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Zombie (1979) – Episode 62 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“What is all this about the dead coming back to life again and… having to be killed a second time? I mean, what the hell’s going on here?” Peter West (Ian McCulloch) tries to make sense of the dead rising from their graves to eat the living in Zombie (1979). Doc Rotten returns and he brings Lucio Fulci to the 1970s podcast for the very first time. Jeff Mohr, Chad Hunt, and Bill Mulligan are on hand to discuss the highlights, the effects, the living dead, Italian horror, and Fulci’s dreamlike plot structure. Oh, yeah, and a zombie versus a shark! What else do you need?

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 62 – Zombie (1979)

When George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead (1978) was released overseas, it was often known as Zombi. In Italy, Fulci’s zombie epic was titled Zombi 2 without his knowledge or consent. His film is not a direct sequel to Dawn or any other living dead film. In fact, given the story, it would be more a prequel to the 1978 classic. When the film did cross the seas to play in the States, it kept the general idea of its moniker and became Zombie (1979). The film begins and ends in New York City but takes place mostly on a remote island with its lead characters looking for lost relatives, encountering the living dead and fighting for the lives.

“We are going to eat you!” – the poster tagline grabs its audience from the very get-go.

The Grue-crew explore the film, tackling Fulci’s filming techniques, the acting, the dubbing, the gore, and so much more. The film is iconic with its scenes of zombie horror. If not the underwater zombie-vs-shark scene, then the Spanish Conquistadors rising from the grave to attack our heroes, including the famous zombie with the worms swarming out if its eye socket. Fulci also seems to have a fetish for eyes as the scene with the splinter is intense even today. The gore is plentiful and the final battle in the church turned hospital is non-stop white-knuckle intense. Bill Mulligan even starts off the podcast by suggesting that Fulci’s Zombie is a favorite even over Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. What’s interesting about these zombies is that they are a mix of pre-70s voodoo zombies and modern Romero-ghoul zombies. The cast features Tisa FarrowIan McCullochRichard Johnson (…remember him from The Haunting 1963?).

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Dracula (1974) – Episode 61 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“You are now in my domain gentlemen, and you shall not leave.” Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issue of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions, but Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr are back, along with guest-host Joey Fittos, to take that familiar journey from Transylvania to England, this time as told by producer/director Dan Curtis in 1974’s Dracula.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 61 – Dracula (1974)

Originally released as Bram Stoker’s Dracula until the rights to that name were acquired for Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 version, the film is now sometimes referred to as Dan Curtis’ Dracula. This TV movie was scheduled to premiere in October 1973 but was preempted by news coverage of an unfolding historical event and rescheduled for February 1974.

This episode’s Grue Crew discuss Emmy winner Curtis’ start as the creator and executive producer of the daytime, horror/soap opera Dark Shadows (1966-71). He then went on to direct and produce a number of horror-related movies in the 1970s: The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), several TV-movie adaptations of well-known horror novels, and the theatrically released Burnt Offerings (1976).

Though your hosts find the script lacking in places, they do give props to frequent Curtis collaborator and horror icon Richard Matheson, who penned the screenplay for this version of Dracula. Despite this script’s faults, Curtis and Matheson do use a plot device lifted from Dark Shadows that doesn’t appear in Bram Stoker’s novel or any previous film versions but is used again by Coppola in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Academy award winner Jack Palance tackles the title role. Curtis and he had worked together before on another TV movie, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). Chad, Bill, and especially Jeff, appreciate the feral quality of Palance’s performance, but Joey says, “He’s not my Dracula.” The rest of the cast – Nigel Davenport (Van Helsing), Murray Brown (Jonathan Harker), Fiona Lewis (Lucy), Penelope Horner (Mina), and Simon Ward (Arthur) – don’t have much to work with, possibly leading to their seemingly lackluster performances. The crew also point out that many of our listeners may recognize Sarah Douglas, one of Dracula’s brides, who later played Ursa in Superman (1978) and Superman II (1980).

When all’s said and done, Mr. Fittos gives Dracula (1974) thumbs down. Though Chad and Jeff admit it doesn’t hold up to impressions from their first viewings, the other hosts think it is worth the watch for Palance’s performance.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Deathdream (1974) – Episode 60 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Something unspeakable has come home.” Not only is it unspeakable, but it has already died once. Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. In the interim, your regular host, Jeff Mohr, is joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Join them as they follow the members of a family wracked by the effects of the Vietnam War in Deathdream.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 60 – Deathdream (1974)

The second of director Bob Clark’s three horror films, Deathdream (aka Dead of Night) is sandwiched neatly between Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 12) and Black Christmas (Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 34). Written by Alan Ormsby, the film tells the story of Andy (Richard Backus), a Vietnam War veteran who is killed-in-action and yet returns home the same day his family gets the news of his death. Though the death notice is not a mistake,  Andy’s parents (John Marley and Lynn Carlin) and sister (Anya Ormsby) assume it is, and celebrate his homecoming. As his physical condition deteriorates and his behavior gets more and more bizarre, Andy’s father brings the local doctor (Henderson Forsythe) home to take a look at his son. As the film progresses, Andy’s decay increases and the body count rises.

The foundation of Deathdream’s story is planted firmly in W. W. Jacobs’ 1902 short story, “The Monkey’s Paw.” In other words, be careful what you wish for! The story might also be seen as an allegory delving into the additional trauma experienced by returning Vietnam War veterans, stigmatized by society and struggling with PTSD, and the effect that trauma has on their family and friends.

Tom Savini partners with Alan Ormsby to provide the film’s effective, low budget makeup effects. Andy’s progressive decay is successfully depicted as he moves from seemingly normal to a rapidly decaying corpse. Deathdream is not a fun watch.This episode’s Grue Crew give the film a unanimous thumbs up with the following caveat: The filmmakers successfully tell a very depressing story. Deathdream is not a fun watch.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

 

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Night of the Lepus (1972) – Episode 59 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Rabbits aren’t your bag, Roy.” It’s pretty safe to say rabbits aren’t anyone’s bag in Night of the Lepus, especially the pseudo-savage, overgrown, mutant versions in this film. The Black Saint was unable to join us for this episode and Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. Sometimes, you just can’t do everything you want to do, can you, guys? In the interim, your regular host, Jeff Mohr, is joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Join them as they weave their way through the killer rabbits of Night of the Lepus.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 59 – Night of the Lepus (1972)

Night of the Lepus is director William F. Claxton’s only entry in the horror film. Most of his experience is in the western genre, so it’s no surprise that most of the cast are frequent performers in westerns. Highly recognizable leads and supporting cast are played by Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, Stuart Whitman, DeForest Kelley, and Paul Fix, who all give it the old college try, but they don’t have much with which to work.

The screenplay is written by Don Holliday and Gene R. Kearney and is based on The Year of the Angry Rabbit (1964), an Australian, comic/horror/science fiction novel by Russell Braddon. Though the plot is outrageous, the novel is appreciated for its comic shadings. In Night of the Lepus, however, the filmmakers forsake any attempt at humor and go straight for outright horror, a fatal mistake. Unfortunately, no matter how ominous the script or intense the acting, the special effects are not up to the task of inciting horror from domestic rabbits performing on miniature sets.

Despite its flaws, Night of the Lepus still holds a special place in the hearts of the members of your faithful Grue Crew. Jeff Mohr has on an ongoing bromance with Rory Calhoun. Though he agrees it is a terrible film, Bill Mulligan professes a love for many of the images in Night of the Lepus and uses them in his party videos. Now there’s a party we’d love to attend! Chad Hunt, well, Chad Hunt can’t figure out why, but when he’s channel surfing and runs across Night of the Lepus, he can’t keep from pausing to watch the proverbial trainwreck.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Suspiria (1977) – Episode 58 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Suzy, do you know anything about … witches?” Suzy Bannion doesn’t know much, but she’s about to find out a lot more, … the hard way! As of the recording of this podcast, it’s just 12 days past the 40th anniversary of the U.S. release of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, a Giallo masterpiece. Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. (Issue #2 is now available. Don’t miss out!) In the interim, your regular hosts, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr, are joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and Chad Hunt, comic book artist/writer and co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era podcast. Join them as they are completely entranced by the magic of Argento’s audio and visual feast.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 58 – Suspiria (1977)

Suspiria is the story of an elite dance school in Germany that is a front for some supernatural shenanigans. The school is run by Madame Blanc (Joan Bennett), and its head instructor is the disciplinary Miss Tanner (Alida Valli). Suzy (Jessica Harper) is a young American who has recently arrived at the school. Life at the school is a dreamlike, nightmarish experience. Suzy’s life there is soon rocked by the brutal murders of two fellow students, Pat (Eva Axén) and Sara (Stefania Casini), and the school’s blind piano player, Daniel (Flavio Bucci).

Co-written (with Daria Nicolodi) and directed by Dario Argento, the film’s plot is a train wreck. Luciano Tovoli’s cinematography and the Goblin’s score, however, are so masterful, no one seems to care that exactly what happens or why it happens is never made clear.

The Black Saint and Bill Mulligan extol the effect the trailer had on them when they first saw it. Think involuntary bodily evacuation. The crew all think Suspiria is Jessica Harper’s film more than any other member of the cast. When they learn she got the part after Argento saw her performance in Brian de Palma’s Phantom of the Paradise, they throw some smack toward award-winning director and fellow Decades of Horror co-host, Christopher G. Moore (See Decades of Horror 1970s – Episode 40 – Phantom of the Paradise (1974)). Suspiria is filled with effective and memorable scenes that our fearless Grue Crew discuss in detail, especially the sequences that detailing the first murder, the razor wire girl, and the return of razor wire girl (more bodily evacuation). They also remark on the film’s omnipresent vivid and often inappropriate-to-life colors.

Find out that what Disney film The Black Saint has never seen. (What?!) Or hear The Black Saint’s story about meeting Dario Argento. Or find out why much of the time, the dancers’ behaviors seem juvenile.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Martin (1978) – Episode 57 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Things only seem to be magic. There is no real magic. There’s no real magic ever.” With this line, Martin laments the lack of real magic in life, even while claiming to be an 84-year-old vampire in a 20-year-old’s body. Join your Grue Crew as we pay tribute to George Romero by discussing Martin (1978), his personal favorite of his films, a truly unique and innovative take on vampires. Doc Rotten is still on hiatus, diligently working on the next issues of the Gruesome Magazine quarterly print and electronic editions. (Issue #2 is now available. Don’t miss out!) In the interim, your regular hosts, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr, are joined by the capable and knowledgeable Bill Mulligan, film director, and special guest Thomas Mariani, the hardest working man in podcasting.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 57 – Martin (1978)

Written, directed, and edited by George A. Romero, Martin is an intense and realistic treatment that follows the exploits of Martin (John Amplas), a seems-to-be young man who claims to be 84 years old, and who certainly drinks human blood. The boy arrives in Pittsburgh to stay with his Uncle Kuda (Lincoln Maazel), who promises to save Martin’s soul and destroy him once he is finished, but Martin’s loneliness finds other means of release. Also in the mix are Martin’s cousin Christina (Christine Forrest) and her boyfriend Arthur (Tom Savini).

The Grue Crew doles out heaping helpings of praise for Martin. Bill Mulligan marvels at the high quality of the acting performances even though several key members of the cast have minimal film credits. Bill and Jeff Mohr point out Romero’s masterful editing and how it efficiently tells the story while eliciting tension, horror, and feelings of isolation and loneliness. Thomas Mariani observes that much of Martin’s interaction with other people might place him somewhere on the autism spectrum. Jeff is intrigued by the use of the call-in radio show to add insight into Martin’s mental state. The crew also discusses how the characters all seem trapped in one way or another. Martin and Kuda are trapped by their family legacy, while Christina and Arthur plot to escape the traditional trap set for everyone by the comfortable, slow torture of their surroundings.

Bill, Thomas, and Jeff each owned the finger guillotine magic trick Martin demonstrates in the film (The Black Saint ignored the trick and actually severed fingers) and we all remark on the effectiveness of Tom Savini’s simple and cost effective gags. Finally, as The Black Saint loses all semblance of control, we take a trip down memory lane and wax nostalgic about the different ways we each fed our hunger for horror films.

Check out the other Decades of Horror episodes that delve into the films of George Romero: Night of the Living Dead (1968), Creepshow (1982), Day of the Dead (1985), and The Dark Half (1993).

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973) – Episode 55 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“I’ve been following you since the glory hole!” No, not that kind of glory hole, though you couldn’t be faulted for going there. You never know what to expect in writer/director Fredric HobbsGodmonster of Indian Flats. For the next few episodes of Decades of Horror 1970s, Doc Rotten is on super, secret, special assignment (actually, it’s not that secret, but it is pretty super-special) putting the finishing touches on the second issue of Gruesome Magazine and getting a good start on Issue #3. By the way, if you haven’t purchased Issue #1 yet, what are you waiting for? In lieu of Doc, The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr are joined by Chad Hunt, co-host of Decades of Horror: The Classic Era and comic book artist/writer extraordinaire, and Bill Mulligan, film director/movie maven extraordinaire and fabricator of the title character of Christopher G. Moore’s award winning short film, Knob Goblins. Yes, it takes two “extraordinaires” to even attempt to make up for Doc!

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 55 – Godmonster of Indian Flats (1973)

Godmonster of Indian Flats is unlike anything this episode’s Grue Crew has ever seen. Bill Mulligan gives a brilliant 90-second synopsis of what the film might be about. Ultimately, the nearly, nonexistent plot is undecipherable with equal parts western, corporate conspiracy, eco-horror, mutant livestock, local legend, archaeological science fiction, creature feature, and landfill apocalypse, with a dash of Valley of the Gwangi thrown in for good measure. Despite the result, Godmonster of Indian Flats is an ambitious effort and may well be exactly as Hobbs intended it to be.

The cast members are fairly inexperienced unknowns with a few exceptions. The Black Saint remembers Christopher Brooks, who plays Barnstable, from The Mack, a 1973 blaxploitation film. Stuart Lancaster, as Mayor Charles Silverdale, was a frequent performer in Russ Meyer films such as Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and later had bit parts in two Tim Burton films, Edward Scissorhands (1990) and Batman Returns (1992). The Sheriff of Silverdale is portrayed by Robert Hirschfield, who Jeff remembers for his 94-episode stint on Hill Street Blues (1981-1985). The Godmonster itself is indescribable and must be seen to believe. Starting life as a mutant-hybrid sheep embryo, it is nurtured to its full 8-foot height by Professor Clemons (E. Kerrigan Prescott) in his secret lab with the help of his assistant Mariposo (Karen Ingenthron), who seems to develop a strange relationship with the Godmonster.

Fredric Hobbs has been described as, “a freaky filmmaker who takes the art of bad and cheesy filmmaking beyond this world into another dimension. combining illogical writing, completely random plot development, B-movie horror, and cheese … Hobbs makes some of the most mind warping movies ever in the sense that your mind tries to run away from the black hole that is Fredric Hobbs, in any way possible.” The Grue Crew’s recommendations for this film are as inventive as the film itself but are also given with a strong warning. Watch Godmonster of Indian Flats if you dare!

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Blackenstein (1973) – Episode 54 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“To Stop This Mutha Takes One Bad Brutha” – The tagline from William A. Levey’s Blackenstein (1973) promises a smashing blacksploitation classic that fails to materialize. However, that does not mean the film doesn’t have its own merits. Woot! Let the fun begin! The Black Saint and Doc Rotten tackle another groovy horror film from the 1970s. Joining the grue-crew is Gruesome Magazine contributor and the host of Decades of Horror The Classic Era Jeff Mohr.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 54 – Blackenstein (1973)

Blackenstein was released on August 3, 1973. It made serious bank for its paltry $80K budget. The film itself is something to be seen. It is a disaster but yet somehow it is incredibly entertaining. The Grue-Crew dive into what makes Black Frankenstein enjoyable despite its many flaws. The cast ranges from the experienced – John Hart, who once played The Lone Ranger on TV – to the novice – Joe De Sue, who plays the titular monster. The plot mixes standard Frankenstein nonsense with imaginary science about DNA. Actress Ivory Stone stars as a doctor who reaches out to Dr. Frankenstein to save her boyfriend who returned from Viet Nam seriously maimed. The result is a creature that would make Karloff blush. On, my!

The Black Saint, Doc, and Jeff spend a bit of time – partially due to all the terrific extra content on the Severin Blackenstein Blu-ray – discussing the career and tragic death of the film’s writer, Frank R. Saletri. If he had been able, he would have produced films such as Sherlock Holmes in the Adventures of the Golden Vampire, The Fall of the House of Blackenstein, and Black Frankenstein Meets the White Werewolf. Of course, rumor has it that his script for Black the Ripper was actually filmed. We may never know. Mr. Salertri was murdered in 1982 and his death remains unsolved. His story is as larger-than-life as the film on the Blu-ray.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

 

 

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Willard (1971) – Episode 53– Decades of Horror 1970s

“Tear Him Up!” – The quote from Willard (1976) signals the beginning of the best scene in the film where Ernest Borgnine is attacked by hundreds of rats. It’s a great scene. Meanwhile, Bruce Davidson watches on. Let the fun begin! The Black Saint and Doc Rotten tackle another groovy horror film from the 1970s. Joining the grue-crew is Gruesome Magazine contributor and the host of Decades of Horror The Classic Era Jeff Mohr.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 53 – Willard (1971)

Willard landed in theaters in the Summer of 1971 and launched the “nature strikes back” sub-genre of horror films. The modest film made a big impression at the box office and became a cult film over the years. Until recently, the film had become increasingly difficult to find and view – at least, a decent copy of it. The film is now available on Blu-ray from Shout Factory in pristine condition looking better than it has in years. Join the Grue-Crew as they look back at the film that frightened them in their youth, and discover how the film plays now 40 plus years later. The film features Bruce Davidson, Sondra Locke, Elsa Lanchester, and Ernest Borgnine in a terrific role. And, of course, all those damned rats!

The film can best be summed up by an experience The Black Saint shares about his son catching the cover for the first time and declaring that, in no shape or form, will he be watching that film. Willard still has what it takes to provide the creepy-crawlies with the rats themselves. But, the tone of the film, the direction, and the music make Willard feel very much like a TV movie of the week. That, however, does not make the film a bad film, it only tempers the memory of it shared by The Black Saint, Doc Rotten, and Jeff Mohr. The film boils down to its great performances and its core story of a man who doesn’t fit in, relating to a colony of rats in his basement far more than a building full of co-workers. Everyone he knows from his boss to his mother belittles him at every turn except a pretty tempory clerk who befriends him. Pushed to the limits of his sanity, Davidson’s Willard strikes back sending hit fleet of rats to do his bidding. And the Grue-crew goes wild.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.

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Alice Sweet Alice (1976) – Episode 52– Decades of Horror 1970s

“If You Survive This Night… Nothing Will Scare You Again.” – The tagline for Alice Sweet Alice (1976) promises an evening of terror and suspense while delivering an early genre film from Brooke Shields. Let the fun begin! The Black Saint and Doc Rotten tackle another groovy horror film from the 1970s. Joining the grue-crew is Gruesome Magazine contributor and the host of Decades of Horror The Classic Era Jeff Mohr. Joining the usual Grue-Crew for this episode is New Jersey’s very own scream queen, actress Genoveva Rossi.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 52 – Alice Sweet Alice (1973)

Also known as Communion and Holy Terror, Alice Sweet Alice is an overlooked classic from 1976 better known for having an early performance from actress Brooke Shields than the tight suspenseful Giallo thriller that it is. The film is a cult hit, especially in New Jersey where it was filmed. The story is better than one might expect with a shocking twist and a slow burn build to a chilling conclusion. Actress Genoveva Rossi joins the  Crew to discuss the film sharing that she grew up not far from where the film was made and recounts visits to many of the locations where the film was shot.

Along with Brooke Shields, Alice Sweet Alice features great performances from many of its stars especially Paula Sheppard who plays Alice and Alphonso DeNoble who plays the squalid landlord. But it may be Mildred Clinton as Mrs. Tredoni who quietly steals the show before the film is over. Both The Black Saint and Jeff Mohr share the film made them jump and Doc quickly suggests that film is heavily inspired by  Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, raincoats and all. Genoveva is full of interesting little tidbits from the film with her affection for Alice Sweet Alice coming across quite infectious.

We want to hear from you – the coolest, grooviest fans:  leave us a message or leave a comment on the site or email the Decades of Horror 1970s podcast hosts at theblacksaint@decadesofhorror.com or docrotten@decadesofhorror.com.