by Satanists — you’d think they’d want to make that pregnancy go a little simpler, am I right? — and directed Exorcismo, which stars our favorite Spanish actor Paul Naschy.

A Spanish movie imitating an Italian film based on German krimi movies taken from a British author starring an actress from the UK. If you ever wondered, “Why can’t we all just get along?” then you haven’t been watching much mid-70’s giallo, hmm?

The Perfume of the Lady In Black (1974)

I wish that Francesco Barilli had made more giallo. His two additions to the genre as a director, Hotel Fear and The Perfume of the Lady In Black, are both movies that descend into insanity and grapple with the issues of their female protagonists being abused until they violently turn the tables on their tormentors. He also wrote Who Saw Her Die?, another example that doesn’t follow the Argento giallo format.

Sylvia (Mimsy Farmer, AutopsyThe Black CatBody Count) is an industrial scientist who is trying to deal with a series of flashbacks related to the suicide of her mother — the literal lady in black, whose scent has haunted Sylvia since she was a child — and nearly every single person around her, each of whom want to kill her or use her or watch her or just — look, reality is out the window.

Imagine Rosemary’s Baby filtered through the Italian horror sensibility and the way that the 1970’s ended every movie with tragedy and you have some idea of this film. By the end of the movie, Sylvia’s hallucinations include a tea party filled with dead bodies and her own self as a child, who begins to tell her what to do.

Man, all movies should be this good. The ending was so disquieting that I’m still disturbed by it. You should do yourself a favor and watch it right now.

You can get it from Raro Video USA.

Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974)

Known in Italy as Terror! Il Castello Delle Donne Maledette (Terror! The Castle of Cursed Women), this movie was released as Terror Castle, The House of Freaks, The Monsters of Dr. Frankenstein and Dr. Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks in the U.S., while it was named Frankenstein’s Castle in the UK.

According to Roberto Curti’s Italian Gothic Horror Films, 1970–1979, no one can even agree on who the director of this movie is.

Suspects include Spanish actor Ramiro Olvieros (The Pyjama Girl Case), producer Oscar Brazzi (The Loves of Daphne), cinematographer Mario Mancini (who ran camera on Blood and Black Lace, as well as acting as the director of photography for The Girl In Room 2A and directing Frankenstein ’80), producer Dick Randall (who produced Mario Bava’s Four Times That Night, as well as For Your Height OnlyDon’t Open ‘Till Christmas and Slaughter High) and screenwriter William Rose (who wrote Pamela, Pamela, You Are… and shows up in the film as the Devil and in Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo).

Although director Robert H. Oliver was a pseudonym of Mancini, actor Gordon Mitchell claims that the director was Robert Oliver, while actress Simone Blondell remembered that the director “spoke English, he wasn’t Italian.” Perhaps the best answer comes from assistant director Gianlorenzo Battaglia (the cinematographer for A Blade In the Dark, BlastfighterDemonsWitchery and so many more films — he was also the underwater camera operator for Popeye, Cozi’s HerculesAlligatorScreamers and Phenomena!) said that “the American director left the film because of disagreements with the producer, and so Mario finished it on his own. I’m not 100% sure though!”

After a Neanderthal man named Goliath (Salvatore Baccaro, billed as Boris Lugosi) is lynched by villagers, Count Frankenstein (Rossano Brazzi, who was in Krakatoa, East of Java) brings the monster back to life.

Man, let me tell you about Rossano Brazzi. In 1940, he married Baroness Lidia Bertolini. They never had children, but he did have a son with Llewella Humphreys, who was the daughter of American mobster Murray “The Camel” Humphreys. At a young age, Llewella had shown fine musical talent, so her father sent her to Europe to study. After all, her father would do anything for her. There’s a story that when she went to the prom, she wanted to take Frank Sinatra. One phone call later and “Old Blue Eyes” was her date.

While in Rome, Llewella fell for Brazzi and they had that aforementioned son. When she returned to America, she changed her name to Luella Brady, an anglicization of Brazzi. Humphreys sent her and George, the baby, to live with her mother in Oklahoma, but she was so mentally unstable by this point that she was institutionalized. Man — her dad was the man who said, “If you ever have to cock a gun in a man’s face, kill him. If you walk away without killing him after doing that, he’ll kill you the next day,” taught mobsters how to plead the Fifth and inspired Tom Hagen in The Godfather and here’s the married Brazzi getting her pregnant!

After his wife’s death from liver cancer in 1984, Brazzi married Ilse Fischer, a German woman who had been the couple’s housekeeper for many years who had met the actor when she was a twenty-four-year-old fan.

But I digress…

Michael Dunn also shows up as Genz, an evil dwarf who indulges in necrophilia. Perhaps you know Dunn from Dr. Miguelito Loveless from The Wild Wild West or as Dr. Kiss in The Werewolf of Washington. Also invited to this Castle of Freaks party are Edmund Purdom (Pieces), Gordon Mitchell playing Igor (you may recall him as playing Dr. Otto Frankenstein in Frankenstein ’80), Loren Ewing (Big John from the Batman TV show as well as, get this, the transportation department for the movie Idaho Transfer), Walter Saxer (who would later produce Herzog’s films), Simonetta Vitelli (who was in four totally unrelated Sartana movies), Luciano Pigozzi (Pag from Yor Hunter from the Future) and Xiro Papas, who is, of course, Mosaic from Frankenstein ’80, the vampire monster from The Devil’s Wedding Night and Lupo in The Beast In Heat.

Somehow, all of this depravity got a PG rating.

This movie is not great, but gets many points for having 19th-century villagers wearing modern blue jeans.

Want to read more? You can check out our list of Edmund Purdom movies on Letterboxd because yeah — we’re just that crazy. And for more movies that were rated PG that don’t quite make sense, check out this list.

You can watch this on Tubi or the Internet Archive.

The Devil’s Possessed (1974)

Leon Klimovsky — The People Who Own the DarkThe Dracula Saga, The Vampires Night Orgy — teams with Spain’s resident horror movie bad guy, Paul Naschy, to deliver some medieval torture and Satanic slaughter which is in no small way influenced by Ken Russell’s The Devils.

Written by Naschy himself, here the actor plays Baron Gilles de Lancre, who has returned from war only to be mistreated by his king. So he does what you or I would naturally do — search for the Philosopher’s Stone and kill anyone who gets in his way.

Gilles might have started out just trying to be a good guy, but Lady Georgelle and the alchemist Braqueville get him thinking that he could be King of France if he just starts sacrificing one virgin every Saturday for seven weeks, then doing that all over again. Only old war friend Gaston de Malebranche can stop the insanity.

Known as Marshall of Hell in its native Spain, this movie plays more like a historical drama than an outright occult film. That said, there are some fun psychedelic sacrifice scenes.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime and Tubi.

Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974): A Second Look

“Eh, you’ve seen one exorcist flick, you’ve seen ‘em all,” scoffs the B&S Movies surfer.

Oh, how wrong you are, you wee demon-possession babe in the woods.

There’s nothing in the post-William Friedkin horror oeuvre that will prepare you for this German rip-off. . . . Not Assonitis’s Beyond the Door. Not de Ossorio’s Demon Witch Child. Not Bosch’s Exorcismo. Not Gariazzo’s The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. Not Mickey “Mario Bava” Lion’s The House of Exorcism. Not Cascio’s The Return of the Exorcist.

Strap on the barf bags!

None of these Italian and Spanish demon-possession soirées compare to the silver screen sleaze that is Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil. And you thought the Germans crossed the boundaries of bad taste with their Hammer Studios witch hunt rip-off, Mark of the Devil (1970)? And you thought The Eerie Midnight Horror Show threw Friedkin’s class and style out the window? Not even Tony Curtis’s pimple-on-the-neck-turns-into-an-Indian-demon-shaman buffoonery of The Manitou (1978) is up to the challenge of this X-Rated demon romp.

“I want to take communion, but not in my mouth, but down in my ‘hoo-hoo,’ you dirty nun ‘boinker,’” Magpie caresses her “triangle of death” before a priest. “When are you going to ‘screw’ your housekeeper,” she rants to Father Ed in an un-synced dub that makes Italian Giallos look in-sync.

Welcome to the X-Rated adventures of Linda Does Berlin, aka Satan’s Full-Frontal Lesbians School for Girls.

Our story beings with a Godspell-cum-Rocky Horror Show cast reject, aka a prostitute, walking down the street on a pleasant Ash Wednesday evening who launches into scenery-chewing hysterics at the discovery of an old man, Joseph Winter, crucified Jesus-style on the gate of her apartment building and . . .

Jump Cut! We’re in a record store with hot German chicks so we can meet ol’ Joe’s niece, Magdalena, who’s off to a party at her boarding school. . . . Now, if you know your Eurotrash cinema, you know the entire student body—even the headmistress and the instructors—at all-female boarding schools are red-herring “lesbians” because, well, all of the girls in Eurotrash-boarding schools are lesbians and up to some nefarious, bitchy deeds to torture the naïve innocent girl who just had a rich uncle kick-the-bucket, aka Joseph Winter.

. . . And cue the swarm of buzzing-house-flies SFX so people know shits-about-to-go-down. Ol’ Uncle Joe is sitting up in the morgue and, for whatever reason, this inspires Maggie to spaz n’ spider-arch and spew some rabies-foam and ruin the Lesbian School for Girls party. But that’s just plot piffle: We got ourselves two red-herring lesbians on the stairs giving us a “triangle of death” rub and a full-frontal rack at the 15-minute mark. What does this have to do with the plot? Nothing, it’s the ubiquitous and unnecessary “de Ossorio” lesbo-scene—so the director has a fantasy to jerk to after the day’s wrap.

Uh-oh. The eerie synth-music backing the buzzing flies . . . here we go. And Magpie is a-kung-fu fighting and trashing a kitchen and wants the school’s headmistress “inside of her.” Yes! Magpie’s gone full-frontal at 20 minutes with some invisible demon sex and Satan is going for some back-door action.

More buzzing flies . . . Mags has another episode and climbs a concrete wall like a spider monkey and takes a nap on top of ol’ Joe’s grave. Do we get a Carrie-style hand pop through the dirt? A Phantasm dwarf? It’s a dream sequence, right? Nope, she really did run away from the school to sleep on ol’ Joe’s grave. And on the way to take a cat nap on Uncle Joe’s grave, Mags hitched a ride and, big surprise, it’s time for the obligatory you-owe-me-for-the-ride rape gag so she can “wishbone” his legs . . . and rape him! Dick Hurtz, indeed.

Meanwhile, lamps and paintings are flying around on wires in the school’s attic. Why? Who cares! We have another full-frontal “triangle of death” rubbing alert at 31 minutes and Magpie’s off on another rabies-Tourette’s rant that puts Ms. Blair to shame.

Okay, I’m getting bored . . . cue the buzzing flies SFX. Now ol’ Magpie is on a McCambridge-PMS magnum opus to a priest and tearing through bibles like Jon-Milk Thor through a phone book. Will Mags kiss the priest and blow ‘em up like a water bottle (it’s a Jon-Mikl Thor thing)? Nope.

Now we’re in Exorcist II: The Heretic territory—even though that hasn’t been released yet to rip off—with the ol’ psychobabble-and-attach-the-electrodes-to-her-head-scene. Is it epilepsy? Tourette’s? Schizophrenia? Split Personality Disorder? Manic Depression? Why is no one listening to the priest? Eh, who cares? What’s up with the staircase lesbians? Are they drugging Magpie to steal Uncle Joe’s inheritance? Nope. Toss that red herring back in the water and just wait for a Paul Naschy-styled, out-of-left-field dues ex machina to appear.

So . . . the electrode-brain-scan hocus pocus tell us Mags needs some time in the county to ride horses and bicycles in a plaid mini-skirt and go-go boots to, you know, pad the film’s short running time. (This clever music video created with the film’s filler scenes—set to Cat Stevens’s “Morning Has Broken”—sums it up nicely.)

There are those flies, again. . . . Yes! Magpie’s going topless and picking up strange men in bars via pressing her nips into a windowpane. . . . Now, if I may interject for a moment: If ever the time comes when I see a woman pressing her ta-tas onto a windowpane and “wants me to give it to her now,” I just naturally assume the chick must have a demon rattling around inside of her—and I get the hell out of there . . . but this dude. . . . Yes! Full-frontal alert at 55 minutes and Magpie’s pitting two rapists against each other and one stabs the other . . . what the hell? She’s vanished into thin air.

La, la, la . . . more romantic bike rides in the countryside . . . friggin’ horses . . . a Table Tennis match with a romantic piano interlude? Okay, wait. Hold on! We may have a full-frontal moment here. . . . Nope. More horseback riding? What happened to the Table Tennis sex scene? Oh, wait! Naked piano playing and autoerotic asphyxia in the parlor. . . . Nope.

Now the cops arrested a burglar at ol’ Uncle Joe’s apartment whose babbling about the “man in black” who killed ol’ Joe. Why? Who? We’ll never know because “Joe” gave creepy-red herring-trench coat-burglar guy a push over a Hitchcockian-Vertigo stair railing at the police station. What does this have to do with the plot? It’s another red-herring tosser for the river.

Okay, so doctor dude at the psycho-chateau can clearly see Magpie is completely unhinged—devil possession de damned. Naturally, he jumps into the sack. I guess he didn’t hear the buzzing flies nesting in her Devil’s Triangle south of the 41st parallel.

Finally! We get to the Mercedes McCambridge-demon-voice-bed-flip-out scene of the movie so we can learn who in the hell this demon is and what this full-frontal lesbians excuse of a mess has to do with Magpie’s uncle and this red-herring burglar.

Welcome to the plot twist: Uncle Joe was frequenting prostitutes and his wife murdered him. So ol’ Uncle Joe, and Auntie Winter’s suicide soul, are inside our Magpie fighting each other and . . . okay, enough of that plot piffle. We have another full-frontal invisible demon rape scene at 1:15 with only seven minutes to go . . . well, whadda ya know . . . ol’ Joe, you sly-pedophile.

Are you following? Uncle Joe is the horny devil, doggy-style rapist. And all of Magpie’s mouthin’ foam moments—that was Auntie Winter. You got that? At least I think that’s what’s going on with this Euro-demon tomfoolery. . . .

Okay, so for a little back story to clear up this mess:

In the beginning of the film, during the initial investigation of Uncle Joe’s Ash Wednesday crucifixion, the headmistress of Magpie’s prep school told the detectives “how excited” Mags would be when it came time for one of her “visits” with Uncle Joe. Where do we file this uncle-niece incest insinuation? Is it a dues ex machina, red-herring, or MacGuffin incest? Someone please cue the random, Paul Naschy errant knight and out-of-left-field zombie attack. Will Mags use her demon-soul to resurrect the dead to attack the psycho-retreat? Nope.

And the flies are back so Magpie can set fire to the psycho-farmhouse and swing an axe and . . . one “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” later and . . . Magpie is spitting up a gummy fishing worm that turns into a baby garden snake. What the hell? Ladies and gentlemen: We have our Ruggero Deodato-denying-he-sliced-up-a-live-turtle-during-Cannibal Holocaust moment! Horny doctor dude just head-stomped a live snake! Call PETA. Alert the ASPCA!

Huh? We can’t file charges. The snake-evidence just vanished into thin air.

“There are things between heaven and hell,” so says horny doctor dude.

Yes, and there are things between one’s ass cheeks and the toilet.

***

For an alternate, less unhinged perspective on Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil, you can check out Sam’s take on it. Also be sure to read his reviews of the film that started the whole ‘70s Euro-demon enchilada, The Exorcist, and its sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. And where did all of this demon possession hocus pocus originate? Check out Brunello Rondi’s (Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle) Il Demonio (1963; The Demon) starring Daliah Lavi. Her spider walk exorcism scene (without wires) says it all; you won’t sleep for a week after watching it.

You want another totally inappropriate, blatant rip-off of The Exorcist? Then check out 1975’s The Return of the Exorcist.

Author’s Note: This review was previously posted on November 16, 2019, as part of our “Pure Terror Month” commemoration for Mill Creek’s Pure Terror Box set (full list of reviews).

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

Seytan (1974)

Oh man, you Turkish maniacs. You aren’t content to just make your own slightly different version of The Exorcist like, well, any of the movies on our list of Ten Possession Movies That Aren’t The Exorcist. No, you’re going to pretty much remake the movie scene for scene and have “Tubular Bells” in just about every single scene. Bravo!

12-year-old girl Gul is living a high society life with her mother in Istanbul, yet becomes possessed after messing around with an Ouija board. Did she learn nothing from The Chill FactorSpookies, all of the Ouija movies and, well, The Exorcist?

“This is literally the same movie,” said my wife, Becca.

“Shot for shot,” was my answer. “Just with fewer people and no budget.”

99% of Turkey’s population is Muslim and it has a history of being Islamic. One wonders how the Catholicism of the original would have played there. Perhaps that’s why we have this grainy little remake. I kind of love its slavish devotion to the source material, like a Sweded movie before anyone knew what that was.

You can watch this on Tubi.

The Killer of Dolls (1974)

Miguel Madrid — credited here as — only has directed three films: The Butcher of BinbrookBacanal en Directo and this completely insane entry. He also wrote The Feast of Satan and Del Amor y de la Muerte. He’s credited as Michael Skaife on this movie, the same name he used on The Butcher of Binbrook, which was released in the U.S. as Graveyard of Horror.

All hail Spanish horror! Your movies make my head hurt and yet I love them so!

https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x587aug

David Rocha plays Paul, who was thrown out of medical school because he can’t stand the sight of blood. Now, he’s back home, living on the estate of Countess Olivia (Helga Line, Horror Express, Horror Rises from the Tomb), where his father is a gardener.

To say Paul is mixed up is an understatement. The film attempts to explain it by stating that Pail was raised as a girl after his sister died and has taken on part of her personality. He also likes to perform surgery on his dolls and remove their hearts. And oh yeah — there’s a female-voiced masked killer on the loose wearing a black wig and a white doll mask.

There aren’t many Spanish giallo films — I can point to Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll (AKA House of Psychotic Women), The House That ScreamedClockwork TerrorManiac MansionThe Corruption of Chris MillerA Dragonfly for Each CorpseThe Killer Is One of Thirteen and Glass Ceiling are some that I can think of. Of course, there’s also Pieces and Bloody Moon, but I feel that those are more slasher than giallo.

The thing about Paul — and this movie — is that instead of comely females writhing around half nude as in most giallo, our protagonist showers all of the time, except for when he’s not killing and dreaming that people in his life are mannequins. Seriously, the dude loves taking showers. He’s also given to going completely bonkers, running in slow motion past seagulls after smashing flowerpots with an axe while screaming “Leave me alone!”

Ah man, I totally loved this movie. It gives up who the killer is way early, unlike most giallo, but it’s so charmingly daffy and out of control. This is a movie that I’d never even heard about before it was sent my way. And man, that little Robert kid who pals around with Paul? That kid seems like a real handful. Why he hangs out with a murderous twenty-something man who identifies as a woman and everyone is cool with it is beyond me, but maybe 1974 was just that crazy.

If you didn’t get the hint, go get this movie now. Like…right now.

You can get this movie from Mondo Macabro, who as always put out some amazing cinema from around the world. Released for the first time ever in the U.S. and the first time on blu ray, it features a brand new 4K restoration from the original negative with Spanish audio and newly created optional English subtitles. Plus, there are new interviews with actor David Rocha and Dr. Antonio Lazaro-Reboll (author of the book The Spanish Horror Film), as well as new commentary tracks, one by Kat Ellinger and the other by Robert Monell and Rodney Barnett. You can grab your copy right here.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by Mondo Macabro.

The Burning Hell (1974)

If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? is probably my favorite religious movie ever made. Unlike today’s religious films that sneakily preach at you and make you feel inferior, that movie straight up lets you know that Communists are going to kill everyone you love and that you’re definitely going to burn in Hell forever.

If you think three years dulled the edge of Estus Pirkle, you’ve never been more incorrect. Get ready to pay, sinner!

At once a combination of regional exploitation and good old fashioned revival sermon, this movie is going to punch you in the face as many times as it can. This is the kind of film where two hippies show up wanting to learn more about God, get rebuffed, one of them dies by getting beheaded and the other runs right back to church.

You get to see people actually in Hell and learn exactly how long it lasts. This is the kind of movie that is going to either confirm your mania or let you know that everyone is insane. Seriously, they don’t make them like this any longer. That’s right — no movie made now spends as much time explaining how worms are going to eat you forever and ever and ever.

Let me quote to you from this movie. “Statistics have proven…every hour 3,000 people go to Hell; every minute 60 people go to Hell; right this very moment, someone is headed for a burning Hell.”

Ron Ormond, who directed this, survived two near-death plane crashes before finally deciding to turn to the Lord. Before that, he made movies like the 1950 Lash LaRue-starring King of the Bullwhip (he actually directed many films starring that whip-wielding cowboy) and the minstrel show review Yes Sir, Mr. Bones before going into full-on exploitation madness with flicks like Please Don’t Touch MeGirl From Tobacco Road and The Exotic Ones. He shows here that he lost none of his touch for shocking the living shit out of you in just about every frame. Bravo, Mr. Ormond. Bravo.

You can watch this on the Internet Archive or on the YouTube link posted below.

Before Star Wars: Genesis II (1973), Planet Earth (1974), and Strange New World (1975)

Okay. Let’s get this out of the way: This is the movie were you video fringe horndogs lose it over Mariette Hartley (as Lyra-A) in a two-piece bikini sporting two belly buttons (a dual circulatory system with two hearts) as a (network censored) “dominatrix” who breeds men for an oppressive, feminist regime.

Gulp.

Yes. Mariette Hartley: We’re talking Zarabeth in the Star Trek: TOS episode “All Our Yesterdays” where she cracked Spock’s emotionless Vulcan shell. She mixed it up with Gary Lockwood as Lisa Karger in Earth II (another failed TV movie pilot-to-series). She tempted Charlton Heston as Harriet Stevens in Skyjacked. She gave Dr. David Bruce Banner butterflies as Dr. Carolyn Fields in The Incredible Hulk. Yes. Mariette Hartley, with a resume of too many popular TV series to mention, all the way out to Fox TV’s 2018 hit series 9-1-1 as Patricia Clark.

Just one look at Mariette in Genesis II and you’ll forget all about the über-cool Sub-Shuttle that we all came for (and not a bogus CGI model . . . but a non-operational, full-sized prop pulled on a long-cable by an off-camera semi-truck) that pulls into a carved-out-of-the mountain sub-station (which Elon Musk has since pinched for his next millionaire-toy project). Oh, and did you notice the sterile, ultramodern-styled city looks suspiciously like the city in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (20th Century Fox’s “Century City”)? And did you notice how many times the Sub-Shuttle footage was recycled in ‘70s sci-fi television?

Anyway . . . times were hard for ex-Star Trek creators.

In 1974, after the go-to-series failure with Genesis II, Gene Roddenberry developed another TV movie/series pilot with The Questor Tapes (1974). A thinly veiled reworking of the Gary Seven character and plot from the Star Trek: TOS episode “Assignment: Earth,” it was intended as a vehicle for Leonard Nemoy’s return to weekly television. The end product starred Robert Reed-doppelganger Robert Foxworth (1979’s Prophecy) who portrayed an android with incomplete memory tapes — in a pseudo The Fugitive storyline — searching for its creator and purpose (that also sounds like V’ger from Star Trek: TMP).

Then, after the additional go-to-series failures of the Genesis II reboots Planet Earth and Strange New World produced in the wake of The Questor Tapes, Roddenberry tried again — by jumping on the ‘70s “occult detective” sub-genre with 1977’s Spectre — by reworking another Star Trek element: the contemptuous friendship between Spock and Dr. Leonard McCoy, itself a homage to the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Spectre starred Robert Culp (The Gladiator) as William Sebastian, a criminologist and occult expert assisted by Gig Young (1978’s Game of Death with Bruce Lee) as Dr. Hamilton.

(If you care: Other shows in the ‘70s occult TV movie-to-series subgenre include The Sixth Sense with Gary Collins of Hanger 18 and Killer Fish, Roy Thinnes of Satan’s School for Girls in The Norliss Tapes, and the most-successful of the pack: Darren McGavin of Dead Heat and the post-apoc dropping Firebird 2015 A.D in Kolchak: The Night Stalker.)

Genesis II stars Alex Cord (who also journeyed into a “fucked up future” in Chosen Survivors) in the “future world” of 1979 as NASA scientist Dylan Hunt. Of course, he opens the post-apocalyptic proceedings with that all-too-familiar apocalypse (or psychological horror) cliché: “My name is Dylan Hunt. My story begins the day on which I died.” So goes the story a “20th Century Boy” (T Rex, anyone?) thrown forward in time by a suspended-animation earthquake-accident that damages his New Mexico/Carlsbad Caverns-housed “Project Ganymede” system for astronauts on long-duration spaceflights.

And we flash forward to the year 2133.

An archeological team of PAX (Latin for “peace”) descendants from the NASA personnel that lived-worked-were trapped in the Carlsbad installation when World War III (aka “The Great Conflict” because, well, the docile hoards of all post-apoc futures never seem to be able to preserve or retain a basic semblance of American history) broke out, discover Hunt’s buried chamber. And while they can’t seem to “remember” World War III, the PAX are smart enough to construct a subterranean rapid transit system utilizing a magnetic levitation rail operated inside a “vactrain-tunnel network” that spans the globe and saves the masses from air transportation attacks.

Anyway, here’s where Mariette Hartley comes in.

Lyra-A oversees the all-female totalitarian regime known as the mutated (natch) Tyranians that rule the lands once known as Arizona and New Mexico. In addition to their increased physical abilities, you can always spot a Tyran by their nifty, dual navels — that they seem to love to show off. (Schwing! Thank you, Gene!) Not that the wussy PAX-rats would do anything when they spot a Tyran: they let themselves be enslaved.

Lyra-A, in a grand alien fashion of the Star Trek variety, is enraptured by Roddenberry’s “Buck Rogers” and wants to harness Hunt’s knowledge of (among other things) nuclear power systems to fix the Tyranians’ dead power plant. But apoc-bitch Lyra-A double crossed him: it’s a ploy to reactivate a nuclear missile system to destroy the PAX. As a result, Hunt goes into Moses-mode (see the apoc-romps No Blade of Grass, Ravagers) and leads a revolt of the enslaved, sabotages the nuclear device, and destroys the reactor.

Sound pretty cool, right?

Airing to high ratings in March 1973 and encouraged by the network brass, Roddenberry worked up a 20-episode first season on the adventures of Alex Cord’s post-nuc Moses. Then CBS-TV dropped the bomb: they passed over Genesis II and gave the timeslot to another competing post-apoc series: the short-lived and low-rated Planet of the Apes.

Those mothballed Genesis II episodes featured recycled ideas from Star Trek: TOS and fueled the later Star Trek movies — with stories about suspended animation soldiers from the past (“Khan!!!”), a London ruled by King Charles X; NASA “evolved” computers and equipment left on Jupiter’s Ganymede returning to Earth in search of their “God” (“The Changeling” and the annoying Persis Khambatta-V’ger non-sense from Star Trek: TMP); men turned into breeders and domesticated pets (reworked for the second pilot, Planet Earth); the ol’ catapulted-through-a-time-continuum back to 1975 gaffe (“Tomorrow and the Stars,” an episode from Star Trek: Phase II, the proposed-failed post-Star Wars reboot), and a creepy priesthood who enslaves the masses via electricity used as a “God” (“Return of the Archons” from ST: TOS).

The reason the network passed on Genesis II: The series was “too philosophical” and Alex Cord’s portrayal was “too dark and brooding.” They wanted another handsome and charmingly arrogant Captain James T. Kirk. So Roddenberry and Warner Bros. rebooted Dylan Hunt into an action-driven and conflict seeking Kirk-like character embodied by John Saxon.

Cue for Planet Earth.

Now Dylan was one of three cryogenically-frozen astronauts who return to Earth to reestablish the PAX organization that sent them into space. And while we lost Mariette Hartley, we gained the equally fetching Diana Muldaur (from Cord’s Chosen Survivors), who rules the Amazonian, male-enslaving “Confederacy of Ruth,” along with cherished character actors Bill McKinney (Deliverance, Cannonball) and Gerritt Graham (Phantom of the Paradise, Used Cars) as “impotent males” in recurring roles.

This time, instead of CBS, ABC aired the Warner Bros. produced program in April 1974.

The network passed.

Cue a Strange New World.

To creative and legal reasons lost to the test of time, Warner Bros., who now owned the intellectual rights, reworked the premise a third time as Strange New World (pinching the title from Star Trek’s opening monologue) — sans Roddenberry’s involvement — dumped the PAX and Tyranians, and retained John Saxon as the same Kirk-like character, now known as Captain Anthony Vico, who returns from a suspended animation space trip with two other astronauts (as in Planet of the Apes TV series that screwed Genesis II in the first place).

The movie aired in July 1975.

The network passed.

And with that, between Roddenberry’s vision, and the failure of the Planet of the Apes TV series (episodes were cut into overseas theatrical and telefilms), the small screen’s attempt to jump on the major Hollywood studios’ post-apocalyptic bandwagon was over. Thus, us wee lads and lassies gathered around the TV on Saturday mornings and settled for Filmation’s Ark II, whose 15 episodes (it seems it had more episode and was on much longer), aired in 1976, then reran in 1977, then again in 1978. And that kiddie-apoc series stopped production because the network “wanted Star Wars” (and not a TV knockoff of 1977’s Damnation Alley). So Ark II was reworked and repurposed (the same “universe,” so to speak) as Space Academy and Jason of Star Command (Sid Haig, rules!).

There was also another, similar attempt at the Genesis II concept with, ironically, another Star Trek: TOS alum: Glenn Corbett (warp-drive creator Zefram Cochrane in 1967’s “Metamorphosis”). As with Roddenberry’s The Questor Tapes, The Stranger (1973) was another failed TV movie-to-series sci-fi twist on the ‘60s runaway TV hit, The Fugitive. This time, instead of returning to a post-apocalyptic society, our astronaut (Hey, Sam . . . he’s named “Stryker”!) returns to a totalitarian “twin” Earth run by the “The Perfect Order.” (And if it all sounds a bit like 1969’s Journey to the Far Side of the Sun by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson of the fellow-failed, post-Star Trek series UFO and Space: 1999 . . . then it probably is: both series were movie-rebooted in the post-Star Wars universe as the telefilm/foreigner theatricals Invasion: UFO and Destination Moonbase Alpha, respectively.)

But wait . . . all was not lost with Genesis II.

Roddenberry’s widow, Majel Barrett (Nurse Christine Chapel in Star Trek: TOS and Lwaxana Troi on Star Trek: TNG and DSN) produced one of Roddenberry’s old pre/post-Star Trek dystopian-apocalyptic concepts, Andromeda (itself recycling from Genesis II and Planet Earth), a Canadian series that ran from 2000 to 2005 and aired in syndication on U.S television.

VHS rips of Genesis II and Strange New World can be enjoyed for free on You Tube, while Vudu has official, affordable streams of Genesis II and Planet Earth. For whatever “legal” reasons, no streaming platform offers Strange New World. However, copies of all three are widely available on DVD courtesy of Warner Home Video’s Warner Archive Collection.

You say you’re still jonesin’ for a fix of the “Big Three”-over-the-air U.S television network movies from the good ol’ days before the VHS and cable television boom? Then check out B&S Movies’ tributes of “Lost TV Week,” “Week of Made for TV Movies,” “Sons of Made for TV Movies Week,” and “Grandson of Made for TV Movie Week.

***

Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker is currently in theaters and was released theatrically on December 20 in the United States.

Author Note: This review was previously posted on September 28, 2019, as part of our September Post-Apocalypse Month. You can catch up with all of those reviews by visiting our Atomic Dustbin recap.

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

PURE TERROR MONTH: Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil (1974)

“Eh, you’ve seen one exorcist flick, you’ve seen ‘em all,” scoffs the B&S Movies surfer.

Oh, how wrong you are, you wee demon-possession babe in the woods.

There’s nothing in the post-William Friedkin horror oeuvre that will prepare you for this German rip-off. . . . Not Assonitis’s Beyond the Door. Not de Ossorio’s Demon Witch Child. Not Bosch’s Exorcismo. Not Gariazzo’s The Eerie Midnight Horror Show. Not Mickey “Mario Bava” Lion’s The House of Exorcism. Not Cascio’s The Return of the Exorcist.

Wake up, Maggie. I got something to say to you.

None of these Italian and Spanish demon-possession soirées compare to the silver screen sleaze that is Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil. And you thought the Germans crossed the boundaries of bad taste with their Hammer Studios witch hunt rip-off, Mark of the Devil (1970)? And you thought The Eerie Midnight Horror Show threw Friedkin’s class and style out the window? Not even Tony Curtis’s pimple-on-the-neck-turns-into-an-Indian-demon-shaman buffoonery of The Manitou (1978) is up to the challenge of this X-Rated demon romp.

“I want to take communion, but not in my mouth, but down in my ‘hoo-hoo,’ you dirty nun ‘boinker,’” Magpie caresses her “triangle of death” before a priest. “When are you going to ‘screw’ your housekeeper,” she rants to Father Ed in an un-synced dub that makes Italian Giallos look in-sync.

Welcome to the X-Rated adventures of Linda Does Berlin, aka Satan’s Full-Frontal Lesbians School for Girls.

Our story beings with a Godspell-cum-Rocky Horror Show cast reject, aka a prostitute, walking down the street on a pleasant Ash Wednesday evening who launches into scenery-chewing hysterics at the discovery of an old man, Joseph Winter, crucified Jesus-style on the gate of her apartment building and . . .

Jump Cut! We’re in a record store with hot German chicks so we can meet ol’ Joe’s niece, Magdalena, who’s off to a party at her boarding school. . . . Now, if you know your Eurotrash cinema, you know the entire student body—even the headmistress and the instructors—at all-female boarding schools are red-herring “lesbians” because, well, all of the girls in Eurotrash-boarding schools are lesbians and up to some nefarious, bitchy deeds to torture the naïve innocent girl who just had a rich uncle kick-the-bucket, aka Joseph Winter.

. . . And cue the swarm of buzzing-house-flies SFX so people know shits-about-to-go-down. Ol’ Uncle Joe is sitting up in the morgue and, for whatever reason, this inspires Maggie to spaz n’ spider-arch and spew some rabies-foam and ruin the Lesbian School for Girls party. But that’s just plot piffle: We got ourselves two red-herring lesbians on the stairs giving us a “triangle of death” rub and a full-frontal rack at the 15-minute mark. What does this have to do with the plot? Nothing, it’s the ubiquitous and unnecessary “de Ossorio” lesbo-scene—so the director has a fantasy to jerk to after the day’s wrap.

Uh-oh. The eerie synth-music backing the buzzing flies . . . here we go. And Magpie is a-kung-fu fighting and trashing a kitchen and wants the school’s headmistress “inside of her.” Yes! Magpie’s gone full-frontal at 20 minutes with some invisible demon sex and Satan is going for some back-door action.

More buzzing flies . . . Mags has another episode and climbs a concrete wall like a spider monkey and takes a nap on top of ol’ Joe’s grave. Do we get a Carrie-style hand pop through the dirt? A Phantasm dwarf? It’s a dream sequence, right? Nope, she really did run away from the school to sleep on ol’ Joe’s grave. And on the way to take a cat nap on Uncle Joe’s grave, Mags hitched a ride and, big surprise, it’s time for the obligatory you-owe-me-for-the-ride rape gag so she can “wishbone” his legs . . . and rape him! Dick Hurtz, indeed.

Meanwhile, lamps and paintings are flying around on wires in the school’s attic. Why? Who cares! We have another full-frontal “triangle of death” rubbing alert at 31 minutes and Magpie’s off on another rabies-Tourette’s rant that puts Ms. Blair to shame.

Okay, I’m getting bored . . . cue the buzzing flies SFX. Now ol’ Magpie is on a McCambridge-PMS magnum opus to a priest and tearing through bibles like Jon-Milk Thor through a phone book. Will Mags kiss the priest and blow ‘em up like a water bottle (it’s a Jon-Mikl Thor thing)? Nope.

Now we’re in Exorcist II: The Heretic territory—even though that hasn’t been released yet to rip off—with the ol’ psychobabble-and-attach-the-electrodes-to-her-head-scene. Is it epilepsy? Tourette’s? Schizophrenia? Split Personality Disorder? Manic Depression? Why is no one listening to the priest? Eh, who cares? What’s up with the staircase lesbians? Are they drugging Magpie to steal Uncle Joe’s inheritance? Nope. Toss that red herring back in the water and just wait for a Paul Naschy-styled, out-of-left-field dues ex machina to appear.

So . . . the electrode-brain-scan hocus pocus tell us Mags needs some time in the county to ride horses and bicycles in a plaid mini-skirt and go-go boots to, you know, pad the film’s short running time. (This clever music video created with the film’s filler scenes—set to Cat Stevens’s “Morning Has Broken”—sums it up nicely.)

There are those flies, again. . . . Yes! Magpie’s going topless and picking up strange men in bars via pressing her nips into a windowpane. . . . Now, if I may interject for a moment: If ever the time comes when I see a woman pressing her ta-tas onto a windowpane and “wants me to give it to her now,” I just naturally assume the chick must have a demon rattling around inside of her—and I get the hell out of there . . . but this dude. . . . Yes! Full-frontal alert at 55 minutes and Magpie’s pitting two rapists against each other and one stabs the other . . . what the hell? She’s vanished into thin air.

La, la, la . . . more romantic bike rides in the countryside . . . friggin’ horses . . . a Table Tennis match with a romantic piano interlude? Okay, wait. Hold on! We may have a full-frontal moment here. . . . Nope. More horseback riding? What happened to the Table Tennis sex scene? Oh, wait! Naked piano playing and autoerotic asphyxia in the parlor. . . . Nope.

Now the cops arrested a burglar at ol’ Uncle Joe’s apartment whose babbling about the “man in black” who killed ol’ Joe. Why? Who? We’ll never know because “Joe” gave creepy-red herring-trench coat-burglar guy a push over a Hitchcockian-Vertigo stair railing at the police station. What does this have to do with the plot? It’s another red-herring tosser for the river.

Okay, so doctor dude at the psycho-chateau can clearly see Magpie is completely unhinged—devil possession de damned. Naturally, he jumps into the sack. I guess he didn’t hear the buzzing flies nesting in her Devil’s Triangle south of the 41st parallel.

Finally! We get to the Mercedes McCambridge-demon-voice-bed-flip-out scene of the movie so we can learn who in the hell this demon is and what this full-frontal lesbians excuse of a mess has to do with Magpie’s uncle and this red-herring burglar.

Welcome to the plot twist: Uncle Joe was frequenting prostitutes and his wife murdered him. So ol’ Uncle Joe, and Auntie Winter’s suicide soul, are inside our Magpie fighting each other and . . . okay, enough of that plot piffle. We have another full-frontal invisible demon rape scene at 1:15 with only seven minutes to go . . . well, whadda ya know . . . ol’ Joe, you sly-pedophile.

Are you following? Uncle Joe is the horny devil, doggy-style rapist. And all of Magpie’s mouthin’ foam moments—that was Auntie Winter. You got that? At least I think that’s what’s going on with this Euro-demon tomfoolery. . . .

Okay, so for a little back story to clear up this mess:

In the beginning of the film, during the initial investigation of Uncle Joe’s Ash Wednesday crucifixion, the headmistress of Magpie’s prep school told the detectives “how excited” Mags would be when it came time for one of her “visits” with Uncle Joe. Where do we file this uncle-niece incest insinuation? Is it a dues ex machina, red-herring, or MacGuffin incest? Someone please cue the random, Paul Naschy errant knight and out-of-left-field zombie attack. Will Mags use her demon-soul to resurrect the dead to attack the psycho-retreat? Nope.

And the flies are back so Magpie can set fire to the psycho-farmhouse and swing an axe and . . . one “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” later and . . . Magpie is spitting up a gummy fishing worm that turns into a baby garden snake. What the hell? Ladies and gentlemen: We have our Ruggero Deodato-denying-he-sliced-up-a-live-turtle-during-Cannibal Holocaust moment! Horny doctor dude just head-stomped a live snake! Call PETA. Alert the ASPCA!

Huh? We can’t file charges. The snake-evidence just vanished into thin air.

“There are things between heaven and hell,” so says horny doctor dude.

Yes, and there are things between one’s ass cheeks and the toilet.

***

For an alternate, less unhinged perspective on Magdalena, Possessed by the Devil, you can check out Sam’s take on it. Also be sure to read his reviews of the film that started the whole ‘70s Euro-demon enchilada, The Exorcist, and its sequel, Exorcist II: The Heretic. And where did all of this demon possession hocus pocus originate? Check out Brunello Rondi’s (Black Emmanuelle, White Emmanuelle) Il Demonio (1963; The Demon) starring Daliah Lavi. Her spider walk exorcism scene (without wires) says it all; you won’t sleep for a week after watching it.

You want another totally inappropriate, blatant rip-off of The Exorcist? Then check out 1975’s The Return of the Exorcist.

About the Author: You can read the music and film criticisms of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his rock ‘n’ roll biographies, along with horror and sci-fi novellas, on Facebook.