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Cave of the Living Dead

Cave of the Living Dead

aka Der Fluch der grünen Augen aka Night of the Vampires

1964
Written by Kurt Roecken (as C.V. Rock) and Ákos Ráthonyi
Directed by Ákos Ráthonyi (as Akos V. Ratony)

Cave of the Living Dead
Good thing our hero has no peripheral vision and no vision at all, in fact!

Cave of the Living Dead (aka Night of the Vampires aka Der Fluch der grünen Augen) is a German/Yugoslavian coproduction that is a pretty good atmospheric creeper, and turned out much better than I thought it would be. The “Living Dead” in the title are vampires, though I believe that Cave of the Living Dead is a drive-in double bill retitle to cash in on Night of the Living Dead. If my research is right, it shared billing with Metempsyco (aka Tomb of Torture).

Being German, it borrows a lot of the vampire imagery from Nosferatu, while also having some of the Universal and Hammer films to mildly influence things. The black and white film helps give the whole thing a Gothic feel, whether intentional or not. In fact, had the production had the money for color film, I don’t think it would have been as effective. The cave sets would had looked cheap or been poorly lit. The spooky atmosphere would be replaced by the dull life of an antiquated village. The whole kit and caboodle would be off. In fact, from the dub we have, there is jazz music and other not really so spooky music. I don’t know what the original German music was like, but there doesn’t seem to be a consistent attempt to make the whole town spooky, just dreary.

Cave of the Living Dead
Despite my advanced flat panel display, you still have to get up to change the channel!

Also being German, the film is dubbed, and the dubbing is a very good job, at times you will forget it is dubbed. One great dub job is for the black servant John. Though the actor playing John seems to be doing the occasional mugging, the dubber gives him a very distinguished voice that makes him come off as a respectable and cool guy. The small amount of mugging done by the actor is completely ignored, washing away the Mantan Moreland vibes. I wonder if the choice was related to the strong black lead in Night of the Living Dead, or if the dubber just happened to have some sense and knew how to improve a film. In any event, I am thankful for whoever made the choice, as it is the correct one. The fact I have to bring it up should tell you that it’s also a rare choice.

The main plot is the standard city hero comes to town to teach the suspicious country bumpkins a lesson about modern living. No one in the town is brave or smart enough to bother to figure out the mystery, and the few townspeople who are smart are either burned out, suspicious of everything that moves, or just visiting and eager to leave. Most of the locals (barring the Innkeeper, Nanny, and the doctor) are xenophobic of outsiders, with Thomas reacting violently to anyone not from around there. During Thomas’s episodes, most of the rest of the town are too apathetic to do anything, just staring. It mirrors their apathy in fighting the true horror. They are literally the living dead at this point, only waiting to actually die. The only real reactions are a few drunken smiles, the only responses from those so inebriated they don’t remember their lives are shambles. The town’s apathy comes into play again when Dorin attempts to organize an angry mob, but they refuse to be an actual angry mob and defend their town from the vampires down below in the sewers. The people are too scared, too beaten down despite their large numbers. Dorin has to once again be the hero, to show the town what someone can do.

Cave of the Living Dead
Manos!

This particular version of Cave of the Living Dead is hosted by Commander USA as part of Commander USA’s Groovie Movies! Yes, this film is infected with horror host, and we like it! As usual, the Commander USA material will be in blue text, for easy skipping by those not down with the Commander. This particular show was part of a two-episode block that also aired with Psychotronic Man, though we don’t have that episode on tape. It aired the day before Mother’s Day, which even fits into the plot of what Commander USA does.

Commander USA talks about how his Mom loves romance novels, so he is writing his Mom his own romance novel. Yeah. it’s called Love’s Burning, Smothering, Smoldering Flames of Passion by Jack Lovesbuck (pen name!) and Commander USA reads us a sample. It’s not good. Commander USA then shows the previews for the films for the day. First Psychotronic Man, and then Cave of the Living Dead.

So let’s get started!

Cave of the Living Dead
She’s gone full vampire on us! Someone burn her True Blood DVDs, stat!

Inspector Frank Dorin (Adrian Hoven) – Famous out of town detective who comes to town to teach these local yokels just how they do things out of town! And by do things, I mean kill vampires.
Karin Schumann (Karin Field) – Professor von Adelsberg’s secretary, she does experiments with blood and it’s totally not creepy at all or suspicious that her creepy boss may be involved with all this vampire nonsense going on. As she’s the hottest woman in town not turned into a vampire, she becomes the love interest for Inspector Dorin.
The Village Doctor (Carl Möhner) – The Doctor has seen so much death lately he’s become dead inside, burying himself in the bottle. A burned out shell of a man, he slowly comes back to life when Inspector Dorin makes some headway. Like all good doctors, he doesn’t have a name.
Professor von Adelsberg (Wolfgang Preiss) – Every villiage has a creepy doctor who lives in a giant house who does unholy experiments at the same time some sort of mysterious supernatural killer is on the loose. And no one suspects a thing!!!! I don’t get the Professor’s plan, he vampirizes random women, but doesn’t bother to do anything to his closest coworkers, even though they’d be easy targets to grow his army.
Maria (Erika Remberg) – Local hot lady who disappeared and then showed up dead. But that was all a ruse, because she really became a vampire!
Thomas (Emmerich Schrenk) – Deaf guy in town who hates outsiders, picking fights and stealing things from them. He’s basically a big jerk designed to add random minor drama, even though his whole character is pretty lame and useless.
John (John Kitzmiller) – Black servant of Professor von Adelsberg, notable because he’s not a walking stereotype. It’s sad that Cave of the Living Dead is from an era where this is the exception instead of the rule, but it is a delightful exception that I will take eagerly! Granted, it’s probably because this is outside the Hollywood studio system, but even the English dubbing didn’t make him talking all shamefully, so there was hope! While there may have been a bit of mugging, the English dubbed voice turns him into a very respectable gentleman.
Cave of the Living Dead
Make a Tom Sawyer joke and I’ll murderize ya!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 10, 2013 at 7:48 pm

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Blood Beast Terror

The Blood Beast Terror

aka The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood

1968
Written by Peter Bryan
Directed by Vernon Sewell

Blood Beast Terror
Who you calling a bird brain???

It’s Commander USA! Legion of Decency, retired. Yes, we’re gonna have us a horror host for The Blood Beast Terror, which we desperately need because this film plods along so slowly like so much British cinema and so much American film in the 1970s. There is no way anything like this could be made now, because the audience would be asleep by reel two. Heck, I was almost asleep by reel 2, luckily Commander USA and the retro 80’s commercials also on this tape kept me awake enough to finish the review. You would think a movie where there is a female were-moth that drinks blood would be more exciting. Then you would be wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. As usual, the Commander USA’s Groovie Movies sections will be in blue, so you can easily skip them if you aren’t into awesome things. Amazingly, I have this flick on DVD, so enjoy the higher quality film screencaps mixed in with the retro VHS rip screencaps. It’s called inconsistency, baby!

Blood Beast Terror
Won’t it look weird when one hand is more tan than the other…?

Tigon British Film Productions was a smaller production company that mainly put out low budget horror films to compete with Hammer Studios. They were formed in 1966 and didn’t last much past the late 1970s. Their legacy is classic horror like Witchfinder General, The Creeping Flesh, The Sorcerers, and this masterpiece of were-moth entertainment. And, no, Mothman came to Earth to harass Americans before this film was made. And Mothman is totally real…like Owlman

Blood Beast Terror
Oil can! He said Oil can!

So what we got here is Peter Cushing fighting another monster that drinks blood, but this time it’s a were-moth. What we also have is a villain so identifiably evil it’s weird that he wasn’t arrested the second we were introduced to him. Instead, we’re supposed to believe Dr. Carl Mallinger is a pillar of the community. Maybe that community was hurting for pillars?

Blood Beast Terror
Every time I leave the door open, interpretive dancers burst in and start busting moves…

Now I bet you are wondering if female moths drink blood. The answer is no! But the Death’s Head moths (Acherontia spp.) do have a pattern on their backs that looks similar to a skull, thus the species have become associated with death and the macabre. Oddly enough, these moths attack beehives to get honey! So they’re more like honey badgers in that they don’t care, instead of vampires in that they drink blood. So suck on that, superstitions!

Clare Mallinger does drink blood. The blood of young men, young men that she often seduces, but not to the point of sexual intercourse. Instead, the men are lured off alone, or even just attacked while in a vulnerable location. The Blood Beast Terror is also a period piece, set in the not so distant past. Just set at the right time to do some Frankenstein allegories, up to and including a Frankenstein like play in the actual movie. It also helps quantify the pseudo-puritanical subtext of the Jezebel woman running around seducing all these nice young men who totally wouldn’t want to have the sex…with a girl…unless they were seduced by this temptress! The only thing missing was a giant letter A branded on the were-moth’s chest. Temptation and sin is probably why her demise is the way it is, spoiled below the fold in the recap portion. The setting in the older days help magnifies the sexual undertones.

Blood Beast Terror
Jolly good fish, sir! Right-o!

When The Blood Beast Terror was released in the US, it was retitled The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood and paired with Slaughter of the Vampires. Which I hear may involve vampires being slaughtered. But maybe not.

Inspector Quennell (Peter Cushing) – Famous and proper British police inspector who can solve any case, even bug-infested ones! His daughter is Meg Quennell
Dr. Carl Mallinger (Robert Flemyng) – Notable village eccentric, which means he has enough money that his weirdo obsessions are passed off as charming instead of creepy. Is the local scientist who lectures young lads on proper moth identification.
Clare Mallinger (Wanda Ventham) – Dr. Mallinger’s daughter, who totally isn’t secretly an evil were-moth who lures men to their doom. DOOM!!!!
Sgt. Allan (Glynn Edwards) – Quennell’s facial haired partner in crime who helps him bust crimes.
Were-moth (Herself) – Got blood?
Blood Beast Terror
Commander USA’s Groovie Movies forever!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 7, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Categories: Movie Reviews, Ugly   Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I Married a Monster From Outer Space

I Married a Monster From Outer Space


1958
Written by Louis Vittes
Directed by Gene Fowler Jr.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space
All this fuss over Cabbage Patch Kids??

Holy cats, it’s Commander USA! And a chick who married a monster from outer space! Thus, this is a hybrid review because it is a Horror Host review! Not only are we watching I Married a Monster From Outer Space, a movie far far better than its ridiculous title suggests, but we’re watching it with the one and only Commander USA! Yes, that’s right, someone taped this episode of Commander USA’s Groovy Movies and now I possess a copy thanks to a world where people trade tapes of horror hosts like baseball cards. I do not own this film on the recent remastered DVD super mega collectors BluRay HD 3D edition, so don’t expect the film screencaps to look like DVD screenshots. In fact, don’t expect them to look pretty good at all. If you don’t like it, break out your own BluRay Commander USA rips. You can still tell what is going on with the screencaps and that is what counts.

In the grand tradition of TarsTarkas.NET over explaining everything, we’ll over-explain the film, but especially over-explain the Commander USA bumpers, because those are the flavor of this version. Before that, we’re going to do some analysis of I Married a Monster From Outer Space, because it just flows better that way, and lets the Commander USA parts stand on their own. Everyone should love Commander USA like he is their own father. In fact, this DNA test I have says Commander USA is your father. So you should pay attention to what goes on here.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space
Our skits have something to do with the film, huzzah!

Commander USA’s Groovy Movies premiered on January 5, 1985, and ran through 1989. Jim Hendricks is Commander USA (Soaring super hero! Legion of Decency – Retired) and the Commander lead us through a whole host of films over the years. Usually, wacky characters would wander in, tangentially related to the film. We also got regular features of Commander USA cooking some ridiculous snack or chatting with Lefty, who is a face drawn with cigar ash on Commander USA’s right hand. Commander USA would also read mail from his viewers, usually children, as well as crack jokes and complain about his ex-wife. It was all good fun. Commander USA details will be in BLUE FONT.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a thinking man’s scifi movie. Sure, there are monsters and possessions and people being blasted and people turning into goo, but it all means something. It is bigger than the box it is put in. The video box! Ha! Seriously, there are some underlying themes at work, some things that aren’t easily said in a straight-forward film, especially in the 1950s.

I’ll try to cover some of those themes. This is the type of film you could write a long dissertation about, and still not cover 1/10th of what was going on. Buried just beneath the surface in plain sight are so many things. Science Fiction has a long history of being used to make statements that go above the heads of whatever censors are causing problems at the time, both before this and afterwards (this concept was probably best used on The Twilight Zone and on Star Trek), and I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a wonderful addition to that history.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space is a gauntlet commentary of manhood. Rather, of those that don’t have the traditional stoic father manly 1950s manhood. There are issues of impotency and homosexuality, and a constant theme of marriage is death. The aliens are not just aliens from Earth, but aliens from that 1950s masculinity. The classic Father Knows Best archetypes, patriarchs of the family and emblems of unequaled respect. The father wears a shirt and tie at all hours, mom stays home, the children aren’t unruly, and no problems ever exist. But that reality was just as fictional in the 1950s as it is now.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space
We come from a planet that’s evolved beyond sharp images!

Most of the male characters of I Married a Monster From Outer Space treat marriage as equal to death. This would later gain more traction with darker comedies like Married With Children, but in the 1950s it seemed more fresher, a staple not done to death. From the opening sequence in the bar where the impending marriage of Bill is treated as a death sentence from his fellow married buddies, there is little joy in the film at all with regards to spouses, especially by the characters who are replaced by aliens. It is especially interesting that one of the few instanced of actual happiness – the birth of a child – is what exposes the real men from the impostors.

The women are contrasted as more emotional, Marge so blinded by love for her man she doesn’t immediately recognize that he’s acting off. On the wedding day itself, when the alien kidnapped Bill is late to his own nuptials. Marge is there, panicking, enduring the snipes of her mother and the useless bumbling of Bill’s friends, who got far drunker than good ol’ Bill ever did but managed to show up hours before Bill does. Bill arrives as the imposter Bill, slightly off and seemingly confused. Marge doesn’t even notice, relieved that he showed, young love blinding her to the danger brewing.

The best descriptive scene in the film for the aliens is when the alien is gazing longingly at the child’s doll in the store window. He then murders a human woman who witnesses him. The longing to save their species, the loss of what they can’t have and what the humans they are among seemingly hold over their heads.

The aliens and their emotionless ways, their killing of those who get in their way, threaten them, or who are defenseless animals (who can detect the aliens and attack) contrasts with what happens to their human hosts. The aliens begin to display enhanced versions of some of the feelings of their human hosts. Thus they act even more bizarre, instead of stoic, they become almost emotionally disturbed. Enhanced versions of emotions, which makes them stand out more as they have no real experience in quelling them and covering as humans. Fake Bill develops feelings for Marge. Fake Sam becomes almost a hedonist. The aliens’ inability to procreate is their entire reason for coming to Earth, to save their species. But they’re losing their own alienness in order to save what they were. The aliens are becoming aliens to themselves, as human emotions and failed reproductive attempts swirl in their heads.

It doesn’t matter, because the Earthlings want their humans back, want their men back. Marge wants her husband back, the husband the aliens took from her, the married life with a husband and kids in the suburbs she was robbed of. She’s not about to put up with an alien doppelganger no matter what feelings he may or may not be developing for her. It’s not her Bill.

The humans counter by gathering up men who have produced children, the doctor realizing this is the key fact distinguishing friend from foe. Together, these dads assault the alien ship. The scenes where the real men take down the aliens is graphic and brutal. Real men who fathered babies take down the fake men who can’t reproduce, hack it as 1950s men, or even have sex properly. This version of masculinity destroying the unmasculine. Even more odd, the humans would have failed, except when dogs are released and the aliens can’t deal with them. Man’s best friend saves real men. Lassie’s greatest legacy. Soon the real men are rescued and restored, and will soon get back to making human babies with their wives, assuming none of those wives die young from constantly being inseminated by radiated alien sperm.

I Married a Monster From Outer Space
Help! The Last Dragon’s here, and he’s got the glow!

There is an extra layer of confusion and identity crisis, though that’s more on my end. Many of the characters look similar, complete to the same style of dress and hair color. Add that the film is black and white and it becomes hard to distinguish which bland side character is which at times. Luckily there is enough flavor

Director Gene Fowler Jr. also directed I Was a Teenage Werewolf, was an editor on the classic Skatetown, U.S.A. and It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World (which got him an Oscar nomination) among many other films. He won an Emmy for editing on The Blue Knight TV show, which I think was about Smurf Batman.

Marge Bradley Farrell (Gloria Talbott) – Just your normal 1950s housewife who discovers the man she married isn’t the man she thought she married, and thus the plot is set in motion. Gloria Talbott had a long career as an actress, but is probably best known now for being a scream queen with roles in films like The Leech Woman, The Cyclops, and Daughter of Dr. Jekyll.
Bill Farrell (Tom Tryon) – Man…or replaced Space Man? You make the call! Of course he’s replaced for most of the film, otherwise it wouldn’t live up to its title, the greatest sin of all… Tom Tryon later quit acting and became a novelist.
Sam Benson (Alan Dexter) – Bill’s friend who enjoys being replaced by an alien, having sex with his non-alien wife, falling off of boats, and drowning in pure oxygen.
Harry Phillips (Robert Ivers) – Bill’s friend who is replaced by aliens and somehow gets even more angry. He’s very very angry.
Ted Hanks (Chuck Wassil) – This stud is 100% human man, and we know that because he can have a baby, proof he had sex…with a girl! Take that, aliens who are metaphors for all sorts of things. Besides that, Ted is a blank slate of uninteresting.
Aliens (man in suit) – These dastardly aliens, coming here and sexing up our women with their alien alienness! It’s so alien! Go back to the Andromeda Constellation!
I Married a Monster From Outer Space
Wait a minute…Lefty is his right hand!

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Posted by Tars Tarkas - February 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

Categories: Bad, Movie Reviews   Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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