Mmm, Reptilicious

My quest, the one I’ve entitled See Reptilicus And Die — my quest to see every film depicted in the pages of Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies — the book he wrote by taking dictation form 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 now coloured BLOOD RED, meaning I came, I saw, I choked back my vomit.

Here’s a list of movies located but still to be watched –

THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR: killer moth romp with Cushing. Lovely.

MURDER CLINIC: never knew what this was, turns out to be a giallo. Got a very scratchy, very pink copy.

THE PHANTOM OF SOHO: actually got two radically different cuts of this krimi kaper, in different languages. Will watch both, become confused, write post.

INVISIBLE INVADERS: an Edward L Cahn atrocity.

WILLARD: rat movie with Michael Jackson theme song. Figures. Anyone remarked how the lyrics of “Thriller” describe accurately Jacko’s use of THE EXORCIST to terrify small boys into sexual submission?

THE VAMPIRE (1957): around this time somebody also made THE WEREWOLF. I guess it was time somebody noticed those basic titles hadn’t been exploited.

GAMERA VS JIGER: monsters duke it out at the 1970 Japan World’s Fair.

KING OF THE ZOMBIES: one of the easiest to see, since it’s actually online, and one of the hardest to sit through (I’ve tried, God knows I’ve tried).

RETURN OF THE APE MAN: the original was pretty bad. This phony sequel at least George Zucco and John Carradine to bolster Lugosi (and by “bolster” I mean “physically support”).

THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA: it is entirely possible that I’ve seen this, on a b&w portable TV in my bedroom when I was 17. But I’m not sure that counts, since I don’t remember a damn thing about it.

BLACK DRAGONS: is going to be an ordeal. What drugs do you recommend to enhance the experience?

THE MONSTER MAKER: Ralph Morgan as a mad scientist is an attractive prospect, though part of me wishes it was his brother Frank.

DEAD MEN WALK: Zucco always cracks me up.

INVISIBLE AGENT: this ought to be good fun.

THE MAN IN HALF MOON STREET: watched half an hour before sinking into a coma. Will try again, using strong stimulants. Even duller than remake, THE MAN WHO COULD CHEAT DEATH. Even with the lovely Helen Walker, an immortal snore.

THE DEVIL BAT: has to be at least watchable.

EQUINOX: one of several Gifford titles to have received the Criterion treatment. And I’m not just talking about classics, but THE GRIP OF THE STRANGLER also.

THE HYPNOTIC EYE: I just tracked down a copy of this nasty-sounding thing. Beatniks, hypnosis and mutilation.

REPTILICUS: the mother of all Danish dinosaur movies.

The tricky ones are still the remaining rarities I haven’t laid hands on, of course. But plans are afoot…

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24 Responses to “Mmm, Reptilicious”

  1. Which Willard do you have? The original or the remake with Crispen Glover?

  2. I’m fairly certain that it was BEN, the sequel to WILLARD, that had the Michael Jackson theme song.

  3. Yeah, I too saw THE RETURN OF COUNT YORGA on late-night BBC1 ages ago. Spooky shit!

  4. “The Hypnotic Eye” (just out on a Warner Archives DVD) is actually pretty good, and “The Devil Bat” is fun. Are you saving “Reptilicus” for last? Someone actually published the screenplay (!) for that a few years back.

  5. Wow, I’d love to read that! I’m saving Reptilicus for the end. Then I can finally expire.

    Ahah, so no Ratso Jacko for me. It’s the original that’s featured in the Gifford, so that’s the one I’m watching, although I don’t absolutely rule out the Crispin Glover version at a later date. And if I enjoy it, I guess I’ll watch Ben too. Will I enjoy it?

  6. What an incredible assignment you’ve given yourself. I’m impressed. And that you would wrap it up with Reptilicus, no less! I fondly remember that film from my childhood: being creeped out by the thumping piece of meat brought to the surface of the earth by an oil rig. When you finally get the chance to watch it, take note of one of the crowd scenes where everyone’s running and screaming, except for one extra who is laughing his head off, being bumped around by his peers.

  7. jason hyde Says:

    And after you watch Reptilicus, you can track down and read the novelization by one Dean Own, which has a reputation for being outrageously sexed-up. The blurb on the back cover makes it sound like that reputation is earned in a pretty big way:

    http://terrortakeaways.wordpress.com/2009/12/22/dean-owen-reptilicus/

  8. Everything I hear about The Hypnotic Eye makes it sound unpleasant and funny.

    “Reptilicus does not disappoint,” I’ve been told. From that description it sounds even better than I’d imagined. Those wacky Danes!

    And YES! That’s right, I remember reading about the sexed-up novel at Tim Lucas’s blog. Hilarious. Von Trier should use it as his next scenario. Reptilichrist!

  9. Have never seen Willard, but a remember it being quite the “pre -Exorcist” phenomenon in the States, when I was a kid. Probably an expression of “white flight” paranoia, and the onset cities going bankrupt in the 70′s.

  10. Yes, Willard was a big hit (about a lonely boy and his avenging rat army, IIRC). “Ben” was the rat leader. Michael Jackson’s theme song for “Ben,” also a big hit, thus stands as the first expression of same-sex man-rodent love in tune form.

  11. Christopher Says:

    JIGER?? :o))
    Invisible Agent has the classic…”signs ze papers old man!” routine that Cheech and Chong used to make fun of..
    Equinox really bored me when I finally saw it…I remeber the trailers for it on tv back around 1970.
    You’ve been threatening to watch The Vampire and Reptilicus for about 2 years now..

  12. Kevin Deany Says:

    Even though Bela Lugosi appears in both “The Ape Man” (1943) and “Return of the Ape Man” (1944), and both are from the same studio, the latter is not a sequel. This could only occur in the happy land of Monogram.

  13. Well, Reptilicus may not be watched until everything else on the list is seen. This I have sworn!

    Thanks, Tom! That is more or less exactly how I picture the film.

    “Jiger” is what Gifford, and presumably the British distributor, called Gamera tai Daimaju Jaiga, in which the big mock turtle fights a fellow biggie at the Japan World’s Fair.

  14. Christopher Says:

    ok..I’m thinking Winne The Pooh here..is there anyone Gamy won’t battle?

  15. The wonderful thing about Jigers /
    Is Jigers are wonderful things /
    Their tops are made out of rubber /
    Their bottoms are made out of rubber also.

  16. There was a time not too long back when I recalled having seen a zombie flick late one Saturday night back in the Sixties. Not one of those Caribbean numbers but rather one of those shambling, foot dragging exercises that look like it could have taken place in a small town near you. The film was INVISIBLE INVADERS, where disembodied aliens decide to take up residence in the freshly dead. It was very NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD years before the latter was released and made such a splash. Having not seen the film since the Sixties I don’t recall much, but I do remember those sickly shufflers, they made quite a visual impression on my pre-adolescent mind.

  17. I think David’s right about Ben the song being from the second film, and I remember also being rather creeped out by a sentimental love song to a rat. Willard was talked about a lot in my elementary school. Never saw either film, I was too young, my mother didn’t do horror, and my father (who had a Tor Johnson mask in his drawer) worked until late at night.

  18. Did the Tor Johnson mask play some role in his line of business?

    OK, Invisible Invaders is looking more exciting now!

  19. None, he owned/ran restaurants. Never knew why he had mask (I didn’t even know it was a Tor Johnson mask until after my dad died). He had a pretty good sense of humor and I’m guessing it was for a party he went to before I was born. When I first saw the mask in his drawer, it scared the hell out of me.

  20. I should think it would!

    I like the idea of Tor Johnson running a restaurant. I should think that’d have been a big hit, especially if he brought your meatballs “in character”.

  21. Michael Aguilar Says:

    This is from Michael Aguilar. I hear that you have been talking about Reptilcus. Believe it or nor Reptilicus was one of my favorite movies to watch a a kid. I ha d waited for a sequel for years but sadly it never happened. I made my own film, King Kong vs Retilicus. I will post a link here.

  22. I’ve been delaying watching Reptilicus until I’ve seen every other film in Denis Gifford’s Pictorial History of Horror Movies, but that doesn’t mean I can’t watch the sequel! Thanks!

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