Legend Of The Witches (1969/VCI DVD) + I Drink Your Blood (1970) + Legend
Of Boggy Creek (1972) + Mark Of The
Devil (1970) + Make Them Die Slowly
(1981/Cheezy Flicks DVDs)
Picture: C- (C on Witches) Sound: C- (C on Witches) Extras: C-
Out of the collapse of
the studio system and arrival of TV, exploitation films and documentaries
started to blur, especially when it came to nudity, special interest and
supposedly serious examinations of murder and the occult. This movement peaked in the 1970s and since,
many exploitation films have blurred the line and now worse than ever with the
decline of solid journalism. This has
been accompanied by sensationalism and we look at five examples that blur this
line, with a few surprises.
Malcolm Leigh’s Legend Of The Witches (1969) arrived in
black and white the year after Romero’s Night
Of The Living Dead and was out to ‘document’ being in a Satanic cult. From a somewhat more innocent time, this is
an inane work that shows the groups filmed being goofy and though they may be
authentic and taking what they are doing seriously, it is just plain bad. No murders, but lots of nudity, odd
examinations of torture (in context?) and we do not learn as much as you might
think, so this is almost a recruitment piece, down to “King Of The Witches”
Alexander Sanders being a somewhat quiet tour guide. Yawn!
I Drink Your Blood (1970, aka Phobia) has Satanists as well, but this drama is a rape/revenge
down to food poisoned by the blood of a rabid dog, using LSD as a weapon and
people going nuts from said blood. Plus,
there’s other blood to spill, but hardly any ink was spilled on original ideas
in the script. This is also dated, with
amusingly old make-up effects, but is also a bore and though does not try to pass
itself off as real, does everything lese to be so and fails badly.
Legend Of Boggy Creek (1972) has a major indie reputation and is
yet another one of the many films in this cycle that is not a documentary, but
wants you to know it is “based on a true story” to cover up for its
shortcomings and is shot in a documentary way.
Essentially, Bigfoot has been on the loose killing people since the
1960s and is far from finished. That
myth was so popular at the time that even The
Six Million Dollar Man had him, albeit a robot made by aliens! This one kills and hangs in a swamp, but
never runs into Paremalfait/The Boogie Man, the actual legend that comes from
there. Now swamps are known as wetlands
and have environmental credo, but they we still dirty places at the time (think
Swamp Thing, Man-Thing) so Charles B. Pierce tied in anything that would sell
tickets and it was a modest hit.
Mark Of The Devil (1970) is an explicit torture film (nearly
torture porn) that was banned for years (in some places still is) and gave
itself a ‘V’ for violence rating (it would still get an NC-17 today) with some
very graphic ads promising much more. It
wastes the talents of the great Herbert Low and underrated Udo Kier, is out to
shock and continues to have a reputation for being gross. Too bad the script is very weak and the idea
was to be on the documentary/practically snuff film bandwagon. It was a hit and still has a following, but
we cannot see why.
Finally, we have Make Them Die Slowly, a 1981 film at
the end of this cycle that dies as soon as it starts with its tale of a
cannibalistic Colombian tribe. In these
days where the bad news from that country are deadly drug kingpins, this looks
more racist than ever and just as dumb.
Also very graphic and violent, it also got banned in many places, but
the make-up effects have dated, yet are still as gross as intended. This Italian production has lame acting and
was about to be made obsolete by the many Hollywood slice-and-dice films that
eclipsed this movement along with home video and other developments in the
1980s. This is one long goodbye that can
never be brief enough.
All the films are here as 1.33 X 1 presentations (Devil is letterboxed 1.85 X 1) and all
look poor per Cheezy’s usual cheesy quality as expected, but Witches looks best
by default with a decent print of what looks like a 16mm film shoot. It is also soft, but with less problems than
the other releases and has Dolby Digital
2.0 Mono that sounds very dated (as expected with a low budget production as
this) that is still a bit better than the PCM 2.0 16/48 Mono on the Cheezy
DVDs. Extras on all only include
trailers, though some of the Cheezy discs add Intermission shorts.