Six more examples of Bad Cinema, ranging from hilariously awful to simply wretched.
Dracula Vs. Frankenstein (1970, aka Blood of Frankenstein): The late Al Adamson’s no-budget nonsense is a giant in the field of Bad Cinema, a patch-job jerry-rigged from footage shot in three different batches in an attempt to salvage the abortive earlier versions. An ailing J. Carrol Naish stars as the last living (?) member of the Frankenstein family, with an alcoholic Lon Chaney, Jr., mercifully mute in his role as the psychotic sidekick, Groton; Anthony Eisley as the semi-hero who gets wiped out in the original climax (which was news to the actor when he saw the finished film); Jim (Dallas) Davis as a curt cop; Russ Tamblyn as a biker, whose presence is due to the fact that the film started out as a followup to the Adamson/Tamblyn Satan’s Sadists; Forrest J. Ackerman in a self-serving bit part that guaranteed the film coverage in Famous Monsters of Filmland; and Angelo Rossitto as—what else?—an evil dwarf. Zandor Vorkov is a strong candidate for the screen’s worst Dracula, with two interchangeable no-name “actors” as the Frankenstein Monster (due to the separate shooting gigs), who looks like he fell asleep in his oatmeal; I would have said that the second climax, in which Dracula tears the Monster limb from limb before disintegrating in the sun, had to be seen to be believed…but because it’s shot in a dark forest, you really can’t see it! With Al’s lady love and future wife, the late Regina Carroll, who lets her ample endowments carry most of the, er, weight.
Eugénie: In this typically inept exploitation effort from writer-director Jess (aka Jesus) Franco, allegedly based on a novel by the Marquis de Sade, a girl (Franco mainstay Soledad Miranda) and her stepfather (Paul Müller from Nightmare Castle and Franco’s own far superior Count Dracula) become lovers and serial killers, until she falls for their next victim and dad kills all three of them. That’s Franco himself saving a paycheck by playing the improbably named Attila Tanner, a writer who keeps hinting that he’s onto their little games, and then does absolutely nothing about it. It takes a guy with his total lack of style or talent to make an 80-minute movie, with a naked girl every few minutes, tough to sit through. Miranda was killed in a car crash in 1970, the year this film was shot; that same year, Franco released an entirely different movie with the same title (perhaps better known as Eugenie…the Story of Her Journey into Perversion), although to make matters more confusing, this one was not released until 1975.
Flesh Feast: Starring Veronica Lake and a cast of thousands…of maggots. Actually, this sad swan song for the once-lovely leading lady (sadder still for those who know she bore a resemblance to my wife in her heyday [Veronica’s, that is]), made by justifiable unknowns, is so cheap that they couldn’t even afford that many. She must have been crazy and/or starving to think this would have done her any good, either professionally or financially, but it deserves some kind of special award for the sheer loopiness of its premise: she’s a doctor experimenting with an anti-aging technique in which maggots nibble off the outer layer of wrinkled skin, and her patient, who’s planning a South American-based revolution, is none other than Hitler himself. The last line, at least, is unforgettable.
Gallery of Horror[s] (aka Alien Massacre, The Blood Suckers, Dr. Terror’s Gallery of Horrors, Return from the Past, The Witch’s Clock): This rock-bottom anthology film gives, if not new meaning to, then at least renewed appreciation for words like “cheap” and “inept.” Perpetrated by David L. Hewitt, a woebegone writer-director with ties to AIP, it’s peppered with stock footage from better (and better-known) AIP films like Roger Corman’s House of Usher, Pit and the Pendulum, and The Raven (all coincidentally written by Richard Matheson). John Carradine hosts in an ill-fitting tux against a muffed matte shot, and appears in the first story, which has an ending as abrupt and impenetrable as it is unsatisfying. Another tale features a vampire preying on a hilariously unconvincing period London; another stars the bottomed-out Chaney, Jr., as an ill-fated colleague of Dr. Frankenstein; yet another features a double-crossed doctor who rises from the grave to take vengeance on his wife and her lover, with a scenery-chewing voiceover that must be heard to be believed (and which we in the BOF household still spoof to this day: “Now I will have my revenge!”). All are shot in incredibly cramped close-ups to try to conceal the impoverished sets, while the script is as lacking in imagination as these filmmakers were in resources; utter crap.
The Horror of Party Beach: This classic of Bad Cinema was shot in God’s Country—as defined by BOF, that’s Connecticut, for all you city slickers and country bumpkins out there—and directed by Del Tenney (Curse of the Living Corpse). It seems some spilled radioactive waste has caused protozoans to replace the organs in drowned bodies, resulting in rubber-suited monsters that need human blood to survive. Don’t you hate when that happens? The acting, dialogue, score, photography, and makeup are so uniformly bad you’ll howl with laughter. Contains some amusingly gratuitous gore as well.
Horrors of Spider Island (aka It’s Hot in Paradise): Nude scenes were reportedly excised from the version I saw, and although even abundant nudity wouldn’t make this a good movie, it couldn’t hurt. A group of dancers (and I use the term loosely) en route to Singapore is stranded by a plane crash on a remote Pacific island, where a woefully inept giant spider is shot dead by their leader (the annoying Alex D’Arcy from Adamson’s Blood of Dracula’s Castle), but not before he’s bitten and turned into a woefully inept spider-man who is, perhaps wisely, kept offscreen for most of the picture. The girls spend most of their time fighting over the attentions of two dorks who show up to resupply the uranium-hunting scientist working on the island before he became arachnid-food. Abysmal.
To be continued.