Friday, July 15, 2022


Like many Gen-X-ers who grew up watching 70s network TV with the family, I am a child of the occult. The TV Movie of the Week on Friday nights, the ABC Tuesday Night Movie, or whenever,  and sometimes NBC, and even other times, CBS, this was our arcane nourishment. The devil, telekinesis, witches and ESP all blasted into our collective ken via the adult box office--Rosemary's Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and Carrie--and filtered down to the kids through watered-down TV movies and lurid covers for paperbacks we were too young to read yet (though we tried). Ouija boards were sold in toy aisles from Sears to the local 5&10. We pretended crosses would burn us and that we could be telekinetic if we concentrated hard enough. We revered the name of Adrian (used in both The Omen and Rosemary's Baby, Adrian became to default name for Satan's offspring, male or female).  In hindsight, the occult seemed a natural outgrowth of late-60s hippie fashion--post-Manson but pre-Satanic panic--the frocks and robes, the colors, symbols, flowing garments, pagan statues, strange tapestries, drugs, incense and candles--it was all there in the wind. Even my own aunt lived in a commune. I still remember walking through all the beaded curtains as a six year-old kid, seeing all the cats, all the mattresses on the floor, all the long-haired dudes smoking... whatever they were smoking, hearing the weird music and seeing how horrified it made my parents to see it. I loved it. 

That was the 70s, man. Evil wasn't evil unless it was threatened. Don't bully Adrian, or us, and no one dies from floating knives. 

ABC - October 29, 1976

Yea, though I only got to see the first half hour or so, I remember LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY (1976) vividly as it infested my childhood dreams like a pleasurable fever for weeks. And I remember the flak it received the next day at the playground from the kids whose parents let them see clear on to the bitter end. I only saw the first 1/3 and it was amazing. Adrian getting burnt by the cross, what an image. I don't know why that was such a turn-on to my nine year-old brain. I imagined having telekinesis and being allergic to churches for years afterwards. We all did. 

As a grown-up, though, the bad reviews this TV movie has made me stay away for decades. I finally saw it only last week (as I'm in the midst of a 70s TV movie phase) and was in paroxysms of tacky so-bad-it's-sublime joy from beginning to end. I mean, Patty Duke as Rosemary, shouting "Why?! WHY?" to the heavens ala her memorable final scene in Valley of the Dolls? Rosemary hiding out with five year-old Adrian at a run-down Jewish funeral home, shouting at the scattered old mourners to "Pray! Pray! Pray!" while the evil Castavets try and locate her and Adrian with their minds? Rosemary freaking out in a trailer with worry Adrian may have killed two kids, serving him milk with one hand while preparing to knife him with the other? Winding up trapped on a Satanic greyhound with no driver? And that's all just "Book One!"  It's all downhill from here, but what a ride!

Book Two flashes forward ten years or so. as Adrian is now played by Stephen (Pontypool) McHattie, whose wide, curled smile and hooded stare simultaneously evoke Rutger Hauer, Bo Hopkins, and Jonathan Turkel (what a combo). He drives fast, lives at a mansion/casino with his Satanic guardian (Tina Louise), i.e. the devil's den, but has a Christian (angelic) best friend named Peter (David Huffman) who keeps urging him to pray in church instead of lusting after women (there's a definite gay vibe). Most importantly, Peter urges him to flee his corrupting guardian before his big 21st birthday, as if sensing the ceremony in store. For some reason Adrian can wear a cross against his skin now, and he contemplates it like some strung-out Jesus freak (whereas in Book One he was burnt by one - no explanation how he's suddenly immune, then again a lot of stuff goes unexplained here). It's weird that the Christ option would be subversive, but we're in the devil's house--there's gambling!--cute cocktail waitresses, decadent paintings, slot machines (the only evidence of gambling) and rock bands seemingly 24/7. 

Of the original cast, only Ruth Gordon returns, as the sweet old lady Satanist Minnie Castavet; Ray Milland takes over as her husband, Roman; George Maharis takes over from John Cassavetes as Rosemary's no-good (now ex-) husband Guy, who is now a big star in LA. He's told by the Castavets he better come to the casino for Adrian's birthday, as he is needed for a big ceremony, which will either initiate a full possession from his father the devil and/or they will sacrifice him, and then his body will be inhabited by the devil. Or something. Like a lot of this movie, details seem vague and contradictory. 

Well, even if it's never very clear but who cares? I love that Milland and Gordon are dressed like, and for the most part behaving like, ordinary elderly tourists coming to visit Guy in LA, then trekking out to the casino like retirees to Vegas. I love that while Adrian's Satanic ceremony goes on in one room in the casino, right through the door there is a band rocking out and assorted young people dancing, oblivious, as if it's nothing more than a craps game. The association is that rock music is evil, that the devil is seeming to draw power from it. These old folks are, in short, cool/. Roman even tokes a joint (he has to "stay with the times")! 

Throughout the three "books" the set and setting is always unique, strange, not quite right, as if the art direction was done by a fundamentalist Christian schizophrenic after six rewrites. For example, it's jarring to see Adrian argue with his guardian and/or Roman in the other room at a weird Satanic initiation then leave and walk right back into the casino/bar (basically a typical TV bar/restaurant set, but adorned with big unmanned slot machines), full of guests and/or gamblers, where his Christian boyfriend sulks at the bar and keeps pushing him to leave. You would think for something this important the Satanists would at least like to study the guest list. The best they can do to get rid of this white-wearing buzzkill (he "flunked out of divinity school") is have him be attacked by a falcon in his car (falcons were very 'in' at the time). But that's not a debit. I like the feeling of disassociation, as it's very dream-like.  Though the circulating print is muddy as heck, the Book One scenes of Rosemary dragging Adrian down dark, deserted, windy, lightning-choked city streets has a surreal, almost Argento-esque nightmare interiority. There is never the feeling we're in any definable reality, especially when nearly everyone Adrian runs into, aside from Peter and his mother, seem 'in on it.' Who is this weird Christian Adrian is hanging out with, and why do Rosemary and Adrian run without thinking twice into the trailer of Tina Louise in Act One? Why would she suddenly trust a complete stranger? In Book One, why does child Adrian take to the street at Roman's telepathic command, only shout his own name to the heavens? Did the writers forget his name (since Rosemary prefers to call him "Andrew"?) What's the deal with Rosemary's obsession with giving Adrian milk? First Rosemary tells a lady on the bus he doesn't like it, then in the trailer she's forcing him to drink some from Louise's fridge, getting ready to stab him with her other hand at the same time. Was there an early draft where they'd know he was evil if he refused to drink it? And why does Rosemary freak out so much over whether Adrian killed someone? I mean she freaks out, as if his taking a life would somehow damn the good side of him. But who cares, really? If you can love the bad writing and if you don't expect it to measure up remotely close to the original, you can fall into a swoon at the sublime mess that is. I mean, you've got Patty Duke threatening to kill Adrian over the phone, and with a vicious insanity in her voice where you know she means it. Duke goes for broke. Nearly every line is delivered at pich-perfect overwrought hysteria. 

The 21st birthday party/ceremony is the real showstopper--and your reaction to it will indicate whether you like this movie as much as I do. In order to prepare Adrian for his magical rock and roll birthday initiation/possession, the Satanists first drug him, then lay him out on the dining room table, and paint him up like a glam rock mime. I kid you not, right down to the white face, red cheeks and lashes.  Once this is done, McHattie does a ridiculous kind of 'stick puppet with loose strings' mime performance (indicating the devil not being used to moving around in a human body, one presumes) before sashaying out of the room and into the dancer-packed other room, where the band is getting down and dirty. ("Let him go to the music," counsels Roman). In a cool tracking shot, Adrian dances his way through the throng and up to the stage where he stars blankly out at the crowd and does a weird little two step rock shuffle (believe it or not, McHattie actually lends his spastic dancing scene a certain level of pouty Jim Morrison meets beatnik Frank Gorshin cool). 

The Christian boyfriend, meanwhile, sensing what's going on, in a kind of Footloose-prefiguring moment, tries to unplug the amps and stop the party! Stop the music! The sight of this white clad idiot freaking out and trying to save Adrian's soul by running up, unplugging the amps and telling everyone to stop dancin is so deadpan ridiculous it has to be meant tongue-in-cheek, like some Jack Chick tract enacted by the Anton LaVey players. The music keeps going, even without the cords, and Peter is ushered outside, where he's electrocuted by Guy and ends up being thrown against the window like a lit-up Christmas angel on the electric cross, right where Adrian is doing his devil strut/dance! Adrian-- made-up like a glam rock mime, and succumbing to the devil's music--gazing at his friend plastered against the window, all lit up like a tacky electric Jesus (see top). What a moment! I jumped out of my easy chair and started singing Satan's praises.  

 Book Three finds Adrian in an insane asylum with amnesia (and blamed for Peter's death). A cute doctor/nurse (Donna Mills) looks after him. He's got fragmented memories of who he is, and has some idea he can work some mystic powers if he escapes, but the place--run by the cult--is locked up tight. Or so it seems. It's pretty easy to escape with Mills' nurse's help, though, in fact we go right from her agreeing to help to them driving away and eventually hooking up in a hotel tryst.  Meanwhile the forces of Roman and Guy are converging. They either want Roman's soul or his body or something and it leads to a rather anticlimactic motel parking lot hit and run. Or does it?

If you come to this mess looking for a legit sequel there's no doubt you'll roll your eyes early and often. Come to it expecting a hilarious WTF extravaganza, and be delighted for all eternity.  Sure, the writing is inconsistent and fractured. Sure, we never learn a lot of missing pieces. Then again, that was part of the uncanny aspect of the original. There we only ever saw things from Rosemary's point of view and as kids we understood very little of it --other than that old people are creepy and we shouldn't trust them. The deals and so forth were all done behind her back so everything was inferred (and on TV, no doubt, the dream/ceremony/rape was severely cut). As kids we didn't like Rosemary's Baby --it was too slow and adult. We didn't get it.  Now that we're adults we get it, yet we we can look at Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby and feel like a kid again, i.e. not getting it, even while there's nothing there to get. We're mature, but sometimes that's a curse all its own. 

McHattie as Adrian (note subliminal devil horns)

ABC - January 14, 1975

Satan's got a triangle / so big and so wide (at the hypotenuse). A lot of Gen-X TV movie bloggers were awakened to the 'call' of film criticism when this film scared the hell out of them as kids. Kindertrauma's Unkle Lancifer for example relates a very vivid and relatable tale of how screwed up it made his sleep patterns for months (here). Me, I never saw it in its original airing that I know of. Since I was only eight I probably had to go to bed before the ending even if I did, and without the ending it all kind of just goes nowhere a kid might willingly follow. In fact, the first twenty minutes of the film consists solely of watching two Coast Guard pilots (Doug McClure and Michael "Let's be careful out there!" Conrad) circling over a floundering yacht and then lowering McClure down in a little basket as the sound of the chopper blades soothes and lulls any boy who would have been me, and the whole thing has a laid-back kind of procedurally organic flow that modern movies would never have the patience to detail today. But that was what made the 70s cool: McClure and Conrad are actually up in this chopper, for real, and someone, either McClure or a stunt man, really is being lowered in that basket. Today of course it would all be done with a green screen, doubtful there'd even be a real helicopter. This ain't today.

Eventually, after surveying the corpses scattered about on deck and below (one of which appears to be floating), McClure heads down to the main cabin and swills some rum with the one survivor (Kim Novak!), the dazed mistress of a now-deceased millionaire sportsman and the sole survivor of this ill-fated deep sea fishing excursion. What is the incredible story of how this all happened? An approaching front necessitates the chopper depart until the next morning. McClure sleeps over on the craft so Novak (there's freaky things going on with the chopper engines) so she will have some time to tell the tale, and let nature, booze, mirrors, Dutch angles, mirrors, and the seducing sound of the waves work their magic in the process.

Bermuda triangle mystery movies with ghost ships and one survivor to tell the tale in flashback were a dime a dozen in the 70s, but here it's the cast and the moodiness that make it one of the more memorable TV movies of the whole era. It's got everything -- casual sex, thunder storms, electrical failures, salty seawater splashing onto the camera lens, booze, a marlin, a seductive and very adult mood (horror movies were still aimed at adults), and a series of strange macabre 'accidents' and a hot priest.  I like that the interior of the yacht looks like an occult book store and that Novak pours booze like a man and wears a vaguely witchy purple Von Furstenberg-style peasant dress (with a cross necklace). Her flashbacks to the sportsman (Jim Davis) and find him angry at having to give up a hooked marlin to rescue a priest (Alejandro Rey) drifting out at sea in the distance. He's very competitive. Dios mio! The sailors insist they pick the man up but almost immediately regret it ("from the moment he came aboard," notes Novak, "a strange lightning started"). Soon they're lost "a hundred miles from anywhere, stuck in this horrible place they called the Triangle, no crew, no radio, the engine wasn't even working..." And all because a priest? Dios mio.

The crew abandon ship. The rest of those aboard die one-by-one until just the priest and Novak are left. She makes a play for him, but he clings to his moldy faith. He's tempted, or is he just interested in her soul?  Either/or, soon he's dead, when deciding he needs both hands to shoot a flare gun from high on the mizzenmast (he must not have heard you can just point and fire from the deck). 

What a tale! It's never clear why you have to cut fish loose when rescuing priests, but Doug mansplains all the other freaky occurrences and deaths as merely the result of storms and bad luck. He also proves he is no priest. This was the 70s after all, where sex was something consenting adults might do together after a few drinks on a boat, and no professional impropriety or awkwardness after (i.e. the encouraged crew-passenger trysts on The Love Boat). 

Though never dull--even that 20 minute opening chopper circling--it's a nice slow burn for a truly nightmarish pay-off that would have scared the dickens out of me as a kid just as bad as it scared Unkle Lancifer had I been allowed to stay up late enough to see it. Good sportsmanship prevents me from revealing the disturbing secret. I can tell you that there's a cool weird kind of seductive spell going on even in the more placid moments, and it's all really shot out at sea, at least the exterior stuff is, and even in the cabin sequences you can feel the boat rocking.  That final image: those eyes and that smile, linger in the mind forever. Just know this: if there is a devil, he's got a triangle all his own. And you'd do best to not to go there, even with Kim Novak still looking sultry and bewitching even in 1975.

CBS - November 21, 1972

No one comes to prime time TV movies for the climate. To save money, the sand-blasted scrub of LA (Bronson Canyon in particular) becomes the setting for 90% of the exteriors shown on prime time, especially in the 70s. Gargoyles is no exception, except in the way it uses the desert as a site of sand-blasted timeless weirdness where reptile-like bird demons might come flying in to set fire to your shack any time of the night.  Though 90% of 70s occult TV movies have some precedent at the box office (i.e. The Exorcist or Carrie), Gargoyles is totally unique unto itself. The fractured narrative, strong characterizations, unusual father/grown daughter central relationship, wordy monsters (the lead one especially loves to pontificate), a ridiculous climax, and a fast, kinetic action movie-style pacing. 

If you've driven ever, way out in the middle of a desolate desert in the hot of the afternoon, without another car in sight for hours, and you just know that heat exhaustion and dehydration could set in long before another car drives by if your car breaks down. In such a place lives 'Uncle Willie' (Woodrow Chambliss) an old drinking man who keeps a strange horned humanoid skeleton he pieced together out in the wilderness in his garage. Cornel Naked Prey Wilde stars as the toupee-wearing dad who travels with his grown daughter (Jennifer Sisters Salt) all the way to Uncle Willie's shack to see it. That same night, while they pass around the bottle, the living versions sweep in to claw through the old coot's corrugated shack, climbing over Dr. Mercer's car as he and Diana try to escape, starting a massive fire and chasing them to a nearby small desert town, trying to retrieve the skull of their ancestor which has been swiped by the Wilde on the way out. See.. to make it valid, Wilde needs evidence, a habeas corpus, and the gargoyles don't like to leave their dead behind. You won't know how to root for as the dad risks his life and his daughter's by refusing to part with his gargoyle memento mori. Eventually the head gargoyle (Bernie Casey) whisks Diana off to the secret gargoyle cave (Bronson, I presume) in response, and demands she teach him to read. Cue backstory!

Bernie Casey as the head gargoyle
 Even if the gargoyle suits (early work by future legend Stan Winston) aren't terribly convincing (one looks a bit like Sam the Eagle from The Muppets), each one is different and they are fun in a strange sort of way. It would have worked better had they been able to stay in the shadows, building up mystique, but there's no time. Within minutes of passing the bottle back to Uncle Willie we're zipping along in the momentum of, say, The Terminator or Jeepers Creepers (which is also about a winged demon creature who only hatches periodically, like a cicada, and who pursues a male-female pair across the middle of nowhere while vividly-etched locals gape wild-eyed and soon start dying while to help). 

And the cast! Grayson ("Don't make me take steps, Mr. Shannon!") Hall is great as the boozy motel manager knows right where the sheriff keeps his whiskey bottle and grabs a belt after running into his office before relaying her shocking story (gargoyles trash her place trying to get their bodies back). Scott The Right Stuff Glenn is a cool, helpful biker (his laconic Gary Cooper-meets-Kevin Costner sex appeal is pretty undeniable even in this early role). His gang joins the search to rescue Diana along with the sheriff and a few deputies on horseback for the big climactic battle that evokes, in more ways than one, a western white man vs. Native American battle. Pretty crazy stuff, all in all, with the LA desert doing its magic work as far as creating a sunbleached sense of desolation and post-macho self-reliance  Apparently temperatures out there topped 100 degrees during the shoot, which makes those poor stuntmen in those heavy suits all the more heroic.  

I don't remember Gargoyles' initial airing (I was only five) but I did catch it on an early Saturday morning creature feature UHF channel a few years later. I remember being confused by the dialogue (the lead gargoyle talked way too much) and unimpressed by the monster suits (especially the ridiculous unflapping bat wings that somehow manage to lift these heavy characters off the ground). Maybe my expectations were too high (I'd heard it was sooo scary). And--for better or worse--the mythology and orientation of these creatures doesn't add up: how can they lay such giant eggs when they're normal human-sized? Are they the good guys --oppressed and attacked for no reason by humans throughout the centuries?--or bad (their big plan is to multiply exponentially and wipe out humans as the dominant race on the planet)? We're supposed to feel warmth when a child gargoyle hatches and is welcomed into the arms of its parent, but then root for Scott Glenn to burn them all alive? I didn't get it. 

Now, all grown up in the age of CGI, I'm much more forgiving of such ambivalence and conflicted emotion. Especially now that it's all restored in HD it's much more inviting (I like the red gels in the caves in particular, see above), and that the gargoyles are neither all good or all bad, as emblematic of the complexities of our natural and unnatural order as the 70s can make it. Maybe we'll never get that regain the decade's laid-back and (some might say recklessly) unsupervised sense of wild-child innocence but, thanks to the internet, we can always knock a few back with Grayson Hall, gaze longingly into Glenn's brown eyes, and cheer the posse of bikers, cops, and bewildered locals as they ride off into the hellish 100 degree heat, all in the name wiping out a small tribe of disenfranchised outcasts with nothing more than a half-can of gasoline and a whole mess of divide-crossing gumption. 


Dir. Curtis Harrington
ABC - Feb 26, 1974

"How harmless are our little bees."

In case you were born in a barn, Curtis Harrington is one of the guiding lights of the 'old battleaxe' post-Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? horror genre, giving work to dozens of older stars throughout the 70s in TV and big screen films reference and revere the Hollywood classics (especially Hitchcock's) while lighting them up with hothouse soap histrionics, ala Lillian Hellman or Tennessee Williams. Everything is never all that it seems with Harrington. Sometimes he can get downright ridiculous (as in Devil Dog: Hound of Hell) but he can also approach the cultist sublime (The Cat Creature). Here we're supposed to get a typical 70s killer bee attack movie (ala The Savage Bees and Terror from the Sky), but instead we get the tale of a matriarchal-ruled family winery, with Gloria Swanson (the part was written for Bette Davis but her doctor vetoed it- we can dream) as the hammy Boer immigrant matriarch (her ill-advised Nordic-sounding accent really shows up her limitations as a sound-era actress) who sees that their vine's tender grapes--brought over from South Africa by her own ancestors--are well-fertilized by her own stock of African (i.e. killer) bees. No one who messes with Swanson or her dynasty is safe from her unconsciously-orchestrated bee attack, nor is anyone who even witnesses something they shouldn't (like bees). But what can the suspicious sheriff do, arrest the bees? And now her prodigal grandson (Edward Albert) is visiting with his new girlfriend (Kate Jackson), and Swanson feels quite threatened again! Part Jessica Tandy in The Birds (only with bees) and part Morbius in Forbidden Planet with his monster from the Id, Swanson is not the type you'd want as a grandma-in-law. She's very possessive of her boys and clearly doesn't see the need for them to reproduce on their own. 

That said, Kate isn't going anywhere and kudos to Jackson and Harrington that her character is never quite 100% trustworthy despite Kate pouring on that signature warmth. In the Harrington-verse, every woman has a killer inside her--even Kate Jackson--has a gold-digging sociopath as well as a warm-hearted angel inside her.  Not cowed at all by the threats and coldness in the air, she tells Swanson her pilot father taught her "how to maneuver around in tight places" and basically shocks her into having a heart attack during one of their tete-a-tetes. Soon Swanson is dead and when Kate presumes she was killed by the bees that covered her body the boys all laugh and we hear their laughing echo in Jackson's paranoid ears. And at the end, well, we're not really sure who Kate Jackson's character is at all. And it's clear from these boys' attitude just how relieved yet flummoxed they are by their sudden freedom from their domineering matriarch. Only what of the bees? What will they do now? 

No spoilers but it all leads to a truly surprising great ending that steers this particular killer bee TV movie far afield from the traditional eco-horror/disaster movie variety and more towards something like The Godfather or Now, Voyager. With his keen camp sensibility, Harrington is just using the public's then-pervasive fear of a killer bee invasion as a jumping off point, to make a chamber piece about family and trying to become an in-law, but with bees in it. And if you've felt, as I have, that The Birds should have ended without news reports that the birds were attacking everywhere, taking the matriarchal 'monsters from the id' angle out of the equation in the process, then you'll love Harrington puts that angle right back in.  These bees aren't multiplying and running amok across the country. In fact they're not going anywhere. And to survive all you have to do is stand very still and not bat around the air in a panic. As her funeral ends in a massive bee attack (a great moment has an altar boy swatting at a bee on a funerary bouquet with his big golden cross) the three brothers just wait until everyone else has run off and just walk casually out of the church, talking like nothing happened.  

With dialogue written and spoken in a very tight pattern of back and forth, kind of Mamet-like, this quick-moving film offers very little in the way of empty small talk--nearly every line has multiple meanings--helping deliver the movie over many of the usual boggy bumps that often reduce soapy TV movies with rich bitch dynasties down to one small murder or haunting before each commercial followed by more denial and gaslighting in between (with boggy sheriffs and endless puttering). This one moves so fast it seems like a short. I would have loved a sequel! (Dear Studios, please remaster and release this movie so it's not just a YouTube smudge, which is currently the only way to see it - Amen)

Hurrah, say I, for Curtis Harrington, the Tennessee Williams of 70s TVM horror!


To find all these movies and more online, visit my specially curated YouTube List: 70s TV Movies of Death!

Monday, July 11, 2022

Sexy Occult 70s TV Movie Review Round-Up

The 70s--such a great time for supernatural-themed TV movies, usually on ABC. These old mellow vibe-casting fading star-studded thrill rides can seem mighty slow and uneventful to today's audiences, but if you get the context, i.e. you were a kid in the age before VCRs and cable--when everything came over network TV, censored, edited, studded with standards and practices alterations and commercials and never meant to compete with the rougher stuff over a the drive-in--then it's a fond and comforting and slightly unsettling blast. These were films meant to scare old folks, parents, and children alike. Through it all, the occult thing soared. As the witchy 70s began, Satanic cults full of the elderly or the very hip Californians fiddled with demonic possession of children and teenagers being harassed by their peers and laying on their telekinetic vengeance; all the time staying close to the witchy occult roots.

Marked by an avoidance of anything like sex or gore, a low-budget, reliance on commercial breaks for pacing (which makes their video and digital versions seem strangely incomplete, as if 'the good parts' are missing)--at their bests these films are classics of comfort food opiate reassurance for a certain generation, and maybe just cool relics for everyone else. B-list character actors from past cult favorites evoke the bygone classics while the scripts dole out just enough scares and suspense to keep dad from changing the channel at the next commercial break.

Here are a few I love or like or at least don't mind. They're all re-edited from older posts here on Acidemic. But I'm working on an all-new post that will cover LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY, KILLDOZER, and SATAN'S TRIANGLE!  

ABC - Dec. 11, 1973
Dir. Curtis Harrington

For the classic horror fan by a classic horror fan, a B-star-studded tale of Bast, the Egyptian cat goddess, freed after thousands of years when an amulet necklace is stolen off her mummy by a drunken Keye Luke. All who touch the amulet shall be mauled to death by this mummy cat god woman returned to life. Written by supernatural TV movie veteran Robert Bloch, directed by thew great Curtis Harrington, Cat Creature rocks a dreamy mix of supernatural romance and cop show vibes, spiked with heavy doses of classic horror and Satanist/Egyptian set dressing. And the cast!: Kent Smith (the dope in Cat People) as a murdered archivist; Gale Sondergaard as shady occult book store owner; John Carradine as a flop house desk man; the marvelously creepy Milton Pearson (he played the escaped lunatic in The Hidden Hand) as a coroner;  John Abbott (The Vampire's Ghost) as an Egyptologist. And after each murder..... a cat silhouette!
Investigating detective Marco (Stuart Whitman) realizes the murders center around a missing cat amulet so he recruitst archaeologist Roger Edmonds (David Heddison) and together they tool around LA, talking to each other with their great gravelly TV male 70s smoker voices, searching the flop houses and antique shops. Turned on by the mystery (Agatha Christie is his favorite author, he tells Marco). Roger vibes with the shy cute new clerk at Sondergaard's store, 'Rena' (Meredith Baxter), little guessing the occult connection.

I love the little weird details here: the skulls and weird old Universal horror props in every corner of the frame; the meowing violins, pensive percussion, slow sustains and yowling gongs in Leonard Rosenman's score; the cool-creepy green horror font of the credits: the eerie chanting of the exit music. From the plaster Egyptian 'artifacts' to the autumnal palette, Harrington ensures every frame is a-drip with classic horror fan / 70s childhood manna. Best of all is the way the odd sense of isolation, the superb contrast of run-down LA studio backstreets and Addams Family / Christine McConnell-style posh interiors finds a doomed resolution in the sadness in Baxter's Rena. When she tells Roger of her centuries of being alone in the dark, getting closer and closer to him in a romantic slow gravity pull, you feel just how tempted he must be to take her up on her offer and just go racing out of town, living forever with a cat goddess. Masterfully underplaying as she goes, she conjures a grown-up Amy from Curse of the Cat People- history all set to repeat itself (Rena being clearly taken from 'Irina'). Taking a page perhaps from Lewton, Harrington ably syncs the mellow rhythm of 70s TV to the languid sense of timeless affection that develops between them--evoking that SHE/MUMMY ages-echoing amor. As so often happened with prime time TV movies, despite the cool font and chanting-Morocco-style desert wind fade out, it might end better if you go upstairs before the last five minutes and watch a happier ending safely from the embryonic depths (otherwise it gets a little ridiculous).

ABC (1973) TVM Aaron Spelling & Leonard Goldberg)

Future Angels Cheryl Ladd and Kate Jackson are students at an all-girls boarding school where there seems to be only two teachers: Dr. Delacroix (Lloyd Bochner) goes crazy imparting the secrets of mind control via a relentlessly-squeaking rat maze; and laid-back Dr. Clampett (Roy Thinnes) teaches art and encourages the girls to embrace their own hallucinatory perceptions: "What we think we see is as real as what we actually see." Dude, that was like the mantra of the 70s. The less-cool Delacroix meanwhile talks about how terror makes people irrational and suggestive. Put them together and you can't tell what's real anymore. Anyway, girls are dying--apparently committing suicide if you believe the coroner--and student Jaime Smith-Jackson (who'd just come off Go Ask Alice!) worries she may be next and drops to the hallway floor shrieking in terror between classes for no conceivable reason. Pamela Franklin (the girl-child in The Innocents who'd just come off shooting Legend of Hell House) is Elizabeth, at the school to secretly investigate the supposed suicide of her sister (Terry Lumley) whose ironed dirty blonde hair and red sweater / denim jacket ensemble kick things off perfectly in the paranoid opener. Jackson--wearing devilishly long straight black hair, is the smart angel who helps Elizabeth with the mystery while espousing the wondrous powers of professor Clampett ("he can't help you if you fight him"). Ladd-- full of her patented vivacious charm--is another student who worries about the disappearances and gushes over Clampett. The all-of-a-piece low-key acting (only Jo van Fleet's conflicted headmistress hams it up) and lengthy scenes of crackling thunder and blowing wind as girls walk around in their nightgowns in the dark-- a lantern illuminating their scared but determined young faces--all add up to laid-back 70s TV horror movie heaven, or... the other place...

If it's the other place, Satan, where do I sign?

A smooth occult TV movie prelude to both Charlie's Angels (1976) and Suspiria (1977), this Spelling/Goldberg joint stems from the halcyon days of relaxed morality. Free love and occult practice were mainstream. The handsome male teachers at all-girls boarding schools could host wine parties, and tell the students to "condemn nothing.... embrace everything... and hang loose" and it was all alright. Watch out though --if Satan is around. 

Relative to most horror movies made today, the prime time occult TV movie is totally tame; it's something the whole family can mildly enjoy. There's no kissing or nudity or blood (a few metonymic body parts aside) and best of all, there are only pretty girls and a few adults with liberal attitudes, and old character actors making cameo paychecks. One day, when a first-rate transfer/restoration is undergone, and all that beautiful long straight 70s hair glows like a Terence Malick sunset, me and the seven other people who love this film will chant and dance 'round the altar in ecstatic surrender. Condemn nothing...

ABC (1978) TVM

Here's a Friday Night TV movie nearly every kid remembers from the tumultuous year of 1978 on ABC.  It's a comforting and distinctly 70s mix of leisurely Love Boat meandering (sunny poolside bathing beauties, sunny Caribbean scenery, marital or other two-handed dramatic scenes playing out amidst the passenger list of fading movie and rising TV actors) and cross-pollinated occultism (Bermuda triangle, satanic possession, mummies) and Poseidon Adventure-style disaster tropes. All very familiar and welcoming, aside from one thing so strange it burned in our memories: the source of the "terror" of the title turns out to a breathing child-size Egyptian sarcophagus!  I don't mean you can hear breathing inside of it, as if the mummy within is breathing. The whole sarcophagus breathes in and out as it works its evil. We never see inside it--no one opens it. It's just.... breathing.  

In their mad craze to monsterize the landscape, 70s TV movies gave an evil spirit to all sorts of things. There was the possessed stone altar fucking up the elevation of a jumbo airplane via a green puddle on the carpet (Horror at 37,000 Feet), for example. There was also a killer bulldozer (Killdozer). But a breathing sarcophagus on a "pleasure" cruise to Mexico? I imagine the idea was probably born from some writer dropping acid at the "Treasures of Tutankhamun" exhibit which was then all the rage. Add an ominous synth version of "Dies Irae" as the theme (predating Wendy Carlos' version in The Shining by two years) and you have a memorable night in, sure to help a doped-up, literally cotton-mouthed boy (I'd just had my wisdom teeth out when I saw it) and his six highballs-in dad laugh with giddy joy.  

Recovering alcoholic Robert "Charles Townsend" Forsythe co-stars as a hieroglyph-reading missionary priest on a cruise with his sexually frustrated, lingerie-wearing wife (Lee Meriwether).  She needs a real man--not some intellectual deity! In the next cabin in a busy stockbroker (Christopher George) who needs to uplug from the stock market with real-life wife Lynda Day George. Stella Stevens as a hot to trot slightly mature breed of fox with eyes on the captain, Jo Ann Harris is also aboard, a nerd frightened of her own shadow looking for a quick tryst or just some fun in the sun. And what's this? Noted archeologist Ray Milland is on the ship, headed to Mexico to prove Egyptians left tombs there. Round it up with a random physicist named Matt Lazarus (Frank Converse), a crusty captain Andrews (Hugh O'Brien), and handsome first mate Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica) who knows all too well a good young virile sailor's duty as "the 'entertainment committee."

But what is the strange curse hanging over the ship, causing freak accidents--near being thrown overboard after being harassed by the ship's cat;  three lovely snorkelers (wherever they go there's pretty coral reefs) almost killed by a "vicious" shark (any child of the Jaws knew right off the shark on display was a harmless "blue" variety). Then, the ship breaks down in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, conveniently right over the spot that just happens to be over the very same missing tomb sought by Ray Milland's archaeologist (after Lazarus fixes his math. "Two degrees off our present course!")

If you're a fan of 70s TV movies then you know the 'disparate slice of humanity, usually with at least one disillusioned priest and a bickering couple and a reliable patriarchal figure who takes charge. The 'forced to work together to survive' plot line was almost inescapable thanks to the popularity of Airport, Poseidon Adventure and 1977's Day of the Animals. The decade also loved 'group isolation + prolonged terror = torches and mob rule' humanist critique. Also, there's a much freer attitude about sex, far less judging and guilt or shame. Players like Dirk Benedict aren't depicted as sleazes in need of canceling so much as guys doing their manly duty to please the perfectly acceptable and natural desires of the female passengers. If--in our current climate--you think that can't possibly be true, catch an episode of Love Boat, where the crew are all basically allowed and encouraged by the captain to bed down with the guest stars -- it's practically part of the job! And there's nothing tawdry about it. Mainstream America had what Alexander D'Arcy's gigolo piano teacher in 1937's Awful Truth calls "a continental mind." 

But here, it's there. No sooner has the baby sarcophagus come aboard than Forsythe is already urging them to throw it overboard ("God is pitting me against the supreme evil one. I won't fail him again this time!"). His wife is fed up! She wants sex. And she knows where to get it. Countering Forsythe's bland gospel that they throw it back in the sea l is Milland ("I do not believe in biblical fantasies!") and the captain (Hugh O'Brien) who tries to explain all the deaths and storms and ship failures as coincidence. People will hook up, including the captain and Stella, and Lee and the physicist. When she starts snarling and trying to strangle her husband while shouting ancient Babylonian (I'm guessing) you'll realize you're in high TV movie heaven.

The 70s will all end soon enough, just like the prescription to those sweet child-size opiates I got for my wisdom teeth the night Cruise into Terror premiered on ABC. The age of Pisces gone deep to Davy Jones', where it began. But was the evil of libidinal freedom vanquished, or was the good of libidinal freedom stifled? Either way, we can catch 70s ABC TV movies any old time, forever and ever.... safe at the bottom of the PG sea. 

ABC (Dec. 3, 1976)
Spelling-Goldberg Productions

A black magic-dabbling Hollywood star from the 1930s (or 50s? It's never clear) named Lorna Love (Marianna Hill) reaches from beyond the grave to fuck up her married biographers in this priceless 1976 made-for-TV film. Kate Jackson and Robert Wagner play the couple, who move into Love's crumbling mansion (i.e. "Love House") to soak up the atmosphere and groove on the vast cache of mementos and clippings. While Kate finds cult-style daggers lying around and someone in a robe stalks outside her window or tries to kill her with a gas leak, Wagner--like Dana Andrews before him--finds himself falling in love with a corpse, using the thick atmosphere as an excuse to to drink and brood over Lorna's life-size portrait. In a sublimely macabre Hollywood Babylon-worthy touch, Lorna's still-beautiful corpse (or is it?) is even kept on display in a glass case out in the backyard. Her enemies and acolytes alike drift by to spew venom or awe and gaze. It's a pretty toxic scene--right and left old character actors hamming it up about how Lorna was "bigger than life!"-- and poor Kate finds herself behind the 8-ball when Wagner is too out of it to respond to her cries for help.

Though relegated mostly towards playing a gaslit innocent, Jackson looks quite sleek in her silk scarves and slacks, her straight black hair. Her youth all but crystalizes the air around her with fuzzy magic. A smart sweater worn over a collared shirt adds nerdy class to her beautiful 'smarts' and nurturing soul. We feel her pain. She's way too sweet to be deserve being menaced by a phantom in a pentagram-covered purple robe who's either trying to kill her or just scare her out of Love House, and worse to have her husband (son of Lorna's late last live-in lover) dismiss it all as her imagination,

In a funk so many of us can relate to, Wagner drinks booze and moons over the Love 'haunting' portrait (it looks like a pastel drawing that took some ABC art dept. five minutes to dash off0 and obsessively screens her old films via a home projector on the wall, he winds up distracted by conveniently-timed hallucinations of ghostly Lorna whenever Kate's in danger in another room. In the most awesome moment, Lorna comes to life in a slow motion, a gold-tinted mirage, smiling and calling his name from inside the film he's projecting! As someone who--as a child--believed he could make Kate Jackson fall in love with him if he stared hard enough at her picture, I caught the meta frisson from this scene, big time.

 Adulthood is supposed to wake us up from such naive, hopeless wishful fantasies but--as we learn at the House of Love--alcoholism lets a writer sleep on, swimming in the boozy bliss of the projected image. And the more Wagner drinks, the ruder, more patronizing, and dismissive of Jackson's legitimate worry he becomes. He thinks she's faking that someone is trying to kill her--she's jealous of Lorna's spirit or something--and has left a Satanic knife in her drawer and cut her own face out of their author's photo, all for attention. As Kate is so rational and intelligent, you start to imagine what Charlie's Angels would be like if every suggestion, clue, or even event the Angels reported was dismissed by Bosley and Charlie as womanly hallucinations and hysterics. Ick, right? They'd need more than an hour to solve the case, that's for sure... Then again, she should be calling the cops and/or moving out--so her attitude is odd. Then again, these films were always too short to have such plot points. It usually goes a) couple moves into old house b) wife hears strange noises c) husband thinks wife is imagining it. d) repeat (b)-(c) several more times; d) add a guest star as a patient detective walking around in search of signs of a break-in; e) shocking revelation! 

It's a shame there's no good copy of this floating around the internet as it would be great as a remastered WB DVR (the DVD from Cheezy Flix is the same blurry mess as currently on YouTube so don't bother). Old, familiar faces abound, as befits the place and subject: John Carradine is Lorna's old Svengali-style director (he hated her); Sylivia Sydney is the nicotine-voiced housekeeper; Joan Blondell is Love's #1 stan; Dorothy Lamour... OK, I forget what she does. And Marianna Hill is Lorna. You may remember her as Fredo's trophy wife in GODFATHER 2, an alien in a couple of original STAR TREKs, a track groupie in RED LINE 7000 and the star of the awesome MESSIAH OF EVIL. Hot damn. She's got a cult, all right... (FULL REVIEW

1973 - TVM / CBS

In order to earn the primetime runway slot at the Nielsen airport, a CBS 70s horror TV movie had to triangulate three pop culture trends and make it all work in under 80 minutes. This is why, for Horror at 37,000 Feet, we get: 1) The Occult: A druid curse (an invisible presence) attached to an ancient artifact; 2) Social Commentary, i.e. "the real monster here is human panic"; 3) Disaster movies, i.e. Airport. This last one provides the framework, and its style bracketed a large swath of star-studded 70s TV movies. Passenger lists always include aging 30s-50s stars, aging 30s-50s character actors, young actresses on their way up, and granite-jawed TV actor authority figures like Christopher Plummer, David Jansen, Chuck Conners, or Clint Walker. Ladies and gentlemen, fasten your safety belts and prepare for take-off. Destination: A demonic wind tunnel.

The vehicle is jumbo jet luxury cargo-passenger "airplane" hauling a massively heavy Celtic altar exhumed from its sacred grove in Ireland (which we never see). A small passenger list is dwarfed by the vast interior; the downstairs storage freezes; a dog is frozen solid. A bunch of icky green goo bubbles up through a reverse leak from below, And then, the plane becomes suspended at 37,000 feet, trapped in a crossfire of winds, providing an ingenious explanation of why the plane interiors never once give the impression of movement or it being anything but a breakaway set. Luckily the stewardesses all wear hot white go-go boots and the booze flows free (to keep the passengers mollified). Too bad the only hard drinker is an unbearably smug William Shatner as a self-defrocked (what else?) priest, who sews a button on his jacket, sips from a big silver flask, and generally carries on like he doesn't quite know how to play 'drunk, fatalistic and bitter' so just shouts and sulks a lot. His delivery of a groaner line like "I didn't lose my faith - it lost me," makes one long for Richard Burton's drunk priest in Exorcist II. 

The cast is solid and notable or eye-rollingly cliche to the point of originality: Chuck Connors and Robert Forster are in the cockpit. Tammy Grimes is the wild-eyed crypto-pagan who knows all about the altar's colorful human sacrifice-enriched past and that the spirit can only be calmed again by a blood sacrifice of one of the original clan's descendants, i.e. Jane Merrow, whose rich architect husband (Roy Thinnes) insisted on bringing the altar to the US in the first place; Lynn Loring (with a Mia Farrow-in-Rosemary's Baby-style short red hair cut and big teary eyes) is Shatner's panicky wife; Paul Winfield is a mild-mannered physician who lacks the strong speaking voice of a natural moral leader for the panicking passengers. Shatner does (but he doesn't want the job); Buddy Ebsen (Jeb, move away from there!) is a cranky Texas millionaire always ready with a homespun witticism and naturally is one of the first to grab up to symbolic pitchfork and torch, alongside fellow hick-made-good Will Hutchins. Playing a western B-cowboy coming back from Italy (ala Rick Dalton!) with a terrible towhead mop top wig, garish red rodeo shirt, Hutchins has a habit of shouting all his lines (his attempt to flirt with a nameless female passenger is painful). Add a child and her dolly (they sacrifice the doll as an effigy!), burning books to stay warm. They're going to run out of gas stuck up there in mid-air! As Forster says to Connors: "Here, take another pain killer. No point in saving them." Shatner realizes he can terrify Mrs. Pinder by waving his Zippo lighter in her face. ("Fire.. To burn witches!") Yikes! He's not very PC --he even sneers at people who "believe jimson weed will make them immortal!" Dude, no one who does jimson weed would ever think that. But Shat should know, having helped teens recover from the withdrawal symptoms of LSD-addiction in Go Ask Alice. 

I ain't complaining about how bad it is as far as continuity (such as a single shot wherein Shatner is seen wearing a priest collar and vestments instead of his civilian sweater and jacket during his long walk to the back of the plane), I love it for its idiocy. It represents a kind of uniquely 70s TV movie zero point wherein some smoke and bubbling green and white house paint wafting up from a hole in the carpet and the occasional Val Lewtonian shadow substitutes for any kind of monster or concrete threat. The strange fascination with sub-zero temperatures on a plane (just touching the door makes pilot Chuck Connors' whole arm go numb) goes well with the array of locked-in ensemble types waiting for their chance at a terse "Why doesn't somebody do something??!" outburst. Playing like the under-rehearsed confusion of an off-off-Broadway audition, it seems like something written by Rod Serling's slow-witted nephew, who, incidentally, has never actually flown on an actual plane. Brrooooom! Brooom! 

It all works because as bad as it is, it moves pretty fast (especially without commercials). Fans of Italian horror can luxuriate in the Bava red lights of the cockpit and everyone can appreciate the wild-eyed hysteria with which Loring rises to the occasion, furiously cutting off Jane Merrow's hair to stuff in the child's doll and wrapping it up in her clothes. ("And some of your fingernails!") before burning it. When that doesn't work, it's time to actually sacrifice Merrow! Great hammy stuff with Shatner wobbling around drunk and all the actors wondering what else to do in this under-rehearsed single set shoot to 'portray' their types. 

Those of us who were around in the 70s and remember when this first aired are far less likely to care about that the film can no longer hide its poverty in an analog cathode ray blur.  We love it for its faults. I was seven but still remember laughing with my dad over the monster being essentially a pile of melted green ice cream with someone blowing bubbles up through it. For me this is as precious a memento as a family album. Maybe more so. In short, if you saw it back on ABC in '76, it's a must-see as an adult. If only Satan's School for Girls or Death at Love House would one day get the same respectful remastering HD treatment.  (FULL)


ABC - Jan 27, 1978
Rankin/Bass Productions

A kind of oceanic ghost story, Bermuda Depths sails the same currents as Curtis Harrington's Night Tide, Corman/Hellman's The Terror, and even the doomed romance between Bonehead and Lorelei in Beach Blanket Bingo. Maybe it's because I'm a Pisces, but I love it more than all of them put together. Shot on location in beautiful Bermuda with crystal blue skies,  crystal white beaches, clear turquoise water, coral reef footage--all humming with moody folk love song theme (courtesy Rankin-Bass), beautiful young lovers dripping with salt water, mostly tranquilized sea levels and oceanic temperatures, and giant (and I mean giant) turtle occasionally rising like Moby Dick x Gamera to bump his head on an unconvincing helicopter, The Bermuda Depths pulsez with Jungian archetypal symbolism and heavy myth/dream power. The film as a whole lingers in the mind like one of those dreams so good you almost wish you never had them as the longing to return to it makes you weep and lament all the rest of the week (because you never get it back... ever).

Jennie Haniver (Connie Sellecca) appears at first like a distant black flame, framed in the picture window of a rocky outcrop (below): walking closer through the eye of the island to a rock where Michael Pitt-lipped wanderer Magnus (Leigh McCloskey - the dislikable EPA guy in Ghostbusters) doth nap. The heartbreaking guitar of Vivaldi's "Concerto in D major for Lute and Strings RV:93 Largo"plays as eh gazes down at him with loving eyes (is he dreaming her?), evoking a stirring flashback of their time as children on that same beach, raising a giant sea turtle together, even carving a heart with their initials on its shell. One day, while also napping, he woke up to find her swimming away on the turtle's back. He almost drowns trying to swim after her. That night his marine biologist dad decides to conduct some ominous experiment in a grotto under their beach cliffside house. In response, an unseen leviathan knocks half the foundation on top of him while Magnus frets upstairs in his childhood bed. So many questions, but save them. Let it flow.

Everything is just right, free of any voiceover trying to situate the imagery-- no words spoken for the first 12 minutes of the film- only Vivaldi, and that achingly lyrical folksy theme song already burrowing into our souls and leaving us with a plaintive spiritual ache for our own lost ocean animas.Jenny....

Magnus, now grown, is back in Bermuda. He and Jenny meet again, along the day-for-night shores; we're as obsessed with her flawless raven-haired beauty as he is. But he's only back in Bermuda to do a stint on a marine research vessel helmed by Burl Ives and Carl Weathers, two marine biologist collaborators with his Magnus' late father. Ives is researching gigantism in ancient triangle species, i.e. a turtle the size of a football field, i.e. the animal familiar of Jenny, or maybe a guise of the Devil, her master, dictating her relentless lure of smitten sailors to the briny depths... of the Bermuda Triangle. She's an unsinging siren! 

Note similarity in outline of the rock to his hatted head as he sleeps,
Jenny emerging from his pineal gland, or where land meets ocean;
maybe the most beautiful photographic image in the history of Jungian archetypal symbolism?
(female/dream/ocean vs. conscious/man/sky.
ABC Friday Night TV movies like Depths made deep and lasting impressions on children like myself (I was 12), who had no voice in the prime time choices. Lucky for me my dad loved this kind of shit (unless football was on). We all loved In Search a movie this weird and wondrous couldn't be missed. Somehow, though, I did. I have no memory of it. What else would we have been watching?

After its initial premiere, this weird intensely haunting film lay dormant for decades, gradually considered to be a folk myth, so different was it from everything else on TV. But decades later, through the giant claw machine of the Warner Archive, it has been dredged from the depths, and it is a treasure. Though only a TV movie, its filmed on location and Bermuda has never seemed so beautiful. Jerry Sopanen's brilliant cinematography evokes, among other things, Dali's magical paintings of Costa Brava. We can even see the sinews gleaming in shirtless Weathers' beautiful black shoulders (more)

NBC (1972) 
Dir. Phillip Leacock

One of those pre-X-Files TV movies that could function as a possible pilot (if it's a hit) or just a TV movie of the week (if it's not). This one pairs Leonard Nemoy as a former race car driver turned psychic by a track accident concussion with smart Brit investigator Susan Hampshire to explore the possible crimes yet to happen. Both are headstrong and quick thinking -- what a team! She has a trenchant investigative zeal and he has weird flash forwards to strange murders somehow tied in with an a secret occult group. "The House of the Wolf." 

BBC costume drama darling Hampshire is a very cool chick: animated, assertive, fearless, funny and forthright, bouncing around the spooky scenes in her 70s peasant frocks until a a bewildered Nimoy can't help but laugh in fond admiration. Nimoy seems to be having wry fun breaking out of his stoic Spock persona but hes still otherworldly looking even without the ears. Set largely on old estate-turned-lodging run by character actress Rachel Roberts, the guest include Vera Miles as the woman Kovak sees in his premonitions--she's falling out of an attic window to the rocks below! Her daughter (Jewel Blanche) comes under the sway of her absentee father, a totally terrifying Mike Murray, who gives Nimoy a run for his money in Satanic countenance. Murray rocks the cruelest haircut I've ever seen, and a glint in his eye that could freeze lava. He is supposed to be dead or missing but he shows up in the greenhouse in an attempt to convert his and Miles' daughter to the dark side with the help of a mystic wolf amulet. 

Richard Hill's score is strangely bouncy when it should be scary and scary when it should be bouncy, but the subtextual mockery of human emotions is invigorating if you like cop show pumping. We get lots of fancy British cars driving around the grounds to make sure that aspect of Nimoy's character fits in (with some adorably unconvincing rear projection thrown inside the vehicles). And most of all, I like that the chemistry between the actors and the characters is there but without that 'sexual' awkwardness we get in much of today's similar fare. Instead they're allowed to focus on the mysteries, and bond in intense platonic ways that paradoxically were much more common in the 70s when sex itself was more liberated and therefore less of a big deal. 

For a weird double feature with another co-ed psychic and investigator duo teaming up to prevent a calamity in some town in the middle of nowhere), check out Lucio Fulci's CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. (1980).

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