The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)

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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.

The Horror of Party Beach (1964)

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All right, I know that seems like an overblown grade to give a cheap beach party horror movie but, for once, the movie delivers everything that the poster promised!  And, for once, the movie is never boring!  The 78 minute run time could have gone on for, hell, another 10 or 15 minutes and I wouldn’t have minded one bit!  Not only is producer/director Del Tenney’s The Horror of Party Beach a hoot and half, it has all of the elements of a great, early 60s drive-in picture!

In fact, the film’s opening immediately drew me in with its fast paced tracking shot of a group of motorcyclists following behind the movie’s main character Hank Green (John Scott) and his lady Tina (Marilyn Clark) in a car, speeding down the road while surf music played.  Regardless of what the film would be about, I was already hooked.  Shortly after we learn that Hank’s and Tina’s relationship is on the rocks because Hank has grown up and has become a scientist while Tina only has one “experiment” on her mind, heh heh…

Of course, all that romantic mumbo-jumbo is just a red herring that detracts from what the film is really about; a bunch of cool looking, rubber monsters that walk around violently killing people for no particular reason.

The opening scene after the title sequence is equally awesome.  As mentioned earlier, it’s evocative of everything cool about early 60s pop culture, including the frat/surf rock band the Del-Aires rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ to a bunch of swinging beach cats, who dance around all care free like a bunch of goofy, early 60s cats would do – albeit with a really nice ass closeup.  Then Hank gets in a fight with one of the local bikers over Tina before the film cuts to a ship which hauls around barrels of toxic waste.  One of the ship’s inhabitants doesn’t think twice about emptying the contents into the water and, well, I don’t think I have to tell you the rest.

The film most certainly delivers; the monsters kill a lot of people.  People are introduced in the film just to be killed!  There’s an obnoxious group of girls at a sleepover that make you think the film is turning too corny and then they all get slaughtered by the monster, and then there’s a trio of sassy broads who say a bunch of suggestive stuff to a gas station employee before also getting killed!  At first I thought the monster was just killing women but there were male victims as well.

My only complaint is that I wasn’t exactly sure what effect they were going for.  When the monster kills its first victim, the camera turns away Psycho-style and it looks as though ooze is flowing down the victim’s leg.  It turns out that ooze was in fact supposed to be gore, which we later see in closeup.

Eventually Hank and his scientist pals figure out how to dispatch the monsters bringing the movie to its expected finale.  Again, great movie with some neat killings and fun early 60s vibe.  Also it’s an absolute fact that, no matter how outdated some of the elements in this and similar films are, black Levis, motorcycles and curvy cuties in stretch pants will never go out of style.  If only the ladies figured out to get tattoos back then.