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Welcome to the Crypt!

Enter the Crypt as John "The Unimonster" Stevenson and his merry band of ghouls rants and raves about the current state of Horror, as well as reviews Movies, Books, DVD's and more, both old and new.

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

From the Desk of the Unimonster...

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06 March, 2010

“Why Monsters?”

Since I started writing about the world of genre film some six years ago, several people have asked me why I chose this subject to focus my attentions on, wondering perhaps if I shouldn’t be more mainstream in my work. Others have remarked that I should be more “serious” in my writing—serious meaning commercially marketable, I would imagine. Friends and family both have said that they’d enjoy my writing more—if only…

The truth is, I write about what interests me, and few things have the capability to hold my interests as strongly as the monsters have over the years. Genre film is simply the medium I choose through which to examine life in general. Whether I’m writing about Christopher Lee and the rebirth of Classic Horror, [“Dracula Reborn: HORROR OF DRACULA and the Rise of Hammer,” 17 May 2008] or the joys of Exploitation Film, [“Something Weird on the Screen: The Wild, Bizarre and Wacky World of Scare-Your-Children Movies, Exploitation Shorts and Stag Films,” 11 April 2009] I’m writing about something that has provoked my muse, something about which I feel a need to write. Often, it’s about more than the topic of the piece.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m an old-fashioned type of guy. Perhaps that’s why I prefer the monsters, madmen, and maniacs of a bygone era of cinema. And it affords me opportunities to compare and contrast the classics with the modern, and examine what’s both good and bad about each. When I write about the things that I somehow find just unfathomable, [“Ten Things I Just Don’t Get,” 3 May 2008] or discuss the way modern filmmakers substitute gore and violence for plot and substance, [“Has the “Torture” Genre Run its Course,” 20 October 2007] that lets me skewer trends in both horror and popular culture that quite frankly I find puzzling. One of the most obvious examples is so-called “reality TV,” which bears little in common with reality, as most people understand it. The desire to be famous for fame’s sake, to be famous for no other reason than the fact that you exist, baffles me completely. When I can draw parallels between trends in the genre and trends in broader popular culture, I enjoy doing so, jabbing both where needed.

Occasionally, I get an urge to comment on life as a middle-aged man in a world of genre fandom that’s geared primarily for the young. Horror and Science-Fiction have always appealed to the young, and as someone who grew up reading Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, I want to do everything in my limited power to encourage a love of classic horror in future generations, including my own Uni-niece and –nephew. Not only do I enjoy sharing my love of horror with them, but discussing the evolution of Dracula with my niece, or being the one to show the 1941 classic THE WOLF-MAN to my nephew for the first time, lets me experience these classics in a new way, once more through young eyes. It inspires me.

As regular readers of mine are no doubt aware, I frequently wax nostalgic in my writings, examining keystones in the building of a youthful Unimonster. There are many such moments that I’ve written about, from my love of going to the Drive-In to my memories of happy Halloweens. Of course, not all of my childhood memories revolve around the Monsters, nor are they the only happy memories I have. But by writing about those memories that do share that common context, I can comment on what life was like in the early ‘70’s—at least, for one young boy.

I’ve often tried to write about my father—how great a man he was, how much he meant to his family, how deeply his death was felt by those who loved him. Even now, more than fifteen years after his death, the loss is still too personal, too deep for me to express adequately—I’m simply not that good a writer. But when I’m called upon to mark the passing of an icon of Horror, such as Robert Quarry or Forry Ackerman, I can in some small way do the same for those loved ones of mine who have passed on.

All writers use metaphor and allegory to express ideas in terms their readers find relatable. While it is undoubtedly easier to work with such tools in a piece of fiction, even the occasional DVD review can benefit from their use. So to those of my friends and family who often ask, “Why the Monsters,” I reply that I write about life—the monsters just help make it interesting.

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“I am a Drive-In Mutant”: The Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs

Joe Bob Briggs’ Drive-In Oath:
“We are Drive-In mutants; we are not like other people. We are sick, we are disgusting. We believe in blood, and breasts, and in beasts. If life had a vomit meter, we'd be off the scale. As long as one Drive-In remains on the planet Earth, we will party like jungle animals. We will boogey till we puke. The Drive-In will never die.”

As I believe I’ve said before, I do not like movie critics. In fact, I once stated, “My tastes are, as I’ve indicated, rather unique… the chance that there’s a critic out there whose taste in film parallels mine is roughly equal to the chance that I will win the Lotto on the same day that Jessica Simpson proposes to me” [“Horror… with a Critical Eye,” 2 January, 2010]. That was written, however, before co-author Bobbie Culbertson and I began research and work on the upcoming book, “Dixie’s Drive-Ins: The Southern Drive-In Culture of the ‘70’s.” No such book could be written, of course, without examining the contributions of one Joe Bob Briggs to that culture.

Briggs (aka John Bloom), a man with whom I had only a passing familiarity prior to that research, epitomizes the Drive-In culture of the South the way that John Wayne epitomizes the Western, or Marilyn Monroe the Hollywood Sex Symbol. Each is a perfect representation of an ideal; not reality as it is or was; merely a construct of popular culture. The old west was seldom, if ever, as depicted in Wayne’s films. I’ve known several women with more real beauty and ‘sex appeal’ than Monroe. Likewise, Briggs himself is just a caricature, an exaggeration, of the typical Southern Drive-In fan. But within that exaggeration is conveyed much wisdom.

What sets Joe Bob apart from his fellow critics is the fact that, first and foremost, he is one of us. He has a love for, and an understanding of, the same films we do. He was the first critic who watched movies the way we do, and knew what we wanted from them. He didn’t look down at us because we loved BASKET CASE and TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE—he was right there with us, hootin’ and hollerin’ from the Toronado in the third row. He didn’t go for the “Indoor Bullstuff,” the movies over which the other critics swooned. His criteria were simple: More blood, more breasts, and more beasts. He measured movies with a vomit meter, and told us right up front what we needed to know.

Joe Bob’s reviews were seldom about the movie itself. He might begin by recounting the time May Ellen Masters stole his ’68 Dodge Dart and ran off with the owner of the Western Auto, or how he was trying to raise bail money for Rhett Beavers, who got caught with $9,000 worth of “Arkansas Polio Weed” (the cops wouldn’t believe it was for Rhett’s “personal use…”). He would lament the closing of yet another Drive-In, and rail against the “High Sheriffs,” his term for the editors who insisted upon censoring his reviews. Eventually however, he would discuss the movie, in terms that were plain, simple, and not condescending. He didn’t waste time prattling on about motifs and subtext. He cut straight to the meat of the matter—how much blood, how many breasts (noting any especially good ones), and what kind of beasts. Put simply, we knew if he liked the movie, then we’d like the movie, and for the same reasons.

Before we began researching “Dixie’s Drive-Ins,” I was convinced that all movie critics were the same—arrogant, pretentious snobs who looked down their noses at the common films beloved by the common moviegoer. From Ebert to Maltin, I was sick of hearing them praise as stupendous cinematic achievements films that quite literally put me to sleep. From TOOTSIE, to FORREST GUMP, to BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, they raved over the movies that were the most boring, unentertaining cinematic crap I had ever tried to sit through, while trashing movies I loved—if they bothered to review them at all.

But Joe Bob is different. From his “rules to live by,” to “We are the Weird,” the parody of the song “We are the World” that caused his firing from the Dallas Times-Herald, from TNT’s Monstervision to his live concert appearances, through countless DVD commentaries and introductions, he has remained one of us. He gets us. And because of that, we still rally to his cause.

Everyone stand, raise your right hands, and repeat after me… “We are Drive-In Mutants …

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From the Alan Smithee School of Directing: How NOT to Remake a Movie!

As Hollywood rushes to pump out remake after soulless remake, many of them genre films, those of us who are of sufficient age to remember a time when one could still find an original thought in Tinseltown become more and more disillusioned with Modern Horror Films. As the major studios spew forth an endless stream of crap-tastic remakes, one is tempted to dismiss them all as worthless, unimaginative attempts to cash in on the much-loved (and much better) originals. The truth is somewhat different, however. While that description certainly applies to many, if not most, remakes currently floating down the pipe, there is such a thing as a good remake. Often, the difference comes down to the choices the director makes.

There are, generally speaking, two ways to remake a movie. The first, and by far the most common, is simply to reshoot the original. Same script, same characters, same dialogue. The more unimaginative the filmmaker the closer the remake will be to the original—and the less likely it will be anywhere near as good a movie. The ‘best’, or more correctly the most apt, example of this is Gus Van Sant’s 1998 shot-for-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece PSYCHO.

In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock redefined horror, driving a nail into the coffin of the Sci-Fi Horrors of the 1950’s with a superbly drawn tale of a woman who steals from her employer and flees town, only to cross paths with an oedipal peeping tom in an out of the way motel. The viewer’s initial impression that this was simply another suspenseful crime melodrama from the master of such films was destroyed in a shocking flurry of jump cuts and extreme close-ups, a montage that lasted less than a minute, yet changed horror cinema forever. So effectively did Hitchcock's camera work and direction evoke an emotional response from the audience that many people, forgetting that scene like every other frame of the movie was monochrome, swear they remember, in vivid detail, the red blood running down the drain in the shower.

In 1998, director Gus Van Sant remade PSYCHO, in itself a poor decision. Some movies could possibly be considered fair game for a redo; some, in fact, are in dire need of someone to tell the story properly. But when a movie is generally described as a “masterpiece,” it should be safe to assume that no one is going to improve upon it with a remake—particularly when that “masterpiece” has long been accepted as the defining film from a master filmmaker. While my personal opinion is that REAR WINDOW is a better example of Hitchcock’s mastery of the narrative, as well as his technical brilliance, PSYCHO by far had the greater impact on cinematic history. To propose a remake of any Hitchcock film is audacious, to say the least. To remake his most famous film is the very height of arrogance.
Still, if Van Sant had attempted to inject any imagination or originality into his version it might have been a better film. It could scarcely have been worse. If remaking PSYCHO was arrogance personified, attempting to out-Hitchcock Hitchcock by making a shot-by-shot remake is downright insulting, both to the fans of that original film and those who see the remake.

From the opening sequence, which introduces us to Marion Crane and Sam Loomis, played unsatisfyingly by Anne Heche and Viggo Mortensen respectively, to the final shot of Marion’s car being pulled from the swamp, the only things Van Sant bothered to change are the actors and the film in the cameras. This time, of course, the blood is red, and instead of the suggestion of female nudity, you get the real thing. You also get Vince Vaughn instead of Anthony Perkins, Julianne Moore instead of Vera Miles, and William H. Macy in place of Martin Balsam. On the whole, it’s a very inequitable trade.

But is it possible to produce a remake that not only pleases new viewers, but also avoids offending fans of the original film? Yes, it is, and what’s more, it might even improve upon that film. Such was the case with the 1999 remake of the 1959 William Castle film HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL.

The original film is a fine example of Castle’s trademark style—not a great film, but an enjoyable one nonetheless. Castle made a career proving that, whatever a film’s inherent flaws, if you promote it properly, and give the moviegoer what they want, then it can be a success. The proper term is a “popcorn picture”—not high art, just highly entertaining. The story concerns a millionaire (Vincent Price in one of his best roles) who invites five strangers to spend the night in a haunted house in order to earn $10,000—a payday each is in desperate need of. The only stipulation is that each must stay the entire night, and of course, survive the ghosts.

In the late 1990’s Dark Castle Films began remaking some of the genre’s most popular films from the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and ‘70’s—13 GHOSTS, GHOST SHIP, HOUSE OF WAX, and of course, HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, which was the company’s first production. Directed by William Malone, HOUSE… illustrates the right way to remake a movie.

First, and most importantly, is the choice of subject. While the original HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL is a very enjoyable movie, it is by no means a “masterpiece,” so beloved by fans as to be immune to future tampering. And while the plot was interesting enough in 1959, modern audiences find it a little too reminiscent of “Scooby-Doo.” The remake’s producers wisely scrapped most of the plot, retaining only the bare premise of a rich man inviting strangers to spend the night in a haunted house, in anticipation of great reward.

The new script, by Don Beebe, brings the plot into the modern day by starting out in the 1930’s, at the Vannacutt Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Dr. Richard Vannacutt, (a brief but memorable performance by Jeffery Combs) the director of the asylum, amuses himself by performing bizarre surgical experiments on the inmates, filming himself in the process. One night, the lunatics rebel, killing the entire staff and causing a fire that kills everyone else locked within the asylum’s walls. We learn the history of the location through the device of a newsreel within a television broadcast, one that inspires Evelyn Price, (Famke Janssen) the disinterested wife of wealthy amusement park designer Stephen Price (Geoffrey Rush, in a superb emulation of Vincent Price) to hold her birthday party in the ruins of the old asylum, dubbed by locals as the, “house on Haunted Hill.”

Where the original plot had Vincent Price’s character faking the ghosts in the house in an effort to conceal his plans to murder his unfaithful wife, the remake, though keeping those elements of the plot, injects a massive dose of the supernatural into the story. The result is an example of a successful blending of both old and new into a much more effective film. Critics of the remake have pointed out the overreliance on special effects and the fact that the ending was weak, due in part to those overused effects. While those are valid criticisms, they don’t detract from one’s overall enjoyment of the movie.

So it is possible to remake a film, even a classic such as HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, and do it in a way that pleases fans, both old and young. But in order to do that, directors should remember two things.
First, the choice of film to remake is of paramount importance. No one can improve upon perfection, no matter how determined or well intentioned the effort. If one chooses to remake John Carpenter’s HALLOWEEN, or George Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, or even Hitchcock’s PSYCHO, that director is setting him or herself up for failure. Even if they manage to produce a tremendously good film, it will always pale in comparison to the original. At best, it will be the second-best version of that story. At the worst, it will be regarded as an affront to those who revere the original.

The second item of consideration is originality. That may seem like an oxymoron when referring to a remake, but it’s vital that a filmmaker know which elements to retain from the original plot and which to discard. As Van Sant illustrated so vividly with his version of PSYCHO, there is no point in simply recasting and reshooting the original film—it betrays an obvious lack of either inspiration or imagination to do so. Those remakes which have been successful—the aforementioned HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, last year’s MY BLOODY VALENTINE 3-D, this year’s THE WOLFMAN—have wisely let the original supply the former and used the latter to write the script.

As a Horror fan, I may abhor the explosion in the number of films that are in various stages of being remade, but it’s hard to ignore them when they flood theaters and video store shelves. As a reviewer, I can only review what’s being offered to the viewing public, and simply because a film is a remake doesn’t mean that it must necessarily be a poorly-done movie—it just seems that that’s often the case.

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A Creature in my Backyard: The Universal Horror that was filmed in my hometown

In the mid to late 1950’s, Universal Studios, then known as Universal-International, began to regain some of its status as the Horror studio. Movies such as THIS ISLAND EARTH, THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, and THE MOLE-PEOPLE went a long way towards restoring the reputation that had been lost when Universal’s stable of monsters had become the comedic foils of the studio’s hottest property of the period, Abbott & Costello. True fans of the Universal Horrors were appalled at the state to which their beloved monsters had been reduced, and longed for a return to the glory that the studio had enjoyed twenty years before. The movie that answered those wishes, began Universal’s renaissance, and restored the monsters and, in a larger sense Horror Films, to their rightful place in the genre hierarchy, was Jack Arnold’s 1954 classic CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.

The success of CREATURE… virtually guaranteed a sequel and production soon began on REVENGE OF THE CREATURE, released in 1955. Set primarily in North Florida, at the fictitious Ocean Harbor Aquarium, it was filmed in Jacksonville, as well as nearby towns of St. Augustine and Silver Springs Florida. Marineland, located near St. Augustine, doubled for the film’s Aquarium.

Once again Jack Arnold had the helm of this production, and the story flows smoothly from the first, with a second team of researchers tracking the Gill-Man into the Black lagoon. Nestor Pavia, in a brief but satisfying reprise of his role as Lucas, skipper of the Rita II, relates the story of the first expedition to the new team as they journey deeper into the Gill-Man’s lair. The group soon encounters the object of their search, and, after a brief struggle, manages to capture the creature.

They deliver the now-captive Gill-Man to the Ocean Harbor Aquarium, in northern Florida. John Agar, as Biologist Prof. Clete Ferguson, is brought in to study the creature, with Lori Nelson as his beautiful assistant, Helen Dobson. They soon come to the realization that he has an intelligence that goes beyond the simple animal cunning they expect, as well as the fact that he is attracted to Dobson. He’s not the only one, as both Ferguson and Joe Hayes, played by John Bromfield, vie for the affections of the young beauty. Hayes, Ocean Harbor’s chief diver, is working with the scientists, and is responsible for their safety.

The Gill-Man, meanwhile, is testing the boundaries of his new habitat. Chained to the bottom of the tank, he soon establishes the limitations of his freedom, as well as the strength of the chains that bind him. In a moment’s carelessness, he breaks his bonds and escapes his tank, killing Hayes and spreading terror throughout the park. He gets out of the Aquarium property, and heads for the nearby ocean, causing panic along the entire coast.

As the Navy and Coast Guard launch a massive search for the Gill-Man, Ferguson and Dobson cruise up the St. Johns River to Jacksonville, unaware that they are being followed by the fugitive creature. The Gill-Man, obsessed with the young woman, stalks her to her hotel room, but is frightened off by her dog. Still, he keeps a close watch on her, and finally attacks, abducting her from a restaurant where she and Ferguson are dining, escaping into the river.

The local police, as well as the military and civilian volunteers, launch a hunt for the creature along the riverbanks and creeks, with searchers on boats, on foot, and in cars. Two men find Dobson, passed out on a bank, but are attacked and mauled by the Gill-Man. But the creature is soon surrounded and, as Ferguson pulls the woman to safety, disappears into the water as a fusillade of gunfire erupts around him.

While not the ground-breaking block-buster that its predecessor was, REVENGE… was in many ways the equal of, and some would say superior to, CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. From a technical standpoint, REVENGE… was a much nicer job of photography, especially when viewed in the original 3-D format. In the excellent audio commentary supplied with the CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON Legacy Collection, Tom Weaver, Bob Burns, and Lori Nelson discuss in great detail the advantage that the sequel enjoyed over the first film in this regard. Any mistakes and errors that had been made in photographing the original were corrected for this film, and the result was some truly beautiful, incredibly dynamic shots. Not even viewing the movie in 2-D on a television screen can completely disguise the effectiveness of the cinematography.

Contributing immeasurably to the film’s success is its convincing credibility. Rarely during the ‘50’s did a film capture its setting as well as REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. From the observation level at Marineland, to the Lobster House restaurant in Jacksonville, the fact that the movie was shot on the actual locations gives it an air of authenticity that helps draw the audience into the picture.

Another factor that added to the film’s believability was the superb casting. John Agar was perhaps the most accomplished lead actor working regularly in genre films during the ‘50’s. Talented, strong and handsome, he was the prototypical B-Movie leading man, carrying such films as TARANTULA, THE MOLE PEOPLE, and, of course, REVENGE OF THE CREATURE. Remembered primarily for being the first husband of Shirley Temple, (with whom he co-starred in the John Ford western classic FORT APACHE…) he had a moderately successful career, marred by a long personal struggle with alcohol. Agar died of emphysema in 2002, at the age of 81.

Lori Nelson was a 22-year old contract player at Universal when cast as Ichthyology major Helen Dobson. Nelson, whose debut was in the 1952 Western BEND OF THE RIVER, was a beautiful young blonde, well-suited to the role of John Agar’s assistant and love-interest. While lacking the strength and depth that Julie Adams’ Kay had in the original CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, Nelson’s Helen was far from a shrinking violet; rather she was a well-educated, intelligent, atypically modern woman, pursuing a career in what would traditionally be considered a “Man’s” field, and expressing dismay at having to choose between that career and a more stereotypical, “housewife’s”, lifestyle. Still, she did fall into the same pattern that Universal required of all its leading ladies… the ability to scream loudly and look gorgeous while waiting to be rescued.

33-year old John Bromfield played Joe Hayes, Agar’s human rival for Nelson’s affections. Looking every bit the part of the Aquarium’s chief diver, his role was originally intended to be far more involved, with an open undercurrent of hostility running between the creature and he. Though that subplot didn’t quite make it into the finished movie, it does explain the Gill-Man’s vicious, fatal attack on Hayes as he escapes the Aquarium. Bromfield, who left acting in 1960 following a divorce, became a commercial fisherman, and recently passed away at the age of 83.

No discussion of the cast of this film would be complete without mentioning the two unsung stars of the film, Tom Hennessey and Ricou Browning. Hennessey, who played the Gill-Man for out-of-the-water shots, and Browning, who reprised his work as the creature for the underwater scenes, combined to portray one of the greatest Man-in-a-Rubber-Suit monsters ever. When compared to the creations of others, in films such as THE SHE-CREATURE and ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES, the Gill-Man was easily the most effective and natural-looking Monster design of the 1950’s; at least, from an American studio. Only Godzilla, from Japan’s Toho Studios, was his superior. Designed by Milicent Patrick and Bud Westmore for CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, the Gill-Man suit was slightly revised for this sequel, most notably the head-piece, which was altered to give the actor inside better vision.

Taken together, all of these factors, in combination with an excellent script by Martin Berkeley and Jack Arnold’s sure, steady direction, produced one of the best, most memorable Creature Features of the decade… and one of this author’s personal favorites. One of the reasons for my love for this film is simple: Much of it was shot in my hometown.

Jacksonville Florida in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s was one of the state’s fastest growing cities, and (I make no claim of being unbiased here…) one of it’s most beautiful. Cut neatly in half by the wide, slow-moving St. John’s River, post-war Jacksonville was a city of Navy bases and Insurance companies, with a long, rich history.

Part of that history was a once-thriving motion-picture industry, with a reputation in the first decades of the last century that rivaled Hollywood’s at the time. Many silent films were shot in Jacksonville; indeed, many of Oliver Hardy’s (of Laurel & Hardy fame…) early movies were produced there.

Likewise St. Augustine, thirty miles south of Jacksonville, was a town steeped in history. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States and, when I was a child, the tourist attraction in North Florida. Before the coming of Walt Disney World made Orlando the tourist Mecca that it is presently, thousands would flock to St. Augustine in the summer, to visit such attractions as the Castillo de San Marcos, an enormous 16th Century Spanish fortress, and Six-Gun Territory, a Wild West theme park.

Another huge attraction was Marineland. Long before Shamu was thrilling crowds at Sea World, dolphins were performing before cheering throngs at this Aquarium. A favorite location for field trips among area schools, I (as well as most of Jacksonville’s schoolchildren of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s…) was a frequent visitor there.

That was part of the fascination that this film held for a young Unimonster. I was perhaps 10 when I first saw this film on television, and was immediately captivated at seeing locations that I had actually visited in person featured in a Horror Film. From Marineland, to the familiar night-time lights of my city, to the Lobster House restaurant my parents used to dine at, I was amazed at the connections I had with this movie.

That is the primary reason that this movie remains so personally important to me. While all the Universal Horrors fill me with nostalgia, reminding me of happier, more care-free days, this is the only one with the power to actually transport me, albeit virtually, back to the hometown of my childhood… the only one that can, with a few glimpses of fondly-remembered locales, chase away the worries and troubles of middle-age. This movie, as much as anything can be, is a portal back in time. It is, for me, like another familiar St. Augustine attraction—the Fountain of Youth.

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Year of Release—Film: 2009

Year of Release—DVD: 2009

DVD Label: Horse Archer Productions

[Ed. Note: If you happen to be a host of such a program, and would like to see it reviewed here, please contact me at unimonster64@gmail.com.]

Though the Horror-Host phenomena of the late ‘50’s through the ‘70’s was a national one, it’s readily apparent that some areas of the country were more receptive to the concept than others. Chicago was a hotbed of hosts, as was Cleveland, Ohio. The Midwest in general seemed more eager to accept the idea of the Horror-Host than most of the country, with the possible exception of the South. And of the Southern states, Virginia had perhaps the richest history of Hosted Horror shows. A new documentary from Horse Archer Productions [http://www.horsearcherproductions.com] explores that history, and looks at the future of Horror-Hosting in the Old Dominion state.

VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION is the work of long-time friend of the Crypt Sean Kotz and co-producer/director Christopher Valluzzo. Hosted by Mr. Lobo, the host of the nationally syndicated Cinema Insomnia, currently on air in Richmond, Virginia, this is an affectionate memoir by Virginians, for Virginians. But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that those of us from the rest of the country who love the Horror-Host tradition can’t take from this—in fact, that’s one of the film’s strengths. Not all of us come from a place with such a thriving legacy of Hosted Horror shows, yet all of us can relate to the way the Hosts and the fans connected in such a personal way. Hosts were more than middle-aged men in fright wigs and make-up; they were our escorts through the stygian darkness, lighting the way with humor and a friendly presence. These might not have been our Hosts, but we recognize the archetype, and the kindred spirits who called them their own.

From Virginia’s first Host, Jonathan, of Nightmare Theater on Roanoke’s WSLS-10, who debuted in 1958, to Karlos Borloff, the modern-day host of Monster Madhouse, on Fairfax Public Access (FPA-10), virtually every Host of the Dominion state is examined, through archival footage, photographs, audio recordings, and interviews—dozens of interviews. Most of the interviewees are the Hosts themselves, and those who were closely connected with the productions. Many are the fans who still have vivid recollections of watching their favorite Host or Hostess decades before. All convey the impression that, whatever else may have been happening in the state at that point in time, it has always been a hospitable climate for the Horror-Host. Though the documentary has a two-hour run-time, it seldom drags. The large number of Hosts covered insures that the film moves briskly from one to another, leaving little excess time to slow down the pacing. The music is a definite selling point for the film, as it adds a lively background mood to what could otherwise be a rather dry series of interviews.

The disc does have one flaw worth noting, though it is more of an issue with the DVD, rather than the film itself. That flaw, a significant one to the Unimonster’s tired old ears, is the lack of either subtitles or closed-captioning. The closer I get to the half-century mark, the less tolerance I have for low audio levels. While a person with normal hearing would doubtless have no problem with the lack of such amenities, they are bothersome to me. These are minor flaws, however, and don’t do more than cause a minimal distraction from the viewer’s enjoyment of the film.

One caveat is in order before I give this disc my enthusiastic recommendation. As long-time readers are aware, the first incarnation of the Unimonster’s Crypt was my regular column at Sean Kotz’s Creaturescape.com, and I still consider Sean a good friend in the horror community. One of the Hosts that are featured in this documentary is Count Gore De Vol, another good friend and someone who kindly reposts my rants and tantrums at his site. Some may wonder if the close involvement of two friends of mine has influenced my recommendation in any way, to which I respond, “Of course it has!” That by no means detracts from this documentary, from how much I enjoyed it, or from the validity of that recommendation. If you’re someone who shares the Unimonster’s love of Hosted-Horror shows, then you owe it to yourself to visit http://virginiacreepersmovie.com and decide for yourself.

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DVD Review: THE WOLF-MAN Legacy Special Edition Two-Disc Box Set

Title: THE WOLF-MAN Legacy Special Edition Two-Disc Box Set

Year of Release—Film: 1941

Year of Release—DVD: 2010

DVD Label: Universal Studios Home Entertainment

For the past decade, Universal has been actively involved in reinventing their classic Horror icons—Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf-Man, and the Gill-Man—of the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Stephen Sommers began this resurgence of interest in the classic Monsters with his excellent remake of THE MUMMY in 1999, and with the equally entertaining sequel THE MUMMY RETURNS (2001). In advance of the 2005 theatrical release of Sommers’ ultimately disappointing VAN HELSING, Universal Studios Home Entertainment opened the studio’s vaults, releasing the Legacy Collections DVD Box Sets of their classic horror titles. That largesse has continued unabated ever since, with a Bela Lugosi Collection, two superb box sets of the 1950’s Sci-Fi Horrors, a collection of their b-Horrors from the 1940’s, even the Inner Sanctum mysteries of the mid-‘40’s.

Virtually every Universal property of the Golden Age of Horror (with the exception of 1933’s ISLAND OF LOST SOULS, which is in desperate need of a DVD release) has become available in the past six years. Several films have been chosen for special treatment in connection to significant anniversaries, such as DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN, and THE MUMMY, all of which celebrated 75th Anniversaries within the last five years. The latest film to receive this Legacy Special Edition treatment is their most popular Monster-movie of the ‘40’s, 1941’s THE WOLF-MAN. While this is obviously motivated by the studio’s desire to support the big screen release of the Joe Johnston-helmed remake, (in theaters now and reviewed below—ed.) it’s nonetheless appreciated by those of us who are devoted fans of the Universal Horrors.

I first reviewed THE WOLF-MAN six years ago, revisited it last month, [“DVD Box Set Review: THE WOLF-MAN Legacy Collection (2004),” 6 February 2010] and those words still hold true.

One of Universal’s most enduring classics, as well as starring one of it’s most beloved Monsters, this film came as the Universal Horror Films transitioned from the landmark classics of the 1930’s to the assembly-line productions of the
1940’s. While not as fine an example of great filmmaking as James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN, George Waggner’s able direction transformed Lon Chaney’s portrayal of the tortured Larry Talbot into one of the most sympathetic Monsters
of the genre, perhaps second only to King Kong. The rest of the cast (including Bela Lugosi in a brief, but important, role) performs well above expectations, particularly Claude Rains (as Larry’s father, Sir John Talbot) and the beautiful Evelyn Ankers.

When called upon to review a movie with which virtually every horror fan is familiar, one’s task is not so much to tell them why they need to have this film in their collections, but why they should own this release of it, if the reviewer feels that they should. And to be honest, if you have the 2004 Legacy collection, and don’t consider yourself an especially devoted fan of THE WOLF-MAN, Lon Chaney, Jr., or the Universal Horrors, then my advice would be to pass on this offering.

However, if, like the Unimonster, you’re a devoted fan of all three, then this DVD is a definite Must-Have. In addition to the movie itself, the viewer is treated to a handful of documentary features, a mix of previously released material and newly produced documentaries. The old includes Monster by Moonlight, hosted by John Landis, director of AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, and directed by film historian and Universal Horror expert David J. Skal. This documentary, first released on the 2004 WOLF-MAN Legacy Collection, is a loving tribute to Chaney, Pierce, Siodmak, and all those responsible for bringing one of Universal’s greatest Monsters to life.

Also included is a documentary by Constantine Nasr, first released in the 2008 Legacy Special Edition of THE MUMMY. He Who Made Monsters—the Life and Art of Jack Pierce, pays long-overdue tribute to the man responsible for creating the Monsters that have frightened and captivated fans for nearly eighty years. It’s not near to being recognition enough for Pierce’s contributions, but it is a step in the right direction.

By far the best of the older material, however, is the feature-length documentary UNIVERSAL HORROR, released in 1998. Narrated by Kenneth Branagh, this documentary is a virtual love letter to the monsters, from generations of devoted fans. Exploring the history of Universal Horror Films from the silent era to the end of the Golden age, this is an invaluable reference to those interested in the original “House of Horror,” and a treat for those who love classic Horror Films.

There are also two new productions by Nasr: The Wolf-Man—From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth; and Pure in Heart—The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr.

The first of these, The Wolf-Man—From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth, is an exploration of the werewolf mythos, and how it was largely the creation of one man, screenwriter Curt Siodmak. From the now-famous line, “Even a man who is pure in heart, and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolfsbane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright,” to the necessity of a silver weapon, wielded by one who loves him, to kill a werewolf, the legends of lycanthropy that fueled forty years of genre films were made up from whole cloth by Siodmak. Not until 1981 brought a new vision of werewolves, two competing yet similar reinventions of the sub-genre, was there a significant divergence from Siodmak’s winning formula. Though this featurette is too short to do adequate justice to Siodmak’s contributions to Horror history, it is entertaining, and fans of classic Horror Films will enjoy it.

The second new documentary, Pure in Heart—The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney, Jr., is the more informative, and more interesting of the two. This is a loving yet honest look at the life of Creighton Tull Chaney, from his childhood as the estranged son of the great actor, to his death at the age of 67, ironically from the same disease that claimed his father in 1930. It examines the complicated relationship Creighton had with Lon, including how Lon had led Creighton to believe that his mother Cleva had died when the boy was still an infant; in reality, she had been committed to an asylum. It also explores the difficulty Creighton had in becoming an actor, a career choice so opposed by his father that he enrolled Creighton in a vocational school for plumbers.

Fans of Lon Jr. will appreciate the honesty and forthright approach the filmmakers brought to this documentary, as well as the attitude that despite the flaws inherent in the man, and the demons that plagued him, he was a good, kind-hearted, gentle man, one who simply wanted to act. He was the only actor to portray all four of Universal’s great Monsters of the ‘30’s and ‘40’s, and for more than 68 years, he alone could claim the role of Lawrence Talbot—the Wolf-Man.

This DVD may not be a must-have for the casual Horror fan, or even the fan of classic horror who already owns the 2004 Legacy Collection. But for those of us who have a special affinity for the great Horror Films of Universal Studios, it’s yet another gift from the vaults.

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Unimonster's Screening Room: THE WOLFMAN (2010)


Date of Theatrical Release: 12 February 2010

MPAA Rating: R

[Ed. Note: There’s a new feature here at the Crypt, The Screening Room, wherein I’ll periodically review first-run films currently in theaters. It will work no different than my DVD Reviews—I understand that your entertainment dollars are as hard to come by as mine, and if I tell you to spend a goodly chunk of those dollars to see a movie, you’d better believe I was blown away by it. Also, there will be a rating system to help you decide just how much a movie impressed me, based on the number of skulls, 1-5, I award it. So read on and enjoy!]

Since 1999, Universal Studios has been on a quest to reinvent it’s most beloved properties, the Classic Monsters of the 1930’s and ‘40’s. Beginning with Stephen Sommers fantastic redux of THE MUMMY, continuing through his misinterpretation of the Monsters in VAN HELSING, and helped along the way by a flood of DVD releases from Universal’s vaults, the studio has reenergized Classic Horror fans both young and old. Their latest offering to those whose notions of Monsters predate the TWILIGHT Saga is Joe Johnston’s THE WOLFMAN, in theaters now.

Titularly a remake of 1941’s THE WOLF-MAN, the resemblance to its predecessor begins and ends with the character names. The setting is shifted slightly, from the Welsh town of Llanwelly to a more nondescript town in the English countryside, and from a roughly contemporary (to 1941) period to 1891. The characters of Lawrence Talbot and Sir John, his father, are more richly drawn than in the original, with Benicio Del Toro and Anthony Hopkins exploring complexities in the father-son relationship only hinted at by Lon Chaney, Jr. and Claude Rains. As written by Andrew Kevin Walker and David Self, there are layers to this bond that the viewer will find surprising.

Lawrence Talbot, (Del Toro) an actor and the expatriate son of Sir John Talbot, (a superb job by Hopkins) receives an urgent summons to return home following the disappearance of his brother Ben. The message, from Ben’s fiancĂ©e Gwen Conliffe, (an underwhelming performance by Emily Blunt) reaches Lawrence on the London stage, where the Americanized actor is playing the lead role in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. He returns to Talbot Hall to be greeted at the door by his estranged father, shotgun in hand. Ben’s body has been found, horribly mutilated. What’s more, two others have died under similar circumstances in recent weeks, and the locals are convinced that a group of gypsies, encamped just outside the town’s environs, is to blame.

Lawrence, having promised Gwen he would find out what had happened to his brother, visits the Gypsy camp hoping to find answers. During his visit, however, the camp is attacked by something—something large, something powerful, something unseen. Lawrence catches a glimpse of it as it runs off in pursuit of a young boy, and gives chase. He becomes the hunted, however, and is attacked by the creature before it can be driven off by gunfire from its pursuers. Lawrence is taken home, wounded and near death.

He wavers in and out of consciousness for the next month, but as the moon waxes towards full, so does his strength. By the eve of the next full moon, he is feeling better than ever, and the jagged scar left by his wound has completely healed. And as the full moon rises over Talbot Hall, the beast runs loose again.

The scope of this film is much broader and grander than the original, taking full advantage of the vast differences in budget, technology, and creative freedom enjoyed by modern filmmakers. The production design is superb, creating the atmosphere so vital to recapturing the essence of the great Universal Horrors, an element that VAN HELSING sadly lacked. The photography, by Shelly Johnson, beautifully presents that atmosphere to the viewer, from the crumbling edifice of Talbot Hall to the gas-lit streets of London to dark, fog-shrouded woods of the English countryside.

But we are talking about THE WOLFMAN, and there would be nothing worth photographing if the look of the creature itself had not been ‘right’. Thankfully, Universal realized there was but one artist capable of doing justice to that originally created by Jack Pierce, and that is Rick Baker. Baker, who, along with John Landis redefined the Werewolf movie with 1981’s AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, now brings the “Man” portion of the Wolf-Man equation back to the fore, after thirty years of increasingly canine-like lycanthropes. The make-up is terrific, resembling what Pierce created while remaining state-of-the-art.

While this is director Joe Johnston’s first shot at a Horror Film, he has managed to build-up a rather impressive genre resume so far. Beginning with 1989’s HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS and 1991’s THE ROCKETEER, to 2001’s JURASSIC PARK III, Johnston is no stranger to genre audiences. He also has notable credentials in the visual effects world, having worked on the original STAR WARS trilogy and RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. Though this is his first venture into the world of classic Horror, he handles it with style, creating a fitting homage to the movie that launched the Horror career of Lon Chaney, Jr. and gave us the creature that would carry the studio throughout the first half of the 1940’s.

I saw this on the opening weekend, accompanied by the 12-year-old Uni-Nephew. Both of us loved the film, daresay for different reasons. It was his first real exposure to the classic monsters, to the great Horror Films that his uncle so dearly loves, and I’m overjoyed that I could share that with him. For me, it was as if watching something reappear that I thought had long since vanished beneath an avalanche of metrosexually androgynous vampires and testosterone-juiced lycanthropes who resemble a cross between Lassie and Rambo. It was the rebirth of classic Horror, and it is just as welcome now as when it was reborn in 1958 with Hammer’s HORROR OF DRACULA. If you consider yourself a fan of the classic Monsters, you have to see this movie. Don’t wait for the DVD, this film should be seen on the big screen. Four out of five skulls, with an extra jawbone thrown in for good measure.

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DVD Review: SPIDER BABY Director’s Cut

Title: SPIDER BABY Director’s Cut

Year of Release—Film: 1968

Year of Release—DVD: 2007

DVD Label: Dark Sky Entertainment/MPI Entertainment

Jack Hill’s quirky masterpiece is definitely one of the oddest films you’re likely to see, but it’s also one of the most entertaining, too. Shot in 1964 but held in limbo until four years later, SPIDER BABY or, THE MADDEST STORY EVER TOLD to use its proper title, stars Lon Chaney Jr. and Carol Ohmart amidst a cast of lesser-known actors, including a very young Sid “Captain Spaulding” Haig. The story revolves around the Merrye family, the descendants of which develop an incurable mental regression as they enter puberty. This regression causes them to become mentally deranged, psychotic, and cannibalistic. This is one of Chaney’s best performances from late in life, and his job as Bruno is matched by several equally impressive performances from the rest of the cast. Chief among these are the aforementioned Haig, as Ralph, the oldest of the Merrye children; the gorgeous Jill Banner as his sister, Virginia; and Quinn Redeker as their distant relative.

This film, which came so close to being lost forever, has become a cult favorite since the advent of home video. Finally, after twenty plus years of fading VHS tapes and poor quality bootleg DVD-R’s, Dark Sky Entertainment/MPI Entertainment, working directly with Hill, has put out the definitive SPIDER BABY disc.

For those who’ve not had the pleasure of watching this movie yet, there’s very little I can say to describe it without revealing too much of the plot. Suffice it to say that it is a unique film for it’s period, both in subject matter and in quality, especially in view of the limited resources available to Hill. It’s very reminiscent of Mario Bava’s early work, particularly when comparing Hill’s skillful use of camera angles to cover-up the obvious shortfalls in the available location, the subject of one of the many special features. This is one of my favorite films of the ‘60’s, and I’m glad that it’s finally getting the attention it’s long deserved.

While Dark Sky Entertainment/MPI Entertainment does a credible job on this disc, the packaging leaves something to be desired. This company’s efforts usually come off looking bargain-basement, though I’ve always found the quality to be superior. This disc is no exception… to either rule.
Both the audio and video quality is far superior to the worn-out VHS in my collection, and the addition of subtitles, as always, is greatly appreciated. While I wish that Dark Sky invested a little more effort into the package design, I sure as hell can’t fault the product inside.

And as befits this long-awaited disc, Dark Sky has loaded it down with special features, the best of which is the documentary THE HATCHING OF SPIDER BABY, a look at the making of this movie. The genesis of this film, and the difficult path it took to it’s ultimate recognition as such a terrific little movie, is a fascinating story, especially when told by those most intimately involved with it. Who better to tell it than Jack Hill himself, along with the surviving cast members?

Also included is SPIDER STRAVINSKY: THE CINEMA SOUNDS OF RONALD STEIN. One of this great composer’s many scores was the unique music of SPIDER BABY, and this biographical piece is informative and interesting. The third documentary included is THE MERRYE HOUSE REVISITED, a trip back to the house used for location shooting of the film. Contrary to appearances, the house was far from isolated; instead it is located in a busy residential neighborhood of Los Angeles. Hill’s direction, and the beautiful camera work by Alfred Taylor, combined to photographically isolate the house from it’s surroundings.

Add in the excellent commentary track, featuring both Jack Hill and Sid Haig, an extended and alternate scene section, and a still gallery, and you have a truly superb collection of features for an equally superior DVD.
While this is not a cheap disc, the SPIDER BABY Director’s Cut nonetheless earns a definite Buy recommendation from me… in fact, it came within a tarantula hair of beating out THE MONSTER SQUAD for my DVD Release of the Year award. If having a pristine print of one of my favorite films wasn’t enough to guarantee that, then the wealth of behind the scenes information on the film’s production certainly does.

This is the type of DVD release that fans want to see for the films they love, and Dark Sky did not disappoint us. At a list price of $29.99, it’s well outside the range of what I consider impulse buying… that’s ok, though. This is one you should plan to add to your collection—and soon.

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Junkyardfilms.com’s Moldy Oldie Movie of the Month!: Bobbie’s Battle for the Title “Worst Movie Ever Made” BAD GIRLS DO CRY vs. LOVE CAPTIVE

Title: Bobbie’s Battle for the Title “Worst Movie Ever Made” BAD GIRLS DO CRY vs. LOVE CAPTIVE

Year of Release—Film: 1965 / 1969

Back in 2006 on a late-summer evening, I popped a DVD titled BAD GIRLS DO CRY into my player and within minutes, angels sang from the heavens, the sky opened, and beamed down a ray of light upon this long-sought object of my curiosity, THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE! As the final credits rolled, I was already feverishly typing these words...

After years and years of searching, I have finally found it! THE WORST MOVIE EVER MADE!!!! BAD GIRLS DO CRY has a release date of 1965 but was obviously made in the mid-to-late 50's. Sid Melton, comic and director of the TV show "Make Room for Daddy" directed this... if you can call this hodge-podge of unrelated scenes directed. Misty Ayers, one-time burlesque dancer and stripper, plays Sally, a small-town girl who goes to the big city only to find herself trapped in a web of prostitution and drugs. There she meets first-time trick Tommy Cole and falls for his boyish charms. He tries to help her escape but fails and he is later gunned down by Mr. Big. In retaliation, Sally stabs Mr. Big to death as the narrator warns the audience of the perils that befall young girls in big city sin palaces. FYI... while Misty Ayers does remove her clothing twice, she's never completely nude. Women wore more back then and removing it was very complicated and time-consuming.

Amazing in it's ineptness with abysmal melodramatic acting, non-synced post-dubbed voices and sound effects, painfully unfunny comedic bits and sloppy editing, what makes this movie float to the top of the cesspool of bad filmdom is it's amazing choice of background music. Wagnerian marches give way to swelling harp solos, then quickly shift to 50's game show themes without so much as a thought that they work for the scene or not. Music would start, then stop, then start again without reason. Take this scene... Sally goes to the house not knowing that she is falling into a den of iniquity and enters to the sound of a Valkyriean operatic swell as if some major battle is about to begin. She's shown to a room where she removes her complicated system of undergarments and is sexually assaulted by Mr. Big. During the assault, there's a quick unexplained cut to a woman tidying up a front room and then back to the assault and subsequent drugging. Meanwhile, the music has inexplicably changed from a warlike march to a lighter, happier melody. This happens throughout the movie with such unexpectedness that I almost got whiplash!

I feel like singing! I feel like dancing in the street and shooting off fireworks! I feel like... crying. Now that I've fulfilled my life's mission and seen the worst movie ever made, what will I do for the next 40 years? *sigh* Check this one out, people. It's on a triple-feature Something Weird Video release and is available from Netflix. By the way, the other two movies on the disc, GIRL IN TROUBLE and GOOD TIMES WITH A BAD GIRL, are equally painful morality plays.

MSTJunkie (Retired)

Happily, I stopped searching, basking in the warm certainty that my hunt for the worst of the worst was finally over. However, recently a loyal reader informed me that, in his opinion, I was wrong. There was a movie out there that, if not worse, is equal to BAD GIRLS DO CRY in both the pain levels and endurance required to sit through and that's Larry Crane's THE LOVE CAPTIVE (1969). He encouraged me to hunt down a copy and watch it to compare it with my 2006 "eureka moment". This is what I discovered, but first...a word about director Larry Crane. Larry made six movies in the late 60's and disappeared. Literally. IMDb.com has no bio and, after hours of searching, I gave up on trying to find any info on this strange and elusive B-movie director.

The Love Captive (1969) has no actors / actresses names in the main title. The movie is narrated in post-production and, again, no names are used. A young woman, we'll call her Ann, walks through Greenwich Village and checks into a cheap, fleabag hotel. She goes upstairs, removes her clothes (while the narrator urges her to hurry up), has sex with the bellman, dresses again and leaves to visit a local Torture Museum. She over-stays and is locked in for the night. Suddenly, a Wolfman appears along with a nude woman with vampire teeth and dirt-blackened feet. They proceed to grope each other on top of a coffin while three nude female dancers gyrate lethargically. Ann sits in an electric chair showing absolutely no emotion. After what seems forever, the Wolfman, the vampiress and the three dancers leave through a brick wall and Ann steals a straitjacket off a display.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, two guys in topcoats broadcast threats through the walls at other female residents. This is never explained and we are left to wonder are they cops? Or is this some perverse gay foreplay? Ann returns and undresses. Enter the lesbian from next door, supposedly frightened by the broadcasted threat and she an Ann engage in some bored and boring same-sex action.
A lady with a shady past goes to the Museum and, after threatening the current owner and bedding him, takes charge. She ramps up the theme by having one of the former three nude dancers gyrate in the window while she goes into a carnie-like spiel about the wonders inside. The two men continue to broadcast threats until they get bored or something and wander away. The Museum's former owner returns, discovers to his horror what has been going on and forces the return of his business and his straitjacket. Ann goes back to her room, undresses and gets some horizontal lovin' from an extremely hairy man wearing dark socks. The end.

Ok...that sucked, didn't it!?! The only positive thing I can say about this movie is that it offers a glimpse of Greenwich Village back when it was a seedier place before the Yuppies gentrified it. I can't say the acting sucked because, frankly, these are no actors. All of them just wandered through the action without motivation or expression. The narration sounded spur-of-the-moment. At 63 minutes, it felt hours too long! There was one 'HUH!?!" moment where I actually recognized one actor as having acted in the other Crane movie I own, All Women Are Bad (1969). But, I didn't recognize him by his face but by his hairy backside! LOL!

So, there you have it. The two contenders for the title of WORST MOVIE EVER MADE. While it's easy to notice their similarities (both are from the 60's, both are in B&W and are narrated in post-production and both star relative unknowns), we're here to decide which is worse. In the nudity category, THE LOVE CAPTIVE wins hands-down because, let's face it, there wasn't much need for a clothing budget! In the plot category, BAD GIRLS DO CRY would win by the fact that is does have some plot, however basic and badly written. Narrative work goes to BAD GIRLS because at least the narrator is reading from a script, unlike LOVE CAPTIVE's more free-style, seemingly unscripted narrative. The camera work is a tie because both look as if they were shot by Abraham Zapruder. Editing? Forget about it! Budget constraints probably didn't leave much footage of either movie on the editing room floor! If this were the Oscar's "the envelope, please" moment, it would be...a tie! And I'm just as disappointed as you are! More, probably, because that means all those years ago, I WAS wrong! So, I throw myself on the mercy of the readers. You decide for yourself!

[Author’s Note: If anyone has any info on the elusive Larry Crane, please email me!]


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