Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

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I guess I’m a little surprised that Let Sleeping Corpses Lie, which is also known by a plethora of other titles including most popularly Don’t Open the Window and The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, hasn’t gotten a bit more recognition in the world of zombie cinema.  If it did I know I would have heard about it way sooner.  It’s possibly the first post-Night of the Living Dead zombie flick which holds true to the now popular zombie movie cliches (i.e. get bit by a zombie and become one, their coming to life because of radiation, etc.).

And to be sure, Jorge Grau’s stylistically shot picture was admittedly influenced by Night of the Living Dead.  In fact several of the plot points are directly parallel to those in George Romero’s masterpiece.  The most obvious comparisons are the characters themselves.  It’s obvious that Romero’s black protagonist is meant to be some sort of anti-establishment symbol; same with George (Ray Lovelock), a long-haired, hippie type, who rides a motorcycle and somewhat resembles Charles Manson.  At the beginning he meets Edna (Christine Galbo), a cute red head, and the two, through a series of events are forced to fend off flesh craving zombies.  The unlikely pairing of the man and woman also parallels Night of the Living Dead.  Only, in this case, Edna acts cooler and savvier than the ditzy Barbara.

A wrong turn leads George to a field where a group of guys are using radiation as a form of pesticide.  Unbeknownst to them this causes a group of zombies to rise from their graves and start killing people.  When one kills the husband of Edna’s drug addicted sister, the authorities assume the hippie George was responsible because he has long hair and looks weird.

Then the gory gut chomping starts.  And boy is it gory, not just for a movie made in 1974!  It’s also vividly shot in color with lots of style and grace, as one would expect a Spanish-Italian horror film to be shot.  The landscape of the British countryside is lush and marvelous and an excellent foil to the grotesqueness that transpires.  And, I suppose if you’re one of those substance people, it also has an environmentalist message.  But seeing how many times George says stuff like “man, look at what you’re doing to the Earth, man!”, I wonder if the message was sincere or just a way for the director to give his movie some edge.

That hardly matters though.  I highly recommend this film.  I read a review somewhere on the net that it takes its time to get going but that’s bullshit.  Sure, it doesn’t just shove twenty corpses in your face in the first few minutes but, come on, this was made before everyone became afflicted with A.D.D.

Guess What Happened to Count Dracula (1971)

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Guess where I found this movie!  You got it!  It’s the other movie on the Something Weird DVD from which I watched Dracula (The Dirty Old Man)!  Like most Something Weird DVDs, the disc is loaded with cool stuff including 10 or so movie trailers, two short films and a gallery of exploitation art.  Before I get into discussing Laurence Merrick’s and Mario d’Alcala’s boring and shitty theatrically released home movie Guess What Happened to Count Dracula, I’ll briefly talk about the special features.

The trailers are awesome and, inevitably, make me want to check out Caged Virgins, Blood Suckers, The Body Beneath and a whole bunch more I can’t remember.  I’ve already seen H.G. Lewis’ A Taste of Blood, however.

The two short subjects were both pornographic home movies with vampire themes but were also pretty funny.  “Dracula and the Dirty Old Witch” begins with the vampire waking completely naked (except he’s wearing a cape) out of his coffin, stalking a girl who he kidnaps, taking her to his underground lair where he has other women chained up and attempting to make her his vampire bride.  Then the witch plays a joke on him, giving him brew that turns him gay, making him turn to a male prisoner and profess his love.  The male prisoner replies, “I’ve already got a husband.”  Har!  The other short subject, “Sex and the Single Vampire”, has a bit more blood related jokes, a bunch of couples fucking (which I think is real) before the vampire kidnaps all the men and sleeps with the women who are immediately turned on by his huge cock.  In the morning, with the women surrounding him in bed, he turns into a skeleton.  Double harr!!

I don’t need to say that much about the gallery of exploitation art except for what is that freakin’ song at the end???  It’s a cute, catchy 1950s rock ‘n’ roll song with a lady singing, “I love love love you, baby” and “I want your love but all I get is your money.”  Can someone help me track down this song and artist???

2014 update!!!  The artist in question is Betty Dickson and the song is “Shanty Tramp”, the theme for the film Shanty Tramp!!!  Triple harrr!!!

Guess What Happened to Count Dracula combine’s the Anton LaVey documentary Satanis: The Devil’s Mass with vampire themes, meaning it has the look and feel of that documentary with the cool, underground hippie cult dungeon and Satanic references but is also a narrative with a supernatural theme to it.  And I know I’m not full of crap when I say this because, in addition to mimicking the underground, cult-like feel of LaVey’s Church of Satan, the vampire also has a pet tiger; which, if you remember, LaVey adopted a baby lion that grew too big to take care of.

As evidenced by the “GP” rating, the movie is devoid of sex or violence.  It’s completely family friendly and not particularly compelling.  In fact, it’s down right boring.  The poster lists a bunch of quirky characters like “Imp”, “Hunch”, “Vamp” and “Runt” but they’re all entirely underused and just serve as set decorations.  The vampire either cages up the Imp or the Hunch, I forgot which, and all the Imp or Hunch does is make noise.  The Vamp just bares her teeth every now and then and that’s about it.  I remember the Runt being there too but I don’t remember him doing anything at all.

The story is about the generic, Dracula-like vampire, Count Adrian, kidnapping the girl and turning her into another vampire.  The good guy goes to stop it and a bunch of other useless crap happens.  If this was made by a competent director, then there might have been some suspense as the girl gets sicker, loses more blood and sees more teeth marks on her neck.  But, instead, it’s just tedium spiced with really lame jokes.  The worst of which is when the doctor, who’s office looks like a kitchen, talks to the nurse and they imply they’re going to “do it on the table”, before the doctor pulls out a chess board.  Also, upon seeing the vampire bites on the girls neck, the doctor more than once says, “tell your boyfriend to take it easy!”  Haha!  Because human teeth have the ability to put two conveniently spaced holes in a person’s neck, haha!

I mean, the ONLY redeeming quality about this film is that it looks like Satanis: The Devil’s Mass with its poorly lit, sepia tone and underground dungeon scenery.

Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) (1969)

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I don’t even know where to start with this one.  I’m on a quest to see everything in the Something Weird library and William Edwards’ classic Dracula (The Dirty Old Man) just happened to be the next film up and, well, it’s pretty shitty.  I mean, it’s no worse than most of what I’ve seen from Something Weird and not even half as boring as say, Monster at Camp Sunshine or a number of sexploitation/nudy cutie flicks.  Hell!  It even has a special effect!  Dracula disappears and reappears!  How did they do that!?

Uh, right… so this 68 minute feature is about a vampire who dresses like Dracula yet talks in an old Jewish/Yiddish accent, which must have been a deliberate attempt at schlocky Jewish humor since the Jackal-Man character is named (sigh) Dr. Irving Jekyll.  Basically Count Alucard goes around kidnapping women, taking them back to his dungeon and biting their boobs, leaving two vampire bite holes.

His slave, Dr. Irving Jekyll does the same thing, I think.  I don’t know.  Actually, the movie is pretty darn insulting.  The vampire constantly remarks about how one of the girls he kidnaps and chains up is overweight and how another has small boobs.  Elsewhere the characters make fun of each other and there are some necking couples here and there.  There’s also some gore, which would be affective if it actually looked like gore and not piled on red slop and if a character actually looked like he wounded another character rather than just implying it before the camera cuts away.

The dubbing is also piss poor which unintentionally (or maybe not?) makes it that much funnier and the Jackal-Man just looks like he’s wearing a cheap Halloween mask.  Ohhh, crap… the Jackal-Man is supposed to be said as Irving Jackalman, hahahahahaha, oy gavolt!  Apparently this movie was dubbed into several languages, which means, I assume, that several of the Jewish jokes were lost on people.  This thing actually showed at different festivals!  It’s a fuckin’ home movie for crying out loud!

I made my friend Sarah watch this with me and she said, “Edwin, you have the shittiest taste in movies.”  And I said, “mmm, it wasn’t that bad.”