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Will the Thrill Presents...

Will the Thrill Presents....


For both the old school and the novice Thrill Seeker, here is a carefully selected list of movies that collectively define "Thrillville," a mix of the famous and obscure, exploiting all things Lounge, Monster, Beatnik, Noir, Spy and Tiki. Every one is highly recommended, culled from the peak drive-in/grind-house years of 1955-1975. I left out some obvious choices (Creature From The Black Lagoon, Goldfinger, Viva Las Vegas, Ocean's 11, Forbidden Planet, Destroy All Monsters, Night of the Living Dead, Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!), instead suggesting flicks you may not be familiar with in order to possibly introduce you to something spectacular but unduly unknown. All have been released on either VHS or DVD or both, maybe in a bootleg version, and may be difficult to track down, but are well worth the effort. Of course, I could go on and on, since there are hundreds if not thousands of worthwhile Thrill-flicks from this era alone, but these titles offer a solid intro to the world of Thrillville, especially for those who can’t attend my live theater screenings. In many cases, I haven’t been able to even show some of the following favorites on the big screen due to my difficulty in securing a print. These are offerings, in no particular order of preference, for your own home tiki lounge theater. Enjoy.

  1. I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957)I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF (1957) – JD horror noir, my own personal all-time favorite since I first saw it on Doc Shock’s “Mad Theater” out of Philly in the 70s; Michael Landon’s finest moment, directed by Gene Fowler Jr. (I Married A Monster From Outer Space) with atmospheric photography by Joseph LaShelle and a moody score by Paul Dunlap; also check out I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, How To Make a Monster (Wolfie meets Frankie, sort of), and Blood of Dracula (teen vamp), all from the greatest drive-in studio ever, American International Pictures.
  2. SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957)SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS (1957) – most acidic screenplay ever, a noir masterpiece, Time Square ’57 time-capsuled for the ages, the finest film of both Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, with one of Elmer Bernstein’s greatest scores. Favorite line: “The cat’s in the bag, the bag’s in the river.”
  3. KING CREOLE (1958)KING CREOLE (1958) – Elvis noir, Nawlins style, his greatest flick and his rockin’est soundtrack, with Carolyn Jones as a hooker with a heart and Walter Matthau as a ruthless thug. Directed by the great Michael Curtiz (Angels With Dirty Faces, Casablanca).

  4. TONY ROME (1967)TONY ROME (1967) – Sinatra as the ultimate surfside lounge lizard PI, co-starring Jill St. John; the sequel was Lady in Cement co-starring Raquel Welch, also recommended

  5. THE SILENCERS (1966)THE SILENCERS (1966) – Dino as the ultimate space age bachelor spy Matt Helm, first in a four film series, this one co-starring our pal, bombshell Stella Stevens. Campy and colorful fun.

  6. SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS (1969)SANTO AND BLUE DEMON VS. THE MONSTERS (1969) – Mexican wrestlers vs. all the classic movie monsters – Frank, Drac, Wolfie, Mummy and even a Cyclops! - South of the Border style. I love anything with Santo and so should you.

  7. MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968)MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND (1968) – Monster exotica, Filipino style, lusciously lurid; second in a series of horror films from director Eddie Romero and American drive-in star John Ashley. I love ‘em all but this is my favorite of the series. Also check out Brides of Blood.

  8. THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1967)THE CURIOUS DR. HUMPP (1967) – this one has it all: sex, mad scientists, monsters, go-go strippers, nymphos, lesbians, hippies, and more, Argentina style. Possibly the coolest release from Something Weird Video.

  9. UP! (1974) UP! (1974) – Russ Meyer’s sexiest, funniest and most outrageous flick, starring our friend Raven de la Croix, the ultimate Meyer Babe and a great gal too.

  10. THE BEAT GENERATION (1959) THE BEAT GENERATION (1959) – Mamie Van Dorensville, dad; sick and stylish pulp classic with an incredible cast, including Steve Cochran as the misogynist cop, Jackie Coogan as his partner, Ray Danton as a slick rapist, Dick Covino as a coffeehouse guitar player, Vampira as a beat poetess, Jim Mitchum as Danton’s sidekick, Irish “Sheena” McCalla, Charles Chaplin Jr. Mamie’s hubby Ray Anthony, and more! From the twisted mind of pop-pulp producer Albert Zugsmith (High School Confidential).

  11.  DAUGHTER OF HORROR (AKA DEMENTIA, 1955) DAUGHTER OF HORROR (AKA DEMENTIA, 1955) – surreal beatnik pulp noir horror masterpiece, a nightmarish fever dream, one version narrated by Ed McMahon! Both versions on one disc from Kino.

  12. FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973) FEMALE VAMPIRE (1973) – most explicitly erotic horror film ever, at least from the twisted mind of Jess Franco (Vampyros Lesbos), who gleefully films his actress wife Lina Romay getting down and dirty with everyone in the cast, male and female…

  13.  LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974) – classic Shaw Brothers/Hammer collaboration, if only Chris Lee had played Dracula, still a minor masterpiece of macabre martial arts, co-starring Peter Cushing; BEWARE: the truncated American version is not as good, get the original British cut with all the nudity and gore intact.

  14. SUGAR HILL (1974) SUGAR HILL (1974) – hot Afro-babe and her zombie hit men seek revenge against the Mob for bumping off her nightclub owner boyfriend – priceless blaxploitation horror from American International Pictures, the studio that knew how.

  15.  BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1973) BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA (1973) – most surreal and sickening action flick ever, from Sam Peckinpah, who wrote the book on cinematic violence, starring the great Warren Oates – I’d say this one definitely influenced the middle section of Sin City too…

  16. THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED-UP ZOMBIES (1964) – the first and best monster musical and the one my buddy Ray Dennis Steckler will be remembered for, rightly so, though also check out The Thrill Killers and Rat Pfink a Boo Boo, all on DVD now but too bad for you if you missed me chasing Ray around with a plastic axe…

  17. TOKYO DRIFTER (1967) TOKYO DRIFTER (1967) – greatest Yakuza flick ever, a surreal, psychedelic Pop ‘60s masterpiece from director Seijun Suzuki, cooler than Tarantino; also check out Youth of the Beast and Branded to Kill.

  18. MONSTER ZERO (1965) MONSTER ZERO (1965) One of Ishiro Honda’s most colorful Kaiju eigas, as Godzilla and Rodan face off against Ghidorah and Aliens from Planet X on the Moon and elsewhere, with lots of cool destruction scenes and another great score from Akira Ifukube

  19.  INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957) INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957) – bulbous headed aliens with alcohol in their claws kill Frank “Riddler” Gorshin, one of American International’s greatest (originally co-billed with Teenage Werewolf), featuring Paul Blaisdell’s most memorable creatures and a fun score by Ronald Stein. Also check out AIP/Blaisdell’s rubber monster classics It Conquered the World, The Day the World Ended and The She Creature.

  20. THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969) THE VALLEY OF GWANGI (1969) – cowboys vs. dinosaurs in old Mexico, a Ray Harryhausen cross-genre classic, and one of my fondest drive-in memories, saw it with my granddaddy in Houston when I was just a tyke. It holds up, right up there with Ray’s other classics like Earth vs the Flying Saucers, 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts.

  21.  IMPULSE (1974) IMPULSE (1974) – the ultimate William Shatner movie, his peak performance as a disco-dressin’ pimped out serial killer with flashbacks to a violent past, co-starring Harold “Oddjob” Sakata – has to be seen to be believed, and even then you’ll doubt your own sanity. Always one of my biggest hits in Thrillville, but it has been released on numerous budget labels, good luck finding it. Directed by William Grefe, like Big Bill needed any.

  22. FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER (1965) FRANKENSTEIN MEETS THE SPACE MONSTER (1965) – if someone wants to know what the word “psychotronic” means, show them this flick, also known as “Mars Invades Puerto Rico.” I don’t even know how to adequately describe it, but it has it all: mutated astronaut turned killer monster turned superhero, weird aliens abducting bikini-clad go-go dancers, stock footage, obscure rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack…

  23.  FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) FROM HELL IT CAME (1957) – a South Sea Island native is condemned and buried alive but returns as a vengeful tree god named Tabanga, the closest thing to a tiki monster I’ve ever seen (on film). With atomic scientists, hula girl catfights and more. Like Tabanga, it moves slowly but remains somehow compelling to watch…

  24. THE ABDUCTORS (1971) THE ABDUCTORS (1971) – second in a trilogy of extremely graphic she-spy flicks starring Cheri Caffaro as the ultimate feminist ‘ho heroine, Ginger. Full of shootouts, sex scenes, gratuitous nudity, bondage, rape and other fun stuff. Unique and vivacious. The other two are Ginger and Girls Are For Loving, but this is by far the most titillating, as Ginger busts a cheerleader slavery ring.

  25. BARE KNUCKLES (1975) BARE KNUCKLES (1975)- okay, so this one stars my father, Robert Viharo, as Modern Day Bounty Zachary Kane, taking on a kung fu motorcyclist serial killer with a porno-disco soundtrack you can still find re-issued on LP! But it’s still the ultimate 70s exploitation flick, even without the familial connection. Co-starring John Daniels as Pop’s black sidekick, called, uh, “Black” and Pop’s love interest is sexy Sherry Jackson of “The Danny Thomas Show” but all grown up. I just call her Mommy…
  26. THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT (1956) THE GIRL CAN'T HELP IT (1956)- Jayne Mansfield, Tom Ewell, Edmond O'Brien, and a bevy of legendary rock 'n' rollers including Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Platters, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, and many others - along with lounge torch singer Julie London - highlight this colorful, comedic musical masterpiece directed by cartoon specialist Frank Tashlin.
  27. INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973) INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS (1973)- super-sleazy suburban sci-fi sex, '70s style, with William Smith, Anitra Ford, and Victoria Vetri getting down 'n' dirty in the horny honey.
  28. BLAST OF SILENCE (1961) BLAST OF SILENCE (1961)- directed by and starring Allen Baron, this atmospheric, hard-boiled Beat-noir masterpiece about a hit man calling it quits after one last hit, with tragic consequences, is memorably set amid an achingly bleak Manhattan Christmas.
  29. THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959) THE ANGRY RED PLANET (1959)-shot in "CineMagic," whatever that means, this psychedelic sci-fi classic is notable for its surrealistic visuals and creative creatures, including the notorious rat-bat-spider-monkey, or whatever.
  30. THE ASTRO ZOMBIES (1968) THE ASTRO ZOMBIES (1968)- the late, great Tura Satana burns up the screen in Ted V. Mikels' notorious underground classic about rampaging robots sent on murderous missions by a malevolent mad scientist (John Carradine), co-starring Wendell Corey.