John Carradine narrates five horror tales, each with a comically predictable surprise ending. In the first, "The Witches Clock" (sic), The Farrells have purchased an old mansion in Salem ...
See full summary »
In 1974, four astronauts, silver shoe-clad Dorothy, overweight Doc, goofy Charlie, and wooden Steve, crash land on Mars when taking readings, with only four days of supplies. They must try ... See full summary »
Experimenting in hypnotic regression to past lives, Dr. Edmund Redding of the Cowan Institute in Pasadena has discovered that Ann Taylor is a reincarnated Aztec woman. Via her recovered ... See full summary »
John Carradine narrates five horror tales, each with a comically predictable surprise ending. In the first, "The Witches Clock" (sic), The Farrells have purchased an old mansion in Salem Massachusetts, and are warned by the town doctor, Finchley, of the history of witches in the community, and the old clock which they brought up from the attic. Then an old man named Tristram Halbin comes for a visit. The second story, "King of the Vampires" deals with a slight-figured killer, called the King of the Vampires by Scotland Yard, which sends Brenner to investigate. The third, "Monster Raid," is about a man turned zombie when he OD's on his experimental drug, who returns to avenge his death at the hands of his widow and her lover-now husband. "Spark of Life" deals with a doctor Mendell obsessed with the experiments of a thrown-out professor named Erich von Frankenstein, and two of his students who try to restore a cadaver to life. "Count Alucard" (called "Alucard" by Carradine and "Dracula:... Written by
Okay, there's one thing about the 80's that I miss. At 4AM, one used to be able to see Grade Z gems like this on TV. Now it's nothing but those rotten Infomercials. You could say that Ted Turner killed film culture, but I would argue that it was Anthony Robbins. In fact, during that golden hour of the day/night, one could see many films unleashed by the maverick no-budget director David L. Hewitt. THE MIGHTY GORGA, WIZARD OF MARS and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME used to tickle many a bad-film lover (or torture an unsuspecting insomniac) who tuned in.
This film, which I saw under the title RETURN FROM THE PAST, is a gloriously inept, amazingly miserable cash-in on the then-popular trend of horror anthology movies (in which a few short, separate tales of horrific irony are strung together by an onscreen narrator). All the hallmarks of Hewitt's unmistakable authorship are in abundance here.
First, there is the hiring of once-great, "anything for a buck" actors; in this case, John Carradine (naturally) and Lon Chaney Jr, in small roles which nonetheless gave the theater owners a name to put in the marquee. Secondly, Hewitt once again fills the cast with his oddball stock company of dreary, nasal-sounding "actors" (who is this Roger Gentry, anyway?). As well, the director's sterling use of half-finished sets, or plain black backgrounds (when there were none at all!) is such a feat that would even make Ed Wood blush if he worked under such insane conditions. Add to this, the surprisingly ambitious writing (for bargain-basement cinema, anyway) which paradoxes the miserable attempts at mise en scene. For such a bottom-of-the-barrel project as a Dave Hewitt film, one wonders why he bothered with such an adventurous screenplay (like WIZARD OF MARS or JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF TIME, especially), when the insultingly bad production values would work against the ambition of the writing anyway. Thus, therein lies the strange dichotomy of Hewitt's work as a director. With a thrift-store budget, he really tried to make something out of nothing. Who can blame him if he didn't succeed?
Add some haphazard dubbing, some great juvenile cartoon blood dripping on the screen, and you have a truly beguiling piece of work. Anyone who insists on making tired, threadbare projects like this has to get a medal for bravery alone.
16 of 16 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?