Sculptor/filmmaker J.S. Avila takes us on a creepy cinematic tour of his 2010 piece “Radioactive Flesh.”
Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…
SCREENINGS – (New York City, IFC Center, Fri, Mar. 24-Apr. 6):
“The Films of David Lynch”: IFC dips into their closet for a Lychstravanganza! Every one of Lynch’s feature films (and many shorts) are featured during this mini-festival; check following link for showtimes. The Films of David Lynch.
SCREENINGS – (Copenhagen, DEN., Cinamateket, Fri, Mar. 25):
Pink Flamingos (1972): Read the Certified Weird entry! We rarely highlight European one-off events, but this was a weird lineup we couldn’t pass up. John Waters‘ trash classic about the filthiest people in the world will be sandwiched in between screenings of screen tests and ‘s repulsive Pig. That’s one filthy lineup for perverted Danes! Andy Warhol: Screen Tests + Pink Flamingos + PIG.
SCREENINGS – (Los Angeles, The Vista, Thurs., Mar 30):
Donnie Darko (2001): Read the Certified Weird Entry! will be in person, and if he’s answering questions from obsessed fans who’ve come up with their own pet theories about the plot, we feel for him. Sponsored by Cinefamily,this is the first stop in a series of screenings of this restored Certified Weird classic. Donnie Darko restored.
“Spring Breakers” digital series: A startup digital platform called Blackpills has purchased the rights to release a series based on the hedonistic satire Spring Breakers in “an unconventional digital format.” Screen Daily.will not be involved, nor, we suspect, will any of the original cast. No details beyond those, but you can read up on it at
NEW ON DVD:
Evolution (2015): Buy Evolution [DVD/Blu-ray combo].described it as “subtle sci-fi mystery about an island of pale-faced women who have found a way to propagate without men” while warning it “definitely isn’t for everyone.” ’s long-gestating third feature finally arrives in a DVD/Blu-ray combo pack.
Multiple Maniacs (1970): Read Alfred Eaker’s review. The Criterion Collection presenting a film is like the Academy Awards nominating a movie; the onetime scabrous provocateur has survived long enough to become part of the establishment. Buy Multiple Maniacs [Criterion Collection].
Other Madnesses (2015): A NYC tour guide definitely NOT named Travis Bickle turns vigilante after a series of nightmares about an abducted girl. One of the only existing reviews, from The Hollywood Reporter, is generally positive and mentions the “surreal-leaning screenplay.” Buy Other Madnesses [DVD-R].
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Evolution (2015): See description in DVD above. Buy Evolution [DVD/Blu-ray combo].
Multiple Maniacs (1970): See description in DVD above. The Blu contains the same extra features as the DVD, including a Waters commentary and interviews with surviving Dreamlanders. Buy Multiple Maniacs [Criterion Collection Blu-ray].
Other Madnesses (2015): See description in DVD above. Be aware that these discs come on the cheaper burn-to-order DVD-R and BD-R formats, which are supported by most but not all players—do your homework. Buy Other Madnesses [BD-R].
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.
Amicus horror anthologies. Of course, what better way to emulate the competition than to acquire the man who directed nearly half of the Amicus franchise, along with several of that studio’s top draw actors?‘ Tales That Witness Madness, made for World Film Services in 1973, is clearly patterned after the
The setup is simple and familiar enough:is the resident psychiatrist of an asylum, giving friend Jack Hawkins (in his final film) a tour of the grounds. Along the way, he tells the stories of four inmates.
In “Mr. Tiger,” Russell Lewis’ imaginary feline pet beast takes a sour view of his master’s verbally abusive parents. Just how imaginary the tiger is questioned after some clawing on the door and blood splattering on Oedipal walls.
A time traveling bicycle is at the malevolent heart of “Penny Farthing.” It stars Peter McEnery as an antique shop owner and Suzy Kendall as his wife. Soon, they discover the bike is literally antique and … we’re so sorry, Uncle Albert.
“Mel” stretches credibility when Michael Jayston is more interested in an oddly shaped tree than he is in oversexed wife Joan Collins in something pink from Frederick’s of Hollywood. It’s the most remembered segment for a reason—it’s a camp hoot, with Collins channeling her inner jealous diva. The tree tries to upstage the human competition, which is not an easy task against Joan in a flimsy nightie, wielding an axe.
Rita Hayworth was originally cast in the final segment, “Luau,” but bowed out, citing health reasons.replaces her and gives a pallid performance as another jealous diva who happens to be a cannibalistic mother. Although not as well known or as assured as the best Amicus entries,Tales is still an enjoyable example of the genre that confirms Francis as an underrated director.
Most horror anthologies succumb to moralizing. One that avoids that route altogether and revels in its gore and perversity is the underrated From a Whisper to a Scream (1987), Jeff Burr’s first solo feature film. It’s an impressive debut that unfortunately did not lead to bigger and better projects for the director.co-stars with Martine Beswicke, , Rosalind Cash, Terry Kiser, Clu Gulager and the always underrated misfit . Price gives a solid performance in the wraparound as a Tennessee librarian whose knowledge of local history is put to use as he relays four tales to reporter Tyrell, who just came back from the execution of the librarian’s serial killer niece. The cast is uniformly good, especially Gulager who gives a hell of a performance in the first segment as an aging, pathetic grocery clerk whose relationship with his ailing sister (Gulager’s real-life wife Miriam Byrd-Nethery) is clearly incestuous. However, an unrequited love for his boss (Megan McFarland) quickly turns things uncomfortably south, with necrophilia thrown into the sororicidal brew.
White trash thug Terry Kiser is nursed back from the dead by kindly bayou voodoo practitioner Harry Caesar. When Kiser has the chutzpah to bite the hand that feeds him, a horrific fate awaits in this unfathomably grim narrative of dread.
Didi Lanier falls in love with carnival glass eater Ron Brooks, who is trepidatious about running away with her, fearing retaliation from the show’s owner/snakewoman (a delirious Rosalind Cash in her final film appearance). The intestinal finale of imploding razor blades and paper clips is gruesome enough to warrant a shower after. This is also the final film for dwarf Angelo Rossitto, who had most famously starred in Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932).
Cameron Mitchell, once a reliable character actor, emerged from a decade-long slump of in this unsettling Gothic Civil War tale that goes to the “you’re not going there” place. Knowing the war is over, Mitchell and his rogue Union squad take the attitude that it isn’t, but fatefully encounter a band of confederate children. Damien, the Children of the Corn and the killer tykes from that Village of the Damned have nothing on these southern juveniles who reinvent pin-the-tail-on-the donkey and don’t bat an eye at removing one adult limb at a time. Hoping to escape, Mitchell goes pedophile, locking lips with a pubescent and facing a visceral climax.
Reportedly, Price had misgivings about the script and was unhappy with the final edit, feeling it too too extreme and devoid of the sense of nostalgia that drives his screen persona. His is a supporting role, no doubt due in part to his (clearly) failing health. Burr, co-writing with Mike Malone, Darin Scott, and Courtney Joyner, fires on all cylinders, without a weak link, and despite a relatively low budget. Obscure enough to rarely be listed, it’s more refreshingly original than the more familiar fare. Burr considers it as his only authentic film, having since been consigned to commission work.
“God gave him a calling in life, and that was to make pornography.”–George Kuchar on Curt McDowell
DIRECTED BY: Curt McDowell
FEATURING: Marion Eaton, Melinda McDowell, Moira Benson, Mookie Blodgett, Ken Scudder, Rick Johnson, Maggie Pyle,
PLOT: On a dark and stormy night in the Nebraska hinterlands, several individuals on the road end up taking shelter at “Prairie Blossom”, an old dark house that is the dominion of alcoholic matron Gert Hammond (Eaton). Everyone present has secrets and obsessions that are brought to light, and pair off in various combinations for sexual liaisons. The group also finds itself trapped inside the house by a gorilla rampaging outside.
- Producers John Thomas (who briefly appeared as country singer Simon Cassidy) and Charles Thomas were film students of Thundercrack! actor/writer George Kuchar, classmates of director Curt McDowell, and heirs to a fortune from the Burger Chef fast food chain, which they used to fund the movie. They also provided a rooms in their home for the shoot.
- George Kuchar was a legend in the underground film industry, making hundred of short, campy avant-garde films together with his twin brother Mike. Noteworthy titles include Sins of the Fleshapoids and Hold Me While I’m Naked (both from 1966).
- Actress Melinda McDowell was director Curt McDowell’s sister.
- Kuchar and McDowell were rumored to be lovers.
- The movie was shot for $9,000 and $40,000 in deferred costs.
- Buck Henry used his clout as a judge to set up a (scandalous) screening at the 1976 Los Angeles Film Festival.
- The original negatives disappeared and only five 16mm prints of the film were struck. One print was seized by Canadian authorities and three had been edited in an ineffectual attempt to make the film more marketable. The badly-damaged but uncut fifth print was primarily utilized for the transfer of the 40th anniversary Blu-ray release by Synapse Films.
- El Rob Hubbard’s Staff Pick for a Certified Weird movie.
INDELIBLE IMAGE: Among the various obvious (and mainly pornographic) images to choose from, the one that sums up the spirit of Thundercrack! is the publicity photo of Gert and Bing in a melodramatic clinch—Bing in a wedding dress, Gert staring off into the horizon. It’s iconic, yet subversive, and pretty much encapsulates the film’s mood.
THREE WEIRD THINGS: Versatile cucumbers; pickled husbands; amorous bipeds
WHAT MAKES IT WEIRD: The collision of several elements: the lurid melodramatics along with the hardcore action, the visual stylization and the complex wordplay, all combine to make a film much more engaging and—dare I say it—innocent than one would expect from a mid 1970s hardcore sex parody film. Or, is it a parody film with porno elements? You decide…
Brief scene from Thundercrack!
COMMENTS: “What the heck is going on here—some sort of communal therapy group? Is that what this is?!!”—Bing
That’s probably a fair assessment of Thundercrack!, Curt McDowell’s Continue reading 275. THUNDERCRACK! (1975)
- Fun Fact: actress “Maggie Pyle” and her husband (one of the crew members) were my landlords for a short time in San Francisco in the early 90’s. [↩]
DIRECTED BY: Anna Biller
FEATURING: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddel
PLOT: A California witch who casts magic spells to seek out her true love finds that her lovers keep dying.
WHY IT MIGHT MAKE THE LIST: The world created in The Love Witch is so obsessively unique—a blend of romance novels, perverse witchcraft fantasies, feminist dialectic, and Technicolor melodramas—that perhaps it can only rightfully described as “weird.”
COMMENTS: One main stylistic feature of The Love Witch is the campy acting—Samantha Robinson’s Elaine speaks as if she’s always lost in an interior world of hearts and unicorns, making her sound insincere even when she’s at her most heartfelt. Other actors take an overly broad, TV-melodrama approach. This technique helps sustain the film’s sense of otherworldliness, but the other, and far more impressive, stylistic feature is the unreal, anachronistic, and impressively detailed mise-en-scene. A girly-girl café where the clientele all dress in pink and white with flowery hats—looking more like bridesmaids than ladies out for a spot of tea—while ethereal blondes play harps and sing medieval love hymns. The local burlesque house, in a lustful red-on-red color scheme, where dancers with feather boas never take it all off but ensorcell the drooling males nonetheless. The Renaissance Faire run by witches, where Elaine and her date “accidentally” end up wed in a mock pagan ceremony. The minutiae of Elaine’s witchcraft rituals, which at one point involves her honoring a corpse with her urine and a used tampon. Clever details and decorative ideas abound in nearly every scene. Reversing the seduction stereotype, Elaine uses a comically oversized brandy snifter to decrease her conquests’ inhibitions. Trish finds Elaine’s witchcraft altar full of bizarre potions and magickal totems, then walks into her adjoining bedroom to discover, oriented in exact mirror image position, a vanity set out with wig, perfume, and makeup.
The smart script is not simplistic in its satire; it prides itself on creating and holding contradictory views. Elaine and her friends toss out ideas about femininity that are sometimes laughably old-fashioned, but are sometimes still with us today, and trusts us to sort out which are which. Witchcraft is shown as harmless New Agey neo-paganism, no more or less ritually ridiculous than Christianity, but it’s also a source of implied abuse and exploitation, and a real threat to the community. And of course, the biggest contradiction of all is Elaine, a mixture of idealism and ruthless cunning, who expresses naïve ideas with a simple conviction that no one can effectively refute, simultaneously a victim and a serial victimizer.
Because the stylistic world Anna Biller creates in The Love Witch is cinematically familiar—with its widescreen compositions, brazen color schemes, cigarette smoking femme fatales and square-jawed cops—many are tempted to go hunting for movie references and homages. Indeed, I was reminded of The Birds (in Elaine’s rear-projection convertible ride up the California coast), (the nude witchcraft rituals), The Trip (the psychedelic kaleidoscope lens when Elaine seduces the hippie professor) and TV’s “Dragnet” (in the sappy hard-boiled dialogue of the police squad room); others cite , Valley of the Dolls and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as inspirations. But none of the scenes Biller stages are outright allusions or in-jokes. She absorbs the period style—particularly its vivacious use of the full chromatic scale—-without simply referencing a checklist of favorite films; you’ll search in vain for nods to her specific influences. The Love Witch is a Sixties-era Technicolor B-movie that could have been, but in an alternate universe at a slight tangent to our own. The biggest compliment I can give Biller is to say that she does something for 1960s Technicolor spectacles similar to what did for silents and early talkies: she uses antiquated techniques to create a timeless, abstract setting that reflects her own personality. It’s gratifying to see her receive critical praise for this monumentally inventive and deceptively intelligent feminist statement dressed in Satanic sexploitation robes.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“The results are wildly over-the-top, in a ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’-meets-‘Dark Shadows’ kind of way, but Biller’s commitment to her vision is weirdly endearing.”–Sean P. Means, The Salt Lake Tribune (contemporaneous)
FEATURING: , Shinya Tsukamoto
PLOT: After receiving a mysterious injection and having his son killed by members of a cult, a man’s body starts to slowly transform into a weapon of flesh and steel as he tracks down the cultists and their leader, the “Metal Fetishist.”
WHY IT WON’T MAKE THE LIST: Body Hammer is a larger-budgeted, more conventional reinterpretation of the original Tetsuo that partially attempts to rationalize its world. By common standards, however, it’s still very much a weird movie, packed with bizarre images and occasional outbursts of the nightmarish industrial madness that defined the first. With the List’s increasingly limited slots and Body Hammer‘s more surreal predecessor already certified, there isn’t a lot of pressure to add this one.
COMMENTS: Shinya Tsukamoto’s first Tetsuo, whose status as a landmark of weird cinema and one of the most defining representatives of the Japanese Cyberpunk film movement is contested by few, was a truly unique, aggressively hyperactive, feverish industrial nightmare set in its own immersive realm. To the dismay of some fans, the sequel is clearly a very distinct effort to craft a more accessible movie, with a structured narrative and a focus on its dramatic plot, and more nuanced and realistic characters along with their emotions and motivations (the protagonist even gets a name). The most obvious departure from the first film’s style is the cold, sterilized color palette (with an emphasis on blue and white) that sets up a robustly clinical and artificial world. Before the transformations kick in, it seems like the humans we see are already machine-like and dehumanized, moving lifelessly through an imposing urban environment that dwarfs and assimilates them. Inevitably, the main character’s metamorphosis into a man-machine hybrid mechanism later on may look like a natural evolution in such surroundings.
The first scenes after the opening credits show Tomoo, Body Hammer’s version of the “salaryman”, waking up and having breakfast with his wife and child while discussing a dream from the previous night. These initial moments would be almost casual if it wasn’t for Tsukamoto’s insistence on unconventional angles and a fluid camera that freely hovers and rotates. After the family is assaulted in a mall by a group of mysterious skinheads who kidnap the son and trigger Tomoo’s transformation with an injection, setting the main plot course in motion, we get the first glimpses of the original story. It’s easy to say that the more expository approach of the sequel robs it of the magic and low-budget charm that made the first so memorable and unique, but the sensibility behind it is the same. To describe it simply, Body Hammer feels like an intersection between our familiar world and the alternative, hallucinatory logic that governs the first Tetsuo universe. As such, it’s more accessible, but there are never any signs of the auteur’s vision being hampered by the imperatives of telling a coherent story.
In fact, Tsukamoto’s directorial tics shine through the film. Sometimes, he interrupts the narrative’s course with bizarre montages mirroring Tomoo’s grotesque mutation. It helps that the film grows progressively stranger and closer to its predecessor’s insanely energetic pace, with furious imagery of sprawling wires, cables, pipes and random metallic parts that overpower and merge with fragile flesh, with the difference being that here they are lightly mediated by a contextual plot. As the movie approaches the climatic confrontation between Tomoo and the fetishist, it even presents us an explanatory flashback that clarifies the antagonist’s motivations and introduces a final twist related to his relationship with the main character. This sudden device comes completely unexpected, mainly because we would never guess that Tsukamoto would show such a preoccupation with the narrative’s background. Even this passage, however, is infused with his surrealistic style, and it may actually contain the film’s ultimate surreal set piece, culminating in a murder scene that manages to be simultaneously gory, dreamlike and touching.
The additions to the Tetsuo mythology, possible through the bigger budget, are also welcome. It is, for example, nice to see a whole cult of metal worshipers operating, instead of a sole maniac like the original, as well as further inventive variants of the bloody and biomechanical mutations of flesh, steel and rust.
The consensus on Body Hammer is positive, but a number of fans show discontent with what they see as an ill-fated attempt at making sense out of the perfectly irrational fable that was the original. To a certain extent, they are correct. But the decision to flesh out the character dynamics and lend emotional weight to the chaotic events on screen, works because it passively accepts and coexists with the absurdity of the film’s plot. In the end, Body Hammer is immersed in its mix of alien atmosphere and cold, fantastical reality, making it both a satisfyingly strange movie and a distinct enough one from the original.
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Tsukamoto’s preoccupations with meta(l)morphosis, body horror and unchecked masculinity remain firmly in place, as does the writer/director’s way with outrageous images and ideas.”–Anton Bitel, Eye for Film
Next week, Rafael Moreira takes a look at ‘s 1992 update/sequel to Tetsuo: The Iron Man, Tetsuo II: Body Hammer. Can it live up to the weirdness of the original? Also, last week’s DVD/Blu-ray release gives G. Smalley the opportunity for our first official look at The Love Witch (a movie that we already ranked #10 on 2016’s Weirdest Movies, and that also earned the enchanting Samantha Robinson a “Weirdest Actress” nod). And even more erotic (sort of) is El Rob Hubbard‘s review of the legendary 1975 underground horror parody/hardcore sex absurdist comedy Thundercrack! And Alfred Eaker takes a break from his yearly exploitation survey to look at another pair of horror anthologies: 1973’s Tales That Witness Madness and 1987’s From a Whisper to a Scream. We usher in Spring in the usual way: with another slate of crazy under-the-radar movies.
Even in otherwise slack weeks for weird search terms, the porn searchers never let us down, giving us something to survey in our weekly look at the Weirdest Search Terms of the Week. We’ll start out with the horndog who impressively managed to misspell every single word in his four-term search: “comade cartun groop sax.” Hot blonde cave women bally stob porn,” starts out promisingly, but quickly goes downhill. Normally, “her odd testes film” would be the strangest search term we saw all week, but this week we have to give the award for Weirdest Search Term of the Week to “bırovniyan movement incest.” It superficially looks like “Brownian movement incest,” which wouldn’t make any sense, but what’s even weirder is that “bırovniyan” isn’t a word in any recognized Earth language (and also, “ı” isn’t a letter).
Here’s how our ridiculously-long reader-suggested review queue stands: Thundercrack! (next week!); Grendel Grendel Grendel; Twilight of the Cockroaches; Indecent Desires; Daughter of Horror [AKA Dementia]; Beauty and the Beast [Panna a Netvor] (1978); Parents; Aqua Teen Continue reading WHAT’S IN THE PIPELINE
Cool 3D World is a YouTube channel that quickly became infamous for uploading some of the weirdest videos on the web. The Dreaming Boy is a good video to start with while you decide whether or not you want to work your way up to the stuff you’ll later regret seeing.
Our weekly look at what’s weird in theaters, on hot-off-the-presses DVDs, and on more distant horizons…
SCREENINGS – (Los Angeles, Cinefamily, Sat., Mar. 18):
FILM FESTIVALS – Ann Arbor Film Festival (Ann Arbor, MI, Mar. 21-26):
Ann Arbor is the destination of choice for experimental filmmakers whose work is too academic, obscure and/or weird to screen at mainstream film festivals. As usual, we recognize almost none of the featured titles (almost all of them are shorts). One exception is the March 22 screening of the silent Japanese avant-garde classic A Page of Madness, about a man who takes a job as janitor at an insane asylum to be near his committed wife. It screens with a live score played by “Little Bang Theory” on toy and handmade instruments. We’re sure some of the shorts are worthwhile, but some adventurous Michigander will have to check them out for us and tell us what’s worth tracking down.
NEW ON DVD:
The Love Witch (2016): A California witch who casts magic spells to seek out her true love finds that her lovers keep dying in this tribute to 1960’s Technicolor spectacles. Samantha Robinson was the surprise winner of the 2016’s Weirdest Actress for her enchanting performance in the title role. Buy The Love Witch.
Mondo Weirdo (1990)/Vamyros Sexos (1988): Two rarities from Austrian underground filmmaker Carl Andersen: Mondo Weirdo is like “Alice in Menstruationland,” while Vampyros Sexos [AKA I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing] is a hardcore vampire punk musical. Director/Cult Epics distributor Nico B. named these two of his top 10 weirdest movies of all time. Buy Mondo Weirdo (1990)/Vampyros Sexos (1988) [Blu-ray/DVD combo].
NEW ON BLU-RAY:
Ghost in the Shell (1995): Read our capsule review. Anchor Bay re-releases this classic philosophical anime on Blu to capitalize on the upcoming live-action remake; they just put out (widely criticized) versions in 2015 and 2016, but this is an “o-ring” (??) release. Buy Ghost in the Shell [Blu-ray].
The Love Witch (2016): See description in DVD above. Buy The Love Witch [Blu-ray].
The Lovers on the Bridge (1991): See description in DVD above. Kino Lober throws in a featurette and a booklet essay (the same features are on the DVD). Buy The Lovers on the Bridge [Blu-ray].
Mondo Weirdo (1990)/Vamyros Sexos (1988): See description in DVD above. The pack includes a DVD/Blu-ray and the punk soundtrack CD. Buy Mondo Weirdo (1990)/Vampyros Sexos (1988) [Blu-ray/DVD combo].
What are you looking forward to? If you have any weird movie leads that I have overlooked, feel free to leave them in the COMMENTS section.
1972 is perhaps the most prolific year in the most prolific decade of horror and exploitation films. It’s also the year for what may be the quintessential midnight cult move: John Waters‘ Pink Flamingos, now enshrined as one of the 366 weirdest movies of all time. Blood Freak, which is the first and only “Christian” movie to date about a turkey serial killer, is another Certified Weird 1972 exploitation picture. Competing with Freak fro sheer awfulness was Don Barton’s Zaat (AKA Blood Waters of Dr. Z), which went onto “MST3K” infamy.
In its Blu-ray presentation, Amicus omnibuses Asylum and Tales from the Crypt both starred , and were critical and box office successes. Ben, Dr. Phibes Rise Again, and Beware The Blob were all inferior sequels—which is saying a lot in the case of an original monster who was just moving silly putty. tackled the two big undead kahunas (with plenty of added sex) in The Erotic Experiences of Frankenstein and Daughter of Dracula. The Count rose yet again in Count Dracula’s Great Love, starring Paul Naschy. Future King of Cartoons (William Marshall) and director William Crain fused horror with blacksploitation for the first time in Blacula. It was a enough of a box office success to warrant (superior) sequel in 1973. Unfathomably busy, Cushing and teamed up for ‘ underrated Creeping Flesh, Gene Martin’s cult favorite Horror Express, Peter Sasdy’s misfire Nothing but the Night, and the Hammer opus Dracula AD 1972 (directed by Alan Gibson).‘s maligned Baron Blood has proven better than its reputation, despite a miscast in the title role. Like most of Bava, it’s stylishly irresistible. The 1972
Widely scorned, Dracula A.D. 1972 reunited Cushing’s Van Helsing with Lee’s bloodsucker in a modern setting, even though Dracula himself is confined to a Gothic church. It’s one of‘s favorite movies. The contemporaneous critical backlash was mostly justified. Lee, probably the best cinematic Count, is reduced to second vampire-in-waiting. But as an artifact of its time, Dracula A.D. 1972 is not entirely without virtue, enough to explain Burton’s affection.
It opens in the previous century with Dracula and Van Helsing locked in mortal combat aboard a stagecoach, which crashes, causing the vampire to be impaled on the spokes of the coach’s wheel. As Dracula attempts to free himself, a battered and bleeding Van Helsing interferes, driving the spokes in deep enough to snuff out the life of his nemesis before dying himself. Witnessing the scene is a Dracula disciple who, of course, leaves with the vampire’s relics (handy for later resurrection). Despite the preposterous accidental impalement, it’s a red-blooded, Gothic prologue that is followed by 1972’s swinging hippies.
Initially sounding more like old fuddy-duddy Edward Van Sloan than Peter Cushing, Lorimer Van Helsing, grandson of Abraham, lectures his granddaughter Jessica (Hammer babe Stephanie Beacham) all about the wrong crowd and premarital sex. Pooh-poohing gramps, Jessica heads straight for the wrong crowd, Continue reading 1972 EXPLOITATION TRIPLE FEATURE: DRACULA A.D. 1972, VAMPIRE CIRCUS, AND THE THING WITH 2 HEADS