Director/producer/actor Del Tenney jumped into the horror movie biz for a brief period in the 1960s, riding on the coattails of bigger names in the genre with knockoff b-movies before going silent for decades. He eventually returned with a few projects in the early 2000s, including executive producing post-Scream slasher Do You Wanna Know a Secret?
The bulk of his directing happened in 1964, when he made three black and white horror films – zombies, slasher, and creature feature – one of which didn’t get released until 1971! I’m going to briefly cover them from my least favorite to the one that RULES!
I EAT YOUR SKIN (aka: Zombie Bloodbath)
Pre-dating Night of the Living Dead by four years, zombie film I Eat Your Skin didn’t actually get released until the beginning of the 1970s. It also can’t hold a torch to NOTLD. Despite it’s title, there’s no flesh eating. Not even the original title Zombie Bloodbath fits very well, because there’s really no blood.
A (sexy) novelist goes to Voodoo Island, where he learns of natives turning into zombies. We’re talking old skool zombie lore, but there is an attempt by a scientist to make a zombie army. The zombies look cool for the time – they are all shirtless men with some goop on their faces and big bugged-out eyes. They simply don’t get enough screen time to terrify.
This is a very dialogue heavy film with the zombies attempting a few times to sacrifice young blonde versions before the group of people trapped on the island eventually sets into action a plan to escape it.
THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE (1964)
The Curse of the Living Corpse takes a page out of the William Castle playbook, which is a good thing. It has a House on Haunted Hill feel to it, but while there’s a supernatural premise about a dead man returning from the tomb, the film plays out like a modern slasher.
After the death of their patriarch, the family that hated him gathers in a mansion for the reading of his will. In it, he suggests that he might be coming back from the grave, and if they don’t follow the demands of his will, each of them will die in a manner related to something they fear most. Awesome!
The killer skulking in the shadows has a very Jack the Ripper/Mr. Hyde vibe, and some of the kills are deliciously brutal for the time, including one guy having his face slashed before being dragged by a horse.
There’s a head served on a platter, a portrait with watching eyes, quicksand, a mausoleum, and a twist ending. Classic horror for sure. Plus, the cast includes Roy Scheider and Carnival of Souls main girl Candace Hilligoss!
THE HORROR OF PARTY BEACH (1964)
Coming before Humanoids from the Deep but after Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Horror of Party Beach is the perfect blend of both and an ideal horror flick for the 1960s teen scene.
All the ingredients of later teen horror movies are in place. A canister of chemicals is dumped into the ocean at the beginning of the film, and we get a great underwater monster transformation scene.
Meanwhile, a surf rock band performs on the beach while kids are doing a dance number in the sand that would make From Justin to Kelly jealous.
There’s even plenty of sexual innuendo, including a girl calling a boy by the wrong name while kissing him, and a guy saying he forgot the hot dog buns then turning with his buddy to look at the ass of a nearby girl.
It’s not long before we get to the best part – the rubber suit monsters that come out of the water. They are b-movie perfection.
The first kill of a girl on the rocks in the water could easily have been the inspiration for my The Rise of the Thing Down Below novel cover—my guess is, it unconsciously was. And here I thought the inspiration was Creature from the Black Lagoon.
The kills are violent and as deliciously gory as can be expected from a black and white film, and young women are attacked left and right, with the monsters even invading a slumber party! Awesome. Horror of Party Beach is a creature feature classic.