2013 Drive-In/Exploitation/B-Movie Challenge! PART 3
8. If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do? * (1971) Genre: Christploitation
This nonsensically titled load of insanity is part Baptist sermon, part anti-Communist screed directed by former exploitation filmmaker Ron Ormond. Despite the Christian message, it’s filled with as much low budget gore as Blood Feast. Stars real-life Baptist minister and author Estus W. Prikle (doesn’t the name just roll off the tongue?) who warns that Saturday morning cartoons lead children to murder and that Commies are responsible for drug addiction. His never-ending sermon is filled with wisdom like “The thing that’s started on the dance floor is expectedly finished in a parked car or a motel room somewhere.”
Meanwhile, we’re treated to scenes depicting the Communist take-over that Pirkle insists will happen in 24 months. This is where things get REALLY bizarre. In one scene, a little boy has a bamboo stick shoved in one ear and out the other while he vomits all over himself. I swear it’s real vomit. These guys aren’t fucking around! Serious stuff.
9. Beast from Haunted Cave * (1959) Genre: Gangster/Horror
Woah, nice first shot! Maybe I’m just easily impressed right now. This story of Gangster vs. Monster is another Gene Corman-produced horror movie, and I gotta say, he did a good job; it’s almost as good as Night of the Blood Beast.
Beast from Haunted Cave is the first directorial credit for Monte Hellman, who would later make Two-Lane Blacktop, a masterpiece of existential cinema. Can you spot his future greatness here? Eh, kinda. Two scenes with supporting actor Wally Campo stand out for me: one in which he flirts with a girl on the ski slope, and another where he has an oddly philosophical conversation with the square-jawed hero. The performances in these scenes come off as surprisingly genuine and improvisatory; they’re the best scenes in the movie and yet they have nothing to do with the plot and feature zero action or narrative momentum.
The story behind this article-adjective-impaired quickie is probably more interesting than anything happening on the screen; Roger Corman so enjoyed/appreciated-the-cheapness-of regular screenwriter Charles B. Griffith’s work on 1957 gangster movie Naked Paradise that he told him to re-use the same script here. Add a monster, change the location from Hawaii to snowy South Dakota, and voilá! A new movie! Then Corman pulled the same trick AGAIN, changing a couple nouns and creating The Creature from the Haunted Sea, another quickie that features shot-for-TV filler directed by (wait for it) Monte Hellman!
For the most part, the process works; watching the movies in isolation, you probably wouldn’t be able to guess that the script is a re-fabrication. That said, some of the new plot elements are shoehorned into the story in a way that one could charitably describe as unenthusiastic, my favorite example being the classic line, “I know of a haunted cave not far from here.”
10. Danger: Diabolik * (1968) Genre: Eurospy
One of the most comic-booky comic book movies. Mario Bava directs the hell out of this episodic story of master criminal Diabolik, who bankrupts Great Britain for no real reason besides being kind of a jerk. The whole thing is (gloriously) pointless, but the soundtrack is vintage Ennio Morricone awesomeness (especially a wild surf guitar tune) and Bava is at the height of his obsession with outrageous set design and bright colors. Needless to say, Bava did better, deeper work, but on a technical level this is top-notch trash that never becomes overtly campy or self-aware – even when the Diabolik literally winks at the audience! This is the id run wild.
NEXT TIME: A surreal alien invasion and more Corman classics!