Saturday, October 31, 2020

31 Days of Horror: Halloween Day Blowout - Old Stuff

If you've been here this month, you know that Jason Voorhees has taken over the blog. He'll actually have control for a bit longer. However, I wanted to end this year's 31 Days of Horror writing about some other horror flicks I've watched this year, but haven't mentioned. Believe it or not, there's a lot to talk about. A lot. It's enough that I've decided to break it into two posts. This one is all about some old and strange horror flicks I came across this year. Some of these are very strange. Let's find out how weird things got. Chronologically, of course.

Orgy of the Dead


If you're at all familiar with The Amazing Criswell, you know this won't be Oscar-worthy as soon as you see him. To be fair, even if you have no idea who he is you'll get the same idea within seconds of his appearance, sitting up in a coffin and being all, well, Criswell. He's the undead crypt keeper in a cemetery and has a the prototype for Elvira with him. They have to preside over the recently deceased pleading to avoid eternal damnation by taking turns dancing for them. Of course, all of the just deceased are females. In Criswell's words, "No one wants to see a man dance!" There is also a live couple thrown into the mix. They go to the cemetery so the boyfriend can get some inspiration for his budding career as a horror writer. Since this is a "nudie cutie," and not the erotic horror I was led to believe it was, all of these women perform topless burlesque dances. Poorly. That sounds like a certain level of fun, but these dances go on forever. And they suck. Even the ones that vigorously jiggle fail to hold our attention more than a minute or two. The shame of that is these dances go on 5 or 6 minutes apiece. That's an eternity in film watching time. According to Wikipedia, they take up about 70 of the movie's 90 minutes. The rest of it is proto-Elvira making vaguely lesbian comments, a mummy and a werewolf, who dropped in to watch, cracking wise, and he faux torture of the random couple. It's directed by Stephen C. Apostolof, but the screenwriter's fingerprints are all over this. That guy is none other than Ed Wood. Unfortunately, this never reaches so bad it's awesome level. It gets stuck on tedious as hell due to the endless and graceless gyrating by women who are blankly staring off in the distant while they do it. Did I mention how bad the dancing is? 

Night of the Lepus


And this is why you shouldn't leave children alone in a lab. Let me back up. The local farming is overrun with rabbits. Meanwhile, Roy and Gerry Bennett (Stuart Whitman and Janet Leigh, respectively), are studying and experimenting on other rabbits. This includes injecting one of them with B-movie serum. It so happens that their little girl is in love with that one. When no one's looking she switches him with the rabbit she was going to be given as a pet. So she takes her new roided up rabbit home and, of course, he escapes, and gets into the population of wild rabbits. Next thing you know, they all start growing. And growing. And growing. And there are thousands of them. They basically stampede all over the place in suh-looooooowwwwww motion. They also start killing cows, horses, and lord yes, people! Don't get it twisted. These suckers are big enough that one rabbit can take out any of those things. Cute and cuddly, these things ain't. Well, they really are, but splash them with red paint, have them running in suh-looooooowwwwww  motion through miniature sets, and occasionally have a man in a giant bunny suit attack someone (just the edit the crap out of it so it's not too obvious) and voila, they're "menacing." This is a first ballot inductee into the So-Bad-It's-Awesome Hall of Fame.

I Don't Want to Be Born

aka The Devil Within Her


The film opens on Lucy (Joan Collins) giving birth to her bouncing baby boy . To say it's a struggle is an understatement. It gets so bad the doctor proclaims, "This one doesn't want to be born." After they literally yank the kid out of the womb, the kid is oddly aware and hostile to mom. It's more of the same when they get him home. Lucy suspects the boy is possessed and sets out to find someone to help her. Soon enough, and mind you this kid is mere months old, the baby starts killing people. I mean physically. The movie plays like an unofficial British sequel to Rosemary's Baby with a healthy dose of The Exorcist thrown in. Sadly, it's not anywhere near as good as either. It's quite bad, actually. The killer infant stuff is fun but goofy. Joan Collins gives her all, as well as Donald Pleasence in a smaller role, but they're let down by an inept script. Having her character be rich doesn't really help the story, but gives the kid more people to murder. For a large chunk, Mom goes off on a quest for answers, leaving the baby with a nanny and/or schedule someone to come over during that time. If you go in looking for a good movie, you'll be sorely disappointed. If you go in looking for a good time with a bad movie, this will work. Well. Yes, I'm granting it so-bad-it's-awesome status.

Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde

aka The Watts Monster


The classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is given a Blaxploitation makeover. In spite of the title, the lead character is named Dr. Pride and played by Blaxploitation giant Bernie Casey. He's got a heart of gold. He slips patients a bit of cash to help them pay for medication and his favorite patient of them all is Linda (Marie O'Henry), the prostitute he treats weekly for free. We're never told this for sure, but the fact she strips naked for every visit and doesn't bother covering might have something to do with him not charging her. On the side, he's working on some B-movie serum. As these things usually go, he winds up experimenting on himself with it. He then turns white...powdery white, and gets really aggressive. Of course, he gets the courage to pursue Linda, but that doesn't work too well. After that, let's just say any prostitute not named Linda is not safe. It's beyond goofy, in both great and terrible ways. Along the way, it makes some easy social commentary. Casey goes all in. I kind of wish the more capable Rosalind Cash, barely in the movie as a colleague of Dr. Pride, had been cast in the Linda role. However, I fully understand the two big (o)(o) reasons O'Henry won out. All in all, it's a good time with a bad movie.

Death Bed: The Bed that Eats


Just when you thought it couldn't get any stranger, along comes a movie about a killer bed.  mean a regular looking bed. It doesn't move around on its own, or anything like that. It just eats anything that comes into contact with it by sucking it into its mattress. We then get shots of it's "stomach acid" digesting whatever it is. In the opening scene, that's a bucket of chicken (though it knows better than to eat the bucket), drinks a bottle of wine - yes, drinks, and the random couple who apparently traveled a long way to bone on this bed. Oh, I almost forgot, there's some guy's spirit trapped behind a painting on the wall who talks to the bed pretty constantly. This is z-grade horror, bursting with nonsense. In fact, every bit of the "plot" is a contrivance to get people to the bed. Still, it's weird fun. And those shots of the bed digesting things are far better than they have any right being. It drags some, but it's such a unique experience you're willing to stick around and see what happens. Yup, another one so bad it's awesome!

Jekyll & Hyde...Together Again


This version of Dr. Jekyll (Mark Blankfield) is a renowned surgeon, all set to marry his sweetheart Mary (Bess Armstrong). She happens to be the daughter of Dr. Carew (Michael McGuire), who oversees the hospital where Dr. Jekyll works. The two butt heads because Carew wants Jekyll to do the world's first "total transplant," transplanting all the organs at once on sickly zillionaire Howard Howes (Peter Brocco). Anyhoo, the good doc accidentally snorts some hopped up cocaine and turns into pimp-ish Dr. Hyde and starts pursuing Ivy, a prostitute who happens to be one of Jekyll's patients. The opening 20 minutes or so is near brilliant satire, complete with (dated) pop-culture references. Around that time, we get the amazing first transformation, which includes our protagonist "growing" gold chains. It's pretty much downhill after that with a few good moments here and there. It's also very cringy with lots of 80s patented casual racism and homophobia. Overall, it's goofy enough to enjoy in spite of its faults, but you'll never mistake it for a good movie. And this one is definitely comedy, just using an iconic horror character.


  1. The Amazing Criswell... ah yes, Ed Wood. Yeah, you know Ed Wood is involved if it involves Criswell.

  2. Night of the Lepus is one of the stupidest movies EVER! Not just dumb but completely not scary. The rabbits never look anything other than bunnies hopping among miniature sets which leads to zero suspense. Poor Janet Leigh! Not only had she entered her emaciated stage where she was so thin as to appear about to snap but her hair!! Good God her hair was it's own planet!! I'm sure they hired her for the Psycho connection but it most definitely doesn't help the film, just reminds you how many much, much better films are out there to see!

    The only other one I've seen is I Don't Want to be Born. Beautiful Joan (who I agree gives a committed professional performance), terrible movie. For some reason the film was known under two other names as well-The Devil Within Her which is actually more fitting and the total head scratcher Sharon's Baby which since Joan's character's name is Lucy makes no sense.....kind of like the movie itself!!

    1. I'm not arguing anything you said about either of these movies, lol.

      The DVD I have is titled The Devil Within Her. I found out about the alternate title I used when I went to log it on letterboxd. I found out about the Sharon's Baby title when I looked it up on imdb. At first, I thought I clicked the wrong link. when I realized I didn't, I was beyond confused.

  3. Oh my, this just shows how many films are out there and how few, very few, are played tv.