HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Monos
Life at the Top
Whoopee Boys, The
Set, The
Cyrano de Bergerac
Death Walks in Laredo
Gemini Man
End of the Century
If Beale Street Could Talk
Raining in the Mountain
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
   
 
Newest Articles
Ozploitation Icon: Interview with Roger Ward
Godzilla Goes to Hollywood
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
   
 
  Undead, The Witches' BrewBuy this film here.
Year: 1957
Director: Roger Corman
Stars: Pamela Duncan, Richard Garland, Allison Hayes, Val Dufour, Mel Welles, Dorothy Neumann, Billy Barty, Bruno VeSota, Richard Devon, Aaron Saxon, Don Garret, Dick Miller
Genre: Horror, Drama, Weirdo, Fantasy
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Arrogant psychic researcher Quintus Ratcliff (Val Dufour) picks up sassy streetwalker Diana Love (Pamela Duncan) to serve as the test subject for a radical experiment. Using hypno-therapy, Quintus transports Diana’s subconscious mind back in time for a glimpse into the life of her Medieval ancestor, Elaine (Pamela Duncan, again) who stands wrongfully accused of witchcraft. Elaine’s sweetheart, Pendragon (Richard Garland) stands ready to rescue her, but sexy, shapeshifting witch Livia (Allison Hayes) and her hideous imp (Billy Barty) have designs on selling his soul to Satan (Richard Devon).

“Behold the subtle working of my talents. And pray that I may never turn my interest upon you. Bwah-ha-ha!” cackles bug-eyed Beelzebub in his creepy intro to The Undead, another low-budget wonder from Roger Corman that surely ranks among the most audacious and inventive horror movies of the Fifties. In 1952, amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein placed Colorado housewife Virginia Tighe under an hypnotic trance revealing her past life as a 19th century Irish woman named Bridey Murphy. Despite there being several holes in “Bridey’s” story, the book Bernstein wrote documenting this phenomenon became a national bestseller and sparked a Bridey Murphy craze resulting in two hit songs, a Bridey Murphy dance, a reincarnation themed cocktail (!), a spoof record and two movies: The Search for Bridey Murphy (1956) and I’ve Lived Before (1956).

Always quick to cash-in on a trend, drive-in kings AIP and producer-director Roger Corman concocted The Undead, based on a screenplay co-written (as The Trance of Diana Love) by the ever-ingenious Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna, who also wrote Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1957) the film that immortalised statuesque beauty Allison Hayes as a B-movie icon the same year. Smouldering through a great performance while wearing a sort of medieval cocktail dress slit to the thigh, Hayes is even more memorable here and brings genuine heat to hoary lines such as: “Forgive me if this chill brings out the wildness in my blood.” Pamela Duncan is also terrific as the sympathetic Elaine who eventually faces an impossible choice between living now only to die forever or perishing so that her future selves, including the hitherto disreputable Diana, can blossom. The climactic scene wherein the entire cast hector Elaine with advice whilst her future selves urge her to let them live, proves unexpectedly moving.

In some ways the film anticipates Corman’s The Trip (1967) with its core idea involving the use of unorthodox therapy to answer questions about the inner self, but it also prefigures his later, lavish Edgar Allan Poe movies and their preoccupation with antiheroes racing recklessly towards a malefic fate. In this instance, our ambiguous antihero is Quintus. Fearful his actions have fatally disrupted Diana’s timeline, he uses another radical technique to transport himself back in time. Arriving naked, save for his wristwatch (!), Quintus grabs a handy disguise and attempts to orchestrate events, but there is a sting in the tale for our smug scientist. The film moves at a cracking pace and, despite the odd goofy moment, bristles with offbeat ideas and genuine surprises, notably its inversion of The Wizard of Oz stereotype by making the beautiful witch whilst the ugly one, Meg Maud (Dorothy Neumann - AIP’s resident witch) proves Elaine’s greatest ally. The pseudo-medieval dialogue gets pretty corny at times and some of the supporting performances are cartoony to match, but few true B-movie lovers would begrudge the presence of Mel Welles - future director of Lady Frankenstein (1971) - as a comical gravedigger who speaks entirely in ghoulish verse, Bruno VeSota - future director of The Brain Eaters (1958) - as the portly innkeeper who comes to a gruesome end, or certainly the great Dick Miller as a leper! Watch out for the three leggy Vampira look-alikes performing an interpretive dance number at Satan’s climactic shindig.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2945 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Roger Corman  (1926 - )

Legendary American B-Movie producer and director who, from the fifties onwards, offered low budget thrills with economy and flair. Early films include It Conquered the World, Not of This Earth, Attack of the Crab Monsters, A Bucket of Blood, The Little Shop of Horrors and X. The Intruder was a rare attempt at straightforward social comment.

Come the sixties, Corman found unexpected respectability when he adapted Edgar Allan Poe stories for the screen: House of Usher, Pit and The Pendulum, The Masque of the Red Death and The Tomb of Ligeia among them, usually starring Vincent Price. He even tried his hand at counterculture films such as The Wild Angels, The Trip and Gas!, before turning to producing full time in the seventies.

Many notable talents have been given their break by Corman, such as Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorcese, Monte Hellman, Jonathan Demme, Joe Dante, James Cameron and Peter Bogdanovich. Corman returned to directing in 1990 with the disappointing Frankenstein Unbound.

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: