I’m at the end of this year’s It’s All Connected as far as watching goes and I’ve got to admit, I haven’t exactly been hitting it out of the park. Totally changing my plan and watching Food Of The Gods after Frogs might have been fun in the moment, but it sure added a lot of steps that might be more accurately labeled as missteps. Find out more when you hit the jump!
I followed director Bert I. Gordon and star Pamela Franklin from Food Of The Gods to a movie called Necromancy that I’ve seen on various streaming services over the years (it’s on Amazon Video right now), but have never heard anyone actually talk about. This 1972 flick finds Franklin’s Lori moving to a town called Lilith that is run by oddball toymaker Mr. Cato (an…unenthusiastic Orson Welles!). Before she even gets there she’s witnessing deadly car crashes and child funerals, though maybe some of those are dreams? Once in town it becomes clear that Cato has never gotten over the death of his young son, but that doesn’t stop him from using the boy’s name in various cultish ceremonies.
Clearly Necromancy wanted to add its hat into the ring of late 60s/early 70s devil/cult/suburb offerings, but I just couldn’t follow the movie enough to make heads or tails of it. Franklin’s good in the film, but it’s impossible to tell if what she’s seeing is real until you get to the end and realize it might not even matter anyway! Plus, it never felt like the film really went for it when it came to capitalizing on what it was working with whether that be the cult, the toy factory or having even a disinterested ORSON WELLES in the film! I could see myself coming back to this one down the line, but not for a while.
From there I followed Franklin to another of her pictures, the awesomely titled 1973 TV movie Satan’s School For Girls David Lowell Rich. I got this movie in a pack way back in high school (it shares a disc with House On Haunted Hill!) and don’t know if I’d ever actually watched it. In this movie, Franklin decides to go undercover at the all-women’s school her sister attended after sis killed herself. It becomes clear that something’s amiss, as she and the other girls either die, investigate the goings-on or are in on it!
Even though this felt like a very by-the-number satanic cult story today, I’m sure it’s blown a few minds in its time. Looking back, though, the most interesting thing about this picture is the cast, which includes pre-Charlie’s Angels Kate Jackson AND Cheryl Ladd. I’ll also give standing O to Jo Van Fleet who plays the headmistresses in what turns out to be the most interesting role in the film. Lloyd Bochner’s good as the creepy teacher and then you have Roy Thinnes as the cool, charismatic art teacher, but really there’s just not much going to grab on to. However, it’s a short one, so it has that going for it. Even with all that, I still want to check out the 2000 remake in which Jackson plays the headmistresses. It also stars Taraji P. Henson, Julie Benz and Shannen Doherty!
Bochner took me over to the 1964 black and white non-gimmicky William Castle film The Night Walker which had a script penned by Psycho‘s Robert Bloch and starring Barbara Stanwyck. In this one, Stanwyck’s overbearing and abusive husband dies after getting really mad at her for having a hot dude she dreams about every night. Things get wild for her when her dream man (Bochner) enters the real world…and so does her husband’s ghost!
I don’t have a problem with The Night Walker, it just didn’t grab me. I’ve liked the other Castle films I’ve seen (House On Haunted Hill is an all-time favorite), but I think this one simply suffers from the fact that I’ve seen so many movies. Stanwyck’s great and a true scream queen (I had to the volume down several times!), but for some reason I just didn’t get too invested in the actual reality of what she was going through. All that being said, this could just be a bit of It’s All Connected burnout, so I will attempt to get back to this one a few years down the line!
I did have one very interesting question about this film: I wonder if Wes Craven saw this. See, that guy up there? He’s supposedly the face-burned ghost of Stanwyck’s dead husband, who was a real jerk. Plus, this move’s all about dreams…or possibly nightmares…on Elm Street? See where I’m going with this?
Alright, this gets us in the home stretch for these write-ups. I’ve got four more movies to chronicle, three of which star horror legends tackling some of the most iconic monsters and a fourth that contains multitudes.