Fall of the Curse of the Horrors of the Coughing Man Without a Body from Beyond Space (With Sledgehammers)

So, my “See REPTILICUS and Die” quest to watch all the films depicted in Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies goes on — here is the fourth and final list of entries I haven’t told you about. This was completed on the laptop of our young ward, Louis. As I see the movies, I will change the titles here to RED. A few earlier entries have already changed hue.

Page 162. I think I tried to watch KING OF THE ZOMBIES online once, but the combination of bad, low-res image and sound, and bad, low-res film-making was too much for me. If I can get a decent copy I suppose I’ll have to try again.

Page 163. VOODOO MAN is a quickie from Poverty Row kings Monogram, which brings George Zucco and Bela Lugosi together and attempts to keep them sober.

Beautiful zombies at the mercy of a madman! I like the idea of the screenwriter hero — poverty row goes pomo!

164-165. THE NEANDERTHAL MAN has a fun make-up, but I don’t know anything else about it. CRY OF THE WEREWOLF stars Nina Foch, which is good news, but is this one of those’40s monster movies without an actual monster? THE HYPNOTIC EYE is such a good title, I would be satisfied if the movie itself were just a lingering close-up of a dripping eyeball. That would be pretty hypnotic. In fact, it’s possibly the only film shot in Hypno-Magic, “the thrill you see and feel”. I wonder if, after the word “feel”, in very very small microdot writing, is the word “cheated”. It seems possible.

167. VENGEANCE, with Anne Heywood is an Anglo-German brain movie, which strongly suggests to me that it must be at least as good as Ozu’s LATE SPRING. But I could be wrong there.

171. I’ve kind of seen FIEND WITHOUT A FACE, but “kind of” doesn’t cut it here, and I’m actually intrigued to experience it properly. Director Arthur Crabtree’s career starts with erotic Freudian Gainsborough melodrama MADONNA OF THE SEVEN MOONS and ends with sadeian thick-ear HORRORS OF THE BLACK MUSEUM, making him a genuine God of Trash. Crazy trash, the kind that Douglas Sirk reckons can sometimes approach art.

172-3. It’s actually quite hard to recall which Universal ’50s giant animal films I’ve seen, but I think it’s, like, all of them. But from Japan comes SPACE AMOEBA, GAMERA VERSUS JIGER, and DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. The last-named was probably the film my seven-year-old self was ulcerating to see above all others.

175. IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE, is a precursor to ALIEN in many ways. I’ve seen the last half-hour and actually found it tense, which is practically unheard-of for these things. Even though it’s by the generally rather useless Edward L Cahn, I’m psyched to see the whole show. PHANTOM FROM SPACE looks like one of the big-heads from Metaluna has been working out at Muscle Beach. Has to be worth a chuckle at least.

180. Here we have REPTILICUS, the only Danish dinosaur movie I can think of. An IMDb reviewer writes, “This is the movie that we Danes can be proud of!! It is the worst movie ever made but it is so funny that I am about to die.” So I’m right to hold off on watching this until the instant of my death. I shall complete my meaningless Gifford-based quest by choking on my own brains as I watch Copenhagen flattened by a prehistoric glove puppet. Incidentally, REPTILICUS is directed by Poul Bang and Sidney Pink, so when I do blog about it, from the afterlife, I can joke about it being a Pink/Bang movie. Something for us all to look forward to.

184. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD is an endearingly stupid idea, a Japanese giant monster movie (kaiju) in which the giant monster is the Frankenstein monster, somehow grown to 100ft in height, battling a big squid.

187. 1957′s THE VAMPIRE again, for some reason. Was Gifford just randomly throwing publicity snaps together?

190. INVISIBLE INVADERS is not only directed by Edward L Cahn (THE FOUR SKULLS OF JONATHAN DRAKE), but almost as if that weren’t enough, it stars John Agar. The mark of greatness. The still shows a bunch of zombie-type guys advancing through scrubland, and I can so easily imagine them singing the lyrics of Frank Zappa’s The Radio is Broken: “They need to reproduce! With John Agar… They need to reproduce! With Sonny Tufts… They need to reproduce! With Jackie Coogan…”

191. WILLARD. Rats. Lots of rats. Is this the one with the Michael Jackson song?

194. A couple of serious rarities: posters for a 1902 version of MARIA MARTEN, OR THE MURDER IN THE RED BARN (I’ve seen the later Tod Slaughter version) and FIGHT WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS, billed as “The most thrilling film ever taken.” I can totally believe it. It’s certainly the most thrilling title ever written, and why it hasn’t been used for every film made since, I can’t imagine. I suppose that would eventually cause confusion.

196. THE MAN WITHOUT A BODY deals with a reanimated head of Nostradamus. Rather than getting an actor to stick his head up through a hole in a table, the producers appear to have assembled an unconvincing puppet head, and fastened that to a table. Either that, or it’s an actor cunningly disguised to resemble a puppet head. THE CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE shows a rather attractive severed head on a plate. She may actually be the sexiest severed head I’ve ever seen. Who is she? I don’t know, but this movie does feature Candace Hilligoss from CARNIVAL OF SOULS, in what’s basically her only other role, so I have to see it. And it stars a nubile Roy Scheider! It’s directed by Del Tenney, who seems to have specialised in utter shit, but I’ll give this one a go.

197 features a bit of our personal history — a spooky image of a little girl at a window, her hands pressed against the glass. Fiona did a painting of this at art school. Gifford mislabels the still CHILDREN OF THE DAMNED (a nice movie, underrated) but it’s actually from Mario Bava’s brilliant OPERAZIONE PAURA / KILL BABY KILL! Fiona was thrilled to finally see the movie and recognise the image.

198. Oscar Homolka Akim Tamiroff as THE VULTURE? Count me in! Basically a stout, elderly Russian in a feather boa, not the most obviously terrifying image in the world, but I believe I could get into the spirit of the thing. TROG is the movie that inspired John Landis’s entire career — he saw it, and was convinced he could do better. Freddie Francis, the greatly embarrassed director of TROG, is therefore indirectly responsible for BEVERLY HILLS COP III and THE STUPIDS.

200. A movie from 1924 which I suspect may be hard to track down: THE COUGHING HORROR. Adapted from a Sax Rohmer potboiler, it’s a silent movie, which means that it absolutely MUST feature intertitles that read “Cough. Cough. Cough.” If I can find this beauty, I promise to feature it in Intertitle of the Week.

202. THE PHANTOM OF SOHO looks neat-o, being a German adaptation from a Bryan Edgar Wallace story.

203. THE MURDER CLINIC is an Alfredo Leone production, which means I extend the hand of friendship to it without a second thought. CASTLE SINISTER is a British movie from 1948 that I’ve never come across. That’s going to be a tough one to find.

206. THE BLACK CAT. An IMDB reviewer says  — “This version of “The Black Cat” was filmed in Texas in the mid-60′s and is probably one of the few Poe adaptations to have go-go dancers and rock and roll.” He also points out that the image used in Gifford, a girl with an axe embedded in her skull, was used as an album cover by a band rejoicing in the name The Angry Samoans. SEDDOK is another memorable title, but the movie (true title SEDDOK, L’EREDE DI SATANA) is a knock-off of EYES WITHOUT A FACE.

207. THE SPECTRE is the follow-up to THE HORRIBLE DR HITCHCOCK. Haven’t seen either of them. I bought a tape of the last-named in Camden Town a few years ago, but it crapped out shortly after the titles (featuring a credit for somebody called “Frank Smokecocks”). These are Riccardo Freda films, and therefore definite must-sees. Freda is a cinematic Sultan of Wrongness. I keep missing THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR, only catching bits, but maybe it’ll be worth seeing if a decent transfer turns up — I seem to recall it’s one of those Tigon productions that always seems impenetrably dark when aired on TV. MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND is another Philippino favourite, and another graphic image I tried to protect my little friend from in childhood.

208. 1949 British version of FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER sounds very intriguing — Britain really wasn’t known for horror in those days. This is a tatty “quota quickie” that sounds kind of appealing.

216. Last page of the index, and Gifford manages one more still (although he forgets to list it IN the index): the 1923 WARNING SHADOWS, which I have and which I intend to watch very soon.

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27 Responses to “Fall of the Curse of the Horrors of the Coughing Man Without a Body from Beyond Space (With Sledgehammers)”

  1. Of all the films in this post, I think the one that deserves special mention is Fiend Without A Face. Although it’s been decades since last I’ve seen it, it still looms large in my memory banks. One of a handful of horror/sci-fi films to receive the Criterion Treatment (the others being The Blob, Robinson Crusoe On Mars, and Equinox, I’m not sure if the two Paul Morrissey films count), the special effects are pretty surprising. What you have here are brains with tails that literally leap through the air (the “tail” is the spinal cord). It wraps its “tail” around the neck of a victim and strangles him or her with it. When shot, the “brain-thing” makes a distinct flatulent sound. This one won’t disappoint. Willard is not the rat film with the Michael Jackson tune, that honor belongs to its sequel, Ben, I believe. I caught a glimpse of Curse Of The Living Corpse a couple years back on cable, I was surprised to see Scheider, but I think you may be right about this one, I didn’t see the severed head, but what I did see looked pretty forgettable. Also, yes, It! The Terror From Beyond Space is another must-see, it was a pretty effective sci-fi/horror film for its time. Looking forward to your post on Warning Shadows, this one intrigues me greatly (By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but did you know that Brad Dourif’s daughter’s name is Fiona? She had a small part in the series Deadwood. Her dad Brad had a much larger part, as Doc Cochran).

  2. Oh, and I love the title The Coughing Horror. It sounds like a comedy skit where you have a social gathering and someone shows up who chain-smokes, periodically horrifying the other guests with violent coughing fits. Sort of like the classic Saturday Night Live skit entitled The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave, where Belushi shows up at a couple’s apartment, watches their TV, eats their food and just won’t go home, even though the couple are retiring to bed (Christopher Lee was the host that night).

  3. Somehow I’ve missed seeing Fiend Without a Face numerous times in my life. It’s easy to get, so I will.

    Warning Shadows looks absolutely spiffy. Fiona’s obsessed with that one, so we’ll be running it soon. Maybe not this week though.

    Fiona Dourif, eh? I’ll watch out for her.

    I read a few Sax Rohmer books in my time, and The Coughing Horror definitely calls to mind his brand of trashy pulp. I wonder if it’s a coughing non-Aryan horror?

  4. Del Tenney also directed the marvelously silly The Horror of Party Beach. Not to be missed.

  5. Invisible Invaders! I saw that as a young’un, and sadly never learned the title (along with another zombie-esque movie that was set in the 1930s and had bodies kept in a meat locker or some such thing). Your mention of it jarred my memory (the John Agar tip is what did it) and I see it’s available on DVD in a double feature with Journey to the Seventh Planet, must track that one down.
    IT! is definitely a fun watch. Quick paced and the climax is pretty intense as I recall, with the monster tearing through doors and so on. King of the Zombies shouldn’t be too hard to find, I used to have the Roan disc (paired with Revolt of the Zombies) that’s as decent a copy as you could hope for. I enjoyed it, but then I’ll watch nearly anything with Mantan Moreland in it. Haven’t seen Voodoo Man, but it looks worth it for John Carradine’s unhinged performance. Also, why is George Zucco calling from a garage (surely those are fanbelts hanging on the wall behind him)?

  6. jason hyde Says:

    FIGHT WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS really is the greatest film title ever created. I think I might go make my own movie to go with it, so that future generations will at least have something called FIGHT WITH SLEDGEHAMMERS to watch after they read Gifford’s book.

    That still from THE BLACK CAT traumatized me as a child. I finally got around to seeing the film a few years ago, and it’s not bad in that no-budget regional horror production sort of way. The rock songs in it are actually pretty good.

    CURSE OF THE LIVING CORPSE is kind of great.

  7. Speaking of John Carradine… a friend and I used to enjoy renting mysterious videotapes with no cases or descriptions which we’d find misshelved (or on the floor) at a shabby video store, and one of these was called FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND, an awful movie with barely any Frankenstein (or Carradine) in it. It must have some sort of cult success, since it recently turned up at our drive-in theater, but I couldn’t bring myself to go watch it again.

    Another Frankenstein spotting this weekend: cameo in a now-obscure 1940′s comedy called HELLZAPOPPIN’

  8. And one more Frankenstein note worth mentioning, YouTube has the original Frankenstein film of 1910 up for viewing, which is a little over 12 minutes long. I actually discovered it on the blog Films Wot I Watched, blogger Vern did a piece on it. Y’all check it out. My only gripe: no close-ups of The Monster. Of course, it is 1910 though.

  9. Hellzapoppin was quite a big thing for years, and only became obscure when copyright trouble prevented it from being screened in the US for years and years. Although Olsen and Johnson were never that big, that film is the apogee of crazy comedy in classic era Hollywood: the Marx brothers times ten.

    Apparently in King of the Zombies, Zucco works in a garage and runs a voodoo cult in his spare time.

    No monster closeups in the Edison Frankenstein? But I bet they don’t have ANY closeups. I’m gonna go check it out, I’ve never seen the whole thing.

    The Horror of Party Beach made a very good Mystery Science Theater episode. “Do you think a lot of filmmakers have issues with women?”

  10. I used to run into television screenings of the “The Hypnotic Eye” quite a lot in my misspent youth. Nowadays, I’d be surprised if this item — more of a “serial killer” movie than a “horror movie,” to my old-fashioned tastes — *could* be screened on non-cable TV, what with the flung acid and flaming hair and suchlike. *Really* tatty, and not very good, but … Jacques Bergerac brings a certain sordid splendor to it, and the seriously-underrated Allison Hayes (as the villainess) is genuinely good. PLUS, if I remember correctly, there’s a surprisingly strong score by a certain Marlin Skiles.

    “Invisible Invaders” brings to mind George Steiner on Samuel Beckett, namely his comment that Beckett took the absolute minimum that could constitute drama — and then did it with *less*. Not that the film is any good, mind you. I’m just a sucker for no-budget ’50s epics with brassy scores and brain-dead humanoids controlled by space aliens …

  11. Need more John Carradine on conga! His lips say “We won’t hurtcha,” but his hairstyle says he will.

  12. Christopher Says:

    Hellzapoppin is long overdue for a decent DVD release..Alice Cooper used to quote that as his favorite film in the early 70s..and thats about the last time I saw it..
    King of the Zombies ia an easy find ..a bargain bin staple…ssssombiez!..”move over boys I’m one of the gang now”
    …I’d like to see Voodoo Man again myself..Carradine looks like he has his work cut out for him keeping those Zombie dames in line!

  13. Sally Potter cited Hellzapoppin’ as a big influence on The Gold Diggers.

    Olsen and Johnson were never in Hollywood but their stage shows ran for years and years on Broadway.

  14. Christopher Says:

    Crazy House may even be a funnier Olsen and Johnson..Its got all the guest cameos..and Ghost Catchers…that would make a nice little set of their comedies

  15. Here’s a bit of “Hypnotic Eye” …

    The best theme from Skiles’ score is evident in the flute playing at the beginning. As for the rest of what you’ll encounter … I’ll just remark on how the Picasso print on the wall, at the end, leads to *menages-a-trois* and voyeurism … and worse!

  16. I like the looks of that! Must…obtain…Eye!

    That Rosebud gag in Hellzapoppin’ is quite something: “I thought they burned that.” I’d like to think that the sled Spielberg paid so much money for is the one from Hellzapoppin’ rather than Kane.

    John Carradine’s advice to his sons: “Never do anything you wouldn’t be caught dead doing.”

  17. Christopher Says:

    them Carradine boys bring distinction to all their pictures..the soul of the old man lives thru

    hey..its got Ramsay Ames and her Tropicanans!

  18. kevin mummery Says:

    The Coughing Horror…Sax Rohmer…Fu Manchu with a bronchial infection?

    I often wonder if we’d say half the things we say in the course of our lives if we knew they’d end up as silent film intertitles. I for one wouldn’t like to be remembered for uttering such utterances as:

    “Everytime I go to piss in the sink there’s dirty dishes in it!”

    And yet somehow I still can’t stop myself.

  19. You join a distinguished troupe of sink-pissers that includes James “Mr Kipling” Hayter, Jessie Matthews, and Barbara Windsor.

  20. kevin mummery Says:

    Thank God… I thought I was the only one.

  21. It’s a great cockney theatre tradition. “Never use the loo, you don’t know who’s been there,” says Bab.

  22. While on holiday I tried to finally watch The Horrible Doctor Hichcock, but we just couldn’t get past the titles. “Frank Smokecocks” finished us. I arrive home and feel it necessary to Google an investigation as to whether anybody else has pointed him out. Google leads me right back here. Sometimes I think my life is a Mobius strip or something.

  23. David Wingrove theorises that it’s a literal translation of an Italian name. Francisco Fumogalletti? Still, it’s genius, and probably the high point of the film, but with its nakedly necrophiliac plot turns (starting in scene 1) the film does seem to have more going for it. And Riccardo Freda was a demented genius.

  24. As soon as I track down subtitles for my copy, I’ll give it another go. I was lucky enough to catch Freda’s Dublin-set (!) giallo The Iguana with the Tongue of Fire at last year’s Horrorthon and it was weird enough to make me want to know more.

  25. The Klaus Kinksi film is sensational (worth it for the toy car SFX alone), but Tragic Ceremony is perhaps his masterpiece. Although probably the historical epics he made for Mussolini are more “respectable”. What a world.

  26. [...] nightmares — my quest, I say, is not far from completion. If you visit the pages where I listed the films I had to track down and see, you’ll observe that most of the entries are now [...]

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