Monday, February 10, 2014

R.I.P.: Alexandra Bastedo, Part II


9 March 1946 — 12 January 2014

The mostly forgotten (outside of the Commonwealth) 60s sex symbol Alexandra Bastedo, a "devoted animal rights activist" and vegetarian, died the other day of cancer. Retrorambling says "Bastedo was born in Hove, Sussex, England. According to her official website, her mother was of French, German and Italian descent. Her Canadian-born father was of Spanish, Dutch, Scottish and native Indian extraction. She attended Brighton and Hove High School and Brighton School of Drama. Although most familiar to viewers of 1960s TV, she was also famous for her multilingual skills, speaking Italian, Spanish, French and German. This skill brought her to the door of 10 Downing Street to assist with translations and landed her the role of co-presenter of Miss World competitions with Peter Marshall in the 1980s." We here at A Wasted Life rather liked her exotic eyes, strong jaw and her prime 60s figure and parts of her filmogaphy, which we take a look at below...

Go here for Part I


 
I Can't... I Can't
(1969, dir. Piers Haggard)

 
Aka Wedding Night. Alexandra Bastedo's first cinematic project following the demise of The Champions was as Gloria in this forgotten, serious, if not now sorely dated drama directed by the author H. Rider Haggard's grandson, Piers Haggard, whose best-known films are probably Venom (1981 / trailer), The Blood on Satan's Claws (1971 / trailer) and The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980 / trailer). Contrary to what the poster and name would seem to indicate, we are not dealing with sexploitation here... or?
Over at the NY Times, Dan Pavlides explains the plot: "The moral dilemma of a young Catholic woman [named Mady (Tessa Wyatt of The Beast in the Cellar [1970 / trailer])] is intensified when her religion forbids the use of birth control. When her own mother dies during childbirth on her wedding day, the woman becomes fraught with a fury of anger, guilt and sexual dysfunction. The woman is forced to care for the seven children her mother left behind as the groom [named Joe O'Reilly (Dennis Waterman of Fright [1971 / trailer] and Scars of Dracula [1970 / trailer])] must leave on business, and the tirades of a narrow-minded priest (Martin Dempsey) further complicate the relationship between the newlyweds. This film is meant to pose serious questions of universal concern to those who follow the path of religious dogma insisted upon by the church."
The Irish Film Institute, which occasionally pulls its copy out of the vaults for a rare screening, has pointed out that when released, the Most Rev Dr. Lucey tried to have it withdrawn from the Cork Film Festival because "with its nude and semi-nude scenes it must lead to immodest thoughts". For a 2011 screening at the Institute, we are told by CineIreland, "The writer of the film, Lee Dunne was in attendance and gave a brief interview before the screening [...] in which he revealed that he still had not seen the film [...]." Supposedly, following the screening of the movie, which "is full of some classic Irish stereotypes", Dunne "stood up [...] and thanked everyone for not leaving." CineIreland is also of the opinion that "the scenes at the disco in 'swinging' London looking particularly dated"; the band playing was the Garden Odyssey Enterprise, a long-forgotten group that once (in 1969) had a mild success with the forgotten song Sad & Lonely.
Garden Odyssey Enterprise —  
Sad & Lonely:



My Lover My Son
(1970, dir John Newland)

 
Released in Germany as Inzest. One of those scandal films of yesteryear which, more than anything, are scandalous today only for being so boring. Supposedly it took the filmmakers two sources, Wilbur Stark's short story Second Level and Edward Grierson's novel Reputation for a Song, to come up with their story which, as TCM tersely puts it, is basically, about "a deranged woman [who] thinks her son is her dead lover." Romy Schneider (born September 1938) plays the mum, Francesca Anderson, while Dennis Waterman (born February 1948) plays the son, James Anderson — and indeed, the fact that the son is only about ten years younger than the mum is obvious in this soap opera of a drama.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is of the opinion that the main object of the director of My Lover, My Son "seems to be gaudiness, [as] the screenplay all but drowns its principals in cheap melodramatic thrills, and neither the mother's ultimate comeuppance nor the son's more natural romance with a local girl (Patricia Brake) can save the movie from deserved oblivion." The reviewer at the NY Times was also not really impressed by the narrative, calling the movie a "simple tale of a lad who loves his mother and murders his father". He goes on to say "My Lover, My Son adds a little pomp and lots of circumstance — to the extent that the boy only thinks he kills his father, and it isn't his father anyway, and he doesn't really love his mother, he really loves a nice girl he picks up in a London discothèque, who works for the B.B.C. and lives alone in a vine-covered houseboat on the Thames. On the whole, I prefer the pomp: the houseboat, the discothèque, handsome offices, romantic restaurants, a really terrific Tudor mansion with a baroque swimming pool, the London zoo, and the whole world looking like 6 o'clock of a spring morning over dewy lawns — mostly because the images are so dark and fuzzy. Although it is difficult to see My Lover, My Son and not wish you were somewhere else doing something different, the film has at least the grace to suggest what and where." Alexandra Bastedo shows up as "Cicely Clarkson"...
 From the Movie: 
Norrie Paramor & Mike Vickers — What's On Your Mind:



This, That & the Other
(1970, dir. Derek Ford)

Aka A Promise of Bed — produced by Stanley A. Long, we already took a look at this movie in the R.I.P. Career Review we did on him when he died two years ago. Alexandra Bastedo, as "Angie", is one of the many attractive babes to flit across the screen in this sexploitation comedy written and directed by Derek Ford who ended his life in literal penury; somewhere along the line of his downward spiral, along Alan Selwyn, he co-wrote — as "Selwyn Ford" —the immensely entertaining sleazy scandal book The Casting Couch.
Anyone for a swim?
This mod comedy is "Derek Ford's third and final film for Stanley Long [...]. TV Guide calls the film "An all-around sophomoric picture." Over at imdb, Gavcrimson (gavcrimson@tesco.net) explains that the film is a "Three-part 'trilogy of comedy'. In 'This,' Susan Stress (Vanda Hudson of Circus of Horrors [1960 / trailer], in her last film), a fading sex symbol attempts to win the lead in a movie by seducing the son of a film producer only to make a fool of herself in a case of mistaken identity. In 'That,' George (Victor Spinetti of Help! [1965 / trailer]) is a depressed middle-aged loner whose suicide attempt is interrupted by the arrival of a child-like hippy girl who proceeds to turn his life on its head.
Let's party!
While in 'The Other,' Harold (John Bird), an avid sex film fan and taxi driver, crashes his cab after being distracted by the leggy charms of his latest passenger. Suffering a thump on the head, Harold has bizarre hallucinations and ends up being chased around a forest by shapely girls." A given character of one interludes acts as the linking crossover to the next.
Susan Stress takes a bath:




Tibetana
(1970, dir. John Peyser)

 
In Alexandra Bastedo's next equally obscure project, she shared space on the posters with the movie's real star, Bonanza's eternally missing son Pernell Roberts. Aka as The Kashmiri Run, four years later director John Peyser went on to make his masterpiece, the far more memorable exploitation movie, The Centerfold Girls (1974 / trailer); scriptwriter Jameson Brewer went on to help pen the far more memorable black comedy Arnold (1973 / trailer); and co-star Julián Mateos went on to do the more entertaining slice of true Eurocrap horror, Demon Witch Child (1975 / full movie).
 
The 1995 copy of Video Movie Guide rates The Kashmiri Run as a turkey, saying that the plot involves an "American adventurer in the Far East [who] is commissioned to take two scientists to India and bring back a load of yak skins." Everywhere on the web, everyone else simply reprints Jason Ankeny's one-line plot description: "An American adventurer leads another man and a girl on an escape route out of Chinese communist-occupied Tibet." Only TV Cowboys says something else: "Pernell wears a slouch hat, he gets to sleep with 2 women (any man's fantasy) and ends up with the girl. All this while running around in Tibet with a Chinese general chasing after him." We would assume that Alexandra Bastedo is the gal he ends up with...
Poseidon's Underworld was nice enough to supply the above photo of the bathing Pernell, saying "Actor Pernell Roberts only made a small handful of feature film appearances in his career. I can't figure out where this publicity shot of him bathing comes from! [...] The best bet is 1970's The Kashmiri Run, a little-known Spanish-made film about an ex-mountain climber trying to help a scientist get out of Tibet before the Chinese invade the country."
The first 17.5 minutes of Tibetana:



La novia ensangrentada
(1972, dir. Vicente Aranda)

 Trailer:
Aka The Blood Spattered Bride* — that Eurotrash classic we all know and love. This is also the movie that made us notice her: who can ever see the beach scene of her discovery and fail to remember her? (The GIF of the scene seen below, as well as that further down, comes from the blogspot Cult Movies.) Director Aranda went on to do the screenplay to León Klimovsky's People Who Own the Dark (1976 / trailer).
Like so many a classic and non-classic lezzie (and some not so lezzie) vampire film — most notably: Carl Creyer's poetically stunning Vampyr (1932 / full masterpiece); Roger Vadim's Blood and Roses (1960 / trailer); the Christopher Lee movie Crypt of the Vampire (1964 / French trailer) and Roy Ward Baker's The Vampire Lovers (1970 / trailer) with Ingrid PittThe Blood Spattered Bride is based on Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu's Gothic novella of circumspect lesbian vampire love, Carmilla, which hit the presses a good 25 years before Bram Stoker's better-known but less well written classic Dracula. For decades, The Blood Spattered Bride was only available in English in a highly butchered version (83 min long instead of the original 101 min), but at the latest since Anchor Bay Entertainment brought out an uncut DVD version, the movie can be enjoyed in its full Eurotrash artiness.
Like so many, the irreverent and oft-falsely informed website Mr Skin confuses the fictional Carmilla with the historical figure Countess Bathory — that they are not one and the same is one reason why we do not list Harry Kümel's masterpiece Daughters of Darkness (1971 / trailer) above — and gives the skinny of the movie as follows: "The Blood Spattered Bride actually has very little to do with Countess Bathory, but it does hold the honor of having one of the greatest horror-film names of all time. Maribel Mart plays half of a newlywed couple that [...] end up getting too close to a Sapphically inclined villainess (Alexandra Bastedo) who has young Maribel cleaning her carpet like a Stanley Steemer before her husband can say 'Billy Jean King!' Shag-slurping isn't the only pursuit Maribel is led into by Bastedo, and soon the two gal pals are planning a grim fate for Maribel's cuckolded husband. Luckily he finds his wife (naked) and Alexandra (naked) while the two are sleeping off a night of bloodletting and bush licking in a king-size coffin and sends them both to hell in a love casket."
 
Radio Anthrocide lists The Blood Spattered Bride between Daughters of Darkness (1971) and Lucio Fulci's The New York Ripper (1982 / trailer) in part six its list of The Most Disturbing Films Ever Made, explaining: "While the Spanish Horror / Giallo industry was always very much in the shadow of the Titans in Italy, there were moments when the Spaniards matched the intelligence, style, luridness and sexual license of the completely uninhibited Italians. Such is the case with Blood Spattered, one of the weirdest films I've ever seen and a completely original and enjoyable take on the Carmilla tale. Starring a splendidly lovely Maribel Martin and including a remarkable performance by the unearthly adolescent beauty of Maria-Rosa Rodriguez (and you just wait 'till you see what she is all about, buddy), this is a unique and upsetting film of sexual violence, grim abuse, male cuckoldry and cruelty and... scintillating lesbianism. Featuring one of the most truly remarkable Surrealistic scenes in Giallo-inspired cinema — one that literally comes out of nowhere like in a dream — the supernatural element to this film is so deftly handled that you almost can believe what your seeing could be real. And the final scenes, the pay-off as it were... I was just completely stunned by how all this ended up, and I promise that you will be too."
Mondo Digital took a look at the restored DVD of this veiled critique of fascism and said "Fully restored to its original perverse glory, this film will never be perceived in quite the same way again. [...] In its familiar, censored 80 minute form, The Blood Spattered Bride is a fascinating but incomplete horrific fantasy laced with unexpected surrealism and nudity. This restoration significantly reinstates a number of graphic sequences, including a jolting amount of frontal nudity and genital-related violence, but it also greatly improves the pacing of the film. [...] In any case, the film itself will not appeal to all tastes, thanks to the slow pacing and disorienting storyline, but game viewers will be rewarded with a unique vampire tale graced with hefty dollops of eroticism. The strange, jittery music score creates unease from the opening scene, and the evocative imagery of director Aranda [...] wouldn't look out of place in one of Jean Rollin's vampire sagas."
The cut version of The Blood Spattered Bride was a bit of a grindhouse hit in 1974 when it was shown as part of a double feature with I Dismember Mama (1974).
Trailer to the double feature:
* Which, we must point out, should actually be The Blood-Spattered Bride.



The Starlost
(1973, various directors)

 
Full episode:
The print adverts shown below come from the blogspot Space: 1970. Alexandra Bastedo had a guest appearance in episode 10 of this Canadian science fiction series conceived by that walking Napoleon-complex known as Harlan Ellison; as possibly to be expected, he was displeased with the changes in his concept so by the time this noticeably low budget series — it was even shot on video back in a time when most TV shows were still shot on film — hit the airwaves, he had his credit changed to his well-known pseudonym "Cordwainer Bird". The series was in no way inspired by the silent fiction film Silent Running (1972 / trailer), which had been released a year earlier, because we all know Ellison never borrows from others, only others borrow from him. Ben Bova and Douglas Trumbull (the director of Silent Running) were also on hand during the conceptional phase, but like Ellison they left their posts as the budget got smaller.
The basic plotline involved a giant spaceship ("The Ark") consisting of a multitude of interlocked domes, each of which containing the remnants of a different culture from the planet Earth, a planet long dead. Due to an asteroid disaster, the original crew in charge died, and the various domes have advanced socially alone and separate for hundreds of years until three Amish-like upstarts not only find out the truth (for which they are forced to flee their dome) but also find out that the Ark is flying towards an unavoidable collision with a sun...
Over at imdb, Jeremy Morrow (tashimon@hotmail.com) points out: "Often perceived as one of the most low budget, awful sci-fi series ever made, it has a cult following, especially with Canadian sci-fi fans. Known for its all video, low budget special effects and wooden acting, it has a certain charm, even if the pacing of the show is viciously slow. It's also notable as being the second Canadian sci-fi series ever created." 16 of 24 planned episodes of the series, which among others starred Keir Dullea (of Brain Waves [1983]) and his Castro-Clone moustache, were aired; two un-aired episodes should exist in limbo somewhere. Ten of the episodes were re-edited and combined in the 1980s to create a series of three TV movies: The Starlost: The Beginning, The Starlost: Deception and The Starlost: The Alien Oro.
And speaking of the last TV movie, it included episode 10, The Alien Oro, directed by a TV director named Joseph L. Scanlan, which originally aired on 3 November 1973 and, aside from Bastedo in the supplementary babe roll as Idona, featured the least Shakespearean of all the original cast of Star Trek (1966-69), Walter Koenig, as the titular alien Oro. The plot, basically, has the lead trio of the show discovering a stranded alien named Oro who, "dressed in a gold lame jump-suit with a cheap motorcycle helmet" and with the assistance of Idona, is stripping the parts he needs to repair his crash-landed spaceship from the Ark so that he can fly home. Rather a self-centered snob, Oro knows the future fate of the Ark but doesn't give a rat's ass. Idona, who is actually also an escapee from another dome, sort of gets romantic with the second formerly Amish-like upstart male lead (Robin Ward), but the romance is doomed: she's got a deadly sickness and her only hope to survive supposedly lies on Oro's home planet, Xar. Oro returned without Idona on 15 December 1973 in the follow-up episode, The Return of Oro (dir., Francis Chapman). 



Odio mi cuerpo
(1974, dir. León Klimovsky)

 Short scene:
Aka I Hate My Body. This Spanish science fiction horror movie was the next foreign-language film of the linguistically gifted Alexandra Bastedo — aside from English, she could also speak Italian, Spanish, French and German — after The Blood Spatter Bride. And this time around she was directed by no one less than the famously prolific Argentina-born auteur León Klimovsky (16 October 1906 — 8 April 1996), the man behind a countless number of much-loved Spanish cult movies, eight of which he made with the even more-loved Paul Naschy. With over 70 titles to his name, it is difficult to pinpoint Klimovsky's best, but currently Wikipedia sees The Strange Love of the Vampires (1975 / opening), The Dracula Saga (1973 / trailer), and The Vampires' Night Orgy (1974 / trailer) as classics. Nobody, however, who has seen this rare and difficult to obtain movie seems to view it as one of his best. It should be noted that the scratchy print of I Hate My Body available at Something Weird, at 82 minutes, is a full 15 minutes shorter than the original Spanish length...

"I think like a man! I act like a man! This female form is a stranger to me! I hate my own body!"
Leta / Ernest (Alexandra Bastedo)


In their great entry "The 50 Most Fascinating Gender-bending Characters of Psychotronic Film", the Daily Grindhouse calls I Hate My Body "a strange mess of sleaze, a weird exploitation flick that wants to make a point about misogyny while simultaneously wallowing in it", which makes the movie sound better than they probably wanted it to.
Bloody Pit of Rod, which calls this movie "a pretty good but not great slice of sleazy trash", offers the following plot description: "Philandering husband Ernest (Manuel de Blas of Slugs [1988] and The Ghost Galleon  [1974 / trailer]) is out partying in a nightclub with some co-workers one night. He gets in his car to take one of the secretaries home for the evening for a little mattress bounce but has overestimated his ability to drive while drunk. One crash later the secretary is dead and he is on an operating table breathing his last. Enter mad scientist/doctor of insane medicine Adolph (Narciso Ibáñez Menta of Obras maestras del terror [1960 / full film in Spanish], Sólo se muere dos veces [1997 / Spanish trailer] and, a directorial effort, The House that Screamed [1969 / trailer]) who is pressed by his nurse into continuing his concentration camp experiments on poor Ernest. A gleeful Adolph takes the fellow's brain out of his dying body and pops it into the body of Leta (Alexandra Bastedo). It seems that she'd had a terminal brain tumor but her body is in fine shape so it's a perfect match — right? You would think so — especially if you were a Nazi doctor hell-bent on proving his mad theories to the world. Of course if you're a macho man suddenly placed inside a woman's body you might think otherwise..."

"Men are the bosses! They talk about sexual equality but it's all a dirty lie!"
Peter Muller (Byron Mabe)


One of the few who appears to have liked what truly sounds like an interesting movie is some guy named John Bernhard, who says: "Here is a strange film indeed.....mixing feminism, sci-fi medical experiments and good old fashioned exploitation elements. The Spanish excel in the field of mix and match genres and Klimovsky made just about every kind of movie imaginable. [...] What follows is one of the more inventive male / female switch films that I have seen. Throughout the film, whenever Alexandra's character is sexually harassed, the viewer sees Manuel getting pawed. He still feels and thinks like a man, and like the title says, he hates his (hot) body and can't handle a guy shoving his tongue down her/his throat. It's one of the films many effective techniques. Klimovsky co wrote the screenplay too, so I think he was trying to say something here, I'm just not sure what. Or I was, but the abrupt ending threw me, it seemed out of place (and pretty harsh)...."



 El clan de los Nazarenos
(1975, dir. Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent)

It would seem that this movie never received an English-language release, but to translate the title, it's called "The Clan of the Nazarenes". Director Joaquín Luis Romero Marchent also made the super nasty Chorizo Western Cut-Throats Nine (1972 / trailer). Alexandra Bastedo plays Arima, the female fly in the ointment of the movie. The plot, from what we could decipher from a few computer-generated translations of Spanish descriptions, concerns a monk named Chris (Javier Escrivá) who loses his faith, leaves the monastery and forms a ruthless and murderous criminal gang that stop at nothing, his concept that since he never saw God while doing good he might while doing evil. "Better to see you in your wrath than to die without having known you."
That quote, by the way, was taken from the only English-language review we could find online, written by one Nzoog Wahrlfhehen, who wasn't thrilled by the movie, complaining that Chris as a character was under-drawn, his motivations too vague. Nzoog also went on to say: "Chris's underlings are more persuasively drawn: a self-destructive youth (Luca Bonicalzi), a punch-drunk former boxer (real-life fighter Luis Folledo) and a vocational murderer (Tony Isbert), plus an enigmatic newcomer (Antonio Sabato). A detonating element in the storyline involves a woman (Alexandra Bastedo) who, after being found unconscious on the beach, is taken by Cris into the gang's rural quarters. The rest is a tepid tale of the gang disintegrating, variously on account of character flaws or duplicity, while the ending manages to be both predictable and unsatisfying as it closes in on characters that had hitherto played comparatively secondary roles, as if the scriptwriters had felt, after what must have been some bad planning, that they had to close the film somehow."
Among the other females to populate the background is the tragic Sandra Mozarowsky (as Magda), seen above, who may or may not have been done away with in the name of protecting the Spanish Royal Family....
The music of El clan de los Nazarenos was composed by Stelvio Cipriani, the man behind the music of Nightmare City (1980), A Bay of Blood (1971 / trailer), Baron Blood (1972 / trailer), The Big Alligator (1979 / German trailer) and Tragic Ceremony (1972 / trailer), among many other wonderfully trashy films.
 Stelvio Cipriani —  
Papaya, Love Goddess of the Cannibals (1978):



The Ghoul
(1975, dir. Freddie Francis)

Aka Night Of The Ghoul and The Thing In The Attic. A movie, oddly enough, often confused with the public domain B&W Boris Karloff movie from 1933 also entitled The Ghoul (full film), remade in 1961 as What a Carve Up! Hello, out there: while the Karloff movie and Francis both films may be British products, this movie here, however, is in color, stars Peter Cushing, has a completely different plot, and is not in public domain.
The Ghoul was the third movie produced by the Tyburn Film Productions, an English horror movie production house set up by Kevin Francis, the son of Freddie Francis, and due to its rather old fashioned productions — its films owed more to the then-dying Hammer than, say, the more contemporarily exploitive movies of Pete Walker — Tyburn folded a few films later. Keeping everything in the family, The Ghoul was scripted by no one less than Anthony Hinds (19 September 1922 — 30 September 2013), the son of Will Hammer, the co-founder of Hammer Films. When Hammer died, Hinds took over his father's share of the business and, as The Telegraph put it, "was the producer and screenwriter chiefly responsible for the Hammer company’s indelible association with horror films".
For The Ghoul, Hinds mined his past productions and then regurgitated a reworking of one of Hammer's more atmospheric but equally disappointing horror movies, The Reptile (1966). More than one website out there incorrectly lists Alexandra Bastedo as playing the evil housekeeper in The Ghoul, but they are wrong: that would be the much older Gwen Watford (of Taste the Blood of Dracula [1970 / trailer]) as Ayah, while Bastedo plays — for a lack of a better description — the Final Girl, Angela.
 Trailer to The Reptile (1966), 
which "inspired" The Ghoul (1975):
Terror Trap, typically terse, offers the following plot description: "Peter Cushing is top notch in this effective British chiller about a former clergyman who keeps a secret possession locked up in the attic... his crazed flesh-hungry son who feeds upon the visitors!"
Horrorpedia says: "The film was set, interestingly, in the 1920s jazz age (taking advantage of sets built for The Great Gatsby [1974 / trailer]), with Ian McCullough (of Zombie Holocaust [1980 / trailer]), Bastedo and Veronica Carlson (see above) playing rich kids who challenge each other to a race to Land's End, only to become lost on the moors (which moors isn't made clear). They are attacked by red herring John Hurt and offered shelter by Cushing, who has a sinister Indian servant, a private chapel and mutters a lot about corrupt Eastern religious cults — so clearly nothing good will come of this. [Nevertheless], it turns out to be a somewhat tedious film. Devoid of shocks or any sense of style, it features listless performances, bored direction from Francis (who clearly didn't feel the need to up his game just because his son was paying the bills) and seems incredibly dated for the time. Very little happens, and when it does, it's handled with an overly genteel style."
British Horror Films, however, though they call Bastedo a "horrifically bad actress", is of a differing opinion: "Beautifully shot, with fog-shrouded moors, a lovely period setting and a racist 'white-woman-blacked-up-to-play-an-Indian' bit of casting, The Ghoul is a top-notch Gothic horror in the Hammer tradition, which unfortunately by the time it was made was woefully out of whack with the trends at the time. Still, with the benefit of hindsight, it's a cracker. [...] Well, you can guess what happens next, can't you? Bumpings-off galore, a fair amount of blood letting… yup, all the things we love. [...] A late night must-see."
  

Go here for Part III.

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