Ghost Writer’s In Disguise

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Back in the mid-to-late 60’s, Roberta Findlay and her husband Michael made the most perverse, nastily funny “roughies” of the era (The Ultimate Degenerate, Take Me Naked, A Thousand Pleasures, the Flesh trilogy)…after they split up, Roberta went on to make some seriously twisted hardcore porn and thoroughly warped horror films…They’re cheap and cheesy, but there’s something really creepy about her horror films…They still have that nasty, kinky edge that the roughies did. Oh by the way, she says she hates cheap horror films. Didn’t stop her from making a slew of ’em in the 80’s (Prime Evil, Lurkers, Blood Sisters). This one is about a woman contacted by a ghost through a planchette shaped like a hand with a quill pen that does automatic writing…he wants her to help catch his killer…but he has trouble communicating with her at first and just ends up scaring the living shit out of her…

"Like my new contacts? I can't see a goddamn thing, but I feel so much prettier without glasses."

“Like my new contacts? I can’t see a goddamn thing, but I feel so much prettier without glasses.”

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Gracias, El Hombre Enmascarado

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Ok, so there’s no vampires or Martians in this one…it was the 70s, so I guess they were going for that gritty grindhouse realism… Santo still wrassles and kicks ass, and gets to have a little romance with La Tigresa (Pop star/actress Irma Serrano) as he protects her from thugs and helps solve her brother’s murder…

"Wow, your championship belt looks alot bigger on t.v."

“Wow, your championship belt looks alot bigger on t.v.”

Goodbye My Coney Island Baby

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Here’s a classic drive-in double feature. Let’s start off with Curse Of The Headless Horseman…not even Washington Irving could’ve conceived of such a frightening vision. A group of hippies are sprucing up a Wild West-themed tourist attraction…when that old square, the Headless Horseman, crashes the party and harshes everyone’s mellow. He doesn’t take any heads though…he just anoints people with blood (has the old Hessian joined PETA?) by waving his severed melon like a censer. Is it the real Horseman, putting the ghost back in ghost town? Or is someone just trying to scare everybody off the land because it’s literally sitting on a  goldmine? My theory is that the filmmakers watched too many Scooby Doo cartoons…possibly while on acid. The cinematographer was definitely  on something…

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“I’d heard that too much acid could damage your genes but I never believed it.”

Then there’s Carnival Of Blood, where someone is making like H.G. Lewis at a Coney Island funpark. (All the victims go to the gypsy fortune teller, who ends all the readings abruptly, neglecting to tell them little things like “Don’t go into the tunnel of love if you wanna keep your head.”) Along with the rides and games, the carnival is full of couples whose every conversation is an argument (you’ll be heartbroken to see them get bumped off) and endearingly weird characters such as the lady who looks like Captain Sensible’s mum…

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…and the two creepy carnies who run the bust-a-balloon stand. That’s Burt Young as the Quasimodo-like “Gimpy” with the unexplained, bullet-hole like craters in his  face. I don’t know why, but  my favorite moment in a movie full of choice oddities, is the part where Gimpy rips apart a teddy bear. What can I say? Sometimes I’m easily amused…

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A Lonely Heart Like Pagliacci

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I revisited this picture for  the first time since the vhs era…I remember when I was a kid the neutered t.v. version played almost yearly like It’s A Wonderful Life. It still  holds up and skunks all further sequels. Picking up exactly where the original left off, featuring much  of the original cast, (Jamie Lee Curtis, Donald Pleasence, Charles Cyphers),  written by the creators (John Carpenter and Debra Hill), it feels like an epic coda to the story. It set the template for sequels the way the original did for slasher movies. There’s even more humor in this one one as well. And ever since, I’ve never been able to separate “Mr. Sandman” from the Halloween theme…

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Goodbye Heart…OR…Cath-a-lick Girls

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Prom Night II owes very little to its predecessor, other than the title, setting, and prank-gone-horribly-wrong plot…It owes much more to Carrie, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Exorcist…when you get down to it, the best movie to compare it to is The Howling…it’s a seriocomic paean to horror geekdom, down to the horror-director character names. There’s also an undercurrent of what I like to call “Catholic damage”…a struggle between the characters’ guilt-ridden, shame-based upbringings and their natural, anarchistic animal desires…This conflict is portrayed wonderfully by Wendy Lyon as Vicki, the good girl possessed by ID-driven Mary Lou (Lisa Schrage), the prom queen from Hell…

"Begone? C'mon. There's no God, Buddy...and there's no Heaven. And do you know what PISSED ME OFF the most?! NO FUCKING WINGS!!!"

“Begone? C’mon. There’s no God, Buddy…and there’s no Heaven. And do you know what PISSED ME OFF the most?! NO FUCKING WINGS!!!”

Olaf’s Toys…OR…Sleaze Danish

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Here’s one for you sickies who dig Bloodsucking Freaks and The Gruesome Twosome…A naive young couple move into a boardinghouse run by Lila Lash, a burnt out, insane former cabaret performer and Olaf, her maniacal, voyeuristic, sadistic son (the titular dwarf). And it takes the young boarders ages to figure out that their hosts have an attic full of kidnaped women, chained naked to their beds and hooked on heroin, which they pimp out to local degenerate men…which could’ve been unbearably terrifying if handled deftly, or a decadent black comedy…it’s somewhere in the middle…an eccentric, twisted horror film with occasional bouts of wild softcore humping. Olaf goes way over the top, but is still genuinely creepy…he obviously enjoys his work…The most eccentric touch of all is the soundtrack, a mix of soft, wistful acoustic guitar and strings, porno funk (during the sex scenes, natch) and Olaf’s theme, which sounds like an outtake from Lumpy Gravy…Oh, and apparently the guy who played Olaf also starred in a Danish kid’s t.v. show…but then, live action kid shows have always been a little creepy under the surface… 

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Teddy Bear’s Pic-A-Nic

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This was the first of the great Jaws ripoffs, with Christopher George (The Devil’s 8, Graduation Day, a sort of tough guy version of George Segall) in the Brody role, Richard Jaeckel in the Dreyfuss role, and Andrew Prine (Centerfold Girls, Barn Of The Naked Dead…you dedicated sickies may have noticed that Prine is a personal favorite here at Mondo Confidential) in the Quint role. Director William Girdler had a million bucks to play with (and dig that poster…that’s Neal Adams artwork) so this was as epic as it gets for a guy who started out with ultra cheapies like Three On A Meathook and Asylum Of Satan. Oh, don’t worry…it’s still a B-movie to the bone: monster P.O.V. shots…cheesy gore FX…absurd dialogue…tasteless jokes…even a “shower” scene. And unlike Spielberg, Girdler had the guts to use a real bear…

Teddy auditions with a medley of Shakesphear solliloquies

Teddy auditions with a medley of Shakesphear solliloquies