Behind The Behind…OR…Mondo Tatas

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After the phenomenal success of the shockumentaries Mondo Cane 1&2,(see my review Mondo Mondo) everybody and their cousin rushed out to make one, including that loveable sleazebag Bob Cresse (House On Bare Mountain, Love Camp 7). The mondo films are a peek at the weirdest customs and rituals around the world…and Cresse’s Mondo Bizarro and Mondo Freudo do visit a couple of exotic locales…but most of the footage was shot on LA’s Sunset Strip…which, in 1966, was certainly full of enough weirdness for a mondo movie. There’s a voodoo ceremony, Fakir stunts, a glass eater…but really these films are made for the same reason Cresse made all of his movies: to pack the screen with naked women…in strip clubs, massage parlors, artist’s studios…even the auction block. And there are some honeys to be seen here. Especially the blonde who go go dances in nothing but tiger-striped bikini panties for Frank Zappa’s sculptor friend Vito. It’s also a pretty cool time capsule of the mid 60’s burgeoning hippie culture. The films are both reverent and disdainful in turns…Cresse probably dug the free love, but was notoriously square when it came to drugs. There are some classic tunes on the soundtrack, including the garage band standard I Can Only Give You Everything and Eaffin And Surfin’ (which is the theme song of Rat Pfink A Boo Boo…but was also featured in Russ Meyer’s Mondo Topless). The bands are uncredited and I’m assuming they probably didn’t see a dime…the filmmakers probably counted on the movies hitting the drive-in and grindhouse screens and disappearing before anyone got hip to their pilfery…The exploiteers were all carnies at heart…

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The Worms Are Waiting

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I’ve sat at least three times through trying to make sense of this convoluted tale of a psychotic cuckold haunted by his dead wife…The film nicks elements of Rebecca, Vertigo…and the sickie is obsessed with redheads the way Hitch was with blondes…but takes his dating tips from the Marquis DeSade…Sounds like a good sleazy, kinky thriller, right? Well honestly the only scenes that hold my interest are the ones featuring Erika Blanc, a uniquely beautiful and seductive scream queen who loves doing horror films…and who first captivated me as the slinky succubus in The Devil’s Nightmare

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Freak Out In A Moonage Daydream

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Here’s another Freddie Francis science fiction picture (based on the pulp novel The Gods Hate Kansas) starring Michael Gough, about discorporate aliens who commandeer human bodies to try and fix their ride that they crashed on the moon. (Friends don’t let friends jump to hyperspace drunk.) The hero can’t be taken over because he has a metal plate in his head. So logically one of his friends starts wearing a colander as a hat. (Maybe paranoid schizophrenics know something we don’t?) A wild jazz score, some psychedelic FX and a gleeful performance from Michael Gough add to the fun…

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Troggie Dearest

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Trog was made in 1970 but it feels much more like a 30s/40s movie and at times comes off like a better than average King Kong ripoff. Trog is of course an affectionate diminuitive of troglodyte…He’s a caveman with a monkey head (who for some reason sounds like an asthmatic duck) still alive in modern times, living in the depths of a cave in England until intrepid explorers and anthropologist Joan Crawford yank him out and attempt to study (and civilize him Henry Higgins style) while Michael Gough is the token asshole saying “It’s a monster! Kill it!” It’s that classic science fiction message: know when to leave well enough alone, and don’t fuck with nature. In anybody else’s hands this could’ve been a total schlockorama but veteran director Freddie Francis created a deftly etched, evocative, scary, funny and engrossing movie…and Joan Crawford actually manages to come off as a rational, compassionate human being…never let it be said that she can’t act…

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Beaver Scouts Meet Nature Boy

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Memorial Valley Massacre. Awesome title, no? The movie? Not so much. It’s the usual obnoxious-campers-disturbing-the-crazy-loner-in-the-woods plot…I’ll give ’em a few points for originality in that instead of an inbred hillbilly or crazed camp counselor, it’s a feral boy (who as you can see by the poster, dresses in full on Beastmaster snazzy barbarian gear) who just wants to be left alone. I suppose it’s the favorite film of somebody out there…But I’ll stick to Sleepaway CampThe Burning…Madman…Y’know, the classics…

Happy Campers

Happy Campers

Don’t Mollusc, We’ll Maul You

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Nuke tests awaken prehistoric creatures dormant for millions of years beneath the Salton Sea: Giant, skull-faced carnivorous caterpillars…Well, that’s what they look like to me…though Dr. Rogers (Hans Conreid, who voiced many cartoon characters such as Professor Waldo Wigglesworth on Hoppity Hooper) calls em “krakens”, or gonaxis molluscs. Well, whatever the hell they are, they are going to eat you…

Those goddam suave gastropods get all the chicks...

Those goddam suave gastropods get all the chicks…

It’s The Freakiest Show

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The last surviving astronaut on a Mars mission is accused of murdering his entire crew…unless he can prove that a Martian did it. This picture was an obvious prototype for Alien, and itself borrows a bit from The Thing…and like those two pictures, is one of the few to combine space opera sci fi with horror. And it is scary. Unlike most Martians of the era (My Favorite Martian, Marvin, The Great Gazoo) this is no cute, cuddly, wacky little green man from Mars. This is one gnarly, badass, take-no-shit Martian who would just as soon drink your blood as play poker…he’s like a Hulked-up Nosferatu…and he was played by Ray “Crash” Corrigan. Too bad he never got a sequel. He would’ve been great in monster crossover fight movies…

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