Back to the horrors of the 1960s and 1970s

It’s inevitable that you’ll get a bunch of low budget oldies on DVD when you buy those cheap, multiple-movie sets, so I’m cleaning house and taking a look at all that remains in my collection to blog about, starting with 6 films ranging from 1963 – 1971.

TERRIFIED! (1963)

Terrified! has the great dark and sinister feel of classic black & white horror, and is generally a very contemporary plot—people wandering around an old ghost town are stalked by a guy in a black mask.

Right from the first scene there’s a lot of promise. The film opens on a cemetery where the masked man is burying someone alive in cement. It’s just about the most effective scene in the film.

After that, it becomes a mess of ridiculous excuses for people to come to the ghost town (which seems to literally be called Ghost Town)  and skulk around creepy empty buildings and the graveyard.

There are definitely some tense moments and some initially suspenseful chase scenes, but every scene seems to wear out its welcome, going on way too long to the point that it loses its effectiveness.

BLOODY PIT OF HORROR (1965)

We learn in the opening scene that back in the old days, an executioner was executed for executing people and vowed revenge.

In the modern day, a photographer, a publisher, and a bunch of female models come to a castle to take photos for horror book covers. They are shocked to discover a man actually lives there, but he allows them to stay and do their work.

Of course he does…because he’s a psycho who loves to torture people in his bloody pit of horror! While there’s nothing in the way of scares here, this is definitely a precursor to the torture porn to come decades later. It’s very much in the same vein as the Herschell Gordon Lewis gorefests of the 1960s, combining horrible soundtrack music that is anything but creepy with scenes of women being sadistically tortured.

The killer is a hilariously narcissistic stud who likes to pose in the mirror—and even does so to torment one of the women he has a very special connection with.

There are some very bizarre scenes—one of a woman caught in a spider web booby trap with a big spider hanging over her shoulder is totally confusing to me, because I’m not sure if the spider was supposed to be real or just a mechanical, poisonous part of the trap.

The fights the killer has with men are as badly choreographed as you would imagine from low budget 1960s horror, but the exploitation of women is right on target for its time—especially when they’re put on a spinning machine that slices at their tits each time they circle around again to a waiting blade.

BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE (1969)

This is just about the worst that “horror” has to offer. A prim and proper vampire couple that keeps women chained up in their castle basement to humanely drain of blood panics when they discover they’re going to lose their home—and be exposed in the process.

Even though they invite the young couple buying the castle to come stay with them, they don’t stop their diabolical act of having their goon—the creepiest thing in the movie—go out into the woods to drag more women to their home. Not quite sure why all these women hang out in the woods by themselves in bikinis, but whatever.

John Carradine plays the butler, making this vampire couple even less ominous.

So when the young wife hears creepy noises at night and eerie soundtrack music begins to play, it’s simply impossible to buy into the notion that we’re supposed to be scared.

Seriously, these vamps are so non-threatening that they even talk about a day when science will invent a synthetic blood so they can become law-abiding citizens again. Is it possible the writer of the True Blood novels stole that one line to make it the entire premise of a book series 30 years later?

NIGHTMARE IN WAX (1969)

Even with a huge filmography behind him in various genres, Cameron Mitchell never shied away from doing bad horror movies, like House of Wax rip-off Nightmare in Wax.

However, there are a few notable changes in the details. Mitchell plays a former Hollywood behind-the-scenes man who was disfigured and seeks revenge…by capturing people, drugging them so that they don’t move and can’t even blink, and then using them as figures in his wax museum. However, he needs to periodically give them booster shots because the drug wears off.

As a detective investigates the latest disappearance—the opening scene of a man being stalked through a parking garage instead of a woman—there are plenty of flashbacks revealing just how Mitchell became disfigured and how it led to his mental stability.

Although Mitchell drugs most of his victims, he does choose to kill one every now and then. It’s not a particularly scary or original plot, but one scene holds up—he meets a woman at a club and then terrorizes her in his wax museum. I wouldn’t be surprised if this scene inspired scenes from many of the slasher films of the 80s.

What doesn’t hold up is the club scene—first a really bad flower child pop song by the T-Bones (Hey! That’s what Principal McGee called the T-Birds in Grease 2!), then more of a surfer rock tune that works much better with the go-go dancing but still feels like a night at Andy Warhol’s Factory.

BLOOD MANIA (1970)

The director of the 80s exploitation flicks Angel and Avenging Angel delivers this sleazy drug trip psycho murderess movie, written by gorgeous hunk of meat star Peter Carpenter. It’s one of two sex and murder flicks he made before unexpectedly passing away at a young age, so I’m covering them both here.

Carpenter is being blackmailed for illegally performing abortions (the days of back alleys and coat hangers). He’s dating a young slut who is caring for her ill father. When they use drugs one night to enhance the sexual pleasure and provide us with a stylistic sex scene, he tells the slut too much of the drug could kill a man.

Slut sees a way to quickly make the money for her man’s blackmailing situation.

Sadly, the will, read by Jo’s father from The Facts of Life, fails to go her way, and she loses her shit.

There’s only one good murder in the whole movie. She really should have lost her shit sooner and gone on a major killing spree, but alas, this one is more about the sex than horror. And that’s okay, because Peter Carpenter is delicious to look at, and he knows it. And for that reason, it’s surprising that he let a younger cutie show off more bod than he does…

If the film had been a short in a Tales from the Crypt movie it would have been better, because it has a nice mean-spirited and macabre twist ending.

POINT OF TERROR (1971)

In Peter Carpenter’s second love letter to himself, he stars as a singer—who wakes up on the beach screaming at a dream about his own singing in the first scene.

He meets a rich woman who can make him a star, so there are way too many song montages. But she has a rich husband in a wheelchair. She hates him. Conveniently, they get into a fight near their pool. You have to see the bull fight metaphor presentation to believe it.

With the husband out of the way, you’d think all would be perfect…but the wife is no idiot, which pits her against Carpenter until he creates a love triangle to fuck with her.

A knife murder subplot flashback delivers the only good kill scene in the movie.

But the scene can’t outshine the hilarious final fight between the stars near a cliff, where it’s night on top of the cliff but daylight down on the rocks below.

Not even editing this down could make it a tale in a Tales from the Crypt movie, because it’s really not a horror film—despite a Twilight Zone style twist. But it did give Carpenter the opportunity to make up for his mistake in Blood Mania. This time, he shows his own ass.

About Daniel

I am the author of the horror anthologies CLOSET MONSTERS: ZOMBIED OUT AND TALES OF GOTHROTICA and HORNY DEVILS, and the horror novels COMBUSTION and NO PLACE FOR LITTLE ONES. I am also the founder of BOYS, BEARS & SCARES, a facebook page for gay male horror fans! Check it out and like it at www.facebook.com/BoysBearsandScares.
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