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Favourite Five Series: Something Weird Video Double Features

Posted in Favourite Five Series, movies, Something Weird Video with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 28, 2014 by goregirl

stepping into something weirdffpo

Something Weird Video offers dozens of double features in their catalog. Most of their DVD double features cost about $14.95; a very fair price even for one film. Obviously if you can find a solid and enjoyable duo all the better. It wasn’t really intentional but the vast majority of the 75 films I watched for Stepping Into Something Weird were part of a double or triple feature. This favourite five is also a guilty pleasure post that allows me to talk about some of the films I thoroughly enjoyed that did not make it into my top ten. Below my little blurbs I included detailed information from The Something Weird Video Website. The special features included with every last one of these duos are absolutely superb and alone practically make these sets worth owning!

***Select pictures courtesy of my co-host David Arrate***

Bad Girls Go to Hell/Another Day Another Man

Something Weird Video offers several Doris Wishman double features. My dream duo would have been Indecent Desires and Another Day Another Man; both films I gave a perfect rating to but this pair is definitely the next best thing! Another Day Another Man and Bad Girls Go To Hell are both mighty fine example of Doris Wishman’s work. That Gigi Darlene is always getting her blonde ass in trouble! In Bad Girls Go to Hell Ms. Darlene as Ellen/Meg really does go through hell and is roughed up and/or raped by nearly everyone she meets! The extra special highlights were Dawn Bennett playing Della a body stalking wearing lesbian and my man (and Wishman regular) Sam Stewart playing Ed a kind hearted fella who takes in the misguided blonde; kind hearted that is until he falls off the wagon and goes berserk! Helluva finale too! In Another Day Another Man Barbara Kemp as Ann and her hubby fall on some hard times and Ann if forced to prostitute herself to pay the bills. And it could not be easy keeping your chin up with that tower of hair! Once again Sam Stewart is a huge highlight as Bert the pimp and Mary O’Hara is fab as Barbara’s best friend Tess. Both these films made my favourite five Doris Wishman list; check it out here.

bad girls go to hell

For more images from Bad Girls Go To Hell click here.

Barbara Kemp shocked

For more images from Another Day Another Man click here.

Taken from the Something Weird Video Website:

Gigi Darlene learns that BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL when she’s attacked by a janitor with bad teeth, accidentally kills the guy, then flees to New York…where her troubles really begin! With its crazed plot, rampant nudity, and predatory sex maniacs BAD GIRLS GO TO HELL is one of director Doris Wishman’s wildest “roughies” which, amazingly, was theatrically re released in 1998!

Plus: Ann, a “Miss Prim” with a giant hairdo, doesn’t approve of her friend tess’s employer, Bert the pimp. But when Ann’s Husband suddenly gets a mystery illness, Ann has to find some way to pay the bills and, yup, quickly becomes one of Bert’s girls…With a hoarsely tragic ending and Wishman’s trademark camera work that seems to be constantly distracted by inanimate objects, ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER MAN also stars Gigi Darlene as a hooker whose hayseed boyfriend gets manhandled by sexy twins Rita and Darlene Bennett.

Two lunatic masterpieces from the woman who gave the world Deadly Weapons and Double Agent 73!

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Digitally Remastered
• Original Theatrical Trailers for Doris Wishman’s Bad Girls Go To Hell, Another Day Another Man, Indecent Desires, My Brother’s Wife, Too Much Too Often and A Taste Of Flesh
• “Let’s o to the Drive-In!” – An Interactive Feature Allowing Uninterrupted Playback of Almost Three Hours Worth of Doris Wishman Drive-In Madness
• Drive-In Adult Book Pitch
• Classic Drive-In Intermission Shorts
• Doris Wishman Gallery of Exploitation Art

The Psycho Lover/Heat of Madness

I’ve talked the hell out of The Psycho Lover; I gave it a full review and it made my ultimate top five favourite Something Weird films. The Psycho Lover is a thoroughly perfect, well-executed bit of horror and a must see for seventies genre fans. Though the Heat of Madness definitely has a completely different vibe and feel; I think it is fair to say that both film’s antagonists are bat-shit crazy. In Heat of Madness Kevin Scott plays photographer and artist John Wilright. Wilright is a talented but moody loner. He makes ends meet by snapping nude shots for calendars; work he is not proud of. He is instantly smitten when he meets the conservative Susan (Jennifer Laird) and the two start dating. It isn’t long before Wilright’s lesser personality traits begin showing themselves. Wilright slowly descends into madness over the course of the film. Meanwhile Susan is the heiress to a large fortune and Wilright is being investigated in accordance with her father’s will. Heat of Madness is a slow boil with two excellent performances from its leads Scott and Laird. The pace is a touch slow but I didn’t find it bothersome. A neat little film and character study and a marvelous finale. While just about anything in my mind would be inferior to The Psycho Lover I very much enjoyed Heat of Madness and thought it was a solid pairing.

The Psycho Lover37

For more images from The Psycho Lover click here.

Heat of Madness

For more images from Heat of Madness click here.

Taken from the Something Weird Video Website:

The only thing worse than being a homicidal maniac is being treated by a doctor who’s just as crazy! Marco, a PSYCHO LOVER who strangles women that “threaten his maleness,” becomes a patient of lizard-like Dr. Kenneth Alden, who uses wacky nightmares to brainwash Marco into killing the doc’s nasty wife who won’t give him a divorce. A gaudy mix of sex, violence, pop-psych, and even some quick necrophilia, this drive-in shocker (a.k.a. “The Loving Touch”) is a fun descent into B-movie psychosis.

PLUS: Oddball photographer, Johnny’s dismissive attitude to sex radically changes when he’s hired to illustrate a book called “Great Sex Murders” and soon has models staging mock whippings, robberies and assaults. Trouble is, all the fake violence fuels the poor guy with the HEAT OF MADNESS, and pretty soon he thinks one of his naughty models is actually his fiancée and promptly goes berserk…

Two twisted sickies, proving once again that romance is always more exciting with a deranged lunatic.

Special Features
• Sex-Psycho Trailers for “The Psycho Lover,” “Aroused,” “The Exquisite Cadaver,” “The Flesh and Blood Show,” “Poor Albert and Little Annie,” “Scream Bloody Murder,” “Twisted Nerve” and “The Woman Hunt”
• Obsessions leads to Murder in the Twisted Psycho-Sexual Short, “The Naked Flower”
• Teens become Targets of Pervert Predators in the Sid Davis Classroom Scare Short, “Name Unknown”
• Kink-O-Rama Short Subject, “Captain Bondage vs. Women’s Lib”
• Gallery of Underground Sexploitation Movie-Magazine Covers with Audio Oddities

Sin in the Suburbs/The Swap and How They Make It

Of the three Sarno double features Something Weird video offers Sin in the Suburbs and The Swap and How They make It is my favourite by a wide margin; this duo in fact received the highest combined rating of this list earning a 5/5 and 4.5/5 respectively (and my undying love). The other two offerings are Passion in Hot Hollows/Flesh and Lace and The Layout/The Love Merchant. Like The Psycho Lover, I have talked the hell out of Sin in the Suburbs giving it a full review and along side the aforementioned it was awarded a place on my ultimate five favourite Something Weird films. I found Sin in the Suburbs’s story and characters particularly compelling and the performances are among the best you will find in Sarno’s work. Better accompaniment could not possibly be found than the similarly themed The Swap and How They Make It. Two couples new to a suburban neighborhood are introduced to a circle of swingers who change their lives and relationships irreversibly. While The Swap and How They Make It is definitely an ensemble piece it is Mona played by the lovely Patricia McNair (as Lorraine Claire) that gets special focus. It is also McNair’s character and performance that lingered most in my mind afterwards. The Swap and How They Make It is a fantastic looking film with a strong story, smart dialog and some outstanding performances. A perfect duo and a highly recommended way to start your Sarno viewing if you are so inclined.

SIN IN THE SUBUBRS

For more images from Sin in the Suburbs click here.

THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT

For more images from The Swap and How They Make It click here.

Taken from the Something Weird Video Website:

Yes, before they made their marks as pop-culture dominatrices Audrey “Olga” Campbell – as well as her two costars from Olgas’s House of Shame – starred with Dyanne “Ilsa” Thorne (billed here as “Lahna Monroe”) in one of the greatest sexploitation films of the sixties: director Joe Sarno’s wild and witty SIN IN THE SUBURBS! Eager the make money off the rampant sexual shenanigans sweeping through their neighborhood, Yvette Talman (Miss Thorne) and her creepy brother Lou organize a sex club in which Mrs. Lewis (Miss Campbell) and other lust-loving suburbanites pay to participate in anonymous sex while wearing cloaks and masks: “If you’ll direct your attention to the center of the ring, the greatest animal act on earth!” But what Mrs. Lewis doesn’t know is that her teenage daughter is also a member of the club. Oops…

PLUS: With Mona’s husband too busy for love, and after Karen’s fling with a college kid fizzles, they decide to take a neighbor’s advice and “trade the old model for a newer one” when they join a group of wife-swappers called “The Exchange.” But when that college kid threatens to expose THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT, he’s allowed to join the club until a cruel joke makes his swap especially sick…So be the first on your block to savor these scintillating, stylish and surprisingly intelligent skinflicks from director Joe Sarno….And be sure to invite the neighbors!

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Digitally Remastered!
• Audio Commentary by director Joe Sarno, Peggy Sarno (Miss “Cleo Nova”) and special guest David F. Friedman!
• Original Theatrical Trailer for THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT!
• Bonus Joe Sarno Theatrical Short: A Sneak Peek at Strip Poker!
• Extra Swingin’ Suburban Trailers for: The Case of the Stripping Wives, Drop Out Wife, Matinee Wives, Suburban Wives, Suburbia Confidential and Swedish Wife Exchange Club!
• Gallery of Something Weird Sixties Sexploitation Art!
• total Running Time: Over 3 1/2 Hours of Suburban Roulette!

A Thousand Pleasures/Take Me Naked

I had seen Take Me Naked for the first and only time during a sixties feature I did November 2012. I enjoyed the wonderfully warped Take Me Naked and gave it a fair rating of 3.5/5. On this recent re-watch I felt more warmly about it and upgraded it to a 4/5. Take Me Naked features Roberta Findlay, and it is probably going to make me terribly unpopular to say it, but another lead actress (my vote would have to be Linda Boyce) could have earned the film a perfect rating. The crazy perverted bum plot is outrageous and the film is a shitload of sleazy skidrow fun. What tipped the scales to get this duo added to the list however was A Thousand Pleasures. Michael Findlay’s character Richard Davis picks up two hitchhiking broads named Jackie (Linda Boyce) and Maggie (Uta Erickson). Jackie unzips Richard in preparation for a blowjob. Richard nervously looks toward the backseat stating “You Can’t do that here”. Boyce basically poo-poos him and adds “Besides, I haven’t had lunch yet.” I almost sprayed my vodka and orange juice on my monitor! Richard ends up becoming their prisoner. Boyce and Erickson play lesbians who are repulsed by men but want to have a child of their own. They kidnap Findlay’s Davis with the intention of using him for his seed. In the interim they have a grown woman they refer to as “baby” who…well…she acts like a baby. Baby walks around in nothing but a cloth diaper, sucking her thumb and sleeping in a crib! Although sometimes she does things a baby should not be doing; like masturbating with a candle?! And then there is the quietly mental Belle (Janet Banzet) who plays the nanny(?), Donna Stone who plays Boobarella(?) and John Amero who plays the house muscle Bruno. A Thousand Pleasures is packed full of wacky dialog and the premise, as has been the case with all the Findlay features I have seen thus far is equally as insane. I laughed constantly from beginning to end of its short runtime. I loved it so much I ordered it for my collection immediately after watching it; it’ll be at my door any day now. The ultimate must have Findlay collection will be featured on my triple feature list (and many of you can guess what that is) Take Me Naked with A Thousand Pleasures is a fantastically entertaining duo that is well worth owning!

“These two must have escaped from a fruit cake.”

A Thousand Pleasures

For more images from A Thousand Pleasures click here.

TAKE ME NAKED

For more images from Take Me Naked click here.

Taken from the Something Weird Video Website:

Yes, Michael and Roberta Findlay – the outrageous auteurs of the infamous “Flesh” trilogy (The Touch of Her Flesh, The Curse of Her Flesh, The Kiss of Her Flesh) – continue their bizarre Battle of the Sexes with this utterly deranged, diseased and degenerate double feature!

Peeping out the window of his skid row room, a Bowery bum in the becomes obsessed with Elaine “a living tomb of flesh” who lives in the building next door (and who’s played by Roberta Findlay in a rare starring role). But when his sexual fantasies are invaded by “a twisted mental hunchback” (director Michael Findlay, of course), the bum snaps, goes into a homicidal rage and, completely bonkers, brings Elaine a carving knife he thinks is a bouquet of flowers…Another maniacally morbid masterpiece, TAKE ME NAKED is a foaming-at-the-mouth mix of art film lyricism and horror movie excess as only the Findlay’s made ’em!

PLUS: Wife-murderer Richard Davis (director Michael Findlay again) picks up deranged hitchikers Maggie and Jackie, takes them to their house of A THOUSAND PLEASURES and meets their brain-damaged adopted daughter, “Little Baby,” a full-grown woman in a diaper. Maggie and Jackie, however, want a real child, but because they’re “true lesbians” who “hate the filthy touch of men,” decide to turn Davis into their very own sperm bank….

But please consult your doctor after viewing. These films are so sick, they might be contagious.

Special Features
• Digitally Remastered!
• Original Theatrical Trailer for TAKE ME NAKED!
• Additional Freaky-Findlay Trailers for: The Curse of Her Flesh, Satan’s Bed, The Sin Syndicate, The Touch of Her Flesh, and The Ultimate Degenerate!
• A Sex-Crazed Schoolgirl is Turned-On by Murder in a psychotic sequence from Janie, photographed and narrated by Roberta Findlay!
• Bonus Featurette: Michael Findlay Runs Amok in Ancient Greece in a 30-minute Lesbian-laced excerpt from Mnasidika!
• Gallery of Sick sixties Sex Stills with Audio Oddities!
• Total Running Time: Over 3 and 1/2 Hours of Pleasure & Perversion!

Scum of the Earth/The Defilers

One of the first double features I watched for Stepping Into Something Weird was Scum of the Earth and The Defilers. It was really the ideal way to kick off the feature. Two absolutely classic Something Weird Video flicks from Herschell Gordon Lewis and David F. Friedman; friends and collaborators and two men who make up the cornerstones of SWV’s collection! Scum of the Earth focuses on the sleazy business of modelling where women are drawn in by the lure of easy cash and next thing they know they are posing with their tits out. Kim Sherwood is one such young woman in need of funds. Initially she poses for cutesy shots in dresses and bathing suits but is soon being blackmailed into posing nude. Generally considered to be one of the first roughies it is captivating viewing with an especially great performance from William Kerwin as photographer Harmon Johnson (looking pretty handsome with a beard). Scum of the Earth is one of Lewis’s most esthetically pleasing films too. A delicious slice of exploitative pie well worth taking a bite of. David F. Friedman only directed five films during his career and is better known in the industry as a producer. The Defilers stars one of Friedman’s frequent collaborators Byron Mabe who would direct several films he produced. Carl Walker Jr. (Byron Mabe) is a spoiled rich kid who spends his days and nights hanging about looking for a way to get “kicks” with his friend Jameison (Jerome Eden). Jameison is well-known as a womanizer but Carl has earned a reputation as a rough and unsavory partner among their lady friends. Carl is looking for the ultimate thrill and upon meeting Jane a young woman new to town has an epiphany. Carl and Jameison will kidnap Jane and keep her in one of his father’s abandon storage rooms. Carl does not want to kidnap Jane for money but power; the power to rape and rough up the unfortunate woman whenever he feels like. The plan inevitably results in dire consequences for all three. The Defilers is a pretty mean little film. A competently made and acted mean little film. Jamieson is pathetic; he agrees with pretty much anything Carl suggests so he can have access to a vehicle. Carl for his part is a psychotic sonofabitch. Mabe and Eden do a top drawer job as hipster assholes who should be beaten mercilessly. This is a great early roughie duo; two classics that are must-have’s for anyone interested in the birthing of the exploitation film.

scum of the earth

For more images from Scum of the Earth click here.

The Defilers

For more images from The Defilers click here.

Taken from the Something Weird Video Website:

Here’s a double dose of drive-in depravity with two kinky classicks from producer David F Friedman!

THE DEFILERS are two hedonistic young men who, just for kicks, abduct a sexy blonde (Mai Jansson, “Mouth-Watering 20-Year-Old Scandinavian Screen Find!”) as their own personal sex toy. Directed by R. Lee Frost (Love Camp 7), this shattering story of the shameless “sick set” is the quintessential “roughie”: downright nasty but you can’t look away!

Plus: Trying to earn money for college, wholesome cutie Kim (Vickie Miles) is sucked into the degenerate world of the dirty picture racket when she agrees to model for the SCUM OF THE EARTH. Under the tutelage of a sleazy photographer, Kim is soon posing topless, before being blackmailed into appearing in raunchier shots where she’s mauled by a muscle-bound moron named Ajax. Worse, she’s soon embroiled in events which lead to a police raid, two murders and sucicide… Featuring most of the cast of Blood Feast, SCUM OF THE EARTH, is slick grindhouse exploitation from cult director Herschell Gordon Lewis (Two Thousand Maniacs) and a hilariously outrageous expose’ of sixties-style smut. And remember, “Deep down inside you’re dirty! Do you hear? Dirty!”

Special Features
• Digitally Remastered
• Audio Commentary by Producer David F. Friedman!
• Two Theatrical Trailers for THE DEFILERS
• Trailers for other Twisted Sixties Sexploitation Classicks: All Women Are Bad, The Curse of Her Flesh, The Pick-Up, Sex Killer, Sock It to Me Baby, and Ultimate Degenerate!
• Archival Short Subject #1: Sandy and Ajax together again in Intimate Diary of Artists’ Models!
• Archival Short Subject #2: The Bennett twins in Barry Mahon’s Naked Fury
• Classic Drive-In Intermission Shorts!
• Gallery of Drive-In Exploitation Art
• Audio Sex-Hygiene Book Pitch from the Projection Booth!
• “Let’s Go To the Drive-In!” – An interactive feature allowing uninterrupted playback for three hours worth of exploitation drive-in madness!

Goregirl’s TOP 10 Favourite Horror Films From 1966

Posted in horror, movies with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2012 by goregirl

There were 278 titles listed for 1966 and only 55 of those were full-length feature films! The television show Dark Shadows had 133 episodes listed for 1966! I have watched 32 of the 55 horror films listed for the year. The top two films earned a 5/5 rating, I rated spots three, four and five 4.5/5, and numbers six through ten were all rated 3.5/5. I gave two other films from the year a 3.5/5 rating; The Hunchback of Soho and The Undertaker and his Pals.

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#10 QUEEN OF BLOOD

Directed By: Curtis Harrington

This is Curtis Harrington’s second entry on a top ten list; his former entry being the 1961 film Night Tide starring Dennis Hopper. Hopper also has a role in Queen of Blood, along with the excellent John Saxon, Judi Meredith, Florence Marly and Basil Rathbone. The acting by the major players is quite good, although much of the acting of the minor roles is a little sketchy. Earth receives an alien transmission from Mars stating a desire to make contact. The alien space ship crashes and a crew are sent to recover any survivors. The only survivor they find is a green-skinned female who they discover has a thirst for human blood. Queen of Blood has a moody vibe with some eerie and well-executed visuals. The film is somewhat on the slow-paced side and a touch talky but most of it works to the films advantage gradually building up suspense. There are a few fun twists and surprises and the final half hour or so is a lively and exciting payoff for your patience. The story is decent; a nicely balanced mix of sci-fi and horror elements. Queen of Blood has some genuinely creepy moments, decent performances, a bit of camp, and a fascinating menace that is downright entertaining!

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#9 AROUSED

Directed By: Anton Holden

Aroused is definitely one of the sleaziest entries to make a top ten list for the decade! Aroused is a grimy psychodrama loaded with nudity, violence and some surprisingly decent visuals and acting. Shot in black and white in New York City, Aroused was one of several seedy underground sexploitation films from the period; in my opinion it is one of the best. I was shocked by the similarities to William Lustig’s Maniac; one of my favourite horror films from the 80s. While not nearly as graphic as Maniac, its nudity and violence was very risqué for the time. A prostitute whose lesbian lover is murdered teams up with a cop to catch the killer and get her revenge. The film does linger a little long in sections but is mostly well-paced and exciting with a great opener and one hell of a finale (damned satisfying too)! The fantastic abode of the killer with its mannequin parts and fetish gear is something else as is his completely mental flashbacks!! Aroused has better character development than one would expect from this type of fare (particularly the sordid details of the killer’s childhood) and as already mentioned the acting really isn’t half bad. Aroused is an early Grindhouse entry that is well worth seeking out for any fan of early sexploitation.

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#8 ISLAND OF TERROR

Directed By: Terence Fisher

I am surprised Island of Terror is only Terence Fisher’s second film to make a top ten list (although he does have a third entry on this list in the number three position). My first and only viewing of Island of Terror was for this feature. I have no idea how this film slid under my radar. I am a huge fan of Terence Fisher and even gave him the #41 spot on my fifty favourite directors list. I am also a big fan of Peter Cushing who stars along with Edward Judd. Both men play doctors; Cushing is laid back and likable while Judd keeps a stoic demeanour. Island of Terror has an original science fiction oriented story that involves cancer research. I can’t recall another film from this period that specifically uses cancer research to motivate its story. A cancer specialist by the name of Dr. Philips has created a living organism that he hopes will be able to attack cancer cells. The experiment goes horribly wrong and the organisms that live off of bone are unleashed on the small island. The film opens with a constable discovering a corpse who seems to be missing its bones! The two doctors eventually trace it all back to the aforementioned Dr. Philips who they inevitably find dead. The idea of having your bones sucked out of your body is actually rather grim! Granted, the creatures are a bit on the campy side but they still provide some really great, lively action sequences. I loved those slurpy and nasty accompanying sound effects! Island of Terror has well-executed suspense, strong performances, a great atmosphere, fun action sequences and provides its share of thrills and chills!

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#7 CARRY ON SCREAMING

Directed By: Gerald Thomas

I have not been a huge fan of the Carry On films. It is comedy that just doesn’t really tickle me much. Carry on Screaming is one of five I’ve seen from the Carry On gang and it is the only one I can actually say I like a lot. A sinister doctor, an alluring vampire, a hairy dude that abducts women, mannequins that were once beautiful ladies, a clueless cop called Detective Sergeant Bung and of course tons of parodying of classic horror films. It is incredibly hokey and silly and packed with tons of one-liners, sexual innuendos and site gags.  Carry On Screaming is actually nicely furnished with all the details needed for a lovely looking gothic horror film; if they never spoke this could have passed as a Hammer flick. The film is quite enthusiastically paced and has very little downtime. The exchanges between the daft Detective Bung and his equally dim sidekick are fun as is Bung’s interaction with his grating wife. Carry On Screaming is absolute silliness and does not take itself serious for a single second. If you are a fan of the Carry On gang and their films you should not be disappointed. Even as someone who is not particularly a fan of the Carry On films I thought Carry On Screaming was an amusing and satisfying spoof that had me chuckling and even howling a few times!

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#6 THE REPTILE

Directed By: John Gilling

The Reptile is John Gilling’s third entry on a top ten list and he has one more on this list ranked number two! John Gilling is another director I don’t think I have given enough respect to. Admittedly, Gilling’s name has not been one that immediately comes to mind when I think of my favourite Hammer directors; but it will be now! The Reptile is about couple Harry and Valerie Spalding. Harry inherits his brother’s cottage who died under mysterious circumstances. The couple move in to the cottage and get a chilly reception from the locals. Much to the townsfolk’s chagrin Harry intends to stay around until he discovers how his brother died. So why is this film called The Reptile you might ask? The Reptile features a snake woman who stalks her victims by the light of the moon. Unfortunately the makeup for the snake woman was not terribly inspired. Otherwise The Reptile has great looking cinematography, lovely sets and costumes and excellent performances. The film has a fun creative script that kept me in suspense from beginning to end. It maintains a nicely moody atmosphere with a strong sense of mistrust and unease. A little more on the mythology of the snake woman would have been nice, but I still found the finale wholly satisfying. The entire cast are strong but the real standout in The Reptile is Michael Ripper who plays Innkeeper Tom Bailey; the only local willing to speak to Harry and Valerie. Ripper’s Bailey character is empathetic and very likable. The Reptile is a charming supernatural tale that is easy on the eyes and mucho entertaining!

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#5 THE DIABOLICAL DR. Z

Directed By: Jesus Franco

This is Jess Franco’s second film to make a top ten list and it is a damn fine one at that!! I noted that Franco’s 1962 film The Awful Dr. Orloff was the best film Franco ever directed, but I think I have to take that back! I loved The Diabolical Dr. Z! What an outrageous and twistedly fun story! Irma Zimmer hungry to avenge the death of her father trains dancer Nadia to do her bidding. Trains her like she is a lion in the freaking circus she does! Seriously! Whip, chair and all! Another black and white entry that looks quite slick, with some well-executed scenes of violence and a strong sexual undercurrent; a sign of things to come from Mr. Frano. Estella Blain is perfect as the seductive Nadia in her funky-fantastic costumes with her delicious, kinky and sexy dance routines. Nadia alone is worth checking the film out for. The vengeful Irma is excellent and is convincingly obsessive and even a wee bit sympathetic. The great Howard Vernon also has a brief appearance leaving a memorable impression. There are some unique surreal touches throughout the film and the sets are quite wonderful. The old castle and the wild laboratory furnished with peculiar gadgets are a joy. There are some perfectly conceived action sequences that are down right heart-pounding and one particularly jarring scene for 1966 where a character ends up with her head crashing through a window pane! The Diabolical Dr. Z is an absolute shitload of fun!

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#4 DAIMAJIN

Directed By: Kimiyoshi Yasuda

Japanese monster movies are generally a campy affair with very few exceptions. I can really only cite three; Ishirô Honda’s films Godzilla (1954) and Matango (1963) along with this film I have given the number four spot for 1966; Kimiyoshi Yasuda’s Daimajin. Set in feudal Japan, Daimajin is the story of a determined son, a young woman whose tears have the power to move the great statue Majin, and an evil warlord who needs to pay for years of terrorizing a small village.  Daimajin has a simple but solid story with a strong folkloresque vibe. The massive giant stone statue that stands among the mountains is quite impressive. All of the effects in the film are quite impressive! Majin’s massive bulk and earth-shaking footsteps are a relentless force! You do have to wait a while to see this bad boy in action, but it is well worth the wait. The Majin’s presence made for a grand finale! The performances are great, the visuals nicely captures a long ago time, the score is superb and the story engrossing. A classic tale of good versus evil; the vengeful son, the noble lord, the evil and detestable usurper, and the femme whose tears can wake a stone giant. Daimajin is an absolute treat!

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#3 DRACULA PRINCE OF DARKNESS

Directed By: Terence Fisher

Dracula Prince of Darkness is Terence Fisher’s third entry on a top ten list. Christopher Lee made seven appearances as Dracula for Hammer Films (Lee has played vampires in a few non-Hammer films also). Dracula Prince of Darkness is my favourite of his vampire roles. It seems like an odd choice when you consider he doesn’t speak a word. Furthermore he doesn’t have loads of screen time. Nonetheless I find this Count role particularly alluring, mysterious and menacing. I also enjoy Dracula Prince of Darkness accompanying story. Four travellers are lured to the much maligned Castle Dracula and inadvertently aid in the Count’s resurrection. And what a resurrection it is! Dracula Prince of Darkness is well filmed with a great moody atmosphere and fantastic sets. It has some wickedly executed action sequences and a nifty little twist ending. Lee’s lurking vampire is well complimented with great turns from Andrew Kier who plays Father Sandor, Thorley Walters who plays the Renfeld-esque Ludwig, Philip Lathan as Dracula’s faithful servant Klove and the scene-stealing Barbara Shelley as Helen Kent. Dracula Prince of Darkness is immensely entertaining but in all honesty it is the tall, dark and handsome Christopher Lee that puts the film on a higher tier for me.

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#2 THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES

Directed By: John Gilling

The Plague of the Zombies as far as I know is Hammer Film’s only entry into the zombie sub-genre. Bloody shame frankly as this is a damn fine zombie film! Mysterious deaths have plagued a small village for the past year and the local doctor has become inflicted with a deadly infection. The doctor sends for his mentor Sir James Forbes; doctor, teacher and amateur sleuth who helps to uncover the mystery that takes his down a precarious path of empty graves, voodoo and the walking dead! The sets in The Plague of the Zombies are particularly impressive! There are lovely outdoor shots through lush forests, trips through crowded graveyards, beautiful estates and a creepy nickel mine. The props are equally impressive; the ceremonial robes, weird masks, copious candles and especially those awesome mini coffins with the little clay men and women that are used in the rituals. The effects are outstanding. These are some very creepy undead bastards! They come in various stages of decay but of course it is those gorgeous old rotting dudes with the white cloudy eyes that really do it for me. These are not flesh-eating zombies but rather voodoo-raised and with a very specific purpose. The performances are great with André Morell as a real stand out as Sir James Forbes. He has a wonderful dry wit I found endlessly entertaining. Diane Clare is strong as his daughter Sylvia and the two have great chemistry. Another piece of the puzzle I haven’t mentioned is Squire Clive Hamilton who has inherited his father’s home and his significant debts. He manages to turn the family finances around a little too quickly and his hired hands are terrorizing the locals. The Squire wields power but hungers for more and is an all-around smarmy jerk. You know with those sideburns he’s got to be evil! John Carson does a good job as the unlikable bloke. Although not afforded much screen time I thought Jacqueline Pearce was very good in the role of Alice Tompson; the wife of the village doctor. The Plague of the Zombies has a great story amazing visuals, impressive effects and great performances and in my opinion it is one of Hammer’s absolute best!

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#1 KILL BABY KILL

Directed By: Mario Bava

Kill Baby Kill is the seventh Mario Bava directed film to make a top ten list and his first number one! A young doctor is summoned by the inspector to a small village to do an autopsy on a woman who died under questionable circumstances. The doc becomes entrenched in the town’s mystery which seems to point to the Baroness Graps and the death of her daughter twenty years earlier. The spooky old village is littered with crumbling buildings, endless corridors and graveyards all soaked in fog and cobwebs. Bava adds a ton of nifty creative touches like a ball bouncing in slow-motion, a dizzying spiral staircase sequence and scenes washed in green and red lights. Kill Baby Kill isn’t terribly graphic but there are some well-executed scenes of violence including impalement and a slashed throat. Kill Baby Kill is a mesmerizing and eerie supernatural tale with an engrossing story, good performances and truly spectacular visuals. I have watched Kill Baby Kill at least a dozen times over the years and it never loses it charm!

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