|Vintage Pulp||Jan 25 2011|
One thing you can say about Hammer Studios is that they’ve always been opportunistic. After the success of their 1966 Raquel Welch adventure One Million Years, B.C. the big brains in the front office decided to double down on sexed-up whitewashed primitivism. This time they tapped British hottie Martine Beswick, who had co-starred in B.C., to headline a new lost world production called Slave Girls, aka Prehistoric Women. It’s the tale of a great white hunter in Africa who’s projected into a parallel dimension and finds himself in the middle of a struggle between a cruel queen and her downtrodden subjects. Add to this mix the obligatory Raquel Welch-style fur bikinis, a hundred gallons of skin bronzer, a few “tribal” dance numbers, a heavy dose of blood curses, and a sprinkling of animist mythology and you’ve got yourself a movie.
As tempting as it is to say the results are bad, it just wouldn’t be true. Slave Girls works, more or less, despite the limitations of being shot entirely on a British back lot. Beswick really chews the plastic scenery to pieces. She preens, poses, snarls, shrieks, flares her lovely nostrils and flaunts her six-pack—and that’s just during her dance number. When allowed to speak she tosses off some memorable lines. To the great white hunter: “You see! Already you want to impose your will! You want to dominate me!” And in the next instant (parenthetically hinting at an emotional wound in her past): “I’d be a fool to let any man do that again.” Aww, she has a heart after all—it’s been broken is the problem. But then she’s back to evil queen mode: “But you will want me. And on my terms!” Well, she’s right about that. You will want her—on any terms. Slave Girls, with Beswick, Edina Ronay and Michael Latimer, premiered in the U.S. today in 1967.
|Intl. Notebook||Nov 24 2010|
Polish-born actress Ingrid Pitt as a child survived a Nazi concentration camp to star as an adult in a score of films, including several horror movies produced during the early 1970s by Hammer Studios. Some of those titles are The House that Dripped Blood, The Wicker Man, Countess Dracula and The Vampire Lovers, and her portrayals made her a favorite among fans of macabre cinema. Pitt died this morning in a London hospital aged 73.
|Vintage Pulp||Oct 11 2009|
You’d think a film entitled Countess Dracula is a vampire movie, but it isn’t—at least not in the traditional sense. Rather it’s about real-life figure Erzebet Bathory, a noblewoman who killed three-hundred virgins in medieval Hungary and bathed in their blood to reverse the effects of aging. The Countess is portrayed by Ingrid Pitt, who does what any post-menopausal woman would do when made young again—gets laid. Actually, since this is the Middle Ages she has to get wooed first, which involves constantly performing the ritual in order to play the role of an available young woman. But these rituals from dusty old books always have side effects. Some are relatively benign—dizziness, headaches, erections lasting more than four hours—while others are more serious. In this case the problem is each period of youthfulness granted is shorter and the Countess’s aged visage, when it returns, is ever more witchlike and hideous. Nevertheless, the supply of nubile village virgins lasts long enough for the Countess to marry the man of her dreams. But then comes the wedding night, when the new husband is bitterly disappointed, and completely taken aback by his bride’s total change in attitude and appearance—and this is all before the spell even wears off. Badabing. Seriously, though, this is Hammer Studios horror and we recommend the film for that reason alone. It isn’t Hammer’s best, but it’s still got that ineffable British style. Countess Dracula premiered in the U.S. today in 1971.
|Vintage Pulp||Jul 9 2009|
If you like Hammer Studios' gothic horror films, Straight on till Morning might not quite be your bucket of blood, but you have to give the studio behind The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Visitor from the Grave credit for getting out of their comfort zone. It’s out with the old, in with the new, as they leave castles and moors behind for the penthouses and pavement of modern day London. The result, which premiered in the U.K. today in 1972, is decidedly mixed. Not that this film isn’t creepy—just the opposite, watching miss lonely heart Rita Tushingham fall unknowingly into the arms of a sadistic killer is like having a front row seat for a downward spiral. She’s sad and innocent; he’s compelled to kill beautiful women—somehow we know this isn’t going to end with her tossing a bouquet to her bridesmaids. Bleak though it may be, we think this one is worth a viewing. Or, to quote Hammer Studios’ namesake, the redoubtable MC Hammer: “When you talkin’ about the Hammer, you talkin’ about a show.”