Black Magic (1975)

Black Magic (1975) movie poster

director Ho Meng Hua
viewed: 03/17/2018

My first thought while watching 1975’s Black Magic was “Not very sanitary putting that blade in your mouth when flaying a corpse.”

Oh but Black Magic is all kinds of unsanitary. And plenty of that weird and wacky Hong Kong sleaze and mysticism that delivers imagery more incongruous and odd than expectation could allow.

For my money, Tien Ni steals the show as the conniving (and connived upon) Luo Yin, millionairess who gets what she wants, and by that token, I suppose, gets what she deserves in the end. The love potions bought and sold here are indeed costly affairs.

Thoroughly enjoyable and influential but not as out-and-out crazy as others to follow.

The Strangeness (1985)

The Strangeness (1985) movie poster

director Melanie Anne Phillips
viewed: 03/17/2018

“Do you want to die
Or is it the strangeness in me?”
– The Runabouts

The Strangeness was probably kind of dated when it was made in 1980. It was much more time out of joint at its video release in 1985.

It’s an amateur production, a lot of these people never made another movie. Director/co-writer Melanie Anne Phillips (then David Michael Hillman) reportedly had most of the cavern sets built in her grandparents’ garage. The sets and production design and the camerawork are all quite well-done. And then you’ve got the monster, a stop-motion tentacled vagina thing (You had me at “stop-motion”, but do go on.)

The truth of it is that the movie is over-long at 90 minutes. I think if you trimmed 20-30%, you might have a pretty great little picture. But as it is, its charms also come with its slowness.

But I also quite liked this nonetheless. It’s got quirks on top of its quirks and a pretty fun character.

And a stop-motion tentacle vagina monster.

Bog (1978)

Bog (1978) movie poster

director Don Keeslar
viewed: 03/15/2018

Regional horror sublime, Bog was way more fun than I was expecting.

Though Bog should be approached as a film in the mold of a Best-Worst movie, frankly, there’s a lot of comparative quality in the production.

I quite enjoyed it.

It’s a cautionary tale for those who “fish” with dynamite. You never know when you might awaken some ancient bog monster.

It’s also kind of charming that there’s nobody in this film under 30, maybe 40.

“She says this looks like what she saw. I think she was on angel dust myself.”

Dead Mate (1988)

Dead Mate (1988) movie poster

director Straw Weisman
viewed: 03/14/2018

In Dead Mate a.k.a. Graverobbers, a mad funeral home operator has developed a complex electrocution-cum-bodily fluids treatment for dead bodies, one which eradicates the AIDS virus. Making corpses “safe” for sex. Not that that is the only reason for necrophilia, though it seems a significant one here.

Two ambulance drivers who have sex with the untreated corpse end up as zombies later in the film.

Dead Mate is at least in part a body horror film, which explicitly foregrounds AIDS. In 1986, David Cronenberg’s The Fly was read as an AIDS metaphor by some. Are there other horror films of the period that cited the then ravaging disease?

AIDS is only articulated aloud twice in Dead Mate, but remains rather pointedly foregrounded at the same time. The “safe sex” plot point is foreshadowed in an early sequence in which waitress Nora (Elizabeth Mannino) is propositioned by a prophylactic salesman, who points out that his products would prevent transmission of AIDS.

The last twenty or so minutes of Dead Mate swerve decidedly away from the primary narrative arc into a litany of weird twists and turns into a decidedly bonkers territory. It almost seems like writer-director Straw Weisman figured to start throwing the kitchen sink at the audience after a while. I really wasn’t expecting the whole “Where are they now” sequence at the end.

On top of all this, Dead Mate is a seriously strange vibe and overall aesthetic. Dark comedy pervades, though is often subtle or unsuccessful, adding to the weirdness.

Not what most anyone is expecting, is my guess.

The Vampires Night Orgy (1972)

The Vampires Night Orgy (1972) movie poster

director  León Klimovsky
viewed: 03/12/2018

The Vampire’s Night Orgy is light on orgy, but is a pretty solid Spanish horror flick.

When their bus driver croaks suddenly, a group of people on their way to employment at some hacienda instead find themselves in the village of Tolnia, a town not to be found on any map. This is because the village is under the sway of the Countess (Helga Liné), a vampire. She rules the roost over all the villagefolk, who seem to all be cannibals or undead? Interestingly, they are cannibals that have to sacrifice their own limbs to feed these stranded travelers.

There is also a ghost boy(?) who befriends the little girl of the group. But with friends like these, who needs enemies?

It’s not as eerie as Amando de Ossorio’s Blind Dead films, but works along with that sort of vibe. The townfolk never speak, which is especially eerie when they descend on their victims.

As noted elsewhere, the soundtrack is unintentionally dissonant and annoying, but otherwise León Klimovsky’s The Vampire’s Night Orgy is a pretty intriguing slice of early 1970’s Euro horror.

Blood (1973)

Blood (1973) VHS cover

director Andy Milligan
viewed:  03/11/2018

I don’t know what it is about Andy Milligan films, but it seems like the more of them that I watch, the better I like them.  This is my 8th Milligan in a little over a year. My trajectory has run: The Body Beneath (1970), Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973), Guru, the Mad Monk (1970), Carnage (1984), Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), The Man with Two Heads (1972), and most recently, The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972).

And Blood may be my favorite so far? Toppling The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! which had just taken the top spot. Are they getting better or am I becoming more attuned to Andy Milligan?

Hope Stansbury (from Rats/Werewolves) is here, as a perpetually discontented vampiress, being kept alive by the ministrations of her husband, Orlavsky (Alan Berendt), and his assistants, Carrie (Patricia Gaul), the legless Orlando (Michael Fischetti), the simpleminded Carlotta (Pichulina Hempi).

Everything was going great until…Ha, ha, it was never going great for this clan, returning to America from Europe to settle up with an exploitative accountant and reclaim Orlavsky’s family home. Orlavsky imprudently falls for Prudence (Pamela Adams), who unwittingly falls in with this crowd.

This crowd is a vampire, a werewolf, and some man-eating plants. I guess producer Walter Kent (who appears as “Man in office”) hadn’t quite the flair for titling that William Mishkin did, or this might have been called “The Vampires Are Here! The Werewolves, Too! And Man-Eating Plants! Frankenstien Is Coming!” Because, yes, at the end, as a joke, Dr. Frankenstein takes over the premises when all is said and done.

All this, in less than an hour. And of all his Milligan’s movies, which he shot himself, I loved the aesthetic achieved, even shooting the bulk of the film in his house and property.

Evils of the Night (1985)

Evils of the Night (1985) movie poster

director Mardi Rustam
viewed: 03/10/2018

Evils of the Night, director Mardi Rustam takes 1950s Z-movie concept and makes it in the mid-1980s with washed up (read: no longer prime time) celebrities and porn stars. What could go wrong?

Let me break it down for you: Julie Newmar (Me-oW!) and Tina Louise, both tall and still very attractive in their 50s, are aliens with campy outfits, along with John Carradine (also an alien) who’ve come to Earth to sap blood and try to find a cure for their dying race. John Carradine appears in a Ziggy Stardust outfit I hope they buried him in.

They’ve chosen this rather obscure college town during summer due to bad planning and are abducting the nubile and horny for their experiments. Well, the aliens have subcontracted Aldo Ray and Neville Brand, two greasy mechanics, to do their actual abducting, paying them off in gold coins.

Some of these nubiles include porn stars Amber Lynn and Jerry Butler, who seem not to have shot their scenes alongside any other cast members.

If you think this mixture of low-IQ, throwback science fiction, horror, and copious flesh seems like it wouldn’t jell into something consistent, you’d be correct. The movie seems to annoy folks quite a bit, but I found it amusing.

Help Me… I’m Possessed (1976)

Help Me... I'm Possessed (1976) title screen

director Charles Nizet
viewed: 03/10/2018

Help Me…I’m Possessed!

Help Me…I’m a pretty obscure semi-exploitation movie, as sleazy as I can be and still come in at a PG rating! Because I did get a PG rating.

Help Me…I’m a mad psychiatrist running a sanitarium out on the edge of a desert with incredibly enfeebled patients, a dungeon of men and women locked up and occasionally and randomly tortured or killed! I’m also trying to extract evil somehow from man.

Help Me…I’m the embodiment of evil, extracted from man, living in a hole in the bottom of a cave under the sanitarium, and even though a nice girl sometimes let’s me out at night to attack and murder people, you’ll never see more than my red flailing tentacles! Mostly because these scenes are shot from my perspective, in Lovecraftian horror vision!

Help Me…but nobody in the movie is possessed! It’s a low-budget, amateur production, hopelessly out of step, yet somehow vaguely reminiscent of Bloodsucking Freaks.

Help Me…I’ve worn out this gag.

The Mad Dog Killer (1977)

The Mad Dog Killer (1977) movie poster

director  Sergio Grieco
viewed: 03/07/2018

Cinematography is the star in Beast with a Gun (aka Mad Dog Killer). It’s brutal and somehow quaint at the same time (The Italy of the time and all those little cars and mopeds!)

Occasionally I picked up a sort of A Clockwork Orange vibe, maybe just in the rampant sadism rather than the film style.

“Have you any money? These are all false, all counterfeit. Only good for the movies.”

Good stuff.

If You Don’t Stop It… You’ll Go Blind

If You Don’t Stop It You’ll Go Blind!!! (1975) movie poster

directors  Keefe Brasselle, I. Robert Levy
viewed: 03/06/2018

Wikipedia summarized the plot of If You Don’t Stop It…You’ll Go Blind!!! thusly: “A 1970s sketch-style comedy featuring profane old ladies, gay cowboys, and sex contests.”

A study of the history of comedy, sexual mores, and political correctness might find an interesting way to view this film in a useful context. Outside cheap, punchy cornball and occasional rape jokes.