Norman J. Warren Week: Spaced Out, aka Outer Touch (1979)

“Computer’s Log: Star Date 6969: Space, Space, Space. I’m sick of schlepping through space. I though it would be exciting to boldly go where no computer has gone before. To check out strange, new galaxies and kinky, new life forms. But noooo. I’m stuck, here, on this spaceship with three crazy chicks. All they do is snort coke, pop ludes and play with themselves. Its obnoxious.”
— Heed the words of the (fey-gay) ship’s computer. For you will not laugh in the year 6969. You’ve been warned.

The whole universe?

By the time of the release of this not-funny Star Wars, well, more of a Close Encounters of the Third Kind rip, Norman J. Warren had two sexploitation flicks under his belt with the 1968 pairing of Loving Feeling and Her Private Hell; then he branched into horror with a trio of films: Satan’s Slaves (1976), Prey (1977; which had a sci-fi twist), and Terror (1978). So, after those films, of course, Norman’s next logical step was . . . a space comedy.

Courtesy of Simon Sheridan’s liner notes for the 2008 DVD reissue of the film, we come to know the original script was presented to Warren as “S.E.C.K,” aka Sexual Encounters of the Close Kind. Warren found the script a “funny but very corny” take on Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956), so he agreed to direct, provided he was allowed to do a re-write. His new take on the script was known as Outer Touch, a play on the fact the aliens of the film are “out of touch” with Earth-human customs. The title was later proven as too esoteric, so the title of Spaced Out was used in the international marketplace.

And the studio behind the reimaging: Miramax. In addition to the new title, the Weinstein brothers, Bob and Harvey (the 30-year-old teenager rock ‘n’ roll comedy, Playing for Keeps was another of their early films), re-edited the film with new, sexed-up voice overs (provided, in part by Bob Saget, later of U.S. TV’s Full House fame; for another such, horny computer; see Warriors of the Lost World with its comic-crackin’ smart-cycle). As is the case with most directors-for-hire on a producer’s product: Warren wasn’t consulted on the Americanized changes by Miramax.

So, does this “low-budget humor-comedy” — as the U.S. VHS box claims — parody just about every convention in science fiction from 2001: A Space Odyssey* to Star Wars** — without mentioning its Spielbergian raisons d’être?

Well, Outer Touch certainly tries. But make no mistake: This is no BBC production of Red Dwarf or Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. But to its credit: Outer Touch fairs better Galaxina in the comedy department (in my review’s opinion), but fails worse than its fellow Brit space comedy, Morons from Outer Space, in the production department — and that film’s no winner in the comedy department, either.

How cheap is Outer Touch?

Well, space ship exterior sections — when on Earth — were created by stretching sheeting over scaffolding.

Remember how David Winters cheapjacked all of his effects shot from Battlestar Galactica for Space Mutiny and Dünyayi Kurtaran Adam swiped their SFX from Star Wars — though Spaced Out isn’t as awful as either. But the mix n’ match SFX-jacking by Uncle Norm is worse than . . .

Remember when the 1977 Star Pilot recut of 1966’s Mission Hydra 2+5 Cormanesquely raided stock footage from Toho’s ’60s space epics Gorath and Invasion of the Astro Monster to “update” the film — with no care as to the continuity of the spaceships? Remember when 1967-to-1972 mess that was The Doomsday Machine ripped the same Toho footage to an even lesser, mismatched effect?

Well, that’s what we have in the frames of Outer Touch — only Warren clipped all of his spaceship footage from Britain’s ITV’s Space: 1999again with no care as to the continuity of the space ship changing from shot-to-shot.

To borrow from Sam Pacino’s review of Galaxina: “Cracked Magazine saw what Mad Magazine did and created a second-rate version that spent nearly half a century with a fan base primarily comprised of people who got to the store after Mad sold out.” And from frequent guest writer Herbert P. Caine‘s own Galaxina review: “Galaxina is a comedy with no laughs, a sex farce with no titillation. . . . as a science fiction movie, it reminds one of nothing so much as a black hole, sucking up all talent and effort that its cast and crew may have thrown at it.”

That’s — with all due respect to the late Norman J. Warren whom we love around the B&S Cubicle farm — is Spaced Out: A second rate version of a film void of laughs or titillation that you plucked off your video store’s rental shelf when copies of Leslie Nielsen’s later Naked Space, aka The Creature That Wasn’t Nice (1983) (itself awfully unfunny) wasn’t available to rent. I can’t believe I am saying this: I’d rather be watching Nielsen’s second sci-fi comedy, 2001: A Space Travesty — at least that film gives me Ophélie Winter to gander upon. (Sorry, there, Jennifer Upton, my fellow Norman J. Warren fan-in-arms. I know that’s sexist to call out an actress like that, but you’re not reviewing this film, now, are you? Can you give me a pass, here, sister-friend? I just need something to hang onto with these inept Not a Space Comedy, comedies.)

Oh, come on, You Tube: this film is not a “youth corrupter” by a long shot. It’s not like it’s an uploaded Russ Meyer movie. An age-restricted trailer that can’t be embedded? Please. You can only watch it direct on You Tube via an account sign-in? Ugh. Making our readers work for their analog noshin’ is not cool.

Not noted on the U.S VHS, as was the theatrical one-sheet: Oui and Playboy model Ava Cadell stars as the alien, Partha.

So, if the back of the VHS — and six minutes of the black leather fetish version of the purple-wigged and silver-suited babes of Space: 1999 (embedded below) — doesn’t sell the analog goods, we’ll make the effort to tell you that we’re dealing with, as the ship’s computer tipped us earlier, three horny alien babes (Partha, Cosia, Skipper) from Betelgeuse whose cargo ship (the Space: 1999 stock footage) crash lands on Earth to the attention of four sexually-hung up humans: the mild-mannered Oliver and Prudence, Willy (our bumbling, porn-obsessed comic relief), and a guy, Cliff, who would never associate with either — but so goes for walking the dog at the wrong time . . . and that’s not a sex pun; he really was walking his dog when abducted (don’t ask about the dog, as I lost interest and don’t remember).

Yes, of course, the aliens kidnap the Earthlings. What movie did you think you were watching?

Then — keeping in mind that an alien-astronaut’s main sources of employment is examining and slaughtering Earth cows — mistakes a heard of stampeding cows as a “hostile force,” so they lift off, regardless of their ship’s damage.

Yes, of course, we are lost in space. What movie did you think you were watching?

Along with way, the alien babes learn about Earth sex from Willy’s porn magazine collection, the uptight Cliff’s scores with Partha; she transforms into a nympho, and, due to their exotic Earth-anatomy, the girls decide to sell Cliff and Willy to an intergalactic zoo. And, as I lazily finish off this review to a film that I’ve given more digital ink than it deserves: sexual intercourse and dirty jokes, (ahem) ensues, in this (ahem) trope-laden and (ahem) cliche-ridden universe. (Yes. Triple word score! All three — not just in one review — but in one sentence! I rock!)

But, seriously, folks. This comedy is not pretty and there’s nothing more to tell. Except we wonder who in the hell paid off the critics at the Monthly Film Bulletin and (GASP!) Variety for those VHS box plugs.

For there is no plot: Outer Touch is just a disconnected collection of soft-sex vignettes that makes David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker’s early “dirty-comedy” mess The Kentucky Fried Movie taste good. And that’s a pile of rank poultry that in no way foretells of that trio’s brilliance with Airplane! and Naked Gun — the very films that inspired this 2001: Not a Space Comedy in the first place. (Okay, well, yeah . . . they came after, but, well . . . oh, never mind. I give up on this review.)

In the 1999 article “Alien Women: The Politics of Sexual Difference in British SF Pulp Cinema” by Steve Chibnall, in the pages of British Science Fiction Cinema, Warren called the film “dreadful in a nice sort of way.

No, sorry, Mr. Warren, as much as I enjoy your works, this is just dreadful. There’s nothing “nice” about it.

Outer Touch, aka Spaced Out, was unavailable on DVD until 2008, when the original, U.K. Outer Touch-cut was reissued — but under the better known U.S. title of Spaced Out. According to Simon Sheridan’s DVD liner notes, prior to its DVD release, Outer Touch never aired on U.K. television. We did, however, experience the film on HBO and Showtime as Spaced Out via Miramax’s distribution of the film, which also issued it on VHS in the U.S.

Norman’s next “spaced out” epic, sans the comedy, but lots of gore.

Thank the cinema lords, Warren saw the sci-ploitation writing on the wall and returned to horror with the offensive-sloppy Alien inversion that was Inseminoid. Then he had to go make the (not a) spy comedy, Gunpowder. But Warren course-corrected with the bonkers horror, Bloody New Year. So goes Norman J. Warren’s nine-feature film career. Sadly, we lost him at the age of 78 on March 11, 2021.

You can watch Spaced Out on You Tube. Since that’s not Bob Saget’s voice — and the original voice of British actor Bill Mitchell — as the Voice of Wurlitzer the Jukebox, the upload is the U.K. version of the film. The film — in its Spaced Out or Outer Touch form — was not, thankfully, included as part of Bloody Terror: The Shocking Cinema of Norman J. Warren 1976 to 1987 — even though it is shockingly bad. For that, Powerhouse films, we thank you.

* Be sure to check out our tribute 2001: A Space Odyssey and its antecedents with our “Exploring (Before “Star Wars”): The Russian Antecedents of 2001: A Space Odyssey” featurette.

** You can learn more about Star Wars and all of its rips — its droppings, if you will — with our “Exploring: After Star Wars” featurette.

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.

Norman J. Warren Week: Inseminoid, aka Horror Planet (1981)

Editor’s Note: We featured this film in our two featurette overviews on the rash of Alien-inspired films of the ’80s — “Ten Movies that Ripoff Alien” and “A Whole Bunch of Alien Ripoffs All at Once” — as well as the third part of our “Exploring: Video Nasties Section 3” series. Since this is our “Norman J. Warren Week,” we’re finally inspired to give it a full review proper.

Sam, our Movie-Themed Drink Mixmaster of Ceremonies and overall Chief Cook and Bottlewasher at B&S About Movies, experienced Norman J. Warren’s second foray into the sci-fi genre (his first was the truly awful, HBO-ran comedy Spaced Out from 1979) as a home video release. I, on the other hand, was fortunate (not really) enough to see this mess — and Luigi Cozzi’s Alien cash-in, Contamination — at the local Twin Cinema. Is this as gory and demented — and poorly edited as Cozzi’s? Well, like James Dalton tells the patrons of The Double Deuce, “Opinions vary.” The opinion that doesn’t vary: this movie sucks. Well, we take that back: not if you watch the unsensored version. But still: Think of all of the things that made Alien a “wow moment” film. Think of all of the things that made Mario Bava’s Alien antecedent Planet of Vampires a UHF-TV classic. Now, take all of that all away. Then turn the premise into a (trashy) battle of the sexes, message-we-didn’t-ask-for allegory about the male-powered hierarchy corruption of females.

U.S. theatrical one-sheet.

Thus, unlike with 20th Century Fox being sued by science fiction writer A. E. van Vogt over copyright infringement for using his The Voyage of the Space Beagle (1950) (you did O’Bannon, end of story) in the creation of Alien, the studio had enough common sense not return a legal volley at Shaw Brothers and company for ripping off what was — regardless of it being of a uniquely layered, superior quality — a ripoff itself.

This movie has been, rightfully, criticized for bad sets, poor acting and bad special effects. However, in truth, these are all things you truly need to make a great genre film. But right there in the title, you know what you’re getting . . . if you want to get it. And you know we do: someone is getting inseminated by something from space. . . .

Image of U.S. home video version courtesy of Amazon.

So, what does £1 million and a two-month production schedule get you?

A British/Hong Kong co-production, this was financed by Run Run Shaw of the famous Shaw Brothers, who would also foist 1979’s Meteor into our theaters, if not our hearts. It’s directed by Norman J. Warren, who was part of a new school of ’70s British horror, pushing the boundaries of explicit sex and violence much further than the Amicus and Hammer studios of the previous decades. Cases in point: the obscure Satan’s Slave (Warren’s third film, but first horror film) and the better-known, also David McGillivray-penned Prey and Terror.

Bottom line: If you’re going to make a movie called Inseminoid . . . and a bunch of censors don’t get upset, you’ve really failed at your job. This was one of the first U.K. movies to quickly be released on home video after its appearance in cinemas, which led to it reaching seventh place on the British video sales charts in November 1981. One of the reasons why this movie was so controversial — I mean, other than the fact that it’s a movie for people who want to see an alien impregnate a human female — is that the producers did a direct mail campaign that featured lead actress Judy Geeson screaming alongside a headline that screamed “Warning! An Horrific Alien Birth! A Violent Nightmare in Blood! Inseminoid at a Cinema Near You Soon!”

Director Norman J. Warren came to regret that exploitation-inspired marketing gimmick, saying “The problem with mail-drops is that you have no way of knowing who lives in the house, or who will see it first. It could be a pregnant woman, and old lady, or even worse, a young child. So it was not such a good idea.”

Concerned with a group of Nostromo-inspired archaeologists and scientists excavating the ruins of an ancient civilization on a distant planet, the screenplay was written by Nick and Gloria Maley, a husband and wife special effects team who worked on Warren’s (very good) Satan’s Slave. The screenplay’s working title, known as Doomseed, was changed to Inseminoid, so as to avoid confusion with the A.I.-rape tale Demon Seed (1977), which makes no sense, as that big-budgeted, Herb Jaffe Productions’ sci-fi programmer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayor wasn’t exactly a hit (or remembered much four-years later). (In some mainland Euro-countries, the film was releases as Seeds of Evil.)

The U.K.-paperback tie-in based on Nick and Gloria Maley’s screenplay. Image courtesy of Vault of Evil: Brit Horror Pulp Plus, where the book is discussed at length by readers.

Of course, Ridley Scott shocked the world when esteemed British actor John Hurt had an alien rip out of his stomach. So, those scenes of a male impregnated via a “face hugger” had to be one-upped. So, this time, the Xenomorph doesn’t waste time laying eggs in a derelict craft for some wayward space jockeys to stumble into: ol’ Xeno goes straight to the incubator source and (violently) rapes Judy Geeson (who we all fell in love with in her film debut, To Sir, with Love (1970); Rob Zombie honored Geeson with roles in his The Lords of Salem and 31). As would any Earthbound-cum-human rape victim of the I Spit on Your Grave or Abel Ferrara-Ms. 45 variety, Geeson’s raging-Ripley has a psychotic break (or a psychic link with her “attacker,” ugh) and kills the crew — then devours their flesh to nourish her “inseminoid” that soon births as hybrid twins.

Do the twins stowaway on the ensuing rescue ship . . . uh, you really don’t know your Alien ripoffs very well, mijo.

You can find out by streaming Inseminoid on Amazon and You Tube.

You say you want to buy a copy of all of, well, most of, Warren’s films? The Indicator/Powerhouse imprint released Bloody Terror: A five-film box set of Warren’s films, which includes Satan’s Slave, Prey, and Terror, as well as Bloody New Year, alongside Inseminoid. So, there you go: You have yet another reason to own a region-free Blu-ray player.

Here’s some trivia: The alien planet in the film was shot on the rocky, Mediterranean island of Gozo. And here we are, all of these years later, reviewing a psychological horror film shot on the island, Gozo (2020). That’s how B&S Movies, rolls.

About the Authors: Sam Panico is the proprietor of B&S About Movies. You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S Movies.

Norman J. Warren Week: Bloody New Year (1987)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This review originally ran on October 30, 2019. Now it’s back for our celebration of Norman J. Warren.


Also known as Time Warp Terror, this movie was inspired by 1950’s horror films. On this island where the kids get trapped, it’s always 1959. It also has the band Cry No More all over it, lending it the perfect bit of 1980’s cheese that you may be looking for. Imagine The Beyond, but for kids. That’s pretty much what this is.

The final feature film directed by legendary British horror filmmaker Norman J. Warren (a long-time resident of the video nasty list), Bloody New Year is about a bunch of kids named Rick, Janet, Lesley, Spud and Tom, who save American tourist Carol from the bouncers and a ride operator of an amusement park. They end up stealing a boat and making their way to an island which has The Grand Island Hotel, a place where its always been New Year’s Eve 1959.

There’s even a movie theater that’s showing Fiend Without a Face, which plays before Spud gets offed. Actually, just like Shakespeare, everyone dies, becomes a zombie and all end up back at the New Year’s Eve party. Such is life and death in the resort areas of the U.K., I guess.

You can get this from Vinegar Syndrome.

Norman J. Warren Week: Terror (1978)

ABOUT THE AUTHORJennifer Upton covered this movie for our month long February blowout of Mill Creek box sets on February 1, 2021, as it appeared on their B-Movie Blast set. You can learn more about Jenn’s writing at her official website, We’ve brought back the review as part of our “Norman J. Warren Week” of reviews.

I knew very little about this film when I chose to write about it. I knew even less about director Norman J. Warren. Terror, was produced and released independently in the United Kingdom. It starts out as a standard witch’s revenge film, with an opening sequence set 300 years in the past.

In the present, the witch returns in spirit to take revenge on the ancestors of her executioners. Not a new premise at all. Until the stalk-and-slash sequences begin. “Okay,” I thought, “So, it’s a witch movie that’s also a slasher movie.” Then I began to notice small clues both within the story and visually as to the creative intentions of Mr. Warren. The red herring eccentric characters (both male and female) that might or might not be the killer. The soft purple and green gel lights that draw the eye away from the primary action. The close-ups of mascara-clad eyeballs and gory murders where the victims bleed a hue of red patented by the Crayola corporation. The electronic musical score. A torrential downpour with drenched characters bathed in blue and white light. POV shots of the killer’s knife moving relentless towards its prey. A finale that comes out of nowhere and leaves no closure for the audience. Sound familiar? 

Released in 1978 at the beginning of the American slasher craze ushered in by the success of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Terror owes more to the Italian Giallo thrillers than any stalk-and-slash offering. A quick search on internet confirmed my suspicions. Warren was a big fan of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, released one year prior to Terror.

Paired with Warren’s Satan’s Slave.

While not a complete rip-off by any means, Warren manages to inject his own style into what is ultimately a wildly entertaining film. It’s much more grounded in terms of acting and story than anything Argento or Bava ever made, making it much more “British” in tone. While the Italians are much more given to fits of artistic abandon, with very little attention paid to story, most British directors – even the most creative ones like Ken Russell or Michael Reeves – never stray too far outside the bleak reality of Great Britain as a backdrop and generally adhere to a three-act structure. The acting is solid and the story engaging. Terror gets the point quite quickly in terms of action. There’s never a dull moment. Eagle-eyed genre-fans will likely feel the same warm fuzzies I got when I noticed posters for both Warren’s own Satan’s Slave (1976) and Bo Arne Vibenius’s Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1973) in the background of one scene. A scene very clearly shot in the film’s actual production office.  

By combining elements of classic British period horror and Italian Giallo, Warren has done what no British director had done before or possibly since. Terror could be considered the first and only true British Giallo. The fact that it was all shot in real locations (including a BDSM strip club) on a shoestring budget makes it all the more impressive. I look forward to exploring more of Mr. Warren’s work. Anyone who apes the Italian masters while still managing to make a movie that feels fresh deserves further scrutiny. 

Norman J. Warren Week: Gunpowder (1986)

Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet . . . or swallow the gunpowder. This is that one, elusive Norman J. Warren movie that I haven’t seen — and so wanted to. And, in our quest to complete our Norman J. Warren tribute week — and since there’s no online streams of the PPV or free-with-ads stream variety to be found — I bought a beat-to-hell-but-plays VHS copy online. It just arrived in the mail. I watched it. And didn’t disappoint.

Well, it did, pretty much.

Sing it, everyone! He wears a suit and a bow-tie! / He wears jeans and a leather jacket! / One’s prim. One’s scruffy / He’s Gunn. He’s Powder (dah-dum).

Gunpowder is not the action-adventure knockoff of a ’70 Italian Poliziotteschi film that I was expecting: it was the action (bad) comedy I wasn’t expecting. And I can’t believe the guy who made my favorites of Satan’s Slaves, Prey, and Inseminoid made this. Gunpowder is also known as Explosive Gold (a great title) and Commando Gold Crash (a crappy title that evokes a low-budget Philippines-shot Namploitation flick) in overseas markets, but here, in the U.S., it’s known as Gunpowder — because the two secret agents in this dopey Bond wannabe are named Gunn and Powder. And they’re not named that for the comedy, either.

So, our intrepid Interpol agents (played by David Gillum and Martin Potter; Potter starred in Satan’s Slave, while you’ll recall Gillum from the when-animals-attack classic, Frogs, and the Jaws-rip, Sharks’ Treasure) are assigned by their “M” (which is known as Sir Anthony Phelps, here) to figure out who’s flooding the market with a gold surplus that can ruin the world’s economy. Of course, opposites must attract: Gunn is the dashing, American-bred ladies man and Powder is the proper English gent who files his nails at inopportune times because, well, it’s “funny,” you know, back in the days when insinuating a character was “gay” (for having proper hygiene) was funny.

Uh, dangerous cop? Proper cop? Cue-not Lethal Weapon. And not Austin Powers, either.

But do cue Auric Goldfinger — only not Gert Fröbe, thank you. We’ll take the lower-budgeted Dr. Vanche (David Miller . . . from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!), who’s discovered the formula to manufacture synthetic gold — and he’s selling it on the open market.

This has it all — and it doesn’t: Two martial arts baddies known as “The Cream Twins” (Alan and Brian Fontaine, if you care) who kidnap a metallurgical (lady) scientist/heiress. A super spy lair that puts Bruce Wayne’s joint to cheesy shame (Adam West would have been PERFECT as the American Spy, here; it’s totally in his wheelhouse). Super spy gadgets. A milk factory used as a front to smuggle liquid gold in milk cartons (ugh), which why the scientist/heiress is kidnapped. Then there’s bad dialog. Failed comedic one-liners. And, instead of bullets: vats of liquid gold death traps. Then there’s the stupid (ugh) costumes the bad doctor Vanche’s minions wear — with a big “V” on their chests. And Dr. V’s bad gold hair. And it goes on and on . . . such as our milk heiress having the first name of “Coffee.” Yuk, yuk.

I guess you (well, moi) have to be British to appreciate this one.

Their Mission: Entertainment. Their Method: Boredom. Me: Re-eBay’in the tape to another sap.

Editor’s Note: We planned this Norman J. Warren week on a whim — as result of our February Mill Creek box set blowout featuring two of his films among the celluloid ruins: Prey and Satan’s Slaves. We just lost him on March 11, 2021. You can read up on Warren’s career with his obituaries at The Irish Examiner and Metro UK News.

After Gunpowder, Warren wrapped his career with the mystery-horror Bloody New Year.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Norman J. Warren Week: Prey (1977)

Editor’s Note: Bill Van Ryn, the man, the myth, and the legend behind Groovy Doom and Drive-In Asylum contributed this November 15, 2020, review when we unpacked Mill Creek’s Sci-Fi Invasion box set. We’re bringing it back for our “Norman J. Warren Week” of reviews.

Norman J. Warren’s unique brand of low budget bat shittery is all over the damn place. While not always totally satisfying (I’m looking at you, Inseminoid), when he’s hot, he’s hot. 1977’s alien freakout Prey is one of the hot ones. It’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach blends elements of D. H. Lawrence’s The Fox, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and a dash of Night of the Living Dead thrown in for the hell of it, and this is no accident — the script was being written while filming was progressing, with Warren taking on the project based on the premise alone.


And oh, what a premise. Prey gives us the story of an alien creature who arrives on Earth in a spaceship (unseen by us, other than a colored light show that could have just been a groovy light from Spencer gifts) and immediately encounters two Earth people who are having a romantic tryst in a parked car. He murders both of them, assuming the identity of the man, whose name is Anderson. This being capable of interstellar travel uses a futuristic walkie talkie to communicate with some home base (apparently off-world, which…wow! That’s some wi-fi!), and appears to be on a mission to observe us in our natural habitat. He also likes to eat meat, and that’s it. Total carnivore, this alien.

He moves on and discovers a large secluded estate nearby, where lovers Jessica and Josephine are living an isolated life together. They encounter some mutilated rabbits, which Jo attributes to the work of a fox. They also find our space-hopping buddy “Anderson” (wink wink), seemingly injured, and even though Jo reacts with immediate total hostility, Jessica is excited to finally get someone to talk to other than Jo, who is suspiciously dedicated to making sure Jessica never, ever goes anywhere on her own. They take him back to the house and allow him to stay, which turns out to be a really bad idea on so many levels. 

I adore the fact that this movie is so low budget that it doesn’t even attempt to present any convincing alien technology, but it does have some built-in style that expensive effects could never buy. The manor where most of the action takes place is a fantastic location, with wooded areas bathed in muted green and overcast skies — this is England, after all — and amid all these earth tones are a few scenes with shockingly bright red gore. And for sheer “What the hell am I watching?” kicks, just wait until you see the weird slo-mo scene where Anders and the women roll around screaming in a shallow pond. There’s something almost S.F. Brownrigg about Warren’s work, despite their visual style being different. They both have the ability to create a memorable atmosphere in their films, despite having no visible budgetary advantages.

Anderson mostly stumbles around in a daze, acting like he has no idea what parrots are, or plants, or why people bring them into their homes for decoration. He doesn’t know any locations, either, claiming to be from London after he hears one of the women suggest it.  When they press him for his first name, he says “Anders”.  His hostesses serve him a vegetarian dinner — Jo goes total OG meatless preachy on him — but he responds by vomiting and rushing out of the house to find some more animals to mutilate for dinner.  He also doesn’t know anything about sex, and he spies curiously on Jessica and Josephine having screaming sex together. Jo develops a theory that Anders is an escapee from a local mental institution, and later on we come to realize she may have been doing some projecting when she came up with this idea.  

That’s one of the interesting things about this weird movie, there is actually an intriguing relationship between these two women, and the script ends up surprising us about one of them, but it exists uncomfortably alongside the fact that one of the characters is a flesh-eating alien, which sort of steals the spotlight.  For this reason, I suggest multiple viewings of Prey. In fact, it should be a tradition. 

* Be sure to check our “Exploring: Amityville” feature where we look at all of the legit Amityville films — and even more of its bogus sequels.

Norman J. Warren Week: Satan’s Slave (1976)

Editor’s Note: We reviewed this British horror obscurity on February 15, 2021, as part of our tribute reviews to Mill Creek’s Gorehouse Greats 12-Film Pack (Amazon). We’re bringing it back as part of our “Norman J. Warren Week” tribute of reviews. Visit our Gorehouse Greats Round-Up for all of those reviews.

How is it that we could go on all day about British actor and Hammer stalwart Michael Gough, starting with his first role as Sir Arthur Holmwood in Hammer’s Horror of Dracula (1958), watch his work in Horrors of the Black Museum (1959) multiple times, and watch him in The Phantom of the Opera (1962), The Skull (1965), and Horror Hospital (1973), but never encountered his work on Crown International Pictures’ Satan’s Slave? Even with all of our combined video store memberships and watching Friday and Saturday late night horror blocks on our local UHF-TV stations, we’ve never heard of it or seen it (at least it slipped by me). How is that possible? We fell in love with Euro-obscurities like A Bell From Hell and Symptoms from multiple UHF showings — and even seen them on home video shelves.

Well, let’s unpack this flick brought by the great Norman J. Warren!

Turns out, director Norman J. Warren has two flicks on Mill Creek’s Gorehouse set: this and Terror (1978), which is also on the B-Movie Blast 50-Film pack that we also reviewed back in February 2020. Truth be told, while he’s legendary — at least in B-Movie and video nasty circles — Warren is an under-the-radar obscurity to most horror fans (well, except for FUBAR’d dudes like Bill Van Ryn who’s made his fandom of Warren’s Prey well known), with only 16 credits. The Warren films you (may or not) know are the insipid, Star Wars-inspired sex comedy Spaced Out (1979), aka Outer Touch (that we passed on during our “Star Wars Month” tribute; the similar, better known Galaxina won that review pole position), and the Alien rip off (that we did cover with our “Alien Week” tribute) Inseminoid (1981). Then there’s that off-the-nut sci-fi zombie romp Prey (1977) that Bill Van Ryn digs, and Warren’s final tour de force: Bloody New Year (1987), that Sam digs. All of those films were, of course, better distributed projects that turned up in theaters, cable, and VHS (for me, that would be as Inseminoid; Spaced Out was an oft-aired HBO programmer).

Perhaps it’s because it was only Warren’s third feature film — after two Italian sex shenanigans flicks issued in 1968: Loving Feeling and Private Hell, which makes Satan’s Slave his first horror film. In between his Alien romp, Inseminoid, and his Slasher romp, Bloody Birthday, Warren changed it up with, well, looking at the cover, a Stallone Rambo-cum-Arnie Commando rip called Gunpowder (1986) — has anyone seen it?

Now, the writer on this, well that’s a different story: While he wrote Warren’s Satan’s Slave and Terror, he gave us the video rental favorites of ’70s British horror: White Cargo (1973), House of Whipcord (1974), Frightmare (1974), the sleaze-o-rama that is The Confessional (1976), and Schizo (1976): Lord Smutmeister David McGillivray (and we mean that as a complement).

This time we have a supernatural horror tale with Catherine (British horror “Scream Queen” Candace Glendenning; The Flesh and Blood Show) who comes to live with her uncle and cousin (Michael Gough and Martin Potter; his work goes back to Fellini Satyricon) after she survives a car crash that killed both of her parents. Of course, Uncle Alex and Cousin Stephen are behind the crash: they’re necromancers who need her as a sacrifice to resurrect a powerful, spiritual ancestor.

To say more will spoil the film, as this Rosemary’s Baby-inspired tale (but not at all like a cheap Italian ripoff of that film or The Exorcist) is an excellent watch; one that’s far above the fray of the exploitative-norm discovered on Mill Creek sets. The scripting, set design, and acting — from all quarters — is top notch. I loved it. Consider it one of my new classics in the British ’70s cycle of gothic horror tales, right alongside Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter and Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy.

The production story: There’s additional material shot that was even more violent, and alternative versions of existing scenes that are in the film are available in other prints in the overseas markets. So, what we get is an amped up, Gothic psychological-sexploitation tale that programs nicely with the better distributed (as with the aforementioned A Bell from Hell and Symptoms via VHS and UHF-TV) Virgin Witch (1971) and the always incredible to watch The Wicker Man (1973). Of course, keen eyes immediately notice that the house and grounds of the Yorke estate appeared in Virgin Witch; and when you watch Terror off this same Mill Creek set, you’ll notice the Gothic estate, reappears.

Another choice: Paired with Warren’s Terror.

While you can get this on the Mill Creek sets we’ve unpacked in February, the more serious Warren fan can get Satan’s Slave, along with Terror, Prey, and Inseminoid on Anchor Bay’s Norman Warren Collection DVD box set. Vinegar Syndrome and Severin also offer restored single-disc reissues. However you watch it: watch it. There’s a copy of Satan’s Slave on You Tube.

Norman J. Warren Week: Her Private Hell (1968)

The feature debut of Norman J. WarrenHer Private Hell came about producer Bachoo Sen approached Richard Schulman, owner of London’s Paris Pullman Cinema, with the idea to make their own films. This is how the production company Piccadilly Pictures started.

Schuman was the owner of London’s Paris Pullman Cinema and was showing Warren’s short film Fragment, so they made an offer for him to film two movies for them. The director would later tell Rock Shock Pop!, “I had no idea what the film would be, but to be honest, I would have said yes to anything. I was 25 and desperate to direct a feature film.

The story was written y Glynn Christian, a New Zealand immigrant who based his screenplay on his own experiences as a foreigner living in the swinging London of the 60s.

Marisa (Lucia Modugno, LSD Flesh of the DevilDanger: Diabolik) has come to London to be a model and the first magazine she works for decides to keep her in a fancy high rise apartment along with their top photographer, Bernie (Terry Skelton). They explain its for her protection and not to be the sole owner of her image, which she soon realizes as the magazine begins to control her every move.

While Marisa sleeps with Bernie, she also falls for Matt (Daniel Ollier, who beat Udo Keir for the role), a young photographer whose avant-garde nudes end up in Margaret — one of the magazine’s owners — possession and get sold to a foreign magazine. The film then becomes all about who Marisa will leave with — Bernie, Matt or alone. And perhaps Margaret and Bernie aren’t strangers to one another, as it turns out.

At once a naive girl done wrong film mixed with a movie about the literal swinging 60s morals, Her Private Hell isn’t the Norman J. Warren you may know and love. This is closer to French New Wave than anything else he’d make.

You can watch this on YouTube.

Norman J. Warren Week: Loving Feeling (1968)

At one point, this Norman J. Warren’s was rated X. Today, it plays uncut on YouTube. Such is the changing of the tides.

Just listen to that song that opens this up! You know instantly it’s the end of the 60s and you’re about to watch something romantic. Or dirty. Probably both.

This is the story of Steve (Simon Brent, Love Is a Many Splendored Illusion) who can’t decide between all of the women who want to sleep with him or his wife Suzanne (Georgina Ward, The Man Who Finally Died), who now has a new lover in her life.

Of course, when all of the women are as attractive as the French model who is new in town (played by Françoise Pascal, who was also in There’s a Girl In My Soup and Incense for the Damned), that’s not going to be so simple.

Warren would move on to make Her Private Hell before discovering the horrors that he’d make his name on, stuff like Satan’s SlavePrey and Terror — all great movies you should totally check out. For someone who started life stricken by polio and grew to adulthood with only one functioning arm, Warren ended up having one of the strongest careers a horror director can dream of.

You can watch this on YouTube.