Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Dead Next Door on the Radio

Happy Halloween! We'll be live on Pittsburgh NPR station WESA today talking about Pennsylvania horror films with "Essential Pittsburgh" host Paul Guggenheimer. Special effects artist/actor/director Tom Savini will be on from Noon to about 12:30; I'll step in at that point to explain why you should run out and watch Toxic Zombies as soon as possible.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cinefamily's United States of Horror

When I first started working on my regional horror films book, I had no idea I was tapping into some latent fascination with organizing horror films geographically. Apparently, a few film programmers also share this affliction. First there was the Doc Films festival a few years ago, and now Cinefamily (a Los Angeles theater) offers up its "United States of Horror" festival the entire month of October (I'm a little late to the party, so you've already missed some of the films).

Every night at Midnight, the theater is showing a film from one of (almost) 30 different states. While a few of the selections are not the type of independent regional films we concern ourselves with on this blog, the line-up is outstanding.

Among the highlights so far were a screening of Chester Turner's Black Devil Doll From Hell and Tales From the Quadead Zone, with the director in attendance (sorry, it happened back on Oct. 12), as well as screenings of Death Bed (Michigan), Homebodies (Ohio), Abby (Kentucky), and Winterbeast (Massachusetts).

If you are lucky enough to be in L.A. at any point the rest of this month, check out the upcoming schedule:

Oct. 17 - Dark August (Vermont)
Oct. 18 - Last House on Dead End Street (New York)
Oct. 19 - Basket Case (New York)
Oct. 20 - The Deadly Spawn (New Jersey)
Oct. 21 - The Alien Factor (Maryland)
Oct. 22 - Squirm (Georgia)
Oct. 23 - Shakma and Shock Waves (Florida)
Oct. 24 - If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? (Mississippi)
Oct. 26 - The Evil Dead (Tennessee)
Oct. 27 - The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Arkansas)
Oct. 28 - Eaten Alive (Texas)
Oct. 29 - Endangered Species (Colorado)
Oct. 30 - The Brotherhood of Satan (New Mexico)
Oct. 31 - Chopping Mall (Southern California) - with an appearance by director Jim Wynorski

Monday, October 14, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Violent Midnight (Psychomania, 1963)

Richard Hilliard is the credited director, although Connecticut impresario Del Tenney was behind the camera much of the time. Tenney's debut feature included a shocking amount of blood and nudity for the period.

DVD distributor Dark Sky Films disabled the embed feature when they posted the promotional clip, but you can view it here.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)

I don't know if I'd call it "more terrifying than Frankenstein," but Del Tenney's Curse of the Living Corpse served as a much more low-key co-feature than the director's other film from that year, Horror of Party Beach.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Cinema Wasteland is This Weekend

Just a reminder that the Cinema Wasteland event is this weekend in Cleveland, and this fall's show features a number of important regional horror filmmakers on the guest list.

Daniel Boyd, the West Virginia director/writer of Chillers (1987) and Invasion of the Space Preachers (1990) will be on hand to promote the 25th anniversary of Chillers (a great little anthology film), as well as the upcoming graphic novel version of the film. He'll be at the Troma booth.

Chester Novell Turner, the warped mind behind the notorious SOV flick Black Devil Doll From Hell (1987) and its obscure follow-up, Tales From the Quadead Zone (1987) will also be on hand, despite rumors surfacing a few years ago that he was actually dead. Turner will host a screening of Devil Doll, and Massacre Video will have a double-feature DVD of his films available at the show.

There's also going to be a screening of the VHS collector documentary, Adjust Your Tracking (2013). Trailer below:

Monday, September 30, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Cannibal Campout (1988)

Another Jon McBride pic from Connecticut with plenty of gore and that lovely, shot-on-video sheen. I've posted two trailers below. One is the re-release trailer for the Camp DVD release; the other appears to be original.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Monday, September 16, 2013

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Code Red Delivers Silent Night, Bloody Night

Everyone knew Code Red was planning to release a new version of Invasion of the Blood Farmers on disc, but I was certainly surprised to see that the company had paired it with another New York horror film, Theodore Gershuny's Silent Night, Bloody Night (here under its Death House title), creating a double feature that veers from ridiculous to sublime and back again.

Silent Night, Bloody Night is an excellent low-budget film, but for years has only been available in murky, full-frame versions via public domain DVD collections. Code Red has released it in a much-improved 1.85.1 transfer clocking in at 85 minutes.

Blood Farmers is presented at 1.78.1, and includes a feature-length commentary by very funny producer Ed Adlum, who I interviewed for my book.

For more on Blood Farmers, see my Jack Neubeck interview. For more on the Gershuny film, see my write up here.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Bloody Parting of the Ways

By the summer of 1964, with both Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs still in theaters, the partnership between H.G. Lewis, David Friedman and exhibitor Stanford Kohlberg had soured. Box Office Spectaculars dissolved amid acrimony and lawsuits. By the end of that year, Friedman had cut ties with Lewis and headed to California and Lewis was distributing Moonshine Mountain.

This Aug. 4, 1964, Variety article covered the split:

Gore Film Trio Bust Own Guts On Cut of Coin

A Chicago court suit filed against his partners in a production company by producer Herschell Lewis has broken up what is probably the most successful team making low-budget nudie, gore and action films.

Lewis is suing his former partners, David F. Friedman and Stanford Kohlberg for an accounting and distribution of profits on films already made and for $300,000 for a contract he alleges was made to make 30 more actioners over the next five years.

The trio had jointly produced "B-o-i-n-n-g!", a nudie, and four gore pix -- "Scum of the Earth," "Blood Feast," "2,000 Maniacs" (see separate stories) and "Color Me Blood Red," the latter completely filmed but not yet edited. Lewis and Friedman had previously produced several highly successful nudies.

Friedman is currently working for Kohlberg in the distribution of the films already  made, and Lewis has nearly finished shooting his own comedy-action picture.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Blood Feast Ad-O-Rama Part II

Blood Feast continued playing drive-ins and specialty theaters throughout the 1970s (and beyond). Below is a sampling of advertisements for the film's latter-day bookings.

We start things off with this phenomenal quadruple bill from the Elyria Chronicle Telegram, April 16, 1971, where two H.G. Lewis flicks follow George Romero's Night of the Living Dead (Pennsylvania), and what is likely a slightly misspelled listing for Lewis' former partner David Friedman's She Freak (1967). Plus, free gas (likely for your in-car heater)!

Next up, from the October 2, 1973, edition of the Albuquerque Journal, an even bigger Halloween-themed event with three Lewis films, the West Virginia-lensed Teenage Strangler, a bonus Al Adamson biker film, and whoever the heck Nightmare Alice is. Free pass if you stay for the entire show? I'll take that challenge.

This February 2, 1974, advertisement from the Coshocton Tribune (Ohio) is a tad more serious, and opts for some new artwork (probably to keep patrons from realizing they were about to see two ten-year-old films).

Next, Doctor Kiss over at the Classic Horror Film Board posted this ad from the Elgin Cinema in New York from December 1971, which touts Blood Feast as "the worst film ever made," quite a few years before Plan 9 From Outer Space took the title. The Elgin was founded by producer/distributor Ben Barenholtz in 1968, and is credited as the birthplace of the "Midnight Movie" format -- so Blood Feast graced its screens not too long after the theater's sold-out run of El Topo.

Finally, from Fred Adelman's scan collection, comes this New York ad from the 1980s, again touting Blood Feast's "worst film" bona fides, this time presented by Sleazoid Express publisher Bill Landis.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Summer of Blood: A Look Back at Summer 1963, Part 3

More items from the BoxOffice archive during the summer of Blood Feast:

July 22, 1963:

(CHARLOTTE) Ron Ormand (sic) of Ormand Enterprises, Hollywood, Calif., and his wife June and their 12-year-old son Timmy are in Charlotte visiting friends. At the same time they are setting up distribution in the southeastern section for their company's picture, "Please Don't Touch Me." The Ormands also are working out plans for the production of a new picture.

From August, 5:

(SAN ANTONIO) ... "The Dungeons of Horror," a hair-raising film produced in Pat Boyette's local studios, will be distributed all over the world, starting next month, by Herts-Lion International.

There were also plenty of ads that summer for William Grefe's The Checkered Flag (see above).

And from the August 22, 1963 issue:

(MIAMI) Flamingo Productions, a local motion picture company which recently completed its first full-length color feature, "Miami Rendezvous," now is deep into production plans for its next film, "Deadly Circle," a psycho-murder mystery. The screen play was authored by Alexander Panas, Miami playwright. Producers Irwin and Herb Meyer plan to begin shooting in early September. Gloria Izzo, production coordinator for Flamingo, said that readings already have been held for some of the leading roles, but numerous parts remain to cast.

NOTE: Deadly Circle appears to have morphed into Honeymoon of Horror (a.k.a., Orgy of the Golden Nudes, 1964), which featured screenwriter Panas in a featured role, alongside Robert Parsons and Abbey Heller.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Sometimes Aunt Martha Does Dreadful Things (1971)

This one has been out of print since its VHS release, but it actually screened a few years ago at the University of Chicago! I haven't been able to find a trailer, but here are a few clips.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Blood Feast Ad-O-Rama

Blood Feast began its official theatrical in the fall of 1963, and continued playing double- and triple-bills (often with other H.G. Lewis films like Two Thousand Maniacs! and Color Me Blood Red) well into the early 1970s. Below is a small sampling of some of the 1960s advertisements heralding the goriest show on earth.

First, here's a November 29, 1963, ad from the Bridgeport Post in Connecticut, mentioning that Blood Feast would be coming the following Tuesday:

From Burlington, N.C., comes this September 17, 1963, ad from the Daily Times News, which indicates the film had already played there once. Blood Feast would continue to show in Burlington off and on for the next 10 years, and local theaters sometimes advertised other films by promoting them as being just as bloody or bloodier than Blood Feast.

Here's a nice ad from the Maryland-based Salisbury Times, from May of 1964, pairing Blood Feast with Bary Mahon's Louisiana zombie film The Dead One.

Here's a strange ad from the Kingsport Times in Tennessee, November 13, 1964, listing the film as Night of Blood Feast. I've found other ads where "feast" was actually a misspelling of the title for the film Night of the Blood Beast. This one appears to be the Lewis film, given that it's paired with Two Thousand Maniacs!.

August 15, 1965, from the Appleton, Wis., Post Crescent News, this time paired with two Del Tenney films from Connecticut.

November 4, 1966, The Elyria Chronicle Telegram in Ohio features the "blood trilogy" in all its gory glory.

Later that December, from the same paper, a less explicit ad for the same triple feature.

This ad from the Jan. 22, 1966 Syracuse Post Standard is more like it. Not sure what Guerilla Girl is, though...

From the Nov. 7, 1969, Zanesville Times Recorder. Here, Blood Feast has been tacked on a Crown-International double feature.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Film Gore Decried

After its initial 1963 run, Blood Feast continued playing double and triple bills throughout the 1960s (and early 1970s). It also continued to generate controversy. In the clip below, it's name-checked in a letter to the Walla Walla, Wash., Union Bulletin, decrying the depiction of screen violence at a time when there was so much of the real stuff going on. The letter is signed by two men claiming affiliation with the University of Washington, but the flowery language could be an indication that the letter was a "plant" from a distributor or a local exhibitor looking to drum up business.

Friday, July 26, 2013

H.G. Lewis on the Small Screen

The very first interview I ever read with H.G. Lewis was in the RE/Search book Incredibly Strange Films. The very first time I ever heard the man speak was on the British TV program "The Incredibly Strange Film Show," which was syndicated in the U.S. on the Discovery Channel cable network. The series served as a fantastic primer for the films of everyone from Fred Olen Ray and Ray Dennis Steckler, to Sam Raimi and Tsui Hark. The Lewis episode briefly covers his entire career (up to that point), and even includes a tour of Miami's Suez Motel, conducted by Blood Feast star William Kerwin.

I've included a clip from that episode below, but you can find the entire episode (in four parts) here.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Castle of Frankenstein vs. Blood Feast

 Most of the press coverage Blood Feast received during its initial run focused on its graphic content, dust-ups with local censor boards, and battles over its graphic advertising. There were very few actual reviews of the film that we've been able to turn up. One of the few contemporary reviews from the fan press came via Calvin Beck's erratically published Castle of Frankenstein (issue #6, published in 1964).

The brief review is quoted below, followed by a review of H.G. Lewis' 2,000 Maniacs (in release at the same time), and a related blurb from Joe Dante. (Special thanks to friend of the blog Terry Maher, for making his back issues of CoF available to us.)

Blood Feast -- (58m. -- BoxOffice Spectaculars -- 1964). Color. Thoroughly revolting, inept grade-Z horror garbage. Madman tries to restore life to Egyptian Love Goddess by synthesizing the organs and drippy entrails of pretty girls. You won't believe it until you see it; looks like amateur night at the butcher shop. Strong stomachs only - Yecchh. Connie Mason (of PLAYBOY fame), Thomas Wood, Scott Arnold.

2000 Maniacs -- (84m. -- Box Office Spec. -- 1964). Color. Unbelievable, incredibly sadistic blood-&-guts shocker by producers of "Blood Feast." Modern Southern city, massacred by Northern troops during the Civil War, now takes revenge by mutilating visiting Northerners. Color cameras dwell lovingly on torn limbs, mashed torsos and gory entrails. Vigorously anti-Southern, ineptly made grade-C horror. All the more offensive because film has something to say and has chosen this way to say it. Connie Mason, Thomas Wood.

We'll forgive the reviewer for slightly garbling the plot of 2,000 Maniacs (it's not a modern Southern city; it's a literal ghost town that revives on the anniversary of the slaughter) since they rated it a "grade-C" horror film, an improvement over the "Z" grade handed to Blood Feast. Still, calling the film "anti-Southern" is a mis-reading of both Lewis' intentions and his audience's reaction; 2,000 Maniacs may be the most fully realized neo-Confederate revenge fantasy ever committed to film.

On the very same page where these reviews appeared, Joe Dante contributed a small blurb of text that provides some interesting information re: Blood Feast and the New York-lensed Flesh Eaters:

The National Association of Broadcasters has warned TV stations to beware of the following TV trailers:
BLOOD FEAST: "A tableau of carnage and badness ... brutally staged in Color" which heart patients should beware at all costs, says the NAB.
FLESH EATERS: An announcer says "If you can't stand the sight of flesh being stripped from a human body please leave the room." A scene from the picture follows: an actor whose flesh is burning screams "Something is inside me ... eating its way out!"
One of these films got the full cover-story treatment from one of our "competitors" ... 6 pages plus cover, in fact. Makes you wonder what standards of criticism they have over there.
-- Joe Dante --

Wow -- Blood Feast had a TV trailer? Dante is taking a swipe at issue 29 of Famous Monsters of Filmland, which included lengthy coverage of Flesh Eaters.

Finally, if anyone has come across any other reviews of Blood Feast published during its 1963/1964 run, please send links, copies, or any other material to us at

Monday, July 22, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Bog (1983)

I can't tell you how sad I am that I can't find a trailer for this Wisconsin-lensed monster flick, which not only has a fantastically bad monster, but also appearances by Aldo Ray, Leo Gordon, Marshall Thompson, and Gloria DeHaven (in a dual role!). At least I can share this clip.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Blood Feast Comes to Peoria

In 2003, Brian Sieworiek of WCBU, the NPR affiliate in Peoria, Ill., put together this brief story about the film's debut at the local Bellevue Drive-In in July 1963. (The Bellevue was owned by Stanford Kohlberg, who helped bankroll several H.G. Lewis/David Friedman films.)

You can listen to the story on SoundCloud by following the link below:

02 Blood Feast Anniversary

For more on the film's anniversary, see this post over at Roger Ebert's website by Simon Abrams.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

BoxOffice Tackles Blood Feast

Blood Feast finally began its journey into general release at the end of 1963. Here is what the BoxOffice reviewer thought of it:

Blood Feast
Boxoffice Spectaculars, 71 Minutes, Rel. Sept. 1963

With as much "built-in" selling factors as any imaginative showman would desire, this Friedman-Lewis production, listing David F. Friedman as producer and Herschell G. Lewis as both director and photographer, will be remembered for its gory content long after the run-of-the-mill horror efforts have played out their modest boxoffice billings. It may well set a new precedent, a new pace, for this particular genre, as popular as ever, the while serving to introduce playboy Magazine-famed Connie Mason as the gal on whom the eyes of evil -- Mal Arnold, a fanatic devil-cult worshipper -- cast an understandably appreciative glance. Significantly, the story-line -- credited to A. Louise Downe -- doesn't grunt and groan for mere effect; it relates circumstances with a ringing clarity and precision that should delight the most professed fanciers of horror entertainment, and since Friedman-Lewis forces have wisely incorporated color (Eastman) in their budget, the effect is even more memorable. Mal Arnold, as the chap not inclined to overlook killing nubile young girl victims in an orgy of brutal slaughter, is cold bloodedly efficient.


Street gag -- complete with flowing cloak, sandwich sign -- is very much in order. Station "doctors" and "nurses" in the lobby opening day, dispensing free "nerve pills."


An Admonition: If you are a parent or guardian of an impressionable adolescent, DOT NOT BRING HIM or PERMIT HIM to see this motion picture!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Brain That Couldn't Keep Its Shirt On

Shout! Factory continues to impress with its unending deluge of genre titles. This summer saw the release of Charles B. Pierce's The Town that Dreaded Sundown (featuring an essay by yours truly as a bonus feature) along with The Evictors.

In September, the label is releasing two budget multi-film packs under the "Movies 4 You - Sci-Fi Classics," which will include eight titles. Some of these were previously released under the "Midnight Movies" banner, but a few are new to disc.

But the biggest news regarding these collections is that the second volume will not only include the New York schlock classic The Brain that Wouldn't Die, but also that film's long-rumored (and long-missing) racy "international" footage featuring actress Adele Lamont with slightly less clothing than in the U.S. version. According to Shout!'s own Cliff MacMillan that footage will be included as an extra (it's also missing its soundtrack).

Volume 1 includes Beyond the Time Barrier (a low-budget film shot in Texas), The Angry Red Planet, The Man From Planet X, and The Time Travelers; volume two also has another Texas film, The Amazing Transparent Man, along with Reptilicus and The Neanderthal Man.

In August, Shout!'s Scream Factory imprint will release another four pack, the "All Night Horror Marathon," which includes The Outing (1987), yet another Texas film, and The Vagrant (1992), which was written by Scarecrows (1988) scribe Richard Jeffries.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Trailer of the Week: Beyond the Time Barrier (1960)

Low-budget Texas sci-fi, from the same folks who brought you The Amazing Transparent Man.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer of Blood: A Look Back at 1963, Part 2

As part of our ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of Blood Feast, more blurbs from BoxOffice magazine about regional horror happenings from that seminal summer.

From the June 10, 1963 issue:

Dave Friedman is making a cross-country tour on behalf of "Scum of the Earth" and "Blood Feast," produced by Friedman and Stanford Kohlberg. "Scum of the Earth" had its initial opening at the Bellvue Drive-In, Peoria, with healthy gross.

Chicago producer Bill Rebane has resumed shooting his "Terror at Half Day," science fiction film, starring June Travis Freidlob ...

Note in the Friedman item that Scum of the Earth was previewed at the very same drive-in where Blood Feast would premiere a month later in July 1963.

There were also more updates about the Flamingo production of Miami Rendezvous, which we earlier established was released as Passion Holiday.

From the June 10, 1963 issue:

21 Miamians Play Roles in 'Miami Rendezvous'

MIAMI -- Shooting on the new full-length color film, "Miami Rendezvous," is under way at Crandon Park, with some interiors being made at the Barcelona Hotel on Miami Beach.

Gloria Izzo, who is handling casting and coordination for producers Irwin and Herb Myers of Flamingo Productions, said camera crews were expected to be working here for a couple of weeks.

Girls in bikinis have been flitting about the Barcelona pool area, strippers have been cavorting in the Bravo Room, and men and women dressed in evening wear have been parading before the camera.

The cast is composed mostly of Miamians, and among those "makng the scene" were Peg Rayborn, Sharon Lee, Virginia Horn, Bobbie Shaw, Lanita Kent, Connie Crump, Harold Richter, Ludovic Huot, Owen Negrin, Pearl Rubin, Gertrude Dean, Monroe Myers, Lou Horn, Ed Bell, Sid Katz, Marion Webber, Eva and Charles Bartfield, John Wentz, Frances Glick and Bob Krantz Jr.

From the July 1, 1963 issue:

Nine Movies Are Planned By Flamingo Productions

MIAMI -- Flamingo Productions completed shooting on "Miami Rendezvous" and already is preparing for its next motion picture here.

At least nine movies are in the planning stage by the newly formed company, headed by Herb Meyer, producer, and Irwin Meyer, producer-director. Their next film will be a horror picture with a psychopathic theme.

Gloria Izzo, casting director and production coordinator, announced that casting for the new picture will begin this month and that shooting will be started in mid-July. 

"Miami Rendezvous" is a full-length suspense-adventure feature, with mostly local talent. All scenes were made in the South Florida area.

The producers cite the following conditions as being favorable to the output of low-budget pictures:

"Excellent filming weather 12 months of the year; many expert technicians available, already skilled in their trade, who prefer living in the Miami area; a wide variety of locations within a 100-mile radius, such as dense jungles, barren beaches, unspoiled islands, cattle ranches and horse-breeding farms, modern metropolitan cities, fabulous hotels, Seminole Indians and villages, a huge modern airport complex and Caribbean settings, plus excellent facilities such as studios, sound stages, etc., for processing film."

Monday, June 24, 2013

Trailer of the Week Gandolfini Edition: Shock! Shock! Shock! (1987)

Little known fact: James Gandolfini, who died suddenly last week, made his film debut in this New York-lensed, black-and-white indie production. His face is in shadow, and his voice is dubbed, but it's him.

You can read a nice review of the film, which was a mainstay of the old Rhino Records catalog, over at Bleeding Skull. And here's a short piece written by the guy who dubbed his voice.

Co-director Todd Rutt later worked on the subversive faux kiddie show Wonder Showzen, and the other co-director, Arn McConnell, exists online under the guise of Craven Lovelace.

There's no real trailer for this flick, but here's Gandolfini's brief appearance:

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BoxOffice, June 11, 1973

Two trade ads from the industry rag, 40 years ago.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Zaat's a Wrap: Donald Barton, 1930-2013

When I first began working on what eventually became my book, Regional Horror Films, one of the first directors I reached out to interview was Don Barton. Barton was an industrial/commercial filmmaker in Jacksonville, Fla., whose sole venture into feature filmmaking had been the crazed, 1950s-style monster flick Zaat (a.k.a. The Bloodwaters of Dr. Z).

Barton and his monster suit. Image: Jon M. Fletcher/Times-Union

I first encountered the film under its Bloodwaters title on late-night TV, and caught it again as an episode of Mystery Science Theater. When I began researching the book, I discovered that not only did Barton still live in Florida, but he still had the Zaat monster suit in his garage, and had been organizing screenings of the film with the help of Zaat Fan Numero Uno, Ed Tucker.

Within a few years, Barton's film had been re-released on VHS and, just recently, in a DVD/Blu-ray special edition from Cultra.

If you've only seen Zaat in the washed-out, pan-and-scan versions that used to play on TV, the DVD will serve as a revelation. The film itself (which boasts a great human/catfish hybrid monster) isn't any better than you remember, but with its vibrant color intact and in its original aspect ratio, you can at least appreciate Barton's skill as a low-budget filmmaker. There may not be traditional artistry on display (although that creature suit really is something), but there is certainly craftsmanship at work.

Barton died last week of complications from obstructive pulmonary disease, according to an article in the Jacksonville press. The day he passed, he was scheduled to attend yet another screening of Zaat, this one to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Marineland, where movie was filmed.

He is survived by his wife of 57 years, his nine children, 23 grandchildren, and of course, Zaat.

Make sure you check out the Zaat website, and the videos below.