Friday, October 27, 2023

Some Movies (Good or Gawdawful) for Halloween 2023

 I could give you the Cryptkeeper opening of "Hullo, Boils and Ghouls" but we're all adults here, so let's begin The List.....

Above: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969). One of Peter Cushing's later outings as Baron von Frankenstein for Hammer Pictures of the UK, here he is trying to cure a scientist of his insanity using really outre methods and making another Modern Promethus on the side. Cushing keeps his pimp hand strong, slapping around the kid who later played young Winston Churchill (Simon Ward) for "disobeying him". The Hammer Frankenstein movies had to be grist for Mel Brooks' mill alongside the Universal classics when he and his writers concocted Young Frankenstein in 1974.

Below: One of the worst movies ever made, Monster A-Go-Go (1965) started like as an early Bill Rebane movie, Terror at Half Day, about a mutated astronaut in the wilds outside Chicago. That early '60s film ran out of money and sat in storage until Herschell Gordon Lewis (creator of the "splatter genre" of horror, who gave us The Gore Gore Girls and Blood Freak) came calling looking for a movie he could use as part of a double bill. Rebane sold him the film (and it is contested if it was 50 percent done, 80 percent done, or what) and Lewis finished and edited the picture in a rush (lots of missing sound effects, musical cues, and a guy makes a telephone noise (!) at one point), so what you see is not Rebane's vision (if he had one, this was the guy who gave us The Giant Spider Invasion, after all). Bonus: the Mystery Science Theater version.

Below: Sorry, I could not find the Something Weird Video version of Hallucinations of a Deranged Mind (1977) with actual English subtitles. I've seen this one and it's a mishmash of clip show and new footage as "Coffin Joe" (aka "Zé do Caixão", a Brazilian black magician antihero/neutral villain created and acted by filmmaker José Mojica Marins) mentally tortures a psychiatrist named Hamilton with weird imagery taken from earlier Coffin Joe films that I don't think passed censorship (remember that the country was run by a military junta from 1964-1985, and this film was made as it was creaking to the finish line.) Dr. Hamilton is locked up in his own mental hospital for most of the film. In any case, the imagery supersedes the plot. Because every bit of Coffin Joe video is age-blocked (!) on YouTube, you get a still of Coffin Joe to see what he looks like.

A goofy, low-budget romp, Shriek of the Mutilated (1974) was made by the same husband and wife team that gave us 1977's Snuff, one of the movies the British "video nasties" law was probably aimed at before the Italian giallo flick Cannibal Holocaust (1980) appeared in tape rental stores, which outclassed it for faked and real gore (they kill a sea turtle on camera in Cannibal Holocaust, yuck.) In Shriek, director Michael Findlay has East Coast college students drive out to an rural island which has a Yeti somehow, and the weirdness piles on from there. After Michael's death in a brutal helicopter accident, his widow Roberta Findlay had a career making budget films and doing cinematography for porn movies, among other behind-the-camera jobs. This one is on Tubi, so the link is here. Trailer is below.

Above: War of the Gargantuas (1966), a "quasi-sequel" (Wikipedia's words) to 1965's Frankenstein vs. Baragon. The two Gargantuas are the cellular descendants of the heart of the Frankenstein monster, sent to Japan by long-distance U-boat (those "Monsun" boats are the reality inside the fiction), but it went to Hiroshima, got nuked, and grew into a child version of the monster. All of that lunacy was covered in Frankenstein vs. Baragon; now there are two of them, gigantic, and fighting each other. Nick Adams tries to be an American scientist in Japan instead of a nightclub singer or secret agent. The Criterion Collection sees this as worthwhile schlock, and so you should too. I guess.

Below: Thanks to Mystery Science Theater 3000,  years of the Internet (IMDb, blogs, etc.), the documentary Hotel Torgo, a stage musical version, and a stage version with large puppets, we know the plot of Manos: The "Hands" of Fate (1966), we know about Hal Warren the director, the weird dubbing issues because no set sound recordings were made for reference, John "Torgo" Reynolds' constant pot smoking, just a sea of stuff. But we still don't know Who or What "Manos" really was or is, and if The Master truly was "The Black and Red Moses of Soul" as Tom Servo riffed.

Bonus: The Mystery Science Theater version.

In 1964, a small, almost hand-made film hit UK theaters, It Happened Here, that asked "what would things have been like in a Nazi-occupied Britain?" Pretty much an alternate history mirror to Peter Watkins' 1966 film The War Game (which predicted the outcome of a limited nuclear war on Britain in the forthcoming future), Kevin Brownlow and Andrew Mollo focus on a single character, an Northern Irish nurse who gets sucked into a paramilitary emergency medical organization in 1944 because the English village she was living in was shot to pieces in an "anti-partisan action" and she has to go to London. From their insignia, the uniformed and armed nurse organization seems to be a branch of a victorious British Union of Fascists. Things have gotten very Vichy in this Britain, while a British branch of Aktion T4 is quietly operating. This is a horror film, whatever they say. Link to Archive dot org copy here.

Below: Peter Cushing at it again, with John Carradine along for the ride in 1977's Shock Waves, aka "The Underwater Zombie Nazi Movie In The Video Rental Store." Enough said.

Above: The infamous-in-its-time documentary Manson (1973) by Robert Hendrickson. I found it through this angry review on an "obscure movies" website years ago and it is less historical narrative of The Manson Family and the Tate-LaBianca murders that a glimpse into the worldview of the members of the group who were still at large in 1972-73. In a odd way it reminds me of Final V. U., the Captain Trips CD collection of live recordings of the last version of the Velvet Underground, when the only original member of the band left was Mo Tucker, and along with Doug Yule and his brother Billy, they put together a lineup for a bunch of concerts in America and Holland. We are witnessing the aftermath of a thing in both mediums, and while the Velvets have no illusions that what they are doing is probably short-term, the Mansonites are still lost in True Belief. For better information on Manson et. al., check out CHAOS: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties (2019 )by Tom O'Neil and Dan Pipenbring.

....And that's it. Happy Halloween!

                                                            Too White for Me.