The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)



Now that’s just ridiculous.  There is no creature that “undrapes the passions of the living” in The Curse of the Living Corpse.  It’s clear from the first stalk and kill sequence that the menace of the movie’s namesake is just a guy with a hat and cloak and that there are no supernatural elements in the film.  To be honest, though, two crosses seems a little low for a movie which had some pretty neat sequences but three seems a little high for a movie I didn’t enjoy all the way through.  If any of you loyal readers can render me an image of a “half cross”, then I’ll amend this post by using it!  Thanks in advance!

Coming from the same Del Tenney double feature DVD as The Horror of Party Beach, I was little a disappointed that The Curse of the Living Corpse didn’t give me the same charge as the other film.  It was going places at first but sorta began meandering into needless comic relief and endless scenes of nothing going on, which strung together the few gory and suspenseful sequences.

The plot is pretty basic; set in New England in 1892, a rich man’s heirs stand to inherit his will given that they follow his post death instructions properly.  Of course none of them do and allegedly, the old man leaves his grave and begins picking off his ungrateful, unruly kids, their spouses and some other hangers on one by one.  This group of WASPs includes the non-WASPy Roy Scheider as a smart ass alcoholic named Philip, Philip’s brother and failed doctor Bruce (Robert Milli), Bruce’s main squeeze who I think is played by Linda Donovan, Philip’s wife Vivian (Margo Hartman), Philip’s and Bruce’s mother Abigail (Helen Warren), the caretaker Seth (J. Frank Lucas) and some other guy whose name I forgot.

The film is made well and has some neat sets, primarily the tomb where the father’s body is kept and the old looking mansion they all live in.  The kill scenes are superb; you get a head on a plate, a bloody face, a live burning and a bathtub drowning and some of the characters are completely, hilariously self centered, especially Bruce, a domineering, womanizing pig.  So yeah, it’s fun watching them get picked off.

What’s not fun is the sort of meandering, roundabout way in which the events happen.  They need to make this shit snappy, come on!  Also, what’s with the goofy cop who accidentally handcuffs himself and gets coerced into drinking booze, passing out and waking up hungover?  How is the film supposed to keep its sense of creepiness and suspense with all that tomfoolery going on?

Oh well, it’s not perfect.  On the plus side, there’s some borderline nudity in the bathtub scene.  In the U.S., official “above waste” nudity is constituted by the exposing of a nipple or two, which didn’t happen due to the way in which Margo Hartman was positioned in the bathtub; if she just sat up a bit… also the twist at the end does come as a surprise.  I just wish the movie was more evenly and quickly paced.

Mudhoney (1965)



I finally saw the movie from which one of my favorite bands got its name.  I guess I don’t really “get” Russ Meyer.  I’ve seen Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and I found those and Mudhoney entertaining enough.  I guess they’re supposed to be a mix of satire with some titillation?  Mudhoney is certainly well made – albeit with a couple continuity jumps – and has its tense dramatic moments but was he just trying to make trashy melodrama?

That might be the issue I have with the movie; I’ve seen films like Common Law Wife, Jenny Wife/Child and Shanty Tramp and I watched those for their shoddy film making, antiquated look and occasional nudity.  Meyer’s film isn’t nearly as shitty as the crap Something Weird puts out yet seems too trashy to be taken as “real” cinema.  Was he trying to be the b-grade Douglas Sirk?

For those unawares Mudhoney tells the depression/prohibition era tale of a hired hand named Calif (John Furlong) who comes from Detroit to some non-disclosed location in the deep south where he begins working for a farm owned by some guy (forgot the character’s name) and his hot, blonde niece Hannah (Antoinette Cristiani).  Only problem is that Hannah is married to an abusive, alcoholic nut job named Sidney (Hal Hopper) who, along with raping and beating his wife and visiting the local whore cabin, plans on inheriting his wife’s uncle’s farm when the old man kicks off.

Naturally the story heats up when it’s revealed that Calif has a thing for Hannah and, given that Calif isn’t an abusive drunk like her husband, she likes him back.  This creates all kinds of tense and melodramatic situations; Hannah screams a whole lot and even finally fights back against Sidney.  Meanwhile Sidney also attempts to get the townsfolk against the hired hand through the help of a naive preacher.

In my opinion the movie would be a tad more dull if it weren’t peppered with colorful side characters, most of whom inhabit the local whore cabin I mentioned earlier.  This tacky bunch definitely add a lighthearted if a bit sleazy touch to the story.  Eula (Rena Horton)  and Clara Belle (Lorna Maitland) are two hot, busty blondes.  The former is a deaf mute and both bathe nude outside and are always horny.  In fact Eula ingratiates herself to the local preacher who, after doing his thing, yells “sinner!” to the amusement of the rest of the group.  The barn is tended to by the hilariously weird and ugly looking Maggie Marie (Princess Livingston) who jovially exclaims about how she hasn’t turned a trick in 15 years.

The film does make its statements on morality.  The preacher accuses everyone of being a sinner while the inhabitants of the happy whore cabin basically celebrate their sexual freedom.  Yes we see both Eula and Clara Belle naked and yes, it’s meant to excite – I mean, come on – but both scenes have a natural, carefree tone about them.  Clara Belle even says to Calif, “oh you’re one of those city boys who uses a bathing suit.”

But the main crux of the story lies in what Sidney does and, indeed, he’s one awful son of a bitch.  I don’t want to give too much away but he does some pretty selfish, mean-spirited and downright sociopathic things eventually leading to the film’s cataclysmic conclusion.  The ending is pretty epic.

Overall the film is pretty entertaining.  The opening sequence of Sidney driving drunk, storming into his own house and raping his wife – as awful as that is – does an excellent job establishing the twisted, white trash world we are about to enter.  Is that the point then?  Should I re-rate this movie and give it four crosses?  Only time will tell!