"A double pleasure is waiting for you…"

It’s the weekend! Yes! You hook up with all your friends and go out looking for fun! Only one problem, none of you have much dough. What do you do? You head on out to the local second-run theater or drive-in and catch a double feature! Yessiree! At least three hours of entertainment for only a couple of bucks. Plus, being the devious sort you are you manage to sneak some beer in to up the fun level. So sit right back and enjoy another Duh Spot double feature review!

The Hideous Sun Demon

Columbia, 1959, 74 minutes, NR

actors: Robert Clarke, Patricia Manning, Nan Peterson, Fred LaPorta

director, producer, writer: Robert Clarke, co-director: Tom Boutross

Taxonomy: Sci-Fi; mutant dude flick; serious schlock lovers

Plot: Mild mannered drunk babe hound atomic scientist by night, crazed devolved mutant lizard thing by day!

Well! It seems that conditions at “Atomic Experiments Inc.” (I kid you not!) are not all that safe. Dr. Gilbert McKenna (Clarke) gets blasted with mucho radiation and is sent to the hospital. Doctors then find nothing wrong with him. But, when a cute blond nurse, that Gil hits on, takes him up to the roof to get some fresh air … Zap! … The sun starts to turn him into some weird freak, some terrible monster, some … hideous sun demon! The docs get him back inside and the effects fade. They conclude that the radiation has triggered some sort of developmental genetic dohicky thingamabob that devolves Gil when he is exposed to sunlight. One doctor shows a picture of a tarantula and says it used to be a grasshopper before it underwent radiation experimentation. Oooooookay! The docs think Gil’s condition can be reversed, but he will have to stay at the hospital while they study him. Gil says, “No” and goes home.

Gil lives by night. He sleeps during the day in a house with the windows hung with those old black blinds we used to have in school. He is so alone! His friends worry about him, especially Ann Russell (Manning) one of Gil’s coworkers. She likes Gil. And that’s all there is to say about Ann; she likes Gil and worries about him. Let’s move on. Gil deals with his loneliness by cruising around in his convertible and going to bars. In one elegant place he meets Trudy Osbourne (Peterson). Trudy plays an organ and sings at a little dive bar with a bumper pool table. Trudy cannot sing and it is oh so obvious that she is not playing the organ she is sitting at – her hand movements do not even come close to being convincing, but she has big tits! Trudy is also rather dim and easy. Gil likes what he sees! After beating up Trudy’s boyfriend George, Gil takes her out for a drive. Wouldn’t you know that old smoothy Gil has a bottle in the glove compartment! They end up at the beach where Gil shows an almost complete lack of skill at making a campfire. This guy is a scientist? Anyway after more drinks and some goofy flirtations Gil and Trudy do the nasty! Gil wakes up early the next morning and splits cause the sun is coming up. Trudy wakes to find herself alone with no transportation home.

Gil makes it home but has turned into THSD by now and procedes to catch, kill and eat a rat. That sounds gross, but the scene is hilarious! When Gil picks up the rat two things become painfully obvious: 1. the rat is a toy, and 2. he is holding a sponge in his other hand. Gil brings both his hands together to crush the rat and we see all the ‘blood’ go squirt! Wow! Too funny!
Gil goes into his basement and eventually turns back into his old wonderful self.

Ann gets a radiation expert to tend to Gil. Dr. Jacob Hoffman (LaPorta) tells Gil he cannot leave his home. Any exposure to the sun will trigger the change into THSD. Next time, he might not be able to change back! Dr. Hoffman also tells Gil to lay off the booze. Gil is depressed. He dreams of big titted Trudy while he sleeps during the day in his twin bed! Eventually Gil can’t take the isolation any more and goes to the bar to see the slut – I mean Trudy. Trudy is still angry at Gil for stranding her on the beach. In fact she is so mad she has three goons beat Gil up. She then feels sorry for him and takes him to her apartment. Dames! Well, George shows up and he has a gun! He makes Gil go out back into the alley, but it is dawn and Gil turns into THSD and kills George while Trudy hangs her tits out the window and screams!

Gil runs away and scares some kids and kills a toy collie. That is to say he mangles up a stuffed toy dog, not the small version of a collie. He goes home, but the cops show up and he kills one. He finds a shed and hides. Once out of the sun, he changes back into Gil. A little girl, Suzy, finds Gil in the shed and brings him some cookies. Suzy’s mother told her to stay in the house, but Suzy is a naughty girl – just the kind Gil likes! The cops get too close and Gil makes a break for it! He carries Suzy outside (human shield?) and drops her when he again changes into THSD! Well another cop gets killed before the big climax on top of a refinery tank. A cop who’s has managed to clear his jammed gun (long story) draws a bead on THSD and shoots! THSD/Gil falls off the tank and dies. The End.

Goodies:

Babeage: Patricia Manning and Nan Peterson are okay, I guess, but I would not call them babes.

Sleazeploitation: Gil is a drunk and a womanizer, definitely not the typical clean cut scientist type usually seen in 50s sci-fi flicks.

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: Gil as himself and as THSD!

Violence: A couple of fist fights and a couple of squished toy animals.

Gore & FX: THSD costume is not all that great but the squished rat scene is art I tell you!

Great Lines:

Doctor, “This guy’s been soaked in radiation!”

Gil’s boss tells him, “Whiskey and soda mix, not whiskey and science!”

Old woman at hospital who is the first to see THDS, “Oh! That face!”

Gil reflecting on his fate, “Darwin never even scratched the surface! How could he?”

Trudy to Gil as they drive to the beach, “You’re a strange man.” Oh honey, you have no idea!

Gil to Dr. Hoffman, “I’ll do anything to get well! Anything!” Sorry son, I don’t swing that way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Gil, “WHY! Please tell me why!” ACTING!

Moral: Always use sun block.

Conclusion:

The Hideous Sun Demon is a riot of a flick! It has so many so-bad-it’s-good moments that any bad movie fan will get a big kick out of it. For others, it will seem like a very long 74 minutes. Just for fun, I though I would mention that this movie was remade in 1977 as The Incredible Melting Man and in 1983 a new soundtrack was dubbed onto the flick to make a parody called What’s Up, Hideous Sun Demon? One of the voice actors on the parody was Jay Leno.

This is me at age nine baby!: Jeez! The monster hardly does anything! And why are there all these girls and crying?

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

Hammer Studios / Shaw Bros., 1974, 89 minutes, NR

actors: Peter Cushing, Robin Stewart, Julie Ege, David Chiang, Shen Chen, Szu Shih, John Forbes-Robertson

directors: Roy Ward Baker, Cheh Chang
writer: Don Houghton
producers: Don Houghton, Vee King Shaw
executive producers: Run Me Shaw, Run Run Shaw

Taxonomy: Horror-Fu; East meets West chop-saki horror flick, Hammer / Fu freaks

Plot: Dracula is up to his old tricks and Van Helsing must deliver a smack down – again.

The Hook: This time old Drac has a craving for Chinese.

By the mid-70s the English horror studio Hammer was on it’s last legs and kung-fu flicks were on the rise. This led to an odd collaboration between Hammer and the Hong Kong based Shaw Brothers to produce a gothic horror/kung-fu hybrid flick. Our story starts out in 1804 with the evil priest Kah (Shen Chen) reaching Castle Dracula in Transylvania. Kah asks Count Dracula for help. You see, Kah has wielded unmatched power over the countryside near the village of Ping Kuei for many years. He controls the seven golden vampires and an army of their undead victims. But recently a villager manages to destroy one of the vampires and the others will no longer rise to Kah’s command. Kah asks Dracula to come to China and help him regain power. Drac tells Kah that he does not grant favors, but a change of scenery would be nice and an army might be useful, so he takes on the likeness of Kah, destroying him in the process, and heads for China.

Jump to 1904 Chung King. Professor Van Helsing (Cushing) is lecturing at Chung King University. He wants the esteemed Chinese scholars to help him learn about local vampire lore. The Chinese faculty are insulted that he would think they are so unsophisticated as to believe in vampires and walk out. Only one young man Hsi Ching (David Chiang) stays to ponder Van Helsing. We soon learn that Hsi Ching and his six brothers and one sister have pledged themselves to rid Ping Kuei of the Golden Vampires. Seven vampires (well really six now) verses seven kung-fu master brothers (and one sister). Check.

Meanwhile, Van Helsing’s wimpy son Leyland (Stewart) meets the lovely Scandinavian heiress and adventurer Vanessa Buren, played by the gorgeous Julie Ege. Seems Vanessa is an admirer of Prof. Van Helsing and would like to meet him. The local Tong leader likes the hot blond and asks to walk her home. She refuses and lets Leyland escort her. On the way to her rooms, Vanessa and Leyland are attacked by several Tong thugs who kill their escorts and it seems they will harm the white folk when two young Chinese men, one armed with a bow and another wielding twin battle axes appear and slice and dice the thugs. These warriors then take Vanessa and Leyland to Prof. Van Helsing’s digs. Hsi Ching explains that they are two of his brothers. Seems that the Van Helsings have been under the brothers protection from the moment they entered Chung King. Hsi Ching convinces Van Helsing to journey to Ping Kuei and help them destroy the golden vampires. Leyland insists on accompanying his father and Vanessa agrees to flip the bill for the expedition provided she is an active member.

So begins the journey to Ping Kuei. During this rather long trek we see: 1. the fighting skill of the Hsi brothers and sister as they fight off Tong goons, vampires and undead; 2. the vampires raiding Ping Kuei for girls (lots of titties on display) and 3. the developing romance between Vanessa and Hsi Ching and Leyland and the sister Mai Kwei (Szu Shih). Okay. now we need to stop and think a moment. We have 8 Chinese heroes and 3 European heroes. We have two interracial romances brewing. Okay, so this being a Hammer horror / Shaw Bros. kung-fu flick we can make some predictions. At least one Chinese and one European hero will die and at least one of these will be a woman. At this point my money would be on Mei Kwei to become a victim of a vampire. This would fulfill the required tragic love story so beloved of Chinese film makers and would force one of her brothers to destroy her. Which European will die? Well, we know it will not be Prof. Van Helsing, he has to deal with Drac. Vanessa seems the obvious choice, hot blond spells vampire bait, but that seems too easy. I’ll say Leyland. This would again be another tragic loss for Van Helsing, but give him even more reason to destroy the evil vampires. Frankly, Leyland is such a whiner I would not mind seeing him bite it. Vampire movie, bite it! Oh hahahahaha! I slay me!

Okay, this review is getting too long, so let’s cut to the chase. Once our heroes have fortified Ping Kuei, the remaining three golden vampires (they destroyed three of them on the trip) and the undead attack. Our heroes bolt the village gate and make a flaming trench (these Chinese vamps and undead are quite flammable) and defensive bamboo stake hedges. The vampires used a bit of magic to blow down the gate and the fun begins! Lots of nice kung-fu fighting sequences (Chinese vampires like to use swords) and even old Prof. Van Helsing gets a few good licks in. Several of the brothers die. And then there is Vanessa. She just stands there. She has no weapon. A fairly tall blond woman, dressed in white with no weapon in the middle of a battle between good guys and vampires. Sigh. Well, as you can already tell, she is going to get chomped. And she does, to her credit she does try to defend herself with a bamboo spear, but that is too little too late. Vanessa gets bit but good. Van Helsing sees it happen, but can’t do anything about it. The vampire runs off after infecting her and is killed by about a dozen pissed off villagers. Hsi Ching comes to see if Vanessa is okay and, of course, she attacks him. Van Helsing yells, “Ching! You must destroy her!” Hsi Ching impales Vanessa on one of the defensive bamboo stakes and then kills himself too. Cause he just can’t live without her! Hey so much for that whole ‘we have pledged our lives to rid the village of the vampires’ thing!

Well! Mai Kwei gets knocked unconscious and the last remaining vampire takes her to the temple where the vampires have their base. Leyland rides off to her rescue. Van Helsing and the two surviving brothers show up just as Leyland is about to be killed by the vampire. Van Helsing grabs one of the brother’s spear and destroys the last golden vampire. As the rest leave, Van Helsing has a bad feeling about the place and is confronted by Dracula. After a brief fight, Van Helsing destroys Dracula (again) using the same spear he used to dispatch the last golden vampire. The End.

Goodies:

Babeage: Szu Shih is cute and she was in a ton of Shaw Bros. kung-fu flicks, but she can’t hold a candle to Julie Ege. Julie Ege was Miss Norway and appeared in a few movies before resuming a normal life. I read on the net that today she is a nurse in her home country of Norway. There is no doubt about it though, Julie Ege was a babe. Blond, buxom, blue (or maybe hazel) eyes and a fantastic Nordski accent. Yum!

Sleazeploitation: Hammer always like to have at least one babe in their movies and Julie Ege fills that bill. The Shaw Bros. never shied away from sleaziness and to that end we have several scenes of topless Chinese cuties being abducted and chained down in the vampire temple before being drained. Plus I would bet that some folks would get bent out of shape by the dual interracial romance stories. Lighten up will ya!

Beasts, Freaks and Weirdoes: The golden vampires (by the way, they are called that because they wear gold masks and gold bat medallions) look like walking oatmeal. The undead are just folks in dirty torn clothes and masks who have an odd little jog like walk. Dracula just looks goofy. John Forbes-Robertson wears so much make-up he looks like a vampire clown – Christofer Lee he is not.

Violence: Kung-fu, sword-fu, spear-fu, axe-fu, bow-fu, knife-fu, mace-fu, flaming brand-fu, neck sucking-fu, fire-fu. One great scene has Hsi Ching destroy a vampire by smashing his fist through it’s chest! As you might expect there is a bit of blood.

Gore & FX: Not much really. The costumes are okay (Van Helsing wears a pith helmet), the vampire and undead make-up could have been better. The scenes where the destroyed vampires turn to dust were obviously done using rubber masks and air bladders. One hand gets chopped off. Nice bright red blood.

Great Lines:

Dracula to Kah, “Wretch! I do not grant favors! I do not accede to the requests of minions! Know you not Dracula commands even from the confines of this miserable place!?” You’re fired!

The British Consul remarking about Vanessa traveling the world alone, “Can’t say as I approve! Dash it all, they’ll want the vote next!”

Upon finding the remains of one of the golden vampires outside Ping Kuei, Van Helsing says, “The legend is true!” No shit? You have already fought off three of the goofy things by now!

Dracula, “Van Helsing! Across the globe, even to this very place you plague me!”

Van Helsing, “Show yourself! Or must you hide behind the image of another man? Is the mighty Dracula too frightened to reveal his face to me?” Yeah, the Profs got big uns!

Dracula, “I am Dracula! Lord of darkness, master of vampires, prince of the undead, ruler of the damned!” Think Drac’s boss might not like him padding his resume like that?

Moral: Before arranging that first date – check her teeth.

Conclusion:

Okay, lets face it, a kung-fu vampire flick can only be so good. I did not expect much of this flick, but it surprised me. The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires is better than I though it would be. The horror aspect is done well, with some cheap effects, and the asian spin is kind of interesting. The kung-fu is well done and choreographed – no one obviously misses their punches – even the non-kung-fu actors like Cushing and Stewart. The flick is a bit slow, but all Hammer films have that pace. Throw in a bit of sleaze and a hot blond and all-in all you have an entertaining little b-movie. Great? No. Fun? Oh yeah! I’m still kind of annoyed that Vanessa died but Leyland the dink survived.

This is me at age nine baby!: Those vampires look stupid! You have a pistol – shoot them! If the vampires go poof when you yank off their medallions, why aren’t they trying to do that! Duh!

Double Feature Checklist:

aradiation can do anything
afake bats on strings
alab coats worn in the outdoors
ared red blood
atons of booze and cigs
aone martial artist kills several opponents easily
atoy animals
apith helmet
ablond babes

Is it chili in here or is it just me?

Original Cave Creek Chili Beer

Black Mountain Brewing Company, Cold Spring, MN and Cave Creek, AZ

There are several brands of chili beer sold in the US. What is chili beer? Beer with a chili pepper in the bottle, Einstein. I decided to have a novelty beer to go with a novelty movie. Original Cave Creek Chili beer comes complete with a serrano chili in the bottle – and a warning on the label not to choke on the chili!

ABV: 4.20% IBU: low

Color: A very light amber, almost, but not quite yellow.

Aroma: A slight hint of lager hop tang that is quickly replaced by the scent of the pepper.

Head: Large bubbled white head that is gone within seconds.

Taste: At first I could detect a bit of a hop tang, but then the pepper flavor took over and that was all I could taste from that moment on. Just pepper, no beer taste after that first sip. Slight pepper aftertaste.

Recommendation: My father and I have different opinions about peppers. He loves them any day any way. I prefer hot chili peppers to be cooked into something so that the capsaicin gets mellowed out a bit and I can taste more than just fire. My dad is content to dump hot sauce on his food and just enjoy the burn. That is the attitude required to enjoy Original Cave Creek Chili Beer. You need to just be there for the raw chili heat. Don’t expect to taste the beer, you won’t. That is why I cannot recommend this beer. What is the point? If I want to taste raw chilis, I will eat raw chilis. If I want to wash them down with beer, I will get a good sharp hoppy Pilsner or IPA and drink it while eating the raw chilis. That way I will be able to taste the chilis and the beer. Walk away. Nothing to see here.

Well, there ya go! The second Duh Spot double feature. Fun, eh? Catch ya next time and remember – watch fun movies and drink good beer.

-BigRuta

Questions, comments, requests and contributions welcome!

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