Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on September 13, 1961
Directed by William J. Hole, Jr
Written by Jo Heims
Cast: Linda Christian, Robert Alda, Ariadna Welter, Neil Hamilton, Jeanne Carmen, Bruno Ve Sota, Gere Craft, Julie Scott, Diane Spears, Gertrude Astor, Dick Lee, Tony Rock, Romona Ravez
And here I thought the idea of women luring men to their doom was a concept reserved for film noir; well, I’m here to tell you it can be found in cheap horror offerings, too. What began as a screwy, voodoo-themed low-budgeter slowly melded into something a little more serious, as a man succumbed to a beautiful woman’s attention and agreed to join her in a strange satanic cult, where a ‘devil-god of evil’ and a ‘high executioner’ kept members in line through the use of voodoo dolls and, apparently, the promise of lust. Sounds corny, right? Well, hold on…there’s more going on with this little chiller than meets the eye.
Alan Alda’s father Robert plays the man haunted by dreams of a gorgeous blonde, beckoning him from the clouds; soon he’s drawn to a seemingly-innocuous doll shop while walking the streets of LA, where he spots a doll made in the girl’s image…and another that resembles his fiancé! Soon he tracks the living, breathing dream girl to her apartment, where within minutes this temptress—as played by Linda Christian, one of the most delicious girl-next-door types I’ve ever seen in cinema—has seduced him, and convinced him to join the sect, where he not only reaps the benefits of winning at the horse races and the stock market, but the carnal rewards of his hot new squeeze as well.
Though it tried, the film couldn’t escape its B-movie trappings, but it did pack a small sub-level punch when it concentrated on its man-vs-cult storyline, which actually got me to pay attention and think for a bit: If I were in this guy’s shoes, would I be so easily tempted by the advances of a mysterious female? Perhaps. And would I have let her drag me into a demon-worshiping cult? Hell no! I would’ve high-tailed it out of there! And that’s what I liked about Alda’s character; he remained dubious and alert at all times, and eventually did high-tail it out of there, with his forgiving fiancé at his side.
Director William J. Hole Jr. and secretary-turned-writer Jo Heims (who would later pen the Clint Eastwood vehicles Play Misty for Me and Dirty Harry) laced the film with some unexpected turns and neat surprises (who’s that cult member with the hidden camera?), and supplied a wrap-up that was quite fiery and frenetic, and which seemed to leave things open for a sequel. Give this a try on a slow night…you may be surprised. And remember, the great Gamba knows who you are! (6/10)