With those dastardly trick-or-treaters all set to roam the streets in search of candy much like the living dead wander about aimlessly in search of living flesh, it’s time to gather up another batch of “Horrible Horror.” For the final entry in this five-part journey into total terror, I have decided to stray from my usual Catching Up at the Video Store manner and present you with a whopping “13 Tales of Terror from Cheezy Flicks.” And this time, we have every aspect of human (and some otherworldly) dreadfulness imaginable: vampires, ghosts, man-made monsters, Sasquatch, aliens, werewolves, blood farmers and plenty of bad actors, too — all of which are available from the fine folks at Cheezy Flicks.
· Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1964)
The Long and Short of It: In addition to epic homegrown crimes against humanity as The Wild World of Batwoman and The Incredible Petrified World, Z-Grade filmmaker Jerry Warren also did a lot patchwork pieces wherein he took footage from little known Mexican horror flicks and added perplexingly-dull narration and long drawn-out new sequences with his own actors in a formless, brainless attempt at making some sort of sense out of it all. Face of the Screaming Werewolf is one such film: an asinine film wherein a mummy is brought back to life, only to reveal that it is really a werewolf! Lon Chaney, Jr. “stars” (via some recycled Mexican footage) in this mismatched motion picture mess. Recommended for the massive level of mind-numbing lunacy it exerts alone.
· The Mask (1961)
The Long and Short of It: The very first (and only) Canadian 3-D movie was also the Great White North’s induction into the genre of horror films. This campy cult classic — which was a staple for years for late-night TV crowds — tells the tale of a psychiatrist (Paul Stevens) who receives a mysterious, ancient tribal mask in the mail (from a now-deceased patient), only to discover its terrifying, hypnotic powers. Whenever he puts the mask on, he experiences hallucinogenic, nightmarish dreams; visions that eventually lead to madness. Also released as The Spooky Movie Show, Eyes of Hell, and Face of Fire. This release presents the 3-D sequences in their original anaglyphic glory, and glasses are included.
· Invasion of the Blood Farmers (1972)
The Long and Short of It: Musician/indie filmmaker Ed Adlum only ever made a handful of movies in his entire career, the wacky yeti cult fave Shriek of the Mutilated, hippie exploitation flick Blonde on a Bum Trip, and this craptastic horror feature about the maniacal titular ruralites who kidnap people and harvest blood from them. Reportedly, most of the movie’s cast worked for little more than a six-pack of beer — a cost-savings technique that was particularly ineffectual in this instance, seeing as how this $24,000 opus never even made it’s money back at the box office! Guaranteed exuberance at the embarrassment of others.
· Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971)
The Long and Short of It: Al Adamson made a number of epically-awful films in his short-but-nevertheless-fruitful career, but his larger-than-life Dracula vs. Frankenstein is widely regarded to be his best “bad” film. J. Carrol Naish and Lon Chaney, Jr. — both of whom were on their deathbeds in terms of acting and living — get top-billing in this crazy tale of an afroed Count Dracula (Roger Engel, using the hilarious pseudonym “Zandor Vorkov!”), who wants to fully resurrect the mostly-dead Frankenstein monster so he may rule the world. Anthony Eisley, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, Forrest J. Ackerman, Greydon Clark, Angelo Rossitto, and Adamson’s honey, Regina Carrol, also appear.
· Savage Weekend (1981)
The Long and Short of It: It took five years for future soap opera director David Paulsen’s independent slasher flick from upstate New York to hit theaters, by which time the once-ahead-of-its-time film was forced to wade indistinguishably in the wake left by films like Halloween and Friday the 13th with dozens of other similarly-natured films. It’s a real pity, too, since Savage Weekend is a highly underrated feature, wherein an unknown assailant preys upon a group of city dwellers in a seemingly-peaceful country town. Christopher Allport is outstanding as a suitably atypical gay character, with David Gale (Re-Animator), William Sanderson (Newhart) and Caitlin O’Heaney co-star in this memorable thriller.
· Mark of the Devil (1971)
The Long and Short of It: The highly effective marketing campaign for this German-made historical horror hit Hexen bis aufs Blut gequält — titled Mark of the Devil in the U.S. — said it was “Positively the most horrifying film ever made,” “Likely to upset your stomach,” and declared it “The first film rated ‘V’ for violence.” They even handed out barf bags to all theater patrons to push that point even further. In reality, though, Mark of the Devil is a relatively-tame (especially by today’s standards) epic about a Witchfinder (Herbert Lom) who trains his young apprentice (young Udo Kier) in the fine art of torture and murder — in the name of God, of course. Reggie Nalder lends his creepy face to the fun.
· Horror Planet (1981)
The Long and Short of It: After the science fiction/horror hybrid Alien burst through the chests of movie theaters across the world, gory space oeuvres started appearing everywhere. Better known by its original title, Inseminoid, this sleazy British offering to the crossbreed genre has a group of futuristic astronauts (led by Americans Robin Clarke and Jennifer Ashley) surveying the remains of an ancient race far off on a remote world. One of the crew (Judy Geeson) is impregnated by a deadly and randy alien critter, which spells out certain doom for the others. Stephanie Beacham and Victoria Tennant turn in early performances in Norman J. Warren’s low-budget gorefest.
· The Bloody Rage of Bigfoot (2010)
The Long and Short of It: Direct-to-video horror films are a dime a dozen these days (see Part III of this “Horrible Horror” series for more on that subject), awarding countless would-be filmmakers with the opportunity to recreate the weird nightmares that haunt them in everyday life on film. In The Bloody Rage of Bigfoot, James Baack spins a yarn of two witches (who are named Loosey-Fur and Satantha) who kidnap a Sasquatch expert; exposing him to their evil charms until Bigfoot himself stomps onto the set to say “Enough!”
· The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)
The Long and Short of It: In the early ‘70s, a former advertising salesman by the handle of Charles B. Pierce borrowed $100,000 from a trucking company to make a movie about the legendary “Fouke Monster,” a fabled Sasquatch-esque critter who was said to reside in the marshes and mountains of a small and remote Arkansas community. His completed project — The Legend of Boggy Creek — was a smash hit across drive-ins across the nation, and opened the floodgates for dozens of Bigfoot-themed pictures to hit the screen in return. Pierce’s quasi-documentary feature includes interviews with actual eye-witnesses of the creature, as well as recreations of alleged encounters with the beast. Jaime Mendoza-Nava provided the music score.
· House of Whipcord (1974)
The Long and Short of It: British exploitation/horror guru Pete Walker directed and co-wrote this roughie about a troubled young writer named Mark E. Desade (!) who entices beautiful young maidens to his parents’ massive estate — which used to be a house of corrections. There, his insane parents — both of whom were former employees of the judicial system — set about trapping and torturing the poor lasses. And they say chivalry is dead! Walker regulars Patrick Barr and Sheila Keith turn in sadistically effective performances in this gritty and shocking social commentary of early ‘70s England, with Robert Tayman, Penny Irving, Ray Brooks, and Ann Michelle also give memorable contributions to this entry in British Horror.
· The Headless Ghost (1959)
The Long and Short of It: A trio of college students — two U.S. lads and a Danish lass — journey from London to Ambrose Castle, where they get a grand tour of the structure’s history. Part of that history includes a little tidbit on ghosts, prompting the carefree youths to stick around and stay the night after it closes its doors to the public. To their surprise, the stories of ethereal residents are true — and one of the 600-year-old spirits is buoyant over the possibility that the living youngsters can break his centuries-old curse. British thespian Clive Revill delivers one of his first prominent roles in this campy AIP horror-comedy from writers Herman Cohen and Aben Kandel.
· The Vampire (1957)
The Long and Short of It: Mistakes happen all the time, sometimes causing great pandemonium as a result. In the case of Dr. Paul Beecher, a kindly small town doctor (played by John Beal) he accidentally swallows an untested and highly investigational drug made from the blood of bats. Vampire bats, to be precise. And, sooner than you can say “D’oh!,” the poor doc is not only addicted to the non-FDA approved pills, but is also turning into an ugly, hairy Mr. Hyde-like monster who kills by night and doesn’t recall a thing the next day. Kenneth Tobey, Coleen Gray, Lydia Reed, and Dabbs Greer co-star in this ‘50s horror offering from writer Pat Fielder (who also wrote The Return of Dracula and The Monster That Challenged the World).
· Curse of the Faceless Man (1958)
The Long and Short of It: You’d think not having a face would be a curse in itself; alas, the Faceless Man has an additional cross to bear. After the titular fiend — a doomed resident of Pompeii — is uncovered by an archaeological dig of the famous Campania province, he finds himself once again walking the Earth; this time, though, his skin has been replaced with hardened stone. He’s also doomed to a new life full of rejection from a scientist’s shapely artist fiancée, whom he believes is the reincarnation of his long-lost love. Regular Columbia director Edward L. Cahn directs this cheaply-made ‘50s variant of Universal’s original Mummy franchise written by sci-fi writer Jerome Bixby. Richard Anderson, Elaine Edwards, Adele Mara, and Felix Locher star, Morris Ankrum narrates.
Happy viewing, kids.