Time to reach deep inside that trick-or-treat bag and take a look at what’s stuck deep in the corners. Just when you thought it was safe, here’s five more thrilling tales of terror:
YOU’LL FIND OUT (RKO 1940; D: David Butler) – Kay Kyser and his College of Musical Knowledge, for those of you unfamiliar…
…were a Swing Era band of the 30’s & 40’s who combined music with cornball humor on their popular weekly radio program. RKO signed them to a movie contract and gave them this silly but entertaining “old dark house” comedy, teaming Kay and the band (featuring Ginny Simms, Harry Babbitt, Sully Mason, and the immortal Ish Kabibble!) with horror greats Boris Karloff , Bela Lugosi , and Peter Lorre . It’s got all the prerequisites: secret passageways, a creepy séance, and of course that old stand-by, the dark and stormy night! The plot has Kyser’s…
Welcome to Oracle, Texas. It’s a dusty little town in the old west. Marshal Scott Hood (William Schallert) may uphold the law but everyone knows that the town is actually run by Erica (Allison Hayes), the owner of the local saloon. Erica knows that a railroad may be coming to town so she comes up with a plan to buy all the land around Oracle. She sends her lackey, Jake (Jonathan Haze), to each landowner. Jake buys the land then murders the landowner so that he can get the money back.
When Scott is gunned down by two outlaws, his widow, Rose (Beverly Garland), takes over as temporary marshal. Rose has two weeks until the new marshal arrives but that is just enough time for nearly everyone in town to get killed. It starts when Rose orders Erica to close her saloon at three in the morning. Erica loses the epic catfight that follows so she hires her former lover, Cane Miro (John Ireland), to come to town and kill Rose. Cane is more interested in killing the town’s mayor (Martin Kingsley), a former Confederate who abandoned Cane and his brothers to Union forces during the Civil War. Even more complications arise when Cane and Rose fall in love.
Roger Corman has described Gunslinger as being his most miserable experience as a director. He filmed it in six days and it rained for five of them, causing cameras and lights to sink into the mud. Both Allison Hayes and Beverly Garland were injured during filming, with Hayes breaking her arm after falling off a horse and Garland spraining her ankle while running down the stairs of the saloon. During the filming of an outdoor love scene, both Ireland and Garland were attacked by fire ants.
Gunslinger is usually savaged by reviewers and it was featured on an early episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. But how can any film be that bad if it features an epic cat fight between Beverly Garland and Allison Hayes? Gunslinger is proof that Beverly Garland and Allison Hayes were actress who could make something entertaining out of even the least inspiring material. Garland gives a serious, heartfelt performance while Hayes goes all out as evil Erica. Years before he played Seymour in Corman’s Little Shop of Horrors, Jonathan Haze is intensely weird as Jake. As with many Corman films, part of the fun is watching for members of the Corman stock company, like Dick Miller and Bruno VeSota, in small roles. Gunslinger may not be a classic but I like it.
Evil hypnotists have been a movie staple since Svengali first mesmerized Trilby in 1911, but THE HYPNOTIC EYE is in a class of its own. This demented little tale is sufficiently creepy enough to overcome its meager budget limitations, and features the Ice Queen of Horror, Allison Hayes, in the pivotal role of Justine, assistant to master trancemaker Desmond.
We start with an opening shot of a woman, thinking she’s washing her hair, sticking her head directly into the flame of a stove pilot. That’ll get your attention! A series of horrible self-mutilations have left a dozen beautiful women disfigured and the police scratching their heads. Detective Dave Kennedy discusses the bizarre cases with police psychologist Phil Hecht: “One of them stuck her face in the blade of an electric fan. Thought it was a vibrator. Another one sliced her face with a straight razor. Thought it was a lipstick brush”.
It’s hard not to like ATTACK OF THE 50 FOOT WOMAN. Sure the premise is ridiculous, the script’s way over-the-top, the acting’s hammy, the direction’s practically non-existent, and the special effects flat-out stink. Yet the movie has an endearing, ragged charm in its unintentionally funny way that, like PLAN NINE FROM OUTER SPACE , sucks the viewer right into its bizzaro world. Plus, it’s got two of the 1950’s hottest sci-fi/horror babes, Allison Hayes and Yvette Vickers!
A giant space ball lands smack in the middle of Route 66 in the California desert. Heiress Nancy Archer swerves to avoid it, and next thing you know a giant hand grabs her! Meanwhile at Tony’s Bar & Grill, her louse of a husband Harry is living it up with local floozie Honey Parker. No one believes Nancy’s wild tale, as she’s known for being a boozer and has spent time in a sanitarium. Sheriff Dubbitt and…