It’s difficult to sit through both of the films included on this volume of Maria’s ‘B’ Movie Mayhem though each for vastly different reasons. The first film is slow, boring, sad and ham-fisted. When the credits rolled on SCREAM I though, “Damn Maria’s bumpers and music video are the best thing about this DVD.” That is more a comment on the film than on our lovely hostess. The second feature is one of the most misogynistic, mean spirited flicks I’ve seen in awhile. That says a lot because I generally see a lot of films that most would categorize in that way. BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD, also known as TERROR CIRCUS, is the only movie in Andrew Prine’s filmography that he regrets making. Let’s review some of his endeavors shall we? AMITYVILLE II: THE POSSESSION, SIMON KING OF THE WITCHES, and CENTERFOLD GIRLS…is BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD more mean spirited than the latter two…yes indeed.
SCREAM? More like Snooze. A group of tourists set up camp in a ghost town during a white water rafting trip in the desert. There are business partners, a husband and wife, a couple with their elderly father, and the two guides. As night falls someone begins killing off the tourists one by one. The next day the survivors find their rafts gone and have to endure another night of
terminal boredom…erm I mean terror. Eventually Woody Strode shows up as an old sailor to muddy the waters as to what is going on for the tourists and viewers alike. He returns the body of one of their friends and after spouting something off about his old captain, he rides off into the fog. More people get killed and eventually Woody shows up with a posse of elderly people and shoots the killer who the viewers never see. Huh?
What the hell is going on in this mess? The close shows an 19th century ship’s captain in a portrait. Was it his ghost that was killing everyone? Did the ghost of his loyal sailor, Strode, kill the vengeful murdering ghost of the captain? What the shit is this movie about anyway? The tourists have no connection at all save a couple different families and business partners. The main connection is they are merely part of this rafting group. The only thing this flick has going for it is the title sequence when the Oliver Hardy butcher, baker, and candlestick maker figurines are killed off on a mantle…trust me, it happens.
Lord have mercy, there is no wonder that Byron Quisenberry only directed one feature film. This thing was so bad it should have killed the careers of everyone involved. Luckily enough that’s what mostly happened with a couple exceptions, Woody Strode, John Wayne Jr., and Hank Worden…but that’s good enough I guess. There is no blood, no fear, no boobs, no nothing going on in this exercise in pain and endurance.
Simone, Sherri, and Corrine are showgirls on their way to a gig in Las Vegas when their car breaks down on a barren desert shortcut. Lucky for them, friendly and personable Andre (Andrew Prine) shows up and offers to help them. The five seconds he is friendly is it for Prine’s character acting sane. From that point on he is bat shit crazy and is really a treat to see. That is about all the treat we get though because the flick delves into the depths of grime and misogyny.
Andre keeps the women chained up in his barn and refers to them as his animals and is constantly trying to train them for their performances. Performances include walking around a tower raising and lowering their arms and trying to outrun a mountain lion while covered in calf’s blood. He feeds them slop in a pan and the grueling nature of his torture has left two of them mad, one raving the other mute. When ever they cross him or mess up the performance he whips them savagely with a bull whip. This is all the more disturbing with current events involving captives in Cleveland. A madness akin to this can exist. The root of Andre’s madness lies at his abandonment by his mother. She leaves because he is crazy. His dad isn’t so lucky. He is kept locked in a shed because he has been horribly mutated by the radiation left over from atom bomb tests near the farm…yeah. So the flick also has some killer gork action going on too. Our unhinged ringmaster soon thinks one of the captives is his mother and more creepy shit ensues.
The films ending is even more nihilistic than I thought possible. With the girls agent rushing to free them…ie. one exploiter trying to save them from another…he arrives on the scene after the gorked out father has escaped and killed almost all of the chained up women in brutal fashion. The only survivors are the two nutters and the mutant goes running off into the desert. Oh…spoiler alert. Technically, the film is shot quite well with only a few gaffes. In one scene there is a severed head in a cage blinks as the trapped heroine Simone reaches for the keys on the shelf nearby. Story wise it is well put together. There is a genuinely tense and horrifying moment when Simone tries to free the girls but her keys only work on some of the girls’ shackles allowing a few to escape while the rest are left behind. It is the overall tone of brutality, madness, misogyny and nihilism that makes this a rough flick. I guess in that way it is one of the successful films of its kind. It’s also probably why Prine regrets it…
The DVD lists as “Sold Out” on the Code Red webshop but if you contact Bill, he may have a copy for you. The sound and picture quality are pretty good, both well up to DVD standard. The special features include a music video by hostess Maria Kanellis, a commentary track for BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD and a featurette as well. There is a trailer for SCREAM and the other Code Red trailers include-CURIOUS CASE OF THE CAMPUS CORPSE (THE HAZING), THE HEARSE, THE BABYSITTER, LOVE ME DEADLY, THE BLACK GESTAPO, and CUT-THROATS NINE. In order to access the SCREAM trailer and the featurette and commentary for BARN OF THE NAKED DEAD you must select “Watch the movies only” and the menu options will appear after the film is selected.