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Bonus Reviews: Assignment: Terror (1970) and Orgy of the Dead (1965)
Horror Bulletin Bonus Reviews for week 165
For this week’s bonus films, we’ll look at a couple of fun horror movies, “Assignment: Terror,” one of THIRTEEN werewolf films starring Paul Naschy, and what may be one of the worst, cheapest horror films ever films, “Orgy of the Dead,” a really low-effort Ed Wood film from 1965.
Don’t forget, the first week of each month, we publish ALL our reviews, including the bonus content, in our monthly “Horror Bulletin” print magazine (also available as an ebook). If you don’t have time to read the website or email, here’s one more option for you! The March issue is out now!
Assignment: Terror (1970)
AKA “Dracula Vs. Frankenstein”
Directed by Tulio Demicheli, Hugo Fregonese, Antonio Isasi-Isasmendi
Written by Paul Naschy
Stars Michael Rennie, Karin Dor, Craig Hill
Run Time: 1 Hour, 27 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
What’s better than Frankenstein’s monster, the wolfman, and Dracula in the same movie? How about some aliens! Yes, science fiction meets horror in this strange film. Let’s throw in the mummy while we’re at it. It’s complicated, but a pretty fun so-good-it’s-bad watch overall.
The aliens discuss their evil plan. They see two humans, Odo Warnoff and Maleva Kerstein, that died, but the aliens will possess their bodies to fit in. The plan is to conquer the Earth. As all good alien invasion plans go, they start by going to a carnival and watching the skeleton of Dracula. The skeleton still has the stake in his heart. Kerstein seduces the owner of the attraction as someone sneaks in and pulls the stake out of Dracula– and sticks it into the owner. Naturally, the skeleton opens its eyes and regenerates.
Inspector Toberman is on the case. He goes to the library to read “Anthology of the Monsters,” but several pages are torn out. Meanwhile, the aliens are working on their device to create an army of beautiful but mindless women slaves. The pages that aren’t missing contain information about a golem, nosferatu, the werewolf, and the living mummy. The missing pages have something to do with Frankenstein.
The aliens break into a cemetery and open up the tomb of Waldemar Daninsky, the werewolf character from the previous film in the series. They take him back to their base and operate on him to remove the silver bullet. Between the curse of the werewolf and the vampire, the aliens plan to create thousands of the creatures and turn them loose on mankind. He puts Ilona in charge of watching the wolfman.
Waldemar wakes up chained to the wall before he wolfs out. Naturally, the chains don’t hold him. He attacks a woman who drives away. He then kills a prostitute. Toberman tracks Warnoff to a nightclub where girls have been going missing. The next morning, Warnoff tortures Ilona for letting the werewolf get out last night; while forcing Waldemar to watch. Waldemar is then “conditioned” to follow their orders.
Warnoff gets a call from space; they’ve located the tomb of Amon-Ra as well as figured out how to control him. Two of the aliens, along with Waldemar, go to the tomb and get the body. They don’t have to do anything, as the mummy is already awake.
Toberman goes to talk to Judge Sternberg, also from the previous film, and he explains the whole Waldemar/werewolf story. They go to Waldemar’s tomb and find it empty. Yeah, they know it’s him. That night, Dracula hypnotizes Maleva. He’s about to bite her when Dr. Kerian interrupts them.
Warnoff and Waldemar go to see Frankenstein (his monster anyway) and they charge him up with electricity. Frankenstein unlocks Waldemar’s prison cell and kills him, or at least as close as you could get without a silver bullet.
Ilona doesn’t give Waldemar his anti-werewolf injections. She says it’s because she’s a woman. Maleva helps them both escape. Meanwhile, Maleva and Dr. Kernian get it on in bed, while Warnoff watches on the video monitor with disapproval. Suddenly, Frankenstein lumbers in and kills Dr. Kerian at Warnoff’s command. Later, Warnoff puts Maleva into the conditioning machine.
Ilona and Waldemar decide to go see the judge and turn him in as a murderer and werewolf. Ilona says she loves him, so she can kill him with a silver bullet and make it final. With the addition of love, just removing the bullet won’t work.
Toberman finally visits Warnoff’s lab. Warnoff explains everything about planet Ummu. He tells him about the monsters as well. Warnoff tells him the entire plan. Warnoff sends Dracula after Toberman’s girlfriend, Ilsa. He brings in Frankenstein and the mummy to show off. Toberman soon finds himself chained up in the dungeon.
The judge, on the other hand, goes straight to the police, and he convinces them to check on the abandoned monastery.
Waldemar releases Toberman, but it’s almost time for the full moon. Toberman runs all through the catacombs looking for Ilsa, but the other monsters wake up in the meantime.
Toberman and Dracula wrestle, but it’s hard to fight those hypnotic eyes. It’s not too hard, as Toberman quickly stakes him. The mummy stalks Ilsa, but Toberman holds him at bay with a torch until the werewolf arrives.
Warnoff looks surprised as he’s no longer able to control them. He calls in Frankenstein. The werewolf uses a torch to burn the mummy. Frankenstein and the werewolf fight. The werewolf uses electricity to defeat the monster. The werewolf goes after Ilona next, who pulls out the gun with the silver bullet and shoots him. While all this is going on, Toberman and Ilsa run outside to the police. Maleva and Warnoff see Waldemar and Ilona’s bodies and try to escape the fire, but they can’t get out.
The alien commander comes on the screen and states that Warnoff’s death is the price for his failure. Warnoff asks for leniency for Maleva, and she vanishes. The castle falls in on Warnoff, killing him and burying all evidence of the monsters.
All this because a bunch of aliens with the advanced ability to cross the universe came to invade the Earth but didn’t bring any real weapons with them. So their answer is to create a bunch of monsters and have them destroy mankind– that’s a little convoluted even for this kind of film.
The monsters are pretty cheesy, and the acting is pretty poor overall, but Michael Rennie was playing an alien, so it may have been at least somewhat intentional. Paul Naschy as werewolf Waldemar gets more screen time than the other monsters, but it’s not really much; he’s just one of several creatures.
It’s not as good as the first film in the series, but it’s not really terrible. It’s still better than most low budget Spanish films of the era.
Oh, and for the record, Dracula and Frankenstein never met in the film, so they certainly weren’t “versus” each other. At least this time around, they were both actually in the film.
Orgy of the Dead (1965)
Directed by Stephen C. Apostolof
Written by Ed Wood Jr.
Stars Criswell, William Bates, Pat Barrington
Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Actually one of a soft-core genre known as “nudie cuties” that were a thinly veiled excuse to show nudity. There isn’t much of a story, or acting, or special effects. There are the undead: the wolfman and the mummy, but they aren’t frightening at all. If you like topless women dancing - somewhat clumsily - this is for you. Otherwise, skip it.
A couple of men go into a crypt and open the coffin of Criswell, who will narrate the story. He says there will be monsters.
Shirley and Bob, a young couple, drive through the desert looking for a cemetery. He’s a writer and wants to go hang out in the cemetery for ideas for a horror story. They crash their car, and then they wake up,
The Emperor of the NIght, Criswell, shows up and introduces the Princess of The Night, the Black Ghoul. She calls up an Indian dancer who dances topless behind the flames. It’s not much of a dance, but she is topless. Next up, an undead streetwalker dances. Bob and Shirley hear the music coming from the nearby cemetery and go to investigate.
After another dance or two, a werewolf and a mummy appear and grab Bob and Shirley. They are brought before the Emperor of the Night and the Black Ghoul. They are tied to posts to watch the rest of the dances, starting with a girl in a catsuit doing a “cat dance.” Then for a break, they whip a slave girl. “Torture, torture, it pleasures me!” yells Criswell.
There are several more dances, all with topless girls with some character gimmick; a Mexican dance, a zombie dance, etc. They all run together pretty quickly. The werewolf and mummy dance along with a few of the girls, but are mostly there for comic relief, possibly– I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that the humor was intentional. Meanwhile, Bob works on getting his ropes untied.
More “dancing” ensues. Bob gets out of his rope and is waiting for his opportunity. There’s one more dance; a zombie girl this time. The Black Ghoul really wants Shirley for pleasure. But wait— one more dancer, a “fluff dance” this time.
The werewolf knocks out Bob just as the sun rises. All the creatures turn to bone, even the Emperor. Somehow, doctors show up to treat Shirley and Bob. \
Criswell put on a sort of prediction/fortune teller act and appeared in several of Ed Wood’s films. He was pretty awful here, completely out of place. He’s a terrible actor, but nowhere near as bad as Bob and Shirley, who talk about being terrified and not panicking, but look positively bored through most of this (as were we).
During production, this was nicknamed “Nudie Ghoulies,” and was, in fact, part of an entire genre of soft-core porn known as “Nudie Cuties.” Whatever pretense this had of being a horror film, it was nothing more than an excuse to watch girls dance topless. And those dances were mostly improvised on the spot, so no one was watching for the art of the dance. The director had to hire many of the dancers from local topless clubs, as no known actresses wanted anything to do with this.
This was truly awful. The acting was bad, the dancing was bad, the story was bad, the sets were cheap, the music was bland, and overall, there’s only one reason to watch something like this (light porn!), and since the invention of the internet, that stuff is far easier to find and has better production values than this garbage.
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