Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Beware The Black Alley Cats



If you use 70’s sleaze cinema as a barometer of that time, it seems like the 70s were a rather rape-y time. From mainstream films like “Death Wish” to cheesy flicks like Al Adamson’s “Jessi’s Girls”, a viewer was treated to rape as if it was a part of life. Well, sadly, yeah, I guess it is. Still, it just seems like any sort of action movie had a rape scene during those years.
“The Black Alley Cats” (1973) just does away with any real pretense and jumps to the raping in the first scene as our four heroines are chased by 5 scuzzy dudes, pulled into what looks like a storage unit, and each girl is attacked and roughed up. The guys leave as one guy shouts, “You know you girls loved it!” or something to that effect. Classy.
From there, the only logical reaction is to get matching satin jackets, dress up in hose, and lead a war against bad folks. And that is what our plucky characters do. They knock out the guys who raped them and steal all of their clothing. Then you never hear more about them. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say.
Oh, but then we find out that one of the girls is hired to babysit for a rich doctor and his trophy wife. You’d think the viewer and the characters would be safe in suburbia. Nope. The couple drugs the girl and they both have their way with her as well as take photos for both their personal collection and for blackmail.
Suddenly, the girl is ashamed to tell the other girls what happened. Really? You were gang raped with these women. You’ve been committing felonies with these same women. Yet, you can’t say, “This honky mutha and his chick drugged me and used me like nobody’s business. Let’s get him!” Nope, so we get another 10 minutes tacked on while the story decides to let the girls go after the rapist doctor, but only does so AFTER he rapes another girl in the group he was supposed to be patching up after she was shot.
Ultimately, the girls dose the couple with their own sex drug, leave stolen jewelry behind, and call the cops so the two are busted.
Yes, I just ruined the end of the film for you. Two reasons why. First, a lot of people consider this to be a lost film unless you find a copy of the rip from a Something Weird VHS screener tape. The fact they made that video indicates there should be an actual copy of the film somewhere, but no one has come forward with it. I mean, Something Weird still has it available as a download. Still, you really have to work at it to find this, unless you search Youtube. Second, this kind of movie isn’t one you watch for the suspenseful story; its softcore nonsense aimed at mostly men with a dose of social justice to justify the obvious misogyny. If you want to see this movie, you know what you want to see, and it ain’t a meaningful tale of female empowerment.
Let’s be honest; the film sucks. Really. Bad acting. Crap lighting. Over-the-top fake sex. Confused story. Characters who do not act like real people. Still, even for being rather distasteful in its subject matter, the film manages to move at a reasonable pace, and, casual raping aside, it is a serviceable exploitation film.
If you are easily triggered, you might want to just avoid this movie.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Would You Be My Mommy?

Ever have one of those nights where you binge on movies, but you are just grabbing titles at random from sources online or off your streaming device of choice. You see a title that grabs you, and you figure, "What the hell?"

But the evening turns weird when every title turns out to be stories about psycho-sexual lunatics who suffer from every fetish and/or perversion prone to make you feel that washing with pure lye and water will never get you clean enough. How the hell can you keep picking these things at random? Is The Universe attempting to tell you something, or is God trolling you for shits and giggles? And even though you are watching the films alone, you find yourself sinking lower and lower in your seat and you glance at the windows to make sure no one can see what you are watching.

One of those films happened to be "Sweet Kill", aka "The Arousers", from 1972. Apparently "Sweet Kill" was the original title, but the film did not do well, so, as the rumor goes, Roger Corman, who was an uncredited producer of the film, requested sexy additional footage be shot, and the film was released under the title "The Arousers". "Sweet Kill" is actually a touch misleading. "The Arousers" would only work ironically and/or as a rather cruel joke given the subject matter. Actually, now that I think of it, I don't think the titles had much impact on the popularity of this film. Most folks aren't keen on watching a perv freak out and kill a bunch of people. Well, not back in the early 70s, at least.

We have former 50/60’s heartthrob Tab Hunter playing Eddie Collins, a guy who, as a child, used to hide in the closet (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) and watch his mother undress and sleep mostly naked on her bed. Apparently this kink of his makes him afraid of the up-close intimacy of women. Bad timing as the Seventies was a time for women to take charge of their sexuality. Women weren’t all retiring wallflowers waiting for a man to shower them with attention; some wanted sex and/or a relationship and were not afraid to demand such things.

Eddie does not like pushy dames, so when one rips his pants open, he punts her into a shelf where a whack to the back of her head snuffs out her life. Does he freak out? Not really. As if it is almost a daily occurrence, he wraps her up in a sheet, ties it off, and dumps it into a pigeon loft on the top of his apartment building. You almost get the feeling our main character has done similar things in the past.

This guy makes me ill. If I had a quarter of the women that comes on to him just in the movie, I’d have more women than I’d know what to do with. Eddie? He just kills them if his verbal abuse doesn’t drive them away (and it usually doesn’t). But even feeling a sense of revulsion at the sexually aggressive women doesn't seem to be a clear indication that Eddie needs mental help; in fact, he even actively starts conversations with women when he knows full well that he’s most likely gonna be either pissing them off when he acts like a fussy gay man or sliding a knife into their torso at the drop of a hat.

A little research seems to indicate that the original script as written by director Curtis Hanson had a female character behind the murders. And that still kind of fits as Eddie’s obsession with killing the women for sexual gratification just doesn’t seem to fit the character’s profile. Yet one female character, Barbara (played with skill by Nadyne Turney), seems closer to Eddie than the other women, and she reveals a rather traumatic event from her youth that leads you to think she would probably kill the women throwing themselves at Eddie. Would have been a better film and it doesn’t leave you disgusted with the main character.

A good bit of acting by Tab Hunter does not hide the rather ugly film that Roger Corman pushed Curtis Hanson to make in place of a more psychological thriller the director intended. Worth watching, but try to avoid watching 3 sexual killer flicks back to back.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Do Androids Dream of Summer Stock?

I am subscribed to a streaming site called pubdhub.info, a site that shows a lot of public domain titles, and I mean a LOT! Most Sundays, the site adds new movies, TV shows, educational films, commercials, and so on. (Yes, I’m giving them a low-level shout-out.) Recently, they added an odd little title, “Creation of the Humanoids”.

I had heard of the title before, but it got lost in the flood of other science-fiction films that hit screens in the 50s and early 60s. That’s a shame that it has kind of slipped to the sidelines because it threw me for a loop even if I couldn’t stay awake for more than ten minutes at a time.

The first thing you should notice is that this film is in color, rather full rich color. In 1960, when the film was actually shot, most major Hollywood titles were still being filmed and released in black and white. I have no idea who decided to use color. Possibly they were gifted the film stock or it is the most creative use of short ends ever seen. But the colors give the film way more value, especially to the post-80s kids who cringe at the thought of watching a black-and-white film. Even the painfully minimalist sets and abstract art-looking background paintings look unique and a bit threatening in full color.

Speaking of minimalist sets, we got them here. Sometimes the entire scene is shot with a curtain, a potted plant, and a couple of places for the actors to sit. Considering the whole film feels more like a play, this lack of detail in set design is to be expected. Plus, I get the feeling the budget was pretty much chewed up by either the color film processing or the fairly elaborate android makeup/costumes. I’m still leaning towards the costumes.

The acting is – well, it’s acting, but mostly on the par with summer stock full of wannabees and hopefuls. A few help pull the quality up a smidge or two, but most are just there to deliver their lines. In fact, you have a few scenes of “robots” talking to each other, but the actors are all looking in different directions, so you don’t even get a sense of the actors interacting when they are in the same scenes. The leads pull some okay performances, but it feels like something from the Delsarte Method of acting, which means it smacks of artifice and is a bit melodramatic. Don’t expect anything natural or modern.

Then you have the story, the plot, and all the rhetoric and bland philosophy your little heart can stand. It seems that it is years after a nuclear war wiped out 92% of humanity. Mankind has used robots to help rebuild the world. In fact, the robots have become so advanced that they design themselves, which results in humanoid robots that feature a rudimentary form of intelligence. Yet Man must always shun "the stranger" in their midst, so these robots, insultingly called "clickers", suffer prejudice and threats from The Order of Flesh and Blood. Fascism much? Subtlety is not on the menu here.

Along with the social and political ideas, you are privy to many discussions of religion, what makes a human human, and the ethics of virtually raising the dead. Lots and lots of discussions. Oh holy HELL, there is a lot of talking in this damned movie! I dozed off EIGHT TIMES during the last 10 minutes of this movie. Longest hour ever.

It sounds like I don't like this movie. While I do have my issues with it, I can't help but respect a movie that blended the old Czech play "R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)" with modern science-fiction of Isaac Azimov's Robot stories and ultimately foreshadows "Blade Runner" and its androids that are more human than humans. I also find it interesting that they took a rather high-brow approach even though they didn't have a big budget to support it. Most movies of that era were happy enough to shove some monster at the camera. Even though it is talky as hell, there's more real science fiction going on in "The Creation of the Humanoids" than you'll find in a dozen films produced by Robert Lippert.

Grab some stout coffee, cop a major head buzz, and check out this movie. Yes, it is okay to stop it now and then to apply more coffee. I think you'll enjoy it in spite of its shortcomings. And, hell, it gives you another good reason to drink some coffee. Win-win!!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

A Rose in Spanish Harlem



A couple of years before “West Side Story,” Rita Moreno managed to do a non-musical dry run by starring in “This Rebel Breed.”

Typical high school is divided along mostly racial lines as there are gangs for the blacks (Ebonies), Hispanics (Caballeros), and white (Royals). Cue inter-racial romance and low-level rumbles. Sprinkle in a little drug dealing and a hint of corruption. Stir well with a bullshit cop element (“21 Jump Street” fans take note). Garnish with gratuitous sex scenes that don’t even make sense given character locations or overall narrative.

I’m not kidding.

Start with a group of the Ebonies attacking a white couple and flipping the couple’s vehicle on its side. Turns out the couple attacked were Buck Madison, leader of the Royals, and his girlfriend, a very young Dyan Cannon going by Diane Cannon. Buck, who is an equal opportunity racist, would normally go on the attack, but he has his own set of issues to deal with. His weed business is not moving enough product to keep his supplier happy, plus one of his best guys is hung up on that Mex-chick Lola Montalvo (Rita Moreno). What is a gang leader to do?

Meanwhile, the local juvenile police lieutenant Robert Brooks (Gerald Mohr doing his best “cool cop” routine) sends in two undercover cops who don’t look a day under 35 to pretend to be teenage gang-banger wannabes. Mark Damon plays Frank Serano, a cop pretending to be a half Mexican, half black student, and Douglas Hume plays Don Walters, an Anglo cop who tries to join the Royals in-between sticking his head into rooms where scantily-clad people dance to cheap jazz.

Lola’s secret boyfriend is killed in a scuffle with Buck Madison, but Buck attempts to frame Lola’s hot-headed brother who happens to be head of the Mexican gang, the Caballeros. Then you get the melodrama of Lola and Frank’s budding romance, as well as her desire to clear her brother’s name and put the blame on Buck.

The movie itself is a touch heavy-handed, but it is entertaining and well-acted for the most part. It tries to be a hip variation on the old “the corruption of our youth” exploitation while attempting to be cutting edge by putting the racial tension in the driver’s seat.

The most annoying element of the film, in its current state, happens to be the constant cutaways to the vaguely nudie material. It makes no sense to begin with, and it is poorly staged. The film stock looks different. The lighting is utterly different. The music is low-grade generic jazzy nonsense usually reserved for porn shorts from the time. The same lady appears in nearly every one of these inserts, so she is obviously the ringleader and should be arrested. There is even a scene where Don is sitting at a booth in a diner, then the movie cuts to him walking in on more smut, and then cuts back to him still sitting at the booth. Did he teleport? If he did, I would think that should have been the focus of the movie.

Basically, just ignore the cheesecake bits and you will get a perfectly fine teen angst flick with a racial message as a bonus.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Those Wacky North Koreans!

Oh, the strange things you can find if you poke around long enough. How about a North Korean movie? How about a North Korean giant-rubber-suit-monster movie produced by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il? How about -- okay, no, this has gotten weird enough.

Pulgasari was some sort of dream project of Kim Jong-il's because he went to the trouble of kidnapping the director and a couple of the lead actors from South Korea to get the film made. I mean, risking an international incident just to make some allegorical monster movie? Pretty ballsy.

You get the poor populace being bullied and starved by the ruling class. As a revered blacksmith from the village dies in prison, he shapes a small creature from rice and other icky bits in his cell. After his daughter accidentally bleeds on the figurine, it comes to life and begins to eat any iron it can find. The more it eats, the bigger it grows. 

Soon, with the giant creature named Pulgasari, the villagers move against the oppressive king.

There are a lot of overwrought acting and cheesy special effects being thrown around. And talking. And more talking. The giant monster is almost forgotten for a huge chunk of the film. I know I dozed off multiple times. Talk, talk, talk.

Highlight of the film is the rather casual use of fire during the battle scenes. All the burning stuff rolling down on the actors is real. If you watch the battle scenes carefully, you can't help but wonder how many people suffered injury during the filming of this politically-limp wonder.

Trust me when I say you can do far, far worse, but still, don't skip your Wednesday night S & M Club meeting for this kind of pain. You'll want to hurt yourself for staying home, and you don't need that kind of moral conflict in your life.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Lustig for Justice, Sorta

I like a good action film as much as the next guy. I get the interplay between good guy and bad guy, and how, by the end of the film, you can’t really tell the difference between the two as they seek to destroy the other.

As far as exploitation action films go, the sub-genre of vigilante films is a popular theme. Average Joe has his world upended when he and/or his family are threatened or attacked by thugs, Mob enforcers, or whatever the bad guy has at his disposal. Average Joe decides to share his pain with those who caused it, and things tend to escalate. We’ve seen it before, and we will see it again and again.

With William Lustig’s “Vigilante” we get the same story again in a bleak urban setting. Robert Forester is our Every-man. His wife steps up to defend an old man being assaulted by a group of street thugs, and so the gang decides to pay her a little visit. The wife is beaten, stabbed, and attacked while the young son’s brains are blown out of the bathroom window.

While this is happening, Forester is out working his job. Actually, he is literally out to lunch. Yet the wife holds him responsible. Okay. Easy way to get her out of the picture to uncomplicated things.

In the meantime, Forester’s buddy, played by Fred Williamson, is constantly commenting on how people have to take justice into their own hands. Guess what? That’s what Forester ultimately does. After he kills the last person that he holds responsible for the tragedy his life has become, the film ends. End of story.

What are we supposed to take away from this? You get a by-the-numbers revenge flick. No real social commentary and no real sense of closure for the main character. A nice guy gets angry and kills a couple of people because life isn’t fair. Yeah, that is the good stuff. Pointless, soul-emptying exploitation with no thought behind it other than hitting the required marks.

The most disappointing part of all of this is you get two fairly passionate performances from Forester and Williamson, but they serve no real purpose when the script gives the characters and the audience nothing beyond cardboard contrivances. It doesn’t even hold up as much of a pot boiler, in spite of Lustig’s solid direction.

Worth looking at if you want to fill in the blanks on William Lustig’s career. Otherwise, you should be able to find something more beneficial to watch.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Killed Cap'n Crunch!!

Confessions of a Serial Killer shows us the jet-set life of a down-home serial killer/rapist, and introduces us to his wacky partners in crime. Oh, the hijinks they get up to!

Okay, that's pretty much how Hollywood would try to spin this movie if they ever decided to do a remake. Or maybe they would make the movie a statement about how we should be more accepting of serial killers because they live an alternative lifestyle and are really just expressing themselves in a way to draw attention to their rejection by society.

Okay, enough ragging on Hollywood.

Our film today popped up on video back when VHS was king. So, let's take a look at the packaging for this film so you can see how, even then, the release undermined the film before you ever rented the thing.





Here's an idea: Let's rip off an image from The Silence of the Lambs to promote our movie which has little to do with that big-budget smash of a movie other than serial killers. If you were around back in the 80s and wrote off Confessions as an attempt to cash in on the success of Lambs based on the cover, you could hardly be blamed.

Unfortunately, you would have missed out of a genuinely uncomfortable film that removed all the glamour and glitz of Hollywood-style films on the same subject matter. Sure, Confessions is on the same basic level as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, but with one feather in its cap -- it came out before Michael Rooker's classic role.

Confessions gives us a lightly disguised retelling of the crimes of Henry Lee Lucas. If you aren't aware, Henry Lee Lucas was, at least in his own mind, one of the most prolific serial killers in history. He confessed to nearly 3000 murders, but he also changed his story on almost all of them. He was pretty much implicated in at least 12 murders, including his own mother's death.

Our movie works through flashbacks as our main character relates details of his killing spree to the police holding him in a Texas jail. For those who enjoy such things, there are a good number of set pieces that are fairly well done given the size of the budget, and the horror of the crimes are evident in the expressions and struggles of the victims.

The best thing about this movie is that the lead actor, the late Robert Burns, provides a performance that seems too casual at first, but as the film progresses, you see that his actions are those of some inner demon that the character has made his peace with. Pretty much a killer who gives no lingering thought to what he has done and rarely plans what he will do.

Other performances in the film range from stiff to pretty good. For those looking for blood, you get a reasonable amount of that, along with a solid helping of well-mounted tension during the various killings. The minimal use of music also gives the film an unnatural quality.

Overall, Confessions is a gem in the rough, for those who like their films as dark as the inside of a well digger's ass at midnight. It would be a prime selection for a re-release on Blu-Ray, though I can see how it would be a tough sell.

Monday, May 01, 2017

I Scream, You Scream...Basically, Just Scream

A Scream in the Streets (1973)

Oh, what to say about this film?

This movie isn't boring. This movie is sleazy. This movie works fairly well within its very low budget. This movie has probably never crossed your radar.

A Scream in the Streets is the story of a killer rapist and the mostly ineffectual police who attempt to capture the criminal. The rapist is a nasty one who not only has a deep sense of anger towards women, but seems to also be jealous as he dresses like a woman to get closer to his victims. Maybe he is killing that part of himself that he sees as corrupt or wrong. Maybe he was raised in a broken home. Maybe he is just doing what the script called for.

Well, the movie is a softcore porn/action hybrid, so I doubt the writers were going for any real depth. What sells tickets better than violence and sex? No, not Justin Bieber. The correct answer is NOTHING! Well, maybe videos of cute kittens, but you can get enough of that on Youtube for little trouble.

On a positive note, the movie does attempt to give you actual characters. Even a hooker who is beaten with a belt is given enough screen time that you feel bad for her. Then you have one of the main cops whose wife was apparently raped earlier in life, so we are given a sense that her fear of the current rapist is valid. Oh, and one of the cops likes to bowl. If that doesn't endear him to you, you have no soul!

The most amazing thing about this movie is that, once it is over, you are left wondering how they managed to fill the run time when very little really happens. Well, it's those drawn out sex scenes that aren't very sexy, but they aren't dull either. One fine example is the two bisexual housewives putting on a fairly convincing sex show for a peeping tom while one of them covertly calls the police. 

Yes, this is one sleazy film, but they know how to set up their scenes to keep you from becoming bored enough to shut the thing off. Giving credit where credit is due.

A Scream in the Streets is difficult to find now. Something Weird did release it, but the rights to the film are held by the estate of Harry Novak, and Something Weird's license to his films expired a number of years ago. Harry Novak is a good subject for a future posting. He is both famous AND infamous in exploitation history for the films he helped distribute and for his cutthroat tactics in dealing with filmmakers.

Is it worth watching? Oh, hell, yes! It makes a perfect companion with Drive-In Massacre, another sleazy film with a focus on the two cops trying to solve a series of murders at a drive-in theater.

 

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Terrible Tots!

Rug rats, ankle biters, backyard baboons, and a few other terms that now have a double meaning that could label me as culturally insensitive. But we know what I’m talking about: kids. Children. Those little money- and life-sucking poop factories the take up residence in your life or bewilder and horrify you from a distance. You can’t avoid them unless you live in a sealed bunker and never connect with the outside world again.


Still, I’d bet the little bastards would find a way into your bunker. Once that happens, it’s all over for you. Why? Because they are the picture of innocence masking beings of pure evil. You don’t believe me? Well, let me show my evidence.


Evil children have a long history in film. Most people should be familiar with the first major film that dealt with a child of pure and remorseless evil, The Bad Seed. Of course, since it was made during the era of the Hayes Office Motion Picture Production Code, the original ending from both the novel and the play had to be changed so that “crime does not pay”.


Then you have the original Village of the Damned in which an entire town’s female population find they are all pregnant and ultimately give birth to unearthly children who can kill with the power of their minds.


A more recent title would be The Good Son with Macaulay Culkin.


But this now clich├ęd idea has been explored many times in films. Many of the titles I’ll cover may be utterly new to you. Be warned. If you indulge in watching these films, don’t blame me for the chill that runs down your spine the next time you turn to find a child staring through you as if you don’t exist.

The Godsend (1980)
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Not to be confused with the Robert De Niro film with a similar title, The Godsend is the story of a happy family of six (Mom, Dad, and their four children) who decide to be friendly with a very pregnant woman they meet one day during one of their family outings. She repays their kindness by giving birth in their home and then skipping out without so much as a "Thank you", as well as leaving the newborn behind.

The loving parents decide to raise the sweet baby girl. Then their youngest dies while in a playpen with their little foundling, Bonnie. As time goes by, the other children begin dying by way of unusual accidents, and Bonnie becomes more and more possessive of the mother's love.

This is one of those films that would probably pass way under the radar for many modern horror film fans. It has little in the way of scares or blood. Instead, it plays upon parental fears concerning the mortality of their children. The story takes place over a number of years, but the evil nature of Bonnie proves to be a constant threat to the peace and stability of this lovingly family. In a particularly creepy scene, Bonnie finds a way to make sure the father becomes sterile to prevent more children in the family.

To be honest, the family should have realized something was wrong when the pregnant woman, played by Angela Pleasence, set off bad vibes in the household and overstayed her welcome. I guess some people have a higher tolerance for rudeness than I do.



Bloody Birthday (1981)
Directed by Ed Hunt


What could be better than one killer kid? Why, THREE of them, of course! And not just any three kids, but three born at roughly the same time in the same hospital during the same unusual alignment of planets.

They appear to be normal, but they see no harm in killing people, for fun or to hide their deadly after-school activities. Grown ups, other kids, and even their parents make for nice entries in their scrapbook of death. Yup, and these are the kids who will be caring for us when we get older. Comforting, isn't it?

Definitely worth taking a look since it got a decent release on Blu-Ray a couple of years ago. You even get to see Julie Brown, who did "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun", strip down and shake her perky bundles...while her sister collects quarters from the other kids so they can peek through a peephole at the sexy older sister. See? There is just no end to the evil of children.

Oh, and those of you who recognize Jose Ferrer's name in the cast list, don't get too excited. The man has basically two scenes in the entire film. He was just collecting a quick paycheck, or he owed someone a BIG favor.


The Children (1980)
Directed by Max Kalmanowicz
We've gone through 1 kid to three kids, so let's jump to a busload of killer kids. Okay, when you see the movie, you'll realize that the busload consists of roughly 8 kids, at most. Still, more bang for your buck.


The Children tells the story of two bored workers at a nuclear facility who just can't be bothered to complete the proper safety inspections when there's beer to be had at the local bar. Next thing you know, there's a weird yellow cloud floating around and the busload of kids drives through it. Lo and behold, the tykes suddenly have black fingernails and melt anyone they hug, and all the kids want hugs. Lots of them.


Don't get too hopped up. While you get to see a few people get roasted, the movie spends most of its time following around people who are where the kids ain't. Our main characters are the sheriff, some guy whose car keeps breaking down and his pregnant wife, the annoying deputy, and a chatty old lady who runs the local store. In fact, you see way too little of the kids, even as they lay siege to the house of the guy with the crappy car.


The film does include one killing that you don't really expect, lots of hands being lopped off, and a twist that you could have probably guessed less than ten minutes into the movie. Oh, and look for Gail Garnett as the pregnant wife. She had a hit song back in 1964 called "We'll Sing in the Sunshine". This movie is a far cry from winning a Grammy.



Demon Witch Child (1975) (aka The Possessed)
Directed by Amando de Ossorio  
Yes, the director of the classic (depending on with whom you speak) Blind Dead films brings us a rather peculiar rip off of The Exorcist. The leader of a band of Gypsies defiles a Catholic church to steal items for the sacrifice of a baby her group has kidnapped. When the cops catch up to her, she commits suicide during an interrogation. Her followers help transport the old hag's evil soul into the body of the police commissioner's young daughter.


What follows is a bit of a laugh fest, but it does have a very dark opinion of religion and contains a couple of scenes of violence that may leave the audience cringing due to the nature of the acts, not because of the bloodiness. You get the typical scenes of possession with the young girl speaking in the old hag's voice, floating in the air, being tossed around in her bed by unseen forces, a plushy attack, and a nice bit of upside-down wall crawling that would make Spiderman envious.


One of the interesting elements surrounding this movie is the fact that seems to be somewhat openly critical of religion. This being a Spanish film and coming out just as Generalissimo Francisco Franco, president and dictator who ruled Spain for nearly 40 years, was loosening his stranglehold on his country. With the old regime coming to an end, films from Spain began including more nudity and social commentary. This political situation may explain the hostility towards religion, which, in the past, had been a State-mandated obligation.


Politics aside, probably the creepiest thing about this whole movie is the young girl's eyes. They are set so far apart that you almost expect them to move independently of each other, like a lizard's eyes.

The Pit (1981)
Directed by Lew Lehman

Poor little Jamie. He's always being picked on. All of his neighbors think he's crazy. Mom and Dad can't understand why all the women they hire to watch after Jamie tend to leave their employment quickly. After all, Jamie isn't THAT weird, unless you consider having a teddy bear that encourages acts of an anti-social nature and sexual stalking of the town librarian to be weird.

Yes, it's Jamie and Teddy against the world, until the beautiful new babysitter arrives. Both Teddy and Jamie love her, and Jamie even wants to share with her his most prized secret: He knows of a pit where some sub-human creatures live, and he is concerned that they are getting sick because they have nothing to eat.

In-between attempts to express his love/lust for the new babysitter, Jamie tries to feed his furry friends in the pit. He tries buying and stealing meat to take to the creatures, but soon realizes those plans won't work in the long term. What's a troubled young lad to do? Why, Teddy has a great idea: Lure the people who make his life miserable out to the pit and feed THEM to the critters.

The film is a hoot to watch. Jamie is a little creep, yet you somehow end up sympathizing with him most of the time. His adventures in the neighborhood and navigating the rocky path of young love result in many awkward situations that are balanced out some genuinely perverted behavior as well as a rather humorous montage of his leading various people to become pet food.

I will admit that his interest in his babysitter, played by a stunningly attractive Jeannie Elias, is understandable. However, his aggressive sexual fascination with the town librarian does tend to make you less inclined to take Jamie's side. And then we have Teddy, his teddy bear, and its rather dark influence on a boy who is clearly having issues. Is Teddy all in Jamie's head, or does it possess some power of its own? No matter how you slice it, Jamie is not a kid you want to get too close to.


A rather misleading poster for the film

  
Devil Times Five (1974)
Directed by Sean Macgregor & David Sheldon

Our final stop this posting is essentially The Last House on the Left with kids. If none of the others have convinced you that kids can be pure evil, this one should.

We have three adult couples who drive up to a snow-bound remote location for a weekend of both relaxation and business while a rather nice, but simple-minded, workman does all the basic chores for them. Next, we see a horrific accident in which a van goes off the road and rolls down a hill. From the wreckage crawl 5 young children who then set off to find shelter. I think you can guess where they end up.

But, wait. It turns out that the van was from a mental institution, and all five of the children are deeply disturbed sociopaths. Some time later, we see a sixth survivor of the wreck, a mental health worker, who tries to track the kids down before any trouble arises. Unfortunately, he is the first to feel the wrath of the savage little tykes.

The film was originally meant to be titled Peopletoys, which is fitting as kids are prone to break their toys when they play too rough, and these kids are rough with the adults. Hangings, immolation, hatchet attacks, and beatings are just some of the games the kids like to play. The attacks are mostly sudden and cold-blooded. After a killing, the little bastards act like it's a snow day and enjoy themselves pretty much like any other children.

As added attractions, you get a catfight between two very lovely ladies, bunnies, poor attempts at humor, piranhas, and a young Leif Garrett in drag (he makes a rather pretty girl, to be honest). Ultimately, you are left with a very dark, brutal, and bleak film that takes a little bit to get rolling, but once it does, it doesn't ease up. These kids are truly evil.

Some quick trivia: Leif Garrett, who plays David, and Dawn Lyn, who plays Moe, are related as they have the same mother, Carolyn Steller, who happens to play the role of Lovely, one of the adults who face the terror of the tykes. Not many kids are paid to terrorize their parent; it usually happens for free.

Ahh, aren't they just the cutest little mass murders you've met?
To be fair, I have only scratched the surface of films dealing with creepy, evil kids. But this will support my theory that kids are not the kind of people you want to turn your back on. Since I do tend to enjoy movies with evil children, I don't think it is out of the question to return to this topic again in the future. Heck, I could easily do three or more postings on this topic.

Until next time, remember to keep your eyes on any kids. If they form a group and start heading in your direction, for heaven's sake, RUN!!!