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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.

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The Creeping Flesh (1973) – Episode 51– Decades of Horror 1970s

“Unfortunately, in the state of society, as it exists today, we are not permitted to experiment on human beings. Normal human beings.” – Christopher Lee’s line in The Creeping Flesh (1973) sets up the odd tone of the film. 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. Rounding out the co-hosts this episode is Chad Hunt, Jeff’s frequent co-conspirator on the Classic Era, joining the usual crew to discuss another awesome collaboration between horror icons Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 51 – The Creeping Flesh (1973)

Anytime we get to cover a Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee film, Doc is happy as a clam. The Creeping Flesh, despite its many flaws, lands in the win column for the good doctor. Jeff is equally delighted with the film, as is Chad regardless of his reservations. The Black Saint, however, is not thrilled with The Creeping Flesh one bit. He often challenges the group to back up their love for this oddball film. It isn’t easy. The film has wonky pacing, illogical character decisions, bizarre side storylines that distract from the main tale, and not nearly enough of the title character. The Grew-Crew fear that many horror fans will side with The Black Saint on this one unless they are a Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee completist.

From time to time The Creeping Flesh scores with great acting from the two horror icons and typical high standards with costuming and set design. The creature’s skeleton is quite marvelous as well, large and fascinating. The creeping flesh element of the film – however brief – is a highlight. And while actress Lorna Heilbron scores with Jeff Mohr her character’s motivations for the final act come under question from the Grue-Crew. And, as often stated, whenever Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee share the screen, the film becomes immediately more entertaining. And, for those who love their Hammer Films, The Creeping Flesh comes complete with a brief, but welcomed, appearance from the one-and-only Michael Ripper. There’s always that!

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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The Omen (1976) – Episode 50 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Good morning. You are one day closer to the end of the world. You have been warned.” – the tag line for The Omen (1976) goes a long way in frightening audiences, then and now. Following cinema’s fascination with possession and satanism since Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist changed the face of horror, Director Richard Donner brings the threat of Revelations to the forefront without resorting to full-on supernatural, grounding the terror in reality as much as possible. This results in one of the biggest hits of the year. 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 Jeff Mohr.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 50 – The Omen (1976)

The Black Saint, Doc, and Jeff reflect on The Omen, remarking on how well the Richard Donner approached and manipulated the script. They examine a number of keys scenes pointing out how well they work in the genre, from the decapitation of David Warner’s character to Lee Remick’s character tumbling from the banister to the iconic scene where Patrick Troughton’s priest is skewered by a severed lightning rod. Above all that is the incredible music provided by Jerry Goldsmith for which he won an Academy Award that year. The presence of esteemed actor Gregory Peck goes a long way in grounding the film and its terrifying themes. And actress Billie Whitelaw is absolutely frightening in the role of Mrs. Baylock.

For the fiftieth episode of Decades of Horror 1970s, we decided to tackle one of the big releases of the decade, also one featuring subject matter that is particularly unsettling for host The Black Saint. He has vowed to never watch The Exorcist again. Yes, for this show, he sets aside his reservations to view the film once again, share his thoughts and appreciation for the film, and comment on seeing the film back when it was first released. Jeff too saw the film in the theaters at that time and both he and the Black Saint remember the marketing that supported the film and the generally terrified reaction the audience gave during those screenings. C’mon Donner was dead set on scaring his audience, the editing and varied angels of Jenning’s death scene alone illustrate how The Omen scared audiences then…and should still now.

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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Psychomania (1973) – Episode 49 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Seven Suicides – and they roared back as The Living Dead.” – the tag line for Psyhomania (1973) plays heaving on the “Living Dead” implications from NoTLD despite this not being a zombie film in any fashion.  Also known as The Death Wheelers, the film does involve, bikers, death, destruction, and the devil — maybe. 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 Jeff Mohr and fellow contributor Jerry Chandler.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 49 – Pyschomania (1973)

In the extras on the Psychomania Blu-ray, star Nicky Henson reveals that no one on the set thought that anyone would be talking about this film after its release; in fact, that is the reason he chose these types of films over TV work, thinking no one would ever see it. To his dismay, the film would be shown countless times on the late-nite feature securing it as a minor cult classic and a film he is most approached about decades later. Psychomania is also the final film for the late, great George Sanders known to many as the man who starred in All About Eve, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and the genre efforts Village of the Damned, The Picture of Dorian Gray, Jungle Book (voice of Shere Khan the Tiger), or Batman (TV – as Mr. Freeze). While the film may be light on scares, it is heavy on thrills with its “groovy” stunt, something the director Don Sharp had experience with his previous films. Sharp is also the director behind Kiss of the Vampire, Curse of the Fly, and The Brides of Fu Manchu.

Doc confesses to considering Psychomania as a guilty pleasure, sharing he first purchased the film as a blind-buy with an affordably priced “Goodtimes” VHS. The rest of the crew are not as warm to the film, but they all recognize that is does have some Seventies charm. While Santos generally dislikes the film, he does praise its score. The best part of the film is the oddball nature of how the film mixes the action with humor for the suicide scenes where the “Living Dead” off themselves so they can return to live eternal. The Crew debate the true nature of Sanders’ character Shadwell and scratch their heads over all the “frog” imagery. Yes, the resurrection of the leader of the “Living Dead”, Tom, as he flies out of his grave atop his motorcycle is the film’s highlight. Psychomania is a unique film, a one of kind.

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.