Mummy, Can I Go Out And Kill Tonight?

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Curse Of The Mummy’s Tomb doesn’t have a “name” under wraps…no Karloff, Christopher Lee or Lon Chaney Jr., but Dickey Owen is a pretty intimidating silent presence. And he stays wrapped for the whole picture. Like all Hammer pictures, it looks beautiful, and there’s plenty of “London fog” for atmosphere…

"Ace Bandages down 50%."

“Ace Bandages down 50%.”

Do You Have To Open Graves To Find Girls To Fall In Love With?

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Y’all can keep all those overblown CG loaded mummy movies…ooo…aahhh..I’m so impressed. Know what impresses me? Moody lighting, spirit gum and Boris Karloff’s face. That’s all it takes, folks. This is the grandaddy right here. Karloff is Im-Ho-Tep, who’s back from the dead after archaeologists raid his tomb…not out for revenge but to find the reincarnation of his ancient love (Zita Johann, a classic black and white beauty. Strong of will and sharp of tongue, she would’ve made a great Lois Lane). Naturally, he ditches the bandage-bondage look (ever notice that mummies in cartoons and comedies always stay wrapped and growl inarticulately like the Frankenstein monster?) and dresses like an average ( if scrawny, emaciated, junky-like) Egyptian. (Imagine William S. Burroughs dressed like a Shriner.) Granted, Karloff couldn’t shake that mellifluous, rolling-r British accent…but how many people know what an Egyptian accent actually sounds like anyway?

"See? And that's only after ONE treatment. Soon you'll be looking as young and fresh as I do."

“See? And that’s only after ONE treatment. Soon you’ll be looking as young and fresh as I do.”

Red Velvet Lines The Black Box

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The regally menacing Christopher Lee dons the cape (and faces off against Peter Cushing) for the first time in this by-the-book Dracula adaptation…which also brings an uprecendented (at the time) amount of blood, gore and psychosexual tension…Hammer Studios would get much more brazen with such things in ensuing years. As classy as he is, Lee brings a feral hunger to the role of Dracula that makes him seem more dangerous than any other incarnation of the most famous Transylvanian. ( I guess the second most famous Transylvanian would be Frank. N Furter. But I digress.) The vivid, lurid colors of Hammer films like this were, in my opinion at least, a huge influence on Italian films in general and giallo in particular. And it’s great to see a Dracula movie that doesn’t feel the need to camp it up and lampshade. This picture has some serious teeth…

"Hey, wanna try this awesome gazpacho I just whipped up?"

“Hey, wanna try this awesome gazpacho I just whipped up?”

Core Blimey!

X The Unknown

This Hammer science fiction picture is sort of a precursor to The H-Man and The Blob…A semi-sentient energy from the center of the earth cracks a fissure to the surface and irradiates the soil forming a killer mud  that will burn your skin or melt your face off, depending on how quickly you run. One of the investigating scientists  asks “How do you kill mud?” Might I suggest talking it to death? Yes, it’s one of those sci fi pictures where everybody spends most of the time talking about the creature before you actually get a glimpse of it because it’s too expensive or the FX are too lame to give it much screen time. And there’s the usual monster p.o.v. shots where terrified people are attacked by the camera. The FX aren’t too shabby though…especially the makeup FX…(the aforementioned burns and melting faces) and I have a feeling the makers of The Blob must’ve seen this, because it looks like they used the same techniques to move the goo…

"I toldja not to flush paper towels!"

“I toldja not to flush paper towels!”

Rebs, Debs And the Prez

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Sociopathic social climber Terry (Diane Conti) a hardcore deb straight outta Manhattan, joins the Rebels’ Debs and sets her sights on the Rebels’ prez Johnny (ever notice that J.D.s are almost always named Johnny? Brando should’ve gotten royalties.) and is willing to use any form of seduction and treachery to get him…even if it rends the Rebels and Debs completely asunder. It’s difficult not to compare Teenage Gang Debs with Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters, since both films have almost the exact same plot…both have badass women, scumbag lunkhead men, knife fights, rumbles, betrayal, hilarious acting, hardboiled dialogue and Shakesphearean underpinnings (MacBeth for DebsOthello for Switchblade). Although Debs was made a decade before it, Switchblade is the much better film on all counts, but Debs is a bit sleazier and cheaper and its black and white cinematography gives it a darker, noirish feel…so dark, in fact, that sometimes it almost looks like a negative. So, what does Debs have that Switchblade doesn’t? Awesome That Girl hairdos and cool R&B tunes like Don’t Make Me Mad and the martial-artistic Black Belt, both by Lee Dowell. Dig?

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The Worst Crime That I Ever Did Was Play Some Rocknroll

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It’s 1964 and the local maltshop full of some of the oldest “teens” you’ve ever seen is a happenin’, fun, wholesome, jumpin’ joint where kids can have a soda and dance to the latest hits…til somebody had to come along and start strangling women and girls. Soon suspicions fall upon the Fastbacks gang…cuz, after all, they drive souped up cars and wear leather jackets..and they’re teenagers, fercrissake!

Teenage Strangler Tough Guys

When our hero Jimmy is singled out for particular scrutiny, he must clear his name with the help of his girlfriend and Mikey, his sensitive, androgynous little brother who looks like the offspring of Roy Orbison and Zelda Gilroy…

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There’s not actually much delinquency going on here…except a fistfight and a stolen bicycle. And of course there’s a wild drag race. But the scene that everyone seems to remember (why, I’m not exactly sure) is the one  where a folky group hops up on the counter and does “Yipe Stripes”…it’s certainly one of those what the fuck moments that exploitation fiends cherish…

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The Man With The Golden…

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In case you’re wondering why I’m writing about an art film for a B-movie blog…well I believe that the wall between arthouse and grindhouse is wafer-thin…both rely on weird gimmicks, shock, titillation, subversion, transgression, anarchy and good old fashioned sex and violence…exploitation films to make a buck…art films to win awards and make a buck.  Sweet Movie begins with a satirical look at the wholesomely sleazy world of beauty pageants, in this case the “Miss World Virginity” pageant…where the winner must be a virgin…complete with a hymen check and ads for chastity belts. The winner (Carole Laure) is betrothed to Mr. Dollars (John Vernon, Chained Heat, Animal House) a Texas billionaire with a gilded prick…well, she says fuck that noise jack, and books… she hooks up with Spanish singer Mr. Macho (Sami Frey, Bande A Part) and experiences “coital lock”. Meanwhile,  a subplot involves an exuberant blonde Commie nympho who hooks up with a sailor and strips for kids. Eventually Miss World Virginity ends up in a commune where people engage in extreme scatalogical and cathartic infantile regression games that you won’t believe…but the true showstopper is the commercial shoot where the beauty queen slithers completely nude in a tub full of liquid chocolate…I’ve only detailed about half of the deranged shenanigans that go on in this picture…they’ll either repulse or fascinate you depending upon what your particular fetishes are (c’mon, everybody has at least one). As surrealistic headtrips go, Sweet Movie is an E-ticket ride…

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