The Gore Gore Girls (1972)

Herschell Gordon Lewis (and to a lesser degree, his production partner David Friedman) was perhaps exploitation’s greatest slinger of bullshit and ballyhoo. While he had some moderate success with teen trouble tales and nudie cuties, he knew he would need something else to stand out in a crowded field of shot on the fly films competing for attention at grindhouses and drive ins. With the free vomit bags and faux moral outrage marketing campaign of 1963’s Blood Feast, Herschell Gordon Lewis had found his offal covered calling card.

What he did not have the skill or inclination to offer in terms of technical acumen or production values could be covered over by layers of tinted gelatin grue in vivid color. Lewis had invented the modern splatter film and a cash cow that managed to make over 100 times its modest production budget. He spent roughly the next decade trying to top himself in the new niche he had created, with varying degrees of success.

By 1972, Herschell Gordon Lewis had seen a host of other film makers run right through the doors he had opened for blood and brutality at the cinema. While his films’ shoestring budgets had always kept them quite profitable, they were no longer shocking. The Gore Gore Girls had the unfortunate luck of being released a few weeks after Wes Craven’s Last House On The Left, and the film was made passé almost overnight. Seeing the writing on the wall, Lewis took a 30 year hiatus from film making, focusing on his (unsurprisingly) successful career in marketing, where he was considered one of the godfathers of the direct advertising field. Without further preamble, 1972’s The Gore Gore Girls:

The pre credits are pretty brief. We get a few shots of a woman fixing her hair, then a gloved hand reaches out and repeatedly smashes the unnamed victim’s head into the mirror.

In addition to the groovy color scheme of the credits and title card, we also get an expositional newspaper page that reveals the deceased was an exotic dancer who used the stage name Suzie Creampuff, but her REAL name was Ethel Creampuff. Not exactly a master of disguise, that one. The fact that the faux paper’s headline ISN’T some variant of Headless Girl In Topless Bar also seems a missed opportunity.

Cut to the paper label maker marked office of Abraham Gentry (one film wonder Frank Kress) , private detective, who locks his cat in the cabinet(?) as he finally deigns to answer the knocking.

The fetching redhead behind the door is reporter Nancy Weston (Amy Farrell). Inexplicably, her employers at the Globe newspaper are willing to pay $25,000 to Abe if he helps crack the case of the murdered stripper before the police, and hands Nancy a juicy scoop.

Even more inexplicably, Nancy finds Abe to be just as juicy, and flirts shamelessly with him, despite the fact that he looks like the human embodiment of spilling an overflowing ashtray onto a shag carpet.

This sets us up for the structure of pretty much the rest of the movie. Strippers strip, Abe is obnoxious by virtue of existing, and lacking goodwill, his main investigative skill comes into play. He pays cash for the answers to his questions.

It’s actually good that the plot beats are somewhat repetitive, because the lighting never much improves.

Speaking with Suzie’s coworker, Abe buys his first obvious red herring lead, a customer who had a bit of a white knight complex.

Too bad it just leads to another outlay of cash and the body of another victim. This one had her face sliced off with a cleaver, but you’d be hard pressed to tell what the hell is going on given that second still. It’s dark, butcher scraps were involved, don’t quote me on what the hell body part the pile of dim grue is supposed to be.

Abe and the responding police officer have a solid good old boy yuk yuk over how petty and ineffectual they are in refusing to coordinate investigations. Odd tinny stock music funeral marches, a rejected ode for Sousa’s band, some pseudo surf rock and some Folger’s Crystals commercial jazz (a well known sound to those familiar with Doris Wishman) drift in and out of the scenes on the screen at random.

A new stripper strips, we get a goofy speeded up sequence of the staff making some 4 tequila shot abomination for an unsuspecting Nancy, and the bartender gets paid to answer some questions about a guy who is literally sitting right behind him.

At least Abe had the sense to shout nudity in a crowded strip club, clearing the way for some bribery. The latest stale herring is a bouncer named Grout who likes to draw faces on fruits, then smash them with his bare hands. For hours. In a crowded strip club. Because that is a thing that happens at your place of employment.

We are now a full third of the way through this movie, and nothing has changed aside from Nancy’s sobriety level, and the fact that Abe has taken to breaking the fourth wall and addressing “witty” little asides straight at the camera.

The break of the fourth wall was a tilt into the sort of black comedy you sometimes see pop up in prolific horror directors’ later career. After years of battling decency leagues, censors and lots of questions about the level of latent misogyny in gore films, the director in question attempts to go all the way over the top on satirical dark comedy. You want bad taste? They’ll show you bad taste all right.

While the deaths get more daffily bizarre and Abe’s mansplaining about town gets more face punch inducing, making anti porn feminists another potential red herring is the only parody barb that kind of hits its intended target.

Yet another stripper is about to peel her business casual gear, but gets interrupted by a large group of first wave anti porn feminists holding placards demanding everyone “Quit With Tit” because “Lewd Is Crude”.

A brawl ensues between the pro sex work dancers/patrons and the “liberated” protestors, and I’m grateful for the interruption in routine.

Abe pours drunk Nancy into a cab, and questions the sensible sportswear stripper at her apartment. Shortly after he leaves, she gets her throat slit while suggestively holding a cucumber, then the killer finishes the job with a meat tenderizing mallet and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper. That’s not a typo, nor a metaphor, actual table spices are used.

Gentry sends the cops on a wide goose chase with a story regarding the killer’s made up religious motive. He bribes someone else to do some lab work, and we just wasted 15 minutes on an overelaborate circle back to the previous scene. Those damn meddling women’s libbers are next on the suspect list.

Meanwhile, the killer has a few more dancers to bump off in over the top nonsensical ways that aren’t even anatomically possible. Throats are slit, faces are ironed, removal of nipples makes a fountain of both regular and chocolate milk (ALSO NOT A TYPO). A roommate comes home and meets her demise in a pan of hot french fry grease.

So many cheap rubber casts and wax melts. Told you H.G. Lewis would end up swinging for the lunatic fences.

The cops continue to bumble, the film is now 60 minutes in, and we still don’t know much more than we did when we started.

Abe goes to question Marzdone Mobilie, owner of the strip clubs. Marz is played by none other than comedy legend Henny Youngman. Considering how many times I’ve made fun of films for badly aping his quintessential Borscht Belt one liners, the OG himself gets a full on pass to crack vintage wise. The man worked every day for almost 70 years. I hope he spent the $500 he got paid for the cameo on something he enjoyed.

Marz doesn’t have much wisdom to impart in regards to the murders, but tells Abe he’s having an amateur night strip contest, with a $1000 prize to attempt to restaff/revitalize the clubs. His staff is getting bumped off faster than he can hire them.

There’s some minor plot dithering as Abe pays a dialog free visit to his friend the lady wrestler, and Nancy goes undercover with the women’s liberation group. At last, it’s the night of the big strip contest, where a suspicious number of “amateurs” seem to have bedazzled g strings beneath their day dresses.

Marlene the waitress still loathes Abe, who is busily getting Nancy hammered again, so she’ll enter the contest.

Full of tequila and jealousy over Abe admiring another girl, Nancy does enter and win, but we see little more than her hair and her knees as the crowd hoots and hollers their approval of her striptease.



Throughly wasted, Abe takes Nancy back to her apartment, where she falls asleep on the couch almost immediately. Soon a familiar shadow looms over her……revealing the killer to be…….

……Marlene, who supposedly is severely burn scarred. She killed because she was jealous of the dancers’ beauty and place in Marz’s affections. In reality, its clear it’s nothing more than a wonky bald cap, and her hair is CLEARLY visible in back. Abe runs Marlene off………

…..where she promptly gets hit by a car and ground into another pile of unrecognizable butcher scraps. While Abe does provide an explanation of how he knew who the killer was, most of the events happened off screen, and I’m certainly not sure what “a gesture only a lady wrestler would use” would be even if I DID see it.

Despite Abe trying to alcohol poison her on multiple occasions and nearly getting her murdered, Nancy STILL wants to sleep with him. Abe breaks the fourth wall one last time, admonishes us that we have “seen enough” and physically pulls down the “curtains” on both the film, and Herschell Gordon Lewis’ golden age as a filmmaker.

Bite Size: Ganja & Hess (1973)

In an era littered with unscrupulous producers and distributors who hijacked both finished products and profits from filmmakers, Ganja & Hess is the rare inverse case. Director Bill Gunn received financing to make a budget conscious cash in on the success of Blacula. Instead, Gunn used the funds to turn out a film that has more in common with the “New Hollywood” arthouse inflected movement than Blaxploitation tropes.


Wealthy anthropologist Hess Green (Duane Jones) is attacked by his suicidal research assistant, George Meda (director Bill Gunn) with an ancient African ceremonial dagger. The dagger carries a disease that gives the infected near eternal life, and an unceasing thirst for human blood. When George’s wife Ganja (Marlene Clark), comes to the estate looking for her deceased husband, she instead joins Hess in both marriage and his cursed state (though not his personal ideologies).

It’s a slight plot, but the pretext of vampirism allows for a dizzying array of allegory and subtextual commentary on the nature of addiction, Black assimilation in America, and the hypocrisy of Christianity. It’s a shimmering shape shifter of a film to begin with, doubly so for those prone to analysis, and I’ve done a previous deep dive of the movie’s thematic elements right here.

The visuals and sound further the fever dream, with title cards and tilted angles joining lushly shot runs through sun dappled fields, and queasy, almost POV style kills. Sam Waymon’s score burbles both underneath and on top of the dialog, African chants, church hymns and a narrative soul croon given equal weight to the words being spoken by the characters. The cut and paste, collaged aesthetic is both disorienting and deliberate.

The disappointed producers of the film quickly pulled it from distribution for a hatchet job of a recut/retitling(Blood Couple), despite it winning a prestigious prize at that year’s Cannes film festival. Ganja & Hess has very little to do with the easy to sell Blaxploitation conventions that they were hoping for. There are no oversized heroes or easy villains, no action sequences, no clever catchphrases or catchy theme tunes.

Instead, just a slow, purposeful introspection. For all of the larger questions Ganja & Hess raises, there’s no easy catharsis to any of them, no through line of linear narrative, right and wrong. Just two characters, and how they individually navigate their status as othered outsiders, even before you factor in the newly found bloodlust.

*Note from your Midnight Movie Monster: There’s a bit of a break from my usual tone from this post, which marks the end of my break from regular updates(which will continue on their usual schedule from here on out). With the pandemic and the protests against racism and police brutality still ongoing, I took some time off and focused on being useful to the larger issues at hand, rather than cracking wise about B cinema.

Usually, I reserve bite size pieces for films of lesser merits, but this film is actually one of my absolute favorites of the grindhouse golden age, and an excellent piece of arthouse horror. I just wrote it up as a bite size piece being that I had previously covered it for an outside venue.







Bite Size: Chatterbox! (1977)

In 1977, Tom DeSimone’s (Hell Night, The Concrete Jungle) main claim to fame was directing a string of successful gay porn features under the pseudonym Lancer Brooks. This makes AIP’s choice to place him at the helm of a silly softcore sex comedy about a girl with a talking vagina either a complete lapse in any discernible logic or a calculated exercise in economics. Porn directors were highly unlikely to be union talent.

Also, you absolutely read the middle of that paragraph correctly. Hairdresser Penelope (Candice Rialson) discovers her vagina can spout sassy wisecracks when it insults her boyfriend Ted’s (Perry Bullington) sexual performance. Even worse, Penelope’s lady parts also have a propensity for singing showtunes.

Fresh out of a break up, and at her wits end on what to do, she goes to see a psychiatrist, Dr. Pearl (Larry Gelman). Instead of helping, Dr. Pearl uses an AMA conference to launch Penelope and the newly christened “Virginia The Talking Vagina” into show business. As the pair’s fame grows and people increasingly forget the girl that surrounds the genitals, Penelope needs to learn how to live with her particular brand of female trouble.

All of this stress is because poor Penelope has a chatter….box. Get it? GET IT? Good, because that’s as sophisticated as the humor in this movie gets. At all times, Chatterbox! would like to remind you how WHIMSICAL! and NAUGHTY! it is, when in reality the content and the jokes land somewhere between the fantasies of a 12 year old boy who has no clue how sex works and a nudity dotted episode of The Love Boat.

Comedy castoffs Rip Taylor and Professor Irwin Corey both have bit parts to mug it up in, and there’s plenty of slide whistle music cues to maintain the air of forced cheerfulness. Even at a scant 73 minute runtime, the box puns and double entendres wear awfully thin. By the time Penelope ends up on a fictionalized version of The Dating Game to win a date with Dick, it feels like a step up in terms of one liners. Until the disco production numbers of “Wang Dang Doodle” and “Cock A Doodle Doo” show up. Then we take that half step right back down to a shitty issue of Mad magazine.

In between, we get a bunch of “wacky” hijinks that feel forced even by the standard of other silly sex comedies of the period. Virginia just can’t keep quiet, and soon Penelope is fending off aggressive lesbian clients at the hair salon, and being nearly cornered to play ball with an entire sports team. The lead actress spends a good portion of the runtime either topless or holding her crotch like a small child who really has to go pee. We get a lot of closeups of Virginia in the production numbers, or at least her bedazzled g-strings.

Candice Rialson was one of the most appealing starlets of the exploitation golden age, and likely could have had a mainstream career had the cards played just a few pair differently. A doe eyed blonde beauty with a light comedic touch and a knack for making the raciest of material look more nudie cutie than sticky floor sleazy, she lit up the screen in any film in which she appeared. It is only because of Candice’s charisma that all of this failed gaiety is even remotely watchable and only occasionally cringe inducing.

All things considered, she certainly deserved better than a movie where the happy ending is a suicide averted by the sudden appearance of a singing schlong. No wonder Candice retired from acting at the beginning of the 1980’s. The challenge of starting a family and raising a child must have seemed like a breeze by comparison to trying to make something entertaining out of material like this.

Death Game (1977)

Shot in roughly 2 weeks in 1974, Death Game’s production was doomed from the start. The original director was fired at the last second, and producer Peter S. Traynor took over. His complete lack of anything resembling a clue caused the entire cast to basically stop speaking to him. Colleen Camp and (post Oscar nomination, pre Clint Eastwood) Sondra Locke only bothered to inform him that they preferred he stay the fuck out of the way of day to day filming. Male lead Seymour Cassel quit the shoot after nearly decking his ersatz “director”. While all of Cassel’s scenes were completed before he left, he refused to come in to rerecord some lines, causing his entire performance to have to be dubbed over in post.

Production was then halted by a federal investigation into Peter Traynor’s financing sources, delaying the release of the film by over two years. When Death Game finally saw the light of day in 1977, it promptly flopped in a six month theatrical run. Retitled as The Seducers, the movie had some modest success on the home video market before becoming a common add on to those $5 50 movie box sets that sit by the checkout line at big box retailers.

In honor of the upcoming Grindhouse Releasing restoration, let’s take a look at what will soon be (incorrectly) hailed as a lost grindhouse classic, and you too can be one of the cool kids who liked this movie better when it sucked:

All you need to know about the credits sequence is that this print was ripped from VHS (hence the title) and that it is a full 4:45 of a woman with a faux fishwife accent singing about “dear old dad” who “taught both table manners and the birds and bees”. I wondered what in the fuck those two things had to do with each other, made a mildly off color eating reference, then began praying for my own death or the end of the song, whichever occurred first.

This porn ‘stache having gent is George, our somewhat hairy hero. The film’s events take place on his birthday, which he spent playing cinema’s first ever game of strip croquet with his wife, before she traveled out of town to get his son some needed surgery. He has a nice chat with his son on the phone, telling him how great he thinks it is that he wants to bring his newly removed appendix to school.

Just as he is about to settle in by the fire with a drink, these two bits of ridden hard and put away wet come knocking, and ask to use his phone. Because he’s the sort of guy who thinks a human organ is great for show and tell, he lets the women in.

The brunette is Donna, and the blonde introduces herself as Jackson. George agrees to let them stay until a friend comes to pick them up, and offers them hot cocoa and fresh towels to dry off, warm up, and allow more subtle peeks of skin for him to low key leer at. While Jackson nips off to use what she inexplicably refers to as the “catbox”, George acts like a first class out of touch doofus around Donna, trying to impress her with some elevator music he claims his kids gave him.

When the girls become transfixed by such amazing amenities as running water, they decide to have a skinny dip in the hot tub. When George discovers them cavorting about, he puts up some token resistance before joining them for a threesome. I’m sure his strip croquet partner will be less than thrilled with George’s sudden fondness for water polo. In the meantime, we get a 5 minute montage of head, shoulders, knees, and man ass. The music is so utterly redolent of 70’s porn, I had my speakers tested for syphilis. We also get a lot of weird B roll landscape and sunrise shots mixed in, for those cheap weed and consciousness raising vibes.

Morning comes, and so does the regret, but the girls are all smiles and offers of breakfast. They refuse to leave and are clearly both less cute and more crazy by daylight. However, it is their messy eating habits rather than the several obvious screws loose that causes George to scream at Donna and Jackson to get dressed and GTFO. The chords of the “Dear Old Dad” theme start up again. I wear a matching hangdog expression to the still above. Instead of anything relevant to the plot, we get a 30 second close up of ketchup slowly dribbling from the bottle, while discordant noise stacks up on the soundtrack. I am not kidding about this.

In a rare moment of clarity, someone in the editing bay realized that was ungodly boring, and we get this instead:

Disco strings swell in the background as Jackson deep throats a banana. Donna smashes out random notes on the piano, and the pair inform George they won’t be leaving, after all. Jackson claims to be 17, and Donna only 15. They have no qualms at all letting George be shuttled off as a sex offender if he tries to make them go.

Sondra Locke was 30 years old, and Colleen Camp was 21 years old in 1974. It’s obvious to anyone who isn’t an idiot that both of these ladies are clearly of legal age. However, George has proven to be exactly that, and panics at the threat. His response is to offer them a ride anywhere they want, and soon we are on another boring b roll filled field trip. The threat of another refrain of “Dear Old Dad” is cueing up on the soundtrack.

Thinking he’s left his bad life decisions behind in San Francisco, George has another cozy telephone chat with his wife, which is of no consequence other than the fact that his family is coming home the next afternoon.

Back at home after a long day of lowering the bar, George gets knocked out and bound to his own bed by Jackson and Donna, who while rather poor at basic life skills like bathing and using forks, can at least plan a successful fake out. Now that they’ve got him where they want him, the girls….jump on the bed. They put on make up, and play dress up in George’s wife’s clothing, showing some likely to be distributor mandated nudity. They cackle. A lot. “Dear Old Dad” plays yet AGAIN on the soundtrack.

They beat George up a bit for not looking particularly terrified, and Donna makes a sad speech about being molested, and that George is her new daddy now because he was so nice to her. We are now halfway through the movie and it’s the first legitimately disturbing thing either of the pair have managed.

Because all less stupid things must come to an end, the girls drag George down the hall and coat him with all of the food in the house. They cackle. Boy do they ever cackle. They cackle so much I feel like I’m back in primary school conjugating verbs. I cackle. She cackles. They cackle. We cackle. I will cackle. She will cackle. We will cackle. They will cackle. Assume cackling happens anytime the female leads are on screen for more than 3 seconds.

Realizing they have no more stolen food to actually eat, Donna orders groceries, and George makes his first non moronic decision of the film. The second the delivery man rings the doorbell, he starts screaming for help.

To keep him from snitching, Jackson and Donna drown the poor delivery guy in the oversized fishtank. We are now over an hour into a movie originally titled Death Game, and the first (and thus far only) death is barely visible behind a green gel filter. This game sucks.

There’s a long, sleep inducing sequence of a mock “trial” the girls subject George to. All it really is the same threats of rape allegations, breaking stuff and cackling as the previous hour of the movie, but with a green gel filter to make the lighting spooky this time. For real(ly dumb), I’m serious(ly amazed this movie is still going).

The “verdict” is guilty. Shocking, really. Sentence is death at dawn. George tries to escape a second time, and gets another blow to the head for his trouble. Whimsical music plays as the girls booze and eat, making weird pseudo sex faces at each other while they munch on apples and bagels.

George is left to his concussed daydreams of the simpler times of family life and strip croquet. “Dreams” might be a bit strong of a word. It’s basically his wife’s weird sex noises from the beginning of the film on the soundtrack while the camera stays focused on ceiling eaves. Saves the $50 it would cost to bring back the actress.


After even more shriek, smash and cackle (which was totally what was lacking in this film), dawn finally arrives. Jackson picks up a cleaver, but brings it down on the pillow behind George rather than his actual neck.

As a broken George sobs, the girls finally leave, satisfied with the life ruining results of their not quite death game. They skip down the street for yet another full 4:45 minute reprise of “Dear Old Dad”, and I once again start praying for death, before recalling I’m a lifelong atheist.

An “SPCA” truck comes barreling around the corner……

….and kills old Cackle and Squeak so violently, they become photo negatives. Apparently, the Deus ex machina does answer prayers. Roll credits.

Bite Size: Fairy Tales (1978)



While not exactly a trend, the 70’s saw several scattered attempts at an adults only fairy tale musical. If Fairy Tales had been a one off, I could have easily shrugged my shoulders and blamed it on the era’s love of Quaaludes and poor life decisions. However, this movie is the last in a line of filmic lemmings freefalling off the same cliff. The Adult Brothers Grimm hit theaters in 1970, Alice In Wonderland in 1976, Cinderella in 1977, and finally Fairy Tales in 1978.

“Softcore musical sex comedy featuring storybook characters” is an oddly specific hill for multiple crews to box office bomb on, so let’s take a bite size look at a once upon a time turkey in a kingdom far, far away from anything that should have ever existed.

What plot there is concerns a Prince who is set to inherit his kingdom on his 21st birthday. The catch is that he must produce an heir by the following Thursday, because even stupid sex spoofs need some kind of stakes. A bouncing blonde birthday present fails to excite him, and he goes on a meandering hero’s journey to find a woman who can solve his fading flagpole issues in a pre Viagra era.

Despite the title, the characters are pretty much a mixed muddle of whatever could be found in a prefab bag at the local costume shop. The Prince is a dork in a bowl cut, last night’s make up and the outfit of a Shakespearean era extra in a middling high school musical.

In his travels, he meets a daffy Little Bo Peep in sheer panties, Mother Hubbard as the blowzy madam of a brothel in a shoe, a belly dancing Scheherazade and a Frog Prince that’s basically a confused dance student in a green velvet drape. While it is a thick drape, it fails to hide the actor’s obvious shame at the booming frog sound effects echoing from his crotch.

In between bumbling rejected Borscht Belt jokes about Venus and Uranus, we get musical numbers from a cast that performs with all of the acumen of a narcoleptic sufferer of St Vitus’ Dance. Snow White gets a pop tune about the joys of all 7 dwarves, 4 random nude women with floggers and gimp masks lip sync an Andrews Sisters style ditty about S&M, and the Prince gets a sad love theme. In all of this, there’s less skin showing than an average nudie cutie movie would have displayed almost 2 decades earlier.

By the time this movie introduces a bizarre subplot about a codpiece wearing Blaxploitation caricature of a pimp, and his love potion making Auntie Leveau, I barely had the energy to wonder how the legendary Motown singer Martha Reeves got mixed up in this mess. I was just thrilled to see a professional performer swing into a spooky fog filled disco number that actually would make a great addition to a Halloween novelty playlist. You can see for yourself in the video above.

Apparently, Martha was never told that the film was an adult movie, as her scene was shot outside of the main plot. Only after Fairy Tales was released, did she learn she was conned into making the only watchable sequence in this utterly juvenile “adult” film.

Despite all of its flaws, Fairy Tales does have a happy ending. Not for any of its characters per se, but for scream queen Linnea Quigley. Featured in a partially nude bit part at the end of the film (as the Princess the Prince has been searching for), she managed to springboard this small early role into starring in the much better movies we know and love her for today.

Bite Size: The Pink Angels (1971)

Welcome to Bite Size! This is a new shorter form feature for movies that deserve notice for their singular strangeness, but lack enough non narcolepsy inducing content to merit even a timestamped long form review. If the highlights of a film can fill a trailer or a Youtube video, but just barely………it will get a Bite Size write up.

The concept of a group of drag queens traveling cross country butched up as a biker gang is a fantastic basic idea, but this 1971 exploitation curio has some serious issues of identity crisis.

The straight grindhouse audience will likely be bored by the light comedy tone with a pronounced lack of the genre staple sex and violence.

Meanwhile, the gay audience will likely be put off by six dinner theater level actors limp wristing their way through various queeny stereotypes. While the T&A is sparse, there are just a smidgen too many leering shots of female walk on characters not to tip the film’s hand. This is clearly a gay themed movie made by people whose closest contact with the queer community or culture was watching Liberace on TV.

To add another layer to this pile of confusion, wrapped in enigma, swaddled in bad ideas, it’s a plotless wonder. This film’s idea of dramatic tension is lots of open air riding shots with the occasion stop for a food fight, a light lunch roadside or some shopping. Inset shots some of self styled Colonial Mustard bear no real connection to anything else. He’s clearly on a different soundstage, and was perhaps shipped in from a different movie as he shouts about dirty longhairs and ogles his secretary.

Perhaps because I watched it in the midst of the world going on lockdown to avoid spreading coronavirus, or perhaps because I have been subjected to a lot of budget mandated claustrophobia in genre fare, I did find some slight joys in this mess of a film. The actors improv gamely through their threadbare scenes, and it was kind of nice to meander away an hour and some change in endless shots of wide open spaces with 6 characters who actually liked each other.

That small pleasure makes the insanity of the nonsensical ending that much worse. Only in the last 5 minutes of the film do the insets and the main plot merge, and it is to provide one of the most out of nowhere downbeat endings I have ever seen. A swerve toward Easy Rider territory, the dumb ugliness of the choice is enough to make you seriously question the intent of everything that proceeded it.

Skip the film, but definitely watch the perfectly made trailer above. A long ago film editor basically read my mind across space and time regarding this film’s good points.

Behold the hysterically overblown line readings, bizarre digressions and a pre-Grizzly Adams Dan Haggerty as a member of a straight biker gang chasing after our protagonists. Short, sweet, and without tainting your braincells with a 85 minute slog to a 5 minute insult.

I have some other new things on the way, as well as a full length review of a much better movie. Until then, stay safe kids, and feel free to steal this glorious GIF to spread a little love in unfortunately interesting times:

Killer Nun (1979)

Exploitation film has always been a trend driven beast, with bizarre boomlets for damn near every common noun you can append -sploitation to.

Nunsploitation shared its 60s and 70s heyday with the women in prison films. Both niches were basically playing the same game, but with different variants of black and white uniforms. Fallen convent angels in habits or proud prison sinners in stripes, both subgenres were chock full of sadistic authority figures, women in isolation, and kinky (often lesbian) sex.

The subject of nuns also added the delightful bonus of jabbing a stick straight into the eye of the church, and a controversy was always good for a few extra asses in the seats. Not surprisingly, many genre standouts were produced by filmmakers in the Catholic strongholds of Spain and Italy.

Today’s film is one of the last gasps of the fading clergy craze, and is unusual for both being set in the (then) present day, and for having made the UK’s infamous “Video Nasties” list. It’s also the only nunsploitation flick starring former mainstream sex goddess Anita Ekberg (though it certainly isn’t the only Hail Mary in her late career filmography).

Originally titled “Suor Omicidi” and also released under the amazing, much snappier alternate title of “Bad Habits” let’s see just how far Ms. Ekberg has fallen from the Trevi Fountain:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is killernun1979title.png

Nothing much happens in the credit sequence. Communion wafers are eaten, nuns line up in elaborate configurations, incense and chants are had. An unseen Sister is in confession trying to be absolved of her need for revenge on all men, and up pops the title card. Enter Sister Gertrude (Anita Ekberg), clapping her hands, chastising two of her male patients for making dirty jokes, and being a absolute ray of sunshine that no rational human being would want to to deal with first thing in the morning.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is earlyinthemorning.png
Let that wimple enhance your dimples, Hail Mary Kay, full of grace



By comparison to the dour nuns in the opener, Sister Gertrude is absolutely the Mother Superior of the Order of the #305 False Eyelash, making her hospital rounds in full eye make up. Sadly, it isn’t all smiles and frosted eyeshadow.

Sister Gertrude has just recovered from surgery to remove a brain tumor, and she hasn’t been quite herself since. While she used to be the resident doctor’s first choice of assistant, she has been neglecting her duties of late, endangering patients and having wacky music cue filled panic attacks at the sight of blood. A younger nun named Sister Mathieu picks up the slack for Sister Gertrude’s various fuck ups.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is anitaseyeskillernun-1.png
Hey hun! Wanna be a #bossbabe? I have a great new mascara you should try


Every doctor that has examined her has declared Sister Gertrude healthy. She insists that all of the tests are wrong, and that she would be her usual self again if she could only get some more morphine. Because those cold sweats and fainting spells couldn’t possibly be drug withdrawal rather than an invisible phantom tumor. Nope. No way.

In a landmark case of “that escalated quickly”, Sister Gertrude is reading bloody hagiography of tortured saints to the patients at breakfast, then curbstomps patient Josephine’s dentures to dust for taking them out at the table. Sister Gertrude has gone from Pollyanna levels of sunny to shrieking “DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING! DISGUSTING!” like Joan Crawford when she just saw some wire hangers.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is feelings.png
Because this totally happens at slumber parties. The pillow fight was just offscreen.




Sister Gertrude’s no good, very bad day just keeps on rolling.

Sister Mathieu insists on a nude fireside chat in their shared bedroom, confessing to both her forbidden love, and destroying Gertrude’s medical records. Without tangible proof, no one can deny Gertrude is sick…..which even the brain tumor survivor realizes is an utterly stupid plan.

Then that damned Josephine has to go and have a heart attack and die from the shock of the false teeth frenzy.

Then the doctor cuts off Gertrude’s supply of morphine. Cold turkey.

There’s nothing to do but sneak off into the city and pawn a dead woman’s stolen ring for drug money. As one does.

Trading one habit for another in style



Over alternating dreamy Roman cha cha music and kicky disco kerfluffle, Gertrude does her various dirty deeds and stops into a cafe for a drink, a smoke, and a man. In hilarious voiceover, she growls about liking beards, and disliking a man she deems “too Latin looking”, whatever the fuck that means in terms of a generic looking white guy. Settling on a chain smoking clams adjuster, she practically purrs and pants her way through this breathy and bizarre line reading:

Sister Gertrude (voiceover): Come on……look this way. Sister Gertrude is just DYYYYYIIING to make love to you.


While Anita Ekberg declined to appear nude, they do have weird half clothed simulated sex in a random apartment building hallway. How his gross open mouthed goldfish style make out technique would be a turn on remains a mystery. On the other hand Ms. Ekberg’s Sister Gertrude is still a stone cold fox.

Back at the charity hospital, Sister Gertrude sets a two prong plan in motion. First, get the doctor who dared deny her fired. Second, celebrate by deciding to shoot up over it. It’s a special occasion, after all. Thrashing about on the carpet, we get a surreal little hallucination sequence of sliced brains and the tentative fondling of the deceased. All set to this delightful piece of music in search of a Nancy Sinatra song to belong to.

It’s about here that the movie takes an abrupt leap towards giallo territory, and mostly lands with a thud. A patient tries to help Sister Gertrude through her overdose. No good deed goes unpunished, and he is bludgeoned to death with a lamp, then tossed out of the window to make it look like a suicide.

The ever helpful Sister Mathieu burns a bloody veil of Gertrude’s she finds in the laundry, not that it helps anyone believe the suicide story. By the following afternoon, the remaining patients point blank call Gertrude a killer during the world’s grimmest game of truth or dare.

A patient and a local girl have some noisy sex outside in the pouring rain, and while their choice of venue is questionable, being choked to death with cotton gauze seems excessive.

Took a Quaalude in Chelsea and ended up on a set in Rome. Weird.


Somewhere in the middle of all this, Factory fleshpot Joe D’Allesandro shows up as the new head doctor at the hospital. He keeps his shirt on and his wonderful, working class New York City accent is dubbed out. That tidily eliminates any conceivable purpose of his being in this film.

Asymmetry? Kinky, but I suppose I can oblige.


In a clear concession to the current non starter status of the plot, Sister Gertrude savagely humiliates a nude Sister Mathieu. Sudden dominatrix mode engaged, Gertrude threatens to beat Mathieu if she does not immediately put on silk stockings, and make good on her previous sexual invitations.

I love it when a still expresses my feelings perfectly.

Due to an excess of jumping jacks, the patients have a soup bowl clanking rebellion(none of that is a typo), and are sent to bed early. After leading evening prayers, Sister Gertrude is attacked by a mystery assailant, and the one patient who may know who did it is keeping silent. Not that it matters, as the potential snitch is acupunctured to death the following day, and hung up to bleed out in a laundry chute. Bonus points for easy clean up.

Smoking cessation goes awry


Sister Gertrude flies into hysterics at the sight of another body, and when Dr. Rough Trade gives her a sedative, her drug addiction is obvious. She has more than enough tracks to make a greatest hits album. Sister Mathieu tearfully admits covering for Gertrude’s addiction and the theft of hospital morphine.

Desperate to know what is real and what is her own hallucination, Gertrude drugs and kidnaps a handicapped patient named Peter. Dumping him at the bottom of the boiler room steps, she demands to know who is the source of the rumors blaming her for the murders. When he refuses to tell, Gertrude takes his crutches, trapping him there. She has other business to attend to……..

Which gives Peter plenty of time to drag himself up the stairs inch by inch….

Only to be kicked right back down them again by an unseen nun. Yet another killing gets Sister Gertrude sent away to the Brides Of Christ version of Bellevue……

To give us appropriate time to rush through a sloppy ending that primarily exists in service of getting this highly misleading image onto some video boxcovers.

Again, I love it when a still does the talking for me. Roll end credits, which at this stage feel like a miracle.

The Candy Snatchers (1973)

This post is a wrong side of the tracks part of the Leap Day Blogathon, hosted by Taking Up Room, as it stars leap baby Susan Sennett.

The early 70’s were a time of massive change for all facets of film industry. The old studio system was gone, and a newly frank and independent generation of filmmakers were veering into rawer territory than ever before seen in Hollywood. Hardcore pornography broke box office records, and porno chic permeated pop culture to the point that even the staid New York Times had a reviewer front and center for “Deep Throat”.

It was bad enough that the mainstream was edging onto exploitation’s turf, and that the rise of hardcore had killed the market for old style hard R/soft X sexploitation almost overnight. However, another shake up was coming to the grindhouse ecosystem. As is often the case with cinematic stalkers, the next menace was coming from inside the house. Exploitation veteran Sean Cunningham and fresh face Wes Craven unleashed “Last House On The Left” in 1972, and set a new high water mark of drive in depravity.

With everyone scrambling to find new ways to package exploitation style sleaze, short lived distributor General Film Corporation took a chance on an odd little film called “The Candy Snatchers”, with TV writer/one off director Guerdon Trueblood manning the director’s chair, and first timer Bryan Gindoff providing a script that mixed sex and shocks with a new crime thriller style structure. Let’s find out what exactly they are doing to poor Candy, shall we?

Smart money says this still ended up in at least one fetish magazine.


Folk guitar twangs over the sound track, admonishing us what a shame it was that “the Candy girl had to play the game”, and clueing us in that this particular Catholic schoolgirl is the titular Candy. In a classic B-movie tradition, the teen Candy is played by twenty something actress Susan Sennett. Candy chats with the Mother Superior, says goodbye to her friends, and promptly starts trying to hitch a ride home. Basically this entire sequence becomes a music video for the folky theme still blaring away on the soundtrack, “Money Is The Root Of All Happiness”. Candy is young, carefree, and blissfully unaware of being watched:

Enter hulking Eddie (Vince Matorano), scheming Jessie (Tiffany Bolling), and her several screws loose brother Alan (Brad David). Following behind her as she continues to hitchhike, they kidnap Candy in the guise of giving her a ride. Because those Groucho glasses don’t actually hide anything, our trio blindfolds, binds and gags Candy in the back of the van to protect their identities.

We get a close up of a “Money Is The Root Of All Happiness” bumper sticker on the van, a special credits sequence mentioning the writer and singer of the new song “Money Is The Root Of All Happiness”, and now a long plot mandated drive into the hills so the entire song can be played AGAIN.

Dear God, this movie needs to stop trying to make “fetch” happen with this Jim Croce reject theme song.


This still….likely ended up in the same fetish magazine.



Candy’s father is a well to do manager of a diamond jewelry business, and our terrible trio kidnapped her to collect a hefty ransom. A efficient, simple plan. Where this veers from Crime 101 is that they plan on burying Candy alive until the ransom is paid, with nothing more than a tiny pipe for air. This is the sort of overly elaborate nonsense that tanks Bond villains, let alone a group of people who have yet to master the concept and correct use of masks. Jessie admits that she got the idea from seeing it on television. Clearly, that was one gritty episode of “Scooby Doo”.

To compound the tragedy, no one notices there’s a witness, even if that witness is just a kid who looks like a lost extra from “Village Of The Damned”:

Mr. Joshua: The Early Years



The child does try to help Candy in his own odd way, listening in to make sure she is still breathing, then dropping some peanuts down the hole to attempt to feed her. Our tiny potential savior is named Sean(Christophe Truegood), as we learn from his mother screaming his name like a pig caller from the bottom of the hill. She also is slamming a cowbell with all her might, in case your eardrums weren’t bleeding yet. Little Sean is apparently mute, and before he can even try to indicate what he saw up above, his mom is slapping him and shrieking that they are late to Daddy’s business dinner. Meanwhile, Daddy isn’t even home yet. If this woman was my only company, I wouldn’t talk either.

Brain? Chief Quimby? Uncle Gadget?




Meanwhile, back in the actual plot of the film, the baddies are synchronizing watches and getting ready to make their ransom demands to Candy’s father, Mr. Phillips (Ben Piazza). It’s an ornate, timed 3 person plan. They need all the help they can get if they are going to successfully pull off such daring maneuvers as making a phone call and dropping an envelope off at the back gate of a business. What’s next? A cereal box decoder ring?

Right about here is where this movie starts to splinter into a random joy buzzer effect, as if you were flipping through the channels, unsure of what exactly it was you wanted to watch, and catching a little bit of everything. Each individual plot thread chugs along, with blithe disregard for matching the mood or content of the others. This does not get better as the film goes on.

Jessie and company celebrate their victory with some drunk driving, visions of diamonds giddily dancing in their heads as they drive to the ransom drop off point.

Sean’s parents cringe in embarrassment in admitting to the big boss their son can’t talk. Said boss finds disability hysterical, and laughs like a community theater Mephistopheles for at least 30 seconds. Making a mute child cry is high comedy, apparently.

Meanwhile, Mr. Phillips gets Candy’s mom drunk, tells her Candy is staying with a friend, and that he has a work meeting to get to. The “work meeting” is a tryst with his assistant Lisa, who is also his mistress. She is putty in Avery Phillips’ hands, as long as those hands are full of embezzled diamonds from their shared workplace. Not surprisingly, he never shows up at the ransom drop off point.

Standing by their cartoon supervillain plan, Eddie and Alan take Candy out of her prison, and take her into their abandoned house hideaway for the night. You know, the one right next to the ventilated hole they decided to use instead. Because that makes total sense not to just use the house for the hostage in the first place.

Assuming that Candy’s family isn’t taking them seriously, Alan insists that Candy’s ear in a box is the only option to let her father know they mean business. Jessie and Alan are all for it, but Eddie stops them from actually harming Candy.

Instead, someone remembers this is indeed a grindhouse movie, and we take a trip to see a man named Charlie, a worker at the hospital morgue who apparently sells body parts out of the back. There’s a brilliantly creepy little scene where he negotiates the price with Jessie via singing a cheerful song down the hall, then delivers this bizarre speech while massaging the feet and legs of a corpse:

Charlie: These are the best people in the world. They don’t hurt nobody. They don’t make no trouble. They don’t tell me what to do. They don’t cost no money. They mind their own business. Yes, all they do is lie there, and just think about all them people it’s too late…..to fuck.

The smile never leaves Charlie’s face, even as he hands Alan the bloody ear in a baggie.


Eddie is back at the hideout, having a cozy fireside chat with the bound Candy, and inadvertently letting her know the name of each of her captors and approximately what they look like. It’s a soft focus speech full of pouty pathos and bowling alley dreams, and Candy falls asleep in Eddie’s arms.

Just in case you fell for the supposed character building of it all, as soon as Jessie returns from the morgue, Eddie has a vicious fight with her, until she is sobbing incoherently that “I don’t want to be me anymore!” Apropos of absolutely nothing, Eddie pulls her out of the bathtub and sexually assaults her in a fit of “friendzone” faux nice guy rage.

The only thing anyone learns from any of this is that they finally use the abandoned house to stash Candy, tying her to the radiator before they leave for the next stage of their Hindenberg of a plan. It involves more bickering, and the theft of a telephone truck.


Candy’s dad? Still keeping his wife drunk and misinformed as to Candy’s actual whereabouts.


Cut to an utterly ridiculous chop socky fight with a remarkably agile telephone repair man, which Jessie ends with a 2′ x 4″ and a terrible one liner.

Sean…..is still in the movie. His parents are still abusive.

Considering how this turned out, must be a Bud drinker



Eddie tries to strong arm Mr. Phillips, and we finally learn why he has been so coolly indifferent to Candy’s fate. He’s not her real dad, and never will be. If Candy lives to be 21, she will inherit two million dollars from her biological father’s estate. If Candy dies before then, Avery himself will receive half that sum. This knowledge is why he married Candy’s gin blossom of a mother in the first place.

In the second piece of actual acting in this entire movie, Mr. Phillips hands Eddie back his box of cadaver ear with a casual “You forgot this”, thanks him with barely concealed glee, and sincerely wishes him a nice day. Villain transformation complete, and parting Mr. Burns hand gesture duly earned.

Eddie runs back to the van and tells Jessie why they can’t kill Candy, if they want to see any sort of profit.

Unfortunately, Alan is already on his way up to the hills to do precisely that.

He’s not even sure why he’s still here.


This is what happens when the annoying child actor is the director’s real life son. Rather than the at least semi exciting chase that is currently happening off screen, we get a TV movie of the week presentation of Son-Rise: The Miracle Of Denim. He loosens Candy’s blindfold, but can’t untie her. Candy then begs him to get the police. Having failed miserably at everything but grinding the plot to a screeching halt, Sean hides in the open attic trapdoor when he hears Alan coming.


As he has been planning the whole movie, Alan brutally beats and rapes Candy, so she “won’t die a virgin”. It’s awful, and made worse by the fact that Sean is still there, and can see everything from his vantage point.

Eddie and Jessie arrive, and while too late to stop the rape, he nearly kills Alan for doing it.


In a spectacular misread of the room, the follow up to this is several scenes of flatfooted slapstick involving stray cats, goofy chases and Sean trying to use a talking toy to summon help. In more side splitting hilarity, the attempt at a phone call leads to a cantankerous Jewish deli owner telling Sean to shove a salami up his ass.

I can’t stand him either, but that was harsh.

American as apple pie.





There’s a solid 30 minutes more padding to the plot, but both this film and this write up have run long as it is. Assume bad jokes and drawn out scenes of Sean. Here’s the highlight reel:

Eddie has hidden Candy in the hole with a newly concealed breathing tube, to fool the others into thinking she is dead.

The titular Snatchers get themselves a gun, but stop by the house and kill Candy’s mom with a knife (?!)

They finally manage to force Mr. Phillips to empty his store’s safe and make with the diamonds.

Alan shoots Mr. Phillips and is about to shoot Jessie to increase his cut, but Eddie kills him first.

A wounded but not dead Mr. Phillips shoots Jessie in the parking lot, steals a car and starts following Eddie into the hills. The car chase is sped up like a bad episode of “The Benny Hill Show”, and there’s more wah wah pedal pseudo funk.

Everyone caught up? Good. Lets end this thing.

Eddie shoots and kills Candy’s stepfather…….

…….. and as he had promised earlier, Eddie begins furiously digging to free Candy from the hole.

Only for Sean to pop up out of nowhere with Mr. Phillips’ gun, and shoot Eddie dead in some sort of bizarre reverse MacGuffin that absolutely NOBODY wanted. He then happily slides down the hill, and shoots his parents for good measure. Candy’s paniced breathing gets louder on the soundtrack, before some familiar folky chords kick in:



By that metric, this movie owes me about $50



Scream Bloody Murder (1973)

Let’s take a journey deep into the heart of the public domain, to talk about “Scream Bloody Murder” a negative bank balance budget 70’s slasher that can be found everywhere from the Internet Archive to $5 DVD sets at big box retailers. The leading man is a one film wonder, and every print I can get my hands on is damaged and so yellowed it looks jaundiced. Even so, “Scream Bloody Murder” in slightly better shape than “Death Drug” by virtue of having actually made it onto the lowest rungs of DVD.

However, it is also a fantastic example of a basic class of filmic dumpster fire. These sorts of films wander out of obscurity by virtue of sheer manic gusto. Plot elements and set pieces are piled on top of each other in pedal to the metal crescendos of sex, violence, and sheer weirdness. Plotting or tension building is irrelevant, plot threads, characters, or entire chunks of the film are blithely made non entities in service of the next passing thought. Given budgetary constraints and often concise run times, if you go several steps too far as standard procedure, one of the 8769476834678937 ideas you’ve thrown against the wall will stick before the end credits roll. It’s filmmaking as Mad Libs. The result might be comic. Its also likely nonsensical.The zippy pacing and low investment of effort threshold will also probably go a long way toward making the end result entertaining overall. Now let’s get to “Scream Bloody Murder”:


The pre credit open is a farmer working next to a tractor, while his bowl cut sporting moppet plays nearby. As soon as Daddy’s back is turned, the kid hops into the driver’s seat, and mangles dear old Dad to death under the wheels. Why? Because someone remembered “The Bad Seed” was a huge hit in 1956.

In a lightning fast bit of instant karma, the kid then loses control of the tractor, falls down, and MANAGES TO RIP OFF HIS OWN HAND under those same wheels. We are at the 3 minute mark, and we’ve already had two bloody “industrial accidents” and as much straightforward exposition as we are going to get regarding anything that happens in this entire movie.

Post credits we get a quick scene of the dime store bad seed getting hauled off to a mental ward, then a flash forward to the adult version reading (via voiceover) a letter from his mother. We learn our protagonist’s name is Matthew (Fred Holbert in his only film role), asylums look like mid tier day spas with kicky little striped robes, Matthew’s mom has been too busy to visit because of her new boyfriend, and that Matty boy now has a hook for a hand, likely because it was the cheapest way to explain away the missing one. It still gets a stinger music cue straight out of “Dark Shadows”.

Deep pile terrycloth, so soft. Mental ward spent so much on luxuries necessities like functioning extremities got hard to come by.



We get the director’s credit (Marc B. Ray, who only helmed that particular chair for 3 films) and a pouring blood graphic to cut to Matt’s homecoming after being released. Too bad it’s the same day as Mom’s wedding to that pesky boyfriend, and no one even knew the he was arriving back. Once the newly minted husband & wife do sort out who the one handed man is in their driveway, they attempt to seem remotely interested. Matt tosses a snitty shit fit worthy of any teenage edgelord that ever moped across a shopping mall to the Orange Julius.

I spy, with my little eye…..mommy issues 10 feet high



When Matt takes a break from sulking and farmwork to peep on his mom & stepfather kissing in the garden, he promptly murders them. The unmitigated gall of getting married and seeming happy about it was bad enough, but when stepdaddy kisses Mommy/Madonna (and makes her a filthy whore) he dispatches them both….with an axe and a rock. Even though he has a sharp object attached to his arm.

Matthew then hits the road and runs…… from the mother of all Oedipus complexes. He hallucinates his mommy being mauled by filthy men in everyone he meets, and none of the women he “saves” appreciate his sacrifice, so they get bloodily dispatched too. The newlyweds who pick him up hitchhiking? He bludgeons the man with a rock and then drowns the woman in a stream. The imagined taunts of his dead mother and step father ring loudly enough in his ears that they drown out the smooth jazz on the soundtrack, as he once again makes haste to avoid the rising body count.

Her painting looks….like she has a second job.



Meeting painter/hooker with a heart of gold Vera(Leigh Matthews, a two film wonder), things brighten a touch for our little Matt. He compliments her art, renames her Daisy, brings her flowers, and kills a john for treating her poorly. If that isn’t love, he doesn’t know what is. Also, the dead john? Killed with Vera’s stolen palette knife. What do the death sequences of this film and the song “Triumph” by the Wu Tang Clan have in common?

No hooks to be found in either of them.

Desperate to impress and to make good on his claims of wealth and success to fulfill his inane white knight fantasy of “saving” Vera/Daisy from sex work, he murders the entire household of the closest fancy house he can find. For those keeping score at home:
Time elapsed: 50 minutes
Body Count: 9
Implements used: 7
Kills via Hook Hand: 0

Matthew kidnaps his lady love and steals from locals to provide her with all the creature comforts you could possibly need while tied to the stolen bed of a psychopath. I would also be remiss if I didn’t pull out this notable quotable, both for the actual content, and the perfectly petulant delivery:

Matt (to Vera/Daisy): See what I do for you? I get groceries, and clothes, and art stuff, and kill people, and do you appreciate it? No.

“Scream Bloody Murder” has always been a favorite of mine, and the sequence post kidnapping has always been a big part of the reason why. In a film who’s very existence indicates a gaggle of questionable choices, Vera/Daisy never falls into the Bermuda triangle of slasher victim bad decisions. She defies Matthew’s insane directions as best as she is able, be that spitting food back into his face or insisting on being called her real name. The second Matt leaves the house, she hobbles to the phone, even if her bondage means she has to dial a rotary phone with her tongue (a rather impressive skill). She hops downstairs and makes noise when she hears the doorbell. She’s always plotting escape, and eventually she finds Matt’s Achilles heel. Like every other character based on Norman Bates’ basic template, he’s terrified of women, terrified of sexuality, and female sexual agency makes him just as limp as his knives and threats are sharp. In the context of needing a bath, Vera/Daisy forces him to attempt to play pool with a rope, and upends the power dynamic just long enough for another chance to flee.

I would like to point out that the general Vaseline effect is not due to the screenshot. That’s what passes for SFX in this film



Unfortunately, just as Vera/Daisy’s plan starts to work out, the unfamiliar sensations of wanting to be filthy cause Matthew’s hallucinations of Mommie Dearest to come back back in full force. He snaps, and finally slashes Vera/Daisy’s throat with the hook. The one character we have reason to care about is just a few STEPS from freedom, and Matthew FINALLY learns to keep it simple, stupid.

Side effects of supernatural incest may be hazardous to your health



Matt’s mind completely snaps, and hallucinations of all of his victims stalk him, cackling ungodly loud on the soundtrack. He runs away, then steals a car, abandoning it to try to hide in a church. Unsure if what he is seeing are real ghosts or tricks of his own mind, we see him finally get his fondest wish, giving the apparition of his mother a tongue kiss, then collapsing and spitting blood.

The ghosts/hallucinations/whatever raise hooks, Matthew raises his…….

Runtime: 92 minutes Hook Death Final Tally: 2



…….and eviscerates himself with his own hook. Instant karma strikes again, and this dumbass goes to his grave never having learned.


Bonus Round:

This is actually the poster/tagline for a much better film. Rightfully, the term gore-nography probably belongs to either “Blood Feast” (the originator of gore horror) or ” I Drink Your Blood” (first film rated x for violence/gore)

I would also like to give a special thanks to Chris Walker as his fan restoration is the best print I have yet seen, until Grindhouse Releasing FINALLY decides to release one.

Death Drug (1978)

This may seem like an odd place to begin even a bad film blog, as the failure and subsequent obscurity of “Death Drug” is very much deserved. B movie lovers are a devout bunch, tolerant of all manner of cheap sets, swiss cheese plotting and infinite variations of baseline technical ineptitude. They lovingly campaign for their personal favorite turds to be polished into updated Blu Ray editions, or limited run returns to the cinema. That is likely never going to happen here. However, I decided to open the blog with “Death Drug” because, to my head, it is a perfect example of 1 of the major classes of cinecrap.

In the age of the internet all media is infinitely more accessible, and all manner of film gets rediscovered. Every day, tons of titles ripple across blogs and forums as a “so bad it’s good” masterpiece, spreading outward until people who may have only seen a small part of the movie (if at all) feel the need to pass the word along. Much like the old children’s game of Telephone , except what gets lost in translation is that to get to the glorious few minutes of horror and hilarity, there will be 60-120 minutes where ABSOLUTELY FUCK ALL NOTHING happens. “Death Drug” only runs about 74 minutes, but without some friends to act as your MST3k crew, 56 of them are badly dressed dead air. That being said, if you too are damned to watch this alone, I’ll be giving you the TL: dr timestamps of the best bits, and that will likely be policy from here on out. Let’s begin, shall we?

Before watching this film
After watching this film


“Death Drug” is a pretty standard cautionary tale, and the entire character/story arc is pretty much summed up in these two photos. It’s the sort of ineffectual scare tactic melodrama US teens are regularly subjected to in health classes. A pre “Miami Vice” Philip Michael Thomas plays Jesse Thomas, a musician moonlighting as a plumber until his big break hits. He has a beautiful wife, a steady job, and has just been accepted into a prestigious music conservatory. However, he won’t even have a chance to pack for music school, before two music producers offer him the record deal of a lifetime. What could POSSIBLY go wrong? His friendly local neighborhood drug dealer even gives him a free party favor to help him celebrate during his victory lap disco celebration with the Gap Band(?!). Just one hit can’t hurt……….until Jesse starts hallucinating, and loses everything he holds dear to the comforting puff of PCP.

I will never fault a young actor for appearing whenever and where ever they can. However, most of them would quietly move on to bigger and better things. What takes “Death Drug” from shrill cheapie to internet pass around is that Phillip Michael Thomas decided to have this 1978 film partially recut with additional footage and rereleased on home video in 1986.

In 1986 Philip Michael Thomas was as big a star as he would ever be, making some $100,000 an episode as Tubbs on “Miami Vice”, and had accumulated some respectable stage and film credits. He was a household name with enviable cheekbones, but much like his “Death Drug” character…..wanted a music career. Rather than do another production of “Hair” or remind folks he was in cult favorite backstage musical “Sparkle”, Philip Michael Thomas had a better idea. He had “Death Drug” recut to be a showcase for his own new music video, and added a rambling intro about his performance as Jesse being a “dug deep from the soul” “dramatization” he hoped we enjoyed.

Ignoring the endless faux newsreel footage, the 4 FULL SONGS of Gap Band noodling, and the fact that this movie goes on for nearly 20 minutes AFTER THE MAIN CHARACTER DIES, let’s see some highlights of this “dramatization”:

I JUST WAAANT YOUUUUUU TOOOO SAAAAY YOOOUUUUU LOOOOOOVE MEEEEEE DAAAAADDDDY! (Timestamp: 22:35-24:42)
Not surprisingly, no one wanted to see PMT do the dad version of a robot dance move, and the music video failed to set MTV on fire, despite all of the blinking lights and superimposed effects $ 1.50 could buy (Timestamp: 26:59 – 30:33)
The Gap Band (of reptilians) is looking at me funny…GAAAAHHHAH (Timestamp: 41:17- 41:55)
There are motherfucking RATS in these MOTHERFUCKING ORANGES! (Timestamp: 52:16-52:53)
This is the face of a man about to play chicken with a truck…..YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME? Really, you should watch from the GIF above (52:16) to Jesse’s death (58:15) There’s MORE continuity addled faux newsreel after that, but it’s just to pad the runtime to feature length.


While Philip Michael Thomas may have thought he was digging deep for this role, he was digging his own career grave. Neither the recut film nor the music video made any impact at all, and by the 90’s the man who coined the term “EGOT” to describe his ambitions in entertainment was shilling for a psychic line. The psychic line was actually quite successful…..once they replaced PMT with everyone’s favorite faux Jamaican, Miss Cleo.