Nine Lives, Seven Curses, and a Triphibian Monster


Part three of my jumbo list of all the films illustrated in A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford which I still have to see.

Have decided to mark the films out in red as I see them. People will be able to look back at these posts in a thousand years and they will appear SOAKED IN BLOOD.

110. THE LAST MAN ON EARTH — this might be the next Gifford-illustrated film I watch, since I have a disc of it lying around somewhere. Sounds promising enough — Vincent Price is that man.

113. I admit it, I’ve never seen WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY, originally known (in Germany) as LYCANTHROPUS, a rather classy title somebody should re-use.

118-119. With the heading “Women’s Lib hits Transylvania,” Gifford provides images of lady vampires. I find I can’t be sure I’ve seen RETURN OF COUNT YORGA, but I’m almost sure I have. The original COUNT Y ceases to be interesting the second George MacReady’s narration ends, apart from a cool end shot of happily vampirised townsfolks, if I’m recalling it correctly. Bert Gordon’s SAINT GEORGE AND THE SEVEN CURSES must be worth a few chuckles, but it’s not one that I’ve ever come across.

128. PHAROAH’S CURSE (1956) seems like it’s practically bound to stink, but the make-up in this still is fairly impressive.

138. Never seen GAPPA, THE TRIPHIBIAN MONSTER. Loved giant monster movies as a kid, but Gappa and Gamera never seemed to turn up. I would see Godzilla and pals in kids’ matinees at my local Odeon. My appetite for giant Japanese monsters has waned a bit since then.

144. THE MAN IN HALF MOON STREET is the original of THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH, so is probably a snooze.

146. THE BRUTE MAN. Rondo Hatton fascinates me. Possibly something to do with his appearance, but I can’t put my finger on it.

150-1. Boris Karloff in a string beard, for THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES. I’ll happily watch Boris in any old crap, including string beards. I don’t know if I ever saw all of THE WALKING DEAD, but I downloaded it so now I can. I love Michael Curtiz’s other horrors, so this has to be of some value. DEAD MEN WALK has two George Zuccos for the price of one. The cheap, cheap price.


152. Rondo again! HOUSE OF HORRORS will have to be seen, as will THE MONSTER MAKER, in which Ralph Morgan pretends to have acromegaly, the disease that afflicted R.H. for real, giving him his distinctive manly appeal.

154. THE DEVIL BAT is widely available but I somehow missed it so far. I think it’s meant to be a fairly enjoyable Poverty Row Lugosi effort.

156-7. THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA gets a colour still this time, and then there’s a monochrome one from BLACK DRAGONS, with Lugosi. Was just offered a copy of this one.


158-9. The motherlode! Never seen DR RENAULT’S SECRET, THE MAD MONSTER, RETURN OF THE APE MAN, THE APE MAN or CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN. An entire two-page spread which I’m a stranger to. That must mean something. Maybe I’m supposed to watch all of these in a marathon session. From what I’ve heard of the two APE movies, that might nery well prove fatal. Actor Steven McNicoll observed of Lugosi’s performance in THE APE MAN, that the tragedy was “you can see he’s thought about it.”


160. THE STRANGE CASE OF DR RX. Weird title, weird film. No doctor of those initials appears in the story, but “Pinky” Atwill plays Dr. Fish, apparently. In a way, that’s even better.

162-163. Monogram’s VOODOO MAN somehow rates two stills. Well, it does combine Lugosi, Zucco and John Carradine.

28 Responses to “Nine Lives, Seven Curses, and a Triphibian Monster”

  1. I got my copy at the weekend, so it’s only a matter of time before I start madly racing you to complete the set, as it were. I’ve already got a disc made for you with some fun non-horror Hammer – but I think I’ve got THE BRUTE MAN to hand, so I’ll send that your way too.

    THE DEVIL BAT is great fun, and absolute nonsense. Bela trains giant bats to attack people who’ve used a certain hair tonic. If you’re going to have a plan – make it a good one!

  2. Brilliant, that all sounds great. Maybe we can have a watchalong session or something sometime. Death by hair tonic is indeed a marvellous scheme, but I would expect no less of Lugosi. Am soon to watch Black Dragons, in which he attempts to transmute base Japanese spies into occidental form. Leave it to the Hungarians to show the way.

  3. I used to enjoy watching Lars von Trier’s The Kingdom.

  4. Yeah, I liked that too. Practically the last thing of his I enjoyed. He actually nailed so many of the appealing qualities of a ghost story, it’s amazing to me how useless I find all his recent work.

  5. I loved von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark. Haven’t seen The Boss of It All but would like to.

  6. His gimmicks have taken over from his filmmaking. Whatever the merits of Dancer (I don’t recognise any but I allow that I may have missed something) I can’t abide the fact that he has Joel Grey dancing and he cuts it into a headaching confusion of random angles. That’s like slashing a Matisse up with a pastry cutter.

  7. Merit of Dancer in the Dark: the soundtrack

    Brute Man was covered by MST3K, but probably best first experienced without their help. The gist of their commentary is that the movie is very slow and Rondo has a very large face, both of which you’ll easily figure out for yourself.

  8. My favorite title change was the insane Hong –Kong-Meets-Hammer combo platter The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires, directed by Roy Ward Baker of Don’t Bother To Knock fame and starring Christopher Lee. It was released in the U.S. as The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula. I reviewed it for the “Los Angeles Herald-Examiner” and in the first graph pointed out that, no, this wasn’t a sequel to Seven Brides For Seven Brothers.

  9. …and neither is Brides of Dracula (Fisher’s best vampire movie, too bad it doesn’t have Christopher Lee).

    Having only seen Rondo’s silent acting in his Sherlock Holmes movies (“the Hoxton Creeper”) I’m agog at the prospect of hearing him deliver lines.

  10. RIP Robert Quarry, Count Yorga himself. If only he’d found the waters of immortality he sought in Dr Phibes Rises Again.

  11. Christopher Says:

    …In the Count Yorga vein,I’ve been curious to see the Robert Quarry vampire film The Deathmaster again..I saw that back in the day with all those Count Yorga films ..yet haven’t heard much about it since..
    Speaking of Captive Wild Woman,I’m a big Acquanetta freak!..Jungle Woman,Tarzan and the Leopard Woman,Dead Mans Eyes(she wears clothes in that one!)..anyway..I picked up her book recently ,The Audible Silence,that she wrote in 1974..Its quite fascinating(mainly cuz its Acquanetta..)Its one of those New Agey type books full of her poetry and deep thoughts..Largely Christian based..but in a 70s mind blowing way..full of witchey Illustrations that looked like they were drawn by someone into Wizards,Warlocks and Unicorns! :o))

  12. Haven’t seen Deathmaster, nor any Acquanettas, so I just ordered Captive Wild Woman. Her book sounds intriguing, I have a fascination for movie stars’ literary efforts, and regret passing up a pulpy novel by Carolyn Jones when I saw it going cheap in a secondhand shop one time.

  13. Christopher Says:

    Acquanetta was no great actress by any stretch..mainly served as dazzling eye candy..I just found her later personal life kinda interesting,giving up show biz for marriage and family,returning to her native-american roots their in Arizona,making jewelry,writing her little poems..
    .LOL..I had a terrible crush on Carolyn Jones as a child,watching her on the Addams Family.I was so shocked when I caught a bit of the Sinatra film,The Tender Trap and discovered she was a blond!!!..”Where is she?..When is she going to show up?…
    “You’ve been watching her!..Shes the blond!”
    I’d never heard of GAPPA(lol)..untill I saw the trailer for it on the Media Blasters disc of Matango,Attack of the Mushroom People..I thought I knew these things!?

  14. Rx is US parlance for a doctor’s prescription: I don’t think that’s the case in the UK. So Dr. Rx might be Lionel Atwill, or it might be Dr. George Nichopoulos (Elvis’ personal prescription pad).

    I have never heard of Mr BIG’s Saint George and the Seven Curses; however, it sounds like it may be the film known as The Magic Sword. IMDb thinks so, too.

    The Kingdom is brilliant stuff; didn’t care for Dancer in the Dark; The Boss of It All is scheduled to air on US TV next month (watch my column for details).

    There’s also a Jerry Lewis day on TCM in March, so I will try AGAIN to grasp the appeal of J Lew.

  15. I don’t mind Jones as a blonde. Was astonished how great she is in her Dragnet guest appearances when i discovered that show recently (it never really aired in the UK).

  16. Ah, I think I DID see at least part of The Magic Sword as a kid. And it’s easy to get now.

    I think Jerry is interesting enough that you might not even have to find him funny to find him interesting. Try appreciating him as a psychotronic filmmaker par excellence, a space alien creating a parody of human comedy.

  17. Oh Jerry is exceptionally funny. There’s an amazing sequence in Fassbinder’s In a Year of 13 Moons where Jodfrieid John — playing the industrialist Volker Spenger’s transexual is in love with mimes the “Face the Music” number from You’re Never Too Young — the Martin and Lewis remake of The Major and the Minor.

    Jerry first primed my interst as a kid when I saw Living It Up — the Martin and Lewis remake of Nothing Sacred.

    On his own or in tandem with Frank Tashlin Jerry has created some truly memorable works of comic genius: The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Nutty Professor, The Disorderly Orderly, and The Family Jewels being my personal faves.

    Bertolucci’s Partner is his version of The Nutty Professor with a big scne staged on a stairway that’s a straight steal from Cinderfella, which features Anna Maria Alberghewtti (instead of Syephania Sandrelli) and Count Basie and his orchestra (instead of Ennio Morricone.)

    A key element of Jerry — and Jewish comics of his generation — is veneration of Count Basie, particularly his arrangement of “April in Paris.”

    That’s why Count Basie and his orchestra appears in Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles suddenly out of nowhere playing “April in Paris.”

    It’s Jewish surrealism.

  18. Brooks always claimed that the Count Basie scene was to get the jazz buffs on his side, just to give the movie an extra little boost. It didn’t need boosting!

    Blazing Saddles was invoked this year as we watched the Oscars — what the Baz Luhrmann number needed was an invasion of brawling cowboys.

  19. jason hyde Says:

    LAST MAN ON EARTH is great. Definitely the best of the three I Am Legend adaptations so far, although that’s not saying much. It’s gone through a pretty major critical reappraisal in recent years, too. I remember when nobody seemed to think much of it, but now it seems like it’s exactly the sort of low-budget B-Movie that everybody loves to champion. And it really deserves it.

    WEREWOLF IN A GIRLS’ DORMITORY actually isn’t bad. It feels very similar to one of those German Edgar Wallace things, which isn’t a bad thing, and the werewolf has a pretty original look when it finally appears. And the title doesn’t lie. You watch it for a werewolf in a girls’ dormitory, and that’s pretty much what it gives you.

    PHAROAH’S CURSE does indeed stink. It’s a good example of the somewhat bland kind of supernatural horror movie that proliferated post-Universal and pre-Hammer, when supernatural horror movies weren’t much of a priority for any American filmmakers. Good Les Baxter score, though.

    GAPPA’s okay. Better than some giant monster movies, not as good as others. The most memorable thing about it is the absolutely bonkers theme song. Otherwise, it’s pretty average.

    THE BRUTE MAN and HOUSE OF HORRORS are interesting, if only for giving Rondo Hatton his most prominent roles. I still think his best film was the Sherlock Holmes film PEARL OF DEATH. If I had to pick one of the two, I guess I’d go for THE BRUTE MAN, because it’s a bit trashier.

    THE MAN WITH NINE LIVES is pretty good. Like all of Karloff’s mad doctor films for Columbia, it’s centered around a really interesting idea, but doesn’t quite get the chance to fully explore it due to the short B-Movie running time. As those films go, it’s nowhere near as good as THE MAN THEY COULD NOT HANG (actually they hanged him pretty well. He just got better) or THE DEVIL COMMANDS, but it’s still pretty nifty. THE WALKING DEAD is the least of Curtiz’s horror efforts, but that really only means it’s not quite as good as DOCTOR X or MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM, and not a lot of things are.

    RETURN OF COUNT YORGA’s just okay. The late Robert Quarry’s great in it, but he’s kinda the whole show. I much prefer THE DEATHMASTER.

    THE DEVIL BAT is a lot of fun. BLACK DRAGONS is incoherent nonsense. Not without its charms, but there’s better (and even loonier) Lugosi Monograms.

    Which brings me to THE APE MAN. A very important film for me, as it was the first time in my life that I was made aware that something could be so bad it’s good. I wore out my old VHS of it. Never saw RETURN OF THE APE MAN, though, mainly due to its not being public domain. DR. RENAULT’S SECRET is quite good. It’s a fairly slick glossy version of the same sort of stuff being churned out at PRC and Monogram. THE MAD MONSTER’s nuts in the way that really only PRC horror movies could be. It’s either really poorly plotted or a surrealist masterpiece. I’m really not sure which. CAPTIVE WILD WOMAN has a fine Carradine performance and a lot of stock footage of Clyde Beatty’s animal trainer act, and not much else going for it.

    Never saw STRANGE CASE OF DR. RX or VOODOO MAN. I need to see VOODOO MAN, if only for the spectacle of George Zucco as a gas station owner who moonlights as a witch doctor, the sort of thing that could really only happen at Monogram. Or maybe PRC.

  20. Christopher Says:

    I think the film that Rondo Hatton has the most screen time is Jungle Captive(only on VHS)..He carries on lots of normal conversations with people..and does ordinary everyday downtown errands and such with folks hardly noticing he looks a bit odd! :o))..My fave tho has got to be Pearl of Death …Oxton ‘Orror I calls him” Dennis Hoey would say…

  21. I love those stamps! I want them — and I want them to be real!

    I’m encouraged to hear good things about Were-Dormitory. I love the Edgar Wallace krimis so that’s pretty exciting news. My own werewolf idea is based on the fact that Nazi resistance fighters after the German defeat were known as “werewolves”, which suggests to me a stunning Nazi werewolf movie in which they live up to that name in the most literal way possible.

    Gappa has a theme song? That’s very good news indeed. I was just enjoying the love theme from Cannibal Holocaust today, so endearingly inappropriate musical choices are on my mind.

    Voodoo Man sounds BERSERK. This is going to be fun.

    I love Pearl of Death too, I think it might be the best of the Holmes films, although it’s been a while since I watched any of them.

  22. jason hyde Says:

    Dennis Hoey deserves more attention, I think. I love how he pops up in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, basically wearing his Inspector Lestrade costume from the Holmes films and basically playing the character in all but name.

  23. Christopher Says:

    from Baker Street to Vaseria and back again..Yeah..Dennis Hoey adds a bit more light to Frank meets Wolf, a great Wolfman sequel,not so great Frankenstein picture…It was even directed by Holme’s Director,Roy William Neill…never taking a break..

  24. Neill is a pretty good, brisk director, I think, one of the unsung guys of classic Hollywood. I think Hoey’s best role is in Mitchell Leisen’s excellent period romp Kitty.

  25. Bert I Gordon Says:

    One of the comments had it right. St George And The Seven Curses was released with the title The Magic Sword. MGM is now releasing it on DVDs.

  26. Thanks for that. Wonder how Gifford got ahold of the other title.

    Are you the real Mr BIG? If so, what a privelege to have you here!

  27. […] my childhood 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 […]

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