Sunday, June 10, 2012
Behold with awe, and weep: THE UNDEAD (1957) Fleams Streely!
My favorite Corman movie, I love Charles B. Griffith's and Marc Hana's droll script, and Corman's dream poetry econo-direction, the array of sexy or otherwise awesome performances; I love the feeling of flowing poetic weirdness that it can only come from being shot in sequence over one long night in a single empty supermarket, full of black toxic mist to disguise the barren cheapness (and it was!). You'd think it would satisfy itself with being just one thing, but there's a lot going on here: two witches, demon midgets who turn into leftover bat props from IT CONQUERED THE WORLD, and Satan and his dancing ghoul girls!
Meant to tie in to the then-craze for reincarnation (set in motion by the popularity of the Bridey Murphy story), Pamela Duncan is hypnotized to travel through the sea of time to her past lives, but she ends up derailing the Grand Scheme of Things when she's able to whisper advice to her about-to-be-beheaded for witchcraft Middle Ages incarnation. When her prior self escapes the axe thank to her future self's tip, her loyal suitor and the palace guards give chase and the hypnotist joins her in the past to try and correct the matter. I saw this when very young on TV and the scene were Duncan seeks shelter at the witch's house is to me the eternally definitive Halloween moment, Neumann the definitive witch. She's a good witch, despite her crooked nose (putting to rest the libelous claim of Glenda in OZ that "only bad witches are ugly"), and I love the casual way she asks the stranger at her door "Are you from this era or from a time yet to be?" as if hypnotists from the future were not uncommon. Maybe they're not! Maybe the guardian angels we sometimes think we have are just our distant future selves slipping us hot tips at definitive moments via whatever time travel-hypnosis tools are available in time yet to be. I'd love to travel into the distant past of THE UNDEAD since Alison Hayes is awesome as the va-va-Voom-level hot bad witch with eyes on Pamela's man and I'm sure I could lure her away with my manly knowledge of photoshop.
See it here, free, courtesy AMC!