I Married a Witch 1942
I Married a Witch is a 1942 romantic comedy fantasy directed by René Clair. The movie combines elements of witchcraft and romance in a lighthearted and whimsical tale.
The story revolves around a 17th-century witch named Jennifer, played by Veronica Lake, and her father Daniel (Cecil Kellaway), who are burned at the stake by the Puritans. Before their execution, they curse the descendants of the man responsible for their demise, the Wooley family.
In a quest for vengeance, Jennifer cast a malevolent curse upon all future generations of the Wooley family, ensuring that each of their sons would be destined to marry the wrong woman, leading to a lifetime of unhappiness.
Their spirits have been trapped in a tree for centuries.
Fast forward to the 20th century, and lightning strikes the tree, releasing the spirits of Jennifer and Daniel. Jennifer, still a mischievous and enchanting witch, is determined to seek revenge on the Wooley family. However, when she meets Wallace Wooley, played by Fredric March, a descendant of her accuser, she finds herself falling in love with him.
Jennifer decides to abandon her vengeful plans and use her magical powers to win Wallace’s heart. She brews love potions, casts spells, and creates humorous chaos in the process. As their love story unfolds, Jennifer’s magical antics lead to a series of comical and unexpected situations.
I Bury the Living 1958
I Bury the Living will be a film I cover in-depth for Sunday Nite Surreal. So stayed tuned
I Bury the Living is a 1958 horror-thriller film directed by Albert Band. The strange and offbeat story uses a graveyard as its primary stage, to follow Robert Kraft (played by Richard Boone), a cemetery manager who discovers that the placement of black and white pins on a map (a map that is a matrix of a sardonic, animated face) of the cemetery seems to affect the fate of the individuals they represent. When he mistakenly places a black pin in a plot reserved for a living person, mysterious and tragic events begin to unfold the first time the uncanny deaths occur is when Kraft sticks the wrong pins in the plot owned by newlyweds, and winds up dead. The question of the film is, was it a mere coincidence, or can Kraft control who lives or dies?
As the body count rises, Kraft becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling the deadly secret behind the map, leading to a suspenseful and chilling exploration of fate, superstition, and the boundaries of reality. Theodore Bikel plays Andy McKee. Frederick Gately’s (Wicked, Wicked 1975, mostly working in television) cinematography almost gives the film the effect of being a stage play.
The Incredibly Strange Creatures 1964
An oddity, Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? is a cult film released in 1964, directed by Ray Dennis Steckler, who also appears in the film as the character Jerry (Ray Dennis Steckler aka ‘Cash Flag’). The movie is often considered one of the worst films ever made and has achieved a certain notoriety in the realm of cult and exploitation cinema. The low production values, amateurish acting, and incoherent plot have contributed to its reputation as a “so bad it’s good” movie.
The film’s plot is quite bizarre and disjointed, featuring a mix of elements like romance, hypnotism, murder, and musical numbers, and yet nothing is ever fully explained such as the reason for the acid-disfigured victims kept in a cage. It follows bad boy Jerry and his friends as they attend a beach carnival, where Jerry becomes hypnotized by Madam Estrella and is compelled to commit murder. The film then follows his efforts to resist the urge to kill and uncover the secrets of the sinister Madam Estrella though the motives of Madam Estrella and her aide, Ortega, are also unclear.
Unemployed jerk Jerry (Ray Dennis Steckler credited in this oddity as ‘Cash Flag’) is pals with sidekick Harold (Atlas King), but he’s a lousy boyfriend to Angela (Sharon Walsh). When he takes her on a date to the beach carnival, they go to see a mysterious fortune-teller named Madam Estrella (Brett O’Hara). Jerry is attracted to one of the dancers at the carnival named Carmelita (Erina Enyo) which pisses off Angela. Jerry is invited to come backstage and is put under a hypnotic spell by Madam Estrella and soon begins to go on a murder spree killing dancers, beginning with headliner Marge Neilson (Carolyn Brandt). Jerry is haunted by strange hallucinations and soon learns the news of the carnival killings. When he seeks out Angela, he gets a wave of murderous lust again and nearly kills her too. Jerry is determined to learn Madam Estrella’s hidden secrets.
Also, the film features various dance costumes and scenes from the carnival midway, which are noted for their historical interest as they capture the atmosphere of the Long Beach Pike in the early 1960s.
Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? has garnered a cult following among fans of low-budget and exploitation cinema. It is often appreciated for its unintentional humor and its unique blend of genres and elements. Interesting note:
The three cameramen who started their careers under Ray Steckler’s guidance would go on to leave indelible marks in the film industry. Joseph V. Mascelli, for instance, authored a widely acclaimed cinematography manual, plied his trade as a cinematographer for Arch Hall Sr., and even took a shot at directing his own Z-horror film, “Monstrosity.”
In parallel, the camera operator Vilmos Zsigmond and his assistant, László Kovács, who had fled Hungary in the tumultuous year of 1956, embarked on their ascent with the Hollywood camera profession. Their involvement in “Incredibly Strange Creatures” marked one of the early steps in their dedicated climb, how ironic – they began their remarkable careers with one of the worst films ever made.
Island of Terror 1966
Island of Terror is a 1966 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher. The story unfolds on a remote island off the coast of Ireland, where a group of scientists led by Dr. Brian Stanley (played by Peter Cushing) and Edward Judd as Dr. Davis West becomes embroiled in a terrifying ordeal.
A series of gruesome deaths occur on the island, with victims reduced to skeletal remains, and the local population is gripped by fear. Dr. Stanley and his team soon discover the cause of these horrors: the island has become infested with deadly, gelatinous creatures resembling turtle-like amoebas with tentacles, which suck the bones out of their victims, leaving them as lifeless husks. The monocellular creatures are reminiscent of those in Caltiki, the Immortal Monster 1959 which also features a scene in which one of the characters loses a hand.
In the pursuit of a potential cancer cure on a remote island nestled off the Irish coast, the project’s esteemed scientist unwittingly creates a monstrous new organism that thrives by devouring all other living creatures.
As the scientists and the island’s inhabitants attempt to combat the horrific creatures, they realize that traditional weapons are ineffective against them. The film explores themes of scientific curiosity, survival, and the desperate struggle to find a way to defeat the relentless, bone-devouring monsters. The film also stars Niall MacGinnis as Mr. Roger Campbell. Offering support to David West is his beloved socialite girlfriend, Toni Merrill (Carole Gray).
Island of Terror features two well-known actors in British cinema, Sam Kydd plays the constable, John Harris who discovers a missing farmer dead in a cave. The frightening discovery reveals the body is a mass of jelly. Eddie Byrne (Hammer’s The Mummy, The Vengeance of Fu Manchu) is the island doctor, who mocks mere simplicity used to describe the gruesome condition of the corpse: “There was no face, just a horrible mush, with the eyes sittin’ in it.”
Fisher knows how to create an eerie landscape and in this horror/sci-fi hybrid, the mood is suffocating due to the isolation and the inescapable reality that they are all marooned on this remote island. The village is encircled by these insatiable parasites, as they try desperately to survive while scrambling to find a way to exterminate these organisms before catastrophe strikes. Of course, there’s a twist ending… the scenario repeats itself in Japan.
The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant 1971
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant is a 1971 science fiction horror film directed by Anthony M. Lanza. The story revolves around an ambitious scientist, Dr. Roger Girard (Bruce Dern), who conducts a groundbreaking and ethically questionable experiment.
Dr. Girard successfully performs a head transplant, attaching the head of a convicted murderer, Max (played by Albert Cole), to the body of a mentally disabled man, Danny (played by John Bloom). The result is a grotesque and unnerving two-headed lumbering mess. Max and Danny’s conflicting personalities and desires create chaos and tension within their shared body.
As Dr. Girard struggles to control his increasingly unhinged creation, Max’s criminal tendencies resurface, leading to a series of violent and deadly actions. The trashy pick also stars Pat Priest (The Munsters) Berry Kroeger, and Casey Kasem.
The Incredible 2-Headed Transplant is known for its cheesy, campy, and exploitative nature, more ridiculous than bizarre, or macabre. It has become a cult classic for all the obvious reasons.