The "auteur in question," Harold Daniels, may not be a name that rolls off the lips of many cult film fanatics. Yet in his brief directorial career he turned out two of the finest examples of cult cinema extant. His efforts deserve recognition. That's why we're here. Daniels began his cinematic life as a character actor in early-forties B potboilers such as Danger on Wheels and San Francisco Docks. 1949's Daughter of the West was his first attempt at directing, followed by Roadblock, a 1951 noir outing featuring primo B tough guy Charles McGraw.

Port Sinister and Sword of Venus were soon to follow, but it was a low-low-budget, 1957 release that should be recalled as the cult watershed it is. Daniels' immortal Poor White Trash (aka Bayou) is a sleaze-packed B classic not to be missed. The cast is topped by Peter Graves, the hardest-working man in junk cinema at the time. The film is easily stolen, however, by the unforgettable Timothy B. Carey. Sporting tousled, greasy hair, a leering grin and sunken eyes, his ritual cajun front porch dance will leave the most seasoned cult film aficionado muttering, 'What the hell was that?' Carey gained notoriety as a gunman in Stanley Kubrick's heist caper, The Killing, and later in his career was befriended by director/actor John Cassavetes, who gave Carey plum roles in his maverick features.

One of Trash's true highlights is a cabin love scene involving Graves and his cajun amour. When it gets hot and heavy, we cut to footage of a pounding storm and the resultant surging surf, and we linger on said stock footage for what seems an eternity.

The following year, Daniels nearly outdid himself. 1958's Terror in the Haunted House was filmed in a process dubbed" Psychorama." In the moments just prior to a fright scene, drawn images of skulls, snakes or monsters were flashed on the screen for fractions of a second, accompanied by such lugubrious legends as, 'Get ready to scream,' and at that moment of peak tension, 'SCREAM BLOODY MURDER!' This prompted the U.S. government to actually ban the film outright owing to its devious attempts at subliminal coercion. It's worth viewing these segments frame-by-frame in order to savor the impact of the 'frightening' artwork.

B movie mainstay Gerald Mohr plays a nefarious newlywed husband who coaxes his young bride (Cathy O'Donnell) into moving back into the creepy mansion wherein she experienced terrifying nightmares as a child. O'Donnell, who starred opposite Farley Granger in Nicholas Ray's They Live By Night, is quite effective, as is Mohr, who consistently delivered smoothly hammy performances throughout a diverse career. His snaky charm bridges the flat sets and see-through plot quite handily, making the film far more enjoyable than it otherwise might have been.

The following year, Mohr starred in Daniels' second "Psycho-rama" feature, A Date With Death, a crime-drama co-starring Robert (Sun Demon) Clarke and Liz Renay. The director's final genre attempt came in 1965. House of the Black Death was distributed under an array of titles such as Blood of the Man Devil and Night of the Beast. Co-directed with scare-film great Reginald LeBorg, it featured John Carradine and Lon Chaney, Jr.

Cult fans should take a moment to appreciate Harold Daniels and, while we're at it, the too-smooth suavity of the actor who brought his best film to life, darkly debonair Gerald Mohr. Mohr's career ranged from 1939's Charlie Chan at Treasure Island (his screen debut, unrecognizable under heavy makeup as sinister murder suspect Dr. Zodiac), to I Love Lucy ('Treatment Ricky, Treatment.'), as well as a stint as Columbia studios' jewel-thief-turned-sleuth, The Lone Wolf. His sci fi and horror outings alone qualify him for anyone's cult film hall of fame. Check them out at your first opportunity.

Invasion U.S.A. (1956)
Mohr and an aggregation of disillusioned travelers cross paths in a big city bar where a smarmy British hypnotist demonstrates the horrors of a Soviet takeover. Gerald's offbeat charm stands out in this flick comprised of 80% U.S. Army stock footage. Notable for the fact that both TV Lois Lanes, Phyllis Coates and Noel Neill, are buried in the cast.

Acting: B
Atmosphere: D
Fun: B-

The Angry Red Planet (1960)
If only all B movies were this crazily unique. Filmed in the experimental 'Cinemagic'process, (a semi-effective, high-contrast sort of infrared look), Mohr leads a band of four explorers to the titular orb, where they encounter the most ambitious array of alien animal life ever displayed in a low-budget shocker. You won't soon forget the legendary bat-rat-spider. Produced by Moe Howard's son-in-law, comic artist Norman Maurer, and designed by storytelling genius Alex Toth..

Acting: B
Atmosphere: B-
Fun: A

"Delectable dolls dancing and prancing!"
The Strip Tease Girl

"A wild, rip-roarin' screenload of cornball action and excitement!"
Moonshine Mountain

"The 'way out' guys and the 'make out' gals!"
Wild Youth

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