Thursday, January 30, 2014

Blood of Ghastly Horror (1972) and other Al Adamson films

aka Man with the Synthetic Brain

How bad is it? It's a mess.

Should you see it? It's not essential viewing.

Someone gets revenge on John Carradine

Al Adamson and his partner made a heist film called Echo of Terror (or Two Tickets to Terror) around 1965, but they couldn't sell it, so they added footage and a soundtrack and added a new plot about a killer and called it Psycho A-Go-Go (1967). This wasn't successful, so they added more footage and made it a detective film called Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1969). Then they added yet more footage about zombies and called it The Man with the Synthetic Brain (1971). Then they retitled it Blood of Ghastly Horror. Apparently, somewhere along the way, versions of this were called Fiend with the Atom Brain and The Love Maniac.

Don't expect to follow the plot too closely. There's a murder in an alley. The detective on the case gets evidence that it's linked to an old case. Flashback to diamond robbery. Then there's evidence that it's linked to a mad doctor. Flashback to John Carradine treating a brain-damaged Vietnam vet by replacing brain cells with electronics. The vet becomes a maniac. In response, the vet's father kidnaps the doctor's daughter (played by Regina Carroll, the director's wife), not for ransom, but to turn her into a zombie, as that's his special field of knowledge. Jewel thieves have controlled the vet's brain and are using him to commit murders. Policeman Tommy Kirk chases the bad guys. Go-go dancers get killed.

Then I get lost.

There's a lot of extreme close-ups, partly because the original film was done in wide-screen and this got the pan-and-scan treatment, partly to do a head-in-a-box scene. There's a witch doctor who wears a lab coat. There's terrible dialogue ("I flew in... on a plane.") There's some good music (by the Vendells) and some good cinematography (by Vilmos Szigmond), though the latter is piecemeal, as later parts were shot by someone else. There's some nice scenery around Lake Tahoe. There's a lot of puppets... for some reason.

I have to admit that I zoned out a lot while watching this.

Adamson directed a lot of bad films at the start of the alphabet:

Angels' Wild Women - dullest biker film ever.
The Black Samurai, 1977 - okay blaxploitation with Jim Kelly
Black Eliminator, 1977 - more Jim Kelly, still okay
Black Heat, 1976 - yet more of the same, still okay
Blazing Stewardesses - absolutely awful "comedy" with surviving Ritz Brothers
Blood of Dracula's Castle 1967 - dull vampire film with John Carradine as a butler
Brain of Blood  1971 (aka The Brain, aka The Undying Brain, aka The Creature's Revenge) Mad doctor performs brain transplants. Acting, camera work, score and sound effects are all poor.

Added 8/20/14

Dynamite Brothers 1974 Poor martial arts blaxploitation.
The Female Bunch 1971 Dull action film.
Five Bloody Graves 1970 (aka Gun Riders, aka The Lonely Man, aka Five Bloody Graves to Tombstone) Very violent western; watchable but nothig special.

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