Back in the 1980’s, Cassandra Peterson had her own television show she hosted called Movie Macabre. Usually shown on Saturday nights, Movie Macabre usually showcased B horror films, some that were classic, and others that were campy. This was the time to break out the snacks, sit back and enjoy a film. Dressed up in a Gothic outfit, Cassandra became Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, adding her one-liners in between film scene breaks. The show lasted for five seasons. Many people turned on Movie Macabre not to see the film but to see Elvira’s tight dress and cleavage. However, other viewers, myself included, actually enjoyed some of the movies that played on her show. Below are my top ten picks of films from Elvira’s Movie Macabre:
Silent Night, Bloody Night. Released in 1974, this film starred John Carradine, Patrick O’Neal, and Mary Woronov. The story is set in an old mansion that use to house mentally ill patients. A man inherits the home but soon finds out that the days of psychosis are not quite over; a murderer has escaped and decides to take up residence in the house.
The House That Screamed. Released in 1969 and originally called “La Residencia”, this film was made in Spain and directed by Narciso Ibanez Serrador. Lili Palmer is the headmistress of a girls’ boarding school but soon the students start to mysteriously disappear. The son of the headmistress also lives in a room upstairs but none of the students ever see him. Is there a connection between the boy and the missing students?
Count Yorga, Vampire. Released in 1970, Robert Quarry is Count Yorga, a vampire who lives in modern Los Angeles. A young hip couple make friends with him but are in for the surprise of their lives. Roger Perry, D J Andersen, and Judy Lang also star in this film directed by Bob Kelljan.
Horror Express. Released in 1972, this film is a must see for all fans of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. This British-Spanish film is set on a train heading from Siberia where a mysterious creature frozen in ice suddenly defrosts. Bizarre murders start to happen unexpectedly. Look for Telly Savalas as the scene-stealing Russian cossack.
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Released in 1968, this film stars Jack Palance in the title role. Originally made for television, this film also stars British veteran actors Denholm Elliott and Torin Thatcher. Not really a B film as it was nominated for two Emmys and received an Edgar Allan Poe Award for 1969. Fans of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” will enjoy this installment.
The Beast in the Cellar. Released in 1970, two sisters keep their deformed brother in the basement of their house. People who get too close to the house tend to get knocked off once the brother escapes. Beryl Reid and Flora Robson star in this unusual British horror film.
Tombs of the Blind Dead. Released in 1971, this Spanish horror film was directed by Amando de Ossorio and soon spawned a number of other Blind Dead installments soon after. While the version on Movie Macabre is edited from the original film, the original uncut version is worth seeking out. Well, some parts had to be removed to make it more platable to the American taste, and to avoid censorship. Who are the Blind Dead? The Knight Templar, of course.
The Legend of Hell House. Released in 1973, this classic ghost story stars Pamela Franklin, Roddy McDowell, and Clive Revill. Roddy is in top form as always in this film. Make sure you watch this with the lights on, though, and with a friend by your side.
Kill and Go Hide. Also called “The Child”, this disturbing film was released in 1977 and is about a young girl who uses her sixth sense to get revenge on those who caused her mother’s death. The housekeeper her father hired soon finds out what is going on and tries to stop the child from killing again. This film stars Laurel Barnett, Rosalie Cole, and Frank Janson.
Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things. Released in 1972, this movie takes camp horror to a new level. Nowadays this would be better aligned with dark humor than classic horror but it’s fun to watch. Alan and Anya Ormsby team up with Jeff Gillen and Paul Cronin to dig up Oliver and use a book of shadows to invoke more dead people from beyond the grave. Directed by Bob Clark of “Porky’s” fame, this is for anyone who enjoys a good zombie flick.