JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Phantasmes (1975)

AKA The Seduction of Amy, this film finds Jean Rollin stuck yet again in that horrible trauma of having no money to make the movies that he wants to make and instead making adult films and trying to sneak in art amongst all the same old in and out.

It’s set in a castle where de Sade once performed black magic rites and there’s a beach — there’s always a beach — and the Castel twins show up and spank one another, so I’m not made of stone, you know? That said, it’s kind of a kick in the pants to go from slow drone Rollin to just basic coupling and it’s so static and clinical and there it is — just coitus — when I’ve been inside the magical movie drug world, you know?

Back in Video Watchdog #31, Rollin said very much the same: ” I was sure that, with this type of film, one could come up with something new and of interest. I tried with Phantasmes but failed miserably. The reason for the death of French hardcore culture, if you want to use that term, is that the audience just doesn’t care. They don’t want cinema, they want people screwing and that’s it. That’s why after Phantasmes, I made my porn films in a rather uninspired way. I was very disappointed with the failure of that film. I really tried to make something out of it and nobody gave a damn. It was a porno with a real story, with real direction and real actors. The Castel Twins were in it again, for example. Knowing what I know now, I would say it is impossible to turn pornography into something of interest. There is simply no market. I don’t like the other porn films I did, that’s true, but I enjoyed shooting them. I made the acquaintance of a lot of very interesting people and I have respect for them. Today, the actors only do it for money, but back then, it was something different. Some of them did it because they wanted to explore their desires, some because they wanted to enter the film business, but they all had something in common. They were proud of what they did, like a little group of outsiders, because they did something which most people didn’t dare to do. It was some sort of rebellion, a statement, and it was honest.”

JEAN ROLLIN-UARY: Lips of Blood (1975)

As he attends a media event that launches a new perfume, Frédéric (Jean-Loup Philippe) stares at a photo of a château by the sea, which reminds him of the days when he actually walked to the gates of that crumbling castle and met a girl inside not much older than him. He feels that she was trapped within that place after they met and despite his mother telling him it was all a dream, he feels as if it actually happened.

That woman is Jennifer (Annie Belle, Fly Me the French WayThe House On the Edge of the ParkAbsurd) and she’s been trying to reach out to our hero and he’s been struggling because his mother has sent women who claim they are Jennifer — yet get killed by vampires — and hired guns to keep her from finding this woman from his dreams.

After being committed by his mother, Frédéric learns that this place was Sauveterre Castle and his mother claims that he can never go there, as Jennifer really is a vampire and that she will destroy him. Let me tell you about gorgeous dangerous women, mother of Frédéric. This ends, as it must, with boy and vampire girl climbing inside a coffin so that the tide can drag them to Sand Island, a place where they can kill rich sailors without consequence, which is as close as Rollin gets to a happy ending.

Seeing the Castel twins appear as the servants of Jennifer made me happy, as if I were seeing two old friends from a distance and waving hello to them fervently.

Also, if you didn’t get that Frédéric is Jean Rollin, well, he made about six other vampire movies to clue you in on that. He’s also the caretaker who is killed by the vampiric thralls.

This was remixed and had Rollin use his Michel Gand name to re-release this gorgeous work of art as the adult film Suce-moi vampire, which is quite sad, as so much of this is about innocence to me.

You can watch this on Kino Cult.

Cinematic Void January Giallo 2023: Autopsy (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cinematic Void will be playing this film on Monday, Jan. 16 at 7:00 PM PT at Los Feliz 3 in Los Angeles (tickets here). For more information, visit Cinematic Void.

Armando Crispino really only did two horror films, 1972’s The Dead Are Alive and this 1975 giallo, which is a shame, as this is a pretty decent entry in the genre. Known in Italy as Macchie Solari (Sunspots), it does indeed feature sunspot footage from space before we see any major murders. And if you’re looking for a movie packed with autopsy footage, good news. It totally lives up to its title.

Simona Sana (Mimsy Farmer, who is also in Argento’s Four Flies on Grey Velvet and The Perfume of the Lady in Black) is a pathology student who is trying to work on a theory about suicides, one that’s disputed by a young priest, Father Paul, whose sister — Simona’s dad’s latest fling — has recently killed herself. It turns out there’s been a whole series of self-killings which are being blamed on, you guessed it, sunspots.

I mean, what can you say about a movie that starts with several of said suicides, like sliced wrists, a self-induced car explosion and a man machine gunning his kids before turning the gun on himself? Obviously, this is a rather grisly affair, with real corpse photos spread — quite literally — throughout the film.

In between all of the gore, corpse penises, two bodies falling to their deaths and crime museums, there’s also Ray Lovelock (The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue) as Simona’s boyfriend, an out there Morricone score and a heroine who hallucinates that the dead are coming back to life.

The plot gets pretty convoluted, but if you’re on this site, you obviously appreciate films like this and will get past it. This is an Italian 70’s murder movie, though, so if you get easily upset about the way men behave, well, be forewarned.

AMANDO DE OSSORIO WEEK: Night of the Seagulls (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This first appeared on September 24, 2019.

Is there a more striking visual in horror than the Blind Dead, freshly awakened from their centuries of slumber, slowly plodding their way toward their victims? Not for my peseta. Well, they don’t make those any longer. Let me rephrase: not for my euro.

Night of the Seagulls (La Noche de las Gaviotas) is the fourth and final Blind Dead film, a series which began with 1972’s Tombs of the Blind Dead and continued with 1973’s Return of the Blind Dead and 1974’s The Ghost Galleon. Like those films, this was also written and directed by Amando de Ossorio.

Ossorio would lament the fact that these films’ budgets meant the final product could never live up to the vision inside his head. The end of The Ghost Galleon,  where a boat in a bathtub is supposed to be the Knights’ dreaded ship set ablaze, is prime evidence of this.

His iconic Templar Knights would later appear in two other Spanish horror films, Jess Franco’s film Mansion of the Living Dead and Paul Naschy’s The Devil’s Cross. These aren’t official sequels, but homages.

PS – If you catch this movie and think, “I saw a movie called Don’t Go Out at Night, or was that Night of the Death Cult, and that seemed a lot like this one,” you’re not crazy. Those are some of the wild alternate titles for this movie.

Night of the Seagulls shares the same Templars we’ve come to know, love and perhaps fear while not sharing continuity with any of the previous films.

Back in medieval times, we watch a young couple get attacked by the still human Knights Templar, who kills the man and sacrifice one of the women to their unspeakable god.

Centuries later, Doctor Henry Stein and his wife Joan come to the same town, where they’re shunned by the locals. Seriously — Joan can’t even buy apples at the only store in town without some attitude.

The reason why is that it’s Templar season. Yes, every seven years, the Templars rise and demand a virgin sacrifice for seven consecutive nights. Of course these outsiders are going to screw it all up for the town by trying to save one of the girls. Luckily — or unluckily — a village idiot attempts to aid them in their question, but all he’s really good at is being struck and thrown down hillsides.

While not on any of the official video nasty lists, this movie — under the title Don’t Go Out at Night — was listed on Greater Manchester Police’s original list of titles that were worth seizing. It took over a minute worth of cuts to enable this to be released again in 1987, but the Anchor Bay 2005 release was uncut.

Your enjoyment of this film will depend on how much you buy into the Templars, who appear to a haunting theme and then slowly make their way down the beach to expose a virgin and then do away with her. Some people find this movie slow and boring. We’re not in that camp.

AMANDO DE OSSORIO WEEK: Demon Witch Child (1975)

Like nearly every other genre director in the Old Country, Amando De Ossorio had a possession movie in him and if their films feel purer than their American counterparts, it may be because they’re all true believers, raised in countries that had way more religion in their blood than the freer — and yet often more repressed — New World.

Our titular demon witch child is possessed by a witch named Mother Gautère (Kali Hansa) who starts this movie off by destroying a church, stealing a chalice and killing herself in the name of Satan by jumping out of a police station window rather than revealing where the baby she’s kidnapped is, telling the forces of law and order that the child would be dead by the time they found it. Meanwhile, young Susan (Marián Salgado), the daughter of head inspector Barnes (Angel del Pozo) is given a pendant that instantly begins her possession. Avoid all gifts from hippies as you would tanis root from old Hollywood actors.

Perhaps she can be saved by Father Juan (Julian Mateos), the priest who left behind love and condemned a good woman to a broken heart and a life on the streets? Or maybe the maid Anne (Lone Fleming) can get through to her. Well, no on either account and young Susan neatly slices off the penis of Anne’s lover and presents it to her in a napkin, along with crawling the walls like a prepubescent Dracula.

What strange coincidence that when The Exorcist came to Spain, Salgado was the voice of Linda Blair.

You can watch this on Tubi.

DISMEMBERCEMBER: Last Stop on the Night Train (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Happy holidays to a movie that wants to ruin your season. This was first on the site on January 10, 2021.

This Aldo Lado-directed piece of Italian grime also went by the names Night Train Murders, The New House on The Left, Second House on The Left, Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, Late Night Trains, Last House Part II and Xmas Massacre, depending on the whims of fate (and Hallmark Releasing).

Margaret (Irene Miracle, who was also in Midnight ExpressInferno and Puppet Master) and Lisa are set to take the night train from Germany to Italy, but the train is full and they have to sit in a long corridor. They help Blackie (Flavio Bucci, Suspiria) and Curly (Gianfranco De Grassi, The Church) hide from the ticket taker as they board the train and hide from the cops. Of course, instead of saying thanks, they end up decimating the two girls, along with the help of an upper class blonde (Macha Méril, Deep Red) who has already turned the tables on Blackie’s attempts at assaulting her by seducing him. The two thugs really have no idea what they’re in for, because this mysterious blonde is more dangerous than both of them put together.

The whole time the girls are being victimized, murdered and forced into suicide, Lisa’s parents are hosting a Christmas dinner party where her doctor father speaks on the ills of a more violent society.

Later, when they arrive at the station to get the girls, they are worried when they don’t arrive. If you wonder, “Will they end up taking the people that killed them home?” then yes, you have seen your share of revenge movies. The most shocking thing is that the blonde may be the only survivor of the evil trio, as her fate is left open.

This video nasty is the kind of movie that I don’t put on when people come to visit.

While some decry the bumbling cop comedy in Craven’s film, this one jettisons any attempt at levity, adds some 1975 Italian style, gets a soundtrack from Morricone and gets way, way dark.

Lado also made Short Night of Glass Dolls and Who Saw Her Die?, two of the more original and downbeat giallo to follow in the wake of Argento. Even when he’s ripping someone off — not that Craven didn’t also rip off The Virgin Spring, so there are no innocents here — he can’t help outdoing his competition.

SLASHER MONTH: The Intruder (1975)

Shot in Florida and pretty much forgotten until Garagehouse saved it, this movie was made by Chris Robinson (Stanley from, you know, Stanley) for $25,000 and the locations were free thanks to Yvonne DeCarlo and Mickey Rooney impressing the owners of the house they filmed at.

Several people have come to this house — Rooney was the boat captain that got them there — because Henry Peterson is going to give them the money they deserve. Or kill them. Maybe both.

Somehow, that budget also paid for Ted Cassidy and cinematographer Jack McGowan, who shot ZaatChildren Shouldn’t Play With Dead ThingsDeathdreamDerangedMardi Gras Massacre and King Frat. I mean, look at that resume.

There’s a great reveal of the killer as lighting explodes on the coast. That looks way better than the budget of this film would suggest. Imagine A Bay of Blood except shot in a Florida swamp by actors who also would show up on Love Boat or Fantasy Island and man, how do you not want to see that? How can you not love that?

CANNON MONTH 2: Dr. Minx (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m winding down Cannon Month 2 with the films of 21st Century before Menahem Golan got the company. This was originally on the site on May 26, 2021. 21st Century got this movie when they bought out the original Dimension Films and re-released it on a double bill with Cheering Section in 1981 and then on VHS under the Continental Video label. 

“She’s a vixen — watch her operate.”

Dr. Carol Evans (Edy Williams!) keeps having these short affairs but they leave her unsatisfied. She’s just dumped her latest boyfriend (William Smith!) but ends up injuring two kids — David (Harvey Jason) and Brian (Randy Boone) — who somehow end up falling for her. There’s also the bulldozer death of her husband to deal with and a blackmailer as well. And yeah, Smith is not pleased at all that she’s sleeping with a teenager.

But yeah. Most people just watched this to gawk at Edy Williams.

Director Howard Avedis loved making movies about older women deflowering teenage boys. This is also 1975, so get ready for a bleak ending! I think by the 80’s, Avedis figured out how to make thrillers that really thrilled. But here, he’s doing what he can to entertain the audience.

Dr. Minx was Avedis’s follow-up to The Teacher (1974), which starred Jay “Dennis the Menace” North. He also released the Adam West-starring The Specialist in 1975 and followed that with Connie Stevens in Scorchy (1976).

CANNON MONTH 2: Suicide Cult (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: I love this movie so much. So much that I have a pull quote on the back of the Severin blu ray. 21st Century re-released this in 1980 and their poster says “a congressman lies rotting in the corpses of the jungle” which totally is to remind you of Jonestown, adding even more scum to this already somewhat odd movie. This was first on the site on August 2, 2017.

Whenever someone asks — and they often do — “What’s the craziest movie you’ve ever seen?” I usually respond with Suicide Cult. I’ve never had to pick my jaw off the floor more, as watching it felt like the little people I am certain live in my TV were putting on a magical play just for me, using the things I love best. The 1970s. Carnivals. Satanism. Biorhythms. Astrology. Government conspiracies. Religion. This is one film that honestly has it all — and then some.

Man, let me see if I can sum it up:

A government organization called INTERZOD, led by Alexei Abernal, uses technology and astrology to discover threats to the world. One of them is the cult leader Kajerste, who is wanted for crimes in three different countries. And how do they find these people? By determining their individual zodiacal potential for response to environmental situations and stimuli, that’s how.

The movie smash cuts into a ton of locations and ideas within the first ten minutes, spinning your head, before we meet Alexei’s wife, Kate (Monica Tidwell, the November 1973 Playboy Playmate of the Month who was the first Playmate to be younger than Playboy magazine itself), who sees her adviser Mother Bogarde, surely based on Madame Blavatsky. The young girl is possessed, so she must be stripped and put in a robe. Alright — we also learn that she doesn’t even know her own birthday or may have had it changed at Alexei’s command. Seems he’s a crazy husband — he has security watching her, she isn’t allowed to leave all that often, he doesn’t introduce her to anyone and he lies about what he does. They’ve been married for five months and haven’t had sex! But it turns out that she might be the new Virgin Mary, which makes perfect sense once you start watching this. Turns out she even had an Immaculate Conception at one point and gave her baby to the Catholic Church.

Now, INTERZOD wants to kill off Kajerste with tranquilizers and videotapes and doubles and the help of a Congressman — who gets killed by the cult and this movie came out three years before Jonestown, so imagine. In fact, the cult wipes everyone out and everyone else close to Kate.

But hold on…I want to warn you now. This movie is pretty much all talk about religion and the zodiac. It introduces some insane ideas that could be awesome and then does absolutely nothing about it. In fact, just when it seems like there might be some resolution to the film’s many plots, it just ends with no resolution!

Can a film be both boring and not boring all at the same time, packed with ideas but so frustrating because you wish you could see the movie that it could have been? Oh yes, that would be Suicide Cult. It’s a movie that could have only been made in 1975. I wonder, if you take enough mind-altering substances, will this film make sense? I am willing to go into a sensory deprivation tank with just this film to find out, Ken Russell directing me.

This film is also called The Astrologer, but there’s another film with the same title that could be even stranger. Made by director, producer, psychic to the stars and actor Craig Denney, it’s a movie about an astrologer who goes on an adventure to find jewels, then becomes a major star so big that he makes a movie about himself called The Astrologer that he watches within the film The Astrologer, then he goes into diamond smuggling, finance and killing people. The entire soundtrack was stolen from the Moody Blues, who get credited for the film! And it’s only been released on VHS and played once on the CBS Late Movie but it’s out there on the web and well worth hunting for.

People also ask me, what movies are you excited about this summer? I always answer, “NONE OF THEM!” Not when bursts of pure unknown crazy can still be unearthed from four decades in the past about psychic killers or astrologers who become giant stars that murder people! I beg you Hollywood! Let maniacs take over your films again!

CANNON MONTH 2: Legend of the Werewolf (1975)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Legend of the Werewolf was not produced by Cannon. It was, however, released on video in Germany by Cannon Screen Entertainment.

No matter what you think of this movie, you have to give it up for the poster. This is truly one of my all-time favorite movie posters of all time, one that punches you in the face and says, “You’re gonna watch this werewolf movie!”

It has a different origin story than a normal werewolf film, as here Russian werewolves kill a man who has just watched his wife die in childbirth and then raise the dead parents’ son to become a human wolf.

He’s known as Etoile the Wolf Boy in the circus, but soon loses his lupine look until the full moon rises. When that does — and he kills a member of the traveling carnival — he goes on the run.

This is really the sad tale of a wolf boy — a wolf young adult, I guess — who falls in love with a courtesan with a heart of gold who keeps on entertaining her clients, who soon get devoured by said wolf young adult.

Enter Professor Paul Cataflanque (Peter Cushing). He’s a forensic pathologist, who quickly figures out that a wolf is behind all the murders. And seeing how Etoile now takes care of the wolves in the zoo, he’s going to have to deal with putting every one of them to sleep under the orders of the police.

There’s no way he isn’t going to turn into a werewolf and kill just about everyone, right?

Legend of the Werewolf is one of seven Tyburn Film Productions, a studio that tried to fill the void felt after Hammer stopped producing new movies. Their other films include The Ghoul, Tales That Witness MadnessPersecutionSherlock Holmes and the Masks of DeathMurder Elite and Peter Cushing: A One-Way Ticket to Hollywood.

Directed by Freddie Francis, this was written by Anthony Hinds under his pseudonym John Elder. Under that name, he also wrote Hammer’s werewolf film The Curse of the Werewolf as well as Frankenstein Created WomanScars of DraculaThe Reptile and many more.