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Case Number 19750: Small Claims Court

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Cult Terror Cinema: 12-Movie Collection

Bloodlust!
1961 // 68 Minutes // Not Rated
Carnival Of Crime
1962 // 83 Minutes // Not Rated
Escape From Hell Island
1963 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
The Creeping Terror
1964 // 75 Minutes // Not Rated
The Babysitter
1969 // 75 Minutes // Rated R
Horror High
1974 // 78 Minutes // Rated PG
The Teacher
1974 // 98 Minutes // Rated R
Land Of The Minotaur
1976 // 88 Minutes // Rated PG
The Crater Lake Monster
1977 // 85 Minutes // Rated PG
The Hearse
1980 // 98 Minutes // Rated PG
Fleshburn
1984 // 84 Minutes // Rated R
Lurkers
1988 // 90 Minutes // Rated R
Released by Mill Creek Entertainment
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker (Retired) // September 24th, 2010

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All Rise...

Yes, Appellate Judge Tom Becker went to Cult Terror Cinema, but only because Loews was sold out.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of The Babysitter / The Topless Story (published October 5th, 2012), Galaxina / The Crater Lake Monster (Blu-ray) (published June 3rd, 2011), Horror High: 35th Anniversary Edition (published August 13th, 2010), and Lurkers / Die Sister, Die (published November 28th, 2013) are also available.

The Charge

"Where are the negatives?"
—Question posed by the babysitter in The Babysitter

Answer: The negatives are in the reviews that follow.

The Case

October is such a busy month, what with the transitioning to fall, the pre-prep for the holidays, and for the geeks among us, the 31 Days of Halloween, the shamefaced but essential ritual in which one watches a different horror movie every October night until the 31st.

When I received Cult Terror Cinema in the mail for review, I thought, "Great! It's a 12-movie set! I can use this collection of shock, schlock, chills, and thrills (featuring Pleasance, Cushing, and Reed!) to offset my 31 Days in October." Unfortunately, I was faced with reality, cruel reality in the form of deadlines (if you've seen The Front Page or All the President's Men, you know what I'm talking about). Bruised but not broken, I decided to rejigger my viewing schedule a bit, so this year, in addition to the 31 Days of Halloween, I'm adding the 12 Days of Autumnal Equinox. If the film Equinox had been included on this set, my plan would have approached genius.

In any event, I'm watching one of these a day 'til the Equinox and reporting my findings.

The first thing I'd like to report is that while the set comes in a big, giant box, inside the box are three measly discs in paper sleeves. They didn't need a big, giant box, they could have packaged this in a small, Manila envelope. There are four films on each disc—flippers, with two films per side. Since there's no room to write anything on the small paper slipcovers, the film's titles are listed in tiny print on the disc's band. There are descriptions on the back of the case, but they're listed alphabetically, unlike the discs, where they just seem to be randomly thrown together. Everything's full frame with mono audio, and there are no extras.

With that out of the way, let's wade into some Cult Terror Cinema. You're reading this…in the order I watched it—which will help explain the sense of fatigue you might experience as the review goes on.

Fleshburn
A New Kind of Revenge!
An escaped lunatic (one-time porn actor Sonny Landham) kidnaps four shrinks who were responsible for having him locked up in an asylum. Rather than simply slaughter them—as he did the poor soul who picked him up hitchhiking—he deposits them in the middle of the desert to fend for themselves against the elements. For good measure, he breaks the leg of one of them (a gay guy, at that). The intellectuals squabble, eat rabbits and cactus, and generally have a miserable time, though nowhere near as miserable a time as I had trying to stay awake through this snooze fest. Also, it seems there was some bleeping of profanity, meaning this is probably the TV version.

The Hearse (1980)
There is a door between life and death, and now…that door is open!
I thought this might be a sequel to The Van, only with dead people instead of naked people. It's not. Rather, it's the story of a slightly bonkers woman named Jane (Trish van Devere, widow of George C. Scott and his co-star in his salute-to-incest vanity project, The Savage Is Loose). To escape some vague bad experience, she moves into a creepy old house she's inherited from her creepy old deceased aunt, in a creepy old small town. It soon becomes apparent that the house has been the scene of some sort of vague horror, since every time she mentions it—"I live in the old Harper house!"—people react with undisguised disgust, two-note piano cues flare up, dogs bark, horses whinny, and thunder claps. She might as well be announcing that she's living in the old Frau Blücher place.

It soon becomes apparent that there are ghostly goings on at the Harper place—the dead aunt pops up from time to time, lights go on and off at will, and there's this pesky hearse that seems to follow Jane everywhere she goes. Plus, she's taken up with an odd skull-faced guy whom she finds inexplicably appealing.

Horror High (1974)
The Man Who Survived "Precinct 13" Is Back!
OK, it's George Bailey time: What would the world have been like if Code Red special editions had never been born? Well, if nothing else, the world would have been lacking the outrageously good Horror High: 35th Anniversary Edition, and we'd be stuck viewing this trash classic on cheap-o sets like this. This one's full frame and looks cruddy, as you'd expect, and it doesn't include the extraneous shot-for-TV footage. My review for the 35th Anniversary Edition is in the sidebar.

Lurkers (1988)
Cathy's Not Scared. She Should Be…She's One of Them!
Finally, a sleazy, incomprehensible piece of trash I can get behind! This one's got child abuse, topless women, malevolent youngsters, cheesy score, reasonably graphic violence, terrifying '80's hair and fashion, and random shots of people in S & M get-ups. It was directed by exploitationaire Roberta Findlay who, with husband Michael, gave us such exotic treats as The Touch of Her Flesh and The Curse of Her Flesh. This one's neither touchy nor cursed enough, and it's fairly incomprehensible until the lonnnnng explanation at the end, but it's a sufficiently grubby, slightly disturbing, and not terribly frightening good time.

The Babysitter (1969)
She Came to Sit with Baby…and Ended Up with Daddy!
Wow, forget the popcorn, this one ought to come with a shot of penicillin. A middle-aged prosecutor whose cranky wife just had a change-of-life baby gets involved with a nubile, free-spirited babysitter, who'd earlier thrown a rock band and naked girls and pot party while ostensibly watching the infant. In the meantime, his grown, lesbian daughter comes for a visit and fiddle-faddles with another young lovely in the family's sauna while a duplicitous miss with a bone to pick with the lawman snaps photos. These prove unusable because the nymphets are going at it behind beveled glass, but evil chick soon discovers the other secrets behind the manicured lawn and Olympic-size pool, and Mr. Prosecutor finds himself in hot soup—morally, professionally, and personally.

Tawdry and hilarious, this has no business being on a set called Cult Terror Cinema—most of the terror is accomplished by having the long-in-the-tooth prosecutor romp au naturale with the frisky hippie nanny. But this is the kind of high-minded exploitation sleaze that just doesn't come along every day. Perhaps it did at one time, but those days are long past, unfortunately. With its overripe, "timely" dialogue, gratuitous nudity, and faux-suspenseful subplot, The Babysitter is a pungent slice of exploitation purgatory.

The Teacher (1974)
She Corrupted the Youthful Morality of an Entire School!
Nah, she only corrupted Jay North, but since he'd been TV's Dennis the Menace, she gets a few extra points. She also tried to corrupt my own youthful morality when I reviewed this film a couple of summers ago, and since this release doesn't bring anything new to the table, I'll leave it to you to seek out the original write-up in the sidebar.

Escape From Hell Island (1963)
A Movie So Obscure and Bad, It Doesn't Even Have a Tag Line!
If you like your terror with a large helping of tedium, then this pointless, non-action, non-horror, non-anything flick might be the way to go. A modestly grizzled charter boat captain in Florida is hired to sneak into Cuban waters and ferry a few refugees back to the 'States. He does so in about 10 minutes, thus using up all the potential of the title. The remainder of the run time is filled with a dull romantic triangle and an even duller showdown between two-thirds of said triangle. For insomniacs only…

The Crater Lake Monster (1977)
A Beast More Frightening Than Your Most Terrifying Nightmare!
Horrible hillbilly high jinks about a dinosaur-baring meteor that crash lands in the titular body of water. I guess back in the '70s, these good ol' boy epics were all the rage (thanks, Max Baer Jr. and Macon County Line), but they tend not to hold up all that well, and this one is no exception. Cheap-o production, ludicrous monster, and far too much time spent on backwoods antics. As a stand-alone, I might have thought more kindly toward this one, but as part of this set of a dozen, it's just irritating. Pass.

Land of the Minotaur (1976)
Half Man…Half Beat…Trapped in a World Forgotten by Time!
OK, here's some quasi-entertainingly ludicrous fare—normally not the sort of thing you'd take as a recommendation, but for this set, close to a rave. The good: Donald Pleasance (Halloween) vs. Peter Cushing (Scream and Scream Again); an outstanding score by Brian Eno; grin-and-grimace worthy '70's hair and clothing; and some occasionally atmospheric direction. The bad: everything else. The story of a cult offering human sacrifices to the titular mythic beast—which here looks like something Sid and Marty Kroft might have dreamed up after overindulging in some ouzo—is pretty slow moving and ridiculous. Apparently, the original release in the UK contained quite a bit more gore and nudity than what's on display here, with potentially gruesome scenes oddly and obviously truncated for a U.S. PG rating. A little T & A and gore would have improved this considerably; instead, we're left with some bloodless kills, and some berobed villagers menacing people—mainly women—who look like they could take them in a fair fight.

Carnival of Crime (1962)
At the Height of Wild, Frenzied Sensual Pleasures…a Murderer Strikes and Terror Grips the City!
I don't know what movie that tag line was written for, but I wish I'd watched it rather than Carnival of Crime. This paint-drying mess of tedium is a badly dubbed potboiler about an architect on the run after he's suspected of murdering his death-is-too-good-for-her spoiled, unfaithful wife. The usually great Jean-Pierre Aumont (Day for Night) has nothing much to do here, and if you're looking for thrills or horror, this ain't the tree up which to bark. A weird scene near the beginning has two chatty assassins stalking their prey in the jungle (this all takes place in Brazil). It has nothing to do with the rest of the film, and it looks like it was shot for an entirely different movie altogether and just plopped in here by accident. No thrills, no terror, and no cult here.

Bloodlust! (1961)
Maniac Hunts Humans in a Jungle Hell!
The old "Most Dangerous Game" gambit with a youthful Robert Reed and some friends as prey. The spare, 68-minute runtime belies the fact that this is a dreadfully slow-moving talk and blooper fest. It's also been celebrated on MST3k; that review is in the sidebar.

The Creeping Terror (1964)
Nope, No Tagline for This One, Either
The mother lode of bad sci-fi. MST3K will certainly recognize this tale of a carnivorous carpet from outer space. Justifiably hailed as one of the worst movies of all time—a substandard that was harder won in the pre-digital video age—I've always believed that films like this should get "special" releases and more attention, the way Plan 9 From Outer Space did after the Medved brothers declared it the absolute worst of all time.

In the case of The Creeping Terror, this wish might actually be fulfilled. Creep!, a documentary about the film and its "con man" director, Art Nelson (a.k.a. Vic Savage), is about to go into release as of this writing. Hopefully, the story behind the film is more interesting than the film itself, which is so horrible on every level that even its camp value wears thin before the halfway point.

The prints range from barely acceptable to flat-out atrocious, and the audio follows suit. Things like subtitles and supplements are nonexistent. The only unifying element is that all these films were released in the U.S. by Crown International. They've all apparently been released before, and are currently floating around on a number of other multi-film sets, including the masochisticly massive Drive-In Cult Classics: 32-Movie Set.

By the way, there's little here that's remotely worthy of the term terror; four of these aren't scary movies by any plausible definition. So, if you're looking at this to up the ante of your Halloween viewing, don't block out more than a week for it.

The Verdict

If this were 1988, and you were in a video store, and you stuck your hand in the bargain bin, pulled out a dozen random VHS tapes, and blindly decided to make them a compilation, you'd probably get something along the lines of what Cult Terror Cinema has to offer.

Varying degrees of guilt all around.

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Scales of Justice, Bloodlust!

Judgment: 25

Perp Profile, Bloodlust!

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 68 Minutes
Release Year: 1961
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Bloodlust!

• None

Scales of Justice, Carnival Of Crime

Judgment: 25

Perp Profile, Carnival Of Crime

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 83 Minutes
Release Year: 1962
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Carnival Of Crime

• None

Scales of Justice, Escape From Hell Island

Judgment: 10

Perp Profile, Escape From Hell Island

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 1963
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, Escape From Hell Island

• None

Scales of Justice, The Creeping Terror

Judgment: 10

Perp Profile, The Creeping Terror

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1964
MPAA Rating: Not Rated

Distinguishing Marks, The Creeping Terror

• None

Scales of Justice, The Babysitter

Judgment: 78

Perp Profile, The Babysitter

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 75 Minutes
Release Year: 1969
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Babysitter

• None

Scales of Justice, Horror High

Judgment: 65

Perp Profile, Horror High

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 78 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Horror High

• None

Scales of Justice, The Teacher

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile, The Teacher

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1974
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, The Teacher

• None

Scales of Justice, Land Of The Minotaur

Judgment: 45

Perp Profile, Land Of The Minotaur

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Release Year: 1976
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, Land Of The Minotaur

• None

Scales of Justice, The Crater Lake Monster

Judgment: 45

Perp Profile, The Crater Lake Monster

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 85 Minutes
Release Year: 1977
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Crater Lake Monster

• None

Scales of Justice, The Hearse

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile, The Hearse

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 98 Minutes
Release Year: 1980
MPAA Rating: Rated PG

Distinguishing Marks, The Hearse

• None

Scales of Justice, Fleshburn

Judgment: 50

Perp Profile, Fleshburn

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 84 Minutes
Release Year: 1984
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Fleshburn

• None

Scales of Justice, Lurkers

Judgment: 60

Perp Profile, Lurkers

Studio: Mill Creek Entertainment
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
Subtitles:
• None
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Release Year: 1988
MPAA Rating: Rated R

Distinguishing Marks, Lurkers

• None








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