Archive for May, 2011


Posted in AIP, Basil Rathbone, Curtis Harrington, Dennis Hopper, Forrest J. Ackerman, John Saxon, Science Fiction-Fantasy on May 31, 2011 by Bill Courtney


1966/Director: Curtis Harrington/Writer: Curtis Harrington
Cast: John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper, Florence Marly, Robert Boon, Don Eitner, Forrest J Ackerman
ALSO KNOWN AS: Flight to a Far Planet, Planet of Blood, Planet of Terror, Planet of Vampires, Space Vampire,The Green Woman
At first I was a little disappointed when I read that some of the stylistic and stunning space scenes from Curtis Harrington’s 1966 Queen of Blood were taken from a couple Russian sci-fi periods from a couple years earlier, one being Meshte Nastreshu (1963) and the other Nebo Zovyot (1960). I have never seen either film and understand they are pretty hard to locate online, though Nebo Zovyot was released in some sort of edited fashion by producer Roger Corman and then fledgling director Francis Ford Coppola. But I cannot find that version of the film either. Harrington as well was working for Corman as an upcoming director and writer when Queen of Blood was released and the copy/paste type technique of filmmaking, “borrowing” scenes from obscure, foreign films, was a common practice for films produced by Corman at AIP at the time. Other filmmakers, some mentioned here at the Café like Al Adamson, also used this technique in patching together film projects. Adamson often pieced together fragments and sections of his own films made over a period of years but sometimes, as with Horror of the Blood Monsters, did something similar as was done by Harrington and Corman with Queen Blood, and used footage from an unknown Filipino film. The difference is that Horror of the Blood Monsters looks like crap basically and Queen of Blood appears almost seamless in the way the films merge together. I admit that while watching it, before reading any reviews which is how I usually watch films and avoid sites like my own brimming over with spoilers, I noticed a few odd moments but never thought I was seeing more than one film. I think the film looks marvelous really and the sets have that stylized science fiction look and feel of the sci-fi pulp paperback covers of the period.

The film, along with Mario Bava’s lush and atmospheric 1965 masterpiece Planet of the Vampires (Terrore Nello Spazio), it could be argued, influenced some aspects of Ridley Scott’s horror/sci-fi film Alien, though as far as I know writer Dan O’Bannan has never cited the films as influences. The “subliminal” influences on Alien from Queen of Blood are astronauts responding to what appears to a signal or beacon from an intelligent life force in space and then a subsequent rescue mission that finds said alien intelligence and allows it aboard the rescuers space ship, only to have the creature begin to prey on the crew members one at a time. There is also the concept of the alien creature leaving pulsating, gooey eggs behind and had the sixties had the vision of franchised sequels no doubt Queen of Blood could have spawned at least based on the ending of the film where a beaming assistant (played by Forrest J. Ackerman) holds a tray of slimy alien eggs he is carrying back to earth for research purposes.

The general story takes place in the future world of 1990 at the International Institute of Space Technology which is chaired over by the brilliant and esteemed Dr. Farraday, played by then AIP regular Basil Rathbone. Astronaut Laura James (Judith Meredith) has detected signals from deep space that are soon interpreted by Dr. Farraday as a message from an alien life form that they are traveling so that the two species may meet one another. Later a video log Laura intercepts shows that the aliens are in distress and have crash landed on the planet Mars. A rescue mission is put together quickly comprised of Laura, Paul Grant (played with amusing method style acting by a young Dennis Hopper), and crew commander and voice of science Anders Brockman (Robert Boon). Left behind and none to happy about it is Laura’s boyfriend Allen Brenner (John Saxon) who nonetheless supports his better half as she ventures off to the red planet on the rescue mission. The ship of course encounters trouble in the form of a sunspot and radiation and in the process loses critical fuel supplies. They manage to find the alien space craft and even find a dead alien onboard and as any person in a similar situation would do just leave it there when they leave.

Somehow Farraday concludes that the aliens must have abandoned their mother ship on a rescue ship and that the ship is somewhere on the surface of Mars. This is just the excuse Allen Brenner and pal Tony Barrata (Don Eitner) have been waiting for and they convince Farraday to allow them to go on a rescue mission that will take them to Phobos, one of Mars’ moons, and from there they will go to the Planet in a small rescue craft whose fuel will be conserved because of the gravity on Phobos or something. This is all explained in long winded and overly complicated classic sci-fi lingo and even a blackboard drawing that is priceless.

After they have been on Phobos for a while and the launch window for the right area Mars is getting closer they look out their window and see the alien spacecraft they are all looking for. Damn. Now how much more lucky can you get. The alien escape craft had landed on Phobos and Tony and Allen take off (with less than a half hour before the launch window is closed) to investigate. Onboard they find a comatose, green alien woman and lug her back to the two man Meteor space craft. In one of the more flawed scenes of the film they decide to do a coin toss to see who has to stay behind in the alien ship while the other takes the Meteor to Mars. Later aboard the Oceano we discover that Allen Brenner won the bet, much to Laura’s relief. But basically the Tony Barrata character is written out of the story completely. It is a serious loose end and I wish his fate would have been more resolved, even if it meant the likable character had died in some fashion. Well it is not the end of the world and soon the Oceano get the fuel it needs and blasts off and is traveling back to Earth with a the alien female as its new passenger.

And what a strange and at times downright spooky passenger she is. Played by TV star Florence Marley the alien is human in appearance except for her green flesh. When she first comes around and sees the three men of the crew her smile is a combination of uncontrolled lust and hunger, yet when her gaze finally rests on Laura James it quickly turns to revulsion. It is decided that a male crew member will watch over and Paul Grant gets the honors. Hopper’s early pre-Easy Rider performances are usually pretty restrained and easy to watch and here is really at times rather charming. He tries to instruct the alien in the use of eating utensils but she does not want to eat, and does not want to drink water even after Paul shows her how to suck on a straw. She reacts violently when Anders approaching with the biggest blasted syringe I have ever seen to take a blood sample and knock it from his hands and breaks it. He seems sort of bewildered as to why the alien creature, surrounded by total strangers, is adverse to him jamming this elephant needle in her arm. Later when the crew is asleep we learn what nourishment the creature rally wants when she hypnotizes Paul and drains him of all his blood. He is found dead the next morning and she is sleeping off her night’s feeding. What follows is an interesting exchange between Anders, who is actually sympathetic to the creature, and Allen, who sees the creature as a murderer and danger. Anders seems to feel Allen is trying t impose his human sense of morality onto an alien being who may not have the same moral sense as a human being and Allen is disgusted and afraid of the creature who just killed his friend by draining all the blood out of his body. Anders wins, with Dr. Farraday’s approval, the debate and the creature is left free and fed some sort of plasma solution. Now I am all one for these high browed ethical debates that go around in circles about the nature of good and evil, as much as the next guy anyway, but Allen has a point: the thing just killed a crew member. Maybe restraining her or locking her in the supply closet is not a bad idea. And Anders himself realizes this soon enough when he becomes the next victim.

Laura and Allen find her feeding on his dead body and in a brief conflict the alien receives some scratches on her shoulder which prove to be fatal for her as she bleeds to death. Secreting green blood all over the space ship floor. The films concludes with Laura and Allen finding batches of disgusting, pulsating eggs all over the ship but there is no time to destroy them as eager an excited Farraday comes aboard to gather the eggs and alien body and take them all back to earth, where we can only guess what will happen next.

The film achieves an atmospheric quality not too common to American science fiction films of the period and the end is result is all the more interesting since the film was, as stated, patched together using footage from two Soviet films. It should be noted here that the year before Harrington had worked with Corman and AIP on another film using footage from yet another Russian made film (one I actually have here in undubbed or subtitled Russian) called Planeta Bur. The AIP film was called Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet and starred Basil Rathbone as well as the space center commander who watched from the control room as the Russian actors speak dubbed English on the surface of Venus. Sadly I have never been able to finish the Russian film due to the fact I get bored watching a film where I cannot understand the dialog or plot, but it is a nice looking movie and I would definitely like to see more Russian sci-fi from the 1960’s. I guess these patchwork AIP films are as good a place to start as any until some high quality prints are subbed into English someday.



Posted in Armando Silvestre, Lorena Velazquez, Mexican Films, Rene Cardona, Wrestlers and Boxers on May 30, 2011 by Bill Courtney

1963/Director: Rene Cardona/Writer: Alfredo Salazar

Cast: Lorena Velazquez, Armando Silvestre, Elizabeth Campbell, Sonia Infante, Chucho Salinas, Chabela Romero

Also Known As: Rock ‘N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape, Sex Monster, I Tigris Tou Catch    

Doctor of Doom (Las Luchadoras vs el Medico Asesino/The Wrestling Women vs. the Murderous Doctor) was one of six lachaodra (wrestling women) films produced by Guillermo Calderon that were directed by Rene Cardona and written by Alfredo Salazar. The last two films, Las Luchadoras vs. el Robot Asesino and El Horripilante Bestia Humana (both from 1968) were loose remakes of Doctor of Doom. El Horripilante Bestia Humana is also known as Night of the Bloody Apes and was reviewed only a few posts ago here at the Cafe. Of the six films three would be translated into English by the legendary K. Gordon Murray, those being Doctor of Doom, Night of the Bloody Apes and the second of this post’s double feature Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy.

Lately I have managed to get my little hands on quite a few Mexican horror films and a small number of luchalibre (wrestling) films with Santos (or Samson as his name is translated by K. Gordon Murray and crew) and have to admit that for the most part these are all entertaining little films. I think about a 3rd of the films though are not subtitled or dubbed and that can be a hassle for me. While I can watch a film in another language and get some pleasure from it I really cannot review or the film or comment on it. At the most I could get some screen captures and promote the film that way but how can I comment on a story that I really do not understand except on a most basic level. I will say, as I have said before, that these films do not suffer from being dubbed into English unless you are a purist. I find the dubbing to be fun really and all the colloquial errors only add to the enjoyment.

Like Night of the Bloody Apes, Doctor of Doom follows the demented misadventures of a mad doctor who feels the need to transplant the brains of apes into the body of human beings. Unlike NOTBA Doctor of Doom never really tries to explain why the doctor is doing this. He is trying to create a super race I believe but over all explanations are avoided. The identity of the doctor is kept secret for most of the film though he is supported by some secret cabal who want him to succeed in his experiments. The identity is not really hard to guess if you watch lots of these styles of films, you just focus on the non-lead character who seems to be the most unlikely person to be the mad scientist and he will be said culprit by the last stretch of the movie. Most prior experiments have all turned out poorly in that the subject has died. The doctor’s current human objects for receiving the ape brain have been women who die off on the operating table. It is not explained why the doctor chooses women when his one living test result, Gomar, was a male. Gomar is now kept in a cage and fed raw meat which seems to keep him happy. One recent victim, Alicia, is the sister of luchadora Gloria Venus (the stunning Lorena Velazquez). Alicia was a scientist herself but she dies on the table and the doctor decided to settle for brawn or brains and sets his sites on a strong luchadora for his next experiment. A group of thugs try to capture Gloria and her partner Golden Rubi (Elizabeth Campbell) while they pretend to be asleep but the gals whoop their tails. Velazquez and Campbell did most of their wrestling stunts but in the fight scenes out of the ring it is obvious that shorter, stockier less ravishing stunt doubles are used. The two gals get acquainted with cops Aramndo and the diminutive Chema (the four would team up again in Wrestling Women vs the Aztec Mummy) played by Armando Silvestre and Chucho Salina respectively. In both DOD and WWvsTAM comic relief is supplied by the romantic attraction between Chema and the Amazon like Golden Rubi.

The mad doctor is the deceptively timid and squeamish Dr. Ruiz (Roberto Canedo) and he is assisted in his schemes by his evil assistant Boris (Jorge Mondragon) who, despite the name, is not European nor is he a hunchback or imbecile. He is just a thug who may or may not believe in what the doctor is doing and could care less so long as he is paid on time. There are quite a few scenes that unintentionally funny. One is when Armando and Chema get stuck in a room with a spiked wall closing in on them on one side and a ferocious Gomar clawing at them on the other. They have enough to call the girls on a Dick Tracy type wrist watch communicator with a homing device built into it. The girls need to drive around the city and track the signal as it gets weaker and stronger and all the while the wall is still closing in on them. They eventually find the place and break in with no problem and then have to have their stunt doubles get into a brawl with the hoods in the hideout while the wall is still closing in on and Gomar is still clawing away. Now to be fair tiny ass Chema as climbed up the wall and is bracing himself between the wall above Gomar’s cage and the wall of daggers and that seems to be enough to stop the wall from moving while the girls ride around town and fight the bad guys. 

They rescue the guys with little problem and before the fight is over Dr. Ruiz has a bottle of acid thrown in his face. Despite these set backs he manages to transplant Gomar’s brain into a luchadora and in the process creates the masked wrestling dynamo Vendetta. At this point Ruiz begins to wear a wrestling mask himself and match is set up between Vendetta and Gloria Venus. During the bout in which pretty Gloria begins to get the worse end of things Rubi twists the arm of one of Ruiz’s henchmen and learns what is up and she gets into the ring and Vendetta begins kicking her cute butt too. But soon Vendetta and Ruiz are on the run and climb a nearby water tower, followed by Armando who, not surprisingly, is soon having his finger’s stomped on at the top of the tower. Now say what you will about goofy little Chema when it comes down to it he makes Lee Harvey Oswald look like a boy scout. He grabs a rifle and when two clean shots kills Ruiz and Vendetta. The guys get the girls and the bad guys get snipered off. A genuine happy ending.

As I said Night of the Bloody Apes follows basically the same story line as does Las Luchadoras vs. el Robot Asesino (maybe translated as Wrestling Women vs the Mad Robot, the version I have is not subbed or dubbed) but DOD lacks the violence and nudity and rapes that made NOTBA the most infamous of the Calderon, Cardona, Salazar films. Of the two films I think Doctor of Doom is the more enjoyable experience. It is certainly campier and seems to be closer to the Santo type luchilibre films I have grown rather fond of lately.

Lorena Velazquez


Posted in Armando Silvestre, Mexican Films, Rene Cardona, Wrestlers and Boxers on May 30, 2011 by Bill Courtney
1968/Director: Rene Cardona/Writer: Rene Cardona

Cast: Jose Elias Moreno, Carlos Lopez Moctezuma, Armando Silvestre, Norma Lazareno, Agustun Martinez Solares

 Before finally getting around to seeing Night of the Bloody Apes (aka La Horripilante bestia humana -The Horrible Man-Beast and  Horror y sexo-Horror and Sex- and even as Gomar-The Human Gorilla) I aware of Rene Cardona’s work as the director of genre Mexican Wrestling films. The films are built around the lucha libre culture of Mexico where wrestling is pretty serious business. Usually the wrestlers appear in some sort of mask though not all of the time. Cardona directed some of the better Santos films (redubbed and released in the States as Samson by K. Gordon Murray) and some Wrestling women films. In fact Night of the Bloody Apes is a remake of one of his earlier films Doctor of Doom (Las Luchadoras Contra el Médico Asesino) which is also known as Rock ‘N Roll Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Ape. So if you have not gathered Night of the Bloody Apes is a horror film, but is also a wrestling film and the star wrestlers is the cute and shapely luchadoras (female wrestler) Lucy who wears a bright red devil girl outfit and for some reasons when she appears in the ring looks twenty or thirty pounds heavier.

Before going in the story and film itself I will mention that movie had a period of notoriety for being included on the British Video Nasties List that was an attempt to censor movies deemed obscene and overly violent during the early days of video. I do not know much offhand about the list and what else may have been included on it but ultimately the list did not work very well though I have read I the news recently of public concerns and anger over continued film censorship in Britain and in particular of violent films. I would have to research this more to make a comment on it. As for Night of the Bloody Apes it is certainly strange that the film would attract much attention at all since the violence in the film, and it is certainly violent, is of a campy and often silly variety. As I understand the most violent and sexy scenes where shot and added to the movies almost four years later. I wonder what the movie would look like without these scenes. The gore scenes were put in about the same time the film received its infamous English dubbing that is really not as bad as everyone makes it out to be. I like old films like this when they are dubbed actually. I am not such a film purist that I chant “say no to dubs” when those dubs or over a Mexican wrestling adventure or Japanese rubber monster movie. All that being said the film without doubt falls into the cheesy exploitation genre and into the bad movies we love one as well. It is violent and there is some nice nude shots of Lucy the wrestler that are innocent in that sixties sort of way, where naked people sort of just walked around a room. Like seeing Doris Day naked. But there are some rapes and groppings of victims that balance out the girl next door charm of Lucy.

The film’s story is centered around the extent to which Dr. Krallman will go to in order to keep his leukemia ridden son Julio (pronounced Joo-lee-o in the dubs) alive. And there is little the good doctor will not do, including breaking into a zoo and shooting and orangutan with a tranquilizer gun and then abducting the beast. The campy tone of the film is set early enough when we are treated to shots of a real orangutan in one scene then in the next some extra in a monkey suit who dramatically falls back and plops his feet down like he plopped down on the sofa after a hard day at the office. Why tranquilize a monkey you wonder? Dr. Krallman has determined that the strength of the heart and blood of a wild animal is what is needed to save his son’s perishing life. With the assistance of his gimp legged assistant Goyo (who refers to the Doctor as “master”) they perform the heart transplant not in the most modern hospital in the country or city but in Krallman’s basement. The operation scenes are spliced up with scenes of an actual open heart surgery operation. For some reason I think a fakey looking scene with a rubber heart and bright red blood would have been more effective. The operation seems to be a success for now and so should introduce to the commentary Lucy the lucadora and her cop boyfriend Arthur. As in many of Cardona’s films there is no shortage of reasons to suddenly cut to a wrestling match. Lucy wrestles as a very cute devil girl and Arthur hardly misses a match though he harbors hope that Lucy will soon retire from the mythic magic of the ring and stay home and cook enchiladas and start popping out bambinos for him.

The first fight we are treated to is a study in Christmas themed primary colors as Lucy enters the ring in her bright red costume and pairs off against a gal in a super bright green one. Up to this point I am not sure if Cardona had worked much, if at all, with color and he was going to make the most of it. To be honest the colors and sets in the film are really nice. The person who wrestles as Lucy the devil girl is obviously a double as the actress playing Lucy (Norma Lazareno) has about half of the ass mass as the actual person in the ring. During the match Lucy flings her opponent out of the ring and cause her to suffer a serious skull injury. Lucy is distraught and as the film goes on Arthur really gets annoyed with her concern over the condition of the other wrestler, Ellena who was also a friend, and all but tries to slap her out of it.

Next we are treated to Orangutan kidnapping sequence already mentioned and to the subsequent operation in Dr. Kralleman’s basement. I am not a medical expert but I would assume that in order to perform a successful heart transplant you would need more than a sparsely equipped basement laboratory decorated with animal cages and a limping, sycophant assistant who does appear to have any sort of medical degree. But in most films of this nature that is exactly all the doctor needs, along with nauseating genuine stock footage of open heart surgery. It should be noted here that Dr. Kralleman is is also the physician in charge of Ellena, our wrestling victim and that Lucy still feels horrible and Arthur assures it her it not her fault that Ellena was tossed out of the ring head first and is now in a coma with severe brain damage from which she may never recover.

I will let you know that I am not following the chronology of the story here scene by scene. That would require me to rewatch the film and I do not take notes. I am doing the best I can but to be honest when I watch some of these films I am not actually sure what is happening and why when I actually watch them, much less a few days or week later when I am trying to make logical sense of them for the sake of public education. If I make a mistake please understand and be easy on me. Now after a wrestling match and skull cracking, an orangutan/man in gorilla suit abduction, police conference where we see Arthur in action, medical conference that confirms Julio is dying and gory heart transplant in your standard mad doctor laboratory with crippled/deformed assistant who is indebted to or controlled by the mad doctor in some way we arrive at the scene where we realize the operation sort of worked but there is a glitch: the once handsome Julio has transformed into a huge stunt double with man boobs and an expressionless rubber mask that is still better looking than the dime store gorilla suit that represents his donor. The beast is soon out on the streets murdering anybody that crosses his path, but usually the females get all felt up and have their clothes half ripped off and run around with their boobs hanging out.

We are treated all the while to more wrestling matches with Lucy not being her typical confident, coma inducing self any longer. This allows for some great dressing room (where we see Lucy undressed a few times) dialog with morale boosting Arthur tell her to remount her horse and try again. The wrestling matches in this film are not as long as in some other such films and Lucy simply looks cute in her devil outfit (even if it is not really her). The stunt double here is still better than in some of the scenes from Doctor of Doom where the statuesque Lorena Velázquez (as Gloria Venus) seems to lose height and hair length and gain weight in some of the fight scenes. So what is doctor Krallmen to do now? He can’t have Julio running amok murdering and raping innocent people. He concludes that maybe it was not such a good idea to transplant a monkey heart into a human being after and so now he needs to transplant a human heart back into Julio. Luckily in the hospital there is a suitable candidate: the comatose Ellena. We are treated to great mad doctor explanations and rationalizations as to what went wrong and why is okay to rip out Ellena’s heart and let her die in order to save Julio. We are also treated later to a great medical room conference meeting where Ellena’s disappearance is written off as her sleep walking out of the hospital. All in the room nod that this is the best explanation. But while dad was out abducting the comatose Ellena Julio ripped free of his bounds and tore the boards off of the window and went out on yet another killing spree, this time attacking a couple making out in the park and poopng out the eyeball of some other hapless victim. Dad and Goyo tranquilize Julio and it is back to the operating table where we are treated to breast shots of both Ellena and Julio’s stunt double.

As the movie winds down the confusion and often unintentional laughs pick up in tempo. Now to make clear, Julio as the “bloody ape” has been stalking the city and murdering and raping in a frenzy, targeting he area around the park in particular. Arthur and Lucy have been having some relationship problems as is often the case when one person is a luchadora and the other a police detective. In fact Arthur looks forward to the day Lucy leaves the ring and Lucy is usually in a bad mood because Arthur spends all his time looking for the homicidal maniac that is brutally killing people. How selfish. So while the beast is on the loose yet again after ripping off Goyo’s head Arthur calls Lucy in her dressing room after a match where she is lying on her belly butt naked a little irked. She can’t believe that her man is off again trying to catch that ruthless killer and Arthur hearing the agitation in her voice makes the most ludicrous suggestion I have ever heard. Basically he tells her “why not come on down to the park and hang out with the boys and me.” The same park where girls have been raped and men have had their scalps ripped form their heads only a night or two before by a half human monster that is still on the prowl. Lucy’s reaction? “Really?! I’d love it!” Basically.

The movie wraps up with the monster being corner on a rooftop clutching a little girl he seized earlier amid blaring lights and his father screaming for sympathy as Arthur moves in. Dr. Krallman manages to persuade Julio to let the frightened child go, showing there is still humanity in the beast. A quality which is quickly exploited as the cops blow him to bits once the kid is away. Julio the bloody ape falls but, not from the rooftop as I expected, and in the final moments his face transforms back into the angelic features of poor Julio. In another twist of the formula storyline Dr. Krallman is not killed off by his own “Frankenstein” creation as is usually the case. Arthur and Lucy sit in the car and philosophize over what drove Krallmen to cause so much suffering simply to save his son’s life, concluding in the end that is all “… really sad.” As is usually the case with my movie outlines I am sketchy though spoiler loaded. There is a lot more to this film to amaze you and I actually have plans to post the entire film here in a few ore posts. Certainly one of the more enjoyable “bad movie” offering out there. I like Cardona’s earlier b/w wrestling adventures more and have posts on Doctor of Doom and The Wresting Women vs the Aztec Mummy coming right after this. All good stuff.


Posted in British Horror, Camp-Cheese, Science Fiction-Fantasy on May 29, 2011 by Bill Courtney
1958/Director: Arthur Crabtree /Screenplay: Herbert J. Leder
Cast: Marshall Thompson, Kim Parker, Kyanaston Reeves, Stanley Maxted, Terence Kilburn, Gil Winfield

This is a great little disembodied brain movie full of cold war paranoia and strange science gone awry angst. I could not figure out why these supposedly Canadian and American actors all had weird British or Irish sounding accents until I read that it was part of a series of British movies filmed during the late 50’s that were supposed to be set in the States. It is on the Criterion Collection which as I understand tries to find and transfer the best quailty prints possible. Well, the film looks great and is a barrel of fun. Plenty of unintentional laughs and some really disgusting looking brains that crawl like inch worms using their spinal cords.

The story takes place on and around an American military base somewhere in western Canada. The characters are typical 50’s sci-fi sterotypes… the dashing and sickingly noble hero and sexy but coquettishly innocent female lead who fall in love with each other after the obligatory cold period, the brilliant and ultimately altruistic scientist whose vision to help mankind turns against him and destroies him, and a whole slew of doofy supporting characters that hardly have a disembodied brain between the lot of them. The misguided doctor creates a machine that projects his thoughts as teleketic energy and soon he can move small objects around his room. This is to suppose to help the world somehow. His thoughs soon evolve into an invisible and muderous power that is later made visible by increasing the level of radioactivity at the military base. The creatures are stop-action animated brains that spurt gobs of blood when shot or hacked with axes. One scene I really liked was when some Canadian redneck (played by a Brit) comes mumbling into a room where a meeting of the towns folk is going on. His brain has been drained by the one of the beasts and the look on his blithering face is classic.

Definintly worth a look. Loads of fun and campy dialog that is taken seriously by the cast of bad actors. Check out the weird Jerry Lee Lewis lookin’ guy that runs the nuclear power plant. But the brain beasts are not the only radiactive matter in this fantastic B-gem. The movie contains enough plutonium to power a microwave for six months or more.


Posted in Trailers, Video Clip on May 26, 2011 by Bill Courtney



Posted in American Horror, Camp-Cheese, Mad Doctors and Scientists, Nazis, Richard E. Cunha on May 25, 2011 by Bill Courtney

1958/Director: Richard E. Cunha/Writers: Richard E. Cunha, H.E. Barrie

Cast: Irish McCalla, Tod Griffin, Victor Sen Yung, Rudolph Anders, Gene Roth, Leni Tana, Charles Opunui

In some ways 1958’s She Demons is like a story that would appear in the sweaty men’s magazines of the sixties where overly viral white guys rescued, or tried to anyway, captive white girls from the clutches of Nazis, Imperial Japanese soldiers, commies, pirates or wild animals of various sorts. The story is one of the most outlandish ideas ever and so it lands a place here at the Uranium Cafe. The plot is the tried and true group pf travelers stranded on a desert island one with some sort of menace lurking in the jungles. This story line, along with the car breaking down in the countryside with a dark mansion or castle nearby, is simply one that will never disappear from the hack script writer’s box of two or three tricks. The story involves a small group of boaters who was washed ashore after their small boat is destroyed in a hurricane, in the Caribbean I am assuming, and they find themselves pitted against a group of well dressed and well supplied Nazis some thirteen years after the war has ended. I reviewed The Flesh Eaters here and that film also had a similar story, of a group of travelers who land off a small island in the Atlantic and find there a brilliant but mad Nazi who is continuing experiments from the war period in hopes of selling the results to the highest bidder. He did not walk around the island in black Nazi regalia not was he supposedly still be supplied by the defunct fascist Nazi regime, by secret submarines yet, as the goose stompers in this flick are. Well before we explore this unbelievable film in detail lets have a look at some of the people involved in its creation and production.

The film is directed by the man who brought to us, in the same year of 1958, what is considered to be his greatest contribution to the world of cheese cinema Frankenstein’s Daughter (a review on that wonder will be here at the Cafe eventually, do not fear) Richard E. Cunha. He was born in Hawaii and served in the Army where he learned his trade by making training films and newsreels related to WWII. He would later work as cinematographer for various TV shows (Branded and Death Valley Days among them) and direct some strange low budget cult horror and sci-f- classics, mostly from the late fifties and early sixties. He seems to speak with pride about how his films averaged $65,000 and no more than six days to make. His other films include Missile to the Moon and Giant from the Unknown. When I sad above that the lurid and macho cover art for the men’s action mags of the sixties usually depicted overly virile men I did not mean to infer that this film’s lead man was some such heroic he man. In fact Fred Malkin (Tod griffin) is really an odd character who gets a regular tongue lashing from spoiled rich girl Jerrie Turner (played by the original Sheena, Irish McCalla) and can barely hold his own in a fist fight with a fight Nazi named Igor. He is simply never convincing as a tough guy even though his shirt is opened up at the chest and his sleeves are rolled up. Also along on the shipwrecked crew are the To his credit Fred somehow as convinced Jerrie’s rich daddy to finance the whole trip which is to find an island where animal like humans exist like something out of Dr. Moreau. And that brings us to Jerrie who is simply one spoiled rich brat and we have to wonder why she even came along on the trip. When everyone is washed upon the beach after their ship sinks in the storm she can’t stop complaining that Fred did not salvage enough of her wardrobe. She whines on and on and refuses to spend even one night on the beach and never seems concerned about starving to death or dying of dehydration. While Fred seems to act tough with her and flings some insults back we all know who the boss is here, Jerrie and her daddy’s money.

The last two members of the castaways (neither is a professor or millionaire) are two nervous looking ethnic stereotypes who are both wondering which one is going to die off first. The boat’s black captain is Kris Kamana and he really looks more like a struggling alcoholic to me than someone who would be manning the yacht of a millionaire. He seems superstitious and senses some bad mojo on this seemingly uncharted island. Though uncharted and basically unknown it is home to the band of Nazis and is used by the US Air Force in fly over bombing tests. Finally is the wise cracking Asian Sammy Ching (Victor Sen Yung) who is doing all he can to make sure he does not wind up the dead non-white guy and survives to be the comic relief providing side kick. And if you have to choose between sour pussed Kris and always ready with a one liner Sammy who would you choose? Victor Sen Yung is noted as sharing many of the Number One Son roles in the Charlie Chan movie series when they weren’t being played by Keye Luke (Master Po in the Kung Fu TV series)

The only other noteworthy character in the film (we will exclude introducing the henchman Igor) is the lead bad guy, since all Nazis are bad, is one Colonel Karl Osler (Rudolph Anders) and this guy must have been the inspiration for the character of Col. Klink in the Hogan’s Heroes TV series. Actor Anders has a long list of film credits and most of them all seem to be commanders or doctors with pompous sounding German sounding names. I will then assume that this guy’s accent may be for real and if so why is he not considered the Teutonic version of Steppin’ Fetchit or Sleep n’ Eat? He sports a monocle and black SS type uniform that looks extremely sharp and neatly pressed at all times, I mean considering he is on a desert island and it is 1958 and the Third Reich was all but destroyed thirteen years before. I love explanation sequences in old horror and sci-fi films. You know the scenes where the scientist starts giving a long winded and jargon filled break down of the situation according to all the laws of modern science, or even better, the scene where the mad doctor or villain discloses his plans and aspirations to his captives. Well this film has simply one of the best scenes ever of Col. Osler rambling on and on about the nature of his experiments on the islands and how they are connected to his old research with the krauts in some concentration camp back in the good ol’ days. It all has to do with something skin graft experiments and he uses the jungle girls (more on them shortly) as guinea pigs and hopes to perfect the technique to restore the once lovely fact of his wife, Mona, who was horribly disfigured in a lab accident. When I say disfigured I am trying to be nice here. Her friggin’ face is gone! He supplies his captive guests with all the details of his evil monolog since he feels they will never leave the island and I guess he just had to let I all out since he has been cooped up for way too long with the same old jungle girls who don’t speak English or Naziese, his freaky looking wife and his crew of lackies who are a lot of obsequious yes men if ever there were. So, lets discuss the story in a general fashion and see just why the hell I love this strange film so much.

The story, as I have already disclosed, is about a small yacht that is being charted by Fred Malkin for the purpose of finding an island that, according to legend and drunken sea tales, is home to a race of half animal, half human creatures. I cannot figure out if Jerrie is his girlfriend or not since they never seem to have a kind word for one another, but somehow Fred manages to talk her dad into financing the “expedition”. Why exactly Jerrie decides to come along is a total mystery since she is miserable from the word go. The rest of the “seasoned” crew is the sorry excuse, but most likely affordable, for a sea captain Kris Kamana and an Asian Hop Sing style tag along if ever there was one named Sammy Ching. Actually the Asian guy here does not descend into as many stereotyped mannerisms and dialog as one might expect form the period and is, s far I am concerned, the most likeable character in the film. And while Kamana appears to be a black man it is also likely he is a Samoan but I am not sure any of that matters because I think is obvious from the get go that what this guy is is dead meat. They run into a hurricane and I wonder if they had bothered to check the weather forecast before setting sail since hurricanes don’t usually appear out of nowhere. The storm looks like a bad one according to all the stock footage we are treated to. The ship goes down but as is usually the case everyone is washed upon the shore of a tropical island. How does that happen? I would think even with life jackets you are going to drown in hurricane waters strong enough to sink your ship. However Sammy somehow manages to save the blasted radio, the heaviest piece of equipment there is. Jerrie is at it in no time and Fred is yapping back at her for being the spoiled rich brat she is and the two ethnic minority members stare at each other wondering who will go first. Luckily it is the worst actor in the cast Kris who goes down first.

They see a formation of stock footage jets fly over head and receive a transmission that they will return later and perform a bombing run on the island. They find him later after exploring around a bit, searching for the sources of foot prints they found in the sand, with spears in his body and the radio smashed to pieces. This all bodes poorly. They head back into the jungle and after a few confusing adventures, such as Sammy finding his own college fraternity pin and the trio finding a freakish girl face down in a river, they are drawn to some primitive bongo and congo drums playing the type of untamed drum rhythms you heard at Ricky Ricardo’s club on the Lucy Show and find a group of robust white girls doing a “native” dance in a jungle clearing. It seems to be more like dance you would find on one of those burlesque Super 8 movie reels and I simply have to wonder what the origins of this tribe of sexy, white are. Are there really lost tribes of women like this on uncharted Caribbean islands? What is more amazing is what happens next. A squad of Nazis show up and recapture the girls as it seems they had all just escaped from their holding pins where they are kept for Col. Osler’s experiments. That is correct. These girls all just escaped from Nazis performing freakish experiments on them and what do they do? Do they high tail it to the furthest reaches of the island and hide quietly in the jungle? No, they start doing a loud Las Vegas show girl routine a hundred feet from the Nazi camp.

The girls are taken back and one is whipped to death by Igor as an example to the others and our trio of castaways decide to sneak into the camp and find out what is going on. The movie then becomes a series of the group’s attempts at breaking into the Nazi compound then getting captured and then escaping again and yet getting recaptured.  Anders is great as the jeering and unethical Nazi madman and in one the most memorable scenes of the film he actually tries to seduce cold fish Jerrie by dressing her up in a black gown owned by his disfigured wife and plying her with alcohol. While Anders seems to be playing the scene for fun McCalla’s lack of acting ability is totally apparent. Nicholas Carras’ music score is decent enough and the cinematography by Meredith Nicholson is pretty good as well after the scenes begin to take place in the jungles and in the secret laboratory and compound. I felt his camera work on Cunha’s Missile to the Moon and Daughter of Frankentstein was far better however though She Demons displays plenty of his skill within the low budget 50’s and 60’s horror films genre. The She Demons themselves are interesting works and the scene where one turns her head after being transformed by Col. Osler’s experiments actually made my wife jump and cream a little. The make up is obviously pretty low budget with the long, gangly teeth really being the weak point but in a way the creatures are actually a little freaky. The scene where Osler’s wife’s face is revealed is pretty well done and reminiscent of Karloff in The Mummy, except that Mona’s rotted face is far uglier. Through it all Sammy keeps the wise cracks coming and Fred is simply a wuss in my opinion. Maybe one of the wimpiest action heroes to appear in film.

The film ends strangely, as if things haven’t been strange enough. Of course Osler’s wife get upset because of his interest in Jerrie and set them all free after they have been imprisoned yet again by sneaking them the key to the door lock. She never seemed to have a problem with Osler experimenting on the native girls with experiments that were usually fatal but she suddenly has an attack of conscience when he sees him trying to put the move on Jerrie in her black dress. While She Demons are running amok and our trio are making their escape the US Air Force starts a bombing run on the island and the laboratory is blown up and the lava that Osler harassed for his experiments is set loose and fries him. Was this not a major issue in the past? These bombing runs and why in the world did it just happen that this was the one to blow the lab to bits? We will never know I suppose. Fred, Jerrie and Sammy make it to the beach where finally Jerrie seems to have fallen for Fred but I have no idea why. She is still a shrew and he is a sissy boy. Of course I poke fun but this is a pretty good low budget film that draws on some classic traditions such as doctors driven to restore their disfigured wives, strange experiments gone awry on a desert island and shipwrecked survivors who find themselves in the middle of all the madness. Usually considered Cunha’s second best film compared to Daughter of Frankenstein but I think Missile to the Moon is often overlooked and a review of that film, and Daughter of Frankenstein, are coming eventually. 


Posted in Al Adamson, American Horror, Camp-Cheese, Exploitation, Forrest J. Ackerman, Lon Chaney Jr., Mad Doctors and Scientists, Russ Tamblyn, Soundtrack Samples on May 23, 2011 by Bill Courtney
1971/Director: Al Adamson/Writers: William Pugsley, Samuel M. Sherman
Cast: J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol, Zandor Vorkov, Angelo Rossitto, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, John Bloom, Forrest J Ackerman
AKA: Blood Freaks (working title), Blood of Frankenstein, Satan’s Bloody Freaks, Teenage Dracula, The Blood Seekers, The Revenge of Dracula
Dracula vs Frankenstein is certainly one of Al Adamson’s more memorable offerings. Released by his and partner’s Sam Sherman’s Independent-International Pictures company in 1971 the movie is a “high point” for Adamson’s technique of joining together previous films projects and in some cases (as with the utterly bizarre Horror of the Blood Monster) inserting unrelated film footage from other  films entirely. With Dracula vs Frankentstein the effect is a little more cohesive than he is usually given credit for though the story and production are pretty shoddy in typical Adamson style. I am saying that as an Adamson/Sherman production it is one of the better projects. The movie is entertaining enough in a midnight movie way and is lots of fun for fans of bad movies though others would be well advised to stir clear of this debacle.
The film has some notable once greats in the cast. Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story) has an out of place role as a biker. If the character seems reminiscent of his character Anchor from Satan Sadists it is more than a coincidence since scenes from a prior Adamson/Sherman project, a sequel to Satan Sadists, was used. That project got shelved for a couple years and some footage wound up in Dracula vs Frankenstein along with newly shot scenes where Tamblyn and crew appear noticeably older and heavier. Here the biker characters seem to pop up to intimidate one of the female characters once in a while for no explainable reason and simply wind up hacked to death by veteran horror star Lon Chaney Jr. who appears here in his final film role. Chaney looks weak and feverish most of the time and would die a year later from liver failure and beri beri. Also appearing in his last film role is screen bad guy J. Carol Naish whose film career, like Chaney’s, goes back to the 30’s. Naish works from a wheelchair throughout the film and was in such feeble condition he could not remember his lines. He read from cue cards and in some scenes you can see only one eye scrolling left to right as he read because his glass eye would not move. Naish would also be dead within a year. In a small role is Famous Monsters of Filmland founder and editor Forrest J. Ackerman who gets his back snapped by the freaky looking Frankenstein Monster. And in a less mentioned role is tough character actor Jim Davis (Jock Ewing of Dallas) who plays a police detective.

The whole project was began in 1968 as The Blood Seekers and that time Naish and Chaney played a mad scientist and his mute, idiotic assistant. Seems mad scientists can only enlist the help of retarded cripples in the genre films of the 60’s and 70’s. The misguided though brilliant doctor sought the secret of eternal life to help mankind but in the process had to kill off pretty young girls to perfect his formula.  Their is always some blasted snag to every mad doctor’s benevolent plan of saving mankind it seems. The film didn’t go anywhere and was canned but later Adamson wanted to revive the project and with Sherman decided to releases the film as a Dracula and Frankenstein film. The story gets blurry here really for me and Sherman had promised a film called Dracula vs Frankenstein and had a release date scheduled with distributors and was unable to actually release the film because it was far from finished. Instead he got his hands on Paul Naschy’s debut film that was a small hit in Spain called La Macrca del Hombre Lobo (maybe The Mark of the Werewolf). The film was originally shot in 3D and was released in the states as Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror though the movie has nothing whatsoever to do with Frankentstein. The film was a bit of a success though and Sherman likes to take some credit for Naschy’s soon to come success in the field of 70’s Euroshockers. I guess all this filled contractual agreements and allowed Adamsons to get back to assembling the mess that would become the film this post is about. Another film of the same title was released in 1972 by Jess Franco and the two are sometimes confused by people seeking to see one or the other. And to make it all still more confusing there is a 3rd film with the same title released in 1969. That one is actually a Spanish film that was the last role of Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still).
Unfinished film projects seem to be the thing that fueled Adamson the most and many of his movies were patched together over a period of years and the haphazardness of the end product is what gives the films their notoriety or appeal depending on the predisposition of the viewer. Things did not work out with Sherman’s original choice for Dracula, John Carradine-who had starred in Adamson’s bewildering Blood of Dracula’s Castle-and so to play the count they enlisted someone with absolutely so acting credibility whatsoever. Adamson selected former stock broker Robert Engle for no better reason than he liked the way he looked for the role. I thought he looked like a pimp myself. With the help of Forry Ackerman changed his name to Zander Vorkov  (a combination of Anton Szandor LaVey and Boris Karloff). This was supposed to be in the tradition of film greats like Karloff and Lugosi who changed their names to something dramatic but Engel’s comic book name is the least of problems with him and his horrible performance. He really seems to want to try and be an actor and it must have put the zap on him to see his name in the credits as “Introducing Zander Vorkov”. Luckily he made only one more brief appearance in Adamson’s next film Brain of Blood as a Muslim priest or something who dies in the first few scenes then he vanished from the world of film forever.
The story is very confusing and at times simply incoherent. This is in part due to the conflicts in the two scripts (there is orphaned dialog from the first script about some “parchment” that never appears in the film at no point) and mismatched film stock as well as the poor quality of filmmaking itself. The opening credits are sort of cool though and the Moog laden music score by William Lava is listenable at times. The opening scenes shows Dracula unearthing the remains of the Frankenstein monster (played by John Bloom who would also appear along side Vorkov in Brain of Blood as yet another monster) and killing the night watchman. This is the only person Dracula drinks blood from in the entire picture. I am thinking that the action here takes place where the rest of the film does and that is around the Los Angeles area. Exactly why the Frankenstein monster wound up buried in a grave in southern California is not explained. Maybe the opening action takes place in Transylvania or some spooky place but I am not sure and do not see any reason to review the film once more to be clear. If I am mistaken just smack me a couple times. The scene ends abruptly and soon a girl is strolling along the beach and the next thing you know her head is lobbed off by the imbecilic Groton (Chaney in a role that echoes back to his excellent portrayal of Steinbeck’s Lenny in Of Mice and Men because Groton cuddles a small puppy throughout the film). Suddenly the story cuts to Las Vegas where we are treated to an entire song and dance routine by Judith Fountain (played by Adamson’s wife Regina Carrol). We soon discover that her sister Jodie has come up missing in the Venice district of LA. and she leaves to see what information she can gather. Cynical and life weary Sgt. Martin (Jim Davis) is little help as his spouts off his nihilistic diatribe and grumbles that the “world is a dark place” and hits the viewer over the head with a hammer as he clicks the overhead light off.
Judith is off on her own and in the hippie side of town alone and looking for Jodie. A couple hippies of note is future trash film maker Greydon Clark as Strange and Anthony Eisley (Samual Fuller’s The Naked Kiss) who plays Mike, a slightly older and patronizingly wiser hippie guy with a really weird necklace. Judith asks the bartender of a local hippie dive about her sister and after he passes this information onto his boss (none other than Russ Tamblyn as the biker Rico) he is told to slip her an LSD mickey and soon she is freaking out and hallucinating and dancing around in weird clothes. Why Rico felt he had to give acid to a woman who is asking about Jodie remains a mystery since he had nothing to do with her death. The spaced out Judith aided by Strange and his girlfriend Samantha. Now I should mention that earlier in the film (or maybe it is a little later, I totally forget) Strange and Samantha had taken a tour of the “funhouse” of Doctor Duryea (Naish) and met the lovable midget (or dwarf or little person) Grazbo (Angelo Rossitto who would also appear in Brain of Blood with Vorkov and Bloom, and he would again play a midget). The guy is really annoying and eats the dollar bill that Strange probably had to panhandle all morning for. The funhouse is a collection of torture instruments and murder recreations that are almost impossible to make out because the lighting is so damned bad. In many cases Adamson elected to use natural lighting to ill effect. Maybe he did not elect to or more likely did not know better. Adamson did not have future Deer Hunter cinematographer Vilomos Zsigmond aboard this time to help out as he did with other projects like Horror of the Blood Monsters, Blood of Ghastly Horror and Psycho A Go-Go, though little in those “works” show much of Zsigmond’s skill anyway.
Guests to the funhouse are treated to Duryea’s blatherings about illusions and reality and all sorts of meaningless mumbo jumbo, while all the time the good doctor is using the the funhouse as a front for his real purposes. In the basement which is reached by an elevator (this is confusing since the funhouse rests on top of a pier on the beach with trap doors that open directly over the beach itself) he is carrying on the experiments as his calling, as the last of the Frankensteins, to… er… well… I am not sure what his calling is. It has something to do with the original story for Blood freaks I think, before Naish was actually a descendent of the Frankenstein’s, who is now called Duryea as he was adopted by the Duryea family in an attempt to explain the original name of Naish’s character from the first film. He is seeking some drug that will benefit mankind by endowing people with eternal youth. As mentioned earlier he must kill attractive young girls to get the base for his serum or whatever. And the kills must be in a state of total fear so that the correct balance of chemicals is produced. This is where the mute and idiotic Groton comes in. Normally passive and withdrawn he becomes a frothing maniac after the doctor injects him with a drug that unleashes the killer in him. He then goes out to the beach area around the pier on a regular basis and chops off girl’s heads. Duryea is also assisted by the dwarf/midget/little fella Grazbo in his research.
Well, one night while Duryea is hanging out in the funhouse alone when out of the shadows walks Count Dracula and we are treated to some of the most highhanded and ludicrous dialog of the entire film. A strange effect is added to Vorkov’s voice and it is all warbly and echoy. I guess this is suppose to sound eerie and supernatural but in fact it sounds rather like someone’s voice being amateurishly processed through some audio filter. The dialog that takes place in the “underground” lab is too outlandish to go into. There is stuff about the Duryea being crippled by some rival doctors or something and one in particular is Dr. Beaumont (Ackerman) who also was responsible for burying the Frankenstein monster-after all his associates died in some unnamed epidemic and are conveniently written out of the script before we ever see them-in the graveyard we saw at the beginning (so it must have been LA and not Transylvania) and that Dracula now has the beast and Duryea must continue with what he is destined to do as a Frankenstein. That is to, what? Do something with the deformed freak. And he has to hurry as the Zornov comet is passing close to earth on that same night fro the first time in like a hundred years or so and the Zornov comet is important for some reason. As dracual looks out the window we get to see the Zornov comet and I think it is best you just have a look for yourself at this thing. Beaumont is later killed by the monster in a classic scene for any fan of famous Monsters of Filmland. I found some scenes from FMF and posted them below and you can see Forry doing the best acting in the film.
To release us from the mounting tension and suspense Adamson cuts to a groggy Judith who was taken by Strange and Samantha to the local over 30 hippie who can still be trusted a little Mike. Mike introduces himself and informs her, after her asking where she is, that “this is my pad.” They quickly conclude that Dr. Duryea’s funhouse is the focal point of the all the disappearances and it is this scene that Judith makes mention of the “parchment” that Jodie had gotten from there. What parchment? Jodie’s head is hacked off within moments of her character being introduced. There is no friggin’ parchment in this movie but maybe there was from Blood Freaks. Who the hell cares.
They take off to the funhouse and miss the slaughter of Samantha and Rico and his gang by Groton, which again takes place under the pier of the funhouse. The bodies are later found by Strange and Sgt. Martin who finally figures he should go down to the beach and look into all these missing person reports. Earlier Mike and Judith had managed to escape from Dr. Duryea’s evil clutches after they found Jodie there with her head sown back on and a blank stare on here face. Grazbo dies a pretty cool death when he falls through the trapdoor onto Groton’s ax. Duryea winds up decapitated by the show’s guillotine and Judith runs out to the roof and soon Sgt martin gets to do hid job and shoots Groton with out warning or Miranda rights.  The ending that now follows was discarded by Adamson and it is available, I think, on the Troma DVD release of the film. Basically the film ends with Judith and Mike alive and staring at each other as Dracula and the monster die off and turn to dust. Adam son was not satisfied with the ending and decided to re-shoot it… but not all the cast was available for the re-shoot, including John Bloom as the monster and Anthony Eisley as Mike the hippie. No problem to get a stand in for Bloom who was covered in make up any way. Harder for Eisley, so Adamson actually stood in for him himself and had Dracula zap him in the back with his evil ring (whose designer receives mention in the opening credits for some reason) as he ran away. It is a totally comical scene with low grade animation and frozen frames. It is during this sequence also that Frankenstein starts battling Dracula in the confusion and some we actually have some combat between the two monsters and it continues a little later as well in some of the worst lit scenes in a movie filled with horrible lighting.
The film was shot on 16mm film stock and when the final confrontation between the monsters occurs it is all shot in a thick wooded area using natural lighting. The action is often washed out and the sunlight cutting through the tree leaves and branches does not help at all. In any case, the final scenes of the newly shot ending are interesting enough as Dracula rip the monster limb from limb concluding with its spongy looking head. But the fight went on a little too long and Dracula is too far from his lair as the sun rises higher and higher. He makes it back within feet of the entrance and starts to dissolve in a scene that contains the best special effects of the film but that is not saying much of course. In the tradition of older films that would cut away from a transformation then back Adamson switches between shots of the sun rising and then back to Dracula in various stages of decay. Here Vorkof has the opportunity to display the breadth of his acting ability as his thickly made up face dissolves into Styrofoam.
I can certainly recommend Dracula vs Frankenstein to fans of campy midnight movie fare. Others are warned to steer clear. I have actually come to like Adamson’s work and find some of it more watchable than a lot of the grade-z material I have sat through recently. Like Ed Wood Jr, who I repeat was not the worst filmmaker of all time by far, Adamson seemed to possess some vision but lacked some fundamental filmmaking or story telling skills to bring it all together in a cohesive package. But that’s does not mean he work is void of talent or at least watchable and enjoyable moments, even if those moments are often campy and unintentionally comical. There will certainly be more Adamson reviews here as I have about a dozen or so projects he was involved with. The next one will either be Brain of Blood of the unbelievable Horror of the Blood Monsters.