Tuesday, June 19, 2012

"Necromancy"(1972)d/Bert I. Gordon

Here's another rarely-seen late oddity from Mr. B.I.G. himself  that turned up a decade later during the video tape era, a lethargic low budget Orson Welles occult effort reworked with added nudity and blood-letting and repackaged as 'The Witching' by the folks at Paragon, the updated trailer with repetitive takes of Orson's portly facepiece hogging the lens while clutching multiple chalices and inimitably burping corny sorcery-based dialogue remains one of my fondest memories of the time, and always pulled some laughs out of me when I saw it, regardless of how miserable I may have been, prior to.For you new boots on the block, Orson Welles ran the gamut in film, having directed and starred in R.K.O.'s Citizen Kane(1941), a movie that many consider the greatest the art form has offered to date(Not I, says I), and then, thirty years later, he's waddling around in a house-sized ceremonial robe with nude Satanites n' Satanettes flanking him(Brinke Stevens is in there, in an early cameo), toiling in a witchy B-movie for the guy responsible for drive-in gold like War of the Colossal Beast(1958), Food of the Gods(1976), and Empire of the Ants(1977).Providing petite brunette eye candy for your humble N in this one, is the waifish Pamela Franklin, an actress unafraid to break 'em out for the dark lord and master in the name of artistic integrity and plot continuity.Ahem.Also on board are Twin Peaks' Sheriff Harry S. Truman, Michael Ontkean, and fiery Lee Purcell, a redhead I'll never forget thanks to her Valley Girl(1983) cougar.Grrrrrrrr, baby, grrrrrrrrr.
This could be a snapshot from my old place back in the mid to late nineties, I tell you.
The Brandons(Pam Franklin, Michael Ontkean) look to put a painful miscarriage, caused by a group of naked Satanists ritually shanking a doll elsewhere, in the rearview mirror and take to the road, where Frank's reckless juggling of an argument and navigating a winding mountain road leaves a carload of innocents in a flaming wreck that Lori manages to snare a weird doll with fingernail clippings in its pocket from.Hmmm, if that's awful peculiar to you, then Frank's hiring in the small town of Lilith as a toymaker for the shadowy kid-denouncing Mr. Cato(Orson Welles) will seem equally right off the bat fishy to you.And with good reason, too, because her husband and the rotund employer are indeed cultmates of the old religion, with designs on harnessing Lori's yet-unknown-but-highly-groovy psychic powers of necromancy to resurrect Cato's son from the grave, after willingly becoming a witch in their sexy coven, of course.Cato mumbles...incessantly...at...great lengths... at a party...mumble...mumble.Frames repeat again and again.Meanwhile, hallucinatory premonitions warn Lori to refrain from ever using her powers or she will perish.You should probably listen to your hallucinations when they tell you you're going to die, Lor'...
If she had a cigarette dangling from her lip, this'd be the "Sexy" card.
It seems that the wide-waisted warlock has spent several years trying to bring his son back to life, and disallowed all Lilith residents from having children until he finally succeeds.Goat heads.Outta sight dancing naked chicks.Gobletsful of Paul Masson.Human sacrifices, he's tried it all, Satan knows he has.Now, Lori alone, holds the key to unlocking the gateway between life and death, the infernal rite only stoppable by Lori's revulsion to the black arts and witcher-huh, she's okay with it?Oh well, I guess that's cool, too.Lori's inducted into the circle of black magicians, she raises Cato's son from the dead, and gets herself buried alive in his place.Oh, those muted screams will soon be replaced by the laughter and merriment of father-son cultist sack races and barbeques and fishing trips.An ending that could only be interpreted as a 'downer' if you're a square that's got no love for Lucifer.
Orson just wants to be happy, and by 'happy' he means roughly the size of a Buick.
Gordon followed this one up with The Mad Bomber(1973), before putting a B-movie spin on H.G. Wells' Food of the Gods three years later, while Big Orson, who really doesn't bag enough screen time here to merit a starring credit if you ask me, would continue acting right up until his death in 1985, lending his unmistakable voice to things like Shogun(1980), Slapstick(of Another Kind)(1982), with Jerry Lewis and Madeline Kahn, and The Transformers:The Movie(1986). Pamela Franklin wasn't nearly finished with genre movies after this effort, appearing in Legend of Hell House(1973), telefilm Satan's School for Girls(1973), and Gordon's own Food of the Gods in '76. Lee Purcell would later turn up in Stir Crazy(1980), Airplane II:The Sequel(1982), and Homework(1982), her only genre credit since being The Unknown/Clawed:The Legend of Sasquatch in 2005.As for tonight's entry, the PG of the Necromancy cut is misleading, when you look at the amount of nudity and blood that the Witching cut brings to the table.As muddled an affair this turned out to be, it's worth a look for the curious and fans of dated cinema witchery.Two Wops.
Well that knackers the Herman's Hermits comeback tour, 'duddnit?

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