Hello, and welcome to my 2021 April A to Z Blogging Challenge! This year, I’m listing all the horror movies Alec and I have seen over the course of the pandemic (so far). There are quite a few of them. But today I only have two movies to talk about, and one of them I blogged about already last year.
Away with introductions! An exciting thing is happening today! I am getting dose #1 of my vaccine this afternoon (yay!!!!), and I’d like to get this finished first.
Without further ado…
The Undead (1957)
Director: Roger Corman
This was an early-pandemic watch, which I have already mentioned on my blog. Here is what I said before, with the more serious spoilers whited out (highlight to read them):
…The Undead is a Roger Corman thing, and it is… splendid. Just splendid. But let me get one thing out of the way at once: there are no undead in it. No zombies or vampires or anything. I have no idea why it is called The Undead.
***New Theory: they came up with the title first, sold the movie on the basis of the title, maybe made some of the posters, and then got distracted and forgot to put any undead in the actual film. That sort of thing was happening all the time, back in the day.***
We begin with a scientist of some sort, who picks up a woman off the street and regresses her into a past life through hypnosis. The woman (whose name I think is Diana?) finds herself a disembodied advisor to her past self, a woman named Helene, who is about to be executed as a witch. The jailor is currently trying to put the moves on her. But with Diana’s advice, Helene escapes him. She also escapes the jail and goes on the run.
Helene has a lover, a man named Pendragon (which, by the way, no-one in this movie can pronounce, but whatever). He is trying to find and save her. Oh, and, though Helene herself is not actually a witch, most of the other people in the film are. One of them is a very beautiful witch (played by Alison Hayes, who also played the 50-foot woman in the movie of that name) who has her eye on Pendragon. Shenanigans ensue. At one point, she runs amok with an axe. She needs a head, see, for the Black Mass that night…
There is a very odd gravedigger character (he has been driven mad, apparently by witchcraft) who keeps on singing weird, morbid versions of common childrens’ rhymes. I liked him a lot.
But! The movie gets really strange when the scientist (remember him?) suddenly decides that he can totally go back to the past, too, and does that. He does not seem to care about what happens to Diana/Helene or to anyone else, but he takes a malicious pleasure in watching the events unfold firsthand.
We meet the Devil, briefly. [Pendragon is about to sell him his soul, but the wandering scientist shows up, and advises him to rent it instead. For, say, a month or so. What he means by this is a bit unclear.]
[Eventually, Helene allows herself to be executed, in a moving scene. No, really, I thought it had real emotional weight. You see, because of time shenanigans, if she lives now, when she is supposed to die, she will never be reincarnated. All of her future selves plead with her for their lives. It is actually pretty intense.]
This movie is full of inconsequent, slightly random strangeness.
Here is a picture of the Devil, as he is represented in this movie:
Director: Greydon Clark
The source of yesterday’s Mystery Picture! Here it is again, in all of its hideous cuteness:
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Uninvited is a popular movie to talk about, if you are a bad-movie-reviewer. Which appears to be a profession now. That’s… kind of splendid, really.
Uninvited starts in a creepy lab. There is a cat on a table and some scientists. The scientists are performing experiments on the cat. With the door to the lab wide open and the cat just loose on the table. As people who have taken our own cat to the vet, we were immediately interested in the poor choices these scientists were making. Because, I mean, if there’s an open door, and a cat who doesn’t want to be on a table, that cat will be fleeing through that open door. This is just how physics works. As scientists, they ought to have known that.
So yeah. The cat escapes. The scientists chase him. One of them corners the beast in a garage… and we find out what sort of experiments the scientists have been making on the poor, adorable animal. Apparently, the scientists were probing the age-old question: can we, as mere humans, put a small, murderous cat inside a normal-sized, non-murderous cat, such that the normal-sized cat can puke up the small cat when threatened, allowing said small cat to grow to an alarming size and murder any mean person it happens to be near at the time? And the answer is, yes. Yes they can do that. It works brilliantly. The small murder-cat takes care of the mean old scientist, is presumably re-absorbed by the nice big cat, and then they (it? He? I don’t know) leave the garage.
Cut to some young ladies on Spring Break. They get picked up by some sleazy businessmen and invited along on a cruise. The ladies then themselves invite some young men they meet at the country club or something. Also, one of the ladies finds this nice, big cat in a dumpster, and decides to bring the cat along on the cruise, too.
Mayhem ensues. The small cat often emerges from the nice, big cat, swells up into quite a sizable puppet, and commits murder. Also… it has a poisoned bite? And… yeah, I’m not going to go into all the weird details. Suffice it to say that all of the characters swiftly realize how much it sucks to be trapped on a yacht with a cat with a murder-cat inside of him.
Lots of reviewers have pointed out that some scenes are Alien rip-offs, and that is true. Alec has made a related point, which I like. “In some ways,” says Alec, “Uninvited is like the plot of Alien, but cutting out the middle-man. There is no Jonesy fake-out, because here, Jonesy is the alien.”
Anyway, I’m not saying this movie doesn’t have its problems. It has a lot of problems. But there is a fascination about the movie, and a charm, and I think we’ve actually seen it twice now.
Right. That’s it for today! On Monday, a whole lot of movies that begin with “V,” and which deal almost exclusively with one particular monster. You know the one I mean. Yeah, that’s right. Bigfoot.
Here is a still from one of the movies:
You know, I have never actually met Bigfoot, but I feel like he is actually a very contemplative sort of chap. And certainly I’ve never pictured him going for a jewelled golden choker, although I could be wrong about that. I mean really, who doesn’t like gold jewelry? Was it Bigfoot who sang that catchy little number about gold being a cryptid’s best friend? Or am I confusing him with someone else?
Ha! It was probably Bigfoot.
For The Undead, I love how you say the “movie gets really strange” at a point where it already felt it had deviated well into strange territory.
Yes, well–it definitely gets even stranger. Quite an odd movie, really.