No One Will Hear You Scream!!!

This time around I’ve selected three of my favorite fucked up flicks from the 1970’s. These clas-sicks are often overlooked by horror fans and deserve a larger audience. Best of all, all three are available on dvd and can easily be found for a reasonable price.

LET THE BLOODSHED BEGIN!!!

 

 

MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973)

This one starts with a sweaty confused looking man apparently running for his life. He ducks behind a wall and rests by a fountain while attempting to catch his breath. Then a friendly looking girl in a tacky dress appears from out of nowhere to comfort him, before slitting his throat with a razor blade. Welcome to the wild world of MESSIAH OF EVIL! You will never be the same. The haunting theme song “Hold On To Love” that accompanies the opening credits slowly begins lulling the viewer into submission. Then we are treated to an extended out of focus shot of a deranged woman babbling inside a large insane asylum hallway. The mad woman thoughtfully warns the viewers that “They’re coming here. They’re waiting at the edge of the city. They’re peering around buildings at night, and they’re waiting. They’re waiting for you! And they’ll take you one by one and no one will hear you scream. No one will hear you SCREAM!!!”

We are then introduced to a pretty young woman named Arletty (Marianna Hill of “The Baby” and “High Plains Drifter” legend) who goes looking for her missing father and stumbles across an undead cult of rat munching murderous maniac albinos that are wiping out a small town on the California coastline while awaiting the upcoming return of their messiah. As Arletty searches the town for her father she befriends a swinger named Thom (Michael Greer) and his two sexy female traveling companions – Laura (Anitra “Invasion Of The Bee Girls” Ford) & Toni (the aptly named Joy Bang!). Thom is bored and disillusioned and has more than a little money to burn. He particularly enjoys paying the town drunk Charlie (the eternally drunken and shiftless Elisha Cook Jr. of “Salem’s Lot” infamy!) to ramble on about the nights when “blood covered the moon.” Charlie tells Arletty that her father is dead, but assures her that he will be back to see her soon, and whatever she does – she must not bury him!

Arletty is horrified by the words of the booze addled derelict, but decides to resume the search for her father. It doesn’t take long before the town’s madness begins to infect her mind, pollute her body, and threaten her life and the lives of Thom, Laura, and Toni. The zombified townsfolk attack and devour Laura in a deserted supermarket, and Toni gets dispatched while watching a Sammi Davis Jr western in a grindhouse theater. Then Arletty begins puking up lizards and bugs just as her dead daddy finally shows up to reveal the incredible history of the messiah of evil! Massive amounts of blue paint, fire, and decomposition are unleashed until finally Arletty and Thom wind up in the Pacific ocean desperately attempting to swim for their lives.

As one of my favorite obscure horror flicks from the early 70’s, this flick is just brutally bizarre. It’s also one of the most strangely haunting little films I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching. The director Willard Huyck (who would later direct the infamous “Howard The Duck!”) and writer Gloria Katz deserve much credit for creating such a memorable and disturbing horror film. Many of the scenes throughout are genuinely creepy, and there are a number of visually stunning shots. This actually reminds me quite a bit of a Dario Argento flick: great to look at, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. The narrative is rather jumbled and it will probably take a few viewings to fully grasp and appreciate what is being presented.

Despite the rather gory sounding premise, this film is somewhat restrained in the gore department. This is a rather unusual zombie flick, as there is a distinct lack of graphic gut munching on display. It’s worth mentioning that this flick was also titled “Dead People” and “Revenge Of The Screaming Dead”; both titles would make this appear to be a run of the mill zombie effort. There’s no shortage of bloody violence though, and the film possesses an unpleasant dreamlike atmosphere that will keep you on edge. The death scenes that take place inside a garage, supermarket, and movie theater are all fantastic stuff that make this sometimes confusing film well worth the effort.

MESSIAH OF EVIL can easily be found on dvd, usually for cheap. I recommend shelling out a few extra bucks and seeking out the special edition, 35th anniversary release from Code Red. This version looks and sounds the best, and features goodies like interviews and commentary tracks. Penny pinchers should check out the Diamond Entertainment dvd, which includes “The Devil’s Nightmare” (also a great flick!) as a double feature. You can also find this flick in several of those cheap-o “horror collections.”  There’s no excuse for not owning this clas-sick!

 

 

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973)

The legendary Paul Naschy plays an Indian mystic named “Krishna” (of course!) who battles his evil twin brother Kantaka. Kantaka was horribly disfigured after an angry mob set a fire that destroyed his castle, and he uses the diabolical powers of black magic to resurrect the recently deceased female relatives of the people that tried to kill him. The resurrected zombie women then become pawns in Kantaka’s deadly game of revenge. Kantaka’s victims include the father of a lovely redhead named Elvire Irving. Elvire becomes romantically involved with Krishna, and a deadly love triangle is created when Kantaka decides that he wants more than her heart.

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is a masterpiece of over the top occult themed horror from the dreaded Spanish tag team of director Leon Klimovsky and actor/writer Jacinto Molina (aka Paul Naschy). I’ve been on a tear lately trying to collect as many of these films as I can. This is by far the most entertaining of the bunch I’ve seen. Say what you want about all the unintentional humor, inappropriate lounge music used for score, or the sheer overwhelming cheesiness of these old school Spanish horror flicks – I personally think they have a creepy, authentic horror atmosphere that rivals many other, far more polished horror films. Director Leon Klimovsky could always be counted on to deliver the goods. I’ve enjoyed every film of his that I’ve seen. They are always chock full of eerie cavernous castles, freshly unearthed rotting corpses, lots of gory effects and blood, and an abundance beautiful women.

Jacinto Molina really was an ICON of horror. Sadly, even after his passing he still doesn’t get nearly enough recognition for the decades full of clas-sick horror films that he’s written, directed, and starred in. This guy has really done it all. He played every memorable movie monster there ever was. His most famous reoccurring character of course was Waldemar Daninsky – the wolf man. He’s also appeared as the Devil, Dracula, a mummy, a hunchback, a grave robber, an evil knight, a mercenary, an exorcist, and an assassin!

A lot of Molina’s characters in these films are practitioners of the black arts. Over the years many of his films featured evil characters that boldly experiment with Satanism, Sorcery, Witchcraft, blood sacrifices, alchemy, immortality, and resurrection of the dead. Molina in real life studied black magic in order to make his films and characters more authentic. His storylines are always completely wild and over the top. “Vengeance Of The Zombies” is no exception. The tale of a family curse, a brother’s betrayal, and an army of murderous zombies is the stuff of pure fantasy. Molina said when he wrote the screenplay he must have been “under the effects of hashish, or like Bram Stroker, I’d had one hell of a nightmare.”

No werewolves or vampire women this time around. Instead we are treated to grave robbing, black masses, masked murder rampages, voodoo, ritual sacrifice, chicken decapitation, the walking dead, and the sight of Naschy as both an Indian mystic and a horned Satan who drinks blood from a golden chalice! There’s lots of bloody mayhem in this one, and some nice nudity provided by some especially HOT looking women. Krisha’s gold-painted assistant Kala is played by Mirta Miller (“Count Dracula’s Great Love”), and she is one of the most unbelievably beautiful women I’ve ever seen.

VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES is now available on a beautifully remastered dvd thanks to the fine folks at Deimos/Brentwood. Also available on dvd from Deimos/Brentwood is Paul Naschy’s 1980 film “Night Of The Werewolf,” which is also excellent. Best of all, these flicks are cheap. I got both in a double feature set for only $20! Horror fans looking for something a little…different should give these a try.

 

 

TOURIST TRAP (1979)

A group of five young people go traveling through the desert when one of their vehicles get sidelined with a flat tire. One of the youngsters – Woody, takes the tire and goes looking for a gas station. He manages to find one, but it appears to be deserted. Woody wanders around looking for help and hears a voice in an adjacent room. When he goes inside the room he discovers a group of bizarre looking mannequins, that laugh maniacally and begin leaping out at him. Then to his horror; the door locks itself, the windows close themselves, and objects including bottles and knives begin flying at him. In a panic he manages to break a hole in the door, but someone or something on the other side grabs his arm and pins him against the door. Then a large metal pole flies across the room and impales him.

When Woody doesn’t return, the others decide to go looking for him. As they drive further down the highway they see a sign for a “tourist trap” called Slausen’s Lost Oasis. The gang thinks that it must be where Woody had went for help and decide to go check it out. Then their jeep stalls and the headlights break. The sole male of the group – Jerry, stays behind to try to fix the jeep while the three girls decide to go skinny dipping in a nearby lake. That’s when they meet Mr. Slausen (Chuck Conners), the rifle toting proprietor of Slausen’s Lost Oasis.

Mr. Slausen thoughtfully offers to help the gang fix their jeep, and gives them a ride back to his house so he can fetch his tools. His “house” is actually a large old museum filled with western memorabilia and realistic looking wax dummies. Mr. Slausen explains that his business was ruined thanks to the new highway system (shades of Psycho) and that his wife had died, leaving him all alone. Even his brilliant artist brother Davey left the Lost Oasis to take a job at a big wax museum in the city. Most of the kids are creeped out by the place, but one of the girls named Molly seems oddly interested and sympathetic towards Mr. Slausen.

Slausen and Jerry leave the girls in the museum and go off to repair the jeep. The girls wander around the museum marveling at how realistic the mannequins look and feel. One of more adventurous girls decides to check out the large house next door the museum. She quickly regrets it when she meets a maniac in a hideous looking mask that uses deadly powers of telekinesis to strangle her! The masked madman eventually captures the rest of the kids and ties them up in the basement. The kids are forced to watch the monster suffocate another young girl with a face full of plaster. Molly manages to escape the museum and runs to Mr. Slausen for help. That’s when the murderous secrets of the Lost Oasis are revealed. Illusion and reality begin to blend together and Molly has to fight to stay alive and save her friends. But who will survive, and what will be left of their sanity?

David Schmoeller’s TOURIST TRAP is a personal favorite of mine. It’s an unbelievably creepy combination of the supernatural and slasher sub-genres. It reminds me of a cracked out combination of “Ho“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “House Of Wax,” and “Phantasm.” First time viewers will no doubt be caught off guard by the many sensational shocks along the way. I left out a lot of the key moments in my review because I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone. People with an abnormal fear of mannequins should avoid this flick like the plague. The maniacal mannequins in “Tourist Trap” laugh and scream at the terrified victims to be and quickly drive them (and the viewer) insane.

Chuck Conners is fantastic as Mr. Slausen. He commands the screen in this one as a horrific hybrid of Norman Bates and Leatherface. The rest of the cast is also very good. Jocelyn Jones in particular does a great job as the sympathetic lead who loses her grip on reality. The one and only Tanya Roberts (“Purgatory,” “Charlie’s Angels”) also stars and her two major talents can be seen defying gravity and boldly stretching the limits of  her tight blue tube top! Everything about this flick is superior, including the spooky score from Pino Donaggo. The body count is relatively low compared to the slashers that would follow in the next few years, but very few low budget horror flicks are as unnerving, or as original and intense as this.

Koch/Full Moon Releasing were responsible for the 20th Anniversary Edition dvd release of TOURIST TRAP. The film is presented completely uncut and digitally remastered. There’s also a commentary track from director/co-writer David Schmoeller that dishes the dirt about the film’s origins. Add to that the original trailer and several trailers for other Full Moon releases and you’ve got an essential purchase. Fans of chilling and thrilling late 70’s horror should consider this a must see.

 

 

KEEP THE BLOOD FLOWING!!!

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