The Scattershot Lunacy of Movie Director Richard E. Cunha

Frankenstein's Daughter Movie Poster

Anyone who has visited Bill Ectric’s Place for any length of time knows that I like reading about low budget B movies, especially horror and science fiction. Sometimes watching them can be fun; sometimes reading about them is better than actually watching them. Unless you are either watching them on Mystery Science Theater, or with friends who can appreciate the craziness.

I’ve pretty much read every entry of 1,000 Misspent Hours and Counting, but that’s okay – I just discover a new blog called Radiation Cinema, written by Mykal Banta. There may be other writers on board, but Mr. Banta seems to carry most, if not all, of the weight.

Here’s an especially good review he wrote about Frankenstein’s Daughter (1958). I especially like the beginning and the end of the review, more than the actual synopsis of the film. Sometimes he throws in a good comment during the synopsis, though.

On Frankenstein’s Daughter, he says:

The DNA, that beautiful double helix of genetic instruction, has become seriously degraded in the Frankenstein lineage by the summer of 1958 . . .

. . . And with that, we have touched upon the glory of the maligned, beloved work of  us to Director Richard Cunha, who was at the helm for this enduring, radioactive fragment from the Atomic Age. Say whatever negative you want about Cunha’s work and you will probably be right. Yet his films were never without their own poorly-funded experiments, done in the blink of an eye under the powerful duress of time; all of which produced a kind of scattershot lunacy that simply keeps me riveted. He produced a quartet of drive-in offerings: All made in the span of a single year (1958): She Demons (his best work), Giant of the Unknown, Missile to the Moon, and Frankenstein’s Daughter. I find myself watching these films repeatedly, never for hidden subtext or moments of deepening meaning (there simply aren’t any of those); but more to enjoy the sharp stab and flash of oddball edginess, and something more; a certain connection I find difficult to understand.

Read the entire review here 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering the Midnight Monster Shows

Spook Show at the Orpheum

At Paleofuture, Matt Novak has a good essay on the “spook shows” of the 1940s, 50s, & 60s. We had a couple of these in my home town when I was a kid. Of course, I was always there in the thick of it.

Midnight ghost shows (sometimes called “spook,” “voodoo,” or “monster” shows) promised a night of creepy and playful stunts. There were glowing ghosts, floating objects, psychic readings and dozens of other illusions, all playing off the nation’s interest in spiritualism between the two World Wars.

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Three Films From 1973

The Exorcist

The Wicker Man

Don't Look Now

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From The Guardian:

One morning in 1973, Christopher Lee requested a pre-release showing of his latest film. ‘What do you think of it?’ asked Michael Deeley, British Lion’s managing director. ‘It’s an extraordinary movie,’ Lee enthused. He never forgot Deeley’s reply. ‘He just looked at me and said, ‘I think it’s one of the 10 worst films I’ve ever seen’.’ Lee was gobsmacked.

‘Well, you’re entitled to your opinion. But I think you’re totally wrong.’ That year two masterpieces of Gothic horror were released which changed the way directors and audiences saw the genre. William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now were critically acclaimed worldwide. But Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man was mishandled and overlooked, only belatedly recognised as an original and audacious debut.

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More about ZAAT: Ron Kivett on Ed Tucker

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

The April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters magazine and the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD set

Ed Tucker is an aficionado of classic and vintage science fiction & horror films and memorabilia. He wrote the liner notes for the ZAAT 2-disc combo DVD. The official ZAAT website features an excerpt from an interview with Ed Tucker that first appeared in the April 2001 issue of Scary Monsters Magazine. Tucker begins:

I suppose being born in Ocala, Florida in the 1960’s in some way predestined me to my love and appreciation of motion pictures. The small town of Silver Springs is located so close to Ocala that, today, it is almost considered a suburb of it, but in the 1950’s and 60’s, it was a booming conglomeration of widely varied tourist attractions. Chief among these was Silver Springs itself, with its glass bottom boats, jungle cruises, and wildlife exhibitions. Hollywood often utilized the spring’s clear waters and jungle-like settings for every manner of production. From installments in the Tarzan film series to episodes of Sea Hunt and I Spy. But in my mind it will always be remembered for the underwater footage filmed for the 1957 3-D horror icon, Creature from the Black Lagoon.

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Awful News

 

AwfulDrOrloffVampyrosLesbos

Quentin Tarantino names him as an influence. When we were kids, our parents wouldn’t let us watch his movies, but sometimes we did anyway. Now we search out the ones we missed on DVD. Sadly, Jesus “Jess” Franco has passed away.

From Yahoo!Movies:  A legendary figure in international genre cinema is gone. Jesus Franco, a Spanish writer and director who made close to two hundred films in a career that spanned seven decades, died in Malaga, Spain on Tuesday at the age of 82, due to complications from a stroke.

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Dark Intruder: Forerunner to The Night Stalker?

Thanks to Braineater, here’s a better-than-average made-for-TV movie that seems almost like a forerunner of The Night Stalker, but in some ways is actually better than the Night Stalker (in my humble opinion). Webmaster Will Laughlin says:

Intended as the pilot for a TV series called “The Black Cloak”, Dark Intruder is one of the earliest movies to reference H.P. Lovecraft and his pantheon directly — the movie generally credited as the first real Lovecraft adaptation, Roger Corman’sThe Haunted Palace (based on “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward”) came out in 1963. Dark Intruder is not based on any of Lovecraft’s stories, but it bears a strong resemblance to “Charles Dexter Ward”, and its thematic concern with the loss of identity aligns it strongly with other examples of Lovecraft’s writing, including “The Thing on the Doorstep”, “The Shadow over Innsmouth” and “The Evil Clergyman”.

Read entire review at Braineater

Charles Wadsworth Camp at the Movies

In my previous discussion of Charles Wadsworth Camp, I mentioned that several of Camp’s books later became films. I hope to track down all the movies and watch them, if possible. Last night I watched the very entertaining silent murder mystery, The Last Warning (1929, Universal Pictures). Based on Camp’s novel, The House of Fear (1916, Doubleday), this was the last picture directed by the gifted Paul Leni, known by film buffs for directing the classic old-dark-house movie, The Cat and the Canary (1927, Universal). Unfortunately, Leni died of blood poisoning at the age of 44, the same year Universal Pictures released The Last Warning.

In 1922, actor/playwright Thomas F. Fallon wrote a stage play based on The House of Fear but changed the named to The Last Warning. Alfred A. Cohn wrote the screenplay for the 1929 film, also called The Last Warning. Another movie version of the book came out in 1934 using the original book title, The House of Fear, not to be confused with a 1945 Sherlock Holmes movie of the same name.

A list of movies based on stories and novels by Charles Wadsworth Camp can be found at the Internet Movie Data Base

To be continued…

SUSPIRIA

Suspiria (1977, directed by Dario Argento) is one of the most visually pleasing horror films I have ever seen. Almost every frame is an artistic composition.

In kinoeyeLinda Schulte-Sasse analyses the movie, discussing the use of gothic spaces, references to fascism, and the film’s eligibility for being “Disney’s hidden reverse.”

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