Saint Maud, Wolfen, Tourist Trap, and Face of the Screaming Werewolf
Horror Bulletin Weekly 151
This week, we’ll be watching our usual line-up of four full-length films and a short film. We’ll be discussing the little-known “Face of the Screaming Werewolf” from 1964, the very weird “Tourist Trap” from 1979, “Wolfen” from 1981, and the new release “Saint Maud” from 2019.
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Face of the Screaming Werewolf (1964)
• Directed by Gilberto Martínez Solares, Rafael Portillo, Jerry Warren
• Written by Juan Garcia, Gilberto Martinez Solares, Alfredo Salazar
• Stars Lon Chaney Jr, Verya Beirute, George Mitchell Andre
• Run Time: 1 Hour
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
A spliced-up mess made from two Spanish-language films involving a mummy and a werewolf and two groups of mad scientists. It’s tremendously awful and hard to follow.
Three scientists, Redding, and his men, experiment on Ann Taylor. As they hypnotize her, a boy sneaks into the room to watch. The dramatic music ramps up to be excessively dramatic as we watch the spinning disc get closer and closer. Finally, she goes to sleep. She talks about seeing “The ancient land” and a city of stone. She’s experiencing a past life under hypnosis.
There’s a chieftain who tells the woman of the past not to go into the pyramid. She goes in anyway, unable to resist. She wakes up.
The newsman tells us that Dr. Redding has gone to the Yucatan to explore the pyramid.
Redding, Ann Taylor, and the staff arrive at the pyramid. She recognizes the place from her visions. We get a flashback to the old-time natives performing some kind of ritual in there. A woman sings while others beat the drums. The Aztec priest then sacrifices the woman.
Back in the present, the gang walks into the pyramid. They find two mummies, one of whom roars at them. One was an old-time aztec, and the other was a more modern man.
We cut back to Redding’s return to civilization, where he presents his find. The lights go out, a gun fires, Redding is killed, and the mummy is gone!
The other scientists, led by Professor Canning, have stolen the mummy’s body and put it in an experimental reanimation chamber. The machines cache science-fiction sounds, but there’s just not enough voltage.
A criminal gets a phone call; Dr. Janning wants him to steal the other mummy. Lightning strikes, and the mummy, who is now sleeping in a wax museum behind a secret door, wakes up. The man looks out the window and sees the full moon. He looks terrified and then turns into a werewolf. The werewolf hides in the lab as the scientists return. He kills one of them, but then grabs his throat and passes out.
The criminal from earlier goes to steal the mummy, but it’s up and walking around now too. It goes inside the house and wanders around, looking at people sleeping. It picks up Ann and carries her outside.
A man in a car runs them over, killing them both. OK then, back to the werewolf, who wakes up in the lab again and finally kills that other scientist. Janning locks him in a cage.
The police interview Dr. Munson about Janning and his people. The werewolf turns human in the day, but back into a wolfman that night. He’s strong enough now to break open his cell and escape. He runs through the park terrorizing people. He grabs a woman and climbs a building, King-Kong-style. A scientist climbs up after them, and the werewolf pushes him off the roof. The werewolf takes the stairs back down and finds another woman to stalk.
The werewolf brings his next woman back to the lab and chases Janning around some more before killing him. Eventually, the werewolf grabs his throat and keels over again. The assistant burns the body just as the police come in, who don’t see anything out of the ordinary.
This is really something! It’s a lesson in how not to make a horror movie.
For a 60-minute film supposedly about a werewolf, they spend an awfully long time on native dancing and rituals. This makes sense, as much of the film is reused footage from two other films, La Momia Azteca (1957) and La Casa Del Terror (1960). It’s an editing nightmare, with chopped-up footage all over the place and a story that barely makes any sense. If you look closely, other than a couple of scenes, you don’t see anyone’s mouth moving— it’s all overdubbed footage from the other films.
Oh— the sound effects for Jannings’s lab sequences are all taken from Forbidden Planet (1956).
On the bright side, the werewolf’s transformation is well done. Still. None of the characters matter, as you only see them for a minute or two of screen time before we move onto something else. The mummy scenes were OK, but then he just became roadkill, though we never actually see that.
Not only that, but it’s all very misleading— at no point did the werewolf ever scream.
Tourist Trap (1979)
• Directed by David Schmoeller
• Written by David Schmoeller, J. Larry Carroll
• Stars Jocelyn Jones, Jon Van Ness, Robin Sherwood
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
A roadside tourist attraction full of plaster dummies turns out to be more than a group of young people bargain for. It’s fairly tame, but atmospheric, with a good performance by Chuck Connors, and excellent use of some very creepy dummies and statues. There’s not much truly original here, but it’s all well done and entertaining. It still holds up.
A guy rolls his flat tire down the road. He walks to “Oscar’s”, a dusty old diner that looks out of business. The door is open, so he goes inside. He hears a woman moaning, but when he checks it out, it’s a laughing mannequin. Several other dummies and dolls jump out and scare him. Jars and bottles fly off the shelf and crash all around him. He’s finally impaled by a flying metal pipe.
Four young people drive past several signs for The Oasis, a tourist attraction, they see the tire that Woody had been pushing and wonder what happened to him. Their car breaks down for no apparent reason.
As Jerry works on the car, the three girls find a waterfall and decide to go for a swim. Someone is in the trees watching them. A creepy old cowboy with a gun walks by. They ask him about Woody, but the man, Mr. Slausen, says he hasn’t seen them. He warns them about water moccasins wiggling around their feet.
Slausen offers to help them out; just hop in the back of his truck and they’ll go back for some tools. He takes them to “Slausen’s Lost Oasis,” a former tourist resort. He’s a bit of a hoarder now. He explains that his brother made all the dummies in the place. He was really good with mechanical things. He and Jerry go back to fix the truck.
Eileen goes exploring and finds some strange talking dummies. Someone calls her name, and she thinks it’s the missing Woody. Doors slam, windows lock, chairs move, and the dummies start moving around. She’s then choked by her own scarf.
Meanwhile, Molly and Becky check out the mannequins and dummies. Their skin feels almost real, and it creeps out Molly. Slausen comes back and says Jerry took his truck to town for parts. He then tells a sad story about his wife dying of cancer. He notices that Eileen is gone and goes out looking for her.
He calls out to Davey. He finds Eileen, dead with a face mask like one of his dummies. Molly finds a photo album with Slausen’s wife, who looks just like that super-realistic dummy. Molly and Becky go out looking for Eileen as well. Becky sees the house that Eileen went into, and she goes in through an upstairs window. She gets trapped in a room with the crazy doll-man. She knocks him down, but then the mannequins themselves attack her.
The doll-man carries Becky downstairs and locks her in a room with another girl and Jerry, who didn’t really go for parts. Jerry explains that it’s Slausen’s crazy brother, Davey. Davey comes back downstairs and makes them all drink. The other girl, Tina, is strapped down to a table, and Davey puts plaster all over until she smothers.
Jerry breaks loose and attacks Davey, which goes badly for Jerry. Meanwhile, Molly is upstairs, oblivious to all that’s going on. Davey talks about using his telekinetic powers, which sometimes scares even him. Molly goes wandering in the woods and runs into Davey. She runs through and gets away, and Slausen comes up in his truck and picks her up. She’s saved!
Slausen recognizes Molly’s description and tells her that it was his brother. He goes inside, and the doll-man comes out. She shoots him, but he gets right back up - laughing that she shot him with blanks. She breaks his mask and sees that it’s really Slausen inside, but by now, she’s the only one surprised by this. He finally catches Molly.
Then, Jerry and Becky get loose, and the cat-and-mouse starts over again. Slausen picks up Becky, who doesn’t know the truth. The dummies come alive and the mechanical cowboys shoot at each other — and then at Becky. Finally, an Indian dummy throws a tomahawk into Becky’s head.
Slausen tells Molly that his real brother is actually dead. He admits that he killed the brother and his own wife, who were having an affair. Jerry breaks in to rescue Molly, but Slausen turns Jerry into a mannequin. As Slausen/Davey dances with his dummy-wife who appears to turn back into a real woman, other dummies close in, and Molly gets him with an ax while he’s distracted. The movie closes with her driving madly away with her now-changed-to-mannequin friends in the car with her.
The “plaster” used here in the murder scene looks a lot more like bread dough.
The reveal of Slausen/Davey isn’t that big of a surprise, since his voice barely changes and one or the other is always offscreen when the other is there.
It’s longer than it needs to be, and some of the running around out in the woods could have been cut. Still, Chuck Connors is good and creepy here, the rest of the cast is solid, and all the dummies are really cool too.
Short Film: Joke’s On You (2021)
• Directed by Aaron Fradkin
• Written by Aaron Fradkin, Victoria Fratz
• Stars Zacary Moore, Eric Lampaert
• Run Time: 10:09
• Watch it:
A man wakes up, groggy and grungy. As he makes coffee, someone knocks on his door, but there’s no one there when he goes to answer it.
Finally, he opens it to see a man selling practical jokes and novelties. He shuts the door in the man’s face, so the salesman makes a mark on his door.
The man goes back inside, and then there’s another knock on the door. Who do you suppose it is?
It’s great. The visuals are good, the pacing is excellent, and the music is just perfect at setting a weird mood.
• Directed by Michael Wadleigh
• Written by Whitley Streiber, Davis Eyre, Michael Wadleigh
• Stars Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 55 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgement Zone
Wolf attacks in downtown New York City? Could it be a werewolf? Maybe, or maybe it’s something even more sinister. This one tracks a detective as he finds out what’s really going on. It’s a little long, but it’s really well acted, suspenseful, and holds up really well.
We start out looking at various blighted New York City neighborhoods. We watch one old building being imploded. We soon see a point-of-view shot from something that seems to see in infrared or something.
As credits roll, we watch the ultra-rich Mr Van Der Veer in his limo. He’s got some outrageously over-equipped security people. Eddie runs along the bridge support and throws a bottle at Van Der Veer’s car. They park the car and get out to play with wind chimes. We see that weird point-of-view again, stalking the rich couple in the park; first, it attacks their driver/bodyguard, then his bosses.
We switch scenes to watch Dewey Wilson as he heads to work the next morning. He’s a detective, and his boss calls to tell him to check out the crime scene. The mayor is on the scene, could it be terrorism or an execution? Whittington, with the Coroner’s Office, shows Dewey what happened. At the morgue, Dewey watches a few autopsies while he eats cookies. There’s not a trace of metal in the wounds; no bullets, no knife, no heavy objects. Why could have torn the victims up like this?
Mr. Ross, the head of Van Der Veer’s security group, is also working on the case. Van Der Veer’s niece is his main suspect, since she opposed Van Der Veer’s political interests. They interview a terrorist in a room, and they use infrared to detect her lies. Dewey’s new partner, Rebecca, interviews the niece, whom the lie detectors confirm knows nothing. Dewey doesn’t believe this has anything to do with politics.
We change over to seeing a drug addict buy some pills and then go wander through the demolished tenements to get high. One of those things sees him, but the man is too high to know what’s going on.
The demolition company is working and finds several bodies. Whittington calls Dewey. The hairs on the bodies match the hairs found on Mrs. Van Der Veer. Dewey and Rebecca check out the site and are impressed with just how many abandoned buildings there are in the area. Of course, they’re being watched by something with super-hearing. Rebecca is almost attacked, but Dewey pulls her out of there fast. All Dewey saw was the red, glowing eyes.
The guy at the zoo identifies the hairs as belonging to a wolf or some related species. He explains that wolves and Indians (Native Americans) are intertwined because they had parallel evolutions.
The only Indian Dewey knows is Eddie, so they go to see him. Dewey has to climb way up to talk to Eddie at work. Eddie says he can shapeshift, and Dewey’s not sure he’s joking. Turns out, Eddie also works for the security company, and he often sits up on those bridges at night.
That night, Whittington says all the various body parts and organs they found were diseased. The autopsies show that the victim’s wounds are teeth; teeth that ate good body parts but left the diseased bits uneaten. Ferguson, the zookeeper, talks about shapeshifting being just a matter of having your mind in the right place.
Dewey follows Eddie one night. One of the older Native Americans puts a medallion around Eddie’s neck and gives him a pill. He then goes to the beach and takes all his clothes off. He climbs around on all fours, howls at the moon, and laps up water like a dog. He spots Dewey and growls at him, but he’s really just a human, pretending. “It’s all in the head,” he explains.
The real creature breaks into the zoo and follows Ferguson. He calls in a false fire alarm so that the sirens would get the animals howling. “I knew you were here,” he says, right before one of them gets him.
Dewey goes over to Rebecca’s house, and the creature outside listens to them having sex. Whittington comes in the next day and says they’ve been finding those wolflike hairs on diseased organs all over the country. There sure are a lot of missing persons in the world… Oh, and Ferguson didn’t come home last night.
Dewey and Whittington bring their guns and go into the slums that night looking for wolves. Dewey goes all over the place looking, while Whittington watches through his scope. All the while Dewey is hunting, the wolves close in on Whittington. They drag him away for food before Dewey gets there.
Dewey goes to see Eddie, who explains that it’s not wolves doing this, it’s Wolfen. They’re older than anything; their history goes way back to the earliest times. When the cities took over the land, the Wolfen moved into the abandoned buildings of the cities, preying on homeless and abandoned people. They’re a force of nature; their work is older than ours. They kill the sick and abandoned; the ones who won’t be missed.
Dewey puts it all together. The Wolfen were protecting their territory from Van Der Meer, who was planning on tearing down the tenements and making a huge new building development there. They would have lost their hunting ground, so they killed him. It wasn’t random.
As Dewey, Rebecca, and the police chief walk out of their car, they’re surrounded by Wolfen. The Chief makes a run for it, but they tear him apart. They run back into Van Der Meer’s penthouse to escape the Wolfen. The Wolfen break into the place anyway. The two detectives put down their guns and demonstrate to the Wolfen that they understand their motives and won’t try to stop them. The Wolfen then vanish into thin air.
Dewey blames it all on the terrorists and goes home.
Supposedly, the original cut of the film was four and half hours long, so they fired the director and re-edited everything to get this. It’s a little long; I think they could have done without all the scenes in the security headquarters; this added nothing to the story.
The monster’s point-of-view shots are both the most dated and one of the best things about the film. It gives the monster a presence in the story, but this way we don’t get to see what it really is until the end.
Albert Finney really shows fear in a couple of scenes. As a washed-up detective with lots of issues, he’s a really interesting character. This was Gregory Hines’ second film role, and he knocks it out of the park as a funny but intelligent sidekick. Edward James Olmos is just… weird.
The sets and scenery in this film is what really sets the mood. Apparently, there were more abandoned, derelictbuildings in New York City than my entire town has buildings. The Wolfen aren’t CGI or men in costumes, they’re simply really large, real wolves filmed to make them look larger than life. The Wolfen aren’t werewolves in the strictest sense, they’re some kind of ancient godlike beings that take the form of wolves.
Saint Maud (2019)
• Directed by Rose Glass
• Written by Rose Glass
• Stars Morfydd Clark, Caoilfhionn Dunne, Jennifer Ehle
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Watch as a nurse goes insane with her religious convictions. Is she dangerous, or is she going to actually help?
It’s a slow build-up, not your typical horror film, but the ending is definitely worthy of discussion. We did like it.
We start out in what appears to be a hospital. A patient is dead, all cut up. We see Maud in the restroom, her hands covered in blood and very upset. Credits roll.
Maud has her dinner, tomato soup. She’s packing for a trip, heading to her newest posting. She has a pain in her stomach; she prays that God has a bigger purpose for her than what she’s seen so far. She’s a live-in nurse and caregiver for Amanda, a woman with a spinal cord ailment. Amanda was a former dancer and creative type, which Maud doesn’t approve of.
Amanda used to be a celebrity, and she talks to Maud a lot about her life. Maud recently found God and converted. She says she hears his voice; she can feel him inside her sometimes. She knows when he’s pleased, and she likes the feeling. That evening, Maud falls over when the feeling hits her again. She has unexpected pains and nosebleeds.
Amanda humors Maud by following along in prayers a few times. Amanda brings in Carol, a prostitute, to entertain herself, of which Maud also disapproves. Maud recommends to Carol that it isn’t healthy and that she shouldn’t come back.
Joy, a woman on the street stops Maud and calls her “Katie.” Joy seems surprised that Maud is still nursing. There seems to have been an “incident” at her previous posting. Joy gives “Katie” her number. Amanda gets a phone call, and afterward, she treats Maud coldly.
Amanda throws a birthday dinner party for herself, and Carol is one of the guests. Amanda knows Maud talked to Carol and puts her in her place. The partygoers laugh at Maud, and she takes it personally. Maud smacks Amanda in front of everyone.
The agency calls in Maud for a review. They’re just happy Amanda isn’t pressing charges, but Maud is fired. Maud picks at a wound on her hand and complains to God.
She drinks a lot and then calls Joy. Maud gets dressed up and goes to a bar. She does something wildly unchristian to a guy behind the bar and another in his apartment that night. In the middle of sex, she has a flashback to a bloody accident in her past.
Maud prays for another chance at redeeming herself. She then pukes up the alcohol and has a seizure. She then levitates up off the floor of her apartment and just floats there.
The next morning, she cleans up all the mess and feels renewed at the sign that God was with her. She burns all her sexy clothes in the sink and works harder on her self-flagellation.
Maud starts researching Amanda in-depth. She starts to obsess over “saving” Amanda. She finds the new caregiver and introduces herself to the woman. That night, God talks to her personally, telling her to pass this one more test. She knows what she must do.
Joy comes over the next morning, and she tries to make up with Maud, but Maud is strangely quiet. She says what happened “before” wasn’t Maud’s fault. Maud fogs out and doesn’t hear any of Joy’s apologies.
Maud focuses on the water bottle and the acetone she has on the kitchen table. She loiters outside Amanda’s house for a while and then lets herself in.
She goes into Amanda’s bedroom, and she’s gotten much worse. Amanda apologizes for being mean to Maud. Amanda tells Maud that God isn’t real; “Nothing you do matters.” Then all Hell breaks loose.
It’s another of those “watch a character slowly descend into madness” kind of films, this time with a religious-fanatic lean to it. The first half of the film is a slow build up to get comfortable with all the characters, but about the time Maud gets fired, it starts going off the rails a little bit. Then it gets positively disturbing toward the end.
It’s much more “low stakes” than most horror films. Will crazy Maud kill Amanda or won’t she? Still, the acting and cinematography work well to portray impending madness, which we do eventually get. The special effects are minimal, and what we get is very well done.
Definitely not your typical horror movie, but it was really good.
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Get ready for next week, where we’ll be watching some more classics. We’ll watch four more horror films, this time, we’ll look at some of the most highly acclaimed horror films ever, including 1975’s “Jaws,” “Psycho” from 1960, “The Silence of the Lambs” from 1991, and “Get Out” from 2017.
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