Archive for the Ron Ormond Category

THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER/1968/RON ORMOND

Posted in Camp-Cheese, Exploitation, Gorillas-Yetis-Bigfoot, Ron Ormond on September 2, 2011 by Bill Courtney
THE MONSTER AND THE STRIPPER
1968/Director: Ron Ormond/Writer: Ron Ormond
Cast: Ron Ormond, Tim Ormond, Peggy Anne Price, Sleepy LaBeef, Georgette Dante, Ronald Drake, Jack Horton, Pauletta Leeman, Harris Martin, Diane Jordon
AKA: THE EXOTIC ONES
As hard as it may be for the uninitiated neophyte to conceive there is a class of “cult” (I do not like that term much lately as it is overused these days but is still most applicable at times) makers whose skill and dubious vision is on a lower rung of the film making ladder than even Ed Wood Jr.. In fact the title “worst filmmaker of all time” has never really been suitable for Ed Wood Jr. since there are moments in his films that show some degree of craftsmanship. Of course I am talking apples and oranges here, okay. Tim Burton made an embellished biopic of Wood’s life and career of the technical nature Wood himself could never imagine. I still find most of Wood’s catalog pretty deserving of being watched over when there is nothing else to do with life. I can dust the house or watch Bride of the Monster again. Not a tough decision for me folks. But even in more remote orbit from the world of conventional filmmaking are a good that churns out what are often called Z-Films. If B-Movies refer to films made outside the normal system and politics of Hollywood on super low budgets then Z-Films represent a world even outside the rules and codes of B-Movies and their creators. I doubt anyone sets out to make a “Grade Z Classic” the way Ted V. Mikels did with Astro Zombies or Al Adamson did with Dracula vs. Frankenstein but somewhere event beyond reasonable human control (such as the collective lack of filmmaking talent on the part of the entire cast and crew) come into play. And yet there is something genuinely entertaining about the films of folks like Ray Dennis Steckler, aka Cash Flagg, and even Herschell Gordon Lewis that can provide a certain portion of the population a sound evening of pseudo-surreal film watching. One could argue that this same said portion of the population is in desperate need of shock therapy or even lobotomies but that brings the subject matter a little too close to home to make me feel relaxed. So lets move on and discuss a truly odd film I had the masochistic pleasure of watching recently called The Monster and the Stripper, aka The Exotic Ones.

Like many other film makers of his selective ilk Ron Ormond’s personal and professional life followed a course much like one of his eclectic films. If you are really interested there is a ten page write up on the man and his films from an article that appeared in Michael J. Weldon’s Pyschotronic Video Magazine. One of these days I am going to begin some posts that provide mini-bios of the lives of influential Uranium charged film makers and I will use info from the above essay to give an overview of Ormond’s life. I know you can’t wait that long and ten pages is way too much to read of the cuff so I will try to give a very rough sketch from the info I have lying here next to me. He was born in 1910 as Vittorio Di Naro and changed his name to Ron Ormond because of the influence of mystic Ormond McGill on his life. Ron Ormond had a fascination with things mysterious or religious and even spent nearly a year in India with McGill researching and writing the book Mysteries of the Orient. McGill and Ormand would collaborate on some other books, that would probably be found in the occult section of a bookstore, with titles like The Master Method of Hypnosis, The Art of Meditation and The Magical Pendulum of the Orient. Later in life Ormond’s religious leanings would take a more Southern Evangalical slant when, after surviving a plane crash, be became born again and followed the hell fire and brimstone preaching of the Reverend Estus W. Pirkle.

Ormand’s contributions to the world of film began to be more substantial when he began working with cowboy star Lash Larue (so named because of the bullwhip the black clad good guy used in his buts with bad guys) in the late 40’s and 50’s. He produced and wrote many of the Larue and other B-Western films of the time for his Western Adventure Inc. production company. He married June Carr and later little Timmy Ormond was born. The times changed and so did Ron and June Ormond’s film making ventures. In the mid to late sixties they churned out a handful of low budget exploitation style films that seem to belong in a little niche all their own. While most people may have never heard of Please Don’t Touch and Untamed Mistress I hope that they will be a little familiar with Mesa of Lost Women, featuring some of the old Ed Wood Jr. entourage such as Delores Fuller and Lyle Talbot (doing the narration).
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Ormond’s film direction took still another bizarre twist when after the aforementioned near fatal plane crash he began making Christian propaganda films for Estus W. Pirkle with titles like The Burning Hell and If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? He died in 1981 and like many exploitation style film makers his work remained lost until VHS and DVD brought them to a level of popularity he never knew in his living years. I have seen Mesa of Lost Women a couple times and am trying to download If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do? (Jeremiah 12:5) and Please Don’t Touch Me but the film I just watched and the one this post is about is The Monster and the Stripper and seems to be the film he is most remembered for, alongside Mesa of Lost Women. The title is certainly enticing and it is also known under the less provocative title The Exotic Ones. The film is like that line from Ghost World when the character Rebecca says “Its so bad its good¡± and the totally cynical Enid responds with “Actually it so bad that’s its gone past good and back to bad again¡±.

Like I said, the title is enticing and sounds pretty sleazy but the movie had me using the fast forward often, which is something I seldom do. I was aghast to discover that some people to churn out posts on a daily basis actually fast forward through the film just to get to a review on it. I actually enjoy the fare I watch and tend to do more rewinding and if the film is unwatchable I eject it. The problem with TMATS is that some scenes are fairly watchable Z-Grade material, at least for people to prefer root canals with little anesthesia or think Ed Wood Jr. may have actually been possessed of some sort of genius. The problem really is the dance sequence that are too many and go on too long, sometimes one after the other just filling up reels. They are of the Tease-o-Rama type variety and in small doses could be fun but after a while they really become simply way too boring. What I want to see in a film like this is lots of cheesy acting and corny dialog and goofy monsters. And yes, plump, pastie teasing dancing girls in a sleazy strip club as well of course but it is all just filler here obviously.

The film opens up with shots of New Orleans and the type of over the credit narration that is supposed to give the film a sort of mondo, true life feel. That’s you are about to be exposed to the sights and sounds of some hidden under belly of life in America that few people even know exist, much less have ever witnessed. Soon however we are transported into the less than murky and grimy interiors of Nemo’s Strip Club, run by said Nemo who is played by shade wearing Ron Ormond himself and billed as Vic Narno. His business partner is played by June Ormond and some of the dialog exchanges between consist of them staring into the camera and mouthing a line then cutting to a scene where the other, looking into the camera, reacts. June Ormond sometimes keeps slipping glances into the camera as she is talking and even seems to wink or nod to the camera and it is a little odd. Nemo’s business is slowing down due to competition on the strip he is working and in one scene he has his goons pour a spittoon over the head of a toothless rival who owes him some money. He is watched constantly by what must be a vice cop (Ronald Drake) who wears a goofy straw hat and spews out patronizing advice to one nice girl, Effie, who, in his opinion, does belong in this ratty business. She is played by Peggy Anne Price and she simply wants to be a singer and we are treated to a couple performances of her doing a sort of poor man’s Pasty Cline that are pretty hayseed sounding and do not seem to fit in a burlesque type club. His main dancer is the garishly eye-lined Titiania (Georgette Dante, a real live exotic show girl who stayed friends with the Ormonds long after the film) who is rotund and arrogant and becomes jealous of good girl Effie stealing a little of the lime light from her.

But Narno needs more to draw in customers and on the suggestion of his right hand man Marty (Jack Horton), who looks like he owes every Elvis record ever made, they decides to go into the swamps and bayous around New Orleand and capture the “Swamp Thing” that has been recently killing off hillbillies (or swampbillies) and ripping the heads off livestock. They figure this is just the sort of thing people will money to come in and gawk at. They hire a swamp kid named Timmy (Timmy Ormond) as their guide and the group of four men are soon whittled down to two by the Swamp Thing, a cave man looking brute played by rockabilly singer an guitar player Sleepy LaBeef (some MP3 samples at the end of the post) who lives under piles of Spanish moss. One of the best scenes in the film is when the Swamp Thing rips the arm off one of the hunters and beats the man to death with his own arm. Okay, I thought it was one of the best scenes anyway. There is some irony to this scene actually since the man beat to death was Cecil Scaife who was a PR man for Sun Records and at the time working with Columbia Records. So happens Sleepy LaBeefe (called Sleepy because of his droopy eye lid) was a Columbia recording artist. The dialog and acting in this sequence are simply the “best’ in the film. Anyway, they catch the Swamp Thing, with a hypo-gun I think, and take him back to the Strip Club. The local police seem to have no interest in the fact that a murderous swamp beast has been captured and soon he is on stage rattling the cage bars as the audience stares in shock. Timmy is the only person the monster connects with, for some reason we never understand, and as well he has a monster style crush on good crooner Effie. Naturally the bad girl Titania gets on his bad side when she does her fire act and torments him with fire. In one scene the Swamp Thing bites the neck of real chicken and lets the blood drain over his body. Some trivia here is that the 6’7 Sleepy did not have the heart to actually kill the chicken and so Georgette Dante (Titania in case you forgot) wrung it’s neck off camera and flung it back to Sleepy.

After a pretty non-sexy cat fight between Effie and Titania the monster escapes and kills Titiana then terrifies and bunch of dancing girls who all look like they are laughing at the lumbering, loin cloth wearing Sleepy LaBeef, who is supposed to a pretty funny and hospitable good ol’ boy in real life. The beast squished the skull of Narno while the vice cop in the straw hat just watches, with gun in hand, and winches. In the next scenes we are told that the monster escaped and no ones knows where it is. Guess it just walked down Bourbon Street and back to the swamps without causing any commotion. The film ends with another Russ Myersesque narration. The film actually did rather well on the drive-in circuit where June Ormond arranged autograph sessions with the dancers (including of course Titania) and other cast member sin the concessions area. Not that the Ormonds saw much of the returns of this or any of their films and soon the shady dealings of the exploitation film business, along with his neat fatal plane crash (he may have been the pilot), all contributed to his conversion to Southern style Christianity and his very bizarre but intriguing film work with the Rev. Estus W. Pirkle. More on that stuff another day.

NOTE: One sad note about this article is that when I had it posted originally at my old URL -which was basically destroyed by hackers and unqualified tech support-  the article generated some responses from Tim Ormond and one of the films dancers Diane Jordon. Eventually even Titiana herself (Georgette Dante) contacted Tim and a bit of a reunion occurred and was chronicled in the comments sections and a couple post updates. Sadly when I lost the old URL I lost ll of that precious information. If Tim and Diane are out there I may say hi via your mails and welcome you to the new address for any updates you may want to share. Thanks for sharing the stuff you did and best of luck to you if you read this. Bill.

THE URANIUM CAFE MATINEE: MESA OF LOST WOMEN

Posted in Mad Doctors and Scientists, Matinee, Ron Ormond, Tandra Quinn on July 15, 2011 by Bill Courtney

They Were All a Man Could Desire, 
But Deadlier Than a Black Widow! 

SEE MESA OF LOST WOMEN RIGHT HERE >>

http://www.archive.org/flow/flowplayer.commercial-3.2.1.swf
MESA OF LOST WOMEN 

MESA OF LOST WOMEN/1953/RON ORMOND/TANDRA QUINN

Posted in American Horror, Camp-Cheese, Dolores Fuller, Ron Ormond, Tandra Quinn on July 15, 2011 by Bill Courtney
MESA OF LOST WOMEN
   
1953/Directors: Ron Ormond and Herbert Tevos/Writer: Herbert Tevos

Cast: Jackie Coogan, Allan Nixon, Richard Travis, Lyle Talbot, Paula Hill, Robert Knapp, Tandra Quinn, Dolores Fuller

I will agree somewhat with what one reviewer said about Mesa of Lost Women in that it seems to be more fun to read about it and the myths and legends surrounding it than it is to actually watch. Even seasoned cheese lovers seem to have a hard time with this film. I as well have a hard time with it though I have seen it a few times. The film is pretty short, only about 70 minutes, so considering you watch it in two parts it is not that much time out of your life really. The part of this movie, for me, that really makes the experience difficult is the infamously bad film score, but more on that in a moment. The film is often said to look like something Ed Wood Jr. would have created but I am not sure. I have long felt Wood was cast as the worst film director f all time and when a bad film (and Mesa of Lost Women is a bad film) comes along it sometimes is said to look like something Ed Wood Jr. would have done. I have long felt that Wood was a better film maker than the film world in general gives him credit for. But that may be a topic for a special post some other day. Mesa of Lost W omen however does have some connections to Ed Wood Jr. in an indirect way and those tenuous connections have led to speculation that Wood was involved with the project in some way or that he and Ron Ormond worked together. Maybe we can have a quick look at some of those before moving on.

First is the narration by Lyle Talbot. It is not the way the narration is read that is a problem but what the narration has to say or to pontificate to be more precise that has made it noteworthy. In fact I am posting the introduction later in the post for the reader to study and analyze at their leisure. Talbot would work with Wood in a few projects such as Glen or Glenda, Jailbait and Plan 9 from Outer Space. The narration does have a feel that one could call Woodesque but the famous Wood Criswell narrations and monologues were still years down the road. The film also has a brief but credited appearance by Wood’s gal-pal and film regular Dolores Fuller. She appears fleetingly at the end of the film where she surveys the desert landscape from some boulders and in the process adds a question mark the film’s ending. ¡®Is this really the end?’ Sort of thing. The most apparent connection is the already mentioned film score by Hoyt S. Curtain that would reappear one year later in Ed Wood’s Jail Bait, where it was really inappropriate and annoying. The film score consist of a Spanish style guitar played by someone who cannot Spanish guitar strumming two or three chords over and over. Occasionally the score is punctuated by a couple dissonant piano chords that pushes the score from the realm of the tedious into the irritating. And it not just that the Spanish sounding music is horrendous but it played constantly even over scenes that would worked with no score at all. People sitting around a campfire talking do not need repetitive guitar chords and clangy (at best) piano poundings to make the scene work better. Well Ed Wood Jr. liked the scored and lifted it literally from Mesa to his Jail Bait film which is basically a teenage delinquent film about a girl gang that terrorizes middle class America. I read earlier a site stating that while Ed Wood Jr. did not actually work on the film his influence can be seen and felt but I need to make clear that MOLW came out in 1953, the same year that Wood’s first film Glen or Glenda came out. It is hard to image Wood being any sort of influence after only one film released the same year as the film he was supposed to actually have influenced. Well lets move past these heated issue that may never be resolved and look at who is actually credited with creating this camp classic.

The directing credits are split between Herbert Tevos and Ron Ormond. We visited Ron Ormand’s The Monster and the Stripper here at the Caf¨¦ and soon to come will be Please Don’t Touch Me and his piece of evangelical religious propaganda If Footmen Tire You What Will Horses Do?. Not much on the net about Herbert Tevos and at IMDB he is only mentioned as co-writer and co-director of this one film. This is the man’s legacy in life. Seems to be different accounts as to how and why Ormond too over the project and what parts are his as far as the script and finished shots go. Not much on the net about Herbert Tevos and at IMDB he is only mentioned as co-writer and co-director of this one film. This is the man’s legacy in life. Seems to be different accounts as to how and why Ormond too over the project and what parts are his as far as the script and finished shots go. What seems to be clear is that project started off as Tevos’s alone and depending on who you read the project was canceled because he was too difficult to work with or that it all simply fell apart financially and artistically. Tevos seems to have vanished from the face of the earth and gave up on the project her called Tarantula and Howco Productions pulled in Ron Ormond to finish the script and shooting. There seems to be no way to tell where on man’s vision ends and the other begins but the final result is one of the most infamous z-movies of all time.
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The story is a bit convoluted but essentially it is a mad doctor tale. The said mad scientist is Dr. Aranya and is played by Uncle Fester himself Jackie Coogan. He sports a mangled eye ball which he has no problem showing off by taking off his eyes glasses when talking to people. He has a vision that involves insects (hexapods the narrator calls them) ruling the world and in his laboratory hidden in the caves of the Zarpa Mesa in the middle of the Muerto Desert in Mexico. If you do not know basic Spanish and have no clue what Aranya and Muerto mean have no fear for the narrator and actors will fill you in with free Spanish lessons. The doctor’s experiments have so far yielded a race of supposedly super spider-woman like Tarantella (Tandra Quinn) but I am not sure exactly what super powers they actually have other than doing odd dances for drunken patrons in cantinas at night. The experiments with men have not turned out so well. We are reminded how male insects are usually puny and weak and so the male results of his crossbreeding experiments have continuously produced nothing but dwarves (like Angelo Rossitto of various Al Adamson films fame). Later in the film the dwarve’s faces pop out at us suddenly in instances of strangely inappropriate editing. Doctor’s Aranya’s experiments have drawn the attention of Mr. Masterson (Harmon Stevens) who must have read about them in the latest scientific journals and then looked up his address for the secret caves of the Lost Mesa in the local phone book. Masterson is at first intrigues and curious abut the doctor’s experiments (or else why risk the Desert of Death just to meet the guy). He has no issues with his experiments producing subservient spider women who can’t dance or grinning dwarves but he draws the line when he sees a giant spider wearing a halter top. Tarentella injects him with something that drives him insane but he still manages to escape and winds up at the local Muerto Desert insane asylum.

Now I am leaving out a crucial element to the deeper understanding of the plots twists and turns. The story we are discussing now is being told as a flash back. Or maybe it is a flashback within a flashback or two simultaneous flashbacks, one by pilot Grant Phillips (Robert Knapp) and one is, possibly, a peek into the mind of Pepe the simple Mexican jeep driver. We are introduced to Grant and his girl friend Doreen (Paula Hill) at the films beginning by narrator Lyle Talbot as he ruminates over the place of the puny bipeds known as mankind vs. those of the hexapods (insects I guess though spiders, which the film is sort of about, have eight legs so shouldn’t he be talking about octapods?) in the scheme of the Universe. They are wandering around getting their brains friend in the sun but luckily an oil surveying team spots them and takes them back to camp where all the flashbacks begin. This takes us back to our synopsis where Doreen and her rich husband Jan Van Croft (Nico Lek) are being entertained at the same by the recently escaped from the loony bin Dr. Masterson (who is very well dressed, extremely polite and packing some heat) and the uncoordinated Tarantella as she does the dance of the spider woman or something. But no matter how coordinated she is the music score was never meant to dance to so I’ll cut her some slack. Masterson will not and he shoots her in cold blood and then kidnaps Doreen and Jan and they head to Jan’s waiting plane which is piloted by our hero Grant.

Also among the gang is George the male nurse (George Barrows) and manservant Wu (Samuel Wu) who can only speak in short aphorisms and sayings that sound like samples from a Confucius primer. After a failed hijacking from the dingy Masterson (any could have cold cocked this space cadet and taken the gun from him at anytime) the plane is forced to land on top of the Lost Mesa of Zarpa of course. Soon Doreen is seeing giant spiders puppets (well, one giant spider puppet actually) that look just like the one in Cat-Women of the Moon, released the same year and as far as I know had no involvement by ed Wood Jr.. George feels the need to roam around alone on top of the Mesa even after Doreen has seen huge spiders and soon is killed off. All the time extreme close-ups of a grinning Angelo Rossitto keep cropping up at the oddest moments. When a valuable comb is lost by Doreen in all the confusion Jan Van Croft keeps really pissed off and demands it be fund. Poor Wu walks off mumbling ancient proverbs into the night and suddenly Doreen realizes that while she loved Jan for his money she suddenly has lost interest in one split moment and falls for Grant who is dirt poor because he probably would never make a fuss over a lost comb like that. Wu we find out is actually working for Aranya and he reports the situation to the doctor who repays his services by having his spider girls maul him to death. Eventually of course Grant, Doreen and Masterson wind up in Aranya’s laboratory for the final scenes of everyone calling Aranya insane and he gloat a little before his inevitable demise at the hands of the good guys. As it happens the drug Tarantella gave Masterson wears off just at this moment and he throws together a couple batches of bubbly liquids laying on the table in just the right proportions to make a liquid time bomb. No, seriously. And everyone just stands and looks and waits to be blown up but Masterson tells Grant and Doreen to run for it and no one stops them or runs themselves and so soon the lab blows up. We are back to the oil camp with grant ranting abut the need to get some oil cans and blow up the Mesa. Of course no believes him. His brain is cooked. No one but Pepe or course, but he is just a jeep driver and, well, a poor, superstitious Mexican guy.

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