Opening crawl: In Haiti, a corpse walks, as a Zombi! In primitive India, the dead return as animals! On certain Pacific Atolls, a warrior treacherously murdered, my turn into a tree! Or so it is said by the Shamans… Our story occurs on a savage island where a Prince is killed unjustly. The victim was buried upright in a hollow tree trunk. The legend says that “the tree walked to avenge its wrongs!”
On a South Seas island, Prince Kimo (Gregg Palmer) is purposefully accused of murdering the tribal chief in order to get him out of the way for Maranka to be crowned the new chief (Baynes Barron) with his conniving witch doctor Tano ( Robert Swan) controlling everything. Before Kimo is executed he vows revenge on those who have wronged him, including his treacherous wife Naomi (Tani Marsh) The Mad Doctor of Market Street 1942.
Kimo comes back as a tree monster Tabanga, the ancient spirit of vengeance who wreaks havoc on the island. Meanwhile, a group of American scientists Tod Andrews as Dr. William Arnold and Tina Carver (Hell on Frisco Bay 1955, The Man Who Turned to Stone 1957), as Dr. Terry Mason who are not trusted by the tribe, are busy setting up their scientific research lab. They are studying the effects of atomic fallout and radiation and get caught up in the mayhem!
First the Tabanga shows up at the sight of Kimo’s grave as a little stump in the dirt. Then as it begins to push out of the ground, the scientists dig him up and bring him back to the laboratory, where they discover the tree monster has a heart beat!
The standout besides the great Tabanga himself is the always feisty presence of Linda Watkins as Mrs. Mae Kilgore.
Dr. Arnold:“Maybe we ought to ship it back to the States. It would make a great scarecrow.”
Hey! Don’t get that sinking feeling, I’ll be back here soon! Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl
“After the sun has set and the night wind has died comes the hour of the bat people!”
Directed by Jerry Jameson (The Mod Squad 1968-1972, The Over-The Hill-Gang 1969, The Six Million Dollar Man 1974, Mayberry R.F.D 1968-1970, Airport ’77) and Cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti who was director of photography on Poltergeist 1982, Breaking Away 1979 and more- check out his impressive IMDb page. With make up by Stan Winston.
This is an obscure 70s low budget horror film, the likes which were cropping up all over drive ins and little art house movie theatres in the mid 1970s.
The Bat People stars Michael Pataki as Sgt.Ward who begins to investigate and hunt down the vampire bat people. Stewart Moss (who did a lot of television from 1960s-1990s) plays Dr. John Beck who studies bats and Marianne McAndrew (again, lots of tv series and tv films) is Cathy Beck, John’s new bride.
Dr. Beck is bitten by a bat while exploring Carlsbad Cavern (location used on many sci-fi films of the 50s-70s) , and then begins his transform into a hybrid man/bat, who doesn’t want to bite innocent people for their blood. Will his wife be able to help or will she become infected too!?
The Bat People has the perfect stylistic look of a great obscure made for television 70s treat though it had it’s own theatrical release. It’s a guilty pleasure for those of us that enjoy rare looks at 70s drive in oddities!
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl saying we’re going batty over here at The Last Drive In!
Directed by James Kelley (writer on Doctor Blood’s Coffin 1962, directed What the Peeper Saw 1972)
Starring two marvelous British character actors-The outrageous smart-alecky Beryl Reid (The Killing of Sister George 1968 directed by Robert Aldrich, The Assassination Bureau 1969, Entertaining Mr. Sloane 1970, Dr. Phibes Rises Again 1972, The Death Wheelers 1973 aka Psychomania co-starring George Sanders, Doctor Who 1982 tv series. Then there’s the always reflective Flora Robson! (Wuthering Heights 1939, The Sea Hawk 1940, Black Narcissus 1947, Eye of the Devil 1966, The Shuttered Room 1967, Clash of the Titans 1981)
The Beast in the Cellar 1971 aka Are You Dying, Young Man? creates a claustrophobic atmosphere as two odd sisters, Ellie & Joyce Ballantyn living a quiet life in there small bucolic English village are hiding a deep dark secret, while something “human-animal or animal-animal” is savagely killing off men in uniform.
The film possesses a dark and twisted air that becomes hard to breathe as the world around Ellie & Joyce begins to splinter.
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl saying Cellars will always be Creepy places!
With a screenplay by the prolific Jimmy Sangster (Horror of Dracula 1958, Scream of Fear 1961, The Anniversary 1968 with Bette Davis, Crescendo 1970, Horror of Frankenstein 1970, Whoever Slew Auntie Roo 1971, A Taste of Evil 1971, Scream Pretty Peggy 1973, episodes of tv’s Circle of Fear 1972-1973, Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode Horror in the Heights 1974) Just to mention a few of the offerings penned by Jimmy Sangster, who adapted his screenplay from Peter Key’s popular television series.
Directed by Quentin Lawrence ( tv series Catweazle 1970) and starring Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro and Warren Mitchell as Professor Crevett a scientist who has followed the mysterious cloud that once daunted him in the mountains of the Andes, to a small Swiss village. Tucker plays Alan Brooks a U.N. scientist who has been summoned by Crevett to the Trollenberg observatory because of their history and uncanny experiences with the strange cloud. Once Brooks arrives, several experienced climbers wind up gruesomely decapitated by the eyeball creatures with their menacing tentacles!
Soon the cloud descends from the mountain top and begins to encircle the village and the observatory. Janet Munro is wonderful as a young woman with ESP who is psychically connected to the creatures. For a low budget 50s B movie, The Crawling Eye is a guilty pleasure that I can re-watch over and over again and still get the goofy yet bona fide chills that seem to tap into my earliest childhood nightmares.
One of my earliest memories of being hooked on afternoon monster movies was the moment that the giant eyeball shrouded in alpine cloud haze busts through the large wooden door in pursuit of a little girl trying to retrieve her little rubber ball. Richard Smith’s sound design creates a perfectly creepy atmosphere when the creatures are approaching. They were one of the first monsters I felt no empathy for. I couldn’t wait for the jets to drop their fire bombs on these decapitating fiendish crawling eyeball creatures.
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl saying I’ll be SEEING you!!!
I feel compelled now to lead this post with the image of Burt Reynolds centerfold for Cosmopolitan in 1972. Since Facebook has been doing a mad dash to inflict their scrutiny & censorship , not on Russian interference, no… but on a rather tame and harmless image of an American icon’s virility…
Burt Reynolds regretted having done the lay out for Helen Gurley Brown, believing that it marred his career. In retrospect, I believe it was a bold and unprecedented move for a beloved male sex symbol and top box office star.
Here’s a special A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! in honor of an American Icon, featuring one of my favorite directors- Robert Aldrich’s The Longest Yard 1974 which showcased Burt Reynold’s talent as an actor demonstrating that he wasn’t just a macho stud and then he permeated the screen with his authentic brand of cool in John Boorman’s savage commentary on humanity & survival in Deliverance 1972. Here’s a few great film trailers to remember him by…
I won’t say “Goodbye Burt Reynolds”, I’ll just say see you in the movies, Your EverLovin’ fan Joey
Directed by Joseph Losey (M (1951 version) These Are the Damned 1962, Eva 1962, The Servant 1963, Modesty Blaise 1966, Accident 1967, Secret Ceremony 1968) Music by unsung composer Lyn Murray.
The Cinematography by Arthur C. Miller (How Green Was My Valley 1941, The Song of Bernadette 1943) creates both a landscape of alienation within the city and continues to spread even in the wide open spaces. Miller understands how to frame his visual lens in the same way George E. Diskant, Nicholas Musuraca and Conrad L. Hall do. By taking the internal machinations of the players, the subtexts (usually themes of alienation) and either the pervasive or subtle moralizing, is transposed onto the landscape as either closed-in space or vastly wide open in contrast.
Evelyn Keyes (Johnny O’Clock 1947, The Killer Who Stalked New York 1950, Iron Man 1951, Hells Half Acre 1954) who has a natural gutsy ‘real woman’ sex appeal plays a repressed suburban California housewife Susan Gilvray married to the older John (Sherry Hall)who works nights as a late night radio host.
One night she sees a prowler outside her house and calls the police to come Webb Garwood ( Van Heflin) and his partner Bud Crocker (John Maxwell) show up to investigate but don’t find anyone lurking around. There’s something seedy and intrusive about Webb who shows up a second time Susan is more like a shut in and so she invites Webb in for a cup of coffee.
Of course Webb makes a play for Susan as he had already set his sights on her during the initial call. The two wind up in having an affair, until her husband John gets a clue that somethings going on. Susan ends it with Webb and he quits the police force.
Webb concocts a plan to murder John making it look like he is accidentally shot dead during what would be thought to be another prowler incident. At the inquest John’s death is ruled an accident.
Van Heflin plays a perfectly tightly wound psychopath who swarms and suffocates Evelyn Keye’s character Susan until she is trapped by his frightening obsessiveness with control and greed. The climax is quite intense as the pacing leaves you gasping for air a bit in that classic Losey bleak and nihilistic view of human nature that his is style.
- IMDb trivia—Novelist James Ellroy (“L.A. Confidential”, “The Black Dahlia”) once called this his favorite film and described it as “a masterpiece of sexual creepiness, institutional corruption and suffocating, ugly passion.”
Webb Garwood: “I didn’t do it, Susan. I’ll swear that by the only thing I ever really loved and that’s you.”
I’ll be prowling around The Last Drive In folks! Your EverLovin Joey
Starring 50s Sci-Fi all-stars!- Mara Corday (Tarantula 1955, The Black Scorpion 1957) , Jeff Morrow (This Island Earth 1955, The Creature Walks Among Us 1956, Kronos 1957), and Morris Ankrum (Rocketship X-M 1950, Invaders from Mars 1953, Earth vs The Flying Saucers 1956,Beginning of the End 1957, Kronos 1957, Zombies of Mora Tau 1957, Half-Human 1958, Curse of the Faceless Man 1958, How to Make a Monster 1958, Giant From the Unknown 1958)
Your EverLovin’ MonsterGirl will be flapping this way very soon!
Thanks to Aurora of Once Upon a Screen and her diligence at recognizing & celebrating the lives of memorable actors, directors and entertainers, I learned that it was Ruth Roman’s birthday on December 22. We lost Ruth Roman in 1999 –she would have been 94! I have always been a passionate fan of her work, because of her authentic, rugged & earthy sensuality that was always a bit edgier than the average film star. Some of my favorite performances of Ruth Roman’s have been Three Secrets 1950, in the fabulous noir paired with Steve Cochran in Tomorrow is Another Day 1951, Down Three Dark Streets 1954, 5 Steps to Danger 1957 the chemistry with Sterling Hayden is fabulous and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s episode which brought her together with another favorite of mine, Anne Francis in What Really Happened (1963) and Love Has Many Faces 1965. Of course I can’t begin to describe her over the top campy performance as Mrs. Wadsworth in director Ted Post’s The Baby 1973.
If I can get my Mo JoJo back and start writing again at The Last Drive in, doing a feature on Ruth Roman is something I’ve wanted to do for a while…