It’s true; producers of vampire movies have it tougher than producers of time travel movies when it comes to doing something different. Vampires, the more marketable of the two and the one that’s easier to produce (hand an actor a pair of fangs and you’re half-done already) have been overmined for their content due to that very simplicity. So, when, back in the 70s, producers were looking for another trend to hang a vampire film on, I guess the nascent hippy movement seemed like a pretty good fit.
I sought out this movie from an outlet that I’ll keep secret for now (they have a lot more for me to look at, and I don’t want this outlet going away until I’ve gotten everything I want out of them) due to some hazy memories of seeing it on Nightmare Theater one early Sunday morning. Picture quality was good, but the movie was obviously shot widescreen…(and in regard to that – on TV it was Pan & Scan – poorly – but when I put it into my computer to get the screen grabs for this review, it was letterbox format. Go figure.)
(I’m going to use the IMDB’s info for the film, to try and keep things consistent.)
It’s a sunny summer in Topanga Canyon. Young lovers Pico (Bill Ewing) and Rona (Brenda Dickson, who really should have gotten more work…)
I want this look to come back for all hot women…
are trying to make sense of life.
Pico is a typical youth in the early 70s – looking for the Meaning of Life and kicking the ass of a biker (William Jordan) who tries to pick a fight with his friend and “Jewlery” dealer Pops…
(a luminous John Fiedler, who probably had the most screen credit of anyone in the film – you might remember him as the voice of Piglet in Disney’s Winnie the Pooh, or as Jack the Ripper in that episode of Star Trek, “Wolf in the Fold”).
One night, when Pico is musing about the pointlessness of life to his commune friends, a stranger appears – Khorda (Robert Quarry) accompanied by his mute familiar Barbado (La Sesne Hilton).
Khorda, Manson-like, seems to have all the answers, and begins to change the commune into his vampire cult. Only Pico and Rona resist his charisma, and it finally comes down to Pico against Khorda.
The movie makes the best of the limited budget I assume it had (the commune house that Khorda takes over looked awfully familiar to me – then I realized that it was the same house that was used in The Sword and the Sorcerer*.)
For me, it played pretty effectively as a movie – given that the movie was advertised as a vampire movie from the beginning may have played against it. If it had the benefit of being advertised as a straight “hippie” movie and the vampire angle had been concealed until people had seen it, it might have been a minor classic. Associate Producer Robert Quarry must have had a hand in making the movie feel a lot more serious than most B pictures. I also liked that Monk, an easy antagonist for Pico, wasn’t made to be a stereotype. After he gets his ass kicked, he hangs around the commune, trying to understand the New Agers until he meets his doom. Recommended, if you can find a copy.
*Another great B Movie – I’ll have to review that in the future…