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The Mighty Peking Man (1977) – Episode 81 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Action…Excitement…Spectacle beyond your wildest dreams!” Action? Check. Excitement? Check. Spectacle beyond your wildest dreams? Check! Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr (much to his chagrin, Bill Mulligan was unable to join us for this one) – as they discover a film that actually lives up to its tagline, and of course, it’s a Shaw Brothers film! Yes, they are talking about The Mighty Peking Man.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 81 – The Mighty Peking Man (1977)

Initially released August 1977 in Hong Kong. The MIghty Peking Man didn’t see a U.S. release until March 1980. Directed by Meng Hua Ho and written by Kuang Ni, this film is the Shaw Brothers effort to cash in on the hoopla surrounding the Dino De Laurentiis production, King Kong (1976).

An expedition, led by an amoral and unscrupulous businessman (Feng Ku) and an altruistic and heartbroken hero (Danny Lee) plucked from a bar, sets out to capture the legendary, titular beast depicted in The Mighty Peking Man. In their search for the giant ape, the expedition also encounters Samantha (Evelyne Kraft), a female version of the Tarzan legend, who has devloped a deep bound with the beast. Eventually, the Mighty Peking Man is captured and transported to civilization where he is shackled and put on public display in a stadium. Not surprisingly, the beast breaks free of its chains, creating panic and chaos. Even less surprisingly, the story works its way to an epic battle atop a skyscraper. Does this sound familiar?

Despite the story’s similarities with past big ape movies, The Mighty Peking Man has one key plot difference that Chad, Doc, and Jeff greatly appreciated. Samantha has been living in the jungle ever since she was a child when the Mighty Peking Man rescued her from a plane crash, solidifying an explanation for their long term bond.

Despite its low budget and relatively high cheese factor, this film has it all, including a boatload of fun! Chad has always loved the opening scene as the giant ape emerges from its lost world after an earthquake, wreaking havoc on the nearby village. Doc is particularly enamored with the sequence in which Samantha, adorned as usual in her 2-piece animal skin, climbs a light pole to escape a crowd. The Grue Crew is in agreement on the hilarity of some of the dialogue, admitting something might have been lost in translation.  

The Mighty Peking Man gets an emphatic recommendation from the Grue Crew! In fact, after covering The Oily Maniac (1976) on Episode 70 and now The Mighty Peking Man, the Grue Crew vows to cover Infra-Man (1975), another Shaw Brothers masterpiece starring Danny Lee, in the not too distant future.

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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The House That Dripped Blood (1971) – Episode 80 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“That’s what’s wrong with the present day horror films. There’s no realism. Not like the old ones, the great ones. Frankenstein. Phantom of the Opera. Dracula – the one with Bela Lugosi of course, not this new fellow.”  Could the speaker be referring to Christopher Lee, one of the stars of this episode’s topic? Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Chad Hunt, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they investigate the case of The House That Dripped Blood. Their first question? Where’s all the blood!

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 80 – The House That Dripped Blood (1971)

The House That Dripped Blood is the fourth Amicus Productions horror anthology your Grue Crew has covered on Decades of Horror 1970s. Directed by Peter Duffell and adapted by the legendary Robert Bloch from four of his stories, the four segments are tied together by a police detective investigating a disappearance from a peculiar house with a series of occupants who have all experienced decidedly sinister fates. The stories include “Method for Murder” – a writer’s thuggish, literary creation seems to have come to life; “Waxworks” – a forlorn man sees his lost love in a wax museum; “Sweets to the Sweet” – a stern father doesn’t want his daughter reading the wrong books or playing with dolls; and “The Cloak” – an over-the-hill actor in horror films purchases a cloak that unbeknownst to him, has mysterious powers.

The film’s all-star cast includes fan favorites Ingrid Pitt, Peter Cushing, and Christopher Lee. Additional standout performances in The House That Dripped Blood are given by Jon Pertwee, Denholm Elliott, Tom Adams, Joanna Dunham, Joss Ackland, the enigmatic Geoffrey Bayldon, Nyree Dawn Porter, and Chloe Franks.

The 70s Grue Crew is not bothered by the lack of blood (not a single drop, mind you) in The House That Dripped Blood. Bill goes on at length on how much he thinks of Ingrid Pitt, ,,, and he likes her performance in the film as well. Or maybe it is Chad who says that. Come to think of it, they are all a bit infatuated with Ms. Pitt. They all also remarked as to how disturbing Chloe Franks is as Christopher Lee’s innocent-looking daughter with the devilish smile. Jeff brings up Bloch’s tendency to build stories around ironic twists or jokes and how that tendency is in evidence in the segments of this film. Chad expresses his love for anthology films, and almost in unison, they all marvel at Geoffrey Bayldon’s quirky portrayal and just as quirky makeup as the proprietor of the shop in which the cloak is purchased. Rest assured that your Gure Crew think The House That Dripped Blood is well worth a repeated watch and that they will definitely be covering more anthology films in the future.

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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Summer of Fear (1978) – Episode 79 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Well, I can’t stand a thing about you, and that includes your hair!” How would you feel if your cousin came to stay and took over everything you own, including your family? Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Jeff Mohr, Bill Mulligan, and Chad Hunt – as they take a short staycation with just such a family during Wes Craven’s Summer of Fear!

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 79 – Summer of Fear (1978)

This subject of this episode is the result of the podcast’s latest Patreon poll and as such, has been foisted on, … er, rather, carefully selected for the Grue Crew by the loyal listeners of Decades of Horror 1970s. Adapted from the novel Summer of Fear by Lois Duncan, a renowned writer of young-adult novels, the film was originally released as a TV-movie under the title Stranger in our House. Directed by horror icon Wes Craven, Summer of Fear is his first direct-to-television effort and premiered over a year after The Hills Have Eyes (1977). Summer of Fear tells the story of a family whose fairy tale existence is shattered when a cousin/niece comes to live with them after her parents are killed in an automobile accident. However, there is one big problem. Their guest is a witch, not a relative, and she is after everything they own.

The key figure in the story is the witch, as played by Lee Purcell, but the film’s starpower comes from Linda Blair as the family’s daughter. Her parents are played by Carol Lawrence and Jeremy Slate with Jeff East as her brother. Rounding out the cast in supporting roles are Macdonald Carey as an occult expert and early-career Fran Drescher as the daughter’s friend.

Amazingly, none of the Grue Crew had seen this film prior to preparing for the podcast. Neither Wes Craven nor Linda Blair nor even Fran Drescher had garnered their interest. Bill couldn’t  figure out why the witch couldn’t be seen in photographs, wondering when that became part of the witch canon. Jeff recalls Jeremy Slate from his earlier days in biker movies and westerns and gets a kick out of his portrayal as the bewitched father. Doc likes the film the most and enjoys seeing that much of Linda Blair, but, oh, the hair! Chad was not impressed with the witch’s here-again-gone-again Southern accent but still thought she was the most interesting character i the film. The Grue Crew universally agreed even though Summer of Fear is one of Craven’s lesser works, it’s worth a watch viewed as a picture on the world of the cast and crew at that point in their careers.

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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Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974) – Episode 74 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“His brain came from a genius. His body came from a killer. His soul came from hell!” It should have worked, right? Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they step into the asylum for a session with Dr. Victor, aka Baron von Frankenstein, in Hammer’s last Frankenstein film, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell!

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 74 – Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)

Written by Anthony Hinds, as John Elder, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell continues the stitched-together, Hammer Horror chronicle of Victor Frankenstein, currently “imprisoned” in an insane asylum. Even though considered an inmate, Frankenstein has blackmailed the deviant Asylum Director (John Stratton) and is now running the asylum and using the inmates to continue his experiments. He is aided in his work by a new inmate and Frankenstein fanboy, Dr. Simon Helder (Shane Briant); and a mute young woman named Sarah (Madeline Smith).

Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell marks several milestones in the Hammer canon. It is the last of their Frankenstein films and the last time Peter Cushing plays Frankenstein. Signalling the end of error, this is also the last film directed by Terence Fisher, a true horror icon.

Chad, though a little irked at the monster design when first viewed, came to appreciate its uniqueness and was horrified by the especially gruesome way the monster meets his end. Bill proclaims that through the wisdom gained with old age, he now realizes Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is a masterpiece and places it among his Top 10 Hammer Horror films. Doc reminds us that David Prowse, playing the monster for the second time, is most remembered for his role as Darth Vader in the original Star Wars Trilogy. Being the relative Hammer novice of the bunch, Jeff announces his love for this film. It probably goes without saying your Grue Crew members are all unabashed lovers of all things Peter Cushing, but it had to be said anyway.

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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Silent Running (1972) – Episode 73 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Amazing companions on an incredible adventure… that journeys beyond imagination!” the tagline for Silent Running promises a sci-fi spectacle but the film is instead a rather intimate tale of astronaut Freeman Lowell descending into madness. Director Douglas Trumbull’s space-epic is perhaps better known for the three small drones, Huey, Duey, and Luey. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they join Bruce Dern on his adventures aboard the Valley Forge.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 73 – Silent Running (1972)

Written by the impressive team of Deric Washburn, Michael Cimino, and Steven Bochco, Silent Running has a lot to say between the lines. While the film focuses upon its lead character, Freeman Lowell as played by Bruce Dern, the story dives into environmental and corporate politics, theories, and dire warnings of a not-to-distant future doomed to set Earth on a collision course with disaster. Visual effects pioneer, Douglas Trumbull, steps behind the camera to guide the spectacular visuals, some of which, were borrowed from unused scenes for his work on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). His creation of the three drones would fascinate audiences in 1972 and directly influence the famous droids seen George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977). Silent Running, despite is calculated pacing, is an influential film that bridges the gap between 2001 and Star Wars.

Sharing their thoughts about the film, the Grue-Crew relive the first time they saw the film back in the 1970s – Jeff in the theater, Doc on TV, and Bill later on video in college. Bill’s take is based more of the political nature of the film, while Doc is focused on Bruce Dern and the drones. Chad and Jeff admire the film’s visual excellent and careful storytelling. Doc shares his experience seeing the film for the first time in nearly 40 years on the big screen at the FantasticRealm Film Series at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC. Regardless of their take, the Grue-Crew agree the film is important to film history and rise of science fiction film.

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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Phase IV (1974) – Episode 72 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“The Day The Earth Was Turned Into A Cemetery!” the tagline for Phase IV promises a horror film the heady, occasionally trippy, sci-fi film cannot live up to. Yet, the film succeeds in establishing dread and exposing mankind’s fragile relationship with nature and the planet. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, and Jeff Mohr – as they face an attack of killer ants who burrow into their fears.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 72 – Phase IV (1974)

In the early Seventies, every studio had their Sci-Fi epic, a version of their own 2001: A Space Odyssey. And Paramount wanted one too. What they got was Saul Bass’s horror/sci-fi oddity Phase IV. Bass, better known for creating memorable title sequences for films such as Psycho, North by Northwest, and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World, brings a distinct artist’s touch to the film giving it a heady, trippy aesthetic that makes the film stand out from the crowd. Sadly, the film did not connect with 1974 audiences, but the film has gained a cult following.  The cast includes Nigel Davenport, Michael Murphy, and Lynne Frederick as they face an army of intelligent ants of various kinds uniting to take over humanity.

Having never seen the film, Doc Rotten was able to finally catch Phase IV at a theatrical screening at the FantasticRealm Film Series. Having listened to The Black Saint and Bill Mulligan champion the film episode after episode, this was a must, as was including it on the Decades of Horror schedule. Now he can join Bill and Jeff Mohr in discussing the film’s use of “nature” style film to chronicle the ants’ attack on the desert community, it’s distinctive set-design, and much of the movie’s haunting imagery. The slow pace of the film builds towards a chilling and provocative conclusion that only Saul Bass could provide.

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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Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974) – Episode 71 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“What he doesn’t know about vampirism wouldn’t fill a flea’s codpiece.” Wow! He must know a lot about vampires, right? Of course the quote is referring to this episode’s subject. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Bill Mulligan, Chad Hunt, and Jeff Mohr – as they feint, parry, and lunge along with this vampire swashbuckler Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter from Hammer Films.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 71 – Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974)

After killing his mother and sister when they became vampires, Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) has dedicated his life to hunting vampires. As Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter begins, Kronos is summoned by his old friend Dr. Marcus (John Carson) when young women in his village have the life sucked out of them, their corpses looking like old women. Kronos arrives with Grost (John Cater), his hunchbacked partner, and Carla (Caroline Munro), a young woman they rescued from a pillory along the way. (No dancing on Sunday!) After dispatching a multitude of ne’er do wells while demonstrating his master swordsmanship, Kronos and his comrades zero in on the Durward family and their matriarch (Wanda Ventham) as the probable source of the vampire, even as more women die.

Known primarily for his writing, Brian Clemens adds the director’s chair to his duties for Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter for only the second time in his career and his only feature film. Filmed in 1972 but not released until 1974, the film reveals a studio in decline. The film was intended to be the first of a new series but after an inadequate marketing campaign and a dismal performance at the box office, the idea was scrapped.

The Grue Crew admits Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter has some problems. Chad thinks the idea has promise, but isn’t executed very well. Doc admits having trouble staying awake during the middle section, but loves the setup and the finale. According to Bill, there could have been better insults than calling the bad guys Ratface, Fatty, and Big Mouth. Jeff has questions about some of the details in the story and feels there are gaps in the exposition, both in the showing and the telling.

Despite its flaws, the Grue Crew highly recommends Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter as part of the Hammer Films canon. This version of a vampire film has a lot to offer – a swashbuckling vampire hunter, Caroline Munro, a spaghetti western style showdown, Caroline Munro, burying dead toads for vampires to bestrode, Caroline Munro, Kronos with a bag over his head, Caroline Munro, and don’t forget Caroline Munro. No matter what, Chad wants to make sure you don’t forget Caroline Munro. Come on Chad! Who can forget Caroline Munro?

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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The Oily Maniac (1976) – Episode 70 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Dig a big hole in the middle of the house?” It might sound crazy, but if you really want to become an oily maniac, that’s how the instructions begin. Join your faithful Grue Crew – Doc Rotten, Jeff Mohr, Chad Hunt, and Bill Mulligan – as they slide their way through the pros and cons of The Oily Maniac.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 70 – The Oily Maniac (1976)

The Oily Maniac, aka You gui zi, is a Shaw Brothers production directed by Meng Hua Ho and written by Lam Chua. Starring Danny Lee, Ping Chen, and Lily Li, the film tells the story of Shen Yuan, a crippled man who pledges to protect the daughter of a man in prison. The woman’s father implores Shen Yuan to copy the tattoo on his back and to use the spell it describes to protect his daughter. Soon Shen Yuan is forced to invoke the tattoo’s spell and is transformed into … the oily maniac, an avenging superhero or a monster, depending on your point of view.

Doc Rotten often proclaims his love of (or should we say obsession with?) Asian horror films, so it should be no surprise that he brought The Oily Maniac to the Decades of Horror 1970s Grue Crew’s attention. Chad points out the cheezy costume looking like it’s dipped in oil, the exposed beating heart, and its teeth. Jeff mentions a vague similarity to The Greasy Strangler (2016) and Doc points out that the director of The Greasy Strangler lists The Oily Maniac as inspiration. Doc also loved the monster’s scream and the way it tried to do kung fu, slinging oily maniac goo around and then turning into a swimming goo-puddle, traveling to the theme of Jaws.

Bill did not appreciate the “exploity” nature of the film in regards to female nudity and rape, and would’ve enjoyed the film more if it was less sleazy. The rest of the crew agrees that it was uncomfortably exploitive and that the gratuitous sex and rape scenes prevalent in 70s grindhouse films like The Oily Maniac are even harder to view today.

The Grue Crew recommends the cheesy monster scenes in The Oily Maniac but it is not for everyone.

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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Salem’s Lot (1979) – Episode 69 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“Open the window, Mark. Please! Let me in! It’s OK, Mark, I’m your friend. He commands it!” If a floating Glick boy ever says this to you, no matter what, don’t open the window!  Doc Rotten is off on assignment for this episode, but regular hosts Jeff Mohr, Bill Mulligan, and Chad Hunt are joined by Joey Fittos, the Thug with a Mug, as they travel to the not-so-quaint and disturbing New England village of Salem’s Lot to discuss the equally disturbing 1979 miniseries, Salem’s Lot.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 69 – Salem’s Lot (1979)

The literary juggernaut known as Stephen King had already made the book-to-movie transition with Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976) when Warner Brothers Television decided to adapt ‘Salem’s Lot, King’s second novel, to the TV miniseries format. Horror icon Tobe Hooper was enlisted to direct as was Paul Monash to provide the screenplay adaptation of King’s novel for an all star cast that includes James Mason, David Soul, Lance Kerwin, Bonnie Bedelia, Lew Ayres, Reggie Nalder, Geoffrey Lewis, George Dzundza, Julie Cobb, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor, Fred Willard, Ed Flanders, Kenneth McMillan, and more. The result was Salem’s Lot, a now legendary, 2-part miniseries first broadcast November 1979 on CBS.

Each of this episode’s Grue Crew viewed Salem’s Lot during its premiere broadcast. Joey proclaims Salem’s Lot as one of his all time favorite horror films. Bill also loved it, but was a little put out by specific scenes present in King’s novel that are not included in the miniseries. David Soul (Starsky and Hutch, 1975-79) as the star gave Jeff some misgivings prior to seeing the film and he was annoyed at first by the changes made in the transformation of his beloved ‘Salem’s Lot (the book) into Salem’s Lot (the movie). It didn’t take long, however, for him to be won over by what was, in truth, an excellent horror film. Chad, along with Joey and Bill, in hindsight, saw definite similarities between Salem’s Lot and Fright Night (1985).

The film’s over 3-hour runtime is surprisingly even-paced and despite the length, the viewer is never caught wondering how much time is left. Scenes that have been frozen in your grue Crew’s nightmares are discussed, including, but not limited to, the floating Glick boys and Geoffrey Lewis in a rocking chair. The story is so well told, there are several unscary scenes that are memorable for their dialogue or visual impact alone. Salem’s Lot gets an enthusiastic thumbs-up from the whole Crew.

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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The Mutations (1974) – Episode 68 – Decades of Horror 1970s

“It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature…… it can be HORRIFYING!” the overzealous tagline for The Mutations (1974), aka The Freakmaker, promises a monster film for the ages. To be fair, some stills from the film of the main “Venus-fly-trap” monster may back up that claim. However, most of the Grue Crew may beg to differ. And, then, there’s Bill. Doc Rotten and Jeff Mohr are joined by Chad Hunt and Bill Mulligan to discuss this nearly forgotten British gem. Special guest host Adam Thomas settles in to help put Donald Pleasence in his place.

Decades of Horror 1970s
Episode 68 – The Mutations (1974)

Learning that Vincent Price was the first actor cast as Professor Nolter in JackCardiff’s The Mutations puts a lot of that role into perspective. With Donald Pleasence (Halloween) settling into the part in Price’s place leaves all the necessary scene chewing off the cuff. But, hey, we still love as much Donald Pleasence as we can get. The fan-favorite fourth Doctor, Tom Baker (The Vault of Horror, Doctor Who) plays Lynch, Nolter’s “henchmen” who continually gathers the mad scientist victims for his evil experiments…all in hopes that the good doctor will cure him of his deformities. In a subplot. Lynch is also the leader of a troop of “freaks” (as they are called in the film) who entertain patrons at a local amusement sideshow. Enter in a group of Nolter’s students who get in the way of the madman’s plot, including Julie Ege (The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires) as Hedi. Before you know it, Hedi’s friend Tony (Scott Anthony) is kidnapped by Lynch and turned into a horrific monster by Nolter. Chaos ensues. Hurray!

Both Doc and Bill fondly remember reading about The Mutations in Famous Monsters in the Seventies but were unable to catch the film until much later. Bill a decade or so ago, but Doc only this week for this show. Both were eager to watch the film to discuss here on Decades of Horror along with Chad and guest host Adam Thomas. However, while the finale is fun with the monster finally set loose and on the rampage, the plot meanders through each of its loosely connected subplots. Bill still champions the film while Adam curses Doc’s name. Oh, dear. There’s plenty to discuss, speculate, demonize, and enjoy with The Mutations and the Grue Crew cover it all.

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.