Curse of the Voodoo aka Voodoo Blood Death (1965)

Curse of the Voodoo aka Voodoo Blood Death (1965) is a movie I used to see on video store shelves.  When I found a copy in a bargain bin on my recent travels, I was unsure if I’d ever seen it or not. I’ve looked at the box so many times over the years that I could convince myself that I’d rented or bought it at some point in the past. But seeing as it was 75% off the already low cover price, I decided to give it a try.

It was completely new to me, and considering that it only gets a 3.0 on the imdb, it’s a pretty slick little movie with good performances from some serious British actors ( Dennis Price, Lisa Daniely, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, etc.). To be honest, I was expecting a no-budget piece o’ crap that would have played as a second or third feature at drive-ins. Curse of the Voodoo is more like a low-rent Hammer film, and deserves a higher rating than 3.0. 

Perhaps it’s the subject matter that causes many people to dismiss it. Movies about voodoo, and/or African safaris, run the risk of portraying antiquated racial stereotypes – and I’m sure Curse of the Voodoo contains it’s share. Incidentally, I’m not convinced that this movie actually has anything to do with voodoo. It’a about a British hunter who kills a lion (which is considered a god to an African tribe called the Simbazi) and may or may not be cursed because of it. It’s a psychological horror story, mostly set in England.

Considering the public outrage when an American hunter killed a protected lion a few years ago, this movie could serve as a cinematic salve for those who wished to see the hunter punished – like a good vigilante movie can calm the nerves of those angry about rampant crime waves.

Curse of the Voodoo aka Voodoo Blood Death (1965) is not a perfect movie, but it would have totally fit in with the B-horror films I used to see see on late night TV, and so l welcome it to the realm of #NotQuiteClassicCinema.

Friday night at the home drive-in: Watch Me When I Kill (1977)

I have always been a fan of horror films, and slasher films in particular. I saw movies like Halloween (1978) and Terror Train (1980) when they first appeared on TV, and they made a strong impression. But it wasn’t every day that respectable TV stations would show movies like that. And I was too young to get in to see most of them in the theatre. Home video was a life-changer for a kid like me. Not only did stores like Jumbo Video have a Horror Castle (which was a room filled with hundreds of horror films on VHS and Beta), the clerks who worked in those stores never stopped me or my friends from renting R-rated movies when we were 12 or 13.

We quickly discovered that even though movies had shiny new boxes, with custom made artwork, the films inside were sometimes a lot older than they were made to look. Occasionally we would rent what appeared to be a brand new slasher film, only to discover that it was in fact an old (1960s or early 1970s) Italian movie about a series of murders. Stylistically, these movies were very different from slasher films, and we often felt disappointed when we inadvertently wound up watching one on a Friday night.

Years later I discovered that these movies were called giallos (if you are unfamiliar with that term, go here for a detailed explanation). To my untrained eye, at that time, giallos were basically violent murder mysteries.

As I got older, I started to appreciate these giallos a lot more. Instead of being disappointed when I bought an old VHS tape and discovered a giallo inside, I would get excited. I actually started to look for them, reading the small print on the back of  boxes looking for clues. If the program content was dated 1960s or 70s, that was good sign. If there were a lot of Italian names in the credits, that was a very good sign. This is how I came to purchase VHS tapes with titles like Virgin Terror – which turned out to be an Italian movie called Enigma rosso or Red Rings of Fear (1978). 

 

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Watch Me When I Kill (1977) was another movie that fit into this category. I remember the VHS tape kicking around, but I had never rented it. This was largely due to negative reviews I had read in books I trusted. But the authors had panned the movie for the same reason that my friends and I had been disappointed by some of our rentals;  it was not what it pretended to be (a slasher film). When I was 12 or 13, I would have agreed whole-heartedly. How dare this old, dubbed, murder mystery pretend to be like Prom Night or My Bloody Valentine? But by the time I was an adult, my attitude had changed. Still, I somehow managed to never see Watch Me When I Kill (1977). Never, that is, until I picked up a nice DVD edition on my travels last week. I figured a viewing was long overdue, and I was willing to take a chance that it was a movie I would be happy to have in my collection. I was not disappointed. 

Giallos are a bit like slasher films in that even the “bad” ones are still entertaining (at least to me). And although I never saw one on Not Quite Classic Theatre, I did literally discover giallos at the Home Drive-in (my local video store) back in the glory days of home video. And as such, they will aways be a welcome addition to my #NotQuiteClassicCinema library.

Friday Night at the Home Drive-in: Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (1966)

This is the third and final part of a Home Drive-In On The Road mini-series. More information about all three to follow…

Friday Night at the Home Drive-in: Track of the Moon Beast (1976)

This is part two of a Home Drive-In On The Road mini-series.

As stated in last week’s post, when travelling, I can’t bring my library of DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS tapes with me. Sometimes I bring a handful of carefully selected titles, especially if I know I’m going to be staying in a place with a DVD player. If it’s a longer trip, with more unknown stops; if I’m crossing a border, where overzealous customs agents may decide to seize things; or if I just need to travel light, I don’t want to bring a bunch of nice, expensive, individual DVDs and Blu-rays. Instead, I’ll grab 2 or 3 discs from a cheap, public domain DVD set, each one usually containing about four movies. The quality of the prints is often bad, and the titles are not necessarily top drawer, and often I’ve seen several of them in the past, but if something bad were to happen, and I lost these discs, it would not be a big deal. They are also light and skinny and can easily be slipped into a full backpack, suitcase, or laptop bag.

Track of the Moon Beast (1976) was on one the public domain discs I carried with me on my recent trip. I had seen it years before, but couldn’t remember it well at all. It turns out that it’s an old fashioned science fiction B-movie, kind of like the ones I used to see on Not Quite Classic Theatre back in the ’80s. It’s ten or twenty years more recent, and several degrees shoddier than those older movies, but the story/concept is not that far off. It goes something like this: a man gets a fragment of a meteor lodged in his brain, and begins to transform into a hideous moon-beast that terrorizes the local area. Scientists and other experts theorize, and make reference to local legends from the indigenous community (yes, it seems that this exact same thing has happened in the past).

The movie gets a 2.3 on the imdb, and is generally lambasted by critics (and anyone else who discusses it). I found it to be charmingly fun in a way that only a great bad movie can be. It’s perfect late night viewing at the Away From Home Drive-in, and 100% Certified #NotQuiteClassicCinema.

Friday night at the home drive-in: Have a Nice Weekend (1975)

This is part one of a Home Drive-In On The Road mini-series.

Whenever I travel, I try to keep up with my regular posts / tweets, etc. It’s sometimes difficult, with spotty wifi, and long hours of driving. But at the very least, I try to spent an hour or two at the (away from) home drive-in on Friday nights.

My “summer” vacation started on October 25 this year. It was a Friday, and we hit the road after work. We only drove for about four hours – just enough to take the edge off the longer driving days ahead (and to feel like we were on our way). Wanting to travel light, I did not bring my library of DVDs and Blu-rays with me. Even if I had, the motel room did not have any kind of player. So, I had to resort to streaming something off of YouTube – if the motel wifi was good enough. Fortunately, it was.

I stumbled upon a fairly obscure little movie called Have a Nice Weekend (1975). I had never heard of it, but something about it intrigued me. I gave it a try, and I’ll be damned if it didn’t entertain me greatly. Considering that many of the actors in this movie have never done anything else (or very little), I thought they were quite good. Part slasher film (before the genre had really begun), part man returns from the war a little messed up (suffering from traumatic flashbacks, etc) movie, and part dysfunctional family drama, this movie surprised me more than once with its offbeat storytelling.

I couldn’t find out very much about the film, and it appears to have only been released in obscure (public domain?) VHS editions. I for one would welcome a remastered DVD or Blu-ray into my collection. Partly campy, partly effective, this odd little movie is one that I hope to one day add to my #NotQuiteClassicCinema library.  For now it will be a happy memory of “summer” vacation 2019.