The Flesh and Blood Show (1972)

More like The Bland and Boring Show if you ask me!  The Sci-Fi channel has a rule for their made for TV movies that, regardless of what happens, the monster has to be shown on the screen every eight minutes.  While I think this is limiting for the director’s artistic vision, especially if the director wants to build up some sort of suspense, I can see the logic to it.  Like, if a rule like that were applied to The Flesh and Blood Show, it might not have been such a snoozer.

Indeed both the salacious poster and trailer claim that the movie will offer up some tasty goodies in the form of naked nubile actresses and lots of gore.  Well it certainly has one of those things.  But, if director Peter Walker was intending to just make a piece of Eurotrash ertoica, he could have been a bit more up front about it.

Instead, we get so much promise and so little payoff, it’s a wonder why the director bothered with the film in the first place.  Did he really just want an excuse to film naked flesh?  The very opening scene is two ladies (lesbians?) sleeping in bed, one getting up completely naked (because women with big boobs forget to put on clothes) to check the door and finds a man who has been STABBED IN THE STOMACH… only he wasn’t actually stabbed and was just playing a prank.  By the way the woman is still naked during all of this.

Apparently this movie has a plot; something about a group of actors and actresses going to an old theater to rehearse a play called (you guessed it) The Flesh and Blood Show.  During the course of their rehearsals, some mad man picks off one actor and/or actress after another.  Or rather that is what is supposed to happen.  Instead we get long, drawn out dialogue sequences, a lot of people hanging in various locales (dining room of some house, out on the pier where the theater is, etc.) talking to each other about god knows what.  Occasionally a new actor/character will be introduced into the story and not add or take anything away.  You would think the more characters, the more kills but this movie is supposedly a “thriller” rather than a “slasher” and thrillers are the ones that are supposed to build up the suspense and not just offer up a bunch of violent kills facilitated by stupid characters who make bad decisions (makes jerk off motion with hand).

I gave the movie two iron crosses so there must be a reason other than the hot women who are often disrobed.  The first of those reasons is that, in spite nearly nothing happening, the movie takes place in an old grand guignol style theater with some old torture props lying around and thus kinda looks cool and the other reason is that one of the victims gets her head put on a plaque within the first 20 minutes.  The only problem is that kind of stuff doesn’t keep happening.  Another woman gets stabbed but, by that time, I stopped caring.

Also, I have absolutely no desire to recall any of the actual actors since their acting can be described as serviceable at best.  Even the old man charcter is just, ya know, meh.  Typically I let others crow about the whole “male gaze” concept but, in this case, I can’t help but think there were some noticeably gratuitous shots of some of these ladies such as this:


and this:


In that second one, she was sleeping like that in the theater.  Why?  I dunno, maybe they’re hippie free spirits or something.  Or maybe Peter Walker wanted to a chance to frame this shot and do as many takes as possible.  Anyway, unless you like what I described above, I’d highly suggest skipping this movie.

Super Duper Alice Cooper (2014)



I thought we’d gotten over this, but there seem to be people in this world who still want to throw Alice Cooper in the same pile of classic rock bands you’re not supposed to listen to if you’re hip.  David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed are cool.  Alice is not.  I know Alice didn’t do much to help his reputation when he released albums like Constrictor, Trash and Hey Stoopid, but let’s overlook those things.  After all why does Bowie get the pass with Let’s Dance???

Anyhoo, this is supposed to be a movie review and not a bitchy rant about how Alice needs to be reevaluated by cool, arty kids.  By the way, why was every early Bowie and Stooges album reissued, while two of rock’s masterpieces, Love It to Death and Killer, only have used vinyl and cheap, early Warner Bros. CDs to represent them?  And for that matter, why all the MC5 worship?  What did they do except preach a bunch of Maoist nonsense, get arrested a few times and release loud, but otherwise straight-forward, bluesy rock records?  Yeah, REAL revolutionary!

Okay, okay, rant is over.  I was being somewhat facetious and hyperbolic, and I love all of above mentioned artists.  I’m just bitter at the way some other blogs have talked about Alice Cooper as if he/they is/are just showy with little in the way of memorable songs outside of a few classic hits.  Let’s talk about the movie Super Duper Alice Cooper, which I dropped seven dollars to watch last night.

Honestly, as a hardcore fan, if the movie was three or four hours long, I’d probably have been more satisfied with it.  Filmmakers Sam Dunn, Reginald Harkema and Scott McFadyen do a serviceable job stuffing Alice Cooper’s 40 year career into 95 minutes… that is if you’re a merely casual fan or just have some passing interest.  However I can’t help but notice one, obvious, glaring, FUCKING OMISSION!!!  Where in all of this was MICHAEL BRUCE – ya know the guy who wrote or co-wrote “I’m Eighteen”, “Ballad of Dwight Fry”, “Under My Wheels”, “Billion Dollar Babies” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and played guitar AND keyboard on all of the band’s early recordings?!  He wasn’t mentioned once, yet you clearly see a fifth guy in all the early band photos!  That’s like doing a documentary on Iggy Pop and omitting Ron Asheton or talking about Ozzy Osbourne and forgetting to mention that band he was in for ten years.

But yes, the 95 minute film tells the Alice Cooper story from his childhood growing up in Detroit and his various illnesses, through his teen years in Phoenix, AZ, where he met best friend and bassist Dennis Dunaway and started the band that would be Alice Cooper along with local juvenile delinquent kid and lead guitarist Glen Buxton; their various names were Earwigs, Spiders and Nazz and the phases they went through were 60s garage, psychedelia and hard rock before becoming a household name.  After that band collapsed, Alice started a solo career, dealt with alcoholism, got married and later found God (which is implied, but not explicitly said) and redemption.  They don’t really talk about the earliest members of the group or how drummer Neal Smith joined either but I suppose only the hardcore fans give two shits about original rhythm guitarist John Tatum, who was replaced by Michael Bruce and original drummer John Spear, who was replaced by Neal Smith or their two singles as the Spiders and one single as the Nazz.

I’ll give the filmmakers their due; they make every attempt to keep the film interesting and move things at a very quick clip.   They use this new, 3-D still shot technique to give photographs a “living” quality.  It does help put you in the time frame since, I’m assuming, 60s performances of the Spiders or the Nazz don’t exist.  Alice’s story is also juxtaposed with shots from the 1920 adaptation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to further illustrate his onstage/offstage personality and how the former began to take over the latter.  Newbies might be surprised to learn about Frank Zappa’s direct involvement with the group’s early history; from his discovering the group in L.A. and claiming that their flashy, trashy appearance made them the male equivalent of the GTOs to his signing them to his Straight label in 1968 just because they were so darn weird.  Also, what the fuuuu… Alice did coke and free based??!!  I thought he was just a drinker!!! Arrghghhg, my mind is blown!!!

Furthermore the early live footage is just amazing.  There’s copious amounts of early club and festival footage when the group used weird props to entertain confused crowds of stoned out hippies and I just couldn’t believe it when Alice got creamed in the face!

Hell, you won’t believe it either!  It happens at 9:18.

While the main narrator of the film is Alice Cooper, former members Dennis Dunaway and Neal Smith, producer Bob Ezrin and manager Shep Gordon also help tell the story.  Furthermore we get very brief commentary from Elton John, Iggy Pop, John Lydon and Dee Snyder as well.  For some reason the film doesn’t use any talking heads, which is fine as far as I’m concerned.

The film glosses over a lot and omits some interesting tidbits because, as I said, to tell it all, you’d need three or four hours and I don’t know how interested the casual fan or curiosity seeker would be in Alice talking about his work on the Spanish horror film Monster Dog.  I almost wish this documentary was never made and that Alice did what Iron Maiden did; release for fans only DVD documentaries that cover specific eras of his/their career in thorough detail.  I personally would love a documentary or book strictly on the original band and then another one about his early 80s, new wavey period.  But that’s me.

Here are some fun facts that were omitted that even non-fans might find interesting:

1.  Alice Cooper opened for the Doors in 1968 and managed to empty out the entire venue except for Frank Zappa, Shep Gordon and a couple GTOs

2. The reason the group had to change its name from the Nazz to Alice Cooper was because Todd Rundgren had a band called the Nazz at the time.

3. By the way, the group got the name the Nazz from the Yardbirds song “The Nazz Are Blue.”

4. Groucho Marx attended an early Alice Cooper gig and called it good vaudeville.

5. Frank Zappa initially wanted Alice Cooper to change their name to Alice Cookies in order to further fit his stable of “weird” bands at Straight records (Alice Cookies and His Magic Band???).  Thank goodness they didn’t go for it!

6. Alice Cooper had the number one record in the States with Billion Dollar Babies yet had gigs cancelled and were banned in certain parts of the Bible Belt.

7. Donovan is the other voice on “Billion Dollar Babies.”

8. Liza Minelli and the Pointer Sisters sing on “Teenage Lament ’74” from the Muscle of Love album.

9. Alice appeared on Hollywood Squares in 1974.

10. Alice appeared on the Muppet Show in 1977.

11. Alice performed the Beatles song “Because” in the movie Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band from 1978.

12. Alice sings on and appears in the video for the Twisted Sister song “Be Chrool to Your Scuel.”

Three Devil Movie Reviews

I admit I’ve been on a Satan kick lately.  No I don’t worship the devil nor have I read the Satanic Bible or think of Anton LaVey as anything more than a huckster.  I just think the devil or Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub is a cool looking, evil scary guy with horns and a tail but damn was the movie going public obsessed with him from the late 60s right through most of the 70s!  Hell I can’t get enough of him!  It’s kind of surprising how many films were made about the devil during this period.  I just downloaded Eye of the Devil, Race with the Devil and The Devils today!  So here we go with reviews of three different movies, which, if nothing else, could serve as a way to compare and contrast the different ways ol’ Lucifer has been handled on screen.

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

Our first picture is, in my humble opinion, the weakest of the three devil pictures up for review.  How is it possible to rate The Devil Rides Out, a Hammer film, as anything but a piece of classic horror?  Believe me I REALLY wanted to like this movie.  The poster is enough to make you drool for the devil, right?  And that image IS in the movie so what’s the problem?

Terence Fisher directs it just fine and Christopher Lee is great as always but the main problem is that The Devil Rides Out is handled with the same classic, gothic and melodramatic approach used on classic Dracula and Frankenstein movies and contains a standard “good vs. evil” plot even though the film takes place in the present.  That renders the characters pretty dull as there’s no nuance to any of them.

You just have the good guys, Nicholas (Christopher Lee) and Rex (Leone Greene), visiting their old buddy Simon (Patrick Mower) and soon discovering that their old chum has joined a coven and practices black magic.  The rest of the film involves the leader of the coven, Mocata (Charles Grey) attempting to hypnotize the rest of the cast in order to collect souls to sacrifice to the devil.

I’m not saying I hated the movie; it was perfectly fine.  The Satanic concepts are hilariously literal; we see the actual horned devil (who looks cool as heck, mind you), the angel of death and some other demon type thing all summoned in the flesh and, in order to destroy these creatures, Nicholas or Rex literally throw crucifixes at them.

The film was given a G rating so, in spite being about the devil, the good guys triumph in the end and there is pretty much no gore in the entire movie.  With that said I still thought the Satanic coven sequence was pretty darn cool.

To the Devil a Daughter (1976)

Next up we have To the Devil a Daughter, which I absolutely loved!  To the Devil a Daughter was made right at the end of Hammer’s existence.  I believe they might have made one or two other films after this before closing up shop.  But, if they had continued to make freak fests like this, who knows how far they could have gone into the next couple decades?  Unlike The Devil Rides Out, To the Devil a Daughter takes things in a completely odd and twisted direction.  Those of you who are more astute than me might have been able to pick out the twist early on and I had my inclinations but that didn’t stop me from going along for the ride!

Let me start from the beginning.  In the prologue we see Father Michael (Christopher Lee) being excommunicated from the Catholic Church.  This immediately piqued my interest because I wasn’t sure if Christopher Lee was going to be the good guy or the bad guy.  And BOY did I find out!  Fast forward 20 years and Father Michael is now the head of a congregation and we see him being chummy with the nuns in a local convent among whom include a young nun named Catherine (Nastassja Kinski).

After that we’re introduced to an occult novelist named John Verney (played wonderfully by Richard Widmark), who makes money from arguably bogus, sensationalistic devil books and is signing said books in some modern art gallery in London.  Verney meets a neurotic, nut job named Henry Beddows (again played wonderfully by Denholm Elliot), who convinces Verney to meet his daughter Catherine at the airport and take her in his care, which he inexplicably does because apparently Beddows is being chased by cult members for going back on a deal with the devil.

And from there the mystery begins to unfold as we learn some disturbing facts about the convent that Father Michael was the head of, the nunnery in which Catherine was raised and the twisted plans they have for Catherine.

Unlike the G rated, family friendly The Devil Rides Out, To the Devil a Daughter goes right down to the gore (albeit briefly) with the murders of a couple tertiary characters and a full on Satanic ritual orgy sequence.  Furthermore, if you didn’t already guess, it has a killer cast!  I already mentioned it but Richard Widmark does such a good job remaining reasonably skeptical even when witnessing the power of the devil, Denholm Elliot turns into a complete, paranoid wreck and Nastassja Kinski plays the naive, innocent role very well.  Christopher Lee is Christopher Lee, hamming it up as if he’s still in a classic era Hammer picture rather than one set in 1976 but the old timiness works within the context of the film.

The Devil Within Her (1975)

Lastly we have The Devil Within Her (a.k.a. Sharon’s Baby and I Don’t Want to Be Born; wonder if that’s where Venom got the line from “Leave Me in Hell”) which shouldn’t be confused for another film called The Devil Within Her (a.k.a. Beyond the Door).  The latter is an Italian production that came out in 1974, was directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis and is about a woman who gives birth to the devil’s baby.  The one I’m reviewing is a British production that came out in 1975, was directed by Peter Sasdy and is about a woman who gives birth to the devil’s baby.

Though not a Hammer production, The Devil Within Her features Hammer people both in director Peter Sasdy and actresses Joan Collins and Caroline Munroe.  So, if The Devil Rides Out was underwhelming and To the Devil a Daughter was awesomely awesome, I’d say The Devil Within Her is just plain silly.  Most people would consider it the worst of these three films but I’m not most people and I got a major kick out of it even if it was for the wrong reasons.

Also a lot of people compare it to Rosemary’s Baby and that’s just plane foolish and wrong.  The movie begins with the birth of the devil’s baby.  And no, it’s not a spoiler.  We know from the beginning that this little tyke is one mean, nasty son of a bitch (or rather the son of a cheating, lying whore as the plot will reveal!).  From the moment the mother and father try to coddle their baby, junior bites, scratches, punches and kills anyone who tries to get close.

His weakness?  Ugghhhh… crucifixes and Catholic prayer.  The main character is a former burlesque dancer named Lucy (Joan Collins) (so where the hell does Sharon’s Baby come from???) and her husband is the suave, sexy Italian Gino (Ralph Bates), who apparently wasn’t suave and sexy enough since it’s revealed that Lucy had an affair with the burlesque theater manager Tommy Morris (John Steiner) and thinks the baby might be his.

Then there’s the midget Hercules (George Claydon), a creepy little bastard who made moves on Lucy and is vaguely implicated in having something to do with the baby being the devil’s kid.  Little of it makes sense so it’s best to turn your mind off and giggle as we see a little baby punch a man in the face and the man react angrily rather than startled or watch the same little baby decapitate someone with a shovel.

I could mention something about Caroline Munroe but it seems as though she was only put in the movie to look cute and chew the scenery.  And that about covers of it.  This is my 100th blog post.  Hail Satan!

Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)


Before we get to the review, here’s a picture of me holding two DVDs I purchased at Thomas Video in Clawson, MI (metro Detroit).  The store is sadly closing, signaling the end of the longest running video store ever.


Yep, that’s me, Edwin Oslan, the Savage Hippie guy, who writes this crappy blog!  Now for the review!

I’m assuming that, when people see a movie called Cannibal Apocalypse, they think of Italian cannibal classics like Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox (a.k.a. Make Them Die Slowly), but Cannibal Apocalypse (a.k.a. Invasion of the Flesh Hunters) is not a cannibal adventure flick, that’s set in some primitive jungle, where members of an exploring expedition get brutally tortured and killed after brutally torturing and killing members of a primitive cannibal tribe.  On the contrary, the film takes place in a modern, urban environment, and the “cannibals” are actually infected humans.

One of the cast members is Giovanni Lombardo Radice, the explorer in Cannibal Ferox who gets his wang chopped off, but that’s the only real connection.  Well, that and the fact that the film was directed by an Italian and has a very stylish, European look to it, along with copious amounts of gore.

So yeah, Cannibal Apocalypse was directed by Antonio Margheriti (who, for some reason went his whole career credited as Anthony M. Dawson) and stars John Saxon in what might be the actor’s strangest roll.

The movie begins in the jungles of ‘Nam (actually a particularly tree covered Atlanta, Georgia hillside), where army dude Norman Hopper (Saxon) attempts to rescue two of his fellow officers from being held captive, only to have one of them, Charles Bukowski (yes, the character is named Charles Bukowski) (Radice), bite his hand.  Right after, Hopper wakes up next to his lovely wife in a comfortable bed, and it’s revealed that the opening sequence was both a dream and a flashback.  It’s also revealed early on that Hopper might have the disease as well, culminating in a particularly creepy scene involving Hopper and the cute, teenage girl living next door, in which Hopper feels the urge to bite the young gal, which she, in turn, enjoys because she’s a freak like that.

Meanwhile, both Bukowski and the other captive officer, Tom Thompson (Tony King), are being held at a mental institution.  For some reason, Bukowski is deemed sane and, within seconds of leaving the institution, goes on a mad biting spree, gets involved in a fight with some bikers, and ends up in a shootout with cops.  He eventually frees his partner so they can both go on mad biting sprees and spread the disease.  At some point, it’s hard to tell whose side the movie is on.  Ultimately, biting people and spreading rabies is bad, but at the same time, since the hunters become the hunted, it seems as though the movie pulls a switcheroo on you, and now wants you to sympathize with those who you were once against!

I don’t want to spoil the rest of the film for you; so just know that there are some neat chase sequences, lots of stalking, lots of biting, a couple of unexpected twists, and copious amounts of Fulci-level gore.  I highly recommend Cannibal Apocalypse!

If you got Cannibal Apocalypse on DVD, I also suggest watching the bonus interview with the director and cast members for some fascinating insight.  Both director Margheriti and Radice laugh at the preposterous nature of the plot, while John Saxon read the thing as a metaphor for how the horrors of war never leave a person.  Furthermore, during his interview, Saxon discusses how he was surprised at the level of gore and violence in the Italian horror films, which he’d never seen before; it’s actually quite amusing hearing his near child-like astonishment (“this stuff is so much more realistic and primitive compared to these new films, wow!”). I completely agree, John!

Edgeplay: A Film About the Runaways (2005)



On my facebook page, I humorously remarked about how Lars Von Trier’s Melencholia is probably not the celebratory, good time film with which to bring in the New Year.  The irony is that I thought, “hey!  I’ve got this movie about John Waters’ famous transvestite/character actor pal, or I’ve got this movie about the Runaways, the all female rock band responsible for ‘Cherry Bomb’, one of the gnarliest guitar grunters of the 70s!  No matter which of these I choose, I’m in for a mighty good time!”  And boy was I mistaken!

To further illustrate, remember how in The Filth and the Fury, John Lydon says something about how, unlike every other film about every other band, their movie will show you that being in a band is hard, and it’s hell and only somewhat enjoyable if you do it for the right reason?  Well even that movie showed that, among the scary and tragic moments, there was still joy to be experienced and, in the end, something good came out of it.

With Edgeplay, which was directed by former Runaways bassist Vicki Blue, this is not the case at all.  Instead we get nearly two depressing hours, in which we barely hear a word about music and lots and lots of shit talking and disturbing accounts of a sleazy manager, who used sexual and emotional coercion to shape the Runaways look and sound.

The trouble with the film was imminent the moment former Runaways guitarist and arguably most successful member Joan Jett refused to participate or allow any original Runaways tunes to be licensed for the movie.  In her own words:

“To me, the Runaways is my baby, so you have to understand my perspective. If there’s gonna be a Runaways movie, it should be about what we accomplished, the tours we did, the bands we played with, the people we inspired. I’m not gonna participate in a Jerry Springer fest, bottom line. With any band, you’re gonna have interpersonal conflicts, but if that’s what they thought the Runaways were about—about breaking a bass or putting on make-up—well, it’s very disappointing. Very, very disappointing. I wanted nothing to do with it because that’s not the band I was in. [The film] was a totally different take on what went down.”

The basic Runaways story is that, in 1975 somewhere in L.A., producer/manager Kim Fowley helped assemble a sassy, sexy, all female teenage rock band called the Runaways, which initially consisted of Cherie Currie (lead vocals), Lita Ford (lead guitar), Joan Jett (rhythm guitar), Jackie Foxx (bass), and Sandy West (drums), and marketed them as “jailbait rock.”  Now is that your idea of “Grrrl power”? After the release of their self titled debut album, Jackie Foxx quit and was replaced by Vicki Blue. Then, after their second album, Queens of Noise, Cherie Currie quit, and Jett took over on lead vocals along with playing guitar.  After their third album, they broke up, and Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, and Joan Jett started their solo careers; the end.

On the surface, it sounds like it could lead to some interesting anecdotes, stories about tours with bands like the Ramones, but nope… They mention some of that, but mostly it’s just a bunch of really nasty back biting and harsh attacks.  That Kim Fowley and the subsequent managers employed were probably the sleaziest fuckers in showbiz I have no doubt, and it’s good to expose that; especially that really disturbing “Kim Fowley’s Sex Education” incident, which various members recall differently and became the hot topic of controversy in Cherie Currie’s autobiography.  But there’s no victory at all!  It’s just trashy Entertainment Tonight style shit talking!

Even during the Japanese tours and success stories, there is still an air of tragedy throughout.  Blue interviews every other member except for Jett for obvious reasons.  Although she technically didn’t interview Kim Fowley since he made some absurd demands like insisting on singing his interview answers and then licensing them (?!), Blue managed to secure some VH1 interview footage.  They also interview Jackie Foxx’s and Cherrie Currie’s parents and Suzi Quatro as well.

There is a little bit in there about the music; for instance, “Cherry Bomb” was written on the spot at their first rehearsal; Lita Ford was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Ritchie Blackmore and could wail on the “Highway Star” guitar solo; their producers didn’t trust certain bass players to play in the studio; half the members wanted to be a metal band, while the other half wanted to be a punky glam band; and several members patterned themselves off their individual idols, with Jett as Suzi Quatro, Currie as Bowie – even though it seems she more has the macho rock swagger of a Roger Daltry or Robert Plant – Ford as Ritchie Blackmore, and Foxx apparently as Gene Simmons (?!).  That’s the kind of shit I wanted to learn about; not how the members all shacked up with each other.

And, as mentioned earlier, we don’t get any original Runaways music; the closest we get are their covers of “Rock ‘n’ Roll” by the Velvet Underground and “Wild Thing” by the Troggs. Instead, the needlessly grainy interview footage and otherwise poorly shot film is spiced up with god-fucking-awful hair metal that was written and/or performed by Lita Ford and Suzi Quatro explicitly for the movie.  And it NEVER stops!  The music just keeps playing in the background as if on loop!  I’m not kidding!  How could Suzi Quatro – responsible for “Glycerine Queen” – make such lousy music?

So that’s the story of the Runaways; six teenage girls got thrown into the music industry machine of sleaze, sex, drugs, rape, unwanted pregnancies, attempted suicides, physical attacks, and broken Nikon cameras, got spit out, and that was it.  Also, apparently, Sandy West shoved loaded guns down people’s throats and broke people’s arms for loan sharks. How cute. No but obviously Lita Ford, Joan Jett and, to a somewhat lesser extent, Cherie Currie launched successful careers and good for them.  But if you’re looking for a film about women triumphing in the male dominated rock ‘n’ roll music industry or something that isn’t just a bunch of depressing ass bullshit, don’t look here.

Vampire Circus (1972)



First of all, this:


Second of all, Vampire Circus received a PG rating!  Unless scenes were cut for the American release, I can imagine the “hubba-hubba” elation I would have felt if I saw this movie in the theater as a little kid and can imagine my mom or dad angrily whispering, “turn your head, son!”

Vampire Circus is a later period Hammer film that loosely fits into their much steamier later period films such as Twins of Evil, The Vampire Lovers, Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula.  Notice they didn’t make Lust for Frankenstein or Frankenstein’s Sexy Nymphs because I don’t think there is any way to make a sexy Frankenstein picture.  And no, Frankenhooker wasn’t sexy.

As indicated above Hammer pictures was moving in a more salacious direction primarily to keep up with the changing trends in cinema and partially just to stay afloat.  In all of that came this remarkable vampire picture, which succeeds in being unique, creepy and, well, erotic.  I would say it borders on European erotic horror films; it certainly has the right amount of nudity for that!  Oh and there’s a surprising amount of gore for a PG rated movie as well.

In the prologue, a young, cute nymphette, Anna Mueller (Domini Blythe) runs to a castle to have a passionate romantic love affair with vampire Count Mitterhaus (Robert Tayman).  Both are caught by her husband Prof. Albert Mueller (Laurence Payne), who looks more like her dad (wonder why she ran way…).  Mueller impales the count but the count promises to get his revenge.  Afterwards Anna Mueller is brutally flogged by the town folk for her lechery and runs back to the castle, which the town folk then burn down.

Fifteen years later a plague has hit the town.  The superstitious people believe it’s the vampire’s curse but Prof. Mueller doesn’t believe vampires exist (after all, he killed the vampire but anyone would die from getting impaled, ya know?).  Then the caravan rolls in!

Led by the sexy Gypsy Woman (Adrienne Cori, who looks quite stunning with all that flowing red hair) and consisting of a painted up dwarf, a  strong man, two acrobatic types, a lion tamer of sorts, a naked tiger dancer and Emil (Anthony Higgins) who can shape shift into a leopard, the circus allegedly comes to bring the woa-begotten folk some joy.  They perform various circus tricks and it seems innocent enough – well, as innocent as a completely naked woman painted green with tiger stripes performing a sexually charged dance with the lion tamer in front of men, women and children can be – but soon things take a turn for the worst.

It’s revealed pretty early on that the circus hasn’t come out of good spirits but to avenge Count Mitterhaus.  What’s interesting is that not everyone in the group is a vampire; only the shape shifting Emil and the two acrobatic dancers.  The rest just do their cicusy thing, albeit maliciously.  Remember kids; dwarfs aren’t to be trusted!  The circus people do a variety of bad things whether it be traumatize an old man via a nightmarish carnival mirror, lure a group of people into a forest just to have the very same circus animals brutally ripped them to shreds and of course the standard blood sucking expected of the vampires.  In fact little kids aren’t even safe.

Which leads me to another point.  This movie has some weird overtones of pedophilia.  I dunno, maybe the vampires are just biting the little kids for their blood but, considering what vampirism has always implied, it adds a certain level of creepiness.  Otherwise though, Vampire Circus is an underrated little gem that deserves to be re-examined.  Hammer was going through some rough times financially which prompted them to think a little outside the box and this is a good example of that!

Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958)



As I mentioned somewhere else on this blog, the American horror movie landscape was pretty unique in the late 50s and early 60s.  American companies weren’t convinced that traditional, gothic or literary horror pictures could really grab the youth market until Hammer and later American International proved that with their Draculas, Frankensteins and Edgar Allen Poes.  In the meantime, any American horror movies made were set in the present day and any connection they had to classic monsters was superficial at best.

Take for instance this movie I am currently reviewing.  Frankenstein’s Daughter is no more a Frankenstein movie than any other movie about a mad scientist who experiments on bodies to create life.  And quite honestly Frankenstein’s Daughter is a pretty misleading title; the mad doctor’s creation is a female (and barely at that) but the doctor is actually Frankenstein’s heir so shouldn’t it be called Frankenstein’s Great Grandson?  I guess it doesn’t have the same ring to it.

But what’s really great and surprising is how grotesque the movie is for 1958; the scene where the doctor gets a burning chemical thrown in his face could easily earn an “R” rating these days.  The makeup job on the monster is no slouch either.

Frankenstein’s Daughter concerns a mad doctor named Oliver Frankenstein (Donald Murphy) who assists an elderly scientist named Carter Morton (Felix Locher), who is experimenting to create the cure for every disease ever (hey, I didn’t say it was a good script!).  Frankenstein has other plans; to use the laboratory and its resources for his own demented plans to bring the dead to life.  He also has a creepy assistant named Elsu (Wolfe Barzel), who helps round up corpses for the experiments.

Since this is a “modern” horror picture, the protagonists are all teenagers or, rather, people in the their 20s/30s acting like teenagers.  The main one, Trudy (Sandra Knight) is also the niece of Carter and nightly transforms into a hideous monster that attacks people.  Surprise surprise, this occurs when the maniacal Oliver Frankenstein spikes her drink.  But that’s only a sub plot.  The main plot concerns the doctor collecting bodies and eventually assembling his monster.  The monster rampages and does the evil bidding of the doctor and that about covers it.

It doesn’t sound like the most original plot in the world and it’s not.  But it’s fun because the doctor is such a nut job who even makes time to paw after the two female characters between his mad exploits and the monster makeup is awesome.  Kills?  Not enough but one of them has the doctor run down a victim with his car.  Also, in order to further exploit the youth market of the time, there are a handful of rockin’ musical numbers performed by the Page Cavanaugh Trio.

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 (1987)



Brilliant!  But first…


Ho ho hell, everybody!  Silent Night, Deadly Night caused a whole lot of controversy on account of its having a guy dressed like Santa Clause going around killing people.  It’s an absolute masterpiece that delivers on all of its promises, one of the few movies where, as you’re watching and you say, “get ‘im, yeah, get ‘im!”, he actually “gets ‘im.”  In that one we got to see a topless woman get impaled on a pair of antlers, a boy get decapitated while sledding down a hill and a woman get shot with an arrow.

So does the sequel live up to the first one?  That’s a tough question to answer.  As you can tell by the grade, I enjoyed the movie.  I would have given it four crosses but I think the first problem is the most glaringly obvious one.  Roughly 35 minutes of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 are recycled scenes from the first Silent Night, Deadly Night.  There clearly must be some sort of rule when it comes to giving director Lee Harry 100% of the directing credit when he only directed 55% of the movie.

And there is no second problem.  The rest of the film is totally awesome.  My friends and I have all gotten a hearty laugh from the classic clip of Ricky (Eric Freeman) walking around a happy suburban neighborhood casually dusting off its inhabitants with a revolver and hamming it up with over the top, maniacal laughter eventually leading to his bizarre exclamation of “GARBAGE DAY!!!”  Just like in this video:

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is mostly told in flashback until the epic final scene.  The movie begins with an adult Ricky talking to his 13th shrink, Dr. Henry Bloom (James Newman), who speaks in a stern, authoritative manner – the type which we anticipate will result in his death – as he tries to suss Ricky’s life story.  Ricky precedes to tell the events, including the 35 minutes (and best scenes from) the first Silent Night, Deadly Night, culminating in little kid Ricky foreshadowing the events of the sequel by uttering, “naughty.”  Ricky’s own story is no less of a bloodbath, in which he saves a woman from a rapist by running him over several times and impales a bully with an umbrella.

I must say the scene where Ricky saves the woman from the rapist is a hoot.  The rapist appears to be her boyfriend who gets too pushy when trying to get his gal to put out and the situation turns into an attempted rape.  The girl fights back and the guy gets up and leaves, which should have been the end of it.  But instead Ricky gets in the guy’s car with the keys still in the ignition and runs him down, rolling back and forth over his corpse.  They even insert a shot of his bloody, twitching arm.  Instead of being frightened for having witnessed a homicide, the woman thanks Ricky.  Wow.

Regardless of his murdering a few people, Ricky keeps it together enough to get a girlfriend.  Even then he exhibits signs of insanity, particularly in the awesome movie theater scene, where the theater is showing a movie about a killer Santa!  I’m not going to say anything else about the rest of the movie because it’s a total riot.  If you’ve seen the entire “garbage day” clip, then you know how the girlfriend situation turns out but the rest of the movie is epic and needs to be seen.  There you go; you have my recommendation.

200 Motels (1971)



Happy 73rd birthday, Frank Zappa!  I like Frank Zappa a lot.  His music and attitude are partially what influenced me to start writing this blog in the first place.  Undoubtedly his snarky cynicism caused by the so-called “peace and love” and “counterculture” movements of the 60s give him the distinction of being a “savage hippie.”  He was a long haired freak but he was completely clean of drugs (except for the cigarettes) and laughed at both hippies and cops.   He voiced disdain for the system, the Vietnam war and people’s willingness to succumb to societal pressure and be mediocre while not supporting the left or right; he bashed goony institutions from all sides and encouraged people to think for themselves.  Above all he made some fantastic music; a hybrid of rock, doo-wop, free jazz, avante-garde, musique concrete and whatever other tricks he had up his sleeve.

In 1971, Zappa came up with the idea of making his very own movie about the life, trials and tribulations of a working rock band.  Unlike his music which, it seems, he took the utmost care to make note-perfect with state of the art equipment and top notch musicians, his movie, he apparently allowed to run slipshod into god knows what.  At least it seems that way.  A lot of people talk about how “way out” and “craaazeee” the movie is and how you need to see it all “fucked up” to get into it.  But actually it just reminds me of a cheaply filmed, Monty Python episode with less good skits and more dick jokes.

First of all it wasn’t filmed.  It was taped.  That’s the first thing the “film people” will notice when watching it.  Zappa, I guess is credited as director alongside Tony Palmer but I don’t know who was doing the real “heavy lifting.”  Second of all, as one might expect, there isn’t much of a story.  The movie didn’t really feel directed; it just felt like a camera was set up and some shit was allowed to happen.  Third and best of all, Zappa or Palmer or whoever, go crazy with the early video camera effects.  It’s so obvious how  the effects were created yet they still look cool; filters, layered film, rewinds/fast forwards, negative effects.  It’s so amateurish looking, high school kids would be able to use these same effects on their home video projects less than a decade later.   Also the sets are completely and obviously fake looking; it sort of reminded me of something in Forbidden Zone or a Guy Maddin film.

The movie features every member of the Mothers of Invention from that period; Ian Underwood, Aynsley Dunbar, George Duke, my personal favorite Jimmy Carl Black and Motorhead along with Flo and Eddie.  The best parts of the film are the performances, which were done live and are all top notch.  I also really liked the animated sequence which I will discuss momentarily.  Frank Zappa barely appears in the movie, instead opting to play guitar in one segment and drums in another.  The rest of the band do a bunch of stuff, none of it particularly interesting or worth mentioning.  Also Ringo Starr and Keith Moon have cameos and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform in the film as well.

During the film we see topless groupies, a living vacuum cleaner, people with funny masks sitting in a fake saloon, Ringo Starr pretending to be Frank Zappa, Keith Moon dressed as a nun and threatening to overdose on sleeping pills while hanging with said topless groupies, idiotic discussions about the differences between dicks and penises and Jimmy Carl Black shooting at a target that says “hippies” on it.  I’m sure other stuff happened but I don’t feel like digging into my memory sack.  I feel a little embarrassed for Ringo, who is forced to talk about putting a genie’s lamp into a woman’s reproductive organ.  Come on, Zappa, you thought that was funny?

Now then, the animated sequence is easily the best part of the movie; it’s not the most original thing but it involves an acid trip, hippie mumbo-jumbo, Monthy Python-esque collage art and name-drops Black Sabbath and Coven.  I could easily see it as a standalone piece.  There’s really nothing else to say about the movie.  It’s not exceptionally funny nor does it really offer any true insight into the lives of working musicians.  The dialogue is apparently pulled from real life but, so what?  Really this movie is for Zappa fans because I honestly cannot picture the average person being able to stomach more than 20 minutes of it.

Vampyres (1974)



Further proof that the 70s were the best decade in film making.  In what other decade could you release a movie that literally sits on both the horror and erotica fence?  You can’t have “erotic” films anymore.  You can either have porn or horror.  Vampyres is one of the few erotic films I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot!) that manages to go in both directions seamlessly without seeming forced.  The movie has a lot of nudity and sex, perhaps even gratuitous amounts but it also has copious amounts of blood and gore as well.  And best believe these aren’t “sexy” vampires who “sexily” suck someone’s blood but rather just vicious killers who happen to be sexy.

This reminds me; I was supposed to review Daughters of Darkness, which I also liked a lot but I totally forgot about.  Now I have to get it again on netflix because it’s been about a week since I’ve seen it and I don’t trust my memory nor do I want to just read through other IMDB reviews.  Dammit.  Oh well.  I was reminded of that, by the way, because Vampyres is also known in some markets as Daughters of Dracula and that’s a similar sounding name.

Anyway, as I was saying Vampyres is both sexy and scary.  It was directed by José Ramón Larraz and has a totally stylish, Eurotrash look combined with a creepy atmosphere and takes place primarily in a neat looking gothic mansion and the vast, lush, green field and forest outside the mansion.

The film is about a vampire (vampyre?) couple – darker, brunette Fran (Marianne Morriz) and lighter, blonde Miriam (Anulka Dziubinska) – who stalk, seduce and kill their victims.  Their primary mode of action is to take turns hitching rides from the side of the road to the mansion, inviting the strangers in and having their way with them. However, as demonstrated by Fran’s actions, the undead need sex too; in between taking giant gulps of human blood from her victim she also has time for some good ol’ fashion humping.  During the couple of tasty shack ups, the male victim wakes up, sees giant slashes on his arms and feels more and more tired daily.  What a way to go, huh?  Miriam, on the other hand, is strictly a lesbian as demonstrated by her never taking part in sex with the men she kills and lusting only after Fran.

The story begins as a complete stranger walks in on Fran and Miriam as living people in the throes of passion and inexplicably shoots them dead.  Then the credits role and we’re introduced to the three main characters, a sort of rich playboy type (Michael Byrne) who, I guess, is on vacation or something and the cute, young couple John (Brian Deacon) and Harriet (Sally Faulkner), who decide to go camping near the mansion.  As the story progress, Harriet begins to notice weird stuff happening, including a person screaming right outside her window.  As expected, when she wakes up her lover, the man is gone and all he has to say is, “see, honey, you were just dreaming!”

There are a few other victims and some bodies found mangled in car crashes on the side of the road but, most importantly, there is sex and gore.  There’s also a sexy shower scene between the two vampire ladies and there is one particular kill sequence that displays that, just because Miriam is a lesbian, does not mean she treats the living female character any more kindly.  This is one of the finest in the eroto-horror/sexy vampire sub genre.