A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! Halloween from A-Z

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Beast with Five Fingers 1946

Read my Andrea King tribute here:

Beast with Five Fingers directed by Robert Florey and written by Curt Siodmak stars Andrea King as the heroine nurse Julie Holden, Peter Lorre as Hillary Cummins a creepy astrologist and personal assistant to the eccentric pianist Francis Ingram (Victor Francen), and Robert Alda. The film is a classic supernatural horror centered around a disembodied hand (which is locked in a safe). The original tale was written by W. F. Harvey, and published in 1919.

The story is set in a turn-of-the-century secluded Renaissance mansion in a remote Italian village and revolves around the eerie events that unfold after the death of its tyrannical owner, a wheelchair-bound recluse Ingram. Following a visit from a scam artist (Robert Alda), Ingram crashes down the stairs to his death — and a plague of bizarre events ensues that are attributed to the musician’s disembodied left hand. Lorre is superb as usual as he experiences a feverish delirium – persecuted by the five-fingered nightmare.

Ingram a brilliant but reclusive scholar and collector of ancient manuscripts has amassed a remarkable collection, but his greatest fascination lies in the world of the occult and at the heart of the mystery lies the severed hand that possesses a malevolent intelligence of its own.

Brain From Planet Arous 1957

It Will Steal Your Body And Damn Your Soul!

The Brain from Planet Arous is a cult science fiction film directed by Nathan Juran and released in 1957. The movie’s premise revolves around an evil brain from the planet Arous that takes control of a human scientist’s body (John Agar), leading to a battle of wills for control over the Earth.

When a brilliant scientist named Steve March (played by John Agar) stumbles upon a strange, glowing rock in the desert cave, he inadvertently becomes the host for Gor, an evil extraterrestrial brain from the planet Arous. Gor’s intelligence far surpasses that of humans, and he uses his newfound control over Steve’s body to embark on a nefarious plan to dominate Earth. He demonstrates his powers to destroy any target using his mind and his black-eyed radar stare. As Gor’s sinister actions escalate, Steve’s girlfriend, Sally (played by Joyce Meadows) and her father played by Thomas Brown Henry become increasingly suspicious of his erratic behavior. With the help of a benevolent brain from Arous named Vol, who inhabits the body of Steve’s dog, they discover the truth about the alien invasion.

A high-stakes battle of wills ensues as Vol and his human allies attempt to thwart Gor’s diabolical schemes and save Earth from his malevolent control. The fate of the planet hangs in the balance as they race against time to stop the brain from Planet Arous.

The Brain from Planet Arous is a campy and entertaining example of 1950s B-science fiction cinema, known for its over-the-top performances and quirky premise.

Blood of Dracula 1957

Blood of Dracula is a 1957 horror film directed by Herbert L. Strock. It’s a part of the sub-genre of the 1950s horror genre that focuses on teenagers, the supernatural, and the rampant sexuality of burgeoning youth.

Nancy Perkins (played by Sandra Harrison) is a troubled teenager who is sent to the Sherwood School for Girls due to her rebellious behavior and her mother’s new romance which motivates the couple to abandon Nancy. At the school, she becomes the unwitting victim of an experiment conducted by the school’s science teacher, Miss Branding played by Louise Lewis), who secretly wants to release Nancy’s primal force by using an ancient amulet to regress her unleashing her primal nature.

Branding uses Nancy as a test subject for her bizarre and sinister experiments, injecting her with a serum derived from Dracula’s blood. As a result, Nancy undergoes a dark transformation, developing a newfound taste for blood and exhibiting vampire-like tendencies.

As her behavior becomes increasingly erratic and dangerous, the film follows Nancy’s descent into darkness and her attempts to resist the vampiric urges that now consume her.

Blood of Dracula is a classic example of 1950s teen horror cinema, blending elements of the vampire myth with the era’s fascination with juvenile delinquency and science fiction. The film co-stars Gail Ganley as Myra, Heather Ames as Nola, Thomas Brown Henry as Mr. Paul Perkins, Mary Adams as Mrs. Thorndyke, and Malcolm Atterbury as Lt. Dunlop.

The Black Torment 1964

The Black Torment is a British Gothic horror film released in 1964.

Set in the rural English countryside during the 18th century, The Black Torment follows the ominous events that unfold at the mansion of Sir Richard Fordyke (played by John Turner). Sir Richard has recently returned home after marrying the beautiful Elizabeth (played by Heather Sears) from a nearby village.

Shortly after their arrival, strange and unsettling occurrences plague the Fordyke household. Local villagers claim to have seen Sir Richard committing acts of violence and cruelty, including the brutal murder of a young woman. However, Sir Richard vehemently denies these allegations, asserting that he is the victim of a sinister conspiracy.

As tensions rise, the truth behind the accusations remains elusive. Sir Richard’s loyal servants and his new wife, Elizabeth, are torn between their loyalty to him and the mounting evidence of his alleged crimes. Elizabeth becomes determined to uncover the dark secrets hidden within the mansion.

As the suspense builds, the film explores themes of paranoia, betrayal, and the supernatural. It delves into the mysterious history of the Fordyke family and their connections to the vengeful spirits of the past. Elizabeth’s quest for the truth takes her on a harrowing journey through the mansion’s shadowy corridors, where she confronts the malevolent forces that threaten to tear her world apart.

Blood Bath 1966

Directed and written by Jack Hill and Stephanie Rothman, Blood Bath (1966)is a unique and atmospheric horror film that takes viewers on a surreal journey into the twisted mind of an artist turned murderer. Set against the backdrop of 1960s Southern California, the film follows the enigmatic and disturbed character of Antonio Sordi, portrayed by the charismatic William Campbell. Sordi is a deranged artist whose obsession with his belief that he is the reincarnation of a vampire, and this macabre fixation drives him to commit a series of gruesome murders. He uses his victims as subjects for his paintings, turning their violent deaths into grotesque works of art. As the bodies pile up, the police are baffled by the bizarre and seemingly unrelated murders, while the art world begins to take notice of his disturbing creations.

Blood Bath is a visually striking cult classic that blurs the lines between reality and nightmare. With its psychedelic visuals, eerie soundtrack, and a mesmerizing performance by William Campbell, the movie creates a dreamlike, nightmarish atmosphere. The film co-stars Marissa Mathes as Daisy Allen, Lori Saunders as Dorean, Sandra Knight as Donna Allen, and Hill regular Sid Haig as Abul the Arab.

Blood on Satan’s Claw 1971

I’ll be doing a Saturday Nite Sublime to further explore this atmospheric nightmare, for now, enjoy the trailer/teaser.

Blood on Satan’s Claw is a 1971 British horror film set in the 17th century. The story unfolds in a rural English village, where the peaceful community’s harmony is shattered when a young farmer uncovers a mysterious, demonic skull while plowing his field. This gruesome discovery triggers a series of disturbing events as the villagers, particularly the children, become increasingly possessed by an evil force.

As the malevolent influence spreads, the villagers’ behavior takes a dark turn, marked by witchcraft, sadistic rituals, and a descent into madness. A local judge, played by Patrick Wymark, attempts to unravel the sinister mystery and confront the evil that has taken hold of the community.

Blood on Satan’s Claw is a chilling tale of folklore, superstition, and the battle between good and evil, as the villagers must confront the demonic presence threatening to consume their souls. It’s a classic example of British folk horror, known for its atmospheric tension and disturbing imagery. The film is co-stars Linda Hayden as the enigmatic Angel Blake and directed by Piers Haggard credited as assistant director on Blow-Up 1966.

The Bat People 1974

The Bat People (1974) is a chilling and atmospheric horror film that combines elements of science fiction and creature-feature genres. The movie follows the terrifying transformation of a man into a vampire bat-human hybrid and the nightmarish consequences that follow. The bat-man makeup was designed by the great Stan Winston.

Dr. John Beck (played by Stewart Moss) and his wife, Cathy (real-life wife Marianne McAndrew), decide to spend their honeymoon exploring remote caves in rural Texas. Unbeknownst to them, these caves are inhabited by a colony of bats carrying a strange virus. When Dr. Beck is bitten by one of the infected bats, he soon begins to undergo a horrifying transformation into a monstrous creature.

As John’s condition deteriorates, he becomes a nocturnal predator with a thirst for blood. Fearing for his wife’s safety, he isolates himself in a hidden chamber deep within the caves. Meanwhile, Cathy is desperate to find her missing husband and uncovers the shocking truth about the deadly virus and its origins.

This obscure horror film directed by Jerry Jameson from the 1970s is a suspenseful and eerie tale of a man’s descent into madness and monstrousness. With its atmospheric cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti (a slew of made-for-TV movies – Poltergeist 1982 and the remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004), creepy cave settings, and practical creature effects, the film delivers a sense of dread and tension. As the Beck’s marriage is put to the test and the townsfolk become suspicious of the mysterious disappearances, “The Bat People” explores themes of isolation, transformation, and the primal fear of the unknown.

“The Bat People” (1974) is a cult classic that offers a unique twist on the vampire genre, blending science fiction and horror that also co-stars horror genre regular Michael Pataki.

Beyond the Door 1974

Beyond the Door is a 1974 supernatural horror film starring Juliet Mills in a role that pays its dues to Linda Blair, featuring episodes of bile-spewing disgust. In one scene underscored by a chilling heightened low-pitched soundtrack by Franco Micalizzi that radiates a disturbing aura of infernal euphoria, Mills floats up to the ceiling in her spectral white nightgown reminiscent of The Exorcist 1973.

Juliet Mills portrays a devoted wife and mother of 2 children, Jessica Barrett, a young pregnant woman living in San Francisco with her husband, Robert (played by Italian stage actor Gabriele Lavia with dubbing), and their two children. Their seemingly ordinary life takes a terrifying turn when Jessica begins to experience bizarre and increasingly disturbing supernatural phenomena.

Jessica’s peaceful life is shattered when her ex-lover, Dimitri (portrayed by Richard Johnson), meets a tragic demise in a car accident. Yet, as Dimitri’s car races toward the precipice of a cliff, an ominous pact is forged between him and a malevolent spirit, granting him an extra decade of existence on earth in return for aiding the devil in a wicked scheme: impregnating a virtuous woman with his evil offspring. Jessica finds herself mysteriously pregnant with an unplanned third child, while Dimitri lurks about. As Jessica’s pregnancy progresses, her behavior becomes erratic, and she appears to be possessed by a malevolent force. Her family is thrown into a nightmarish ordeal as they witness her undergo terrifying transformations, including levitating and speaking in strange tongues.

Co-directed by grindhouse virtuoso Ovidio G. Assonitis the 1974 horror film has acquired a distinct allure over the years. Unforgettable is the film’s remarkable beginning, as Satan himself delivers a captivating introduction. The narrative unfolds with dramatic head-swiveling and disturbing manifestations of demonic possession, It’s an unconventional start to a bizarre take on the ’70s possession flick.

It’s known for its eerie atmosphere, shocking special effects, at times delving into absurd abstractions and idiosyncrasies. The lovely Juliet Mills gives a compelling performance as a woman caught in the grip of a malevolent entity. It remains a classic of 1970s horror cinema, offering a unique and memorable take on the possession subgenre that delivers some unsettling moments. The film also delves into unsettling 1970s sensibilities, including eerie and ambiguous elements such as a possessed Jessica in a scene with her young son that evokes the oddly fixated kiss between Deborah Kerr and Martin Stephens in Jack Clayton’s The Innocents 1961.

Bad Dreams 1988

Bad Dreams is a 1988 horror film directed by Andrew Fleming. The movie revolves around a young woman named Cynthia (played by Jennifer Rubin) who, as a child, survived a mass suicide at a cult led by a charismatic and sinister leader named Harris (played by Richard Lynch). Cynthia wakes up from a 13-year coma to find herself in a psychiatric hospital, haunted by disturbing nightmares of the cult’s traumatic events.

As Cynthia struggles to piece together her past and deal with her traumatic memories, she becomes increasingly convinced that Harris’ malevolent spirit is still pursuing her and the other surviving cult members. The film explores themes of psychological horror and the blurred lines between reality and the supernatural as Cynthia and the other patients in the hospital are plagued by terrifying visions and gruesome deaths.

Richard Lynch (read my piece The Premonition here:) is a prolific actor known for his distinctive appearance, psychological intensity, and commanding presence, often portraying intense villains and the primary antagonists throughout his career in movies and television shows. His acting style was characterized by a brooding intensity and a knack for playing menacing, enigmatic, and morally ambiguous roles conveying torment, obsession, and madness convincingly.

His tall stature, chiseled features, and deep, gravelly voice made him an ideal choice for roles such as sadistic criminals, menacing cult leaders, and power-hungry villains. He had a unique ability to convey a sense of malevolence through his physical presence and facial expressions. Lynch was also adept at portraying characters with layers and complexity, often driven by personal demons. He made a significant mark in the thriller, horror, science fiction, and fantasy genres.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ B’EWARE the letter C is up next!

A Trailer a Day Keeps the Boogeyman Away! The Premonition 1976 – Bright Mother, Nightmare Mother

I saw this obscure chiller during its theatrical release and remember being very effected by its moody, dissonant, and menacing tone. Like many of the horror films that exist in the ether of the 1970s, (Let’s Scare Jessica To Death 1971, The Brotherhood of Satan 1971, Don’t Look Now 1973, Silent Night, Bloody Night 1972, Lemora, A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural  1973, The Witch Who Came From the Sea 1976, Squirm 1976, The Sentinel 1977, Tourist Trap 1979) this is among those films that left an impression on me.

A supernatural-psychological horror film by director Robert Allen Schnitzer, with cinematography by Victor Milt leads us in a dream state that is not only atmospheric and Kafkaesque it conjures up lucid nightmares for the bright mother, Sheri, and for us.

Raven-haired psychotic Andrea Fletcher (Ellen Barber) has been declared an unfit mother, and unfortunately is released from the mental institution too soon. She immediately goes in search of her little girl Janie (Danielle Brisebois in her first role) who has been adopted by Sheri and Miles Bennett (Sharon Farrell and Edward Michael Bell).

Andrea seeks help from her companion Jude, a former patient at the same hospital, a woeful carnival clown who goes looking for Janie, finding her with her adoptive mother Sheri.

The two wounded souls, Andrea and Jude, restless in their desire to reunite Janie with her birth mother, leads to Janie’s kidnapping. When Andrea snaps, Jude kills her in a fit of rage. Devastated by the loss of her daughter, Sheri has a breakdown and becomes haunted by psychic images of her daughter and Andrea’s tortured spirit. Andrea’s insanity reverberates beyond her death and outward like an echo that is picked up by Sheri, whose disturbing visions reveal that she is clairvoyant.

Sheri’s husband Miles, an astrophysicist brings in a colleague, Jeena Kingsly a professor of parapsychology, who studies the realms of human consciousness. Kingsly attempts to help Sheri connect to Janie telepathically. The two mothers begin a psychic tug-of-war over the possession of Janie.

Ellen Barber gives a paralyzing performance as the deranged Andrea, volatile and unhinged, she is a dark wraith in her red satin dress and black velvet cameo choker.

The character of Jude is perhaps the most layered. Richard Lynch (The Seven-Ups 1973, God Told Me Too 1976, Vampire 1979 TV movie, The Ninth Configuration 1980, The Formula 1980, Invasion U.S.A 1985, Bad Dreams 1988, Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2007) – is an interesting actor, ever present in so many roles, with his interesting angular face, scarred and weathered and blond hair that hangs like a darker archangel, he is oddly sinister-sexy. A hard-working acting in film and television, he is striking often cast in horror and action films, playing odd characters with his unique persona. Schnitzer apparently hired him for his “widely divergent moods” Lynch influenced by legendary mime Marcel Marceau, brought an element of his gestures to the role of Jude.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey saying I had a premonition that you’ll be back to The Last Drive In, very soon! Happy month of October!

Sunday Nite Surreal-The Premonition (1976) Carnival Clowns & Deathly Dreams

THE PREMONITION 1976

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Directed by Robert Allen Schnitzer and written by Anthony Mahon, Schnitzer, and Louis Pastore? Okay… While I’ve never seen anything else by Schnitzer, this moody, surreal, haunting, and often frenetically disturbing reverie has remained with me all these years. Some people think it’s a weak film, not even a horror movie. I’m not saying it’s a masterpiece, but I think it’s a genre gem!

What’s really strange about this hidden terror film is cinematographer/director Victor Milt ( Run Stinky Run, Sex Wish) has done some weird really obscure stuff after working on The Premonition and director-writer Schnitzer hasn’t done anything I can talk about here either. So how did this remarkably creepy film become what it is??? I wish I knew the answer, but there have been memorable films created by one-time feature film directors like Herk Harvey who usually did shorts or documentaries that envision the gorgeous dreamlike Carnival of Souls 1962. At least writer-actor Richard Blackburn did Eating Raoul in 1982 after his unbelievable Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural 1973. (Coming to the Last Drive In soon!)

Great character actor Jeff Corey plays the investigating Police Det. Lt. Mark Denver. There’s even a gypsy woman, played by Wilmuth Cooper. 

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Jeff Corey plays the investigating Police Det. Lt. Mark Denver.

I saw The Premonition when it first arrived in theaters in 1976. It frightened the bejesus out of me then, with its nightmarish segments in particular Jude’s (Richard Lynch) and Andrea’s (Ellen Barber) uncontrollable fits of rage. Their joint psychosis was a very powerful elixir as part of the carnival set piece. Their relationship alone could have made for an interesting story of madness, obsession, and self-destruction.

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This film was my introduction to the interesting actor that is, Richard Lynch. The film has stayed with me. I’ve read other people’s reviews who think the script is ridiculous, muddled and the pacing is choppy. Still, it has a haunting quality to it, especially Lynch and Ellen Barber’s performances. The music by Henry Mollicone is fantastical for the vibe of the film and fascinates me, now I have to see his musical performance in the fascinating documentary The Face on the Barroom Floor 2013.

The lens has a ghostly haze over it. with a low drab subdued tonality. The music brings you in like a soft wailing of an otherworldly siren. An eerie Glossolalia, the fluid vocalizing of the tormented Andrea. Reminding me of the amazing Lisa Gerrard from Dead Can Dance.

The institutional green bus pulls over and Andrea grips herself looking toward something. The clear pale blue sky hovering over Andrea feels chilly. She is beautiful yet strange, walking slowly toward the carnival grounds. A flutter of birds let out into the air, the vocalizing continues and Ferris Wheel comes into focus with another stomach-turning carnival ride. These daydreaming machines add color to the midway landscape. It is desolate here.

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It somewhat creates a colorful version of Carnival of Souls the haunting set pieces of desolation, and otherness that play on our deepest thoughts. The impressions effervesce in fairgrounds and we construct fantasies.

Dulcimer and glistening piano bring forth Jude, a cigarette hanging out of his oddly angular face and lion-like blonde mane, he’s almost sexy ugly. The film is still lensed in cold aqua greens and pale blue. He steps out of his trailer, we see he’s wearing white ballet slippers like a mime. The piano rolls magnificently. Henry Mollicone is a virtuoso. With electronic music by Pril Smiley.

Jude steps out onto the pavement, wearing suspenders he begins a series of theatrical movements. Moving dramatically with his scarf.

Jude expresses with his body more fervently as if he hears the grand piano playing. He reaches up to the blue sky so vivid so crystalline blue. As Jude, it is a lonely dance for a sad solitary clown. As he bends downward he sees Andrea standing there. It is a portent, life is about to be turned truly upside down.

The story is a simple and unreserved one, gripping and nightmarish for all the players and us who witness a small girl being hunted psychically by her dangerously unstable biological mother who is traveling with a carnival.

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The scene cuts to them sitting in his trailer she’s looking at photographs through a spyglass. He says “Look at those eyes, Andrea, and the mouth… see that. I saw her yesterday when I took the photograph. This time I’m positive I know it’s her” “You sure her name is Janie” “Yeah I’m sure, here look” He flips the photo over and the name and age are on the back.
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“Janie Bennett the age is right… it all figures… it’s gotta be her” Andrea asks, “Where does she live?” Jude tells her, ” Dover is about 5 miles from here.”

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Jude begins to put on his heavy white grease paint. Andrea goes to the board and touches the photo of Janie…
She turns to him… ” I thought you’d forgotten about me Jude” ” I told you I’d call you as soon as I found something didn’t I?” “Jude what if it’s not her, what if it’s like all the other times… what if we come out with nothing what then?” Then we wait and we keep on waiting until we find her”

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When Andrea shows up at Janie’s school, the music becomes a flutter of wings with flute as the children run free from their inside captivity. Andrea fingers the metal holes in the fence moving slowly, waiting for her little girl to appear. Finally, Janie is standing before her she calls to her, then Janie runs to her adoptive mother Sherrie who is waiting in the car.

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Back in Jude’s trailer-Jude says, “We were lucky it couldn’t of taken years to find her” “It did take years… five stinkin’ years in that rotten pit” Jude answers, “Oh it wasn’t all that bad, I mean we wouldn’t have met otherwise.” 

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Andrea’s horrible beer-drinking tv junkie landlady in Curlers.

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The use of ‘red’ in this movie is distinct. It is the characteristic color that symbolizes Andrea’s passion, madness, and self-destruction. Red is Andrea’s COLOR… down to her lipstick.

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The window impresses me as a Mark Rothko painting. The color red is very impressionistic and so vital to the film’s narrative.

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Jude tells Andrea that he has found a house. A small house in the woods, a nice place to settle down with the kid.

Andrea glows and a weird smile emerges at first “Settling down!” Then clenching her teeth as she drags the comb through wet raven tresses. “What are you talking about settling down for… what are you talking about. Sometimes I just don’t understand you Jude. Settling down for what…?this comes first! “

But Jude explains that they can hide out in that house til things blow over. She walks away towel drying her hair.

He remains on the topic “Nobody’s lived there for years. they’ll never find us”

Jude lays on the bed smoking a cigarette while Andrea in a red bathrobe, plays a beautiful piece of music on the piano.

The scene switches to Miles talking to Dr Kingsly his associate about parapsychology as she instructs a small class.

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“The Clairvoyant reality is totally rejected by science and finds expression only in our art, music religion.”

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At the same time, the film is juxtaposing images of Andrea having a primordial psychic meltdown. Not even a maternal scream, just a core anaphylactic roar from deep within.

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Sherrie begins to see visions of a volatile confrontation between Jude and Andrea. On the spectral plane, it comes across in distorted yowls and negative film images. It’s quite a frightening effect. I remember being terrified by these scenes in the darkness of the theater. Like little shock treatments to a burgeoning MonsterGirl mind…

For people who think there isn’t enough explanation to the narrative Sherrie’s friend hints at the idea when spending the night telling Sherrie that she had heard of two minors who had been trapped for several days, they began sharing the same hallucinations. In this way, her question about Sherry’s disturbing visions somehow being linked to Janie’s bad dreams is true.

A psychic storm is brewing from the rage and unrequited desires of both Jude and Andrea. Janie and Sherrie naturally begin to form a single wavelength that tunes into this frequency. At least this is the premise of the film. The one link is Janie the child… and who will be the conquering mother?

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While Miles is not working late with the attractive Professor Kingsly, he’s eating cotton candy and riding the merry-go-round with her.. hhm… at the carnival-definitely research related… as she suddenly looks down at Mile’s wedding band her happy expression fades away.

Meanwhile, Andrea and Jude pull up in that fabulous green pickup. The crickets and chorus frogs are singing their night song. Jude shuts the motor off. In her red dress, nails, and oz slippers like the Witch of the West Andrea creeps or slithers into the house to take Janie.

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the frame appears to give an almost fun house effect with the striped wallpaper that disorients us.
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Andrea’s presence on the stairs casts a dark menacing shadow along the wall, reminiscent of Nosferatu.

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The use of electronic sounds is excellent.

Andrea’s casting darkness, shadowing the wall is reminiscent of Nosferatu. Andrea is almost as icy as a dead thing herself… wanting to lure the child back, it looks and feels vampiric. Yet this is Janie’s biological mother, which creates some ambivalence for me as she deserves to have at least guided contact with her daughter, otherwise, why let her out of the mental hospital?

It creates the effect of psychic static the use of sound used whenever the camera focuses on Andrea’s movements.

And the framing of Andrea looking back into the den while Sherri sleeps utilizes the striped walls as they also become as distorted as a fun house room. Very disorienting.

The last remnant of shadow left from Andrea creeping up the steps is eerie as Sherri sleeps as if under a spell. Once again… a notion of Nosferatu. Andrea even has a dark complexion that could even be considered Eastern European gypsy, like Bela Lugosi.

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The use of electronic static, noise represents Andrea’s state of mind at the moment. The use of low lighting and color is well-placed and creates a surreal atmosphere of worlds colliding.

The electronic noises that represent Andrea’s madness and presence are like a metallic insect. As if she hisses and slithers into Janie’s room. Everything is backlit. Andrea’s color is hot reds, and Janie’s is a cool blue.

Sherrie wakes up to the sound of the rocking chair in Janie’s room.

Nobody can tell me that this film isn’t an eerie, haunting little story, that stays with you… If it doesn’t deliver on the kinds of gruesome gory chills you’d expect from a 70s horror story then you’re watching the wrong film. But this film is highly underrated and often shot down by critics who feel it falls short. Oh well… The rest of us who know its strength will continue to advocate for it…Back to the film….-MonsterGirl

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Andrea runs down the stairs taking one of Janie’s dolls after fighting with Sherrie who is clinging to Janie on the bed. Andrea screams up to Sherrie… “She is Mine… she will always be mine-!!!!!!” Her voice is strained, powerful, almost magnetic.

Back at Jude’s little house in the woods, Andrea is holding Janie’s doll as if it were her.

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“You are such a pretty baby,” Andrea says to the doll. Jude staring out the bleak window of the little house looks on with a worried stare. He rips the head off the doll as it squeaks Andrea screams and cries. Jude has become more unhinged himself. It has been brewing in him since the beginning. But it is not working out the way he had envisioned. He can’t control Andrea, and she obviously doesn’t care for him the same way. Two mentally ill people fighting over their own neurosis.

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“What’d you do to my baby?”
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“Your baby, your baby is back in the goddam house with its mother.”

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“What’s it to you? You’re not her father!! You are nobody’s father. And you’re never gonna be anyone’s father… You aren’t even a goddam MAN!!!!

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Andrea destroys Jude’s manhood as if she took a knife and thrust it in.

Jude loses it… we hear screams.

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At the same time…Sherrie gets cold in the bathroom, and the mirror freezes over. She cannot see herself. It’s a supernatural event that begins to connect the events surrounding the players involved.

Jeff Corey the investigating cop shows up at Janie’s biological father’s house to ask some questions about Andrea.

I’ve noticed the narrative uses a lot of frames where people are either looking out windows or doors or standing in the doorframe looking in. It’s that tout to parapsychologies’ introspective plane of existence…the within powers that surround all of us on a personal level. The character look inward, we’re watching them look inward and we wind up looking inward with them…

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Danielle Brisebois makes her debut playing Janie Bennett the wee one who is being visited by her psychic/psychotic mother through horrifying visions like a vampiric wraith filtering through the ether reaching outward to contact her little girl who was given away to foster parents while she was in the mental ward. But Janie is terrified and wants to remain with her foster parents Prof. Miles and Sherri Bennett played by Sharon Farrell  (Larry Cohen’s It’s Alive 1974) and Edward Bell. Farrell is always good at playing adorable cheap, neurotic, and a little over the edge. Brisebois was still really cute at this stage before she became Archie Bunker’s annoying niece until she grew up into a sexy rock singer.

I have to admit that seeing this film in the theater when I was an impressionable teenager really freaked me out a bit. The images were quite startling, and in retrospect, anything Carnival-related is wonderfully creepy and wonderfully eerie, as it attains its own self-contained world. The vision of the crazy Andrea Fletcher is quite stunning as well, so as far as the pacing being muddled or uninteresting, I suppose those people who hated this film were looking for more 70s bloody, axes, psycho-sexual mind games, animals attacking or devil children. This story is a bit of a childlike nightmare amidst, Folie à deux insanity, loss, possession, motherhood, and longing. The narrative slips between a mordant sense of all these themes, as it expands beyond the literal world and works on our unconscious participation in moral ideals of motherhood, rights, and the boundaries that separate us all by a psychic thread.

Andrea (Ellen Barber  who plays Mickey Roarke’s secretary in Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) comes to Janie’s school to try and grab her, but Janie’s new mommy Sherri has a premonition and manages to arrive just in time to save Janie. Andrea lives with her wildly menacing boyfriend, a clown named Jude. Yikes, as if Lynch wasn’t frightening on a good day, wearing white face paint and painted on tears… it still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

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Andrea is obsessed with getting Janie back, and Jude will do anything for his nutty girlfriend. The pair manage to kidnap Janie leaving the Bennetts in a panic who then seek out the help of a parapsychologist Dr. Jeena Kingsly (Chitra Neogy) a colleague of Miles. They hope that she can decipher Sherrie’s terrifying visions, as she also has a psychic link to Janie she must try and track her down before the unstable Andrea loses it completely and harms her daughter.

The story makes it hard for us to sympathize with Andrea as a protagonist longing to be reunited with her daughter because she herself is such a threatening figure. She’s been recently released from an institution and is still emotionally volatile. She met Jude while she was hospitalized. Jude keeps a watchful eye out for Janie, working for the carnival he’s in the position to see a lot of children pass through. One day he spots Andrea’s daughter with Sherri.

He tells Andrea that he’s seen Janie which is the catalyst for a wave of psychic visions that beset Sherri. Dr. Kingsly tries to guide Sherri to use her powers of ESP to find Janie and connect with her to track her down and bring her back.

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Jeff Corey is on the scene talking to the landlady and helping to locate the kidnapped Janie.

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Filmed in Mississippi the look has a haunting rustic and starkly Gothic feel to it. There’s an untouchable sense of a dreamy, trance-like aura that surrounds the frames. It disconnects us from all things being easily explained, but dreams are like that and the atmosphere of the eerie and urgent narrative compensates for the lack of cohesive and sensible plot design.

In the 70s not all things were explained coherently. Sometimes the figures floated upon landscapes that were nightmarish and made no sense. As in Let’s Scare Jessica to Death 1971, and yet it was this ambiguity that created the mystique, the mystery, and the mood.

What makes a story a thing that is haunting are visions not clearly defined, nor affirmations said aloud. The outstanding theme that jolts you into a sense of agony is the pull between two mothers, one who is emotionally destructive yearning for her child, and the other, desperately trying to protect the child she believes is hers now.

Caught in between is Janie who can only feel the thrust of possession surrounding her, the vivid nightmares and fears of innocence and unknown. Also tangled in the web of possession is Jude who is merely being used as a means to procure Janie for Andrea. His frustration turns outward like the rage of a tornado. Lynch’s face reveals his turbulence well. Andrea taunts him until he is so wounded that he keeps the child even when he doesn’t have to. If I say more I will give away part of the story…

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There are some truly shocking moments-The painting crying blood when Dr. Kingsly tells Sherri just to let it flow when trying to teach her to hone in on her psychic insights. -Andrea wearing a ruby red evening gown soaked in blood appears in Janie’s bedroom with a rocking chair (turtle lovers look away) it is extremely eerie and somber. Her hands seem like talons, once again The Monstrous Feminine arrives on cue.

There are a few visions or apparitions of Andrea drenched in blood and the recurring forming of ice on those iconographic mirrors. Mirrors, the pathway to see ourselves is clouded by ice in order to obscure Sherri’s view into the psychic world.

The climax is a mesmerizing sequence, one that will either have you laughing and dismissing this film completely as others have done, or it will stay with you as it has with me, a beautiful little nightmare.

This is your EverLovin’ Joey sayin’ I have a premonition you’ll be back to The Last Drive In!