The Beverly Hills-based company was founded by Newton “Red” Jacobs in 1959. After a stint working at RKO, Jacobs ran distribution house Favorite Films, an off-shoot of the legendary B-movie company American International Pictures. Favorite Films took AlP movies around the country regionally, which is how B-movie prints travelled in those days, “bicycled” from one state to the next through a network of sub-distributors. When Jacobs was ready to start opening exploitation films nationwide on his own. Crown was born.
At first, he bought up foreign and domestic films that couldn’t get a deal anywhere else. The first Crown releases were Bloodlust! (1961), The Devil’s Hand (1961), Terrified (1963) and Varan the Unbelievable (1962). The most infamous of Crown’s early acquisitions is THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS (1963), which was later re-titled THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN when it was sold to television in 1976 with new footage of Hitler’s still-living, disembodied head barking out orders from inside a glass jar. “A title is the handle,” Jacobs told the Los Angeles Times. “You can’t lift a picture very high if the handle is weak.” The Hitler material in the film was shot by Don Hulette, who started out cutting trailers for Crown in 1970 and two years later graduated to film editing. In addition to his editing duties, Hulette shot extra footage for many Crown films like BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE (1969) and HORROR HIGH (1974) in order to pad their running times for TV syndication. He also came up with the title THEY SAVED HITLER’S BRAIN for the TV re-cut of THE MADMEN OF MANDORAS. A extra $3,000 was spent on making a Hitler head out of wax, which melts down in flames at the end of the film. Director David Bradley told the magazine, “It seemed a pity to melt that expensive wax down into a worthless blob at the end, but it had to be done for the shock climax.” As Hulette told writer Brian Albright, “I couldn’t help but laugh. Here I was, I’ve got a masters degree in filmmaking and music, and I’m sitting there at a 35mm Movieola looking at the head of Hitler in a bottle. I’m trying to use my talent to figure out how to make this work for the audience, and thinking to myself, I went to college for this?”
Bloodlust! (1961) was filmed at Screencraft Studios in Hollywood by Cinegraf Productions, but it was not released by Crown International Pictures until September 13th 1961, when it premiered in San Diego, California, on a double bill with The Devil’s Hand.
FILM SPOTLIGHT The Devil’s Hand (1961)
SUMMARY Rick Turner (Robert Alda) has a problem. He awakens night after night seeing visions of a beautiful woman in a negligee dancing in the clouds. The visions disturb him. One night he gets up, goes walking and is drawn to a doll shop. In the window he sees a doll that is the exact image of the woman in his visions. He takes his girlfriend Donna Trent (Ariadna Welter) there the next day. To his surprise the doll shop owner, Frank Lamont (Neil Hamilton), not only knows his name but insists that he ordered the doll, a likeness of Bianca Milan (Linda Christian), whom Rick has never met. Donna spots a doll that looks just like her. Frank refuses to sell it. As Rick and Donna leave, Frank takes the doll into his oddly-decorated back room – curtains, open-flame lamps, an altar, a statue of the Buddha – and stabs it with a long pin. Donna suddenly collapses in pain. Rick takes her to hospital, where a doctor (Roy Wright) tells him that she has had a “spasm of the heart” and needs complete bed rest.
Rick has another vision of Bianca. He tells Donna that he’s going to deliver the Bianca doll to Bianca “to get this thing off my back.” When Rick returns to the doll shop, Frank hands over the doll, insisting that Rick had paid for it in advance. Perplexed, Rick goes to Bianca’s luxurious apartment and is entranced by her beauty. They become lovers that night. Bianca explains that his visions are a “simple process of thought projection or thought transference,” which she learned as a member of the cult of Gamba, the Great Devil God. She makes Rick accompany her right then to a cult meeting so that he can be inducted. The meeting is held in the oddly-decorated room at the doll shop, for Frank is the High Executioner of the Gamba cult.
At the meeting, Bianca explains that a human sacrifice ceremony is to be held. A young woman is laid on the altar; above her a wheel studded with knives is spun. As it lowers, Gamba decides if the sacrifice lives or dies. Frank goes behind the lectern and steps on a foot pedal, making it unclear whether he or Gamba controls the wheel. The knife blade that strikes the sacrifice is rubber. She survives unhurt. A man in the cult covertly snaps a photo of the event. Later, at the doll shop, Rick spots the Donna doll, pinned to the wall through the heart, but he can’t remove the pin without being seen. He goes to the hospital and tells Donna that she will be completely cured at midnight that night.
Donna is in fact cured at midnight and discharged. Mary (Gene Craft), a cultist and nurse at the hospital, calls Bianca to report the sudden turn of events. When Rick arrives at Bianca’s apartment, she tells him that they must attend an emergency meeting of the cult at 10:30 that night. During the meeting, Frank says that one of them is an “intruder” and will die at midnight, then adjourns until 12:30 am. At the stroke of midnight, Frank grabs the doll of the man who took the photo – an undercover reporter – and jams a pin through its head. The reporter, who is driving, screams and clutches his forehead. His car plunges down a hillside and as Frank burns the doll, the wreckage bursts into flame. At the 12:30 meeting, Frank announces that Rick’s loyalty is now to be tested, and Donna is brought in as a sacrifice. Frank makes Rick spin the wheel, but as it drops, Rick pulls Donna to safety. A fight breaks out. The wheel falls on Frank, killing him. The room catches fire. Rick and Donna escape. Bianca picks up her doll. Everyone else apparently dies. With fire department sirens wailing, Rick and Donna, a romantic pair again, drive away. “That’s the end to it,” says Rick. Then Bianca, once again among the clouds, gets in the last word, smiling and saying, “That’s what he thinks!”
BEHIND THE SCENES
Rex Carlton Productions began work on The Devil’s Hand in Mexico City in mid-January 1959, but the movie did not have its premiere in San Diego, California until 13 September 1961. The film was released on a double-bill with Bloodlust! Filming locations included McArthur Park, the storefront used as the doll shop at 2534 West 7th Street, and a building at 5907 West Pico Boulevard used as Belmont Hospital, all in Los Angeles. The movie opened in Mexico on 12 December 1962 and was also released in Venezuela and West Germany.
Production information is scant. Linda Christian said in an interview, “The picture was shot really quickly. They were having financial problems and wanted to get it in the can.” She also said, “I don’t think everybody got paid. They owed us quite a bit of money. My sister, Ariadna [Welter] was also in the film … she said later, ‘Never again!’ to doing a film in America.” By the time The Devil’s Hand came out, Welter had been in 21 films made in her and her sister’s native Mexico.
The 45 rpm single “Theme from ‘The Devil’s Hand,'” performed by Baker Harris and the Knightmares, was released on the Chess Records label in July 1961. The song was composed by Allyn Ferguson and Michael Terr.
As Nature Intended (1961)
SUMMARY Three young women (Pam, Petrina and Jacky) hire a car and embark on a motoring holiday of the English countryside. They meet up with two young women (Bridget and Angela) who are garage attendants and who decide to take a hiking holiday. Much of the film’s running time is spent in travelogue through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, visiting locations such as Stonehenge, Tintagel, Clovelly, the Minack Open Air Theatre, Bedruthan Steps and Land’s End. The women all end up at a nudist camp at Land’s End and, once there, Angela and Bridget (who are nudists) persuade the others to remove their clothes and lose their inhibitions.
Tony Tenser and Michael Klinger were distributors of imported films and owners of the Compton Cinema Club in Soho, London’s first sex cinema. They wanted to produce a nudist feature film and approached Marks about making one. The only way that the British Board of Film Censors (BBFC) would allow nudity in film at that time was for the film to focus on the naturist movement. Films about nudist camps were considered to be discreet enough to pass the censorship requirements but would still attract audiences. Marks met John Trevelyan, secretary of the BBFC, before shooting commenced. No script had been written at the time of the meeting, but the film was sanctioned by the founder of the British Naturism Movement, who owned the Spielplatz Sun Camp where some scenes were to be filmed. Trevelyan raised no objections to the film. Once the film had been produced, the shower scene from the opening sequence was cut from the British release by the BBFC, and the film received an A certificate. The cut was made due to the assumption that viewers would infer that Pamela and her flat mate were lesbians.
The 7th Commandment (1961) A man and his girlfriend driving in their car have an accident. The man gets amnesia and wanders away from the accident. He is taken in by a traveling preacher, and several years later returns to his hometown as the Rev. Tad Morgan, still unaware of his previous life there. His girlfriend, who was injured in the accident and is now an ex-convict living with her crook boyfriend in a sleazy apartment, decides to take her revenge on the now-respectable preacher. Secret File: Hollywood (1962) An ex-detective gets a job as an investigator digging up dirt on celebrities for a tabloid scandal sheet.
Varan the Unbelievable/First Spaceship on Venus (1962) In 1962, for the American market, Crown International Pictures released a heavily re-edited adaptation of Varan the Unbelievable (1962), starring Myron Healey, on a double bill with the re-edited, shortened, and retitled version of the East German/Polish science fiction film First Spaceship on Venus (1962). The American theatrical release on December 12, 1962, has a 70-minute running time. The film’s storyline is substantially changed, omitting much of the original dramatic footage, retaining the special effects, and adding new footage. It bears little resemblance to the Toho original. Varan the Unbelievable was directed by Jerry A Baerwitz, written by Sid Harris, and stars an American cast, including Myron Healey, Tsuruko Kobayashi, Clifford Kawada, and Derick Shimazu. The shortened 79-minute dubbed of First Spaceship on Venus release from Crown International Pictures substituted the title First Spaceship on Venus for the English-speaking market. All references to the atomic bombing of Hiroshima were edited out. The American character Hawling became a Russian named Orloff. The Russian character Arseniev became the American Herringway, while the Polish character Soltyk became the Frenchman Durand.
Carnival of Crime (1962) Mike, an architect, is married to Lin, a beautiful and unfaithful woman. Returning from a trip, he finds she’s disappeared. When he tries to locate her, he also learns about her many affairs, and he gets closer to Marina, his efficient assistant, who helps him solve the mystery.
Stakeout! (1962) Father Joe Dasco, played by actor Bing Russell, is released from prison after serving a three year term for bank robber. He reunites with his ten year old son, played by actor Billy E. Hughes, Jr. The two go from place to place looking for work in the oil fields of Texas. Not able to hold a job, Joe Dasco, Sr. along with actor, Bill Foster and Robert “Whitey” Hughes, scheme a kidnapping of an oil baron’s son, played by Christopher Wayne. The kidnapping goes sour and Joe Dasco is shot and killed, leaving his Joey [Billy E. Hughes, Jr.] to be a ward of the state.
Dangerous Charter (1962) The crew of a fishing boat discovers a deserted luxury yacht at sea with a dead body on board. They claim the yacht as salvage, not knowing that a drug smuggling ring has hidden $500,000 worth of heroin on the boat.
Terrified (1963) A masked lunatic kills off people in a haunted house.
Madmen of Mandoras (1963) a.k.a. They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968) World War II is over, and Nazi officials remove Adolf Hitler’s living head and hide it in the fictional South American country of Mandoras, so that they can resurrect the Third Reich for the future. Fast forwarding into the 1960s, the surviving officials kidnap a scientist in an attempt to keep Hitler alive. Various intelligence agencies, aware of the evil plot, recruit secret agents to bust the Nazi officials.
The Skydivers (1963)
SUMMARY Harry (Anthony Cardoza) and Beth (Kevin Casey) Rowe run a small skydiving facility in an unnamed desert town. One day, a woman named Suzy Belmont (Marcia Knight) comes around claiming to be looking for the Rowes’ plane mechanic Frankie Bonner (Titus Moede). Beth claims that Frankie was fired for being drunk on the job, but feels that Suzy didn’t come down just to see Frankie. As she walks away, Beth can’t help but feel that her husband is having an affair with this floozy. It turns out that Harry is, but is still keeping it a secret from his wife. One evening, they receive a letter from Harry’s friend, Joe Moss (Eric Tomlin). Joe wants to visit and is looking for a job. Beth comments that Joe could easily fill Frankie’s position and Harry consents. Soon after, Frankie returns to the skydiving school, but Harry catches him trying to sabotage a plane and accosts him. Frankie demands Harry to stay away from Suzy. Harry agrees but warns that he’ll break both of Frankie’s legs if he ever returns to the facility.
Joe Moss eventually arrives and Harry and Beth greet him warmly. Joe is just in time to witness an eager young man, Pete (Paul Francis), propose to do a dangerous skydiving stunt. Harry warns that the FAA could come down on them for that, but Pete is determined to prove he can do it. He starts out fine, but before he can pull his chute he panics and plummets to the ground. The FAA do get involved; they shut down the Rowes’ skydiving facility. Harry drives into town and has a beer at a local bar. He finds Suzy outside and fights off her advances before leaving her in the parking lot fuming.
Incensed at Harry, Suzy plots revenge by convincing love-struck Frankie to help her put acid in Harry’s parachute. An unsure Frankie gingerly agrees.
Eventually the facility reopens, and numerous people come out to see the skydivers. Trouble brews when Harry thinks Beth and Joe are having an affair; Harry even confronts Joe. Harry and Beth soon make up and Joe backs off. They plan a night jump and a pre-jump party. During the party Suzy and Frankie sneak into the hangar and pour acid on Harry’s parachute. The party is lively, but the evening ends in tragedy when Harry’s chute rips and he plummets to the ground to his death.
Witness report seeing Suzy and Frankie running away from the preparations room. Joe gets into his car and soon catches up to them. However, some men from the FAA give chase in a plane and in a car. In spite of the lack of any direct evidence that they were responsible, and no legal proceedings, the two are immediately gunned down without warning by the authorities as they drive away from the facility.
In the aftermath, Joe takes his leave of Beth, who is giving up running the skydiving facility. As Joe drives away, Beth takes her own leave of the facility. The curiously grim end credits feature names and head shots of the actors set to total silence.
Vengeance (1964) A Confederate captain’s younger brother is flogged to death in a Union stockade. The captain vows revenge. Two years later he finds the men responsible running a rustling operation in a small western town.
Iron Angel (1964) A green lieutenant volunteers five men to carry out a mission to take out a North Korean mortar position that’s preventing supply convoys from reaching the front line. Afterwards they must make their way back to friendly territory, but there’s a complication…
Angel’s Flight (1965) A series of murders involving a stripper (Indus Arthur) are investigated by a hard-drinking reporter (William Thourlby) in this late-entry film-noir.
FILM SPOTLIGHT Orgy of the Dead (1965)
SUMMARY The film opens to two muscle-bound men dressed in loincloths approaching a crypt. They open the doors, revealing a coffin. They remove the lid and exit the crypt, then the inhabitant of the coffin (Criswell) sits up to deliver an opening narration. This narration mostly matches the prologue of Night of the Ghouls (1959), with one minor variation and an additional line. The phrase “world between the living and the dead” of the original is changed to “void between…”. There is also a new line at the end: “A night with the ghouls, the ghouls reborn, from the innermost depths of the world!” The opening credits feature the image of “an immobile young woman clad in gold”. The image was probably inspired by a memorable scene of Goldfinger (1964).
Following the credits, the camera shifts to a lone Chevrolet Corvair driving down a California desert road. Its passengers Bob (William Bates) and Shirley (Pat Barrington) are arguing over the decision to use this night to search for a cemetery. Bob is a horror writer who hopes that the scene of a cemetery at night will bring him inspiration. The conversation ends when Bob accidentally drives the car off the road and over a cliff.
The next scene opens to a nocturnal image of a fog-shrouded cemetery. The lonely figure of the Emperor (Criswell) walks towards a marble altar, sits, and then summons his “Princess of the Night”, the Black Ghoul (Fawn Silver), who appears and bows before him. The Emperor warns that if the night’s entertainment fails to please him, he will banish the souls of the entertainers to eternal damnation, indicating that he is an all-powerful demonic being.
As the full moon appears, the Black Ghoul summons the first dancer of the night, a Native American woman (Bunny Glaser). The Black Ghoul explains that this woman loved flames, and that her lovers and she died in flames. The woman dances and strips before the flames of the cemetery. The Black Ghoul then introduces the second dancer of the night, a street walker in life. While the woman dances, Bob and Shirley make their way to the cemetery and start observing the dance from a distance. Shirley suspects that they are observing a college initiation, though Bob seriously doubts her theory.
The Emperor himself summons the third dancer, a woman who worshiped gold above else. The Golden Girl (Pat Barrington) dances in her turn, and the Emperor instructs his loin-clothed servants to reward her with gold. The supposed reward is soon revealed to be a punishment, as the servants place her in a cauldron with liquid gold. What emerges from the cauldron is a golden statue of the living woman who entered. The servants transport the immobile statue to a nearby crypt.
At this point, a werewolf (John Andrews) and mummy (Louis Ojena) appear and seize the intruding young couple. They are brought before the Emperor, who decides to postpone deciding their fate. The intruders are tied up, side by side, and allowed to continue watching the dances. The Black Ghoul next introduces the fourth dancer, a “Cat Woman” (Texas Starr). She is depicted as a woman dressed in a leopard costume, which exposes her chest area. As she dances, a servant follows her around and thrashes her with a bullwhip, offering a sadomasochistic show for the spectators.
The Emperor next calls for a Slave Girl (Nadejda Dobrev) to be whipped for his amusement. The slave wears a tunic and is chained to a wall. Following her torture session, the Slave Girl breaks free and becomes the fifth dancer of the night. Later, the Black Ghoul exhibits a fascination with Shirley and scratches a mark on her. She draws a knife and seems about to kill Shirley, when the Emperor decides it is not yet time for the intruders to properly join them. The female ghoul reluctantly obeys.
The Emperor is puzzled when a human skull appears instead of the next dancer. The Black Ghoul explains it is the symbol of the sixth dancer, who loved bullfighting and matadors. She used to dance over their demise, and now it is time to dance over her own. The dancer of apparent Spanish/Mexican heritage (Stephanie Jones) appears to perform. The Emperor and Ghoul briefly discuss the past of the dancer, who came to them on the Day of the Dead. The seventh dancer appears dressed in Polynesian garments. The Black Ghoul describes her as a worshiper of snakes, smoke, and flames. A rattlesnake is depicted along with her dance. The camera shifts to the mummy and the werewolf. The mummy voices his dislike of snakes and recalls the death of Cleopatra. He informs his companion that ancient Egypt had many snakes and they were the stuff of nightmares.
The Emperor next expresses his boredom and demands “unusual” entertainment, while the Black Ghoul notes that the night is almost over. She reminds her superior that they will be gone at the first sight of the morning sun. They proceed to argue over the fate of Shirley. The argument ends with the introduction of the eighth dancer (Barbara Nordin), a woman who murdered her husband on their wedding night. She dances with the skeleton of her spouse. The argument over Shirley then resumes, as the Ghoul claims her for her own. The Emperor feels the need to assert his own authority over the Black Ghoul.
The ninth dancer (Dene Starnes) was a zombie in life and remains zombie-like in death. The tenth and final dancer (Rene De Beau) is introduced as one who died for feathers, fur, and fluff. She starts her dance in clothing matching this style. When the final dance ends, the Emperor finally offers Shirley to the Ghoul. The Ghoul briefly dances herself as she prepares to claim her prize, but dawn arrives and with it, sunlight. The Emperor and all his undead are reduced to bones. The final scene portrays Bob and Shirley waking up at the scene of the accident, surrounded by paramedics, suggesting it was all a dream. Criswell appears in his coffin to offer parting words to the audience.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The film’s graveyard prologue is a recreation of the opening scene from Ed Wood’s then-unreleased 1958 film Night of the Ghouls. Criswell reprises his role from the earlier film. The action begins when a young couple, Bob (William Bates) and Shirley (sexploitation actress Pat Barrington, billed as Pat Barringer) survive a car crash only to find themselves tied to posts in a misty cemetery where they are forced to watch dead spirits dance for the Emperor of the Night played by Criswell (best known for Plan 9 from Outer Space). Ten striptease performances by topless dancers from beyond the grave outfitted in various motifs comprise most of this movie. The Wolf Man (wearing a very obvious mask) and the Mummy are also tossed in for comic relief. Barrington doubles as the blond Golden Girl (inspired by Shirley Eaton in Goldfinger) while her red-headed “Shirley” character watches her perform. Criswell’s undead consort, the sexy Black Ghoul, was written for Maila Nurmi, a.k.a. Vampira, but was instead played by Fawn Silver, who wore a black bouffant wig. Wood served as writer, production manager, casting agent, and even held up cue cards on this low-budget film, although he did not direct.
The Fountain of Love (1966) The municipality council of the village Jonkborn in the hinterland of Sweden wants to open up the place for the tourism, in order to be able to tap a new source of money and so one invents a source of love
To the Shores of Hell (1966) A Marine officer leads a rescue mission through the Vietnamese jungle to rescue his brother, a doctor who has been taken prisoner by the Viet Cong.
Terror in the Jungle (1966) Little boy Henry Clayton Jr. survives a plane crash in the untamed Amazon jungle. However, he’s discovered by a tribe of vicious savages who plan on sacrificing him. Meanwhile, Henry’s father ventures into the jungle to find the missing lad before it’s too late. One of the strangest low-budgeters to get released through Crown during the company’s early years was the enigmatic jungle adventure/airplane crash survival tale/kiddie flick, which took the work of three directors (including Tom DeSimone of HELL NIGHT fame) to bring its schizophrenic story to fruition.
Catalina Caper (1967) An ancient Chinese scroll is stolen from a museum in Los Angeles and teenage Don Pringle (Kirk) arrives on Catalina Island simultaneously. Although approximately half of the film involves swimsuit-clad adolescents dancing on yachts in several different dance montages, Pringle and his friends investigate the scroll’s theft and discover that the parents of one of the boys are responsible—also while attempting to woo a mysteriously depressed young woman Katrina Corelli (Ulla Strömstedt) from her vaguely threatening fiancé Angelo (Lyle Waggoner). After wrestling the scroll away from Angelo and his cohorts, bent on more dangerous results (in an underwater scuba diving action scene), the boys secretly return the scroll to the museum to the relief of the repentant parents.
Hell on Wheels (1967) There are two brothers, Marty, a stock car racing driver, and Del, a talented mechanic whose work on the car helps to make Marty successful. Del becomes resentful that Marty gets all the glory, and arranges to drive for another car-owner in competition with Marty. But he also agrees to work on cars used by a gang of moonshiners, which brings him into conflict with their other brother who works for the government agency trying to combat illegal alcohol. In between the action, they all attend a local club where there are musical performances by Robbins, and also by Connie Smith and the Stonemans. The 1967 American film about stock-car racing, which also includes musical performances by several popular country and western singers. It stars Marty Robbins, a very popular and successful singer who was also a successful NASCAR race driver.
Guilt (1967) The film follows the young couple Hans and Gunilla who accidentally run into a mentally confused man in the southern forests. The event becomes a kind of catalyst for the couple to address their common problems. He feels guilty for what happened and Gunilla tries to support him. The movie ends with a police car driving up behind the couple
Mondo Balordo (1967) Documentary showing perverse and aberrant behavior from around the globe, including such things as sex slavery, dwarf love, Asian brothels and lesbians. Narrated by Boris Karloff
The Road to Nashville (1967) A Hollywood film company wants to make a movie about country music and sends Doodles Weaver to round up talent to appear. A host of then-current country stars perform their hits.
THE WILD REBELS, THE HELLCATS AND STANLEY
“In this business, you can’t think of yesterday, you have to think six months in advance and hope you’re right,” reveals William Grefe, veteran Florida-based director of such drive-in classics as DEATH CURSE OF TARTU (1968), IMPULSE (1974) and MAKO: THE JAWS OF DEATH (1976). “Just as an example, I had written a script in 1966 about a stock car racer and I raised the money to shoot it. While we were in pre-production, I read in Variety that Roger Corman’s THE WILD ANGELS (1966) was a huge hit, and I said to myself, ‘This motorcycle thing is gonna be the next big trend.’ If you’re the second or third guy on the bandwagon when a trend comes along, you can make a lot of money. The investors went along with that, so I made a movie about a motorcycle gang instead of a stock car racer.” The resulting film, THE WILD REBELS (1967), was snatched up by Crown and quickly pushed into theaters so it would be the second biker movie to hit the market after THE WILD ANGELS. Everyone involved made out like a bandit, although Red Jacobs’ personal vendetta against American International Pictures (AIP), the producers of THE WILD ANGELS, was just as much a deciding factor in the speedy acquisition and turnaround of Grefe’s film as the money that could be made riding coattails at the box-office.
“Most independent companies like AIP didn’t have the money to distribute their own pictures at a national level, because that meant they would have to set up offices all across the United States and hire managers, secretaries, booking agents,” Grefe reveals, “so they’d go through what were known as ‘states righters,’ or sub-distributors, that would handle the distribution for them in different territories. The country was divided into territories back then, with states righters covering each one. Florida , Georgia , the Carolinas, and Louisiana would be one territory, Washington D.C. and Charlotte was another territory, Kansas City , etc. So that’s how Crown got started. They were a states righter that handled the 13 western states, and AIP had a distribution contract with them.” However, by the mid 1960s AIP had become so tremendously successful that co-founder and president Samuel Z. Arkoff wanted to expand the company’s operations. “He was a real smart business guy who thought, ‘Why should we be paying commissions to Crown in these 13 western states, when we can just go ahead and form our own distribution unit?’” laughs Grefe. “So Crown lost that big contract with AIP, and just as that vendetta was really heating up, AIP came out with THE WILD ANGELS. Red wanted to compete, so when the bidding started on THE WILD REBELS, I ended up selling it to him for all cash!”
Wild Rebels (1967)
SUMMARY Rod Tillman (Alaimo) is a stock car driver who, after crashing his latest car in a race, is out of money and decides to quit the stock car racing scene. After selling his trailer, Rod heads to a bar, Swinger’s Paradise, where he meets a group of bikers—Banjo (Willie Pastrano), Fats (Jeff Gillen), their leader Jeeter (John Vella), and their girl Linda (Bobbie Byers)—who call themselves “Satan’s Angels.” Banjo had recognized Rod as a stock car driver, and the group invites Rod out to their shack to discuss a business proposal. At the shack, Jeeter informs Rod that the gang is from California and they are unfamiliar with the “southern countryside” of Florida. Jeeter makes him a proposal to be their getaway driver in an upcoming robbery. Rod declines and Banjo holds him at knife-point before Jeeter allows him to leave (after Rod leaves Jeeter tells the other that he is certain Rod will reconsider “when he gets hungry”).
On his way back to town, Rod is stopped in the forest by a group of police officers led by Lieutenant Dorn (Walter Philbin). After speaking to Rod, Dorn determines that they need someone skilled at driving a car as it would be easy to spot motorcycles in front of a business prior to a robbery. Since the gang’s next target is unknown, Dorn recruits Rod as an uncover agent to discover their plans. In order to make sure the gang believes that Rod is genuinely interested in joining their gang, the police set Rod up in auto race in which another undercover officer runs him off the track forcing him to crash his car. Rod meets up with the gang (who had showed up at the race after seeing an article in the paper) and is allowed to join them as their future getaway driver. Rod is forced to live with the group in order to ensure he will not divulge their plans to anyone else, forcing Rod to bury handwritten messages outside and signal the nearby surveilling police with a lighter.
The gang robs a local gun store, during which the proprietor is shot, and acquires a large arsenal of weapons. Back at the hideout, Rod is made to wait outside while the details of the robbery are being discussed, and Linda is sent outside to watch him. After singing her a song – “I Like What I Know About You” – Linda reveals that she doesn’t commit these crimes for financial gain, but for the thrill of the action: “kicks” as she calls it. Rod and Linda briefly kiss, but they are interrupted by Banjo and a fight breaks out from which Rod emerges victorious.
The next day, the gang reveals their target to Rod on the drive there: the Citrusville Bank. Feeling that they are being watched by police, the gang takes an offroad path to Citrusville next to the railroad tracks, losing the tailing officers in the process. The gang reaches Citrusville and the robbery commences. Waiting outside in the getaway car, Rod signals a passing police car by flashing his headlights and informs them that the bank is being robbed. Banjo, witnessing this from the bank window, kills both police officers with a shotgun and informs Jeeter than Rod had signaled them. The gang piles into the car forcing Rod to drive at gunpoint.
After a lengthy chase during which several police are shot, the getaway car’s gas tank is struck by a bullet, forcing the gang to abandon the vehicle and take shelter in an abandoned lighthouse. After a protracted firefight with police, Banjo is killed when he unsuccessfully tries to escape on a police motorcycle. Fats heads up the spiral staircase to the top of the lighthouse in order to snipe police, but is shot and killed as well. Upon seeing this, Rod rushes up the staircase trying to get Fats’ gun with Jeeter in pursuit. Rod is hit in the arm by a bullet, and a laughing Jeeter points his shotgun at Rod’s face telling him “see you, later.” Just then, a shot rings out striking Jeeter in the back. A remorseful Linda behind him is the one who fired. Jeeter falls over the staircase railing to his death, with Linda lamenting to Rod about how it was “all for kicks.” Linda is subsequently arrested, and Rod and Lieutenant Dorn walk off together.
For the next several years, each time another motorcycle picture was released by AIP, Crown would follow with its own bike movie. THE HELLCATS (1968) was Crown’s response to AIP’s female biker flick THE MINI SKIRT MOB (1968), and both co-starred tough guy actor Ross Hagen. “We shot that film with 16mm short ends on weekends,” the late actor recalled with a laugh when asked about THE HELLCATS in 2009. “We couldn’t even afford bikes for the big race scene! I was supposed to be in a race — well, if you look at the movie, you don’t see one single bike, it’s all revving engines and then I stagger back onscreen and say, ‘That was a hell of a ride!’ We took the film in [to Crown], showed it to Red and he said, ‘God, you guys are the greatest filmmakers I ever met! This is a fantastic movie! Tell ya what – I’ll buy it from you.’ We said, ‘Buy it!?’ ‘Cause we had put all of our salaries down. I think we had a total of $65,000 in it and that was our budget, and we’d all taken big salaries like $5,000. We all looked at each other, and [producer] Tony Cardoza said, ‘Hell, let’s do it.’ So the film was sold to Red Jacobs for $125,000.”
The Hellcats (1968)
SUMMARY As the film opens, a motorcycle gang called the Hellcats is burying their deceased leader, Big Daddy, while being watched from a distance by two groups. One group consists of Detective Dave Chapman and his partner, who have been monitoring the Hellcats and their criminal activity. The other group is mobster Mr. Adrian and his henchmen. Adrian uses the Hellcats to move narcotics from Mexico into California, and, unknown to the gang, had Big Daddy killed when he discovered he was an informant for Chapman. Adrian and his goons decide to kill Chapman to end his investigation, and a sniper murders him on a romantic day out with his fiancee, Linda.
Following this, Dave’s brother Monte, a sergeant in the United States Army, returns from active duty only to learn of his brother’s death. Linda and Monte learn of the Hellcats from Dave’s notes and decide to get revenge. Posing as a biker couple, they meet the Hellcats at their usual hangout, a dive bar called “Moonfire Inn.” Monte has difficulty getting respect from the gang’s new leader, Snake, but adopts a gruff, defensive attitude that seems to impress Sheila, the driving force of the Hellcats and their contact with Adrian. Monte and Linda watch a drunken gang party from the sidelines, looking for chances to gather information. One of Adrian’s henchmen comes in with orders for Sheila from Adrian. When he turns aggressive after being rejected by Sheila, Monte comes to her rescue and manages to get a look at the note with Sheila’s orders, learning that the drugs originate in Mexico.
The gang takes the party to the country, where they continue to drink, dance, and take drugs. A rival gang arrives and their leader challenges Snake to a bike race which devolves into a brawl. After Monte stops the brawl, the Hellcats question his toughness. To stay in their good graces, he accepts a test of endurance with Snake: Each man is tied by his feet to an all terrain vehicle while he holds onto a bar tied to another ATV. Both riders engage their engines and the man must last at least fifteen seconds being pulled between the two. Snake loses, and Monte gains the respect of the gang and has sex with Sheila. While this is going on, Linda retreats to the main party area and is offered heroin by Six-Pack. With hard evidence of the Hellcats’ drug running, Linda accepts an invitation from Sheila to join her on her ride to pick up more drugs from their supplier, a man named Scorpio.
Sheila, Linda, and Betty meet Scorpio at night and hide the drugs behind the headlights of their motorcycles. On the way back to Moonfire Inn, they are pursued by a cop car. After splitting up, Betty is followed and drives into a ditch, dying on impact. Sheila reports the news to Adrian, who demands the Hellcats retrieve the drugs hidden in Betty’s bike, which has now been impounded by the police. Sheila orders Moongoose to retrieve it, but he’s caught by the police and arrested. Sheila drives to Adrian’s headquarters, followed by Linda, who in turn is followed by Monte.
Hearing that the police have captured a gang member and found the heroin, Adrian flies into a rage and prepares to flee to Tahiti. When Sheila and Linda arrive, Adrian has Sheila tied up in the shop room and beaten while he attempts to seduce Linda. Monte arrives and is captured by Adrian’s henchmen. They beat him and tie him up in the shop room next to Sheila. Linda pretends to be interested in Adrian’s advances while Sheila finds a Dremel tool, which she uses to cut Monte’s bonds. He unties her and goes to rescue Linda, only to be apprehended again.
Sheila runs to a payphone, where she calls the other Hellcats for help. Adrian and his henchmen take Linda and Monte to the docks, where they are thrown into a garbage barge to die. Adrian’s escape is delayed due to issues with his boat and the Hellcats arrive before he has a chance to leave. The gang assaults Adrian and his underlings and free Monte and Linda as sirens blare.
Later, Monte and Linda prepare to leave town separately. The Hellcats have been arrested for their role in the drug ring, but Monte hopes that Moongoose’s confession will spare the gang too harsh a sentence. Linda drives off in her car as Monte rides his motorcycle into the distance.
Single Room Furnished (1968)
SUMMARY Pop, the janitor of a downtown New York City apartment building, is in the hall changing the lights. While there, he overhears an argument coming from within one of the apartments. The argument is between a young woman named Maria and her overbearing Italian mother, who is concerned that her daughter is bringing shame to the family name by associating with another tenant in the building named Eileen, who works as a prostitute. After storming out of the apartment, Maria encounters Pop in the hall and he begins to calm her down and the two eventually go into the building’s kitchen to talk. Maria explains that the argument was about her friendship with Eileen, before then admitting her admiration for her friend’s beauty and supposed exciting lifestyle.
Pop then begins to tell Maria a story of a young woman named Johnnie, who used to live in the building with her husband Frankie about ten years earlier. The film flashes back to Frankie and Johnnie on their fire escape. It is evident that there is an emotional distance between the two, as Frankie seems unhappy with his life, leaving Johnnie, who is pregnant with their baby, to feel isolated. The two reminisce about how they first met, before Frankie mentions an old friend whom he had recently seen. This old friend was in the Navy, and was traveling all over the world. Frankie starts detailing his fascination for Navy life and the prospects it can bring to him, before Johnnie, realizing that Frankie desires to leave her for a better life, tries to change the subject. Pop then narrates that a few weeks later, Johnnie woke one morning to find that Frankie had left her and their unborn baby. Maria asks what happened to the baby, to which Pop informs her that Johnnie had a miscarriage. He also adds that Johnnie eventually changed her name to Mae and moved on with her life. However, she remained a tenant in the building.
While discussing Mae, Pop mentions another couple who live in the building, Flo and Charley, who were involved with Mae at one point. The film then flashes back and shows the beginning of this couple’s relationship. It is shown that Charley was friends with Mae, and she comes to his apartment one morning telling him that she is pregnant. Mae reveals to Charley that she plans on putting the baby up for adoption once it’s born. Charley, feeling sorry for Mae, asks her to marry him. A few days later, Flo meets Charley in a bar where he explains this situation to her. Eventually, Charley realizes that he loves Flo and that he can’t marry Mae just because he feels sorry for her. He then asks Flo to marry him. As Pop finishes narrating the story to Maria, Flo comes into the kitchen and is shown to be pregnant herself with Charley’s baby. Maria and Flo begin talking about what became of Mae. Flo explains that while she and Charley got married, Mae had her baby and put it up for adoption like she said she would. Flo also elucidates that Mae, like she had done before, changed her name, this time to Eileen. Maria then realizes that her friend Eileen is the subject of the stories she has been told. Flo tells Maria about Eileen, who works as a prostitute at a nearby club. One night, she arrives to her apartment to find her lover Billy waiting for her. Billy is a sailor and is in love with Eileen, although she does not reciprocate this feeling. While she removes her makeup and undresses, Billy professes his desire to marry her, stating that he does not care about her past. She interjects by informing him of the many men she has been with and the things she has done with them, before then reflecting of a time when she was in love with a man whom she planned to marry. However, he was killed in an accident shortly before their wedding. Billy still expresses his wish to marry her and while doing so, accidentally breaks a porcelain doll given to her by the man she once loved. Eileen then becomes hostile towards Billy, and begins mocking him, telling him she would never marry him and that she would never love him. Billy incidentally brandishes a gun and points it at Eileen, to which she tells him to go ahead and shoot. Billy, not being able to shoot her, walks out of the room and ultimately kills himself.
Eileen, at first in a state of shock, sits down at her mirror and begins re-applying her makeup, implying that she will again move on with her continuously troubled life.
BEHIND THE SCENES
The feature was Jayne Mansfield’s final “filmed” starring role. The feature was shot in 1966, while Mansfield was married to her third (and final) husband, Matt Cimber. The movie was briefly released in the mid months of 1966, but was quickly pulled from theaters.The feature was released “legally” and “officially” in 1968; which was nearly a year after Mansfield’s tragic death in a car crash at the age of 34. After filming Single Room Furnished in 1966, Mansfield filmed only character acting roles in films. Her legally final film appearance was in 1967’s A Guide for the Married Man playing an uncredited cameo role. Today Single Room Furnished is considered by Jayne Mansfield fans as one of her finest acting performances.
African Safari (Rivers of Fire and Ice) (1968) Motion picture filmed in documentary format. Directed, written and produced by wildlife photographer Ron Shanin, the film is an account of a safari through “wildest” Africa and explores Africa’s diversity ranging from scorching deserts to the frozen heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and the life of the continent’s inhabitants. The movie culminates with the eruption of Mt Kilimanjaro.
NIGHTMARE IN WAX / BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE
In 1969, Crown released the double bill BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE and NIGHTMARE IN WAX. Both films were written by Rex Carlton, the man behind THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE. A low-budget knock-off of House of Wax (1953), starring Cameron Mitchell as a mad sculptor seeking revenge against his enemies by injecting them with a serum that causes paralysis and putting them on display at the Movieland Wax Museum (which was located in Anaheim, CA at the time, near Disneyland). The cast also included B-movie perennial Scott Brady, and Victoria Carroll as a ditzy blonde go-go dancer who becomes one of Mitchell’s statues. (She’s also illustrated in the film’s poster.) Carroll loved working with Mitchell, recalling, “He was the consummate actor. He was conscientious and worked very hard. He really wanted this to be good.”
FILM SPOTLIGHT NIGHTMARE IN WAX
SUMMARY Cameron Mitchell plays Vince Rinaud, a former film special effects artist who is disfigured by Max Block, the head of Paragon Pictures, and also a rival for the affections of a woman (Anne Helm). Leaving the film industry, Vince becomes a recluse and opens a wax museum. Within a few months, four popular Paragon stars disappear. Wax figures of the missing stars soon feature as wax models in the museum and the police become suspicious.
The film was directed by Bud Townsend, who also helmed COACH (1978) and THE BEACH GIRLS (1982) for Crown, but Carroll remembers it being directed more by Mitchell. She also remembers Mitchell rewriting a lot of the script during production. In the scene where she and Mitchell first meet at the Sunset Strip nightclub Gazzarri’s, Carroll can be seen tugging her hair, which was the signal for the script girl to give her the new dialogue from off camera. Mitchell “really got into the role” adds Carroll, which makes sense because he was “a little crazy by that time. I didn’t know what he was going to do and it was great. If you get a good actor, you have less acting to do, you just react. He had a very powerful presence.” In the film, Mitchell kills Carroll and leads the police on a wild chase while he holds on to her in the car. Carroll decided it would be great for the film if she died with her eyes open, but while they were in the car together, “He did a five minute monolog, and there I was, trying not to blink! My favorite review when the film came out was, ‘Victoria Carroll does her best acting as a corpse!’ I loved it!” They had a great time with it.” Looking back on the film, Carroll says, “I’m very proud of it. I wish I still had my Gazzarri’s dancing figure!”
The original screenplay was dreadful and we had to decide to do them in wax. He was a makeup man. We had a further idea of him making a phone call. He repeated the phone conversation at the end so that you never know whether it’s going to happen or not. What was fun about that was when he scared the girl. Remember the girl before he killed her, he frightened her. He appeared here and he appeared there, he has this scene after he’s killed her. He’s kissing her and he puts a knife in underneath (I’m sorry about this…), but he takes her for a ride in the car and he almost literally makes love to a dead body. He’s telling her words of love. I wanted to call it ‘Nightmare.’ The ‘In Wax’ made it a B movie.” – Cameron Mitchell
“I worked with Scott Brady quite a few times, he and I were very good friends. He and Jim Davis and myself and even Cameron Mitchell. Berry Kroeger was in it, Victoria Carroll, a tall good looking blond. That picture was kind of fun. I think I did the production work, but I also did a pretty good role in it as kind of a dumb cop. We did it in the Movieland Wax Museum and on a sound stage. I doubled Berry Kroeger, I did a lot of stunt work in that one also ‘cause Berry and Cameron Mitchell were talking and Berry was to throw this brandy in Cameron’s face as he was lighting a cigarette and so, we did it from the close up of Berry’ throwing it and a close up of him getting ready to light his cigarette and everything, and as soon as it hit him, I went up in flames, and I doubled him and stumbled and broke through a plate glass window and sliding door and through the patio and into the swimming pool. And then Cameron came up with this bloody face, and that’s when he became the Phantom of the Opera type of character. And he used to get these girls and put them entirely in wax and everybody would say how great his artwork was.
“It’s a kind of infamous picture, a little drive-in picture that still plays on TV every once in a while.’’ Igo Kantor was the music supervisor and he later went on to produce many of the films Cardos directed. “Yeah I did 5 features with him so far and I just won a Cowboy Hall of Fame last year for one.’’ BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE followed. Cardos was production manager and had a little part as the security guard. “You probably don’t remember Paula Raymond. She used to costar with people like Clark Gable, and Alex D’Arcy too! We shot that in Lancaster. As a matter of fact they shipped that castle over from Ireland, and they made a ranch out there, and yeah, it’s still there. We shot all the exteriors there, some of the interiors and then we went on a soundstage, Santa Monica sound stage and did the rest of them there.
“John Carradine was a great actor. Not only is he a great actor, but he was a great person himself. John was the type of person that Al (Adamson) always had to change this, to change that And Al was not what you would call a good director. He just definitely was not He could raise the money for these little shows and put them together but he shot everything so fast he could have made ‘em a lot better than, sloppy. John Carradine and I did several pictures. He was a fantastic actor. And he would be laying down during lunch just relaxing anywhere, on the floor, on a sofa, it didn’t make any difference, because Al didn’t have trailers for his actors or directors (laughs) or anything else, having bologna sandwiches you were lucky (laughs)! But in those days we knocked them out 1 think we made that one in about 8 days, something like that. I can remember several times when Al would come to John with 2-3 pages of changed dialogue and stuff and John would open his eyes and look at him a minute and put it right down like he didn’t even know it! If he was up on a stage, he wouldn’t miss a beat! A lot of the professionals are good, but John was the type of person, that would give you the same performance for a $100,000 picture or $100 million. You know he was very good at everything he did.’’ – JOHN CARDOS
Carroll would go on to a prolific career in television, appearing in prime-time series such as Hogan’s Heroes and The Incredible Hulk, and later doing voice acting for Saturday morning cartoons, including Scooby-Doo and Darkwing Duck.
BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE was directed by the late Al Adamson, who also made such unforgettable low-budgeters as SATAN’S SADISTS and DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN. DRACULA’S CASTLE starred Alex D’Arcy as the count, Paula Raymond as his bride,as well as Adamson regulars John Carradine, Robert Dix, Jenifer Bishop, and John “Bud” Cardos DRACULA’S CASTLE was also shot by legendary cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs (EASY RIDER, SHAMPOO). The film cost about $60,000, which was about the average budget for an Al Adamson movie, and the shoot lasted three to four days. Unlike a number of Adamson’s movies, DRACULA’S CASTLE was shot during the same period of time. Although co-star Bishop says the film was “a little off my beaten path, having studied with Strasberg,” she liked working with Al, and years after they’d worked together in other movies like THE FEMALE BUNCH (1971) and JESSI’S GIRLS (1975), still kept in touch and visited each other in Palm Springs. “Al was more of a businessman than anything else, and he was a very good one,” says Bishop. “He was very good at sticking to the budget. He knew where to cut corners and get the job done, but that’s what he was famous for.” The film was shot in an actual castle in Lancaster, CA that was reputed to be haunted by one of the previous owners, who committed suicide in the wake of the stock market crash. “It was a most interesting castle,” Bishop remembers. “It was a fascinating place. The home was gorgeous. The architecture was outstanding. I think that was the highlight of the film in many ways.”
Nightmare In Wax and Blood of Dracula’s Castle Pressbook
Ewing “Lucky” Brown, the film’s associate producer, recalls, “When it was late in the evening and we were by ourselves, it got very eerie. Everybody wanted to get out of there before dark. I know Alex D’Arcy swore up and down that he saw somebody walking down one of the halls. He came flying in saying, ‘The people are back that owned the place!’ I went all over lookin’, nobody was there. He said, ‘Somebody’s walking around back there.’ I said, ‘There’s nobody back there, we checked.’ Then I said, ‘Aah, maybe it’s the ghost,’ and that set him off. He was not too happy about that.”
FILM SPOTLIGHT Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969)
SUMMARY Count Dracula (Alexander D’Arcy) and his vampire wife (Paula Raymond) are occupying Falcon Rock Castle in modern-day Arizona, hiding behind the identities of the Count and Countess Townsend. When the castle’s owner dies, the property passes on to a photographer named Glen Cannon, and Glen has decided to live there himself with his fiancée Liz. He drives out to the castle to inform the Townsends that they will have to move out. But his car breaks down when he gets there, and he and Liz are forced to spend the night with the Townsends.
The Townsends are actually vampires who sleep in coffins and lure pretty young girls to the castle to be drained of blood by their butler George (John Carradine), who then mixes real Bloody Marys for the couple which they drink from martini glasses. George and Mango the hunchback keep mini-skirted women chained up in the basement, occasionally sacrificing one of them to “the Great God Luna”, burning them at the stake. Then there’s a guy named Johnny, who becomes a serial killer when the moonlight strikes him, (or a werewolf, depending on whether you watch the theatrical version or the late-night-TV version which added a few quick cheesy werewolf shots).
Glen and Liz accidentally witness one of the women being sacrificed in the cellar. Dracula and the Countess try to force Glen to sell the castle to them. In the final confrontation, George the butler is killed, the remaining women prisoners are freed, Mango the hunchback gets shot, hit with an axe and set afire before dying, and the vampires wind up exposed to sunlight and dissolve away into dust. Glen and Liz decide not to live in the castle after all, and drive off together. However, two bats emerge unseen from the ashes and fly away.
Interview with Associate Producer Ewing M Brown
How did you connect with Rex Carlton?
Ewing M Brown: I was introduced to Rex through Al Adamson. Rex Carlton in a strict sense, worked for me on Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969). A pretty talented guy but at one point I wondered about what or who he had gotten involved with.
Did Rex Carlton put any money up for BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE?
Brown: Rex did the story but had no money into the picture nor did he raise any funds for DRACULA’S CASTLE, to my knowledge at least. My partner, Al Adamson who directed some of It as well as I, raised money for the picture but funds also came in small increments from private investors. $5,000, $10,000 dollar investments, His future father-in-law had some money in it. Jerome Wexler and Maitin Cohen raised some funds and I believe Cohen raised over half of the money. As a matter of fact and far as I’m concerned, Cohen was the one who screwed It up.
Carlton seems like he was his own worst nightmare having gone the way of borrowing money from the wrong people.
Brown: Yes. Rex either had a gambling problem or was in debt to the mafia. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but he was a ‘nervous nail biter.’ One evening when we were doing some shots for BLOOD OF DRACULA’s CASTLE, The scene where we had all the rats and spiders. We were shooting over at the Hollywood Stage on Santa Monica Boulevard, when a couple of guys came in looking for him. They looked the type, “bent nose boys.’ Rex wasn’t working that night and wasn’t there. They were standing around and I told them it was a closed set and asked them to leave. This was the only time I saw something suspicious connected to Rex and it was the only time I ever worked with him. Rex was very easy going and fine to work with. We worked together on some changes for the film and we worked well together. If Rex had any money in this film. I did not know of It.
What do you remember about the unfortunate outcome that befell BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE?
Brown: What a fiasco that was. I remember it to have happened like this. The guy who raised much of the money for BLOOD OF DRACULA’S CASTLE was Cohen. I had it sold through my attorneys to Paramount for three times the cost of the budget and pickup any of the deferments like the lab bill. I was drooling over this deal. We had a meeting with the investors and my partner made a mistake. He wrote it m where everyone had to vote on it. My attorney who set it all up had formerly been a Paramount attorney so he knew everybody and he was only taking $25,000 dollars out of a million and a half dollar deal. They were going to pick up the lab deferments and the deferments for the cameraman and myself and some other money that was owed on it. We would have paid everybody off and gave them 200 percent of their investment. – Ewing M Brown (Associate Producer) on Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969) remembers screenwriter Rex Carlton
DRACULA’S CASTLE would also prove to be a launching pad for Adamson and his producing partner Sam Sherman, as later that year they founded their own distribution outfit. Independent International Pictures.
Within a few months Hagen had produced a second motorcycle movie, THE SIDEHACKERS (1969), and was back at Crown to make a deal. “By that time I had learned that you’re supposed to take a percentage and not just sell the movie outright. Red said, ‘My God, you’ve done it again! You’re the greatest filmmaker in the world! I’ll give you $250,000 for this film!’ I said, ‘Oh no, this time I want a percentage!’ Red said, ‘Oh, you want percentage, huh? Tell ya what – how about I give you 75% and I take 25%?’ I thought, ‘Shit, that’s a hell of a deal! 75-25? OK!’ Well, what I didn’t understand was that I got 75% of the monkey points and Red took 25% of the gross! And out of the 75% I had to pay for his trip to Cannes , pay for his office, pay for everything! Three years later I finally got the money and Red said, ‘One day you’ll learn the film business: monkey points!’”
“Red took Ross for a drive one Sunday afternoon,” Grefe recalls, barely suppressing laughter. “He pointed out the window and said, ‘See that house up there, Ross? That’s my daughter Marilyn’s new house. Y’know who bought that house for her? You did, Ross! Your movie THE SIDEHACKERS bought that house, schmuck!’ A short while later he pointed out the window again. ‘See that addition I just put on my house? Y’know who bought that, don’t you? That’s HELLCATS, schmuck!”
“Great teachers, man!” Hagen said of Jacobs and Grefe. “This is a strange town to do business in. You really have to learn the ropes. You have to understand that distributors have 3 sets of books. You have to learn not to take monkey points, which is producer’s net. You’ve got to take gross. It takes years for some people to learn the word ‘gross.’”
Grefe agrees. “One reason I’ve survived is because I know distribution. A lot of filmmakers made one or two films and were raped by their distributors, and that was the end of them. If you know how to get around the distribution angle, then you can survive. Red was a tough old guy, but he was the type of guy who shook your hand and it was as good as any contract.”
The Sidehackers (1969)
SUMMARY The film centers on Rommel, a mechanic and sidehack-style racer, who turns down the offer of J.C., a hot-tempered entertainer, to join his act after J.C. witnesses a sidehack race for the first time. J.C.’s abused girlfriend, Paisley, falls for Rommel and attempts to seduce him. He rejects her advances and sends her away crying. Later, when J.C. and his crew return to their hotel, they find Paisley drunk and her clothes tattered, claiming that Rommel raped her. Angered, J.C. and his gang beat Rommel unconscious, then rape and kill his fiancee, Rita. Rommel then spends the rest of the movie plotting his revenge against J.C., who goes into hiding from the police. The film’s end is nihilistic in nature. After both Rommel and J.C.’s men have killed each other (while two of Rommel’s men escaped on a sidehack bike), the two men brawl. When Rommel manages to gain the upper hand, he elects to walk away when the police are about to arrive, but J.C. picks up a gun and shoots Rommel from behind. The last images of the film are a flashback of Rommel and his fiancee rolling about in a grassy field, superimposed over a shot of Rommel’s dead body.
The movie’s soundtrack LP was issued in 1969 in the U.S. by Amaret Records (ST 5004). The music was composed by Mike Curb and Jerry Styner, with lyrics by Guy Henric, and performed by the psychedelic, West Coast, rock band The New Life.
The Babysitter (1969) An Assistant District Attorney is about to prosecute members of a motorcycle gang for murder when he gets blackmailed because of an affair with a teenage babysitter.
Crown International Pictures 60’s
The Devil’s Hand (1961)
As Nature Intended (1961)
The 7th Commandment (1961)
Secret File: Hollywood (1962)
Varan the Unbelievable (1962)
First Spaceship on Venus (1962)
Carnival of Crime (1962)
Dangerous Charter (1962)
The Skydivers (1963)
Madmen of Mandoras (1963) a.k.a. They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968)
Iron Angel (1964)
Angel’s Flight (1965)
Orgy of the Dead (1965)
To the Shores of Hell (1966)
Terror in the Jungle (1966)
The Fountain of Love (1966)
Catalina Caper (1967)
Hell on Wheels (1967)
Mondo Balordo (1967)
Wild Rebels (1967)
The Road to Nashville (1967)
The Hellcats (1968)
Single Room Furnished (1968)
African Safari (Rivers of Fire and Ice) (1968)
Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969)
Nightmare in Wax (1969)
The Sidehackers (1969)
The Babysitter (1969)
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