"Hey kids! Let's put on a
show!" This timeworn bit of show business heraldry
must surely have been uttered by the unflappable filmmakers
on this list. Rallying friends and half-forgotten contacts,
busting open the piggy bank, securing financing by any
means necessary, like 'em or hate em', they had an idea,
and by hook or crook, these ideas found their way to the
10. The Atomic Brain aka Monstrosity (1963)
A deteriorating dowager houses a mad doctor in
her basement. He conducts lurid experiments on the hapless
au pairs she imports for the purpose. Somehow it's all supposed
to keep her young. Tragically, her brain winds up in the
body of a cat. Just how this comes about I don't profess
to know. Directed by Ray Dennis Steckler's cinematographer,
Joseph Mascelli, and produced by Jack Pollexfen, who bankrolled
The Man From Planet X, The Indestructible Man and
many others. Narrated by Bradford Dillman!
9. Daughter of Horror (1955)
cost-conscious curio is a trivia geek's fantasy. Filmed
on a shoestring by John Parker, the film is virtually
without a soundtrack save for a young Ed McMahon's narration
as the voice of Satan. Bruno Ve Sota pops up as Adrienne
Barrett's overstuffed suitor. Accidentally killing Bruno,
she flees through darkened streets where she encounters
-- who else? -- jazz great Shorty Rogers. Bonus points
go to those who've identified the film as the main attraction
in the theater attacked by The Blob three years
later. Amaze your friends at B movie cocktail parties!
8. Manos, The Hands of Fate (1966)
Starring, written, directed and produced by Texas
fertilizer salesman Hal P. Warren. 'Nuff said? Not quite.
It's all about a man and his vacationing family trapped
in a rundown house with a grubby groundskeeper plagued with
swollen knees (gasp!) who worships a mildly Satanic looking
man with a harem of catty, nightie-clad chicks in his backyard.
How does such a film get financing? Who better to spread
the bull than a fertilizer salesman?
7. Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
Tor Johnson, perhaps thinking he'd hit rock bottom
with Ed Wood, was in for a surprise. Director/screenwriter
Coleman Francis has Tor wander aimlessly about an arid landscape
for just under an hour of silent footage. Hilarious non
sequitur-spiced narration was added later ("A man runs,
somebody shoots at him. Progress.") Tor dies in rags
with a rabbit licking his face, symbolic of God knows what.
Man Beast (1955)
Jerry Warren strikes again, once more demonstrating
a complete lack of respect for his audience. It seems
the Yeti, shaggy creatures resembling tattered dust mops,
are kidnapping human babes for crossbreeding. The posters
crowed: "See women stalked and captured for breeding
by Yeti monsters!" There was no mention of stage
bound actors scaling the Himalayas in their shirt-sleeves.
5. Teenagers From Outer Space (1959)
Until quite recently, film scholars assumed that
director/producer/screenwriter Tom Graeff was also the film's
star David Love -- not so. Graeff may have been a Renaissance
man but there are limits. Cheap, hammy and immensely enjoyable,
the monsters are one of the 50s more notorious effects cop-outs
-- silhouettes of lobsters! Graef deserves credit for one
thing -- he got Warner Bros. to release it.
4. The Monster and the Stripper aka The
Exotic Ones (1968)
Director Ron Ormond deserves to be remembered
as one of the heartiest barrel-bottom entrepreneurs. Every
bit as tenacious and prolific as Ed Wood, he gave the world
Mesa of Lost Women, Untamed Mistress and others.
Here, he combines gore with topless titillation amid a sleazy,
swampy bayou setting. What's not to like about a film featuring
rockabilly belter Sleepy LaBeef as a rampaging stripper
3. The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1959)
Mutants, mayhem and misogyny mix in one of the
most lurid horrorfests on film. Mad Doc Herb (later Jason)
Evers keeps his fiance's head alive in a roasting pan while
cruising strip clubs to procure a new body for her. A marauding
mutant he keeps in a closet breaks free and bites a chunk
out of his shoulder, spitting out the distasteful gland
on camera. Sorry, but we only have room to hit the highlights.
2. Monsters Crash the Pajama Party (1964)
David L. Hewitt made this good-natured, 40-minute drive-in
oddity on a shoestring. The credit sequence goes a good
five minutes, each read on screen by guys in gorilla suits.
Virtually plotless, actorless and setless, it's all about
some college kids who make camp in a haunted house, there
to be kidnaped by a mad doctor and his pet gorilla. At
one crucial point, the screen goes black, whereupon live
actors would stalk the audience, seizing a planted victim.
1. The Mighty Gorga (1969)
David L. Hewitt makes the list a second time
with this perfectly awful film about a gigantic gorilla
worshiped by a native village and coveted by an enterprising
circus owner. Interminable footage of Anthony Eisley strolling
through the jungle or scaling Bronson Canyon, is peppered
with ludicrous shots of Hewitt in the upper half of an
ape suit (the complete suit was unaffordable). One great
screen credit identifies William Bonner as "Clown/Witch