Manster, Meet Monstroid: Mill Creek’s ‘Pure Terror’ 50-Movie Collection
Manster, Meet Monstroid
Mill Creek’s ‘Pure Terror’ 50-Movie Collection
Mill Creek Entertainment, established in 2002, has become a surrogate home for films that have fallen into the public domain. The company’s signature “50 Movie Packs” are filled with hours and hours of free-to-license films from the ’20s to the ’90s, most of which are only available in second- or third-generation copies plagued with dust and print damage. Mill Creek has been shoveling these movies onto DVDs, regardless of print quality (and often regardless of content quality), for a decade, and they have 21 such collections to show for it.
In October of last year, my friend Kevin and I decided to watch selections from Mill Creek’s Pure Terror 50-film collection to celebrate Halloween. But after the 31st had come and gone, we found ourselves continuing the project, which soon bloomed into a challenge: Could we watch every movie on the pack without cracking up? Even Night Fright?
Against all odds, we’ve done it. We’ve sat through every single one of these things. The following are capsule reviews for each film in the order they appear on the collection (in case you want to follow along at home). The color of the author’s name denotes whether or not he recommends the selection (green is positive; red is negative), and each film is ranked from 1 to 50 (1 being our favorite and 50 being our least favorite). It’s a document of our trek through Mill Creek’s Pure Terror funhouse meant to entertain, enlighten, and educate. Enjoy, but emulate at your own risk.
In Memory of Paul Naschy
1934 – 2009
You Are the Reason We Drink
Crucible of Horror (1971, original title: The Corpse)
IMDb: A mother and daughter hatch a scheme to murder their family’s domineering and sadistic patriarch.
Kevin – Mill Creek gets things started off right with a disturbing portrait of a deeply troubled family. The cast delivers fabulous performances on all counts and Viktors Ritelis’s direction is uncommonly precise and assured. I can’t recommend this one enough.
William - A deeply-layered fairy tale about the futility of destroying your demons and the impossibility of erasing your past. Beautiful, intense, and enthralling all the way through. A genuinely great film.
Pure Terror Ranking: #3 of 50
Double Exposure (1983)
IMDb: A photographer for a men’s magazine is disturbed by a recurring dream he has that he is killing his models by various gruesome means. Then he discovers that his city is being terrorized by a slasher who is stalking and murdering women on the streets. He begins to suspect that he may actually be the killer.
Kevin - The most striking things about this one are its high production values and its cast of established actors. Unlike the vast majority of films in the pack, this actually feels like something you might have seen at your local movie theater back in the day. On top of that, it has enough weirdness to be enjoyable as a so-bad-it’s-good slasher film.
William - I love this movie. The characters are ridiculously well-drawn and the performances are top-notch. Plus, one or two of the scares actually work.
Pure Terror Ranking: #9 of 50
Horror Rises from the Tomb (1973, original title: El espanto surge de la tumba)
IMDb: In Medieval France a warlock is beheaded and his wife is tortured and executed. Hundreds of years later an isolated group of people discover his head buried on their property. It soon comes back to life, possessing people and forcing them to search for the rest of his body.
Kevin - There are three Paul Naschy movies in this pack. THREE. That’s four and a half hours of watching his bloated frame drift across the screen.
William – Run-of-the-mill gothic tripe. Mill Creek offers the edited version, which shockingly doesn’t remove Paul Naschy entirely.
Pure Terror Ranking: #33 of 50
The Dungeon of Harrow (1962)
IMDb: An evil, sadistic count lives in a waterfront castle with his insane family members. One day, the survivor of a shipwreck washes ashore near the castle and finds himself a captive there.
Kevin – Pushing the very boundaries of monotony, The Dungeon of Harrow sits there on the screen, wasting your time and daring you to turn it off.
William – Rigorously challenges the definition of “movie.” It’s impossible to watch more than ten minutes at a time without moving your eyes to a far more interesting subject, like the ceiling.
Pure Terror Ranking: #39 of 50
IMDb: A reporter is sent to Hungary, where he is bitten by a werewolf. He gets transferred back to Washington, where he gets a job as press assistant to the President.
Kevin – Ugh. The biggest problem with The Werewolf of Washington is that it can’t decide whether it wants to a serious political satire or a goofy spoof. Well no – that’s not quite right. The biggest problem is that it was made by idiots.
William – If the director is still alive, I want his address so I can push him into a glass coffee table and terrorize his housepets.
Pure Terror Ranking: #46 of 50
They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)
IMDb: Nazi madmen preserve Hitler’s brain on a small tropical island.
Kevin - Hitler’s disembodied head is pretty great, but it gets far too little screen time. The non-Hitler scenes are utterly forgettable, and the film features a prologue (filmed by UCLA students) that feels so tacked on I can’t believe anyone involved cared about the finished product. It’s almost worth it for the mustaches though. Almost.
William – A movie titled They Saved Hitler’s Brain has an obligation to be silly and fun. This is neither.
Pure Terror Ranking: #32 of 50
The Thirsty Dead (1974)
IMDb: Beautiful young girls are kidnapped off the streets of Manila by a death cult that needs their blood to remain immortal.
Kevin – This seems like an elaborate prank orchestrated by the director, hoping to humiliate his enemies by casting them in a heinously bad film. It’s boring, silly in all the wrong ways, and features some of the worst costume design I’ve ever seen.
William – Tries to deliver some kind of social commentary, but ends up confusing itself and embarrassing everyone involved. Plus, everyone’s hair is unconditioned. Lots of split ends. Gross, guys.
Pure Terror Ranking: #40 of 50
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
IMDb: A crazed scientist invents an invisibility formula. He plans to use the formula to create an army of invisible zombies.
Kevin – Despite the low production values typical of his oeuvre, director Edgar G. Ulmer combines a classic science fiction story with the conventions of a traditional film noir. The result isn’t a classic of either genre (unlike Ulmer’s noir masterpiece, Detour), but it’s nonetheless a decent sci-fi/crime film.
William – Competently crafted by its director, The Amazing Transparent Man manages to maintain respectability, even when the plot is dumber than a box – no, two boxes – of rocks. Douglas Kennedy delivers a compelling lead performance amidst a whole bunch of silly gobbledegook. This isn’t a good movie by any means, but it’s a lot of fun.
Pure Terror Ranking: #15 of 50
Hands of Steel (1986, original title: Vendetta dal futuro)
IMDb: A cyborg named Paco Queruak is programmed to kill a scientist who holds the fate of mankind in his hands.
Kevin -There are some movies that are so bad they’re good. Then there are movies that are very good despite the fact that they have no earthly right to be. Hands of Steel belongs in the latter category. It is literally one of my favorite movies of all time.
William – Memorable setpieces and a wild-eyed performance from George Eastman (as the dastardly Raul Morales) cement Hands of Steel‘s status as the most entertaining Terminator rip-off ever made. But it’s the things that aren’t rip-offs – like arm-wrestling competitions and rocket-launching shotguns – that make the film so endearing. I can’t help but think there’s a little Paco Queruak inside all of us.
Pure Terror Ranking: #1 of 50
The Manster (1959)
IMDb: An American reporter in Japan is sent to interview an eccentric Japanese scientist working on bizarre experiments in his mountain laboratory. When the doctor realizes that the hapless correspondent is the perfect subject for his next experiment, he drugs the unfortunate man and injects him with a serum that gradually transforms him into a hideous, two-headed monster.
Kevin - Aside from the title, it’s pretty forgettable. It’s a dime-a-dozen monster movie.
William – I don’t remember much about it, but it was pleasantly diverting. The matte paintings are really nice.
Pure Terror Ranking: #25 of 50
Blood Sabbath (1972)
IMDb: A coven of witches captures a young man traveling through the woods. He soon gets involved in a power struggle between a beautiful witch and an evil queen.
Kevin – Nonsensical hippie garbage, but it’s so bizarre you’ll never forget it. It gets bonus points for casting Dyanne (She Wolf of the SS) Thorne.
William – Everything about this movie is ridiculous. I think I like it.
Pure Terror Ranking: #19 of 50
The Devil’s Nightmare (1971, original title: La plus longue nuit du diable)
IMDb: Over the course of a long night in an eastern European castle, seven tourists find themselves trapped by a demon. Is Satan willing to spare their souls?
Kevin - Awesome, awesome, awesome. It’s everything you could want from a gothic Italian exploitation film. It offers rich atmosphere, an out-of-nowhere lesbian sex scene, and a healthy dash of unintentional comedy.
William – Spooky castle? Check. Creepy butler? Check. Random lesbianism? Check. Demon lady? Check. Satan? Check. Too-cool twist ending? Check???
Pure Terror Ranking: #6 of 50
The Sadist (1963)
IMDb: Three people driving into Los Angeles for a Dodgers game encounter car trouble and pull off into an abandoned service station where they are held at bay by a bloodthirsty psycho and his crazy girlfriend.
Kevin - A ruthlessly effective claustrophobic thriller. Most of its success can be credited to the great cinematography from Vilmos Zsigmond (Deliverance, Close Encounters of the Third Kind), and Arch Hall Jr.’s strange, off-putting performance.
William – A critically acclaimed cult classic? On a Mill Creek DVD set? Somebody messed up.
Pure Terror Ranking: #8 of 50
Terror-Creatures from the Grave (1965, original title: 5 tombe per un medium)
IMDb: An attorney arrives at a castle to settle the estate of its recently deceased owner. Soon, occupants of the castle begin to die in gruesome, violent ways.
Kevin - I only remember the first scene; it wasn’t very good.
William – I literally can’t remember anything about this movie. That’s a lie. I remember being relieved when it ended.
Pure Terror Ranking: #44 of 50
Keep My Grave Open (1976)
IMDb: A woman who lives in an old mansion believes that her long-deceased lover is still alive and residing in the house.
Kevin - Although obviously shot on a small budget, it’s very well made. You get to see Stephen Tobolowsky in a frank and intense almost-sex scene, which is perhaps the first and last time that’s happened.
William – A hypnotic, grime-smeared nightmare of a movie with an amazing twist ending. This one resonates.
Pure Terror Ranking: #10 of 50
The House That Screamed (1969, original title: La residencia)
IMDb: Lilli Palmer owns and runs a school for wayward girls in France. Her absolute discipline has fostered a social order among the girls. Rampant sex, torture, and murder have become the norm.
Kevin - This is one of those fascinating proto-slasher films released after Psycho but before Halloween. You know, after Hitchcock proved that there was money to be made in the violent thriller market but before John Carpenter found a successful formula that was easy for others to emulate. Narciso Ibánez Serrador proves himself to be a master craftsman by directing a thriller that’s richly detailed and stylistically daring. It’s a good movie by any standard.
William – A beautifully-directed gothic slasher that fascinates while it titillates. A lost treasure that begs for rediscovery.
Pure Terror Ranking: #2 of 50
Death Warmed Up (1984, alternate title: Death Warmed Over)
IMDb: A teenager is hypnotized by a scientist to kill his parents and ends up in a mental institution. As an adult, he returns to seek revenge over the scientist.
Kevin - It’s hellishly random, but never boring. The MTV-style cinematography makes it seem like you’re witnessing a fever dream.
William – I have no idea what happened in this movie, but it was definitely insane. If you could explain it to me, that’d be cool, but I liked it regardless.
Pure Terror Ranking: #13 of 50
Frankenstein 80 (1972)
IMDb: A mad scientist creates a monster called “Mosaico,” who breaks out of the laboratory to hunt down and kill beautiful women.
Kevin – Trashy and poorly made. It’s sorta fun (maybe?), but you’d have to be in a very specific mood to find much entertainment value.
William – The title means it’s the Frankenstein of the future? I guess? Anyway, it really sucks.
Pure Terror Ranking: #28 of 50
The House by the Cemetery (1981, original title: Quella villa accanto al cimitero)
IMDb: Norman takes over the work of a dead colleague, Mr. Petersen, who killed himself while he was busy researching a certain Dr. Freudstein. Norman moves into the Freudstein house with his wife and son, unaware of the property’s horrible secret.
Kevin – When compared to the previous two films in his “Gates of Hell” trilogy (City of the Living Dead and The Beyond) it’s clear that director Lucio Fulci had run out of money and enthusiasm by the time he got to this one. On top of that, it has a generic score by Walter Rizzati that isn’t nearly as effective as the haunting, powerful work done by Fabio Frizzi on the first two entries. When viewed as a standalone film, however, it’s a passable example of Fulci’s trademark style (i.e. gory surrealism). It’s definitely worth watching for the director’s fans, but others needn’t bother.
William – If you’re a fan of endless smash zooms or ugly children with squeaky voices, this one’s for you. I can only assume that individuals who enjoy this movie have extreme mental disorders.
Pure Terror Ranking: #22 of 50
Death in the Shadows (1985, original title: De prooi)
IMDb: 18-year old Valerie and her mother Trudy live together in rural Oostdijk, a quiet little village near Amsterdam. While returning home late one night, Trudy is struck dead by a fast-moving car. The autopsy reveals that Valerie couldn’t be Trudy’s daughter – because Trudy had never given birth. Sensing foul play within the hidden truths, Valerie and a police detective work to find the person who murdered Trudy.
Kevin - I really liked this one but it’s hard to say why. The film is billed as a thriller but it’s not particularly scary or suspenseful. Mostly I’d have to give credit to the script for providing an intriguing premise and to Maayke Bouten for providing an appealing and unassuming lead performance.
William – A well-plotted crime drama swimming in a sea of dread. Maayke Bouten is super gorgeous and gives a surprisingly good performance as a girl whose entire life is thrown into question after the death of a loved one. A strange little movie that fascinates at every turn.
Pure Terror Ranking: #4 of 50
The Embalmer (1965, original title: Il mostro di Venezia)
IMDb: A crazed killer is on the loose in the catacombs of Venice, Italy. He stalks beautiful women, drags them to his underground lair, kills them, then embalms their bodies and adds them to his “collection.”
Kevin - This is one of the least enjoyable movies I’ve ever seen. Any negative adjective is a fitting description of it.
William – No. No. No. No. No. No.
Pure Terror Ranking: #48 of 50
The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971, original title: La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba)
IMDb: A wealthy pervert lures beautiful young women to his castle so he can have his way with them.
Kevin - It’s heavily plotted but never makes sense. There’s a certain grungy charm about the film but it’s odd and forgettable, even by giallo standards.
William – Mean-spirited and tasteless, but also pretty interesting. Definitely worth a look.
Pure Terror Ranking: #18 of 50
Night Fright (1967)
IMDb: A government space experiment goes horribly wrong, creating a monster that terrorizes a rural community.
Kevin - It’s pretty lame, folks.
William – Time would be better spent cleaning out a monkey’s ass.
Pure Terror Ranking: #47 of 50
My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989)
IMDb: A frustrated housewife visits a pet store to purchase a flea-collar. Completely oblivious to the fact that the store’s owner is both John Saxon AND a werewolf, she accepts his invitation to lunch.
Kevin - It’s basically a low-rent version of Fright Night (not to be confused with Night Fright). If I had been eight years old when I watched this, I would’ve enjoyed it. But I wasn’t, so I didn’t.
William – This movie is stupid but John Saxon is in it. So I like it. Case closed.
Pure Terror Ranking: #23 of 50
Point of Terror (1973)
IMDb: A nightclub singer suffers nightmares about being involved in adultery and murder, only to wake up and find out that they may not be nightmares – they may be real life!
Kevin - Essentially a feature-length ’70s soap opera. It’s not terrible in any particular way, but unless you like vintage trashiness, there isn’t much reason to sit through it. On the other hand, just like Blood Sabbath, it gets bonus points for casting Dyanne Thorne. She actually gives a really solid performance this time.
William – A vanity project featuring really terrible musical numbers and mind-numbingly awful plot twists. After this one ended, I stood up and exclaimed that it was a bunch of bullshit. I stand by that statement.
Pure Terror Ranking: #34 of 50
Satan’s Slave (1976, alternate title: Evil Heritage)
IMDb: A crazed cult leader plans to sacrifice his niece to bring a long-dead relative back from the grave.
Kevin - It’s a mediocre movie elevated by a handful of strengths: Michael Gough’s creeptastic performance, a few decent bits of action and gore, and an effective twist ending.
William – Takes its time getting to the good stuff, but the good stuff is very good, indeed.
Pure Terror Ranking: #11 of 50
The Vampire’s Night Orgy (1974, original title: La orgía nocturna de los vampiros)
IMDb: A busload of tourists stops in to visit a small European town, where mysteries abound. Will there be an orgy? Do we care? Can we just die already?
Kevin - I fell asleep near the end of this one. I don’t think I missed much. The beginning is reminiscent of The Devil’s Nightmare, but it quickly replaces anything interesting with vast stretches of nothing in an attempt to make you do harm to yourself.
William – I’m not positive, but I don’t think there’s an orgy in this movie. I’m not even certain that the antagonists are vampires. Why do they serve human flesh to their guests? Where do they get the personmeat if the people they kill are turned into more “vampires”? The weird plot inconsistencies don’t even alleviate the boredom.
Pure Terror Ranking: #45 of 50
Grave of the Vampire (1972)
IMDb: Kroft, a legendary vampire, wakes from his slumber and attacks a couple in a graveyard, raping the woman. The child born feeds only on blood from his mother’s breast.
Kevin - Incredibly well-plotted. Every time you think you know where it’s going, it takes a genuinely surprising turn, making up for its bargain-basement production values.
William – After sitting through countless uninspired vampire movies (like The Vampire’s Night Orgy), it’s a revelation when one offers something new. The vampire antagonist presented here is a complete scumbag, and his adult half-vampire son sets out to destroy him once and for all, years after his mother’s death. It’s pretty un-PC and sleazy, as these sort of movies tend to be, but the story is compelling and the characters are far from the usual two-dimensional idiots.
Pure Terror Ranking: #7 of 50
Evil Brain from Outer Space (1965)
IMDb: A monstrous evil brain from outer space leads his minions on a crusade to conquer the universe, and unleashes hideous monsters on Earth that spread deadly diseases.
Kevin - It’s dopey and schizophrenic in a way that only old Japanese serials can be. Do I mean that in a good way? Sure, why not.
William – Really cute, but the groanworthy special effects and repetitive screenplay get monotonous pretty fast. Plus, “Starman” needs to do something about his uncomfortably visible genital bulge.
Pure Terror Ranking: #21 of 50
Mutant (1984, original title: Night Shadows)
IMDb: Two brothers discover that the residents of a small Southern town are being infected by a form of toxic waste, turning them into blood-ravenous zombies.
Kevin - This film made me nostalgic for summers past, when I’d surf my parents’ basic cable package and watch a thoroughly mediocre movie just because it was on. There’s no reason to care about the plot or characters, but it’s well put-together and not unpleasant.
William – They kill off the only sympathetic character at the 20 minute mark, leaving us with a cast of idiots who become more and more unlikable as the film progresses. It’s competently made, but the screenplay is cliché-ridden garbage.
Pure Terror Ranking: #24 of 50
The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)
IMDb: When Edgar sees his girlfriend Betty getting up close and personal with his best friend Carl, he murders Carl in a jealous rage and hides the corpse under the floor of his piano room. Then Edgar Allan Poe stuff happens.
Kevin – Starts out great, but at the halfway point it settles for being nothing more than a retread of a story everyone’s familiar with.
William – A reimagining that perfectly straddles the line between old-fashioned and sleazy, providing an intriguing protagonist and a few genuinely creepy scenes. It doesn’t add up to much, but it made me appreciate the excitement of seeing a woman’s bare knees, which is definitely worth noting.
Pure Terror Ranking: #16 of 50
Devil’s Possessed (1974, original title: El mariscal del infierno)
IMDb: An evil ruler uses witchcraft and evil spirits to keep his subjects in line, but his reign of terror prompts the people to revolt.
Kevin – Just competent enough to highlight the true problem with Paul Naschy: There’s an intense and omnipresent blandness that follows him around wherever he goes. He’s not a terrible actor, but I would never be tempted to call him a good one. He looks ridiculous during action scenes and has all the charisma of a wet carrot. The movie as a whole is much like its leading man: Not obscenely bad, just completely lacking in anything of value.
William – How can one suffer from insomnia while this movie exists?
Pure Terror Ranking: #36 of 50
Curse of Bigfoot (1976)
IMDb: A high school teacher takes his class on a field trip to the middle of nowhere for Bigfoot reasons. We can only assume he was then promptly fired.
Kevin - It was originally titled Teenagers Battle the Thing and that’s probably the most interesting thing about it. The majority of the film is told in flashback but it comes to an abrupt end before it returns to the frame story, making the whole endeavor seem pointless.
William – The first 10 minutes are jaw-droppingly inept and it doesn’t get any better from there. Not so much “so-bad-it’s-good” as it’s “so-bad-it-makes-you-want-to-die.”
Pure Terror Ranking: #31 of 50
Dr. Jekyll and the Werewolf (1972, original title: Doctor Jekyll y el Hombre Lobo)
IMDb: Paul Naschy returns as El Hombre Lobo for the sixth time as he searches for a cure to his full moon madness by visiting the grandson of the infamous Dr. Jekyll.
Kevin - Here’s a list of things that are more interesting than Paul Naschy: tap water, beige Volvos, fat-free gravy, local weathermen, pocket lint.
William – If you squint your eyes, you can pretend Paul Naschy is John Belushi. It doesn’t help, but it’s something to do.
Pure Terror Ranking: #37 of 50
The Eerie Midnight Horror Show (1974, alternate title: Enter the Devil, original title: L’ossessa)
IMDb: A movie about a strange religious icon and the demonic sexual influence it exerts on a young art student.
Kevin – The alternate (and equally derivative) title for this movie, The Sexorcist, tells you everything you need to know about it. It’s a trashy supernatural horror film designed to cash-in on the success of a more popular (and far better) movie. A few decent setpieces can’t save this one from mediocrity.
William – If you thought The Exorcist could use more sex scenes, then this one’s for you. And so is this restraining order.
Pure Terror Ranking: #26 of 50
Monstroid (1980, original title: Monster)
IMDb: A rural Colombian village is attacked by a horrible sea serpent, aroused by industrial pollution of a nearby lake. Based on a real event that took place in June of 1971.
Kevin – “Hey bro, I’ve been thinking about the title of our film, Monster. It’s kinda generic. We need something better – something that sums up everything we’re trying to say. How bout … Monstroid.”
William – It took eight years to make this. Eight. Years. Judging by the utter incompetence on display, I can only assume it took at least six of those years for the filmmakers to tie their shoes.
Pure Terror Ranking: #38 of 50
Terror in the Jungle (1968)
IMDb - A little boy survives a plane crash in the untamed Amazon jungle and is discovered by a tribe of vicious savages who plan on sacrificing him.
Kevin - You NEED to watch the first thirty minutes of this. It’s as if a small child found the script for Airplane!, thought it was a serious drama, and directed it as such. The result is a staggeringly inept disaster sequence that’s more entertaining than most intentional comedies. After the plane goes down, feel free to turn it off.
William – There are some incredibly boring stretches, sure, but the first half-hour is uproarious. Case in point: A trio of 50-year-old men wearing hideous wigs play a “hit song” called “Soft Lips” as the plane they’re on runs out of fuel. And then a bunch of alligators … no, wait. Spoiling it would be a crime.
Pure Terror Ranking: #12 of 50
The Oval Portrait (1972, original title: One Minute Before Death)
IMDb - A woman finds herself possessed by the soul of another woman trapped inside a painting. Based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe.
Kevin – I’m in the process of reanimating Edgar Allan Poe’s corpse so that he may reap glorious vengeance on the “filmmakers” who attached his name to this turd.
William – It literally broke the DVD player. I think it broke me, too. I could go on and on about the film’s oppressive awfulness, but I don’t even want to think about it. I hate this movie. I hate this movie so much.
Pure Terror Ranking: #49 of 50
Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)
IMDb - A deranged 15th Century prison colony chaplain murders folks and shmoozes with his vampire mistress.
Kevin – I’m reminded of a quote by Jim Jarmusch: “The beauty of a movie is that you walk in, you don’t know anything about it, you enter a world that’s new to you, and that’s the magic of being transported.” Guru, the Mad Monk is a sixty-two minute roller coaster of pure schlock that transports you far beyond the reach of logic and competency. Strap yourself in and prepare to have your jaw dropped.
William – This movie was spit up by an alternate universe. It is a gift from the unknown. I am eternally indebted to its presence in my life.
Pure Terror Ranking: #5 of 50
Don’t Answer the Phone! (1980)
IMDb: A deeply disturbed photographer and Vietnam veteran terrorizes Los Angeles by strangling lingerie-clad young women in their homes.
Kevin – I generally love slasher films – even the terrible ones – but Don’t Answer the Phone! left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s a film about a homicidal rapist that could only appeal to those who fantasize about murder and rape. It’s probably the only movie on this pack I’d describe as being despicable.
William – Co-writer/director Robert Hammer tries to imbue the film with gobs of social commentary ranging from swept-under-the-rug topics like parental sexual abuse and PTSD to the inefficiency of law enforcement, but he only succeeds in coming across as a racist, misogynist pervert. The real problem, however, is the complete lack of anything resembling entertainment. This is just disgusting. Worse than that – it’s stupid, too.
Pure Terror Ranking: #50 of 50
The Undertaker and His Pals (1966)
IMDb: An undertaker and two restaurant owners drum up business by going out on the town and killing people. The restaurant owners use parts of the bodies for their menu, and the undertaker gets paid by the families to bury the remainder.
Kevin – It’s a demented live-action episode of Looney Tunes filled with cannibalism gags. It’s worth watching if only for its value as a cinematic oddity.
William – There are a few funny jokes, but they’re all clustered within the first 20 minutes. The rest of the movie is like an entry into the Film Padding Olympics. Not only will you find chase scenes following chase scenes, but you’ll also witness chase scenes following chase scenes following chase scenes. Let me tell you, though, and I’m serious here: I got some real good yawns in. Good yawn action.
Pure Terror Ranking: #27 of 50
Night of Bloody Horror (1969)
IMDb: Someone murders a bunch of people for no discernible reason.
Kevin – I admire director Joy N. Houk Jr. for utilizing every conceivable cinematic technique in an earnest attempt to make a good movie. Smash zooms, rapid edits, color effects, slow motion, still frames, star wipes – you name it, he does it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t save the film from unsympathetic characters and sloppy plotting. It’s a cinematic fart.
William – Please don’t watch this movie. Take your dog for a walk around the neighborhood. Visit your parents. Ask someone on a date. Eat an exotic dish. Buy a book. Anything. Anything is better than this. You’re better than this. I’m better than this. We all are.
Pure Terror Ranking: #41 of 50
Anatomy of a Psycho (1961)
IMDb: The crazed brother of a condemned killer swears vengeance on those he holds responsible for his brother’s execution.
Kevin – This film is empty – both of purpose and entertainment value. It’s emptier than Paul Naschy’s soul as he burns in hell.
William – Let’s not waste useful Internet space discussing something so worthless.
Pure Terror Ranking: #42 of 50
Green Eyes (1934)
IMDb: The owner of a large mansion in the country throws a costume party for some of his friends. However, the party quickly turns sour when he is found stabbed to death in a closet.
Kevin – There’s very little to say about it. It’s a movie. Images are synchronized to sound. People stand in front of a camera and pretend to be other people. At the end, you find out who the murderer is and it’s a disappointment.
William – It’s passable as entertainment, but there are so many better things to do with your time. Like … most things.
Pure Terror Ranking: #29 of 50
Night of the Blood Beast (1958)
IMDb: An astronaut’s dead body is seeded with rapidly gestating aliens.
Kevin – This movie renewed my respect for Roger Corman. With unskilled actors and a minimal budget (the “space capsule” is an unused septic tank), he produces a film that’s simultaneously moody, silly, intriguing, and hilarious.
William – Well-made and compelling throughout, even when the film’s antagonist is revealed to be someone in a hairy rubber suit sporting a beak. It’s nothing special, but after the last few movies I’m just thankful that something’s watchable.
Pure Terror Ranking: #14 of 50
Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966)
IMDb: A family gets lost on a road trip and stumbles upon a hidden devil-worshiping cult led by the fearsome Master and his servant Torgo.
Kevin - It’s a classic of the So-Bad-It’s-Good milieu. Everyone should sit through it once, preferably with alcohol and a group of friends present.
William – Its reputation as one of the best worst movies of all time will undoubtedly raise your expectations too high. It’s goofy and fun, but it’s also pretty boring. Watch Guru, the Mad Monk instead.
Pure Terror Ranking: #17 of 50
Fangs of the Living Dead (1969, original title: Malenka)
IMDb: A beautiful virgin inherits a castle, but when she first arrives there, she finds that the inhabitants include a strange nobleman and a bevy of beautiful women she suspects may be vampires.
Kevin – Poop.
William – A complete trainwreck from the first frame to the last. I don’t know which is worse – the offensively lazy makeup effects, the robotic, emotionless dubbing, or the fact that Anita Ekberg is about ten years too old for her role. The premise is lifted wholesale from Mario Bava’s Black Sunday, the climax is a despairingly dull retread of Dracula, and then it ends with a joke, presumably just to piss you off. They should have added a title card that read “This is for everyone who believed that we were capable of something better than horseshit. You were wrong. We are terrible.”
Pure Terror Ranking: #43 of 50
It Happened at Nightmare Inn (1973, original title: Una vela para el diablo)
IMDb: Two religious, abstinent sisters run a little family hotel in Spain, where they kill young female guests who dare to make eye contact with men.
Kevin - It’s an average Euro-horror film. I enjoyed watching it but I honestly can’t find any strong reason to recommend it.
William – A dozen well-worn horror movie tropes all leap out of the stable at once and race for the finish line, providing some great fun involving creepy spinster sisters and misplaced eyeballs. Plus, the film’s ending is unique and instantly memorable.
Pure Terror Ranking: #20 of 50
Scared to Death (1947)
IMDb: From a slab in the morgue, a dead young woman tells a bizarre story about a hypnotist and a mysterious blue mask.
Kevin – Listening to Bela Lugosi read the newspaper for ninety minutes would be far more interesting than this exercise in obfuscation. There was never a point in which I knew (or cared about) what was going on. It is, however, sort of fun trying to figure out which crewmembers were in drug-induced altered states during the production. My money’s on the editor, the makeup artist, and Mr. Lugosi.
William – This is the only color movie in which Bela Lugosi ever received top billing, but it’s pretty uninteresting even if you’re a die-hard fan. There are a lot of offensive remarks made towards a little person if you’re into that sort of thing.
Pure Terror Ranking: #35 of 50
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965, original title: Il boia scarlatto)
IMDb: A photographer and his models go to an old, abandoned castle to shoot some sexy covers for horror novels. Unbeknownst to them, the castle is inhabited by a lunatic who believes himself to be the reincarnated spirit of a 17th-century executioner whose job it is to protect the castle against intruders.
Kevin – After watching forty-nine bizarre films, this one still managed to weird me out. That’s something, right?
William – Too dumb to be scary, too silly to be serious, and too restrained to be any fun. It tries to be titillating, but the “models” are all shockingly unattractive (I think one has a mustache). The movie’s only redeeming quality is its odd homoeroticism, and that’s only passably interesting at best.
Pure Terror Ranking: #30 of 50
And now we’re 50 movies wiser. We’ve learned lessons and gleaned guidance from hours upon hours of celluloid leftovers, brushed aside by history and rediscovered by chance. We’ve cheered on the heroes of Hands of Steel, stared in disbelief at Guru, the Mad Monk, and suffered through The Oval Portrait. We’ve experienced the very limits of cinema – the best and the worst, from top to bottom and beginning to end. We’re different people now. We’ve been changed.
A world of discovery lies within these 50 films. If you have the means, we highly recommend procuring Mill Creek’s Pure Terror collection.
We’ll leave you with an instruction manual. Sitting through a Mill Creek DVD set can be emotionally taxing, and we’ve found the application of alcohol to be quite useful when it comes to certain selections. Just remember to take small drinks. Especially during Paul Naschy movies.
Kevin’s Pure Terror Drinking Game
Take ONE drink when …
- … you spot multiple cast/crew members in the opening credits that share the same last name (or are the same person).
- … you actually recognize an actor.
- … an average-looking (or worse) cast member is regarded by other characters as being a knockout.
- … you realize the dialogue has been dubbed.
- … a character needlessly recounts information the audience is already aware of.
- … a female character is stalked by a monster, alien, murderer, or other malevolent entity.
- … an actor appears disinterested or uncomfortable during a sex scene.
- … the movie references (or makes an allusion to) a different (i.e. better) film.
- … a visual-effect/makeup-effect is found to be ridiculous or unconvincing. (This includes bad day-for-night footage.)
- … you spot a continuity error.
- … a character is so poorly “acted” that the movie would have been better served by a mannequin or some other inanimate object.
- … the movie prompts anyone in the audience to exclaim “What?”
- … a joke goes by without anyone in the audience laughing at it.
- … a character’s sexual advances are sickeningly skeevy.
- … John Saxon, Dyanne Thorne, Paul Naschy, or Bela Lugosi appear onscreen.
Take TWO drinks when …
- … you see boobs (or a man’s exposed buttocks).
- … a portrait/painting of a character is given plot significance. (This happens way too often.)
- … you recognize an actor from a different 50 Movie Pack movie.
- … a boom microphone (or its shadow) is spotted.
- … you find yourself watching stock footage or a scene that was obviously included to pad the film’s running time.
- … the film is so underexposed you can’t tell what’s happening onscreen.
- … the movie prompts someone in the audience to say some variation of “Seriously guys, we need to stop watching this.”
CHUG your drink when …
- … you see a lesbian sex scene.
- … the film ends suddenly, almost as if the filmmakers said “screw it” and just gave up.
- … you realize you’re actually watching one of the best movies ever made.