Saturday, August 12, 2017

197. Blue Money

197. Blue Money (1972)
Director: Alain Patrick
Writers: Nick Boretz from a story by Alain Patrick
From: Cult Cinema

Jim is an underground porno producer/director trying to make enough money to pay off his boat so he and his family can leave the industry. However challenges from crooked distributors to police busts keep pushing him deeper.

How does Wikipedia describe this movie? “Blue Money is a 1972 American soft core porn film written and directed by Alain Patrick as Alain-Patrick Chappuis and based upon a story by Nick Boretz.” Hoo boy. And let’s note that Patrick is also the star of the movie. So it’s a porno written, directed, and starring one guy. I’m sure it’s going to be a measured character study.

Oh wait, no, this is going to be on The Room spectrum. My patience for this flick is right near zero from jump street. First thing I notice, Patrick’s delivery is just a step above Tommy Wiseau’s. This bites.

The story, in brief. Jim is a porno director/producer. The cops are monitoring him because they’re trying to bust all the distributors and producers. Distributors are screwing Jim and his partner over, always shorting them by exactly $1,000, and Jim is starting to face marital problems from the stress of his job. He loves his wife and kid and is constantly working on finishing the houseboat they’ve been building so they can get away from it all, but, as his wife notes, he’s become more distant and depressed the longer he’s been working in the industry.

Jim becomes infatuated with a new actress which makes him resistant to casting her, but she begs and he relents. Then he has an affair with her. Which doesn’t come to much until the very end when his wife sees the two of them together, ironically right after he’s told the mistress he’s not going to cheat on his wife anymore, which leads to a big fight.

At the same time as the fight, the cops are cracking down on every level of the industry and Jim’s partner bails because he’s obtained funding for an independent film. Jim, desperate to make one last movie and finally pay off the boat, shoots in his own house (after his wife has left him, temporarily). The cops raid the house, arrest everyone, which leads to a discussion between Jim and the cop about how the courts will let him off because of free speech, but they arrested him just to inconvenience him and cost him money. The cop specifically says it’s to bring Jim down to everyone else’s level. Jim responds that all the “normal” people the cop wants him to be like are the ones buying the films and it’s not up to the cop how he lives.

The movie closes with Jim and his family relaxing on their boat.

God, this sucked. It’s slow, joyless, and self-important. It’s a nudie flick with a message. What that message is, though, I couldn’t tell you because it doesn’t seem to be particularly on the pornographer’s side. So how are we supposed to read his argument against the cop at the end? Is he right to be pushing back against this authoritarianism or is he just offering shallow self-justification? On the other hand, can you honestly draw an anti-porn message from a softcore porn flick?

One big thing holding the movie back is just how joyless it is. This is a porno film that’s slow, dim, and miserable. No one’s having any fun—are you turned on yet? You could tell an interesting story about porn as a business, how it’s work, and, in being work, how it can be dehumanizing, and that movie is Boogie Nights. This movie’s trying to have its cake and eat it too—being a softcore porno, existing exclusively to showcase female nudity and simulated sex acts, but offering up criticisms of pornography. It’s a movie that’s trying to sneer at the very thing it is.

So a big ol’ skip recommended here. It’s a nudie flick without any fun that thinks it’s being bold. Let it sit in the corner smelling its own farts while you do something more fun with your time.

Friday, August 11, 2017

196. Savage Journey

196. Savage Journey (1983)
Director: Tom McGowan
Writer: Philip Yordan
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In

The story of the rise of the Mormon church and it’s eventual settlement in Utah.

We open with a scene of Joseph Smith being kidnapped from his home. He’s about to be lynched when a local preacher stops the mob, noting there are too many of them present to get away with it. So they tar and feather him instead, leaving him tied up. The preacher’s wife shows up and cuts him loose because what’s been done to him is wrong, and the movie is off and running!

Or generally limping along.

I’m not going to go through the plot of this movie because there isn’t one. It’s about Joseph Smith meeting Brigham Young and how the latter ends up developing the church into what it is today. Only it doesn’t communicate that story. There’s no sense of drama, tension, or focus. Rather than focus on a particularly dramatic moment in the development of the Mormon church, it tends to gloss the entire history, never focusing much on any one thing.

If there’s a narrative throughline, it’s the story of Samuel. Brigham Young, during his first mission trip, encounters Samuel and his wife Claire. They’ve immigrated from Europe and Samuel has become an atheist or at least an agnostic due to his rejection of aristocratic corruption. His position is, “How can God be good when He allows such suffering?” Basically it’s the question of theodicy which has never been satisfactorily answered. Claire, though, becomes a member of the church and the couple follow Smith and Young across the country as the church is routinely driven from their homes.

Samuel, narratively, is supposed to be the point-of-view character, the outsider who’s eventually won over to the faith thereby communicating the righteousness of Mormonism. The movie doesn’t spend enough time with him to do that, though, only checking in with him in each town for him to say, “I ain’t a Mormon yet,” and, “What? We’re moving again? Oh, c’mon!” At the end, of course, he converts. If that’s the story you want to tell, fine, even my unbelieving heart likes stories of faith journeys, but actually tell it.

Instead, we generally follow Young (Smith is killed by a mob halfway through) and there’s no real character there. He’s deeply dedicated to the faith and that’s about it. Various things happen, but I’m not Mormon so their importance or significance don’t register, and the movie is counting on you having that context. This isn’t a dramatization of the early Mormon church, it’s an illustration. You have to plug in the details yourself. “Oh, this is that moment. So that’s what it looked like. Oh, the Governor is lying to Smith right now! This is tense.” You have to come with that knowledge. The movie doesn’t give you any of these cues itself.

Initially, I thought this was going to be propaganda or a proselytizing work, but it doesn’t even reach those levels. It’s very much addressing an audience with a shared context and not making a great effort to talk to anyone else. There are nods to outsiders—the church’s stance on race (officially anti-slavery, but fails to mention their belief that non-white people are marked as cursed by God) and polygamy—but they feel incidental, like literal asterisks. Regarding polygamy, Young finds out about Smith’s declaration of it, tells his wife he’s not interested in having a second wife, then she picks a young widow for him to marry. The way it’s played up is, instead of having a harem, it fills Young’s house with a gaggle of gossiping women. Later, when representatives from the government ask Young about the church’s stance on polygamy, he plays it up as a mercy, as widows and spinsters being taken in and given a home—it’s not some creepy sex thing, it’s like an animal shelter, for women!

The movie’s kind of just nothing. If it focused in more on a specific moment, it’d be more interesting, but that’s not its goal. This is a movie for Mormons, part of that genre of Christian media whose primary purpose is to fill time to prevent secular media from having a space. It’s not being held to the standard of being good, it’s being held to the standard of being ideologically correct. As long as it reinforces the central message of “keep thinking about the church,” it passes. Unsurprisingly, the pair behind this movie did another one just called Brigham. I imagine it’s a very similar script.

McGowan and Yordan themselves are an interesting pair, though. Yordan wrote the script for the hallucinogenically bad Cry Wilderness, episode 2 of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return and the two of them did Night Train to Terror (forthcoming on this blog) and Cataclysm aka The Nightmare Never Ends. In other words, they’re exploitation hacks. Here they’re just exploiting an audience that’s willing to be pandered to. It’s neither offensive nor dramatic and just kind of meanders along. I don’t particularly recommend it, but it’s not hard to find if you’re curious.

Saturday, August 05, 2017

195. Primal Impulse

195. Primal Impulse aka Le Orme (1975)
Directors: Luigi Bazzoni and Mario Fanelli
Writers: Luigi Bazzoni and Mario Fanelli from a novel by Mario Fanelli
From: Sci-Fi Invasion

A woman awakens to discover she’s lost three days. She starts to follow little clues scattered through her life that lead her to a small seaside town. Only, once she arrives, the mystery deepens.

We open with a man being stranded on the moon as part of an experiment. Who he is, why he’s being left behind, and what the experiment is aren’t revealed. It turns out this is all a recurring dream of Alice, an international translator.

And while that would normally be a red flag in a movie—opening with a dream sequence—it kind of works here. There is an overriding dream-logic to this movie. Grindhouse Review describes it as “Lynchian,” which is apt, and I think there are tonal elements that hearken back to Argento. There are layers of reality and performance at work here. Alice’s dream, for instance, is of a movie she saw as a child called Footsteps On the Moon (an alternative title for this movie) that terrified her so much that she never saw the end of it.

Alice is awoken from the dream by a friend asking to be picked up from the airport, but Alice had forgotten she was coming to town. She sits down to finish up transcribing and translating a tape and then goes to work. It’s Monday. Before she leaves the house, she finds a postcard for the Hotel Garma torn into four pieces laying on her floor.

When she gets to work, though, she learns that it’s actually Thursday and another person had been brought in to do her job. She tries to figure out what happened over the course of those missing days and eventually goes to Garma since she has some vague memories of the place.

Once she arrives, she meets a child who recognizes her as “Nicole” and says she’d been there the previous week. She starts to find more clues that fill in the gap of her lost days, but also starts to wonder if there isn’t something else afoot.

An interesting little flick that’s diminished by a cheap translation. There are long periods without background music and, what music there is, tends to be one piano cue over and over. However, the central story, that central mystery, really carries the piece. A detail here, a detail there, all start pointing to something. Unfortunately, the mystery is more interesting than the revelation. That may well be a challenge of having a good mystery, though. Few things could satisfactorily answer the questions of Alice’s situation, but, even keeping that in mind, the end still felt like a bit of a cop-out. Because I did find the mystery so compelling, though, I haven’t revealed the end here and won’t. Also, Rotten Tomatoes notes that there are various versions of this movie so a different cut may have a better ending. The description they have there doesn’t follow the order of events on my copy and they offer run times ranging from 88 to 110 minutes (my copy is 92 minutes).

I’d call this a light recommend. Because of the flat colors and so-so ending, it’s not as good as it could be. However, it’s not bad and manages to be naturally compelling. I was constantly asking, “What’s going on?” but not in the way I do with most of these movies. Every new detail, every revelation just drew me deeper into the story, and that’s an accomplishment. However, it might be worth hunting down the original Italian version and watching that.

Friday, August 04, 2017

194. Rattlers

194. Rattlers (1976)
Director: John McCauley
Writers: Jerry Golding, John McCauley
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In
Watch: archive.org

A herpetologist investigating unusual rattlesnake attacks starts to uncover a military conspiracy.

We open with two shitty kids going to play in a canyon. They fall into a snake pit, get all kinds of bit, and die. Frankly, great start, really great start. Until the credits are done, I’m convinced this movie has its heart in the right place.

Then we get to the main character, Tom. His names important because it’s what distinguishes him from Dick and Harry, you know, the trio of uninteresting, indistinguishable men. Tom is a herpetologist and a college professor—think Indiana Jones, but without the charisma, charm, or excitement. He’s asked by the local sheriff to come down and inspect the bodies in case there’s anything unusual. He looks, says, “Them’s snakebites,” and collects his check.

Only more people start dying from snake attacks. A kid is attacked in a barn and his mom is overwhelmed by snakes in her house. A plumber gets bit and the snakes attack the woman in the house by crawling through the pipes. I think there are others, but I can’t remember or care. The deaths aren’t given any weight whatsoever in the movie so each scene of a new character just becomes a dull countdown to their inevitable death by snake.

Tom returns at the sheriff’s request and is paired with a photographer, Ann. Tom is very upset that Ann’s a woman since there’s no way she can handle the work ahead—some light hiking and overnight camping. She’s just back from two years in the Vietnam press pool, by the way, but, yeah, sure, this will be too much for her delicate feminine sensibilities.

This isn’t me being PC, the movie makes a special point, several times, to complain about “women’s lib” and Ann not being willing to know her place. All this despite her being more than capable of doing the work. And the movie actively takes a stand against her. She calls Tom out for there not being enough women in various fields and says he has the power to change that. He brushes her off, but this is literally right after he’s fought with the sheriff over having her assigned as his partner—he’s actively preventing a woman from doing work she’s capable of, but she’s the crazy one.

Anyway, they eventually realize there’s a military base nearby all the attacks and go there. They learn from doctor in the lab who specializes in biological materials that a soldier died from particularly aggressive snakebites a few months prior. Then a helicopter pilot tells Tom about depositing a container of something in an abandoned mine.

Tom and Ann investigate the mine, find a massive nest of snakes, and go have a romantic weekend in Vegas. No, that’s literally how the story progresses. They’re looking for the source of all these snake attacks, find it, then bounce to Vegas without telling anyone about the nest.

They return to their tent where they’re attacked by snakes but saved at the last minute by the military. Two soldiers have been killed by snakebite and the doctor isn’t willing to keep quiet anymore. Twist! They were working on chemical weapons at the base and disposed of a leaking canister of something that makes animals hyper-violent. The base Colonel was the mastermind, kills the doctor, and runs to the abandoned mine for one last standoff for reasons. The whys of any of this will constantly elude you. He shoots at some cops, cops shoot back, he trips while holding a grenade and falls into a snake pit where he blows up, sealing the mine once again. Tom and Ann drive off together to settle back down near the college. THE END.

The movie is just so much nothing. No tension, no mystery, no humor. It’s just stagnant from the word “go.” Even the riffing from the Cinematic Titanic version I watched couldn’t energize this sodden lump. The movie has plenty to make fun of and vast stretches of silence, but it seemed like even the riffers were drawn into the fetid languor of the whole thing and half-dozed through their jokes. And I say this as a fan of Cinematic Titanic. I was lucky enough to see them riff a total of six movies live. Rattlers sapped any energy they had.

So, obviously I’m not recommending it. The movie is, at least, in the public domain so you can find a copy at archive.org. I can’t add a new copy because Mill Creek wiped themselves on both copies I have. Not a great loss, though. Like I said, there’s not much here to watch.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

193. Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star

193. Hyper Sapien: People From Another Star (1986)
Director: Peter R. Hunt
Writers: Christopher Adcock, Christopher Blue, and Marnie Page from a story by Christopher Blue
From: Sci-Fi Invasion

Two aliens stow away on a ship bound for Earth to prove their species can live in peace with humans. They meet a teenaged Wyoming farmhand and start to discover the deeper meaning of humanity.

If you follow my Instagram/Twitter at all, you know I’ve spent the previous evening watching candles melt which has been an absolute delight. This may be evidence that I’ve been watching too many of these movies. Regardless, I’m looking to rush through this post so I can get back to melting wax.

The first thing to note about this movie is that it’s not supposed to be a crappy bargain-basement movie. It’s executive produced by Talia Shire—Adrian from Rocky—and directed by Peter Hunt who previously directed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That’s right, the sixth Bond film. So this isn’t made by amateurs or hacks. These are people trying to make a serious film.

Obviously it’s a trainwreck of the first order.

We start with people entering and exiting a spaceship when Robyn and Tavy sneak out to stay on Earth. A spinny orange blur follows them. Oh no! Could a monster be following them?

No, because the movie doesn’t feature any kind of conflict like that. To crib a line from We Hate Movies, this is made for stupid babies.

This still has its own hole in the ozone layer
The first thing to note is Robyn and Tavy’s terrible wigs. Their hair is so feathered it looks like they just pulled their heads out of a cotton candy machine. They look like they’ve just stepped out of a wind tunnel. It’s so big and so bad and it never really gets under control throughout the movie.

Cut to our Earthling hero, Dirt. Yes, his name is “Dirt.”

Come on, movie. This is just. . . You don’t need to make it this easy.

He sleeps in a hammock with a cowboy hat, cowboy boots, and dog tags. When he wakes up, he doesn’t get out of the hammock onto the floor, he crawls from rope to rope hanging from his ceiling. His walls are covered with clocks telling the times in other time zones and he carries a pocket tape recorder where he dictates a fictionalized, grandiose version of his own life.

Oh Christ almighty.

So he rides off on his dirt bike (hence the name “Dirt”), finds the pair, and starts crushing on Robyn. The monster shows up, only it’s not a monster, it’s a three-legged Muppet abortion that’s going to be the source of so! much! fun! throughout the movie!

You thinking "space vagina?" Are you now?
To speed things up, Robyn is psychic, Dirt takes them all to his grandpa who doesn’t react to them being aliens at all, and Dirt goes back home. His family is preparing a barbecue for their Senator friend as part of her re-election campaign and the police are worried about a potential assassination attempt. No, seriously, the movie goes down this path. Cops see some of the aliens, who are just Markie Post-looking blonds without facial expressions, looking for Robyn and Tavy and get suspicious. The aliens find Robyn at the BBQ, a cop shoots one, and now Robyn and Dirt have to rescue him from the hospital and get their Muppet back to space because he’s growing up and his telekinetic powers are going haywire.

Alien gets busted out of hospital, Dirt leads cops on a high-speed chase, and the aliens beam him and their own onto their ship. They send him home and then Robyn beams down to join him on Earth as well. THE END.

While I was literally giddy over the terribleness at the start of the movie, it just gets so boring. Everyone wants to be around Robyn cause she’s so magically special. Even the senator asks her what young women are thinking about this days, and Robyn gives the hippy-dippy, “We all need to love one another cause we’re all neighbors on this planet” answer that’s secretly somehow the message of the movie. The senator offers her a job in her administration.

Plus you have the annoying kid. Tavy is a kid to Robyn and Dirt’s “teenagers” (they’re not quite drawing a pension, but I’d say it’s been a decade since either saw their teens), and is obsessed with TV. Cause they grew up on a secret base on the dark side of the moon and they get all the channels. It’s all so precious and just awful.

The alien looks okay as far as complicated puppets go, but it’s also a source for eye-rolling slapstick. It gets a taste for gasoline and, oops, ends up at the BBQ siphoning off everyone’s gas tank. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Nothing has any consequence or purpose here. There’s no villain, no threat, and no real goals on the part of the characters. Dirt wants to protect Robyn and Tavy from discovery, but Robyn starts bristling at his protectiveness the next day. It’s not clear what she’d rather be doing, what he’s keeping her from. So the drama of the movie is supposed to be around them having basically a lovers’ spat, but they don’t know each other for any of it to matter at all.

In short, it’s not a recommend. If you find it, revel in the very 80’s first half-hour, then fast-forward to all the parts with the furry fidget spinner. Those are the ones that the movie’s actually invested in and are thus halfway enjoyable. Outside of that, I’d stay away. Unless you really need to see that final title card dedicating the movie to “the young in spirit.”

This is why I want to die

Friday, July 28, 2017

192. Track of the Moon Beast

192. Track of the Moon Beast (1976)
Director: Richard Ashe
Writers: Bill Finger and Charles Sinclair
From: Chilling
Watch: archive.org

In a twist on the werewolf legend, an archaeologist is struck by a meteorite which causes him to turn into a reptilian monster when the moon rises.

I’m going to keep it short because this one sucks (and the ones coming up aren’t much better). Paul is an archaeologist who starts flirting with a photographer. While they’re on a walk, an asteroid hits the moon causing a meteor shower of moon rocks. One hits Paul, embedding part of itself in his body. This causes him to start having reactions to the moon and moon-based material.

No, seriously. He visits a museum and a laser fires from a moon rock at his head.

After a night or two, he starts turning into a David Icke reptoid and killing people when the moon rises. So he’s a werewolf, but a lizard—a lizardwolf. That joke is not as dumb as this movie.

Paul’s feeling sick from the moon rock embedded in his head and goes to the doctor. They do x-rays, see the fragment, but tell him he’ll be able to live a normal live. Meanwhile, his friend, a native American called “Chief” because this is 1976, goes to the sheriff with “ancient tribal drawings” that look like they were previously hanging on the refrigerator to reward the clever four-year-old who drew them. The pictures depict someone touching something from the sky, turning into a lizardwolf, and then blowing up apropos of nothing. That’s not my interpretation, the movie has “Chief” say no one knows why he blew up.

The photographer has a picture of Paul that she shows to “Chief” that depicts something very strange. So strange that “Chief” goes to the developer to get it checked out, but is told that it’s part of the negative, that it’s really what happened. We don’t ever see the picture so I can’t say what was so odd.

That’s right, the movie—a film, part of a visual medium—builds a plot point around a picture—an image featured in a visual medium—and doesn’t show it to us.

Scientists come to examine Paul and find that the moon rock has dissolved and spread throughout his system. They witness him change and come to the conclusion that the process with advance until he blows up. He overhears this, decides he wants to die looking like a man, and runs away. He’s looking to commit suicide but the manhunt for him keeps getting in the way (*whomp whomp*). The photographer figures out where he’s going, runs after him, and gets stuck which allows her to witness his change.

He doesn’t attack her, but, even after seeing him turn into a monster, she keeps refusing to accept that he’s the monster and keeps getting in the cops’ way. Finally, “Chief” shows up with an arrowhead fashioned from the moon rock, shoot Paul thereby accelerating the process, and Paul blows up. THE END.

This was so stupid. I mean, it was just unrelentingly bad and boring. The acting is terrible, none of the characters’ choices make sense, and the movie is constantly making poor decisions. The picture is just one example. Twenty minutes in to a less than eighty minute movie, the movie pauses for a musical break. Paul, “Chief,” and the photographer are in the audience and Paul starts to feel sick. They take Paul home, prep him for bed, and have a few scenes of dialogue with him, none of which we hear because the movie won’t cut away from the band playing. How did you come to that decision?

On top of this, the monster costume sucks. It’s just a mask. He’s not a guy in makeup and it’s not particularly creative. He kind of looks like the Gorn from Star Trek, but not as good. On top of that, they have a transformation scene where they fade between the various states of transformation. Only, he’s not wearing makeup. In a werewolf movie, they’d fade between the various layers of makeup that were being applied. Here, they’re fading to a guy in a mask so they fade between some makeup stages and then several variations of the mask. It all looks like garbage.

Maybe unsurprisingly, this was featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 as episode 1007. At the moment, there’s no official free streaming source for the movie, but it’s available in Volume XXXVIII. The movie’s also in the public domain so I’ve added an MPEG version to archive.org here.

I’m not going to recommend the movie, though. The MST3k version might be solid (I haven’t watched my copy yet), but on its own the movie’s slow, dull, and pretty uninspired. There aren’t even that many monster attacks so it lacks tension even by its own standards. Although it is short, it felt like it ran a long time for me so I’d recommend giving it a pass.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

191. Terror Creatures From the Grave

191. Terror Creatures From the Grave (1965)
Director: Massimo Pupillo
Writers: Romano Migliorini and Roberto Natale, adapted by Ruth Carter and Cesare Mancini, based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe
From: Pure Terror

A lawyer arrives at a villa with a letter requesting that he update the owner’s will. Only the owner has been dead nearly a year and, as the lawyer investigates further, was involved in occult activities that maybe haven’t ended.

A Barbara Steele movie! Barbara Steele is 110% goth and has amazing presence. She’s great as a femme fatale, a witch, a vampire, anything. She was a real-life Morticia Addams and your movie could be about puppies and clowns, but you drop Barbara Steele in, it’s immediately a goth classic that you misremember as having Vincent Price in it as well.

This, unfortunately, doesn’t use her to her full potential and, to give you a preview of the movie’s quality, the director had his name removed from it and replaced with the producer’s. However, the movie is not as terrible as that would suggest, either, it just isn’t all that it could be.

We open with a man nervously drinking in a closed bar. Someone slaps their hand against the window and he runs to get his horse. Only the horse gets spooked as he’s untying it and knocks him down, trampling him to death.

With the tone established and the body count already running, we go to the villa where the lawyer arrives. He has a note from the villa’s owner requesting the attorney Morgan come out to update the will. Morgan is traveling, so his colleague has arrived instead. He’s met by the daughter of the man and her step-mother and is told the man has been dead nearly a year. The only reason they’re at the villa is that his will stipulated that he be exhumed a year after his death.

The lawyer stays the night, but finds that he can’t leave the next morning because an owl got into the engine of his car. I’m sure that’s a thing, but it still seemed hilarious. He meets the town doctor and, with the daughter, goes into town. In the interim we learn that the man had been doing occult research and was convinced he could speak to the dead that haunted the villa. It had been the place of trial and punishment for the “plague spreaders,” people who were infected with the plague and deliberately took it to other locations. Their hands were cut off and are on display in the villa and their bodies are buried there in unconsecrated ground.

Your typical gothic horror moments arise: a townsperson tells them to leave as “the night of revenge” is approaching, the daughter starts seeing her dead father, and the town’s pharmacist/mayor is found dead. The doctor’s assistant had the paperwork written up before the death because he’d heard “the corpse collectors” in the night and knew it would be the mayor. The mayor had been one of five people present at the death of the occultist. Two are still alive: the man who warned them to leave and an indecipherable name.

That night, the man who warned them, who uses a wheelchair, secures a sword in his dresser and impales himself upon it. Something comes into the house and, with a putrescence-covered hand pulls the chair back, drawing the sword from the body. The sword is covered with the material which is also seeping from the man’s wound.

The grave is opened the next day and, surprise, there’s no body. The lawyer figures out the last name must be Morgan who happens to be showing up at the villa. Morgan sees the occultist, but the body is gone before anyone gets back. Turns out Morgan and Barbara Steele had been having an affair and they know what really happened to the occultist. It turns out he’d set up his revenge before his death with the help of the gardener.

The hour of the occultist’s murder hits and a mirror reveals the moment of his death where the five plus Barbara Steele tell him to leave town. His meddling with the undead is bothering everyone, but he has the dirt on each person in the room, so they kill him. The plague spreaders rise from their graves, but you never see them, and kill everyone except the lawyer and the daughter who escape when it starts raining because, as a nursery rhyme the occultist taught his daughter, the cure is “pure water.” The two leave to live happily ever after. THE END.

The movie just misses its mark on a lot of levels. It has some nice sets, a good enough tone, but it never executes with the precision you’d want. I started by excitedly noting that Barbara Steele is in the movie, but she’s not in it a lot. She’s sidelined most of the time and really only has one solid scene where she tells her step-daughter that she didn’t love the girls’ father. He’d basically tricked her into quitting her acting career to join him. Since that element was there, I was kind of disappointed that they wrote her as having an affair with Morgan. The occultist becomes just that much more monstrous if he’s coming back for revenge and to exercise control over this woman he deceived.

It’s telling that I don’t give character names for anyone. It’s because I don’t know them, and I just watched this and took notes. I refer to the occultist as “the man” because even IMDB doesn’t list his name and I don’t know if it was Hieronimusch, Geronimusch, or if those are even close. The characters don’t stand out so neither do their actions.

One element of the movie I did like was watching the lawyer play recordings of the man’s notes. You hear his voice talking about his research and experiments and, as he’s talking, it seems to cause the ghosts in the house to manifest. It’s very Evil Dead and that’s always a plus in my book.

There are nice ideas here, but in the end the whole thing’s kind of boring and gets wrapped up too coincidentally. I mean, rain will save the day? Good thing it’s always cloudy in movies like this then. So it’s not a recommend, but I don’t discourage anyone from watching it either. It’s merely okay. I’ve seen some websites claiming this is in the public domain, but it appears to have a valid copyright notice on it. If I hear otherwise, I’ll upload it to the Internet Archive because this is 100% midnight movie fare and would be great on a public access show or being riffed. At the moment, it looks like it’s not.