HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Synchronic
Capote Tapes, The
Night, The
Show Goes On, The
Furnace, The
Tyrel
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
   
 
Newest Articles
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
   
 
  Undead, The Witches' Brew
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, FantasyBuy from Amazon
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 3760 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: