Time to take on some old school horror as I look at four films of disembodied heads, aliens, and satanic cults.
NIGHT OF THE BLOOD BEAST (1958)
At a little over an hour long, this is a fun and silly little sci-fi creature feature.
An astronaut crashes back to earth, and scientists soon discover he has like…little seahorses floating in his blood? It’s actually babies of a big alien life form that soon makes itself known then runs off.
The scientists want to kill it, but the astronaut insists they give it a chance…even though it has committed murder and left the body hanging upside down for them to find. So…they agree!
The movie has too much talk, but the few encounters with the alien are good old 1950s monster fun. Not to mention, how often do we get a movie in which the aliens impregnate a topless man?
Plus, the final battle really does make you question the alien’s intentions…and how smart—or not—humans are.
THE HEAD (1959)
This is my kind of old school horror, especially because it defies expectations at a time when an obvious plot should have been laying groundwork for future movies.
A scientist has discovered a way to keep a dog’s head alive (missed opportunity for a freaky scene, because we don’t see it). When he dies, his own work is used to keep him alive for his brilliant mind. You’d think his severed head would orchestrate crazy experiments, but it’s a colleague responsible for the insanity instead. Hell, even the scientist’s head knows this is amoral and demands the colleague kill him, but he refuses.
The colleague gives a hunchback nurse the normal body she desires, using the body of a hot dancer at a club! The experiment is a success, but from the moment the nurse sees a big bandage wrapped around her neck, she fears something is up and begins unraveling the truth (but not the bandage).
Nothing gory (she never does remove that bandage), but it’s a creepy concept with some surprising subject matter for its time—like the nurse feeling up her new body in a mirror, and a sculptor telling her to embrace it when she discovers it’s not actually her body…then proceeding to make a move on the bod!
THE DEVIL’S HANDS (1961)
The surfer rock intro music got my hopes up for this one, as did the initial premise. An engaged dude keeps having dreams of a beautiful blonde.
All of a sudden she appears as a doll in a store window…and the store owner claims that the guy himself came in and special ordered it from a photo!
Then he actually meets the woman, she seduces him, she brings him to a satanic cult filled with boring people dressed in average clothes, and the whole tone changes to lame, despite the promise of human sacrifice. This one has no edge at all.
THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS (1963)
Sure, it’s a horrible low budget 1960s horror sci-fi flick, but I have to give the goofy and mostly boring movie credit for its plot only two decades after World War II.
An intelligence agent and a woman head to an island where her scientist father was abducted.
Turns out crazy Nazis preserved Hitler’s head to bring it back to life! Oh if only the movie were as good as its premise. Watch The Head instead.