The Red Queen Kills Seven Times – Italy/West Germany, 1972

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times is a 1972 Italian-German giallo thriller feature film directed by Emilio Miraglia [as Emilio P. Miraglia] (The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) from a screenplay co-written with Fabio Pittorru (Nine Guests for a CrimeCalling All Police Cars; The Weekend Murders). The movie stars Barbara Bouchet, Ugo Pagliai, Marina Malfatti and Marino Masé. The Italian title is La dama rossa uccide sette volte.

The soundtrack score was composed by Bruno Nicolai (Eyeball; All the Colours of the Dark).

Plot:

Germany: Young sisters Kitty and Eveline attack each other violently but are stopped from stabbing each other by their grandfather. They’ve been driven insane by an old painting, a depiction of ‘The Red Queen’, a figure said to curse their family, appearing every hundred years to claim seven victims.

In 1972, Kitty (Barbara Bouchet) is working as a photographer for Springe fashion house. She receives a call from her other sister, Franciska (Marina Malfatti), informing her that their grandfather has died, apparently from a heart attack induced by the appearance of a mysterious figure in a red cape. When Hans Meyer, the sleazy manager of Springe, is stabbed to death, it seems Eveline might be responsible…

Reviews:

” …what really outshines here is the murders by the red queen, the great music from Bruno Nicolai, the attractive female cast, the vintage 70’s designer fashions, and the exotic European settings. The film combines the giallo film style and Gothic horror tale with panache, and if you enjoy those two things, then TRQK7T is likely to be a treat. ” At the Mansion of Madness

” …its constant plot twists and shifts in tone are considerably better executed than in The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave. It also features a brilliantly-executed climax involving a crowd of rats and a sealed room slowly filling with water, which more than makes up for the nonsensical narrative’s failure to successfully tie up the various disparate plot strands.” The Digital Fix

“It is all rounded off with a spot of epic scenery chewing – and a climax worthy of the Perils of Pauline.  Red Queen certainly isn’t the best example of the genre – it’s unevenly paced and sometimes a little incoherent – but for those looking for some seriously demented, 70s Italian gialli fun you could do worse than check this out.” Hysteria Lives

The Red Queen delivers everything you could want from a giallo. It boasts a winding plot that keeps you guessing, but unlike many of the entries in this genre, it holds up to scrutiny. ‘Evelyn’, clad in her blood red cape, is a classic giallo antagonist, laughing maniacally after each murder. In Bouchet, Malfatti and Sybil Danning […] you have a trio of classic European beauties…” The Movie Waffler

The Red Queen Kills Seven Times feels like a 98-minute tour through a decade of Italian horror filmmaking. The familial, haunted-castle backstory involving the Red Queen evokes the gothic era of the early 60s, when Bava and Steele reigned as king and queen, while the bright, gaudy fashion world aesthetic recalls Bava’s transition into color filmmaking. These two contrasting styles clash throughout…” Oh, the Horror!

“Deliciously convoluted plotting reworks familiar ingredients: a creepy castle, a blonde heroine exploring cobwebbed corridors, feverish dream sequences, another lovely score from Bruno Nicolai and an undead menace named Evelyn. Allotted a bigger budget this time round, Miraglia maintains his sumptuous compositions and imaginative use of psychedelic light and shadow.” The Spinning Image

“Chock a block with red herrings galore and a surplus of characters, Miraglia’s stylish and classy giallo is definitely worth seeing. It’s a satisfying blend of gothic and modern horror. Lovely scream queen Bouchet is always a pleasure to watch and the whole enterprise is buoyed by a number of thrilling death pieces.” The Terror Trap

“Production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi returns to provide the same level of unique style that he brought to Evelyn and the design of the red queen’s costume ensures that we would remember this character. The contribution of cinematographer Alberto Spagnoli is also worth mentioning as he makes great use of the European architecture to his advantage.” The Video Graveyard

The Red Queen successfully captures the haunted, murder mystery feeling of the giallo film era. High fashion in a gothic setting, sets the tone of the film as director Emilio Miraglia creates a classic crime mystery with supernatural overtones.” Without Your Head

Choice dialogue:

Elizabeth Hoffman: “All men are filthy beasts!”

Buy Blu-ray (US and UK releases): Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk

  • New audio commentary by Alan Jones and Kim Newman
  • Exclusive new interview with Sybil Danning
  • New interview with critic Stephen Thrower
  • Archival introduction by production/costume designer Lorenzo Baraldi
  • Dead à Porter archival interview with Lorenzo Baraldi
  • Rounding Up the Usual Suspects archival interview with actor Marino Masé
  • If I Met Emilio Miraglia Today archival featurette with Erika Blanc, Lorenzo Baraldi and Marino Masé
  • My Favourite… Films archival interview with actress Barbara Bouchet
  • Alternative opening
  • Original Italian theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Cast and characters:

  • Barbara Bouchet … Kitty Wildenbrück
  • Ugo Pagliai … Martin Hoffmann
  • Marina Malfatti … Franziska Wildenbrück
  • Marino Masé … Police Inspector
  • Pia Giancaro … Rosemary Müller (as Maria Pia Giancaro)
  • Sybil Danning … Lulu Palm
  • Nino Korda … Herbert Zieler
  • Fabrizio Moresco … Peter
  • Rudolf Schündler … Tobias Wildenbrück (as Rudolf Schindler)
  • Maria Antonietta Guido
  • Carla Mancini … Elizabeth Hoffmann
  • Bruno Bertocci … Hans Meyer
  • Sisto Brunetti … Policeman (uncredited)
  • Dolores Calò … Dress-Fitter at Fashion House (uncredited)
  • Nestore Cavaricci … Policeman (uncredited)
  • Carolyn De Fonseca … Lulu Palm (voice) (uncredited)
  • Alfonso Giganti … Springe’s Department Director (uncredited)
  • Marc Smith … Martin Hoffmann (voice) (uncredited)

Filming locations:

Weikersheim and Würzburg, Germany
Stabilimento SAFA-Palatino, Piazza dei Santi Giovanni e Paolo 8, Rome, Italy (studio)

US release:

Released in a truncated form as The Corpse Which Didn’t Want to DieBlood Feast and Feast of Flesh.

Trivia:

In 2006, No Shame released the film in the USA in a unique box set with Emilio Miraglia’s The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave that included a Red Queen figurine.

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The Crazies – USA, 1973

‘Why are the good people dying?’

The Crazies is a 1973 American science fiction horror feature film written and directed by George A. Romero, based on an earlier screenplay by Paul McCollough.

The movie stars Lane Carroll, WG. McMillan, Harold Wayne Jones, Lloyd Hollar and Lynn Lowry.

The Crazies was remade in 2010.

Plot:

A military plane crashes near a small town, infecting the water supply with a deadly virus codenamed “Trixie” that causes insanity then death. The army moves in to control the situation, only for the civilians to treat them as invaders and then infect them as well…

Reviews:

The Crazies is one of those strange horror movies because it is a movie you watch and you know there is no hope.  This makes watching the movie a bit of a bummer, and it is hard to watch, but a lot of it feels scary and real.” Basement Rejects

“Truth be told, the film – in many ways a more grounded and plausible version of Romero’s famous zombie flicks – gets off to a rather rocky start. It’s low-budget enough to incorporate mismatched stock footage at points and many of the performances are amateurish and take some getting used to. However, once it finds its footing, it has much to offer those willing to roll with the punches.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Every frame is awash with feeling, be it confusion, despair, hurt, anger, or any other number of emotions that define the greater experience of the “Trixie” outbreak and the subsequent government/military response. Fortunately, the film’s rough exterior does in and of itself accentuate the gritty nature of the story…” Blu-ray.com

” …a hefty dose of Nixon-era political paranoia […] seasoned with a strong critique of the military (largely taking place within the military’s own rank and file as they try to deal with the situation), simmered with a nicely raw presentation of small-town USA values and you get a potent witch’s brew of a movie.” Cinema of the Damned

“Overlong but slickly professional shocker that is well directed and effectively reworks themes from The Andromeda Strain and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982

” …too heavy handed in its anti-military premise and focuses too heavily on action at the expense of good characterization. It’s a worthwhile effort nudged between the director’s Night of the Living Dead (1968) and Dawn of the Dead (1978), but it’s not transcendental.” The Terror Trap

“It packs a punch both for what it does as well as what it says about ourselves and our society. Spellbinding, gut-wrenching stuff all the way around.” Trash Film Guru

” …any interesting ideas brought into the mix tended to get sidetracked due to the film’s obvious low-budget as well as editing that feels abrupt at times and a handful of performances (and one pretty lousy one) that felt unnatural and forced.” The Video Graveyard

“The film will be of interest primarily for those fans interested in the military theme that became so prominent in his Dead trilogy. For others, it may seem slow and improbable.” Videohound’s Complete Guide to Cult Flicks and Trash Pics

Cast and characters:

  • Lane Carroll … Judy
  • Will MacMillan … David
  • Harold Wayne Jones … Clank
  • Lloyd Hollar … Colonel Peckem
  • Lynn Lowry … Kathy
  • Richard Liberty … Artie
  • Richard France … Dr. Watts
  • Harry Spillman … Major Ryder
  • Will Disney … Dr. Brookmyre
  • Edith Bell … Lab Technician
  • Leland Starnes … Shelby
  • Bill Thunhurst … Brubaker
  • A.C. McDonald … General Bowen
  • Robert J. McCully … Hawks
  • Robert Karlowsky … Sheriff Cooper
  • Ned Schmidtke … Sgt. Tragesser
  • Tony Scott … Deputy Shade
  • Roy Cheverie … Army Doctor
  • Jack Zaharia … Priest
  • Bill Hinzman … Man in Infirmary and Crazie shooting at the doctor’s office

Filming locations:

Evans City and Zelienople, Pennsylvania

Budget:

$275,000

Release:

Cambist Films released The Crazies in the USA on March 16, 1973.

On 23 February 2010, the film was released onto a Blu-ray disc by Blue Underground.

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Devil’s Nightmare – Belgium/Italy, 1971

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Devil’s Nightmare – aka The Devil’s Nightmare – is a 1971 Belgian-Italian supernatural horror feature film directed by Jean Brismée from a screenplay by Patrice Rohmm (The She Wolf of Spilberg) and story by Pierre-Claude Garnier. It was released in Belgium as La plus longue nuit du diable and in Italy as La terrificante notte del demonio.

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The movie stars Erika Blanc (Kill, Baby… Kill!; The Night Evelyn Came Out of the GraveMark of the Devil, Part II), Jean Servais, Jacques Monseau, Ivana Novak (Seven Blood-Stained Orchids; The Red Headed Corpse), Shirley Corrigan (The Crimes of the Black Cat; Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf) and Daniel Emilfork.

The Euro-lounge soundtrack score was composed by Alessandro Alessandroni (Lady Frankenstein; The Strangler of Vienna; The Killer Nun).

Devil’s Nightmare is being released on Blu-ray by Mondo Macabro on January 24, 2019.

Review:

The Devil’s Nightmare opens with a sepia-toned flashback to the closing days of World War II.  A child has been born to the Nazi general, Baron von Rohnberg (Jean Servais) but after the Baron learns that the baby is female, he orders that she be killed.  It’s a brutally effective little opening, all the more so because there is no greater evil than a Nazi with money and a title.  As with many European horror films, the crimes and sins of Hitler cast a shadow over every scene of The Devil’s Nightmare.

Years later, like many Nazi noblemen, the Baron remains free.  He lives in his isolated castle, occasionally letting tourists stay for the night while he practices his experiments in the basement.  A reporter comes by and pays a steep price for refusing the Baron’s orders not to take any pictures.  When her body is found, she has a hoof-shaped burn on her arm.  The sign of the devil, we are told.

A small coach takes a wrong turn and the occupants become lost.  The tourists onboard are a typical collection of Eurohorror types: the greedy woman, the bitter old businessman who loudly proclaims his atheism, the fighting husband and wife, and, of course, Alvin (Jacques Monseau), the seminarian.  The tourists meet a strange man (Daniel Emilfork) who directs them to the Baron’s castle, where they can stay until the ferry arrives the next day.

As the tourists explore the castle and get to know the Baron (who shares the story of how his family came to be cursed), a storm develops outside.  And, finally, one last guest arrives.  Her name is Lisa Muller (Erika Blanc) and, over the course of the night, everyone in the castle will be tempted.

The Devil’s Nightmare works surprisingly well.  What it may have lacked in a production budget, the film more than makes up for in atmosphere.  The castle is a wonderfully creepy location and, as played by Jean Servais, the Baron becomes a potent symbol of aristocratic decay.  Daniel Emilfork brings an eccentric flair to his role and, even if he is basically playing the movie’s most boring character, Jacques Monseau is sympathetic and believable as the upright seminarian.

That said, this film belongs to Erika Blanc, who basically grabs hold of the movie and then dares anyone to try to take it away from her.  Throughout the film, Blanc shifts from elegant to evil and back again and she makes it all look not only easy but totally natural as well.

Finally, The Devil’s Nightmare ends with a twist that you’ll see coming from a mile away but that doesn’t make it any less satisfying.

Lisa Marie Bowman, HORRORPEDIA – Guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

Other reviews:

‘… The Devil’s Nightmare has some unexpected strengths. Though it is compromised by a lack of thematic follow-through, the conceit that Lita has one potential victim for each of the Seven Deadly Sins is a cool touch— remember, this was 24 years before Seven. And Erika Blanc makes a terrific succubus.” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

“Attempts at allegory notwithstanding, La Plus longue nuit is one of those delirious Euro-horrors of the period that seems to have everything  – a ritzy score from Alessandro Alessandroni (complete with a breathy Morricone-style vocalist), a mix-and-match multi-national cast, an unconvincing and laboriously extended lesbian interlude, and a surfeit of elaborate settings…” Jonathan Rigby, Euro Gothic

Buy: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.ca

“From the stormy night to the authentically spiky and unwelcoming castle (which comes complete with laboratory and torture chamber) to the heavily symbolic chess match between the priest and the atheist, this movie unrepentantly rolls around nude and cackling in its own cliches.” Love Train for the Tenebrous Empire

“Downside? The plotting is incoherent at times, and the symbolism heavy handed. But with a colorful cast of characters, this is truly a fun watch…” The Terror Trap

 

devil's nightmare

Devils_Nightmare_Salvation_DVD_World_sleeve.

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Cast and characters:

  • Erika Blanc … Lisa Müller
  • Jean Servais … Baron von Rhoneberg
  • Daniel Emilfork … Satan
  • Jacques Monseau … Father Alvin Sorel [as Jacques Monseu]
  • Lucien Raimbourg … Mason
  • Colette Emmanuelle … Nancy
  • Ivana Novak … Corinne
  • Shirley Corrigan … Regine
  • Frédérique Hender … TBC
  • Lorenzo Terzon … Howard
  • Christian Maillet … Ducha
  • Maurice De Groote … Hans [as Maurice Degroot]
  • Yvonne Garden … TBC

International release titles:

  • Au service du diable
  • Castle of Death (video title)
  • La nuit des pétrifiés
  • La terrificante notte del demonio (Italy)
  • Nightmare of Terror (video title)
  • O Demonio Sai a Meia-Noite (Brazil)
  • Seytanlarin hizmetinde (Turkey)
  • Stin ypiresia tou diavolou (Greece)
  • Succubus
  • The Devil Walks at Midnight
  • The Devil’s Nightmare USA)
  • Vampire Playgirls (USA: reissue title)
  • Yö paholaisen linnassa (Finland: TV title)

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Graveyard Groove: The Haunted History of Monster Music from “Monster Mash” to Horror Punk – book

Graveyard Groove: The Haunted History of Monster Music from “Monster Mash” to Horror Punk is a self-published book by David Acord (Success Secrets of Sherlock Holmes; When Mars Attacked: Orson Welles and the Radio Broadcast That Changed America Forever), released on August 26, 2018.

“In the mid-1950s, a new genre of novelty music emerged that mixed humour and horror. The result: Monster Music! Suddenly, jukeboxes were filled with songs about Frankenstein, Dracula, the Wolf Man, creatures from outer space and a multitude of supernatural terrors.

The genre reached its peak in 1962 with Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s smash “Monster Mash,” but there are many more songs worthy of rediscovery — and Monster Music still lives on today, thanks to the influence of punk pioneers like The Cramps and the Misfits. Here is the complete, untold story of Monster Music — the genre that refused to die!”

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Bloodlust aka Mosquito – Switzerland, 1976

Bloodlust  aka Mosquito – original title Mosquito der Schänder – is a 1976 Swiss horror feature film directed by Marijan Vajda from a screenplay by Mario d’Alcala. The Monarex production stars Werner Pochath, Ellen Umlauf and Birgit Zamulo. It is loosely based on the macabre true story of Kuno Hofmann, the so-called “Vampire of Nuremberg” who was arrested in 1972.

Plot:

Haunted by a childhood trauma… a deaf-mute accountant develops a fixation with blood spilling across his skin. Brief flirtations with ketchup and red ink seem to satisfy him at first, but he soon develops a taste for the real thing. Though he nurses a weird fascination for a neighbourhood girl who passes the time by dancing on the rooftop, he remains socially withdrawn with his co-workers and can’t even find comfort in the arms of a streetwalker.

One night, he breaks into the property of the local undertaker and ravages the prettiest female corpse. Now addicted, he habitually raids the tombs of the dead and drinks blood from their throats via a spiked, double-pronged glass straw. Authorities and citizens are incensed by these crimes and the search is on for this modern day vampire…

Reviews:

“Veteran exploitation actor Werner Pochath is excellent as the deaf-mute (who’s name is never revealed) driven to insanity by his past. His performance has a truly haunting presence – he doesn’t utter a single word for the entire running time, yet manages to tell us a hell of a lot along the way. Equally as impressive is the grim and disturbing atmosphere director Vadja manages to sustain…” Michelle R., Digital Retribution

“Especially impressive here is Pochath, in his starring role, who is able to substitute body language and facial expressions for verbal dialogue successfully in order to communicate with both the other characters as well as the audience. Add good acting to great camera work, and Bloodlust quickly rises up the list and earns the reputation of “underrated” and “forgotten gem.” Sean Leonard, Horror News

“Shot in a staid and carefully composed style, Bloodlust succeeds more due to the perverse impact of its story than the uneven quality of its special effects; even an eyeball removal that would have  been riotous in the hands of Lucio Fulci seems more disturbing here in concept than in execution. The camera often lingers on the blood dribbling from Pochath’s lips, but overall it’s more pathetic and weirdly poignant than disgusting.” Natheniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

“The pacing of the picture is pretty deliberate and you can’t help but wish, towards the end, that there wasn’t a bit more of a character arc to follow, but Bloodlust works pretty well for the most part […] the film has an effective score from David Llewellyn…” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

Cast:

Werner PochathRatMan; Devil HunterThe Cat o’ Nine Tails
Ellen Umlauf
Birgit Zamulo
Gerhard Ruhnke
Peter Hamm
Charly Hiltl
Hary Olsbauer
Marion Messner
Fred Berhoff
Roswitha Geuther
Karl Yblagger
Sonja Costa
Jony Soster

Release:

Mondo Macabro released Bloodlust on Blu-ray, uncut, widescreen 1.78:1, in English and German on November 13, 2018.

Censorship:

In the UK, the film was passed with cuts (no details) by BBFC censors on 14 October 1976 for distribution by Butchers Film Service.

Image credits: Mondo Digital

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Ritual of Evil – USA, 1970

Ritual of Evil is a 1970 American made-for-television horror feature film directed by Robert Day (The Initiation of SarahFear No EvilGrip of the Strangler) from a screenplay by Robert Presnell Jr., based on characters created by Richard Alan Simmons. Produced by David Levinson, the Universal movie stars Louis Jourdan, Anne Baxter, Diana Hyland andWilfrid Hyde-White.

Plot:

Psychiatrist Dr. David Sorrell (Louis Jourdan) treats young heiress Loey Wiley (Belinda Montgomery), whose parents have died under mysterious circumstances. His investigation uncovers a cult, led by a powerful witch, Leila Barton (Diana Hyland). Things grow complicated as Sorrell and the witch begin to fall in love…

Review:

While lacking the feverish Dutch-angled scenes, creepy cinematography, and phantasmal script of director Paul Wendkos’ Fear No Evil, as well as the substantially sinister performance of Carroll O’Connor as Myles Donovan, director Robert Day’s Ritual of Evil still packs a punch, benefitting from composer Billy Goldenberg’s unearthly ethereal score and Anne Baxter’s eccentric channeling of Phyllis Diller in her portrayal of a stewed Jolene Wiley, mother to Loey Wiley (Belinda Montgomery) and Aline Wiley (Carla Borelli).

Its plot of occult detective battling a woozy jumble of sinister forces at the root of multiple deaths is typical of American TV horror film production of the time, and appropriately so, considering the silly ballyhoo of marketing mountebanks like Anton LaVey, Carlos Castaneda, and Timothy Leary; with them, witchcraft mingles with satanism which, in turn, becomes indistinguishable from ESP, reincarnation, ghostly communications, and paganism.

The main thrust, if you will, of Ritual of Evil is that a coven of satanic witches is performing sacrifices to Priapus, an ancient Greek fertility god who would normally be depicted with an enormously erect phallus, but in this case, is limited to representation by a vaguely sensual and smolderingly malevolent Satyr-like statue which could easily be passed off as one half of a set of macabre bookends. The sterilisation, of course, was due to the Federal Communications Commission’s regulation and definition of unacceptable content at the time, which has fluctuated along with common opinion since its inception.

Ben Spurling, HORRORPEDIA

Other reviews:

“The music (again by Billy Goldenberg) is highly reminiscent of the themes used in Fear No Evil, heavily borrowing the sonic tone and mood of the first film. Sadly, editor Byron Chudnow did not return for the sequel, as it could have used his master touch. The film commits the gravest sin (no pun intended) for a horror film, feature or TV-wise: it’s just plain not scary.” Conjure Cinema

“The story touches on a few themes pertinent to the time period but in ham-fisted fashion with laboured speeches. Day stages the spooky moments with a similar bludgeoning lack of subtlety. The protagonists are also far less interesting this time around: shrill, self-absorbed soap opera types straight out of an Aaron Spelling production about whiny rich people.” Andrew Pragasm, The Spinning Image

Cast and characters:

  • Louis Jourdan … David Sorell – Swamp ThingCount Dracula 1977; Daughter of the Mind
  • Anne Baxter … Jolene Wiley
  • Diana Hyland … Leila Barton
  • John McMartin … Edward Bolander
  • Wilfrid Hyde-White … Harry Snowden – The Cat and the Canary; Fear No Evil; Chamber of Horrors
  • Belinda Montgomery … Loey Wiley – Phantom Town; Silent Madness; The Devil’s Daughter
  • Carla Borelli … Aline Wiley
  • Georg Stanford Brown … Larry Richmond
  • Regis Cordic … The Sheriff
  • Dehl Berti … Mora
  • Richard Alan Knox … Hippie
  • Johnny Williams … Newscaster
  • Jimmy Joyce … 1st Reporter
  • James LaSane … 2nd Reporter
  • Clarke Lindsley … Chris [uncredited]

First broadcast:

February 23, 1970, on NBC.

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Nicolas Roeg – filmmaker

Photo by REX/Shutterstock – Nicolas Roeg at 32nd London Film Critics’ Circle Awards – 19 Jan 2012

Nicolas Roeg (15 August 1928 – 23 November 2018) was an English filmmaker, best known for directing Performance (1968, released 1970), Walkabout (1971), Don’t Look Now (1973), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Bad Timing (1980), and The Witches (1989). For the purposes of this overview, the focus is naturally on Roeg’s contributions to the horror and science fiction genres.

Having made his directorial debut twenty-three years after his initial entry into the film business, Roeg soon became known for an idiosyncratic visual and narrative style, characterised by the use of disjointed and disorientating editing. For this reason, he was considered a highly influential filmmaker, with such directors as Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, and Danny Boyle citing him as such.

In 1947, Roeg entered the film business as a tea boy moving up to clapper-loader at Marylebone Studios in London. For a time, he worked as a camera operator on a number of film productions, such as Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure. Roeg later claimed he had only entered the film industry because the studio was across the road from his home. He became a cinematographer and amongst many movies, worked on Roger Corman’s resplendent The Masque of the Red Death (1964) and François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966).

Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973) is based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story of the same name and features Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland as a married couple in Venice mourning the death of their daughter who had drowned. It attracted scrutiny early on due to a sex scene between Sutherland and Christie, which was unusually explicit for the time. The puzzle-like film was widely praised by critics and is now considered one of the most important and influential horror films ever made.

The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976) starred David Bowie as a humanoid alien who comes to Earth to collect water for his planet, which is suffering from a drought. The film’s non-linear narrative divided critics and its length – 138 minutes – caused it to be truncated for its U.S. release. Perhaps the most memorable scene is when David Bowie’s character Newton reveals his alien form to Mary-Lou (Candy Clark); her reaction is one of pure shock and horror.

 

In an Empire  Blu-ray review, Kim Newman observed that the film is: “At once consistently disorientating and beguilingly beautiful […] Bowie’s cat-eyed alien is startling enough to make Clark wet herself, but his human disguise — two-tone red hair and film-noir fedora — is alien enough without the make-up.”  Over the years, The Man Who Fell to Earth developed a growing following amongst fans of more eclectic cinema and it received a BFI 4K makeover in 2016. Curiously, in 1987, it was also remade as a more conventional science fiction TV movie.

Bad Timing is a 1980 psychological thriller starring Art Garfunkel, Theresa Russell, Harvey Keitel and Denholm Elliott. An American woman and a psychology professor are living in Vienna, and, largely told via flashbacks, the plot relates their turbulent relationship as uncovered by a detective investigating her apparent suicide attempt. Bad Timing was controversial upon its release, being branded “a sick film made by sick people for sick people” by its British distributor, the Rank Organisation.

The Witches (1989, released 1990) was Roeg’s  unique adaptation of Roald Dahl’s children’s story.  The Witches is about a young boy named Luke (Jasen Fisher) whose parents have died in a tragic accident, and whose grandmother (Mai Zetterling) takes him to a posh hotel in England, where a secret coven of witches is holding its annual convention. The Grand High Witch (Anjelica Huston, in a scene-stealing performance) has decreed that all children in England be turned into mice, and Luke and his pal Bruno (Charles Potter) are the first victims on the list… The resulting movie highlights Jim Henson’s  makeup effects work and revels in the dark humour of the situation. It has been rightly acknowledged as one of the scariest of kids’ films.

Filmmakers have been paying tribute to the late director. On Twitter, Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead) said: “Farewell to the extraordinary cinematic talent, director Nicolas Roeg. His films hypnotized me for years and still continue to intrigue. Along with classics like Performance & Walkabout, I could watch Don’t Look Now on a loop & never tire of its intricacies. A master of the art.”

Joe Dante (Gremlins) said: “I followed his career first for his photographic style, later for his fascinating choice of subject matter. Walkabout is a near perfect tone poem, the restored The Man Who Fell to Earth is one of the greatest sci-fi movies ever.”

Guillermo del Terror commented: “Of his infinite talent and multiple achievements, if I was forced to choose one Roeg film (it would be hard) I would choose “Don’t Look Now” as it stands full of secrets and sadness and terror and beauty above all. A moebius strip of life and death, love and destruction.”

Wikipedia

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The Incredible Melting Man – USA, 1977

‘A new peak in horror’

The Incredible Melting Man is a 1977 American science fiction horror feature film about an astronaut whose body begins to melt after he is exposed to radiation during a space flight to Saturn, driving him to commit murders and consume human flesh to survive.

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Financed by former Amicus partner Max J. Rosenberg (Tales from the Crypt), and written and directed by William Sachs, the film stars Alex Rebar (screenwriter of Demented) as Steve West, the protagonist of the title, alongside Burr DeBenning as a scientist trying to help him, and Myron Healey as a United States Air Force general seeking to capture him.

The film – which was initially intended as a parody – includes several homages to science fiction and horror films of the 1950s, especially First Man into Space. Makeup artist Rick Baker provided the memorably gory and gloopy visual effects for the film, assisted by Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.

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Buy Blu-ray + DVD: Amazon.co.uk

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation of the feature, transferred from original film elements
  • Original Mono audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio Commentary with William Sachs
  • Super 8 digest version of the film
  • Interview with Writer/Director William Sachs and Makeup Effects Artist Rick Baker
  • Interview with Makeup Effects Artist Greg Cannom
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
  • Collector’s booklet featuring essays on the history of the film by Mike White and a brief history of Super 8 by Douglas Weir

Review:

“Magnificent! You’ve never seen anything till you’ve seen the Sun through the rings of Saturn” declares the magnificently wooden Alex Rebar at the opening of The Incredible Melting Man, and similarly, you’ve never seen anything until you sit down to watch this film – though only the most fanatical trash cinema fan might declare it to be “magnificent.”

There’s no denying the ridiculous entertainment value of this gloriously dreadful film, however, as it mixes a Fifties B-movie plot with spectacular bad taste to create one of the most ludicrous and – if you are in the right mood – entertaining films of the era.

I first saw The Incredible Melting Man in the early 1980s, when it turned up as support feature to – of all things – Every Which Way But Loose. Of course, an audience looking forward to Clint Eastwood’s good ol’ boy capers with a comedy Orangutan were scarcely prepared for a film in which the lead character slowly melts, eats people and gets his arm chopped off and which has a memorable long shot of a severed head floating down a stream, tumbling over a waterfall and bursting open on the rocks below. It caused quite a stir.

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How this film managed to pass the BBFC with an ‘AA’ certificate – equivalent to 15 now – in 1978, when gory scenes were still being cut from ‘X’ rated movies, is anyone’s guess. For this teenager, the film was everything I’d hoped it would be when seeing trailers on TV and gloopy stills in horror mags.

The story is pretty simple. Steve West (Rebar) is an astronaut who has something bad happen to him on a Saturn mission. Back on Earth (which seems to take no time at all), he awakens in hospital to find himself covered in bandages and strapped to a bed. Naturally unguarded (because why would you keep an astronaut whose condition is a national security top secret in a secure unit), he removes the bandages to reveal a face and hands that are beginning to melt. Naturally, this discovery forces him to chase a fat nurse through the empty hospital and then eat her.

Mission director Ted Nelson (Burr DeBenning) and General Perry (Myron Healey) set out to track Steve down, which mostly involves Nelson wandering through the woods holding a geiger counter. Steve, meanwhile, is on a rampage, ripping apart a fisherman ( cue the aforementioned head scene), frightening children and leaving corpses to be found by a young model and a lecherous photographer (who are here simply to get some bare breasts into the story – given that the breasts belong to cult icon Cheryl Rainbeaux Smith (Parasite; Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural), I doubt anyone is complaining).

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As Steve decays, he seems to get stronger and more deranged. There’s the suggestion that eating people might slow the melting down, though how the beleaguered astronaut would know that is anyone’s guess. In any case, he seems to spend most of his time lurking around houses to no obvious reason, attacking a young couple (played by film director Jonathan Demme and The Hills Have Eyes star Janus Blythe) before making his way to a power station for a final showdown with Nelson and the trigger happy cops.

The film is one of a handful of late 1970s movies that essentially channel 1950s science fiction (it would make a great double-bill with the equally retro-styled The Giant Spider Invasion), and the story here seems clearly inspired by The First Man into Space and The Quatermass Xperiment, both of which featured astronauts who return to Earth infected with something that slowly causes them to decay, losing their minds and their humanity in the process. It’s a classic science fiction concept, and one that can be given a certain emotional and intellectual clout, but of course here all that is swept aside in favour of gore and mayhem.

While the actual violence levels in the film are not that high, the graphic nature of the film is pretty remarkable. It’s not just the continually melting Rebar that will test the stamina of more sensitive viewers, though the shots of him dripping away, an eyeball falling out and eventually melting down completely will be enough to put many people off their dinners; it’s also the burst open head (filmed in loving slow motion!), the half-eaten nurse, the severed limbs and the general gore quota that still manages to be shocking. These scenes are also the best thing about the movie. Created by Rick Baker, the melting man and the gore are of a quality that the rest of the movie doesn’t even come close to. Baker’s work is the real star here (certainly more so than Rebar, who only gets the one scene without the make-up and delivers his single line of dialogue terribly).

Watching it again now, I can appreciate other things in the movie. It is, of course, terrible by any conventional standards. But then, how can we actually judge a film that calls itself The Incredible Melting Man? This is the sort of film that is almost critic proof, because it is inherently, shamelessly trashy. The only thing that really matters is this – does it entertain? And I’d say that the answer is a definite ‘yes’. It’s a film that delivers everything you want from this sort of thing – a steady supply of gore, gratuitous nudity, ripe dialogue and as few pauses for characterisation as it can get away with.

The rest of the film is pure 1950s though, and it’s easy to see that director William Sachs probably was trying to shoot a comic book style pastiche – according to him, the producers didn’t want a comedy horror and made him shoot more ‘straight’ horror scenes. The film is actually still pretty funny if you are familiar with Fifties science fiction, though how much of the comedy is deliberate is hard to tell. DeBenning is stiff as a board playing the stereotypical scientist, and most of the supporting characters are pretty one-dimensional and, yes, cartoon like. This would usually be a bad thing in a movie, but here, it’s rather appropriate. Good performances of well rounded characters spouting non-risible dialogue would probably be the death of this movie.

In the end, The Incredible Melting Man is exactly what you expect it to be. If you pick up a film with this title wanting something other than what you get, then more fool you, frankly. But if you are a lover of no-nonsense drive in madness or simply want a party movie with tits and gore and no complex plot to get caught up in, then this is for you. And Arrow’s Blu-ray ensures you can enjoy Rick Baker’s effects to their fullest!

David Flint, HORRORPEDIA

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Other reviews:

The Incredible Melting Man is an endearingly awful creature feature, without much horror or science fiction, although it can boast of gloriously gloopy special effects and make-up by Rick Baker.” Twitchfilm

“I actually found it pretty fun; once you get past the silly concept, it’s a pretty traditional “unwitting victim on a rampage” movie, with a major downer ending that adds a touch of Romero-esque cynicism to the proceedings.” Horror Movie a Day

“But most of those murders are a hoot and a holler (my favorite: the artfully composed shot of Steve’s shadow tossing the fisherman’s head, which then sails into the frame, lands in the water, and floats downstream until it goes splat at the bottom of a waterfall), and a monster as nauseating as Steve is a pretty compelling sight, even when moseying is all it’s up to. Besides, do you really watch a movie called The Incredible Melting Man for its story?” 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting

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Buy Blu-ray from Amazon.com

” … a silly popcorn treat that well deserves its reputation as a cult classic thanks to its riotous dialogue and comedic performances (especially Myron Healey as the General). But the real hero here is make up legend Rick Baker whose blood, pus and mucous dripping effects are simply amazing (they look even better on Blu-ray). The film also served as a launch pad for emerging SFX talents like Greg Cannom and Rob Bottin.” Peter Fuller, Kultguy’s Keep

“Likeable throwback to the science fiction films of two decades previously, with stunning make-up by Rick Baker.” Alan Frank, The Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Handbook, Batsford, 1982

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incredible melting man RCA Columbia UK VHS sleeve

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Buy novelisation: Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com

Cast and characters:

  • Alex Rebar … Steve West – Amityville: The Evil Escapes
  • Burr DeBenning … Dr. Ted Nelson – A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child; Freddy’s Nightmares; Wolfen; Alien Zone
  • Myron Healey … General Michael Perry – RoboCop TV series; Pulse; Ghost Fever; V TV series
  • Michael Alldredge … Sheriff Neil Blake
  • Ann Sweeny … Judy Nelson
  • Lisle Wilson … Dr. Loring
  • Cheryl Smith … The Model (as Rainbeaux Smith) – Parasite; LaserblastMassacre at Central High; Phantom of the Paradise; Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural
  • Julie Drazen … Carol
  • Stuart Edmond Rodgers Stuart Edmond Rodgers … Little Boy
  • Chris Witney … Little Boy
  • Edwin Max … Harold
  • Dorothy Love … Helen
  • Janus Blythe … Nell Winters – Spine; The Hills Have Eyes Part II; The Hills Have Eyes; Eaten Alive; Drive In Massacre; Phantom of the Paradise; The Centerfold Girls
  • Jonathan Demme … Matt Winters – director of  The Silence of the Lambs
  • Westbrook Claridge … Second Security Guard

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Alucarda aka Sisters of Satan – Mexico, 1975

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Alucarda – original title: Alucarda, la hija de las tinieblas (“Alucarda, the Daughter of Darkness”) is a 1975 Mexican horror film directed by Juan López Moctezuma (The Mansion of Madness; Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary), starring Tina Romero in the title role. It has also been released as Innocents from Hell, Sisters of Satan and, misleadingly, Mark of the Devil 3.

Often thought to be based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 novella Carmilla, the film’s plot revolves around two teenage orphan girls living in a Catholic convent, who unleash a demonic force and become possessed by Satan. It was filmed in Spanish but was dubbed into English for US release.

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Alucarda is notorious for its extreme subject matter and themes within a religious setting. All of these things made the film controversial, especially for the time it was made.

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A Mexican convent that houses nuns and is also an orphanage. Alucarda has lived at the convent her entire life. Justine, another orphan girl of similar age, arrives at the convent. She and Alucarda become very close friends.

While playing in the nearby forest, the girls stumble upon a band of mysterious gypsies and subsequently unleash a demonic force after opening a casket at a nearby burial site. A bloody chain of events follows after both Alucarda and Justine become possessed by the Satanic entity and wreak havoc on the convent and its inhabitants…

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Reviews:

“Intelligent and atmospheric, if slightly bizarre, the film plays like a cross between Ken Russell’s The Devils and Piers Haggard’s Blood on Satan’s Claw. Anybody would be hard pushed to beat the stylish flair displayed by Russell in The Devils but Moctezuma, Stamatiades and Cruz throw caution, and any restraint demanded by their presumably quite small budget, to the wind and have a go anyhow.” Lee Broughton, DVD Savant

“The production values and photography are commendable; I particularly liked the stylized nun’s habits, resembling nothing so much as mummy wrappings. Screaming continues at a feverish pitch through one grotesquely satisfying set piece after another at ear-splitting frequencies…” David J. Skal, V is for Vampire

Buy: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.com | Amazon.ca

Alucarda is one of the more striking and shocking south of the border gothic fests from the golden age of cinematic sleaze. Replete with nuns, devil worship, blood baths, and sadistic religious fanaticism, this is one drive-in jewel ripe for rediscovery.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital

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Alucarda is an odd duck to be sure, but one worth checking out if only for the visuals alone. Director Juan Lopez Moctezuma has created a bizarre, surreal world full of striking imagery, particularly in regards to the setting. At times it’s blatantly artificial, an approach which, when coupled with the cast’s tendency to overact, gives the film an almost fairy tale-like quality.” Final Girl

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I Don’t Want Want to Be Born – UK, 1975

‘It’s evil… it’s horrific… it’s conceived by the Devil!’

I Don’t Want to Be Born – aka The Devil Within Her – is a 1975 British supernatural horror feature film directed by Peter Sasdy (Nothing But the NightHands of the Ripper; Countess Dracula; Taste the Blood of Dracula) from a screenplay by Stanley Price, based on a story by executive producer Nato De Angeles. The Unicapital production stars Joan Collins, Ralph Bates, Eileen Atkins and Donald Pleasence.

The odd soundtrack score was composed by Ron Grainer (The Omega Man; Night Must Fall and the Doctor Who theme).

Review:

It’s a thoroughly ludicrous, totally ridiculous movie and what makes it all the more memorable is that it doesn’t seem to realise how silly it all is.  This is a batshit crazy movie that tells its story in the most serious way possible.  This damn film is almost sombre, it’s so serious.

Lucy (Joan Collins) is an exotic dancer who performs her act with a pervy dwarf named Hercules (George Claydon).  When Hercules tries to force himself on Lucy, he is tossed out of the club by Tommy (who is played by John Steiner, a good actor who somehow always turned up in movies like this one.)  After she and Tommy make love, Lucy is confronted by Hercules who curses her, telling her that she will have a baby “as big as I am small and possessed by the devil himself!” Oh, Hercules, you weirdo.

Nine months later, Lucy’s life has somehow completely changed.  She’s no longer a dancer.  Now, she’s married to a rich Italian named Gino (played by Ralph Bates, speaking in a bizarre cod-Italian accent).

When Lucy has her baby, it’s a long and difficult delivery. The baby is huge! Not only is he huge, but he also has a bad temper and unnaturally sharp nails. The first time that Lucy holds him, he attacks her.  Whenever the baby is introduced to anyone new, he responds by biting them. When Tommy drops by to take a look at the baby that might be his son, he ends up with a bloody nose!

Yet, that’s not all this baby can do!  Anytime he’s left alone in a room, the room ends up getting destroyed.  Eventually, he apparently figures out how to climb trees and how efficiently slip a noose around the neck of anyone who walks underneath him.  And don’t think that you can escape this baby simply because you’re taller and faster.  One unfortunate person is decapitated, even though he’s standing at the time.  How did the baby reach his neck?  Who knows?

Does this baby need an exorcism?  Lucy’s sister-in-law, Sister Albana (Eileen Atkins), certainly believes that it does.  As Lucy thinks about whether the baby’s behaviour is in any way odd, she glances over at the baby and — oh my God!  The baby has Hercules’s face!

And it just keeps going from there.  Again, I feel the need to repeat that this film is meant to be taken very seriously.  The script may be full of awkward and clichéd dialogue but most of the cast attempts to act the Hell out of it.

Speaking of the cast, there’s a lot of familiar horror people in this one.  Along with John Steiner, there’s also Caroline Munro and Donald Pleasence.  Those three give performances that somehow manage to remain credible, perhaps because they had the experience necessary to understand what type of movie they were in.  But the rest of the cast … you feel bad for them because they’re just trying  so hard.

It’s a terrible movie, however it’s so weird that I have to recommend that everyone see it once.  If for nothing else, see it for the scene where Hercules responds to an attempt to exorcise the baby by swaying drunkenly on the stage.  It’s weird and it’s hard for mere words to do it justice.

Lisa Marie Bowman, HORRORPEDIA – guest reviewer via Through the Shattered Lens

Other reviews:

“The cast seems to be trying their best, but their efforts are wasted in the type of movie where a grown man is punched in the nose by a baby. If The Devil Within Her had a Z-grade budget and second rate actors it would have been an amusing piece of genre junk. What makes it truly exceptional is the fact that this appears to be a serious attempt at a suspenseful horror film.” Cool Cinema Trash

” …the set-ups of the infant’s attacks (shown as a series of consequential scrapes or bites, where the victim will exclaim something like, “he bit me!”) are about as convincing as something you’d see in a Benny Hill skit (the baby’s hand is seen pushing a woman into a lake from his carriage). As a whole, it’s a perfect example of why by this point in time, many British horror films commercially and critically failed and compared unfavorably with the competition out of Hollywood by the mid 1970s.” George R. Reis, DVD Drive-In

“This is without a doubt the silliest killer-child movie I’ve ever seen. That’s not a bad thing, and it’s way more fun than Larry Cohens snooze-fest It’s Alive! But just don’t expect something serious and scary, just expect a staring baby with eerie music in the background, a dashing Joan Collins and a very nice performance by Donald Pleasence.” Fred Anderson, Ninja Dixon

” …a cash-in on the success of Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, two films that obviously function incredibly well as ‘serious’ horror movies – but The Devil Within Her throws in so much lunacy and is put together in such a bizarre and haphazard manner that it never comes close to the success of those aforementioned movies. It does, however, work incredibly well as a silly, trashy, nonsensical popcorn movie…” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!

“In this film’s aims to be chilling, it is hopeless, but as a comedy, it’s funnier than much of the British film industry’s attempts in that area from this time.” Graeme Clark, The Spinning Image

Sharon’s Baby is listed as a horror film and I’m sure it was written to instill terror in the hearts of 1970’s filmgoers.  However, it is best labeled these days as a horror/comedy.  It is unintentionally funny but it’s funny nonetheless.  If you view this film in this light, you’ll find it to be an enjoyable viewing experience.” Vintage Horror Films

Buy Spanish Blu-ray (with English audio option): Amazon.co.uk

Cast and characters:

  • Joan Collins … Lucy Carlesi
  • Eileen Atkins … Sister Albana
  • Ralph Bates … Gino Carlesi
  • Donald Pleasence … Dr. Finch
  • Caroline Munro … Mandy Gregory
  • Hilary Mason … Mrs. Hyde
  • John Steiner … Tommy Morris
  • Janet Key … Jill Fletcher
  • George Claydon … Hercules
  • Derek Benfield … Police Inspector
  • Stanley Lebor … Police Sergeant
  • Judy Buxton … Sheila
  • Andy Secombe … Delivery Boy
  • Susan Richards … Old Lady
  • Phyllis McMahon … Nun
  • John Moore … Priest
  • Floella Benjamin … 1st Nurse
  • Penny Darch … 2nd Nurse
  • Maria Lopez … Exotic dancer
  • Susie Lightining … Exotic dancer
  • Val Hoadley … Dancer
  • Janice Brett … Dancer

Filming locations:

32 Wellington Square, Kensington, London, England
Hyde Park Corner, London, England
Kings Road, Chelsea, London, England
Parliament Square, Westminster, London, England
Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly, London, England

Alternate titles:

It Lives Within Her
The Monster
Sharon’s Baby

Related:

Dwarfs in Horror Cinema – article

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