It suddenly hit me that I needed to make sure I had every horror flick John Saxon starred in. The missing tally came to seven, I got them, so let’s get into him.
THE EVIL EYE (aka: The Girl Who Knew Too Much) (1963)
This film is not only sexy Saxon’s first dip into murder and mayhem, but it also acknowledges director Mario Bava for creating a template for the giallo subgenre.
A young woman who loves mystery novels comes to Italy to visit her aging aunt, meets her aunt’s sexy doctor (guess who) and is then left alone for the horror to start. Bava’s mastery is apparent immediately as thunder crashes, the house is enveloped in shadows, the aunt drops dead, and an irritated cat brings even more tension to the atmosphere.
It only gets worse from there in a fantastically eerie scene on the street. Our main girl runs from the house only to face another horrific event, and then witnesses a murder through bleary eyes, complete with the killer wrestling a knife out of the victim’s back.
Her account of what happened is doubted the next morning, so she teams up with sexy Saxon to uncover the truth…which seems to point to an “alphabet killer” from a decade ago that may be after her now.
Someone seems to be messing with her mind as she gets closer to the truth, but this film doesn’t pile on the kills. It’s mostly about the budding romance between her and sexy Saxon as they investigate. In a way too short scene on the beach that shows way too little of sexy Saxon in tight, skimpy swimming trunks, he still manages to make me feel like I just watched the best porn ever.
And in a curiously familiar sequence, the main girl is so spooked by the possibility of being stalked by a killer that she sets booby traps much like the ones Nancy sets for Freddy in the original Elm Street. Considering sexy Saxon plays Nancy’s father in that film, you have to wonder if this was a little wink-wink from Wes Craven.
While the film doesn’t quite ever live up to the creepy first scene of death and murder, there is a spooky segment in the final act right before the killer is revealed.
NIGHT CALLER FROM OUTER SPACE (aka: Blood Beast from Outer Space) (1965)
This film gets a lot of praise online, but personally I thought it was mostly a boring mess, with a plot and tone that go in two totally different directions.
A round globe about the size of a medicine ball hits the earth. Sexy Saxon is among the scientists that show up on the scene to whisk it away to a lab.
The amount of technical scientific mumbo jumbo that follows is absolutely agonizing, and it pervades this entire film. What were they thinking?
We at least get a good scene of a woman left alone in the lab and being terrified by a (rubber) monster hand that reaches through a door.
After a while, they determine something humanesque is in the lab…but it escapes.
Then women start disappearing after answering an ad in a bikini magazine. Yes, the horny alien is luring women by promising them a career modeling bikinis. Yet there’s nothing sexy or campy about this movie at all.
The only good scene is when the woman from the lab decides to serve as the bait and answer the ad so they can catch the alien. That goes terribly wrong.
In the end, the alien stands in a burning building and explains its whole evil plot to the scientists as they stand in the street nearby. It then reveals its face, and I got major flashbacks to the woman in drag in Homicidal.
It almost felt like this movie was trying to imply that this alien is gender fluid or non-binary without saying it. If that’s the case, that would have been the coolest most progressive thing about it, adding a whole new dimension to the plot about a horny alien luring women in bikinis to bring to its planet.
QUEEN OF BLOOD (1966)
It’s a futuristic movie that takes place in 1990…doh!
Sexy Saxon works at the space technology institute. when aliens make contact, a team of astronauts is assembled to go to Mars, including Dennis Hopper and Saxon’s woman.
The outer space footage is all apparently taken from another movie, and it’s kind of obvious. The sound effects are like something out of an Atari game circa 1982, but the planet Mars shots are hot.
They find what they think is a dead female alien, but she eventually comes to life aboard their ship. She looks longingly at the men and glares at the woman. And leave it to Dennis Hopper to teach her how to suck.
However, all the fun doesn’t start until 40 minutes into this 78-minute movie, when the alien starts sucking the blood of the men when they sleep.
Not only is she fricking creepy (her smile is so sinister), but there are some classic sci-fi horror elements, like a buzzing sound whenever she’s about to attack, suggesting she’s some sort of bug, and a bunch of gooey eggs found around the ship.
THE BEES (1978)
I thought I’d seen every killer bees movie of the 1970s, but somehow I missed this one, which I have to assume is intentionally supposed to be somewhat of a comedy. Otherwise it’s a disaster. Actually, even as a comedy it’s a disaster. But damn, Saxon is at his sexiest.
A white privileged beekeeper in South America is killed by the locals and then his wife comes to the U.S. with some of his bees to meet with her father, played by John Carradine, and fellow scientist John Saxon.
We are then treated to one hilarious bee kill scene after another, along with Saxon, the woman, and Carradine just acting goofy as they attempt to figure out how to stop the bees.
What do I mean by goofy? Like, Saxon and the woman at one point barely escape the bees with their life by jumping in a vehicle…and then smile at each other and begin passionately making out.
What had me smiling is a moment that has sexy Saxon starring right at the camera and throwing kissy lips over Carradine’s shoulder. Swoon.
And dare I mention they learn how to talk to the bees?
CANNIBAL APOCALYPSE (1980)
My history with this film goes all the way back to 1982 when I was just 13. My mother took me to the theater two blocks away from our home to see The Sword and The Sorcerer because she assumed it was going to be a fun fantasy movie. It was a rated R film with gore and nudity, and before it started, a very gory trailer was shown for Cannibal Apocalypse, and my mother was mortified. And yet…we stayed for the whole movie. I love my mother.
So having said all that, would you believe purchasing the Blu-ray to complete my John Saxon horror collection made it the first time I ever saw this film?
The good news is this is classic trashy Euro horror from 1980, filled with bad leftover sounds of generic disco serving as the score.
The letdown is that this isn’t much of a flesh-eater film. It’s literally just cannibal behavior by regular people. No zombies or crazies. Sexy Saxon and his military team rescue some prisoners of war in the jungle only to find them pigging out on human flesh…including Saxon’s. I don’t blame them.
Back home, he has nightmares about that day, which means waking up shirtless and sweaty. Yay!
Turns out his fellow military men are now snapping and biting people. There’s plenty of gory nibbling around the city, and eventually the chaos brings the infected individuals together. These mild-mannered cannibals simply plot to escape any repercussions for their eating actions, which leads to a battle with guns and flamethrowers in a sewer.
This is about as silly as Euro horror of that time period gets, but it has a delicious zinger ending.
BLOOD SALVAGE (1990)
Someone has taken their love of Tobe Hooper films too far. This trashy little film actually has a few surprises. Along with John Saxon (who virtually makes a cameo), even Mr. Hand from Fast Times at Ridgemont High makes an appearance.
So the story goes like this. There’s some sort of redneck talent show in which Saxon’s daughter performs. Then the family jumps in an RV, gets a flat, and gets towed by a redneck to…Leatherface’s house?
The young son wanders off, sees a crocodile wandering around, probably wonders if he’s in Tobe Hooper’s movie Eaten Alive, and then gets abducted by members of the redneck family.
Saxon goes to look for him. He gets abducted.
The wife goes to look for them both. Guess what happens to her.
The rest of the movie features the daughter trying to outsmart the all-male family of weirdos, who are merely organ harvesters selling body parts to Mr. Hand.
It’s a pretty bad movie, and I wish like hell it would get a Blu-ray release, because the DVD release is virtually a bootleg sourced from a VHS tape.
THE ARRIVAL (1991)
David Schmoeller, the director of Tourist Trap, Crawlspace, Catacombs, Puppet Master, and Netherworld, scores sexy Saxon for this odd, oh so 90s alien/horror hybrid. And Saxon plays a detective, naturally.
The first part of the film is genuinely creepy. During an older man’s birthday party, a comet hits the earth. The man ends up in the hospital with a strange blood issue that magically reverses itself, and he ends up feeling better than ever.
Once home with his family, he has haunting nightmares, fixates on the other members of the family, and sleepwalks at night. But he begins to suspect something is not right with him and believes he is a killer, so he runs away.
When bodies start turning up with their blood drained, Saxon steps in as the detective and follows leads to the older man. Damn. He it’s even hot as hell when he leans over other another man’s shoulder.
However, while the old man is on the run killing victims, he grows youthful.
The movie simply doesn’t stay scary, because the alien vampire is painted as a sympathetic and tragic character, so we don’t even feel any remorse for the random victims, and the kills are very tame.
Eventually the alien vampire man gets into a relationship with a young woman…just as Saxon closes in on him. The Arrival really started off thrilling and intriguing, but it turned a little hokey for me.