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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Diamonds in the Manure- 50 Chilling Classics Horror Movie Pack



"Chilling Classics" 50 (DVD) Movie Pack is a collection of public domain , low grade horrors most of them from the early 1970's. I am pretty well versed in Psychotronic-junk movies and thought I'd seen 'em all but this movie pack has some features that I'd only read about--and almost doubted their existance. Among the extremely cruddy and unwatchable movies (one of them stars George Hamilton use extreme caution!) there are some Psychotronic GEMS. The DVD's come packaged in tiny cheap cardboard envelopes that should probably hold pumpkin seeds or buttons.There are 50 movies so it is nice to come home from work every night and have something to watch. If you don't like the movie(s), just put a stamp on the cardboard envelope and mail it to a friend!

1) The Devil's Hand (1960). A man has strange dreams of a sultry blonde woman dancing in the clouds. This leads him to a strange doll shop run by "Commissioner Gordon" from the "Batman" TV series (Neil Hamilton). His shop custom makes dolls of real people resulting in creepy Twilight Zone-y looking dolls cluttering the shop--which has a devil-cult downstairs! The cult's club-room looks like a swinging Moroccan lounge with ornate cushions on the floor, an alter lined with "people dolls" and lots of statues (one large statue is of Buddha--so I don't know if the set designer had his religious priorities in alignment). This movie almost seems like Ed Wood and David Lynch got together for a no-budget rip-off of the "Perchance To Dream" episode of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. All the leads are dull and generic--and the supernatural plot elements get gummed up in simple melodrama towards the middle, BUT this movie moves along pretty well and the luicrious plot provides laffs galore. The ending reminded me of the climax of "Horror Hotel" which was made the same year. I first saw this at 2:00 AM on Channel 11 (W-PIX) in the very early 1980's and forgot how really funny it was. Somewhat of a "cult-classic" that never was.

2) Messiah of Evil (1974?). There is very little background information on this excellent movie, that, for some reason fell through the cracks and was never shown on TV. If it was, it would be as well known as "Childeren Shouldn't Play with Dead Things" or "Let's Scare Jessica to Death". In fact, this movie is a more ambitious version of "...Jessica" with "Carnival of Souls" ,"The Sentinal", and "Night of the Living Dead" tossed in the salad as well! Messiah..." also evokes several H.P. Lovecraft stories mashed together (not so sure it's intentional, though).
Lovely Marianna Hill (the daughter who got married at the beginning of "The Godfather" and the stars of one of my all-time favorite Psychotronic movies; "The Baby" -1973) goes to a coastal sea-side California town to seek out her father--who is missing . She is perfect for this role(--as a 70's-Chick-in-Distress) . There is something not right with the residents who gather on the beach at night waiting for the "Blood Moon". There is a terrifying scene in a local ( real) supermarket as well as a movie theater and a gas station. The plot moves along very well in a thick and creepy, fog of low-budget atmosphere that was unique to the 1970's. The acting is excellent and the the realistic setting makes this a standout in the genre of low-budget horror from the pivotal decade. I do wish the print was better. Put a call to the Criterion Collection Hotline! I cannot even find movie posters, ads , pressbooks or lobby cards on this movie--did it even play in theaters??

3) Scream Bloody Murder (197?) A loser with a hook hand falls for a hooker and tries to keep her a-la "The Collector". Great no-moral-to-the-story psycho killer exploitation yarn with some hilarious/stupid scenes, acting and characters. The ending takes place in a church and is pretty freaky! This never played on TV. Similar to the even weirder movie "My Brother Has Bad Dreams" (197?) that did play on the late great WOR-Channel 9!

4) The Legend of Bigfoot. (197?). OK, This is THE WORST BIGFOOT MOVIE EVER MADE. I would like to find out if it was all a joke. If it was, it's the best joke ever made! This is nearly 90 minutes of stock nature footage of forests, ponds, marshs and the middle-of-nowhere. A narrator tells us that Bigfoot was sited at various locations of the stock footage. Lots of "Bigfoot was seen here recently but I guessed we just missed him" comments as scenes of deer, chipmunks, beavers and bears are shown--endlessly. Finally, a few minutes of grainy footage of a man in a black furry costume is shown wandering around in a wooded area. Unbelievable!

5) The Revenge of Dr. X. (1970?)
Another film I had read about in Psychotronic a decade ago and never saw . A strange Asian (think Godzilla) film about an American scientest on an island experimenting with plants. Lo, he creates a "Franken-Plant" creature--that looks pretty funny/incredible/weird. The monster moves very slowly--so you could easily just run away from him at any time and safely be out of danger. The acting is awful, the ending sucks and this movie is too long for what it is. Worth seeing once, so I can scratch it off of my "to see" list. This was once a very rare movie but with the advent of DVDs all the scum floats to the top of the pond!
This Cheapie-pak also includes some noted titles such as:
a) The Driller Killer. I always hated Abel Ferrara's movies (the "Body Snatchers" remake was pointless), and although I still do not like this movie, some people will love it for historical (Oh Man, it was so great back then...) value. This will especially hold well with under-30 year olds who look back on 1977-1981 as the Punk Rock renaissance.
This is NOT a body-count slasher movie as the title implies. It's a D.I.Y. "punk" psychological thriller filmed on the streets of NYC. Driller Killer also looks like a very good "student film" that would come out of SVA or NYU, so there is another possible fan base for this film on an archeological level. There are many scenes that take place in Max's Kansas City as well! If you want to see the "punk look" circa 1980--check it out--(it looks almost as stupid as the "punk look" of today!) This also turns up in "dollar DVD" bins, so it's very available.


SUMMARY: 50% of the titles here are boring, horrible quality or have been "public domained to death".
Worse is the fact that there are too many movies here starring Cameron Mitchell--an actor so boring and unmotivated ; he makes mold grow on the TV screen .
However, this is well worth buying for the handful of rare cinema-puke films included. So, if you see the "50 Chilling Movies" DVD pack on sale somewhere, grab it or give it as a gift! (Under $20.00)

10 Comments:

At 11:27 PM, Blogger Michael_Meade said...

"Messiah Of Evil" is a true masterwork, one that definitely deserves more attention!... It's a film that can honestly be honed as a major influence on the works of David Lynch (just check out the art gallery scene if you don't believe me), John Carpenter (especially the Carpenter-penned "Halloween III: Season of the Witch"- My God, the comparisons are uncanny!), and films such as Gary Sherman's "Dead And Buried" (which was written by Alien creator and Carpenter pal Dan O'Bannon), and even Zack Snyder's remake of "Dawn Of The Dead" (that infamous supermarket scene Lance mentioned would fit nicely into the "Dawn" remake)... Let's pray to the cinema gods that someday a decent print of this nightmarish, hypnotic, hysterical, beautifully-shot-and-designed b-flick classic will get an official DVD release. Until then I second Lance's call: seek this baby out!

 
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