SPECHTREUM: Midnight Horror Theater

Introduction | Satan's Slave | Prime Evil | The Witches' Mountain | The Last Man On Earth | Horror Express | Blood of Dracula's Castle | The Vampire Happening | Stanley | Trip With The Teacher | Brain Twisters

Midnight Horror Theater
32 movies. Starring Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Paul Naschy, John Carradine, Barbara Steele, Max Schreck, Peter Cushing, Cameron Mitchell, & others.

Devils! Vampires! Werewolves! Cults! Zombies! Mad Scientists! Killers! ...even Aliens!

As much as a misanthrope despises excursions amongst the untermensch, so there are certain necessities that need to be addressed. So among one of these outings, sometimes something catches the evil eye that may be worth the possession. This collection is one such veritable 'devil send', as it were, containing all of these wonderful films that perhaps may have been missed to grace one's entertainment fare, as well as a couple of stead favorites.

There must have been some diabolical inspiration involved here. Wrapped up in a splendid print {note the Nightmare Before Xmas script} featuring Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, & Vincent Price, here we have The Undead: Vampire Collection coupled with the Gorehouse Greats collection. The previous being a vampire's delight, the latter being a veritable Satan fest of horror treats.

The Undead: Vampire Collection is sanguinariously filled with these {favorites and previously possessed features marked with an asterisk}:

Atom Age Vampire, The Bat*, Blood of Dracula's Castle, The Bloody Vampire, Count Dracula & His Vampire Bride, The Devil Bat*, Horrible Sexy Vampire, Horror Express*, Ironbound Vampire, The Last Man On Earth*, Nightmare Castle, "Nosferatru" [sic] {Nosferatu*}, Prime Evil*, Terror Creatures From The Grave, The Vampire Bat, Vampire Happening, Vampire's Night Orgy, The Werewolf Verses Vampire Women {The Werewolf Vs. The Vampire Woman*}, & The Witches Mountain.

Gorehouse Greats contains these devilish delights:

Blood Of Dracula's Castle, Blood Mania, Brain Twisters, The Devil's Hand*, The Madmen Of Mandoras, Nightmare In Wax, Prime Evil*, Satan's Slave*, Stanley, Terrified, Terror, & Trip With The Teacher.

Besides the obvious titles & descriptions on the jackets, "The Undead: Vampire Collection" is fully decorated with a list of the films on the five DVD’s themselves, while "Gorehouse Greats" are three two-sided discs which should be accompanied with labels, which can be personally added, either printed or hand-written, while both collections’ discs are elegantly preserved in black sleeves. There are only a couple of duplicates, but all the better to preserve these for posterity. One or two amusing misspellings, but that's neither here nor there. Also great for 'viewing parties' as a veritable 'marathon' to accompany 'other activities', if so inclined...

These, of course, will be reviewed in due time. In the meantime, it is a decided pleasure to immerse oneself in these worlds of horror. ∞

Satan's Slave {Evil Heritage}
X A.S. Directed by Norman J. Warren, Written by David McGillivray. Starring Michael Gough {Uncle Alexander Yorke}, Martin Potter {Stephen Yorke}, Candace Glendenning {Catherine Yorke}, Barbara Kellerman {Frances}, Michael Craze {John}, Gloria Maley {Janice; as Gloria Walker), James Bree {Malcolm Yorke}, Celia Hewitt {Elizabeth Yorke}, David McGillivray {Priest}. Genre: Horror / Thriller

A girl named Catherine is bred by relatives to be possessed by the 'spirit' of a directly related witch burned at the stake centuries earlier, in order to capture her power, by a Necromantic cult residing in a mansion set in the wilderness. A conspiracy unfolds to await her 20th birthday for the ritual to take place. It also just so happens that "Stephen" is a lady killer. Beware of robed figures in the woods...

Notable scenes include the all-too probable* mental manipulation of an individual beginning in an elevator, wherein the Sorcerer calls upon several Infernal Names straight out of The Satanic Bible, at an altar featuring a large inverted cross, to commit 'suicide' by jumping off a building; the beginning animation features a transmutating skull resembling "Facebones" from Metalokalypse. Some scenes include enjoyable nudity with nubile bodies. Also memorable is the Baphomet mask worn by Alexander while gesticulating the Cornu.

No 'happy ending' here. With the use of imposed hallucinations and clever deceptions, the cult actually succeeds in its endeavor.

It is easy to see through films such as this where some of the satanic panic claims have derived, while the Satanist can view these as entertainment fare, sometimes with inspirational theatrics for use in psychodrama. ∞

* As a matter of fact, this has been done.

Prime Evil
XXII A.S. Genre: Horror, Occult. Directed by Roberta Findlay. Written by Ed Kelleher, Harriette Vidal. Starring William Beckwith {Thomas Seaton}, Christine Moore, {Alexandra Parkman}, Mavis Harris {Sister Angela}, Max Jacobs {George Parkman}, Tim Gail {Bill King}, George Krause {Ben}, Ruth Collins {Cathy}, Amy Brentano {Brett}, Jeanne Marie {Judy}, Gary Warner {Detective Dann Carr}, Iraida Cruz {Mrs. Quinto}, Roseanna Peterson {Alison Deveraux}, Cameron Kell {Frances Parkman}, Nicole Sislian {Tina}, Phil Murphy {Bishop McCabe}.

A group of diabolical cultists have been operating underneath the nose of the Catholic Church for centuries, even within the bowels of a cathedral. To those so inclined, a pact with The Devil is made every thirteen years to ensure immortality, at the cost of a relative offered as a sacrifice*. Of note, the first 'offering' is very lovely, and is an utter waste. Such a beauty should be enjoyed, not destroyed.

The presiding 'black priest' Thomas Seaton has set his evil eye on the alluring Alexandra, who happens to be engaged to be married. Due to his persistent meddling, her preppie fiance meets a sudden fate, while her drunken mother perishes through excessive compulsion.

Seaton uses both Lesser Magic charm & Greater Magic to manipulate his quarries, as well as employing a brutish henchman who retrieves the necessary flesh for the proceedings, including an obnoxious aerobics-obsessed friend, and a drug-addled prostitute, laying waste to any obstacles who may interfere.

A nun comes calling at The Devil's doorstep, expressing her misgivings with the catholic doctrine and desiring to be numbered amongst the children of darkness - Power instead of weakness, pleasure instead of deprivation. But she must undergo a test of blasphemy first, to affirm her sin-cerity. During her infernal confirmation, she shatters a crucifix with Satan's hammer, but ends up being a lowly traitorous liar, and is dealt with accordingly.

Two unlikely detectives go snooping through the secret chambers of the cathedral, and are themselves rewarded with wrath.

The ritual chapel features a large rendition of Eliphas Levi's Sabbatic Baphomet, with an altar flanked by two black pillars, reminiscent of a Masonic configuration. During a Black Mass ceremony, a demonic creature is in attendance, resembling a red Pazuzu.

The congregants gleefully indulge in one another, while liturgy consists of latin enunciation, of course reminiscent of Le Messe Noir {The Satanic Rituals; ASLV}. Unfortunately, the nun infiltrates the cult, interrupting the rite in what amounts to a dishonorable blindsiding & is justifiably cursed by Seaton. The concluding scene is redolent of The Devil's Rain. She would of course perish in the fire, while Seaton emerges anew to continue The Devil's work.

Overall, Prime Evil contains voluptuous nudity, interesting ideas, and pleasing aesthetics. I found it to be thoroughly amusing viewing. ∞

* Of course, from time to time these productions tend to resemble actual Satanic rites, being influenced by The Satanic Bible & Satanic Rituals, sometimes verbatim, with the exception of references to literal sacrifice, which is purely symbolic.

Sabbatical Goat Baphomet Pentagram Also of note regarding the rituals performed here, the use of flash paper is displayed, Seaton's medallion features the ram-horned Baphomet variation, the fine robes, & the chamber configuration is cause for consideration.

The Witches' Mountain
VII A.S. Made in Spain. Written & Directed by Raúl Artigot. Starring Patty Shepard {Delia}, Cihangir Gaffari {Mario, as John Gaffari), Mónica Randall {Carla}, Guillermo Bredeston, Soledad Silveyra. Genre: Horror.

An odd little movie about a couple traveling across the Spanish countryside. He, a photographer with a thick, handlebar mustache and deeply cleft chin; she, a pretty, wealthy, young lady with long black hair and beautiful exotic eyes.

On the way, they stay at an inn with a strange keeper resembling a cross between Igor from Young Frankenstein and Riffraff from The Rocky Horror Picture Show, buggy wandering eyes and all, who also happens to be hard of hearing. While taking in the sights, their car is mysteriously stolen and taken a relatively short distance, which they fortunately retrieve.

Further down the road, they meet up with an old lady living in a charming house who takes them in for the night. In order to take advantage of the scenic environment, he ventures out into the wilderness where he becomes lost in the night fog, where he witnesses a group of black-clad women in the woods. He actually managed to capture their images onto film, displaying some odd anomalies, which he develops with his portable 'dark room'. He discovers the coven house, complete with various ingredients, relics, a black cat {of course}, and... her photo. They soon discover these are actually a coven of witches who take a shine to his companion, desiring to have her wed.

During certain manifestations, a haunting, echoing aria pervades, like a musical spell, until they finally confront the coven, at which point the aria includes tribal drumming, complete with a bale fire and undulating celebrants.

In an effort to escape, she plunges to her death down into a mountain gorge, but again reappears as part of the coven, while shackles await him. They were the whole time wrapped up in their influence, being led to their destination and fate by The Witches' desires.

With a distinctive European flavor, the film begins at a rather slow pace, & ends abruptly. There are many wide scenic shots of the forest area and nearby lake, through which a perpetual spectral wind blows, creating an eerie atmosphere throughout. ∞

The Last Man On Earth
Directed by Ubaldo Ragona. Written by William F. Leicester (screenplay), Richard Matheson. Starring Vincent Price {Dr. Robert Morgan}, Franca Bettoia {Ruth Collins}, Emma Danieli {Virginia Morgan}, Giacomo Rossi-Stuart {Ben Cortman}, Umberto Raho {Dr. Mercer, as Umberto Rau), Christi Courtland {Kathy Morgan}. Genre: Horror.

Dr. Robert Morgan just wants to be left alone, a scientist trying to find a cure for an air-born pathogen that transforms living people into zombie vampires, who is now just trying to survive. Existing in a monotonous situation, he gets up at dawn, prepares his implements, and heads off in his black hearse-like station wagon for the burning pit where he disposes of zombie bodies littering the city in the daylight.

The mysterious atmospheric plague has traveled across the world finally reaching this city, where his wife Virginia and daughter become effected. However, he is strangely immune, through a most interestingly fortuitous set of circumstances.

He is seemingly all alone in the world, except for these ghouls pounding at his walls after sundown, until he one day-spots another day-dwelling creature, a black dog, eventually leading him to meet a woman in the midst of this post-apocalyptic world of nightmares. Reminds this writer of the song "If You Were The Only Girl".*

Apparently, another opportunity to re-populate the earth with living creatures; but she is not what she seems, thus unleashing another threat to his safety with these other creatures, veritable zombie slayers themselves existing between the living and the dead.

This presentation has a very The Twilight Zone feel to it, reminiscent of "Time Enough at Last". Most of the introduction is Robert thinking to himself, eventually merging into communication with Ruth. Still, bestowed the knowledge of new creation thanks to his ingenious & exhaustive study & experimentation, a new world may be formed, with his legacy becoming legendary.

No Pollyanna "happy ending" here, either, but perhaps a more realistic conclusion of what may occur in such a hypothetical apocalyptic scenario. ∞

* Listen to Magus LaVey's version here: {Satan Takes a Holiday}.

Horror Express
VII A.S. Made in Spain, Britain. Genre: Horror / Science Fiction. Directed by Eugenio Martín (as Gene Martin); Written by Arnaud d'Usseau, Julian Zimet. Starring Christopher Lee {Prof. Sir Alexander Saxton}, Peter Cushing {Dr. Wells}, Alberto de Mendoza {Father Pujardov}, Silvia Tortosa {Countess Irina Petrovski}, Julio Peña {Inspector Mirov}, Ángel del Pozo {Yevtushenko} Telly Savalas {Captain Kazan}, Helga Liné {Natasha}, Alice Reinheart {Miss Jones}, José Jaspe {Conductor Konev}, George Rigaud {Count Marion Petrovski}, Víctor Israel {Maletero - the Baggage Man}, Faith Clift {American Passenger}, Juan Olaguivel {Creature}, Barta Barri {First Telegraphist}, Peter Beckman {Second Telegraphist}, Hiroshi Kitatawa {Grashinski}, Vicente Roca {Station Master}, José Canalejas {Russian Guard}, José Marco {Vorkin}, Allen Russell {Captain O'Hagan}, Fernando Villena.

All aboard the trans-Siberian express where anthropologist Professor Sir Alexander Saxton* secretly transports the frozen 'fossils' of an ancient creature resembling a sort of zombie sasquatch, stowed in a crate, but when the creature thaws and awakens, it goes about absorbing passengers' brains {memory, knowledge, and all}, demonstrated during a trepan revealing a smooth cerebrum. The attacks are a sight to behold - the monster's eyes light up red while the victim's eyes bleed and turn white**. It also has the ability to possess bodies, if needs be. A very uniquely remarkable monster to be sure.

When the crate is discovered empty, only Saxton, his colleague Dr. Wells, and the Police are aware of its existence on the train, and the search is on for the predator.

On board are the Count and Countess Petrovski, along with their cleric Father Pujardov. These are very obviously inspired by Rasputin and the Romanovs. Pujardov seems to have an inkling of the presence of 'evil' on board, confirmed when he spies the "eye of Satan" {when the discarded creature's monstrous body is examined, its optical effluvium reveals the personalities of those captured, and where it's been; rather like the imprisoned souls in The Devil's Rain} through a microscope. Folkloric and Scientific perspectives upon the same anomaly. It seems that upon sensing the beast, he quickly goes from praying to "God", to wanting to be the creature's servant. which is rewarded as he becomes a willing host.

Also on board is one Captain Kazan {Telly Savalas}, a brutal dictatorial man of iron who will not be overcome by the creature, but meets a grisly fate nonetheless.

Eventually, another surprising attribute is displayed by the creature's power, as corpses rise to aid his sinister purposes. The Science Fiction element is quite intriguing, adding yet another layer to the plot and monster.

Horror Express features the impressive talents of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Telly Savalas, making for a thrilling ride through and through, which you may wish to take again. ∞

* Christopher Lee, who ironically very much resembles Vlad Tepes during the excavation. ** Amusingly, the bleeding eyes and mouth combination somewhat resembles King Diamond's fright mask paint, viz-a-vie early Mercyful Fate.

Blood of Dracula’s Castle
IV A.S. Crown International Pictures. Genre: Horror. Directed by Al Adamson, Jean Hewitt; Produced by Martin B. Cohen, Samuel M. Sherman, Rex Carlton, Al Adamson; Written by Rex Carlton. Starring John Carradine {George, the butler}, Paula Raymond {Countess Townsend}, Alexander D'Arcy {Count Dracula, alias Count Charles Townsend}, Robert Dix {Johnny}. Gen {Otis Shayne}, Glen Cannon {Gene O'Shane}, Jennifer Bishop {Liz Arden, as Barbara Bishop}, Vicki Volante {Ann, motorist-victim}, Ray Young {Mango}, John 'Bud' Cardos, Ken Osborne, Joyce King {Body in Water}

Blood of Dracula's CastleA rather 'hip chick's car breaks down, so she decides to take a walk in the woods in search of help - instead, a towering deformed creature helps himself.

Upon the death of a relative, a young couple come into possession of a castle in the countryside*, where an elegant vampire couple, the Count & Countess 'Townsend'** {actually The Draculas} resembling a prototypical Gomez and Morticia combination reside. The mortal couple decide to visit and horn in on their business, despite considerate attempts to scare them off, are determined to stay and have the prevailing vampires evicted. So they are imprisoned down in the dungeon for their trouble-making, along with several others who have crossed their paths before, who are kept just alive enough to provide with sanguinous sustenance.

They arrive just shortly after family member and sadistic werewolf/serial killer Johnny does. Also present in the resident butler George {John Carradine}, loyal, thoughtful, and efficient, who quite literally serves up the 'Bloody Mary's', and one 'Mango', a sort of Igor type servant met in the beginning, who amicably takes care of the dirty work, and the retrieval of girls for necessary life's blood, as well as being an enforcer along with Johnny.

Seems that George is also the priest of a moon cult, whom all present, or so-called "people like us", adhere. The newly-arrived victim is sacrificially immolated to Luna, upon a nearby sacred hill. While all are in a festive mood, one of the prisoners scurrilously obtains Johnny's firearm, and runs rampant about the castle, dispatching the residents. And despite Mango's noble efforts, sadly tumbles in a fiery dive.

There were two remarkably strange discrepancies herein in discordance with typical folklore: First, werewolf Johnny was shot 'dead' without a silver bullet {which would hypothetically mean that he will rise again - also if he actually 'died', he would become a vampire}; and two, it seems that the Townsends did not demonstrate the inherent 'undead' strength or powers of hypnotism typically attributed to vampires - otherwise, they would have easily loosed their bonds to avoid the sunlight while keeping the intruders under control.

In conclusion, all they would have had to have done is merely sign over the real estate documentation to the Townsends, who have resided there for centuries, to avoid all their problems, yet they stubbornly persisted, then lied, and so, had to undergo persuasion. ∞
- Dr. Dracenstein.

* Of note, the film begins at Marineland, where they discover their sudden inheritance upon the tower.
** The role of Countess Townsend was originally intended for Jayne Mansfield, before her unfortunate association with Sam Brody resulted in her demise.

The Vampire Happening
VI A.S. Directed by Freddie Francis. Written by Karl-Heinz Hummel, August Rieger, Starring Pia Degermark {Betty Williams / Clarimonde}, Thomas Hunter {Jens Larsen}, Yvor Murillo {Josef, as Ivor Murillo}, Ingrid van Bergen {Miss Niessen}, Joachim Kemmer {Martin}, Oskar Wegrostek {Abbott}, Lyvia Bauer {Gabrielle}, Daria Damar {Kirsten}, Kay Williams, Michael Janisch, Toni Wagner, Ferdy Mayne {Count Dracula}, Raoul Retzer, Bruno Frenzel, Rock-Band {Birth Control}, Bernd Koschmidder, Willfried Kovárnik {Transvestite}, Beba Novak {Vampire girl in white}, Reinhold Sobotta. Genre: Horror/Sinemaerotica/Comedy

An American actress inherits a Transylvanian castle, which she visits before selling, but decides to stay. She learns she is the descendant of a unique "blood" line while being introduced to the history of the castle, including the torture chamber, in which resides a portrait of her grandmother, which looks remarkably like herself. Upon learning of her sexual exploits, remarks "You go, grandma!" {replicated verbatim in 'Elvira's Haunted Hills'}.

As it so fortuitously happens, there is a monestary across the way, a veritable feeding ground, which she decides to follow in her descendant's footsteps and prey thereof, beginning with a particularly righteous monk who sees "the Dark Lord's influence" in everything from trees to statues - obvious expressions of his repressed libido, until finally freed of his lustful suffocation by the newly resident Countess; although the gothically gorgeous original hostess of the castle rises to claim her sanguinous prize, causing confusion amongst the resident crusadering butler at every turn, being veritable twins. She also sinks her fangs into the peeping-tom Abbot, who periodically enjoys the sights of the Catholic school girls with their secret boyfriends adjacent to the perish.

Finally, a party, or "happening" is scheduled, in which vampiric relations are invited from all over the region, culminating in a delightful orgiastic party wherein all invited indulge in all manner of delightful carnal delights, from libations to fumigation, to lustful repartee. Finally, Count Dracula arrives in a hellicopter, complete with bat insignia, who gesticulates the Cornu both upon arrival, and introduction to the vampire masquerade ball {The Devil as a Gentleman}, who enjoys a special treat of the company of four pretties for his pleasure in a private chamber.

One of Countess Clairmonde's mortal lovers 'Jens' {a teacher seduced from his puritanical ways} is talked into an anti-vampire crusade by the butler, who then seek out to infiltrate the party posing as vampires themselves, but are eventually weeded out and flee near sunrise - seems 'Jens' cannot bear the notion of destroying the vampiric beauty}, where the Countess is loaded into a coffin bound for Hollywood, wherein posing as the actress, begins her predation anew.

Overall, an amusing film filled with succulent sights, nubile flesh, fetishistic delights, and diabolical smirks along the way.

VII A.S. Directed by William Grefe. Written by William Grefe, Gary Crutcher. Starring Chris Robinson {Tim Ochopee}, Alex Rocco {Thomkins}, Steve Alaimo {Crail Denning}, Susan Carroll {Susie Thomkins}, Mark Harris {Bob Wilson}, Rey Baumel {Sidney Calvin}, Paul Avery {Psycho Simpson}, Marcia Knight {Gloria Calvin, as Marcie Knight), Gary Crutcher {Dr. Everett}, Mel Pape {Guard}, Milton 'Butterball' Smith {Stage Manager}, Pamela Talus {Girl Friend}, William Marquez {Wachula, as Bill Marquez}, Charles Kaufman {Nightclub Drunk}, Frank Weed {Rattlesnake Milker}. Genre: Horror, Thriller.

Throughout the ages, the serpent has been both venerated and feared, equated with 'evil' and divinity, making a potent totem as well. A lesson can be taken from the serpent, with a select few already inherently exhibiting these traits. Stealthy and deadly, they will only strike to defend themselves, their nest, or to feed. I Am reminded of a sign spotted once upon a constitutional which reads:

"Snakes may be found in this area. They are important members of the natural community. They will not attack, but if disturbed or cornered, they will defend themselves. Give them distance and respect."

Vietnam Veteran Tim Ochopee is a misanthropic Seminole Indian living in the everglades, and just wants to be left alone with his friends - a legion of snakes, whom he pretty much considers his family. He makes a modest living supplying the local clinic with venom for antidotes. He returns home to find that his father had been killed in an accident, later to be revealed that it was actually a couple of these rotten poachers who actually did it, boasted about during a fight, which Stanley amusingly puts an 'end' to.

Even when members of his tribe attempt to convince him to return to the village to preserve the declining occupants; and even when visited by a couple other vets who offer him quite a bit of money to poach snake hides, he understandably refuses, not to mention that His best buddy is a rattle snake by the name of Stanley.

One day Tim brings Stanley a mate he names Hazel, even acquiring two makeshift beds for them*, complete with dinner - two nice fat mice for their repast. Unfortunately, those two rotten poachers enlist the help of a boozing pill-popping psychotic hippie aptly named "Psycho Simpson", who unconscionably destroys the matrimonial arrangement inclusive of newborn 'squiggles' with the butt of his rifle. Upon the discovery of this travesty, Stanley and Tim see an instant end to him - right in the jugular! Then he quite literally goes up the river. Sadly, they are given a respectful resting place in the side yard. Tim realizes that the source of his troubles derive from the boss poacher, and takes care of him good, while taking his nubile daughter back to the house, which results in a bit of solipsism.

Don't tread on Stanley!

Notable scenes include the justified punishments dished out via "Lex Serpentis", as it were, from a stripper gone wrong incorporating biting the heads off of snakes as a gimmick with her formerly sultry routine {she and her greasy husband are bitten to death in their beds}, to the boss of the poaching ring meeting his demise in the pool, but probably the most remarkable vengeance occurred as a two-fold revenge - death by quicksand upon his father's murderers with Stanley slithering by to make sure they go under while Tim oversees.

Eventually, Tim goes a bit mad in the end, taking out some of his frustrations even on some of the snakes, who concludes as a recipient of his own beloved creatures.

Also enjoyable are the vistas of natural environment replete through the movie, which Tim enjoys going about to and fro from his cabin about the river and swamps, interacting with the various inhabitants therein.

The film exemplifies the 7th Satanic Statement with a slight modification of "... more often worse than those who walk on all fours or slither on their bellies...", as well as the 5th. A thrill for ophiophiliacs and ophiophobes alike. ∞

* It is interesting how some people project humanimal values onto other species, like many do with felines, though a cordial friendship can be established, from one animal to another, so long as it does not lapse into a sort of neurotic fetishism.

Personally, along with a select few other predatory beasts, I have always felt a camaraderie with serpents, and have preserved a few as familiars, with their company being an enriching experience and reflection of certain traits. Indeed, much can be divulged by what 'pets' are kept, as that with archetypes.

Trip With The Teacher
X A.S. Directed & Written by Earl Barton. Starring Zalman King {Al}, Brenda Fogarty {Miss Tenny}, Cathy Worthington {Julie}, Dina Ousley {Bobbie}, Jill Voight {Tina}, Susan Russell {Pam}, Robert Gribbin {Jay}, Edward Cross {Station Attendant}, Robert Porter {Pete}, Jack Driscoll {Marvin, Bus Driver}, David Villa {Station Customer}. Genre: Action, thriller.

A bus load of girls with their teacher head out to the desert from some exploration when they meet three bikers on the road, one of whom is a psychopath {resembling Jim Morrison*} who had already killed a gas station attendant by that time. When the bus breaks down, the driver is killed, the opportunity is seized and are taken to an abandoned shack where they are held with despicably forced liberties taken, even with the teacher, even after an attempt with feminine wiles and encouraged intoxication, ends up to no avail.

One of the bikers {moreso a recreational 'motorist'} is a good-natured fellow who refuses to take part, eventually becoming their hero, after having been run off the road and left for dead. When one of the girls manages to abscond, she is hunted down by "Al" and smothered in the sand. Returning to the scene, an eventual face-off finally frees the girls as he heads out for civilization for help.

Zalman King portrays a most convincing psychotic, complete with a notable hissing snicker. A gritty thriller demonstrating unrestrained violent impulses set in the desert. ∞

* Perpetually wearing sunglasses and an overcoat. As a matter of fact, a line from the song "Riders on The Storm" comes to mind - "...there's a killer on the road..."

Brain Twisters
XXV A.S. Written & Directed by Jerry Sangiuliano. Farrah Forke {Laurie Stevens},Terry Londeree {Dr. Phillip Rothman}, Joe Lombardo {Frank Turi}, Donna Bostany {Michelle}, Elle Thompson {Yvonne}, Shura McComb {Ted}, Heather Ann Barclay {Denise}, Robert T. Hughes {Wrightnour}, Bill Hilkert Jr. {Pete}, Charles Lopresto {Custodian}, Michael Warholic {Norm}, Mitch Kornfeld {Roger}, Gene Malone {Police Captain}, Jonathan Lomma {Twelve Year Old Boy}, Mark Fryer {Policeman}. Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror, Thriller.

Dr. Phillip Rothman is a professor running audio and visual experiments for extra credit to improve video game graphics using volunteers from his classes, but the side effects cause homicidal and suicidal impulses in the subjects, eventually including himself. Even during the experiment, emotions are manipulated to cause ecstatic reactions as well as disturb*. As these triggers sublimate, they turn into virtual zombies when likened stimuli is experienced while going about their lives, demonstrating trance-like symptoms and sudden aggression. A detective becomes suspicious when a series of apparently senseless murders become prevalent.

The film begins with a girl hanging herself for no apparent reason. Another girl seeking to improve her grades through "extra-curricular" activities essentially becomes addicted and overdoses in the laboratory as the program initiates pleasure likened orgasmic bliss initially, which then becomes sensory overload, transforming her into a mindless killing machine; while another girl with a sweet disposition takes an axe to some classmates during a Halloween party. While being questioned by the detective, another paranoid subject commits suicide by jumping out a window. The professor decides to preserve the corpse's head for cerebral analysis, despite the efforts of the detective to retain the body in the morgue for autopsy.

The professor eventually learns this project is a secret plan by certain agencies to initiate mind control upon the populace, that he was merely a pawn, and is stifled for his discovered knowledge. The film concludes with a boy playing video games exhibiting sociopathic behavior.

Overall, it is ventured to say that this is not too far from the truth, where science fiction frequently becomes science fact. Similar films in this vain are 'They Live!' and 'Dreamscape'.

Of note, the sinister electronic music lends an extra air of eeriness. ∞

* It has since been studied that similar types of techniques do work in some cases, both for proposed therapeutic purposes, commercial advertisements, and in some instances, unintentional negative results in certain viewers.

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