Nasty, selfish artist Adam Sorg (Gordon Oas-Heim) scolds his girlfriend, yells at critics, and insults patrons of the prestigious Farnsworth Gallery. Everyone agrees Sorg could use a personality transplant, but they put up with his petulance because of his enormous talent. Yep. Despite his obvious painting chops, Sorg can’t sell a painting. Why? According to the beret-clad art critic who intelligently sits in a chair facing away from the art, Sorg uses color wrong or doesn’t use enough color or something with color. After a weird water bike chase with his girl because they had two water bikes and director Herschell Gordon Lewis needed a tax deduction on them or something, Sorg agrees with his critics and realizes he needs a new color.
His girlfriend (Elyn Warner) accidentally cuts her hand and bleeds on some discarded canvas et voilá! Sorg has it! He’ll use Gigi’s blood to liven up his latest painting. He squeezes Gigi’s cut finger onto the canvas until she tells him to use his own damn blood and takes off. Gigi returns to find Sorg passed out on the couch covered in his own blood. Since he can’t keep cutting himself and painting until he loses consciousness, he simplifies things and kills Gigi and uses her head as a paintbrush. Problem solved. He buries her on the beach directly in front of his house under about six inches of sand because he’s an artistic genius, but not exactly a criminal mastermind. He brings the Gigi-spattered painting to the gallery and, wait for it, everyone loves it! Yay! The gallery’s one customer offers to buy it, but Sorg refuses and rushes out.
I may not know art, but I know what I like.
Sorg kills more people. A couple take his water bikes for a joy ride which doesn’t end well and there’s a fascinating scene in which he squeezes his victim’s entrails into a bowl for later use.
What a waste of paint.
As the body count rises, so does Sorg’s status in the art world. Offers for his paintings reach dizzying heights. The Customer offers $15,000 for Sorg’s chef-d’oeuvre, a painting with a lot of red in it. He declines to sell once again which puzzles the Customer and the critic, who apparently lives in the chair at the gallery and never changed his clothes.
You’re a monster, Sorg.
Soon we meet the Customer’s daughter, April, her boyfriend, Vanilla Guy, and this couple they’re friends with who wear matching clothes and are wacky and fun and you want to kill almost immediately. After some stilted dialogue, April, Vanilla Guy, and the Obnoxious Twins go to the beach. Sorg sees April and can tell by looking at her that her blood has the Pantone seal of approval so he lures her to his studio by DA DA DUM…asking her to come over. April, whose hairstyle deserves separate billing, and her bathing suit by Depends, visit the elegant, wood-paneled studio/living room of our hero. Sorg then puts April in a series of poses involving ropes and pulleys as he sketches her and handles his axe. Get your minds out of the gutter. Anyway, the Obnoxious Twins discover Gigi’s crab-covered body on the beach.
“Dig that crazy driftwood.”
Really. They remember they came with a fourth so Vanilla Guy goes into Sorg’s house which is about three feet away. He walks in to find his girlfriend tied to the ceiling wearing a bathing suit with her back turned to a man wielding an axe.
Just stand there so I can kill you.
He does what any red-blooded American 34, ah 21 year-old guy would do. He stands completely still and asks where the phone is.
“Do I have to dial 9 first?”
Words are exchanged and stuff happens and then it’s over but not before the female Obnoxious Twin says, “ I guess I won’t take up painting for a while.”
Herschell Gordon Lewis wrote and directed Color Me Blood Red along with the other two films in his Blood Trilogy; Blood Feast (1963) and Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964). The sound quality never quite achieves junior high AV club quality and one can assume the actors were hired because of some blackmail plot. I still enjoyed the film as a whole. I didn’t know exactly what would happen and I got to see Sorg squeeze guts, emote, and ride a water bike. Similar to A Bucket of Blood, but without the production quality and sympathetic hero, Color Me Blood Red strikes me as more of an outsider’s film. HGL didn’t care if you liked his hero. He wanted to tell his twisted tale so he did. He had water bikes so he threw them in. He thought up this screwy couple so he threw them in too. Aquanet was cheap so he used it…a lot of it…on April. He had his hero use a woman’s head as a paint brush. Need I say more? I think not.
Hausu. Every time I mentioned it to a fellow film lover, I heard, “Trippy!” or “You won’t forget that one.” Intrigued, I finally sat down to watch. At a Japanese school for girls, we meet our protagonists. Like the seven dwarves, our seven school girls exhibit one major personality trait each. Melody loves music. Sweet has a gentle nature. Fantasy has her head in the clouds. Prof reads constantly. Kung Fu lives for sport. Mac thinks of nothing but food, and Gorgeous is, as you might have guessed, gorgeous. Due to a change in their original plans to enjoy a holiday by the sea, the girls go instead to visit Gorgeous’ aunt in the country. The aunt lives alone pining for her fiancé who died in the war. Weak and wheelchair bound, Auntie never quite got over his death or that she never married. She lives isolated from the rest of the world. Through a series of flashbacks we see Auntie as she was with her lover and then after his death, looking bitter, at her sister’s wedding.
Soon after the girls arrive at Auntie’s house with their fluffy white cat, weird things start to happen.
Part fairy tale and part horror, Hausu both embraces and parodies slasher films. People die in weird ways and as their number starts to dwindle, the girls get more frightened and the pace more frenetic. Girls disappear, Auntie gains strength, and the skeleton in her kitchen does another dance.
Auntie and friend
Lines like “There’s a human hand in there.” and “Just let me eat you.” contribute to the Little Shop of Horrors vibe. The effects get stranger too. The cat’s green glowing eyes and the cut paper animation superimposed on live-action film look different from any other film I’ve seen.
I enjoyed Hausu because it looks so different and combines fantasy, horror, and fairy tale well. I mean, how can you dislike a film which includes death by piano?
Does Auntie remind you of Natalie Portman in The Professional?
Filmed almost entirely at dusk, They Saved Hitler’s Brain picks up where Madmen of Mandoras leaves off. Well, to be more accurate, it starts before Madmen of Mandoras begins.
Madmen, originally released in 1963, clocked in at 64 minutes. At the request of the producers, director David Bradley and a handful of his UCLA students added 30 minutes to the film for television broadcast in 1968. His added footage appears at the beginning of the film and isn’t exactly seamless despite the skill of cinematographer Stanley Cortez (Night of the Hunter, Chinatown). As the film opens, we see Dr. Bernard remove papers from a safe, go to his car, and blow up. In the briefing at CID headquarters which follows we learn that Bernard had been working with Professor Coleman on the L7 Project looking for the antidote to G gas. What is G gas, you ask? The head stiff explains that “…loss or destruction of this antidote could mean the complete annihilation of the world.” So there’s that. To prove the lethal power of G gas, Science Guy shows a filmstrip of an elephant lying down. Then, we meet Vic and Toni. Vic and Toni work as agents for the CID. Vic and Toni were not in the original film. Vic and Toni were filmed in different light wearing a completely different style of clothing from the people in the 1963 film. Vic and Toni are doomed.
Vic and Toni chat about the mission.
Anyway, Vic and Toni begin working on the case of the exploding professor. They drive around in Toni’s VW Beetle looking for clues until they’re chased by some guys in ill-fitting hats. Things go downhill from there for our intrepid duo. At this point the original film starts and it’s Madmen of Mandoras from here on in.
Madmen of Mandoras
Professor Coleman invents an antidote to the powerful nerve gas PAM. PAM, of course is an acronym and don’t ask me for what. It’s also a cooking spray so it’s clear ConAgra never saw this movie.
All this fuss over me?
Anyway, bad guys want the formula so when they release PAM, no one gets out alive. To lure the professor into their clutches, the criminals kidnap his Valley Girl (circa 1963) daughter and take her to the South American country of Mandoras. The professor’s older, more sensible daughter and her husband hop a plane to Mandoras after a foreign guy holds them at gunpoint, then dies in their car. Down in Mandoras, the couple is reunited with their dippy sister. After a weird gunfight in a nightclub where Carmen Miranda’s less talented cousin performs, some guy we don’t know takes a bullet and the local sheriff, portrayed by local sheriff portrayer Nestor Paiva, rounds up our trio of nitwits and brings them to the hoosegow. There we meet the president who resembles the Hispanic version of Colonel Sanders and find out the real power behind this incredibly contrived plot. A band of Nazis holed up in the presidential palace plot to gather the rest of their evil gang, drop PAM, and take over. Once they’ve laid waste to the world as we know it, they plan to put their own guy in power. Since they’re Nazis, three guesses as to who they’ve chosen to lead them. Yup. The Big Kahuna himself, Adolph. It seems scientists collected some cells in the fabled bunker and used them to…um, grow a new Fuhrer. They didn’t exactly grow a whole Hitler, just a head. So we get some hilarious scenes with a head under glass making odd expressions, looking around curiously, and barking orders. There’s even a carrying case with handles for when the head has to ride in the back of a limo. More stuff happens but who cares? You watch this film to see Hitler’s head scream, “Mach schnell!” to his underlings from under a pastry cover. According to imdb, Steve Bennet and Richard Miles wrote the screenplay for this and They Saved Hitler’s Brain and not much else. Often hard to follow, the story meanders and the audience feels just as out of it as the cast. Madmen of Mandoras has, as Joe Bob Briggs says, “too much plot getting in the way of the story.” David Bradley directed Madmen of Mandoras as well as They Saved Hitler’s Brain and used some scenes for both films. I guess with gold like that you want to get as much mileage as you can out of it. I’d recommend this for the weirdness quotient alone.
It may be because I just watched Glen or Glenda and Plan 9 From Outer Space recently, but the double agent who claims to work for the CID, but is really Hitler-Under-Glass’ chauffeur looks like a cross between Bunny Breckinridge and Criswell.
This guy. You’d agree with me if he took off his hat.
David Bradley directed Charlton Heston in the 16mm student productions of Peer Gynt and Julius Caesar while they attended Northwestern University. I thought that was pretty cool.
I wrote this piece for the Accidentally Hilarious blogathon hosted by Movies Silently. She runs a terrific blog about classic film. moviessilently.com/
Find me on twitter. @echidnabot