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John 'Bud' Cardos
A psychotic redneck who owns a dilapidated hotel in rural East Texas kills various people who upset him or his business, and he feeds their bodies to a large crocodile that he keeps as a pet in the swamp beside his hotel.
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My overblown rating for this is due to nostalgia value: this is one of the first horror movies I can ever remember seeing and is close to my heart in a way that is more fitting for a record album than a movie. I've gotten to know every cadence and beat, line of dialog, musical cue and gesture. This film has been a part of my life, thanks in part by how clever local TV programming directors back in the 1970s would often produce their own weekly Creature Feature Monster Movie Matinée horror movie block.
For some reason this one got around a bit more than others, I was familiar with it from a very young age and we'd get it two or three times a year, right along with THE BLACK CAT (1934), CONQUEROR WORM (1968), COUNT Dracula (1970). This one was the vampire movies with the big hunchback, and my greatest intrigue as a kid was to wonder just what was inside of Mango's little house underneath the paper mache stairs. I still wonder about it sometimes.
The film is a classic study of American kitsch, so delightfully out of step with the Haight-Ashbury influenced psychedelia years during which it was produced (1967) and ultimately released (1969) to what must have been baffled audiences. Al Adamson movies are always a matter of acquired taste but I know people who remember seeing this film whenever describing the scene where the guy pushes the car over the cliff and walks away munching on a sandwich.
Its somewhat ineptly made but all of it endearing, right down to the confusing issue of whether Robert Dix's Johnny is a werewolf or not. He is in the expanded television print and I remember seeing it once or twice, though as far as I am concerned its even more fun with him just being a maniac who gets riled up during the full moon.
And this is John Carradine as I will always remember him, George the Butler, a practicing Satanist (or whatever he practices) who brings his employers chilled Bloody Mary's with real blood promptly at 4:30, and never forgets the need to reward Mango for bringing them fresh girls. The rewarding Mango scene is the highlight of the movie for me, you can't help but wonder what he'd do to a girl if he got one, and it ain't pretty.
The movie deserves a better reputation than its gotten. It's not THAT bad, and there's some actual talent involved with the production in the form of cinematographer Lazlo Kovaks and "Star Trek" contributor Jerome Wexler amongst the production staff. They even shoot some of the same sequences by the same rock where Captain Kirk fought the Gorn.
One curious thing that always impressed me about the movie is how it makes this little community of monsters living in the desert just south of Malibu seem so normal and contented. Sure, Mango is a big shuffling grunting cannibalistic muto, but by golly he has a place here in this household and people who care about him. By contrast, the young couple who inherit the castle come across as shrill, shallow, narcissistic idiots who wish to heartlessly break up the happy nucleus. It appears that what Mr. Adamson was saying is that the monsters are us.
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