John Carradine “I am a ham!” Part 2

Carradine found himself accepting ludicrous parts in Poverty Row and low-budget chillers in order to fund his ambitious theatrical productions, by the 1960s he was degraded by taking on roles just to pay the bills.

He traveled to Africa for Paramount’s Tarzan the Magnificent and acted on Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone 1960 episode ‘The Howling Man.’

When David Ellington (H.M Wynant) seeks refuge at a remote monastery where Carradine is the solemn Brother Jerome in a heroic white beard, robes, and staff and the brotherhood stands guard over the devil (Robin Hughes) whom they trapped and locked away. Ellington disregards their warning and unwittingly releases evil upon the earth. This was a more sedate role for Carradine.

He was awarded a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6240 Hollywood Blvd. on February 8, 1960.

In 1962 he returned to Broadway in Harold Prince’s production A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. He played Marcus Lycus the scheming whoremaster of a Roman house of ill repute. The show saw 964 performances in New York’s Alvin Theatre.

“A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum” – Zero Mostel, right, is the lead performer in the Broadway musical “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Forum”, along with (left to right:) John Carradine and Jack Gifford.

Carradine also appeared in several television series. Lock Up 1960 – as James Carew in the episode ‘Poker Club.’  He made an appearance in The Rebel 1960 as Elmer Dodson in episodes ‘Johnny Yuma’ and ‘The Bequest.’

These were bare times for Carradine. He wasn’t making it financially for all the film and television work. He took a role in NBCs Wagon Train in 1960 in an episode called ‘The Colter Craven Story’, directed by John Ford.

Considered his favorite experience working in the horror genre – was appearing in Boris Karloff’s superior horror/film noir anthology series Thriller 1961, which ran from 1960-1962.

From an interview with KMOX in 1983:

What was your favorite horror film that you did?

“Oh god I don’t know. Eh, I don’t think I had one. I think it’s probably something I did with Boris. I did several for Boris. He had his own series that he introduced as a host and on a couple of them he worked also on as an actor. And I did two or three of those with him and for him. And I think that was the best part of the horror genre that I did.”

What was he like to work with.?

“Oh, charming. He was a charming man. And I first worked with him on the first thing he did in this country. We had a play down in Los Angeles, the old Egan Theater which was a 400-seat theater down on Figueroa street. And we did a play together called Window Panes which he played a brutalized Russian peasant immigrant unlettered. And I did a Russian peasant half-wit and there was a character sort of a Christ-like character who was wanted by the authorities as he was, was a rebel. But the ignorant peasantry took on him almost as a Christ figure and I did that for ten weeks and we moved over to the Vine Street Theater which is now the Huntington Hartford in Hollywood. And Boris played the brutalized Russian peasant and played it to the nines. And we became very good friends then. And that was in 1928. And we remained good friends until he retired and went back to England.”

For Thriller, Carradine was cast as Jason Longfellow and Jed Carta in ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ starring Jo Van Fleet and directed by John Brahm, and ‘Masquerade’ starring Elizabeth Montgomery and Tom Poston directed by Herschel Daugherty and blessed with a whimsically macabre score by Mort Stevens.

Carradine as Jason Longfellow with Hal Baylor in Thriller episode ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ 1962.

Above are two images: from the episode ‘Masquerade.’

For the series, Carradine appeared in two of the most comic and compelling episodes. In ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ and ‘Masquerade’ he was both sardonic and sinister.

In Masquerade airing in 1961 Carradine plays Jed Carta, leader of a depraved family of murderers and cannibals who entraps wayward travelers, stealing their money and butchering them like hogs. When Tom Poston and Elizabeth Montgomery stumble onto the creepy dilapidated house to get out of a rain storm, Carta greets them with dark glee, trading menacing cracks with Montgomery. What lies beneath the surface might be something more nefarious than the mere suggestion of evil cloaked in black humor that surrounds the Carta family and Carradine’s spooky wisecracks. He’s magnificently droll, skulking around the dreadful house, with Poston, and Montgomery being assailed by disembodied cackling and dimwitted Jack Lambert who wields a large butcher knife lumbering around. Dorothy Neumann plays the feral Ruthie chained to the wall spewing animosity for the Carta clan and demonstrating an itchy type of lunacy. It’s both comical and arouses jitters simultaneously. In my opinion, it is one of Carradine’s most underrated roles in the horror genre, emphasizing his ability to shuffle both dark humor and horror equally.

Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Remarkable Mrs Hawk: A Modern Re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, Circean Poison with a Side of Bacon.

In ‘The Remarkable Mrs. Hawk’ starring Jo Van Fleet as Mrs. Hawk/Circe, Carradine plays Jason Longfellow an erudite transient who stumbles onto the true identity of Mrs. Hawk, and the secret of her ‘Isle of Aiaie Home of the Pampered Pig.’

Cultivated and shrewd, Longfellow is a scheming vagabond who plans on using his revelation about Mrs. Hawk to his advantage – much to an ironic end.

It’s an inspiration for writers Don Sanford and Margaret St. Clair to transform a classical tale from Greek mythology and position it within a southern Gothic rural setting, using a hog farm and a visiting carnival/State Fair that adds a layer of mystique and mayhem. There’s a great scene that utilizes theatrical anachronism wonderfully when Cissy Hawk (Van Fleet)  carries the bowl, or ‘Circe’s cup’ the night she feeds the pigs grapes and proceeds to turn Johnny (Bruce Dern) back into a man for a while. Under the moonlight, she conducts an ancient rite on modern rural farmland as Pete (Hal Baylor) watches in fright and disbelief from his window.

Not only is this particular episode so effective because of Jo Van Fleet’s performance as the modern-day witch but it’s also due to the presence of the ubiquitous John Carradine, whose facial expressions alone can be so accentuated by his acrobatic facial expressions that make him so uniquely entertaining to watch not to mention listening to his Shakespearean elucidations, hard-bitten insights, and crafty machinations.

Carradine enters the story: A train whistle is blowing in the backdrop. There is a close-up of Jason’s (John Carradine’s) face. Carradine is the perspicacious  Jason Longfellow, an erudite transient, shabby and unshaven, dressed like a gypsy with white tape holding his black-framed glasses together. Skinny, almost skeleton-like, and lanky. Longfellow’s razor-sharp acumen betrays his urbane sensibilities that travel incognito like a stowaway. He may look like a scraggly bum, but he is a highly educated defector of society. He also enjoys giving his companion Peter grief, waging his intelligence that he uses as a refuge. Pete is a  wayward boxer who looks to Longfellow as a mentor. This horror-themed, fable-like episode is overflowing with ironic, comical repose until the baleful scenes leap out at you when Circe wields her powerful magic.

A Pan flute is trebling a child-like tune, a delightful wisp of scales. To the left of the screen are a pair of black & argyle socks with holes worn in the toes, tapping out the melody in the air with his feet. A fire is burning in the trash can. This is a slice-of-the-night mystique of the hobo’s life. Carradine as Jason Longfellow is sitting in a cane back fan rocking chair, a junkyard living room, and a cold tin coffee pot atop an oil drum.

Suspecting their friend Johnny’s disappearance is connected to Mrs. Hawk (Jo Van Fleet) and the rumors about her young handymen all gone missing.

”If I knew Johnny’s fate, my friend, I’d understand why Mrs. Hawk’s farm is designated Caveat Accipitram among the brotherhood ” Jason’s eyes bulge out of the sockets with glee and rancor.

Carradine manifests an exquisite mixture of the facial expression of a malcontent. Pete seems stupefied –” Hhm?” “Come on.. speak American would ya” Jason raises his voice and changes his tone to indicate the hierarchy in their educational backgrounds. ” Caveat Accipitrum… Caveat Accipitrum   BEWARE THE HAWK….” Longfellow ends his little lesson for Pete with emotive punctuation.

He grunts/laughs dismissively “Oh…Hey!” and looks away and takes a drag of his cigarette with his bone-like fingers, squinting his thoughtful blue eyes (not obscured by the black and white film) as if in deep contemplation about the matter. Longfellow was written for Carradine.

Following Thriller, John Carradine made 9 guest appearances on the popular The Red Skelton Hour 1961.

Carradine as Major Starbuckle in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance 1962.

Ford found working with Carradine a trial because of his free-spirited style but he cast him once again, this time joining him in 1962 with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance starring James Stewart and John Wayne. Carradine played the bombastic Senator Cassius Starbuckle.

Carradine’s cameo happens toward the end of the film in a scene at the political convention with him kicking up a fuss “soldier, jurist and statesmen” he’s a mouthpiece for the cattle ranchers opposed to statehood. This would be Carradine’s last significant role with director John Ford.

“Offering up a caricatured portrayal of a bombastic Southern blue-blood blowhard, he strikes poses, grandstands, and dishonestly paints his political foe (Stewart) as a killer not fit for government. Without half trying Carradine was capable of exuding just the right sort of seedy grandeur in this pompous scoundrel role; his theatrical oratory enlivens the final reel of a movie. “ (Mank)

In 1963 he directed Hamlet at the Gateway Playhouse on Long Island where he performed the melancholy Dane.

Carradine made appearances on the television series The Lucy Show in 1964 as Professor Guzman in the episode ‘Lucy Goes to Art Class.’

Also in 1964, he appeared with Carroll Baker, Karl Malden, and Richard Widmark with Carradine playing Major Jeff Blair a gambler who joins James Stewart in a card game in Ford’s western Cheyenne Autumn 1964.

The Wizard of Mars, and Curse of the Stone Hand where he appeared for one minute as part of director Jerry Warren’s added footage in order to use Carradine’s name in the credits for his movie pieced together from two French dramas creating an incoherent mess.

Throughout the 1960s he worked constantly in Summerstock – appearing in Enter Laughing, Arsenic and Old Lace 1965 and in Oliver as the sly Fagin in 1966.

Carradine in John Ford’s Cheyenne Autumn 1964 starring Carroll Baker.

Carradine with Andrea King in House of the Black Death 1965/71.

in the low-budget House of the Black Death Carradine had more of a prominent role as Andre Desard, plays the patriarch of a family of Satanists and werewolves, with Lon Chaney, Jr. playing his evil brother Belial who sports a pair of horns and battles over their ancestral home. The film also stars Tom Drake and noir star Andrea King.

1966 saw Carradine cast as a smarmy Dracula once again in the bottom basement horror/western Billy the Kid vs Dracula directed by William ‘one shot’ Beaudine, with supportive roles by Virginia Christine and Marjorie Bennett. Carradine is painted as looking like a pasty-faced, maniacal magician with a greasy satanic goatee mustache, widow’s peak, frills, cravat, and top hat. Traveling by stagecoach in the Old West, Dracula meets James Underwood on his way to the cattle ranch to see his niece Betty (Melinda Plowman). When the passengers are killed by Indians, he assumes Underhill’s identity and seeks out Betty as his next undead bride. Carradine comes under suspicion for a series of unexplained murders. His Dracula sleeps in a bed not a coffin and moves around in broad daylight. Whenever Carradine exerts his hypnotic stare, Beaudine used a colored spotlight that turned his face a bright red, with Dracula dashing in and out of the frame, in a badly designed special effect.

“I have worked in a dozen of the greatest, and I have worked in a dozen of the worst. I only regret Billy the kid versus Dracula. Otherwise, I regret nothing… it was a bad film. I don’t even remember it. I was absolutely numb.”

He had a small role in Munster, Go Home in 1966 for Universal where he played the oddball butler Cruikshank. On television, he appeared on episodes of Daniel Boone in 1968 and Bonanza in 1969 as Preacher Dillard.

In 1967 he hosted five horror tales as part of Gallery of Horrors – Not to be confused with the superior portmanteau – Amicus’ Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors. Five short tales of the supernatural introduced by Carradine, who does appear in the first edition as a 17th century Warlock in ‘The Witch’s Clock’ about a young couple who find a cursed clock that can raise the dead.

‘The Witch’s Clock’ segment of Gallery of Horrors.

In 1969, Carradine would appear again for Adamson with another of the director’s regulars Robert Dix who plays Death’s messenger, and Scott Brady. The film would be the sleazy western Five Bloody Graves that would cast Carradine as Boone Hawkins a voyeuristic preacher.

Carradine, in black preacher garb, gripping a stock Bible is the unsavory Boone Hawkins, filled with religious bilge and cheap hooch, and is nothing more than a lecherous voyeur who likes to watch prostitutes shed their garments. Later on, he draws a pistol and shoots gunrunner Horace Wiggins. “I wasn’t always a preacher!” He smugly tells Paula Raymond.

He played Count Dracula in a Mexican horror film Las Vampires that featured Mexican wrestler Mil Mascaras as himself. He wound up in another five Mexican horrors, Pacto Diabolico, Autopsia de un Fantasma as Satan, and la Señora Muerte aka Madame Death where he plays his traditional mad doctor, also appearing in Enigma de Muerte in 1968.

Fitted for fangs again he appeared as Dracula in Las Vampiras 1969 as Count Branos Alucard and Enigma de Muerte 1969 as the Polite the Clown and Madame Death as Dr. Favel.

One of the worst horror films, a meandering mess is schlock master Ted V. Mikels’s The Astro-Zombies 1968 produced by M.A.S.H. star Wayne Rogers who cast Carradine as outlaw scientist Dr. DeMarco who is assisted by his Igor-Like assistant working on the Astro-zombies in his hidden lab, implanting organs and thought wave transmissions to control the creature’s criminal brains. Amidst the 94 minutes of confusing, drawn-out, characterless turkey of a movie, Carradine putters around in the basement with William Bagdad while a monster in a rubber skull mask holds a flashlight to his forehead to jump-start his ‘solar power.’

Still, in 1968, Carradine plays the town derelict Otis Lovelace in The Hostage written by the same author Henry Farrell who penned What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? And Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte. When Danny Martins disappears, snoop Ann Doran who saw Carradine with the missing boy, and sets the police on him. Carradine eludes the cops until he stops at a bar, where he sees the boy’s father coming. Carradine runs out into the street and is hit by a truck.

Carradine in the low budget The Hostage 1968.

Carradine was arrested the first night in Des Moine where The Hostage was filmed. He got plastered and ended up in jail for disturbing the peace, but after that incident, he behaved for the rest of the shoot. Director Russell Doughten said that afterward he was always prompt and knew his lines. He didn’t need directing and he knew what to do and brought Otis to life.

No matter how drunk, Carradine showed up on any set, not one actor had anything but praise about how kind, funny, and professional he was.

Incidentally, The Astro Zombies would be actor Wendell Corey’s last film, playing a CIA boss who puts his agents on the trail of Carradine, who got drummed out of the Government Aerospace Research Center for his crazy experiments.

Carradine planted himself in this farcical mix of sci-fi and espionage – taking his scenes in the cheap basement laboratory set that he never leaves using idiotic props applying his acting style with hammy gravity, describing his nonsensical scientific ramblings to his mute side-kick who drools over the bikini-clad dish strapped to the operating table.

Cult Goddess Tura Satana and character actor Raphael Campos in The Astro Zombies.

Cult goddess and Russ Meyer alumni Tura Satana said: “Carradine was a sweetheart. John was one of the nicest gentlemen in the industry. He also had a great sense of humor, very dry. When I was getting body make-up on, because of the gowns I wore, he’d come in and have his makeup done too. Nine times out of ten, I was standing there in just bra and panties, and he’d say, ‘If only I were 20 years younger,” and I’d say, “If only I were 30 years older, “ and he’d chuckle. He was very easy to play off.”

In 1969 Carradine played Mr. Drewcolt in the Elvis Presley film The Trouble with Girls for MGM and was cast as Ticker in The Good Guys and the Bad Guys starring Robert Mitchum and Martin Balsam, son David Carradine and Lois Nettleton. Also in 1969, he appeared in Blood of Ghastly Horror, The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals, and the made-for-TV movie Daughter of the Mind 1969 starring Ray Milland and Gene Tierney.

In the Good Guys and the Bad Guys 1969 Carradine co-stars with his son David.

Carradine in Alfred Hitchcock Hour’s ‘Death Scene’ starring Vera Miles and James Farentino.

Other television roles in the mid to late 60s include:

Back on television, he was cast in the lead role as Gavin Revere a reclusive director from the Silent Era in The Alfred Hitchcock Hour 1965 episode ‘Death Scene’ starring Vera Miles.

He also appeared in The Big Valley and in The Munsters 1965 as Mr. Gateman the owner of the mortuary and Herman’s boss. He appeared in two episodes ‘Herman’s Raise’ and ‘The Musician in 1966, and The Beverly Hillbillies Marvin Bagby Parvo the Magnificent in 1966.

John Carradine and Leslie Nielson appear in The Big Valley 1965 episode ‘Town with No Exit’ 4/1969 (Photo by ABC Photo Archives).

Angela Cartwright and Carradine in Lost in Space episode The Galaxy Gift.

Bruce Lee as Kato in The Green Hornet episode “Alias the Scarf”.

Patricia Barry and Carradine in The Green Hornet episode ‘Alias the Scarf’.

He appeared in the western series Laredo 1966 and The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.1966, prof. Boris Budge ‘The Montori Device Affair.’, Lost in Space as Arcon in ‘The Galaxy Gift’ in 1967. The Man from U.N.C.L.E 1967 as the priest ‘The Prince of Darkness.’ In The Green Hornet  as James Rancourt (The Scarf) in the 1967 ‘Alias the Scarf.’
Daniel Boone 1968 was cast as Zack Pike. In The Big Valley 1969 he was cast as Elias Brown in the episode  ‘Town of No Exit.’

Carradine as Egor Crull in Land of the Giants episode ‘Comeback’ 1969. A gorilla is owned by an unscrupulous movie producer.

He also appeared in Irwin Allen’s 60s sci-fi television series Land of the Giants 1969 as Egor Crull in the episode ‘The Comeback.’

In Bonanza, he played Jedediah Milbank Preacher and Dillard in the episodes of ‘Springtime’ in 1961 and ‘Dead Wrong’ in 1969.

In the laughable country western horror comedy, Carradine played Dr. Himmil alongside Lon Chaney, Jr. and Basil Rathbone who are pitted against Country Western singers in director Jean Yarbrough’s Hillbillys in a Haunted House 1967.

In 1968 he appeared in the thriller They Ran for Their Lives directed by actor John Payne. “Carradine looks ridiculous hiking across the desert in a dark suit, tie, and hat; even if Carradine had been given the right clothes to wear in that situation, he was just too old to look good playing mountain goat.”

1969 FILMS

In 1969 there were obscure films The Mummy and the Curse of the Jackals where he plays Prof. Cummings. Star Anthony Eisley remembers working with Carradine:

“John is the sweetest guy in the world, just a delightful man. He’s a true product of the old theater – Shakespeare and so forth- and he has anecdotes that are simply priceless. You know he is so crippled and pained with arthritis it’s amazing to see him rise above it and triumph over it. He’s the old-time trouper through and through and as such you have to respect and admire him. He definitely will die with his boots on -that’s the only way he would have it. It’s that kind of thorough professionalism that just makes him a joy to be around.”

In Al Adamson’s Blood of Dracula’s Castle 1967 Carradine (Adamson’s often go-to star) was highlighted in the pulpy ad campaign, but in reality, once fans were eating their popcorn at the Drive-In they were disappointed to learn that he wasn’t playing Dracula at all, merely the butler who siphons blood from the girls chained in the cellar for Alex D’Arcy and Paula Raymond.

He was one of director Al Adamson’s favorites who cast Carradine in several of his lousy films, like the horror dreck Blood of Dracula’s Castle not playing Dracula but this time George the butler.

Alex D’Arcy and Paula Raymond are Count and Countess Dracula and Carradine plays their butler George who adds a bit of humor to the low-fare goings on. With their caretaker the hunchback Mango (Ray Young) and escaped psychopath Robert Dix kidnaps girls to keep their dungeon stocked with blood.

Sam Sherman the uncredited writer on the film:

“It started out as a stage play intended for either June Wilkinson or Jayne Mansfield – I think it was called Feast of the Vampires and I believe Rex Carlton wrote it… Al gave me the script and I hated it, it was more of a cannibal thing. ( Adamson had no artistic taste, minimalist schlock- just a cheap vulgar sensibility) The big scene was, they had all these vampires in a mansion, they brought out one of these big serving dishes, took the top off and there was a roast girl, in a big position in there. I said, “this is disgusting. I have to draw a line somewhere.” So I re-wrote it. I get no credit. I re-wrote it as Blood of Dracula’s Castle, which was also my title. And then Al continued to re-write it- a lot of the stuff in it were Al’s touches,”
… I wanted Carradine in the film, I wanted him to play Count Townsend, the main vampire. I didn’t see the movie until the final print came in and I didn’t know what part Carradine was playing, I assumed he was playing the Count. When I screened it, I was really upset. I wrote Al a long letter in which I said, “When I said I wanted Carradine in this thing and I suggest we use him, it wasn’t to waste him and miscast him!” Carradine should have been the Count- That was the whole idea of it, and he would have played it very well. “

He was also cast in the western The Good Guys and the Bad Guys 1969 as Ticker. And in 1971 he appeared in the awful Honey Britches. Carradine is credited as The Judge of Hell.

Between these schlocky pictures, John Carradine toured America giving readings of Shakespeare, Poe Lincoln, and the Bible.

In 1970 he showed up in the ludicrous Horror of the Blood Monsters from Carradine’s go-to director in later years, Al Adamson who lacked the canny charm of Ed Wood. The film suffers from an identity crisis, is unable to make a choice of film it should be, and is afflicted by chronic ennui and a brainless set.

From a New York Times review- “Don’t be fooled by those lurid titles, the promotional ads, and the hi-fi sidewalk growling piped from those posters fronting the Penthouse Theater. Horror of the Blood Monsters is nothing but a dull, excruciating, and unfrightening little science fiction flapjack that looks and smells like a piece of green cheese. {John Carradine} sits at a control board yelping directions to the space travelers, played by some of the worst actors on this planet or any other planet.”

1970s Films and television:

Carradine was cast in Rod Serling’s television series Night Gallery as the sardonic Mr. Hawkins where his smart-alecky mannerisms suit him perfectly in the segment ‘Big Surprise’, and in Ironside, he played Isaiah Witt ‘the creeper’ in the series episode ‘Gentle Oaks.’

From the Night Gallery episode ‘Big Surprise’ 1971.

Carradine appeared in Rod Serling’s horror anthology series Night Gallery 1971 as Mr. Hawkins in ‘Big Surprise.’ in Ironside 1971 as Isaiah Witt ‘the Creeper’ in the episode Gentle Oaks. In Love, American Style as Old George Pomerantz. He did an episode of  Emergency! 1974, and contributed to 3 episodes of Kung Fu 1972 with his son David, he was superb as the old blind preacher Rev. Serenity Johnson in ‘Dark Angel’, ‘The Nature of Evil’ in 1974, and ‘Ambush’ in 1975.

McCloud happens onto a series of murder scenes where the victims’ blood was drained from them through bite marks on the neck, leading him to a retired horror-film actor (Carradine) who seems to live as Dracula. Carradine plays the old horror movie star in the episode ‘McCloud Meets Dracula’,

Carradine appeared in several cop shows, The Rookies 1975McCloud 1977,  Starsky and Hutch 1978, and Wonder Woman 1978 where he plays Harlow Gault.

In the 1970s Carradine’s hands were twisted and gnarled so severely from arthritis and his feet were so deformed he couldn’t lift them from the floor. Yet he admitted he was virtually addicted to acting “I’ll never quit the stage or films. I’d go out of my skull!”

Then there’s another laughable movie Bigfoot 1970 as Jasper B. Hawks on the hunt for the silly half-human creatures who mate with young girls they abduct. Christopher Mitchum (Robert Mitchum’s son) goes in search of his missing girlfriend with the help of Carradine.

In the atmospheric TV movie, Crowhaven Farm directed by Walter Grauman, Carradine plays handyman Nate Cheever in a white scruffy beard and overalls, who happens to be in league with the Brampton witches. The film stars Hope Lange who is the reincarnation of Meg Carey who betrayed the coven centuries ago.

Carradine was also cast in a film no one has seen or doesn’t seem to exist anywhere, that went through three title changes, at first Trip to Terror, Is This Trip Really Necessary? and eventually Blood of the Iron Maiden. He was cast in two exploitation films, as Preacher Sims co-starring with regular co-stars Scott Brady and Robert Dix in Cain’s Cutthroats.

Cain’s Cutthroats 1970 Scott Brady plays Cain who is out for revenge and hooks up with bounty hunter Preacher Sims who rides the trail with him.

And in Hell’s Bloody Devils he has a small part credited as ‘the owner of Jack’s pet shop’ who advises his customers whose love birds are making love, to bring them in to make sure they are a boy and a girl.

In the exploitation western – Cain’s Cutthroats 1970 Carradine stars with Scott Brady.

1971 FILMS

He appeared in the highly sensationalist film (a mix of serious philosophizing and cheesy exploitation) by indie auteur – Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes. Carradine was cast as Sean O’Flanagan. The film is based on the novel by Irving Wallace and features a cast of fabulous character actors, Jay C. Flippen, Yvonne De Carlo, Harold J. Stone, Charles Drake, and Phillip Carey.

From the Vault- Russ Meyer’s The Seven Minutes 1971-

Bookseller Robert Moloney is arrested for selling the scandalous ‘obscene’ novel The Seven Minutes. It becomes a sensational trial that deals with censorship and the case of a young man accused of having been driven by the book to rape a young woman. Meyers loved to cast veteran actors and having reverence for the Carradine asked him to appear in the film as an Irish poet, though it is merely a two-minute scene that takes place in a tavern. Carradine is perfect as O’Flanagan in yet another one of his variety of incarnations, sporting a bohemian beret, mustache, and Irish accent.

O’Flanagan only invites the attorney to sit down and ask him questions about author JJ Jadway, the writer of The Seven Minutes, until he is offered a drink. The reticent poet plays games varying his recollections about the writer’s whereabouts, saying he hurled himself from the top of a six-story apartment building in San Francisco. Attorney Mike Barrett (Wayne Maunder) gets frustrated with Carradine who then tells him Jadway enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor and ‘made mincemeat of the Kaiser!

With Carradine’s audacious delivery, it’s hard to tell whether the crafty old eccentric is deliberately leading Barrett astray. The revelation comes at the end of the film.

What came next in 1971 was Blood Legacy aka Will to Die where he starred once again with Faith Domergue as Victoria Dean. Carradine plays her father, patriarch Christopher Dean.

When the family and creepy servants of the late multi-millionaire Christopher Dean gather at the family estate to hear his tape-recorded will, they’re annoyed when they find out they must spend the next seven days there to get their hands on their inheritance, in the same vein as a Ten Little Indians-style plot.

During the tape recording, Carradine’s voice is heard as the sadistic hated character who apparently had a sardonic sense of humor and leaves his servants one million dollars to draw from as their salary. The film also stars Jeff Morrow who speaks to Carradine in his coffin “A package for the Devil… Goodbye, you ornery bastard!”

Carradine turns up in a hallucinatory dream sequence rebuking the whiny Morrow. Is Carradine really dead?

In 1972

One of the most atmospheric horror yet much-maligned films of the 1970s is Silent Night, Bloody Night 1972 where Carradine is cast as mute Charlie Towman. Critics including star Mary Woronov denounced the movie as ’terrible’ and ‘most people couldn’t understand what was going on.’ And I can see the tendency to see it that way, but for me… It hasn’t lost its draw for me.

MonsterGirl’s – Sunday Nite Surreal: Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) “You can’t see me but I can see you”

It’s one of my favorite moody, atmospheric chiller from the ‘70s decade based on the novel by Jeffrey Konvitz (The Sentinel ) and directed by Theodore Gershuny and Konvitz. It’s dark and grainy yes, and some might say the voice-over is an after-though to explain the perplexing narrative, with a few scratch-your-head moments, but it’s got enough of a linear storyline. Much like Don’t Look in the Basement that same year, it’s a circuitous way of saying the inmates are running the asylum.

The New England setting was filmed in Oyster Bay Long Island the next town over from where I grew up.

There is a dark and unforgiving reason why someone is killing off the town elders.

In the coldly Gothic Silent Night, Bloody Night, Carradine plays Charlie Towman who wears a conspicuous hearing aid and is the mute editor of East Willard’s weekly newspaper The Patriot.

Silent Night, also stars cult actress Mary Woronov as Diane Adams and a brief appearance in the beginning by Patrick O’Neal. The film also stars character actors James Patterson, Walter Abel, Fran Stevens, and Walter Klavun.

On December 24, 1950, Wilfred Butler has been set aflame in his mansion and the coroner rules his death accidental. The Butler house is willed to his grandson Jeffrey (James Patterson). When the old place is left vacant for over 20 years, Lawyer John Carter ( Patrick O’Neal) sells the place.

Lawyer O’Neal arrives in East Willard Massachusetts to arrange the sale of the home of the late Wilfred Butler for his client Jeffrey Butler. O’Neal meets with the town elders, who are suspicious of Butler’s grandson Jeffrey.

Carradine is introduced to O’Neal at the City Hall, he sizes him up with a suspicious dead-eyed gaze as the other local leaders discuss selling the old estate. Though Carradine has no dialogue, his grim presence influences the tone of the film, even his peculiar way of communicating as he bangs the bell on his desktop in response to questions and answers, in agreement or in protest. His associates, the mayor Walter Abel, the telephone operator Tess (Fran Stevens), and the sheriff Walter Klavun all have an uncanny understanding of his gesticulations.

Though they warn O’Neal not to stay the night in the Butler house, he spends the night in the gloomy place with his girlfriend who are then brutally murdered by an unseen ax-wielding killer who hacks them to pieces in their bed. The mysterious axe murderer then phones the police to inform them that the lawyer Carter (O’Neal) is ‘gone.’

Jeffrey Butler arrives in town and meets the mayor’s daughter Diane (Waranov) who agrees to take him to see the ancestral house. In the meantime, the killer has struck again, this time hacking Tess the phone operator to death. Several of East Willard’s civic leaders are subsequently lured to the mansion and slain before the mad killer’s identity is revealed.

Effectively creepy flashbacks filmed in sepia tone.

After the first murder, in the dark eerie night, Carradine is lured to the dreary Butler estate. Later Woronov and James Patterson find his car on the side of the road enveloped by flames. As they continue to drive, Carradine runs out in front of their car trying to seek out their help. He is killed when they hit him, but they discover that his hands have been chopped off.

In flashback, we learn that at one time the Butler home had been converted into an asylum for the criminally insane, which was the scene of a violent massacre. After a bacchanalian feast the doctors and nurses in a drunken sleep, fall victim to a gruesome attack by the inmates who are released from their cells. In a nightmarish recall filmed in a honeyed sepia tone, the wild, crazed, and filthy inmates living in squalor, creep into the main house and slaughter everyone. It is a shocking sequence, that stays with you, partly due to the somber voice-over set to the dirge-like Silent Night.

Later it is revealed that the local leaders Abel, Carradine, Stevens, and Klavun were some of the originally escaped inmates who had settled into the town’s respectable society.

Silent Night, Bloody Night has a lot of stylistic appeal for the 70s period of horror films. The madhouse sequence features Warhol’s arty underground – Ondine and Candy Darling.

Mary Woronov from a Starlog interview:

“Carradine was fabulous. It was very cold, and we all had to stay in a big old house in which we were shooting, but he never complained. He kept absolute track of his time in a little notebook. He looked so old and his hands were so arthritic, that I felt sorry for him. But he was a great card player, and when he wrapped his fingers around a deck of cards, they moved like lightning. Carradine was a real trouper.“

Presented by indie powerhouses James H. Nicholson and Sam Arkoff, produced by Roger Corman, and directed by Martin Scorsese – Carradine was cast in Boxcar Bertha. He plays H. Buckram Sartoris along with his son David Carradine and Barbara Hershey who were lovers from 1969 til 1975. The couple has a son together named Tom.

Set in depression-era Arkansas, the film centers around Bertha, a farm girl who becomes a transient and then committed to a life of crime with three other vagrants. David Carradine plays union organizer Big Bill Shelly, Barry Primus plays petty confidence man Rake Brown and Bernie Casey plays Bertha’s friend Von Morton all of them get together to form a band of thieves who pull off hold-ups and train robberies.

Carradine with Bernie Casey in Boxcar Bertha.

Carradine’s H. Beckman Sartoris, the ornery head of the Reader Railroad becomes marked by the eclectic outlaws especially Shelly (David) who aims at wreaking havoc with the railroad.

Sartoris has a vaguely Southern accent and appears to bare the lonely burden of carrying out his endeavor to run his railroad, exuding a philosophical edginess, as Carradine is apt to do. The film is essentially part of the burgeoning 70s exploitation genre.

Carradine on the set of Boxcar Bertha with his son David.

JOHN: You’re Bill Shelly. I had a sort of respect for you. I thought you were some sort of crazy Bolshevik. You’re just a common crook!
DAVID: handing John back his watch “ I don’t want to steal your watch. I just want to smash your railroad.

CARRADINE 1973: Only recently I asked David when he was planning to marry Barbara Hershey, since they had already gone to the trouble to sire me a grandson. David informed me they had no intention of marrying, now or ever. “At least,” I said, “I shall know the name Carradine will be carried on for a long time to come.”

Thirty-three years after John Wayne (left) and John Carradine (right) co-starred in John Ford’s Western classic Stagecoach (1939), Carradine’s youngest son, Robert (center), was cast as one of the young drovers opposite Wayne in The Cowboys (1972). — Courtesy Warner Brothers —

Carradine appeared in Portnoy’s Complaint 1972, as the voice of God. And in Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, he played Doctor Bernardo a discredited sexologist whose carries on experiments in his Gothic mansion with a hunchback servant – a nod to classic mad scientist horror films of the 1940s. One of Bernardo’s crazy experiments creates a 40-foot breast that squirts milk, kills Carradine, and runs amok terrorizing the countryside. He then appeared in The Gatling Gun as Rev. Harper.

From the made-for-tv movie The Cat Creature 1973.

In 1973

Carradine was cast in a small role as The Hotel Clerk in the TV movie of the Week The Cat Creature based on a story by Robert Bloch and directed by Curtis Harrington who along with his How Awful About Allan creates a truly atmospheric chiller on the small screen.

Kent Smith unwittingly unleashes the spirit of an Egyptian Goddess and Meredith Baxter who plays Rena Carter is drawn into a series of uncanny murders. Carradine plays the manager of a sleazy hotel. The film also stars Stuart Whitman and Gale Sondergaard as an Occult shop owner.

Interestingly Harrington wanted the proprietress of the occult bookstore played by Sondergaard to be a lesbian, but orders from the network office insisted NO SUGGESTION WHATSOEVER THAT THIS CHARACTER IS A LESBIAN. But you can’t tell Harrington (himself an openly gay director) not to follow his ‘natural propensity toward subversion’ Ironically they did allow a scene with a hooker (who happened to be a ‘little person’) hanging around the seedy hotel lobby where detective Stuart Whitman interviews Carradine – the hotel clerk. The little lady of the evening is shown seated at the counter swinging her legs and batting her eyelashes at Whitman, asking “How’s tricks, baby!”

Carradine was cut from HEX 1973 with its video release titled The Shrieking starring Cristina Raines, Keith Carradine, Scott Glenn, Gary Busey, and Robert Walker. Carradine was to play a small part as an old gunfighter who confronts the bikers, who show up in an old isolated Nebraska ranch where teenage sisters practice witchcraft.

Above: Carradine as caretaker Edgar Price in House of Seven Corpses 1973 with John Ireland and Faith Domergue.

Carradine has a supporting role in The House of Seven Corpses in director Paul Harrison’s lethargic 70s horror film starring John Ireland as director Eric Hartman and Faith Domergue as his old flame and horror film ‘Scream Queen’ Gayle. Seven Corpses features Carradine in a supporting role as the brooding irascible Edgar Price, the caretaker of the abandoned Beal estate with a dark history of gruesome murders. Carradine warns there are supernatural forces at work but Ireland insists on making his low-budget movie that features Domergue reciting incantations from the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

The distasteful, belligerent director Ireland brings his movie crew and actors on location at a convincingly eerie left-behind dump, to film his witchcraft-centered horror movie. Ireland and his movie company shoot their cheap occult costume picture in ‘his’ (Carradine’s) house.

Carradine comes across like he knows more than he’s telling about the ill-famed Beal family and confronts Ireland at every turn.

“The story of the Beal family is more bizarre than anything you can dream up!” Carradine says sardonically.

In the end, the entire crew meets a terrible end, including Domergue’s cat, for those of you cat lovers it’s a heads up if you’re like me and can’t stomach animal cruelty in film.

Later Carradine earnestly tries to convince Ireland that they’re all in danger, but he brushes him off. Dressed in work clothes, a dark mustache, and a short white beard, bony Carradine lends to the picture an extra element of bleakness and doom.

Carradine meets his executioner from the moldy grave when inspecting a worn gravestone his ankle is clutched by a corpse’s decomposed hand, clawing its way up through the ground. Carradine is strangled by the ghoul – set to Dominic Frontiere’s music. A score that can also be heard in the sci-fi anthology series The Outer Limits.

Then Carradine co-starred in the art house, allegorical horror film Moonchild alongside Victor Buono. Set in 1920 a traveling art student is lured to a desolate castle hotel with a band of oddballs.

Moonchild 1972 starring Victor Buono as one of the strange inhabitants.

Moonchild is inhabited by strange Archetypes – a Devil-like host, a maitre d’ (Buono) who is one of the angels, and Carradine as a bearded vagabond Mr. Walker who writes in his book a record of all the events. There’s also a mysterious girl, a one-eye hunchback, and assorted hooded monks.

Carradine said in an interview that he liked his role in the film, “I have the guts now to turn down flatly things I don’t want to do”

Joe Dante considered it to be an awful film and Carradine merely did what they wanted him to do which was to be ‘grandiloquent.

In the prolific Dan Curtis’ The Night Strangler television movie, Darren McGavin’s individualistic journalist Kolchak leaves Las Vegas and finds himself in Seattle trying to prove that a series of grisly murders are being committed by a rotting flesh fiend (Richard Anderson) possessed of immortality who is stealing victims’ glands to prolong his life. Curtis’ packed this macabre television tribute to Kolchak’s tenacity with some of the finest character actors –  Margaret Hamilton, Scott Brady, Simon Oakland, Wally Cox, Al Lewis as the tramp, and Ivor Francis.

Carradine has a cameo as the prickly publisher Llewellyn Crossbinder who owns the newspaper. “This isn’t fun town USA, this is Seattle!”

Also in 1973 in Crown International’s exploitation film Superchick, he played Igor Smith, a pervert who enjoys being beaten and bound.

A blend of soft-core porn and kung fu exploitation sub-genre Superchick 1973 stars Joyce Jillson as free-spirited Tara B. True a mild-mannered airline stewardess who wears a god-awful brunette wig and ill-fitting uniform to keep the wolves away. But when she sheds her disguise she becomes a black belt, blonde goddess, and sunny dispositioned ‘Superchick’ who satisfies all different brands of men in every city she flies by and fights crime. Carradine plays a former low-budget horror movie star who places an ad in an underground newspaper, catching the eye of Jillson she arrives at his gated mansion. But he hasn’t exactly been honest about his identity not looking anything like how he described himself in the ad. “handsome, mature, the ultimate in unlimited experiences.”

Still, Jillson agrees to hook up with him and stumbles into his S&M den. On display are assorted props of pain… whipping posts, chains, and other kinky gadgetry. When Carradine throws himself at her, she punches and kicks him and puts him in his own shackles, and leaves him whining and enraptured with his crazed crystal blue eyes begging for more, she tells him, “It’s sickies like you that give Hollywood a bad name!” “Wow! Someone must have dropped acid in his Geritol! – A stuntman took part in his scene doing the fight.

Above two images: Terror in the Wax Museum.

In Terror in the Wax Museum directed by George Fenady for Bing Crosby Productions, Carradine plays Claude Dupree, sporting a mustache, short beard, and modest round glasses. He’s the owner and creator of the wax museum pressured to sell his masterworks to Broderick Crawford who plans on moving the figures to his Manhattan museum. The film also stars Ray Milland, Elsa Lanchester, Maurice Evans, and Louis Hayward.

Dupree loves his wax friends but needs the money. Carradine, frustrating the impatient Crawford takes him on a tour of the museum proudly showing off his Marie Antoinette, Lizzie Borden, etc but the surly Crawford persists in talking business.

CARRADINE: “I’ve made an exhaustive life study of these famous and infamous people. I know every intimate detail of their lives and their physical makeup. I feel I’m actually living with them.” CRAWFORD: “It could be that you’ve lived with ‘em for too long…!

Carradine senses that the figures don’t want him to sell them. He also worries about his hunchback assistant Karkov (Steven Marlo) who lives in a small room under the streets of London.

Crawford “I’m not buying any live monsters, just wax ones!”

In a dream sequence, Carradine is assailed by his wax famed murderers wielding knives, axes, ropes, and swords, who come to life and surround him. He wakes up in a panic and moves down the stairs to the room with their tableaus in the museum. When he goes downstairs to ‘talk’ to his wax friends he is stabbed to death by jack the ripper.

In the Tv movie, The Lady’s Not for Burning 1974 he plays Old Matthew Skipps.

He continued his stage work touring Florida in Tobacco Road with his son Keith.

In 1975 Carradine appeared on the summer stock stage as the mad Jonathan Brewster in Chicago’s Arlington Park Theater’s production of Arsenic and Old Lace opposite Eva and Zsa Zsa Gabor. According to Carradine’s then-girlfriend Terrie West Woznicki, the actor was making $1500 while the Gabors were making $10,000 she said about his drinking before the show, “Having had a large quantity, he would go into his dressing room, put on his dressing gown, do the crossword puzzle to compose himself and it was as if someone else had climbed into his body… HE would go on and never slur a word of dialogue when he should have fallen on his nose..”

In 1975

Carradine haunts the screen in Mexican director Juan Lopez Moctezuma’s (Dr. Tarr’s Torture Dungeon) Mary, Mary, Bloody Mary the US-Mexican sex-horror exploitation film receiving “Special Guest Star” billing for his part as The Man.

The movie gave Carradine the chance to play another semi-vampiric character and to have nearly all his work done by a masked double.

It starred fashion model Cristina Ferrare as Mary Gilmore and Mary Gilmore is an American painter driving through Mexico, traveling with a handsome young drifter David Young who falls under suspicion for a series of brutal murders, which Ferrare has actually committed. She drinks blood though she has no fangs, no crosses, and doesn’t sleep in a coffin either. There are no relics of the Gothic vampire movie present. Mary is not a supernatural being, she is an American serial killer who has a taste for human blood and uses a hairpin for the purpose of penetrating her victims.

She is under the influence of a strange family affliction, that causes her to drug both her male and female victims and drink their blood.

Early in the film, she kills a sleazoid who works for the American embassy after he comes onto her. Arthur Hansel an FBI agent’s curiosity is peaked and he winds up helping local Mexican police investigate a string of similar murders.

Mary, an artist, continues drifting around picking up hitchhiker David Young on her way to Mexico City. He becomes her lover, in the meantime, she drains the blood of a vacationing fisherman, and gallery owner Helena Rojo whom she takes for a romantic tryst and a few pints of her blood.

The mysterious masked stranger whose face is decayed and rotting, in a large black hat is Carradine who assails Ferrare throughout Mexico sharing the onscreen time with his stand-in, a heavily disguised man in black. Carradine also commits the same kind of murders as his daughter.

“The Man’ murders and drinks the blood of a girl hitchhiker, a morgue attendant, a grave digger, and a few more people.

While stalking Ferrare he drives a big car recklessly along the mountain roads trying to run her down, chasing his daughter throughout the countryside, stalks her at a festival, chases her through a graveyard, and menaces her with a switchblade.

Of course, it’s apparent after Ferrare speaks of her father she’s never known and shows David Young an oil painting of Carradine (a portrait of Carradine from House of Dracula) who is the menacing stranger. Later unmasked “The Man” turns out to be her father who is trying to kill her before she succumbs to her blood lust like him. He is trying to kill her for her own good, to save her from this depraved addiction.

Carradine is the one who taught her to drink blood as a child. She shoots him and then drinks his blood, and when David witnesses this, she can’t resist the temptation and kills him and drinks his blood too. In the end, the Inspector (Hansel) blames the murders on Carradine and Mary moves on to a life of bloodletting.

Carradine wears blood-spattered horror makeup in the climactic scene and allows the camera to take a long, close look at his arthritic gnarled knife holding hands.

In 1976

He played the drunk in Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood. Then back to a made-for-tv movie with Death at Love House as Conan Carroll who drives an immense car and dies early on.

Director Burt Kennedy’s (All the Kind Strangers 1974 Tv Movie) The Killer Inside Me takes place In the closed-in spaces of Central City Montana, a tense and chilling psychological thriller. Carradine shows up for one small but tense sequence in the film playing Dr. Jason Smith.

Stacy Keach stars as Lou Ford a well-liked deputy who happens to be a psychopath. The film is effectively creepy and carefully strained until it dilates into a full-out disturbing psycho-sexual horror movie with Keach who appears at first kind and diplomatic on the surface then slowly unravels as an out-of-control psychopath who gets triggered by childhood trauma after taking a beating when he catches his mother in an adulterous affair.

He’s got some kind of deadly punch that first breaks Susan Tyrrell’s neck, then Pepe Serna, and eventually kills his childhood sweetheart Tisha Sterling with one lethal blow at the climactic end.

Carrying her up to the bed and lying her down gently as if she is merely asleep is quite a shocking moment in the film. The tone is dark and frightening with the scenes escalating as his mind unwinds into full-out spiraling madness.

Close to the end of the movie, Carradine’s segment as Jason Smith adds a bit of his offbeat personality.

Carradine passes himself off as a stranger, but in actuality, he’s a psychiatrist sent to evaluate Keach’s state of mind pretending to be a doctor looking to purchase Keach’s family home and set up a general practice in town.

Keach quizzes him knowing he’s a psychiatrist. Asking him bizarre questions about certain conditions and what kind of practice he’ll set up, all the time knowing that Carradine was sent by his sheriff John Dehner who suspects he’s the killer. As Keach begins to trip him up, tossing out highly specialized questions in a coolly calm and disquieting tone, Carradine realizes he’s in danger and hightails it out of the house with Keach in pursuit ranting at him, “You tell the next son of a bitch they send out here to spy on me I’ll kill him.”

The film stars Susan Tyrell as Joyce the prostitute (Tyrell forged a fervid career for herself on stage and in film playing vulgarians and grotesques) who is sleeping with the mayor’s (Keenan Wynn) son (Don Stroud) and orders Keach to run her out of town. Instead, he winds up in bed with her and nearly kills her with one of his lethal blows when she threatens him and strikes him like his mother did triggering his rage. He not only leaves her thinking she’s dead, but he shoots Keenan Wynns’s son in order to frame him for Tyrell’s murder.

Tisha Sterling is Keach’s childhood sweetheart Amy, the angelic school teacher – a virginal good girl, the antithesis of Joyce. Charles McGraw, John Dehner, Pepe Serna, Keenan Wynne, Julie Adams, and Don Stroud round out the cast. What works as a counterbalance to the unsettling mood is the evocative and haunting music by composer/actor John Rubinstein.

Also in 1975, Carradine played A tour guide in Elia Kazan’s The Last Tycoon.

In 1976

In the more obscure horror film Shock Waves aka Death Corp, Carradine plays the cranky old Captain Ben Morris. By the time Carradine dies, Peter Cushing enters as the Nazi Commandant who lives on the island.

Nearly dead, Brooke Adams as Rose, is found adrift in a rowboat by a fisherman. In a flashback, she relates the terrifying series of events. She and other tourists were aboard a charter boat helmed by Carradine when it was rammed by a mysterious freighter. The ship was wrecked beyond repair. They wind up on a deserted island and take refuge in an abandoned hotel, inhabited by Peter Cushing, a former Nazi with a nasty scar. But SS Commander Cushing is not the only inhabitant on the island. Lifeless on the unquiet ocean floor is an SS division called the Death Corp, zombie soldiers in frosty blonde hair, black goggles, goose-stepping leather boots, and Nazi uniforms that rise up from underneath the water and roam to kill.

With effective makeup by Alan Ormsby who gave us the marvelous dead things in – Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things 1972.

Director Fred Olen Ray who worked as an uncredited still photographer on the film said in an interview with Bruce Hallenbeck about the film: “Oh, my God! These were two (Carradine and Cushing) of my heroes!… I was there the entire time Cushing and Carradine were there, and that was a real treat because no one else on the film was a real fan of those guys. The producers basically hired them because they were making a horror film and they knew those two guys were big horror film names.”

Director Fred Olen Ray with John Carradine.

In honor of director Wiederhorn’s admiration, Carradine got special billing as the ornery captain of the fated charter boat. As gaunt as ever, unkempt, and sun-drained, he’s the owner of a seedy charter boat.

In one scene he sits down to dinner with his passengers who have been hearing eerie stories about ghost ships from Dobbs (Don Stout) a member of the crew.

“Look, miss,” Carradine says to Brooke Adams, “I could match you story for story with practical evidence, but what does it prove? Men at sea often have hallucinations. They work hard, they have eye strain, lack of sleep, exhaustion Sometimes they’re just plain stupid… If everything that old fart (Dobbs) said came true, why, both he and me would be in the deep six by now”

Carradine later turns up dead on the ocean floor near the island, he is glimpsed by one of the passengers D.J. Sidney who catches sight of him through the glass bottom of a dinghy.

Sadly he doesn’t share any scenes with Peter Cushing, who like Carradine only spent 4 days on the set.

Carradine described his recent movies as “all pieces of crap!”

In director KEN WIEDERHORN’s interview with Maitland McDonagh horror scholar/writer: “At the time, Carradine was having great trouble with his arthritis, taking lots of medication for it. He wouldn’t rehearse because, I think, he couldn’t. I never knew what was going to happen to him. You’d think he was asleep, and then it would come time to do a take, and all of a sudden he’d pull his forces together and you’d have a performance. I remembered the day I met John, I took him to lunch. He was a great raconteur and told me all these wonderful Hollywood stories, but finally, I said, “Now, John why don’t we take about the character? He turned to me with this steely look and said, “I don’t think so… No I don’t think so. I’ve only played him 400 times.”

The production manager/Nazi zombie Wayne Hood would set up the scene where Carradine winds up submerged eyes wide open under the water. Hood would push the actor under the water while Carradine’s signature wide-eye stare would remain ready to be captured until the dinghy passed over him. The shot took more than one take and by the fifth take, they heard Carradine’s head make a thud sound against the bottom of the dinghy, and then they heard the sound of the actor struggling to get a breath. The crew dove into the pool and he was brought out until he was comfortable, in between exhaling large explosions of water through his nose.

Carradine witty and unflappable looked over at Hood and said, “Did you hear about the man shaving who accidentally cut off his nose? Well, they sewed it back on upside down, and every time he sneezed he blew his hat off!”

The above two images: are from The Shootist 1976.

Also in 1976, he appeared in Don Siegel’s The Shootist. Starring John Wane, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Richard Boone, Hugh O’Brian, Harry Morgan, Sheree North, and Scatman Crothers.

Carradine plays Beckum in his fourth and final film with John Wayne faced with the changing face of the Old West. Carradine’s scene shot at a barber shop set at the Burbank Studios features him as a wily undertaker who introduces himself to Wayne and offers him a free coffin, headstone, and burial. Carradine “As the saying goes in our profession, ‘the early worm gets the bird!” Wayne sees through Carradine, he plans on charging onlookers to view his body and turns the tables on the old scalawag countering with a list of demands. Carradine in caricaturist black garb and the top hat fits the shifty role to a tee, and the interplay between him and Wayne is one of the movie’s many delights. Carradine received guest star billing

In 1977

In 1977 he appeared in Crash! as Dr. Welsey Edwards. Also in 1977 he played big daddy in a Los Angeles revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

And then Carradine was cast in the titular role of The Sentinel.

Sunday Nite Surreal: The Sentinel (1977) Even in Hell, Friendships often Blossom into Bliss!

Another horror movie from the ’70s that got a hatchet job from the film historians, critics, and the press is director Michael Winner’s The Sentinel, featuring Carradine as the titular blind priest. The ancient watcher. As the current Sentinel – he guards the gates of Hell.

The film was originally a novel written by Jeffrey Konvitz. It stars Burgess Meredith, Chris Sarandon, Cristina Raines, Eli Wallach, Martin Balsam, Ava Gardner, Silvia Miles, Jose Ferrar, Arthur Kennedy, Deborah Raffin, and Beverly D’Angelo with sightings of a young Christopher Walken, and Jeff Goldblum.

Manhattan fashion model Alison Parker has been searching for a place to live apart from her shady lawyer boyfriend Michael (Chris Sarandon). He was suspected of having something to do with the death of his wife years earlier. Alison finds out that her affluent father in Baltimore has passed away. This triggers disturbing memories for her. She suffers from the trauma of having tried to commit suicide after having walked in on him in an unremorseful orgy with several unappealing women. It’s a grotesque scene that will repeat itself later on in the film.

When she returns she meets Mrs. Logan (Ava Gardner) a real estate agent who winds up renting an old fully furnished Brooklyn Brownstone for merely $400 a month.

It’s a forbidding place yet strangely affordable for Brooklyn Heights. Alison is totally unaware that she has been shadowed by a strange priest. The only one living in the building is a solitary blind priest Father Hallarin (Carradine). After Alison moves in she meets a delightful yet quirky Mr. Chazen in 4B, with a black and white cat named Mortimer and a yellow canary who sits on his shoulder. Then she is invited in for tea with two leotard-wearing lesbians downstairs.

While trying to sleep, the chandelier over her bed begins to sway, and she can hear heaving pacing in the apartment above her. When she informs Mrs. Logan about the nighttime disturbances, the real estate agent tells her she is the only one in the building besides the old priest.

On a shoot for a commercial, Alison is struck down with a blinding headache.

She becomes bedeviled by these bizarre neighbors that supposedly do not exist. All of these mysterious occurrences lead her to believe she might be losing her mind. Alison even sees visions of her father, skulking around the apartment above, a demonically rotting corpse.

Included among the denizens of the building is Anna Clark, a murderess who died in the electric chair after she hacked up her boyfriend with an axe. In fact, Alison goes to Mortimer the cat’s birthday party with a host of other famous dead murderers like Anna Clark.

It is revealed that the apartment house has been built over one of the entrances to hell, guarded throughout the years by a series of Sentinels. Alison Parker is the next in line to stand vigil over the gates. All the Sentinels had attempted to commit suicide, with Alison having tried twice in her past made her chosen for the responsibility.

It is the sanguine Burgess Meredith as a dapper little devil – yellow canary and black and white cat in tow, who desires to make Alison kill herself in order to break the passing of the torch and leave the entrance to Hell open for his demons to rise up.

Universal paid $300,00 for the rights to Konvitz’s 1974 novel. While it was still in a manuscript – Don Siegel was initially tapped to direct the film. But Siegel wanted to film on location in European so he was removed from the picture and Winner was chosen as director, who shot on location in the moody setting of New York City in the 1970s. Which included the iconic ivy-covered five-story building 10 Montgomery Place in Brooklyn Heights that is still there.

Though there is no dialogue for the eloquent Carradine, when he is on screen he is hypnotically prominent as the reclusive Father Halliran, the ancient, blind, “mummified” priest who is parked at the fifth-floor window of the brownstone staring out of his cold white eyes.

Late in the film, we learn that his name was William O’Rourke until he tried to kill himself in 1952. The mysterious religious Catholic sect made him disappear and become reborn as Father Halliran, yet another priest or at times it would be a nun in a succession of attempted suicides who became Sentinels guarding the gates of Hell. In the end, he passes the cross to Alison who becomes the blind Sister Theresa who looks out the window guarding the entrance to Hell…

From Dante Alighieri’s work Inferno, translated by Henry Francis Cary as “all hope abandon ye who enter here.”

“It took two and a half hours to put my makeup on,” -Carradine remarked in a Universal press release. “Not only did I have to arrive on the set two and a half hours before I was needed, but at the end of the day when (Winner) called ‘wrap’ it took me another hour to remove the opaque contact lenses and the layers and layers of latex wrinkles.”

“Aging poor old sweet Carradine was fairly easy” recalled Dick Smith “It’s no problem getting wrinkles on an old skin like his, so we did heavy layers of old age stipple.”

Next to the bare room in which most of Carradine’s scenes take place was another little room- Carradine called it his “home away from home” furnished with a frayed over stuffed chair, a day bed, and an old kitchen table. There Carradine would spend the major part of his time, reading or dozing and waiting for his cue. “My meals were sent up on a tray because lunch was generally served in the open courtyard below and (laughs) my makeup would have scared the kids in the neighborhood out of a year’s growth!”

Carradine gathered an audience between scenes telling tales of his show biz career.

CARRADINE: “My character sits at a window and keeps an eye out for the Devil. I don’t know what he’d do if he saw the Devil. He couldn’t have seen him anyway.”

BURGESS MEREDITH: “I worked every day with the freaks and they taught me an unforgettable lesson- a lesson in gratitude. They were wonderful folks and delighted to be in a film. I hope they weren’t disappointed with the result. Because they were very touching and sensitive all of them. We worked closely during those weeks And I was reminded that there are problems in this world more complicated than my own.

1977 also chose to hand Carradine another 2-minute schlocky role as The cheeky ‘Bum’ in Satan’s Cheerleaders – a boring piece of sexploitation garbage mixing the occult with soft-core titillation. Sadly, it stars veteran actors Yvonne De Carlo, John Ireland, and Jack Kruschen as a devil-worshipping perv janitor.

Carradine then appeared in J. Lee Thompson’s The White Buffalo. It was his last Western.

It was 1978

In the dreadful, The Bees Carradine tries a horrible German accent as Dr. Sigmund Hummel – Angel Tompkins’s scientist uncle Ziggy who studies the behavior and language of bees. The Bees also stars veteran horror/exploitation protagonist John Saxon.

The disastrous The Bees has an uncredited screenplay by Jack Hill (Spider Baby 1967). Carradine is researching the killer African bees and studying a way to crossbreed them with a gentler specie of bee before they migrate to the United States, but it’s too late and they have already started to attack. Next was the equally drecky Monstroid where he plays a priest.

In 1978 Carradine starred as a very haughty vampire Richmond Reed – (his original name)
in Vampire Hookers, a typical sexploitation/horror black comedy.

His vampire is constantly quoting from Shakespeare, Walt Whitman, and other distinguished writers, much like the actor in real life. He constantly asserts that Shakespeare and Whitman were vampires, and incarnations from the classics with the elegant flair and magic Carradine is given to. “Walt Whitman must have been a vampire” Only a vampire would have written so much about the night. About death”

Interesting that such a schlocky movie would feature the work of talented composer Jaime Mendoza-Nava.

Richmond Reed heads the horny thirsty concubine of beautiful vampires, Karen Stride as Cherish Lenka Novak as Suzy, and Katie Dolan as Marcy. Filmed in the Philippines, two American sailors Bruce Fairbairn and Trey Wilson clash with three intoxicating hookers who lure men to their Gothic candlelit subterranean lair, to have sex with them and then drain them of their blood.

Also living among the vampires is the slovenly Vic Diaz a grotesque flatulent Pavo who is a new take on the character of Igor, who wants to be a vampire and loves the sound of his own farts which he lets rip throughout the movie.

Carradine- “We can’t kill him when he’s asleep. It takes all the enjoyment out of it when they’re asleep. They never scream. I miss that human cry of terror when they see grim death looming above their gizzard!”

Carradine suggested that the script fit his personality and that he plays Reed like an old-fashioned fine Southern Gothic gentleman, who wears a dapper white suit, a red bow tie, and a white Panama hat.

In 1978 he reprised his great role of Casy in the stage version of The Grapes of Wrath with Carolyn Jones who played Ma Joad.

1978 Nocturna as Dracula once again starring Yvonne De Carlo as Jugulia.

In Nocturna, Carradine plays the elderly Grandfather to Nai Bonet who puts in his fanged dentures after centuries he’s been rendered toothless. Nocturna takes care of him making sure he’s stocked up on plenty of fresh blood that looks like his daily dose of tomato juice. When Nocturna wakes him up in his coffin Carradine intones, “If I’m alive, what am I doing here? On the other hand, if I’m dead, why do I have to wee-wee”

Falling on hard times, count Carradine now 72 years old, has had to convert his castle into a disco.

Carradine trails his granddaughter to the New York disco scene in order to bring her home. Yvonne De Carlo is a vampire and an old flame of Carradine who tries to rekindle the magic. She flirts with him relentlessly until he gives way. In their last scene, they both squeeze into a coffin together.

With financial woes and only landing a handful of insignificant roles, buried under a mountain of debt Carradine’s life was in further chaos. In later years he was besieged by financial problems including the hospitalization of his fourth wife Emily, and living on a mere pension.

“That’s the only security I have in the world- no money!… I borrowed to the hilt. I’ve got a pile of unpaid bills. I Daren’t look at them anymore because I can’t do anything about paying them.” Carradine placed the lion’s share of the blame on his first wife Ardanelle’s long-ago crusade to have him jailed for non-payment of alimony. “She drove me out of California for Eight years, which cost me $1000,000 in work. In the last ten years, I’ve had one job which lasted a week, and I’ve had a couple of stage jobs. Otherwise, all I get is a day here and there in pictures and television- and that doesn’t pay the bills.” –Carradine told Paul F. Levy From The National Enquirer.

Carradine plays Professor Nikonaeff in the Teheran Incident (Missile X) 1979 starring Peter Graves and Curd Jürgens –

The 1980s

In a conversation between Bruce Hallenbeck (from The Sleaze Merchants-John McCarty) and Fred Olen Ray-

Hallenbeck: Back in the mid-1980s, you sept a lot of generic footage of John Carradine over a weekend that you wound up using in four different movies. How did that come out?

Fred Olin Ray: “Five different movies! I had offered John Carradine a role in Star Slammer, but his manager turned it down. Then, about six months later, he called back asking if I had anything for John. And I thought, “Well, shit, what a great opportunity! At the time I wasn’t making a film, but I had acquired a demented death farm massacre movie called Shantytown Honeymoon. I changed the title to Death Farm and nobody wanted it. They all laughed that I’d bought this movie for five grand-the negatives, everything! but no one would buy it from me. Then a company called Continental Video said they’d pay me fifteen thousand dollars if I put John Carradine in this movie. So, I looked at the film again and there was this preacher character in it. They kept cutting to him, but he never interacted with anyone.”

So, I cut the guy’s scenes out, filmed John Carradine doing the same scenes, and cut them in. And since I had John available and was paying him around $2,500 for a whole weekend’s work-even though the Death Farm footage would only take about twenty mixtures to shoot- I had him do a bunch of random scenes as well where he played a bunch of different characters- Judge Death, Dr. Frankenstein. I even recorded his voice doing some wild lines. And we wound up using all this stuff in other movies.”

In the 1980s John Carradine had a small part as a psychologist in The Boogey Man 1 and 2, both starring Suzanna Love and Carradine as Dr. Warren. Directed by Ulli Lommel and his actress wife Love, Carradine was tossed in for name value. Lommel’s strangely surreal horror film had enough success that it spawned a sequel. It is a very mundane and sadly wasted use of Carradine even for a low-budget horror movie.

Though brief he had more of a blithesome role in the scene intervals featuring conversations between Carradine and Vincent Price in the English-made horror film The Monster Club as R. Chetwynd-Hayes who is befriended by vampire Vincent Price. The Monster Club plays like one of Amicus’s portmanteau films featuring a selection of gruesome stories.

1980s television appearances included Fantasy Island as the Mortician 1982, The Fall Guy 1984, and Fame 1985. He also appeared in Goliath Awaits a tv mini-series in 1981 starring Christopher Lee.

Mark Harmon and Christopher Lee star with Carradine in Goliath Awaits tv mini-series 1981.

In 1981

Once the more eldritch atmosphere of the 1970s horror movies was over, the ‘80s decade kicked off with a slew of gorier, mindless cookie cutter, newly fashioned splatter movies with the exception of a few renovated themes that are highly stylized for instance – Joe Dante’s The Howling.

Carradine on the set of The Howling with director Joe Dante.

Carradine was cast in The Howling with the inside joke, giving him the name of Erle C Kenton – the American film director responsible for classic horror films like Island of Lost Souls 1932.

The 1981 cult classic put Carradine front and center as a cynical werewolf.

The Howling, Joe Dante’s black comedy/horror film is as grim tongue-in-cheek, and far-out as it is at times -nasty. The film not only pits instinct against intellect but it parodies fad psychology and human nature versus the ‘beast within.’

“The Howling doesn’t take itself seriously… it’s consciously trashy. At most horror movies, audiences laugh at some of the conventions… In The Howling, the filmmakers give the conventions a nudge over into self-parody and set up the laughs. The picture isn’t afraid of being silly – which is its chief charm” – Pauline Kael, “Safes and Snouts The New Yorker 1981

The film is directed by Joe Dante with a screenplay by John Sayles and a cast that includes Dee Wallace, Patrick Macnee, Christopher Stone, Belinda Balaski and features character actors Kevin McCarthy Slim Pickens, Kenneth Tobey, and a Hitchockian cameo by Roger Corman.

Joe Dante’s The Howling was one of the last serious horror features that showcased a better quality of Carradine’s talents.

It’s an imaginative, cheeky, and at times hair-raising updated take on the werewolf movie. Dante even uses clips from The Wolf Man 1941.

“Dante plays with visual puns (cans of Wolf brand chili in the kitchen, Allen Ginsburg’s Howl on the reading table, Disney’s Three Little Pigs on the Tv.)” – James B. Twitchell Dreadful Pleasures

The Howling shows off 24-year-old Rob Bottin’s groundbreaking special effects for the transformation scenes.

On the set: Joe Dante with a werewolf.

Christopher Stone transforms.

Television news anchorwoman Karen White (Dee Wallace) goes undercover in the red light district of LA to help the police trap serial killer Eddie the Mangler responsible for a string of brutal murders. She shows up at the peep show booth in a Western Avenue porno house where he threatens her in the dark from behind. But the police show up just in time and shoot him. After this traumatic experience at the theater, she suffers from nightmares and psychologist Waggner (Patrick Macnee) suggests she and her husband Bill go for a rest at the isolated community encounter group called “The Colony.”

Dee Wallace and Christopher Stone drive to the Colony, Wallace smirks “I hope these people aren’t too weird.” But Waggner and the residents of the Colony are actually a community of werewolves.

While Karen and Bill unwind, her associates at the news station Dugan and Balaski dive deeper into Eddie’s past, learning all about werewolf lore, and visiting an occult bookstore run by cult actor and Corman regular Dick Miller.

At the Colony beach cookout, Dante uses a closeup of Carradine as a hoary old-timer Erle Kenton, wildly tittering amongst his pals, but later on, he is despondent and attempts to throw himself into the burning campfire before he is pulled by the other members of the Colony.

Kenton has taken issue with Macnee’s philosophy that werewolves should control themselves, and only feed on the cattle they raise, while the other faction thinks of humans as their cattle.

“Screw all this ‘channel your energy crap!” Carradine smirks, which only incites more of a rebellion against the self-hating doctor. “You can’t tame what’s meant to be wild, Doc. It ain’t natural.“

Carradine is perfect as the moody, cantankerous Kenton the name is a tribute to the director of such classic horror movies as House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Island of Lost Souls.

There are two cut scenes from The Howling that include Carradine. One with him sitting in a therapy session with Macnee and the other as part of a hunting party that takes a detour in order to watch Dee Wallace in a hot tub.

Macnee calls Carradine a ‘dignified gentleman’ and ‘the greatest American Shakespearean actor of our time- aside from Barrymore.”

VILLAGE VOICE: “The idea of an Esalen for neurotic werewolves is so right and funny in itself that one can forgive The Howling a multitude of minor sins. Given a more careful build-up, some Val Lawton-Style atmospherics, and greater restraint in its special effects, the film might well have been a horror classic. As it stands now, it’s a superior entertainment – as creepy, witty, and suggestive as its disreputable genre would warrant.”

The above two images: are from The Nesting.

The Nesting harmonizes nicely with many of the other mediocre horror flicks during John Carradine’s filmography of the 1970s and ‘80s. It’s an obscure horror film that I happen to enjoy watching because of the presence of Carradine and Grahame who add a bit of nostalgia and class.

When Robin Groves, a writer is crippled by agoraphobia, she decides to rent an isolated house in upstate New York to get away from the city so she can concentrate on her writing. She doesn’t know that the house was a former brothel and is haunted by the spirits of murdered prostitutes and their madame Gloria Grahame.

This ghost story places Carradine down in the middle of a haunting with a supportive role as Col. LeBrun the gun-loving, bearded wheel-chair-bound owner of a house with a secret past. He reacts with shock when he first meets Robin Groves and suffers a stroke which reveals he’s got something haunting him.

Later, after he confesses on his death bed it is revealed that back in the 1940s, he hired thugs to break into the brothel (the house she is renting from him) and steal the baby of one of the prostitutes that his son fathered. But the men go berserk and kill not only the son’s prostitute girlfriend, his son, and everyone else. This is shown in flashback which features, the silver screen femme fatale Gloria Grahame in her last role. The Nesting was shot in upstate New York and was originally titled Phobia.

Gloria Grahame: iconic Hollywood movie star appears in The Nesting as the prohibition era Madam.

In a VARIETY REVIEW, “John Carradine provides black humor and exposition.”

At that same time Carradine narrated the animated short- The Reluctant Dragon and appeared in Frankenstein Island 1981 as Dr. Frankensteine.

Fox’s editors cut Carradine’s scene which director Peter Medak relates the missing footage as “quite a brilliant scene” for the comedy Zorro, the Gay Blade 1981 starring George Hamilton, Lauren Hutton, and Brenda Vaccaro.

In 1981 filmed on location, Carradine had to travel to New Zealand to get Top Billing for the very atmospheric The Scarecrow aka Klynham Summer. Because Carradine’s Broadway production of Frankenstein which opened in January of 1981 abruptly failed, he was available to do The Scarecrow.

In The Scarecrow, Carradine plays Hubert Salter one of his most terrifying incarnations I’ve ever encountered as a long-time fan of his wide-ranging career. By this decade the reputation that he established in all his cult horror films played for laughs, took a diversion when he appeared as Salter in a picture filled with dark, surreal visions.

While The Scarecrow has the restless appearance of a coming-of-age story, with a young boy Jonathan Smith approaching the crossroads of his life growing up in the poverty-stricken town of Klynham, in what seems to be the early 1930s. The film sits more comfortably in the territory of a psycho-sexual thriller. Smith suspects that the seedy old magician/mesmerist transient Carradine lurking around may actually be the serial killer of young girls in the area. I haven’t seen a film that unsettles my stomach with the full spectrum of gruesome edginess as Carradine’s implicit threat that murmurs on the screen like a death song.

Hubert Salter looks grizzled, unwashed, and unsavory with a scruffy salt-and-pepper beard, woolly eyebrows, and an air of malevolence.

He’s a sort of queer magician wearing a shabby suit and strange bowtie who just turns up in town. In the darkness of the Klynham streets, he mutters –“Ah, brothers in need… and I am death!”

His stringy hair is greasy and his wild blue eyes burn through the screen like an escaped madman. He is seriously menacing and sneaks around the shadows either peering from the corners or emerging within the blue smokey night like a wraith.

He sometimes boozes it up with the other locals but what he seems to be up to is ferreting around in the darkened dead of night streets. Keeping a jaundiced eye on the young girls in the bleak rundown town. Adapted from the 1963 novel by Ronald Hugh Morrieson, It’s an odd story of flowering youth, a dismal mix of sporadic humor, a town filled with additional deviant characters, and a psycho-sexual subplot about a homicidal sexual sadist whose prize is young girls.

In one uncomfortably creepy scene that Carradine commands with particularly spreading depravity, as he tries to hypnotize the lead heroine Prudence (Tracy Mann) using his imposing phallic knife chanting “Behold, my child, its length… see how its razor-sharp edge would sink into your lush virginal body… See the light, dancing child (he uses the knife to reflect the light to shimmer in her trance-filled eyes)See how they dance. Dream and dance my lovely. See how long it is… (he holds the knife to her breasts) See how far it reaches inside your lovely young body. Far inside… far… far… far!”

VIDEO WATCHDOG “The killer is played by none other than John Carradine and once this shock subsides it’s apparent that director Sam Pillsbury made a very shrewd casting choice With his gnarled arthritic hands, emaciated face, matted hair, and mildewed suit, Carradine lends a disturbingly perverse feel to an otherwise subdued film.”

JOHN CARRADINE: “Salter’s a good role. A nasty guy. I’m a degenerate scoundrel… I don’t care who I work for so long as they pay me. That’s the important thing. I work for a living. If I know a man’s dishonest, I don’t work for him.”

In 1981, Carradine tried to launch his stage play on Broadway – Frankenstein starring David Dukes, but the show never got off the ground, and he lost a fortune, having sunk all his money in funding the production. The show was a flop.

In 1982

In a sexploitation horror film, Demon Rage aka Devil’s Mistress, Lana Wood is visited upon by a lonely incubus. Carradine has a cameo towards the end as a priest Father Stratton who works with Britt Ekland’s psychic group. Stratton is very knowledgeable about possession and recognizes that Lana Wood is the bait.

An earnest Father Stratton– “He may be attempting to capture the soul of a spirit. Souls remain in limbo awaiting final judgment. They become extremely alone and often search our human beings who are also lonely. The spirit made a bargain with the devil. The forces of satan are strongest when you are weakest. The forces of evil cannot even begin toward the strength of God. So long as you believe this and do not waver in your belief even for a moment. Evil cannot harm you… but mind you. Evil ones will use their weapons of illusion they will try to trick you into betraying your belief in the power of God. Do not believe it. It is only an illusion. Please remember not to fall prey to their illusion. Do not waver in your belief even for a moment”

Carradine played a Mortician in the Fantasy Island episode ‘Daddy’s Little Girl/The Whistle.’

And he is the Voice of The Great Owl in the animated feature film, The Secret of NIMH. It was the last commercial picture he saw in the theaters and was very proud of his work, saying it was a beautiful film.

In 1983

Carradine co-starred as Lord Elijah Grisbane with horror titans Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing in Peter Walker’s House of Long Shadows 1983.

Carradine and Sheila Keith (in a part intended for Elsa Lanchester), initially pass themselves off as the caretakers, but it turns out that Carradine is the patriarch of the Grisbane clan and Keith is his daughter. Lord Grisbane usually sulks off to the side, frowning at the other cast members at times haranguing them with his steely two cents’ worth. Of the four titans, Carradine is the first to get it. It’s a ten little Indians plot. The chemistry between the four actors is magic. The actor considered this his last horror film.

“The last one I did was House of Long Shadows which had elements of horror and murder and ghosts and it turns out to be the whole things a spoof how it winds up and we all come out and take a curtain call in character you know which was a nice switch. But there were elements of horror in that too. That was the last horror picture I ever did.”

Sheila Keith appeared in Peter Walker’s grisly British video Nasty – Frightmare 1974 where she enjoyed dining on freshly drilled brains.

Also in 1983, (not to be confused with the 1974 version directed by Paul Aratow starring Hankin as Svengali) Carradine appeared in the muddled mess Doctor Dracula directed by the auteur of crapola Al Adamson. Carradine plays Hadley Radcliff the leader of a satanic cult and once again Hankin revives his Svengali.

One of Al Adamson’s best-known schlockers is Dracula vs Frankenstein made between 1969-1971 the date when it was finally released. More than the usual production value from Independent International features, Adamson borrowed some leftover Kenneth Strickfaden – designed lab equipment seen in Universal’s Frankenstein and he utilized another famous horror movie star J. Carroll Naish who plays Dr. Frankenstein.

Larry Hankin plays Magician / Hypnotist / Author Dr. John Wainwright who is possessed by the spirit of Svengali the infamous mesmerist, who is now one of the followers of Carradine’s devil-worshipping cult.

Dracula posing as a psychiatrist named Gregorio despises Carradine and his cult all while he feasts on the blood of his female victims.

Carradine and Hankin in Al Adamson’s Doctor Dracula.

This is Carradine’s last Independent International association with Adamson. He got top billing as head of an occult society – getting in a couple of good scenes as he zealously prescribes his occult beliefs for Don ‘Red’ Barry – the worried father of a girl possessed by the memory of her dead mother who was killed by Dracula. “Mother talked to me from the rivers of eternity.”

Photographer GARY GRAVER – “To many, Carradine was a very professional guy. At one point when we were doing Doctor Dracula, I think during rehearsal he was doing so much acting off-camera that I turned the camera off of Don “Red” Barry and turned it onto Carradine, ‘cause he was giving such great stuff just reacting and doing things. He was so grand. I think they kept it in the picture.”

1984 as Supreme Commander in The Ice Pirates. And a few more television appearances between 1984 and 1985. Also in 1984, he appeared in Evils of the Night he plays Dr. Kozmar, an alien along with Tina Louise and Julie Newmar who seek blood to survive. Above he wears a lame silver sequin spacesuit.


He appeared in the updated series The Twilight Zone as Prof. Alex Stottel in the segment ‘Still Life.’

And he had a cameo in Peggy Sue Got Married as Leo. In 1988 he won a Daytime Emmy Award for the cable TV movie Umbrella Jack, something he felt was a bone thrown at him for never winning anything during his long career –

“that’s the only award I was ever up for and the only one I got. I guess it’s because the industry thinks. ’That poor guy. We never did anything for him. We better do something before he kicks off.”

He was offered the role of Grandpa in The Lost Boys (1987) but had to pass due to illness and the role went to Barnard Hughes.

In the movie Revenge, he played Sen. Martin Bradford, then he played Mr, Andoheb in The Tomb 1986, and In Monster in the Closet 1987 he was cast as another blind man, Old Joe Shempter who gets eaten in his closet. In Evil Spawn he played Dr. Emil Zeitman in 1987.

His final official role in a horror film was Buried Alive 1989 – he played Jacob Julian, a madman in a wheelchair.

Carradine was inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 2003.

John Carradine was a beloved specter in Hollywood well into the ‘80s, leaving a memorable legacy and a talented family, sons David, Keith, and David, plus Keith’s marvelous daughter, actress Martha Plimpton.

There is a shroud of mystery surrounding Carradine’s death. Did he walk up 328 steps with crippling arthritis, to make it to the tower of the Gothic cathedral in Milan – where priests performed a baroque penance whipping themselves for their sins? “I’ll Walk Up” he proclaimed!

Horror Royalty: Christopher Lee, John Carradine, Peter Cushing, and Vincent Price.

John, Robert, Keith, and granddaughter – actress Martha Plimpton.

While in Milan before his death, it was reported he was visiting as a guest of honor at a festival of Western films where they were screening Stagecoach. Carradine had often traveled to Milan, three years before he attended a sci-fi film exhibition.

His sons flew to Milan where he was dying at 82 years old, in a paupers ward of the hospital. Mysterious health authorities would not disclose the cause of death.

According to oldest son David Carradine in his book “Hollywood and Whine”

“… we carted the coffin over to our house and opened it up. I looked down at him, and the undertaker had put a demonic, artificial grin on his face–like nothing I had ever seen him do in real life, except in a horror film. I reached out and, using the sculptural skills I had learned from him, I remodeled his face to be more naturally like him. Then I poured half a bottle of J&B scotch, his favorite, down his throat, and we had a wake”.


“I am a ham! And the ham in an actor is what makes him interesting. Lionel Barrymore then had hands like mine are now–arthritic talons. Never do anything you wouldn’t want to be caught dead doing.”

Had the word “HAM” on the license plates on his Mercedes-Benz when he lived in Santa Barbara, CA.

On his famed eccentricities, “I wasn’t eccentric in those days. I was just trying to learn my draft and improve what I had.” In his personal description “cadaverous I”m a very thin man Cadaverous means looking like a cadaver and at least I do look alive. I look like I might live another five minutes.-
On his own success? I’ve missed out on everything I wanted to be the pre-eminent Shakespearean actor of my day and I wasn’t It took me years to get to Broadway, then I never played Shakespeare there. I never. Made a lot of money made $5000 a week in films. But, looks, I still make that much or damn near, on-stage. so…” – John Carradine

“I’ve made some of the greatest films ever made–and a lot of crap, too.
[his last words before passing away in Milan, Italy] Milan. What a beautiful place to die.”

“As for making movies, who can act at eight o’clock in the morning? Let’s face it! Directors never direct me. They just turn me loose.”


Carradine was married four times and had five children, including actors David, Robert, and Keith Carradine and grandfather of Martha Plimpton. He continued to act until his death on November 27, 1988, in Milan, Italy at the age of 82

Despite his success, Carradine struggled with personal issues, including alcoholism, and went through periods of financial difficulty. Despite these challenges, he continued to act until the end of his life and is remembered as a talented performer who left a lasting impact on American cinema.

Carradine was posthumously inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in 1991, further solidifying his legacy as one of his generation’s most versatile and accomplished actors.

In addition to his acting career, Carradine was also a talented musician and artist. He played several musical instruments and was known to sing and play the guitar on set and in his personal life. He also had a passion for painting and was known to paint portraits of fellow actors and friends. Carradine’s artistic talents, combined with his acting skills, made him a unique and well-rounded individual.

Carradine was also a man of deep convictions and strong beliefs. He was known to be politically active and was a strong advocate for progressive causes such as civil rights and anti-war activism. He was also a dedicated supporter of the arts and was a strong believer in the power of the creative spirit to bring people together and inspire change.

Despite his success and longevity in the industry, Carradine remained humble and grounded throughout his life. He was known to be kind and gracious to those he worked with, and was respected by his peers for his talent and his approach to his craft. He will always be remembered as a dedicated artist who inspired and entertained audiences for over six decades.

“Yet it was a pathetic indictment against the movie industry that this ‘classic man’ who could recite entire Shakespearean plays by heart, who was a living link with some of the greatest films in Hollywood’s history survived primarily as a marquee name in truly horrid, abominably produced splatter films” – (Gregory W. Mank)

*The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – Major Cassius Starbuckle 1962

*The Female Jungle 1956 – Claude Almstead

*The Hostage 1967 – Otis Lovelace

*The Seven Minutes – Sean O’Flanagan 1971

*Boxcar Bertha -H Buckram Sartoris 1972

*Superchick – Igor Smith 1973

*The Shootist – Beckum- 1976


*Billy the Kid Versus Dracula – Dracula posing as James Underhill 1966

*Munster, Go Home! – Cruikshank the Butler 1966

*The Astro-Zombies – Dr. DeMarco 1968

*Blood of Dracula’s Castle -George the Butler 1969

*Daughter of the Mind – Mr. Bosch 1969 TV movie

*Bigfoot – Jasper B Hawks 1970

*House of the Black Death – Andre Desard 1965/1971

*Moonchild – Mr. Walker 1972

*Silent Night, Bloody Night – Charlie Towman 1972

*The Night Strangler – Llewellyn Crossbinder TV movie 1973

*Terror in the Wax Museum -Claude Dupree 1973

*The House of Seven Corpses – Edgar Price 1974

*The Killer Inside Me – Dr. Jason Smith 1976

*The Sentinel – Father Halliran 1977

*Satan’s Cheerleaders – The Bum 1977

*Shock Waves -Captain Ben Morris 1977

*Vampire Hookers -Richmond Reed 1978

*Nocturna – Count Dracula 1979

*The Howling – Erle Kenton 1981

*The Nesting – Col. LeBrun 1981

*The Scarecrow 1982 – Hubert Salter

*House of Long Shadows – Lord Elijah Grisbane 1983

This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ let’s all ham it up in honor of the great John Carradine!

10 thoughts on “John Carradine “I am a ham!” Part 2

    1. Thanks so much! I had such a wonderful time diving into his life on and off-screen! He’s truly a fascinating character. And a highly underrated actor because of the way his excursion into the horror genre eclipsed his wonderful contribution to serious Oscar-worthy performances in film and his life in theater. Cheers, Joey

  1. Wow, what an in-depth post on this actor! I think John Carradine was one of the best Dracula portrayers in film, certainly his Universal Draculas (in House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula), which he modeled on Bram Stoker’s original. What I remember Carradine for is not just his wonderful voice but for his amazing, intense eyes, which burn through the screen. Whatever else, he was a multi-talented man, who lived an amazing, colorful life.

    1. Thanks so much! I agree, his portrayal of Dracula is wonderful partly because of his penetrating eyes and cello-like voice. He is truly a memorable character on and off screen and it was so much fun to dive into his life’s work! Cheers, Joey

  2. It always irks me when, on the internet, I come across one of the pictures from the photoshoot of Carradine, Price, Lee, and Cushing in which Carradine has been edited out. As if, he somehow didn’t count. He defiintely deserves better than that, so I’m happy to see him recognized for his many contributions.

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