Monday, 31 October 2011

To the Devil...A Turkey

To the Devil a Daughter (1976) was Hammer's second Dennis Wheatley adaptation. However, where the earlier The Devil Rides Out was innovative and had Terence Fisher's taut direction to balance Wheatley's risible plot and characterisation, the later film has not aged as well and appears sluggish and reliant on the fall-back option for lazy 70s productions - smut.

Orgy Porgy

Nastassja Kinski was only 15 years old during filming and the producers knew her full frontal appearance coupled with some kinky Satanism-lite would be controversial box office gold. It did some business, but couldn't hold a (black) candle to the big occult smash of 1976, The Omen.

Nun more sexy

Gobble, gobble

Whereas Rosemary's Baby had been all about suggestion and paranoia (albeit rather heavy-handedly) and The Omen had atmosphere in spades, the special effects in To the Devil a Daughter are graphic and rubbish. The plot is classic Wheatley, wooden and stagnant, Richard Widmark a wildly miscast lead, the overall effect being so mediocre I've re-watched this film several times having forgotten that I'd already seen it. A real turkey.

Happy Hallowe'en folks.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Diggin' the Dirk #9

'Not by the hairs on my chinny chin chin.'
The Fixer (1969)

Friday, 28 October 2011

Friday Night Film: Mr. Sardonicus

It's Halloween in  a few days, so it would be wrong not to make this weeks FNF a horror film.

The genial Mr. Castle.
'Mr. Sardonicus' is a 1961 William Castle film and comes highly recommended indeed. Producer / director/ personality Castle specialised in gimmicks, ranging from insuring audience members against dying from fright, installing motors under cinema seats to give a jolt at crucial moments to encourage screaming, or simply whizzing a rubber day-glo skeleton over the audience on a wire. Naturally, he had a great gimick for 'Mr. Sardonicus', but we'll get to that in a bit.

In front of the mask.

Daddy's looking rough.
The trauma is written all over his face.

Mr. Sardonicus is a mysterious and secretive man who lives in secluded luxury on a large country estate. When seen in public, he always wears a mask. The truth is that he was once a simple peasant called Marek who had the good fortune to win the lottery but the bad fortune to have inadvertently buried the ticket along with his deceased father a few weeks earlier. Desperate, Marek breaks into his Dad's coffin to retrieve the prize - and promptly loses his mind. Seeing his father's mouldering corpse, the decomposing face fixed in a terrible rictus grin, Marek's own face is contorted into an awful and unnatural expression which, despite his new found riches and experiments on kidnapped young women (!), he is unable to cure.

Not a particularly successful blind date.

Castle with his beloved gimmick.

Fifty percent Gothic, fifty percent pure hokum, 'Mr. Sardonicus' delivers much in terms of atmosphere and basic entertainment - it's a lot of fun, but with some genuinely creepy moments. The gimmick is pure Castle - simple, silly, brilliant, devious, sensational. Towards the end, Castle interrupts the proceedings to hold a 'Punishment Poll' - the audience were asked to vote with pre-printed cards for mercy or punishment for Sardonicus. Film audiences being what they are, they always voted for punishment - which is just as well, as, despite his claims to the contrary, Castle only ever filmed one ending.

I'm taking a couple of weeks off to watch more stuff, but I leave you in the capable hands of Glimmung and Dolly Dolly, recently voted, of course, the joint second sexiest men in the blogosphere.


Dapper Dan

Sir Anthony Eden
1897 - 1977

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

If I Ever Get A Tattoo...

Diggin' the Dirk #8

"We skipped the light fandango, turned cartwheels 'cross the floor..."
Dirk tinkles as Franz Liszt in 'Song Without End' (1960).

Monday, 24 October 2011

The God Botherers

Philip Oakes: journalist, poet, film maker and author. Mates with huge thinkers Desmond Morris (surrealist painter and writer of the Naked Ape) and the lad himself, Tony Hancock (for whom he provided the screenplay to The Punch and Judy Man).

Philip wrote the blackly comic and savage The God Botherers after working on a teenagers telly programme for ITV called The Sunday Break and it shows.

'god botherer, n. Person who meddles with matters of faith, out of conviction, or for personal profit. Original usage ecclesiastical; now general, and derogatory.'

It concerns James Paramor, a middle aged TV producer, beset by marriage and money problems who decides to become a GB out of necessity. He's ordered to devise a programme to bring faith to the 60s swinging teen scene and becomes embroiled in gun toting politicians, sexual chicanery, massacres in the Congo, and surprise, surprise, religious zealots. It's brilliant and throughly recommended.

Ripe and Fruity

Adrienne Corri as Mrs Alexander in A Clockwork Orange

Richard Carpenter


Richard also wrote the TV-tie in for his series The Ghosts of Motley Hall, but I don't have a copy of that.


1,000 Convicts & a Woman

'Fun & Games' was the second feature film from stunt co-ordinator turned prolific TV director Ray Austin. Perhaps better known under the sensational title of '1,000 Convicts & A Woman', it disappoints on every level. There are only about six convicts for a start.

'Phwoar, I'd like to trim her topiary', etc.

Oi, Sandor, you're paid to drive, not perv.
 Alexandra Hay is the Prison Governor's daughter, a 17 year old who claims to be a nymphomaniac but mainly seems to be looking for the attention Daddy never gives her. She spends her time clomping around the prison (which seems to actually be a second rate Grammar School) in skimpy outfits, sucking her thumb and making suggestive comments and laughing inanely: she's supposed to be incredibly sexy, of course, but she's actually just really annoying and, behind the fox facade, obviously rather naive and inexperienced. Luckily, there's barely a bloke in the joint under sixty, so the actual chances of her getting involved in a sexy situation are fairly limited - it would have perhaps been a far more titillating affair if the script had been rewritten and the ratios had been reversed, i.e. '1,000 Women & A Convict'

'Mmn - a 1954 vintage, perhaps?' 

Death of a Knicker Sniffer.

Finally, some smut! Shame they're not convicts...

This isn't as seedy and unpleasant as it looks.

Not a patch on Ray Austin's daft but underrated debut 'Virgin Witch', the film effectively sputters out after about half an hour and, after that, no amount of messing about in the woods, pantie fondling, prison breaks or grotesque deaths can convince the viewer that some sort of fraud hasn't been committed. It's rubbish, really. Still, I've seen it twice and will probably watch it again before I die, so rubbish obviously isn't a deal breaker. 

Here's a clip where the annoying girl cycles until she has an orgasm. Dirty bike.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Golden Mammaries Of The 1950's

The punchline to loads of 1950's radio comedy jokes,  Miss Norma Sykes aka Sabrina.