Frankestein: El vampiro, y compania (1962)

aka Frankenstein, the Vampire and Co.
Article 2565 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-13-2008
Posting Date: 8-21-2008
Directed by Benito Alazraki
Featuring Manuel “Loco” Valdes, Marta Elena Cervantes, Nora Veryan
Country: Mexico

Two postal clerks get mixed up with the Frankenstein monster, a vampire and a werewolf.

I had no trouble following the plot of this movie, despite the fact that my copy is in undubbed Spanish; it’s practically a scene-for-scene remake of ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN. It is not, however, joke-for-joke, so individual gags elude me, though I do have to admit I got a chuckle when the actor playing Lou’s character slips a fish down the dress of a woman and then proceeds to dance with her while she wriggles. The characters are largely the same, though the lab assistant is jettisoned and a comic detective is added. The werewolf mask here is one of the worst I’ve ever seen. Probably the most interesting change from the original story is that a brain switch does actually happen (for a while at least), so you get a scene where the monster is acting like the comic character and the comic character acts like the monster. Right now I consider it more of a curiosity than a good movie, but until I find a dubbed or subtitled version, I can’t really give it a full evaluation.



Foreplay (1975)

Article 2564 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-12-2008
Posting Date: 8-20-2008
Directed by John G. Avildsen, Bruce Malmuth, Robert McCarty
Featuring Zero Mostel, Estelle Parsons, Pat Paulsen
Country: USA

A trio of stories about sex are presented. In the first, a man buys a life-size doll for his enjoyment. In the second, a blurb writer is visited by a muse, who sets him up to re-enact some of his early sexual conquests, only this time with him victorious. In the third, the president’s daughter is kidnapped and the ransom is that the president and the first lady must perform intercourse over national TV.

Those expecting a sophisticated look at sex in the mode of Woody Allen’s EVERYTHING YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX should take note that the DVD version of this movie comes from Troma. Those who are impressed by the fact that it comes from Troma should take note that Troma only released the DVD version, and had nothing to do with the movie’s actual production. The movie manages to be both unfunny and unerotic. The first segment features two of the better performances in the movie from Pat Paulsen and Paul Dooley, but the script is singularly undeveloped and it utterly fails to make the slim comic idea work. The second has the highest amount of fantastic content (a muse that can take people back in time), but the script is pointless and stupid. The final segment is an embarrassing idea to begin with, and Zero Mostel’s painfully bad overacting in a dual role just makes it worse; still, this segment did elicit from me the only laugh I had during the movie, and that is entirely due to the performance of Estelle Parsons who, win she discovers the contents of the ransom note, manages to let us know subtly and clearly that she finds the idea exciting. The movie features short segments featuring Irwin Corey as a professor on sex that are totally ineffective. In short, the movie is disastrously bad; don’t watch it with your girlfriend unless you’re planning on breaking up with her.


Exorcism’s Daughter (1971)

aka House of Insane Women, Las Melancolicas
Article 2563 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-11-2008
Posting Date: 8-19-2008
Directed by Rafael Moreno Alba
Featuring Analie Gade, Francisco Rabal, Espartaco Santoni
Country: Spain

A doctor joins the staff of a women’s insane asylum armed with new liberal methods of treating the residents. He tries to help one young woman of the asylum, but encounters resistance from the townspeople who think his use of hypnotism makes him a witch.

As a horror movie, this is a washout; the title has very little to do with the story and was probably slapped on after THE EXORCIST proved such a hit; this is, in fact, a drama rather than a horror movie. As a drama, it is little better; the characters aren’t particularly well-developed, and the story is weak. As a piece of exploitation, you’re best off fast forwarding to the orgy sequence, and then you can skip the rest of the movie. As a political statement, it’s pretty obvious; if even I notice the political themes (and I’m not particularly keen on looking for them), then you know the movie isn’t being subtle about them. On the whole, the movie is no fun, not very exciting, and a downer. It’s not really much in the way of bad movie fun, either; it’s competently done, and even fairly well dubbed; it’s just dull. I only recommend this one to those of you who still think it sounds enticing after reading this review.


Eaten Alive (1977)

Article 2562 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-10-2008
Posting Date: 8-18-2008
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Featuring Neville Brand, Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones
Country: USA

A psychotic backwoods hotel owner kills his customers with a scythe and feeds them to a crocodile he keeps in his back yard.

I wonder what it must have been like for TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE director Tobe Hooper to realize that he had to come up with a follow-up to his legendary horror movie and the expectations that would go with it. This, the result, is a mixed bag at best. On the plus side, Neville Brand definitely gives a memorable performance as a psycho who lives so much in his own head that he is damn near incoherent. Hooper also makes effective use of music and sound on occasion; I’m particularly impressed by the scene where Brand’s character finds himself assaulted by the sounds of the woman he’s got tied upstairs trying to escape, the sounds of the intrusive couple having sex in the next room, and the sound of the little girl crying under the hotel, which he tries to fight by turning up a country music station to top volume. The creepy, dingy, grungy look of the area is also a plus. Unfortunately, the script is a real mess; its lack of focus keeps the horror from building up to any real effective head of steam, and, despite all the grisly nastiness of the story, it’s easy to walk away from, which is something you can’t say about TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. And because it never really grips you in the same way as that movie, you also end up realizing that the premise is more than a little bit silly. The movie is also muddied up by unnecessary subplots and scenes, and too many other characters who are perilously close to psychotic; the little girl’s father and the strange guy at the bar end up as major distractions. It is interesting to see one of Robert Englund’s early film roles, though. The movie isn’t awful; it’s just a mess that had the potential to be a lot better.


Dr. Sex (1964)

DR. SEX (1964)
Article 2561 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-9-2008
Posting Date: 8-17-2008
Directed by Ted V. Mikels
Featuring Victor Izay, Julia Calda, Max Joseph
Country: USA

Three psychiatrists discuss their most interesting patients, all of whose stories involve naked woman. One turns into a poodle; one is addicted to mannequins, one is an exhibitionist, and one lives in a house haunted by naked women.

This is a nudie.

The primary purpose of a nudie is to show as many naked people as you can on the screen, preferably well-built women.

The primary problem in making a nudie is making sure you have as many naked women as possible while still avoiding the cinematic no-no of the time of showing full frontal nudity.

In nudies, plot, humor, social relevance, creative direction and passable acting are all of no consequence; as long as you get the naked bodies on the screen, you’ve served your purpose. Which is not to say you can’t try adding those things; it’s just that those who would be interested in seeing the movie could care less.

So, did this movie achieve its high artistic goals? Well, there’s lots of naked women in it, so I’ll leave that up to you.

By the way, co-writer Wayne Rogers would gain fame as Trapper John on the TV series “M*A*S*H”, and director and co-writer Ted V. Mikels would go on to give us THE CORPSE GRINDERS, ASTRO-ZOMBIES and BLOOD ORGY OF THE SHE-DEVILS.

Another one down. Time to move on.


Deranged (1974)

Article 2560 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-8-2008
Posting Date: 8-15-2008
Directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan Ormsby
Featuring Roberts Blossom, Cosette Lee, Leslie Carlson
Country: USA

On the passing of his mother, a man’s mental condition deteriorates. He digs up his dead mother and keeps her in his house, engages in grave-robbing and taxidermy to keep her from falling apart, and eventually turns to cannibalism and murdering women.

The Ed Gein story was one of the inspirations for, among others, PSYCHO, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS; there’s no doubt that it touches a horrific nerve somewhere. This one is rather modest; rather than using the story to horrify, it attempts to tell a more straightforward account of the Ed Gein murders. I don’t know how accurate the movie is in this respect, but there’s one thing I can say; thanks to some fine casting (especially Roberts Blossom as Ezra Cobb, the Ed Gein role) and a real sense of authenticity, the movie comes across as utterly convincing. Blossoms is really a wonder here; he manages to come across as sympathetic despite his derangement, and we can understand why those close to him didn’t know what he was doing and felt he was no more than a harmless eccentric. Even the conceit of having an onscreen narrator tell us the story on occasion doesn’t break the feeling that we’re seeing a re-creation of real life events. The movie even manages to show a sharp sense of humor on occasion. This movie is powerful, sad, and rather modest in telling its tale.


Sleeping Beauty (1964)

aka Spyashchaya krasavitsa
Article 2559 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-7-2008
Posting Date: 8-14-2008
Directed by Apollinari Dudko and Konstantin Sergeyev
Featuring Alla Sizova, Yuri Solovyov, Natalya Dudinskaya
Country: Soviet Union

When she is not invited to the party celebrating the birth of a daughter to the king and queen, an evil witch puts a curse on the young girl. When the girl grows into a young woman, she is pricked by a needle and falls into a deep sleep. Only a handsome prince can revive her with a kiss.

Sure, it gets boring; it’s a ballet. After all, we’re talking about a movie here in which, for all intents and purposes, the plot is over while there’s still fourteen minutes of movie to go (which brings back memories of HILLBILLYS IN A HAUNTED HOUSE, and I marvel that I found the opportunity to reference that piece of silliness in this review). But when I’m not being crankily lowbrow, I can really marvel at the discipline that goes into this form of dance, and I have a vast admiration for the elegant control these dancers have over their bodies. The movie itself manages to walk an effective line between cinema and photographed ballet; most of it is as stagebound as you might expect, but the use of special effects (with witches vanishing and the like) gives it that extra bit of flavor that makes it more fun to watch. It also helps that Tchaikovsky (oddly missing the first T in the opening credits) was one of my favorite classical composers. Still, I will say this; I was spending the whole day expecting I would be watching DERANGED: CONFESSIONS OF A NECROPHILE when I got home, and when that movie got trumped by the arrival in the mail of this one, it was very difficult to switch the mental gears. Still, there’s always one thing I can say about ballet in general; at least it’s not opera.