Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Short Film: The Heisters (USA, 1964)

Four days ago, on Saturday, the 26th of August, 2017, famed horror director Tobe Hooper died — one hopes not at the hands of some x-girlfriend. In honor of the passing of this influential director of one of those horror films everyone who says they like horror must see, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), we have dug out something from the vaults: his earliest known directorial project, the 10-minute short The Heisters.
A quaint and cute and amusing exercise of slapstick surrealism as ever-so-popular in the 60s (see:  Help! My Snowman Is Burning Down, also of 1964), The Heisters is arguably an inconsequential little film, but it does reveal that the then 26-year-old Hooper had a solid grip of direction and editing. But the short's obvious indebtedness to the lush and colorful films of Hammer and Roger Corman's Poe phase — not to mention the Three Stooges and any number of silent movie comedians — does little to indicate that one day Hooper would shake the horror film world with a movie as raw and visceral and disturbing as the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre was and still is. (It does, on the other hand, indicate a propensity for the lush colors found in both Eaten Alive [1976] and The Funhouse [1981], as well as the artificiality found in the first of the aforementioned movies.)
In regards to the narrative, on the other hand, scriptwriters Michael England & Hooper display a slight inability to truly combine all three characters into one movie and, instead, rely on two separate storylines that are only linked by the fact that the three characters are introduced as trio at the start of the short.
The Heisters:
Of the actors involved, the bikini babes are all unnamed so who knows whether they even went on to get married, have kids, and fall apart into old age. Of the three main actors, despite what the imdb infers by stating the good man can be found in Frederic Goode's pop music documentary Pop Gear (1965), we ourselves doubt that this Larry Ray, who plays "Villamosh Anousslavsky", is the same Larry Ray of the Californian psychedelic band Syndicate Of Sound which, in 1965, became a one-hit wonder with their classic song Little Girl.
Syndicate of Sound performing
Little Girl:
Of the other two actors, Norris Domingue (22 Jun 1925 — 12 Apr 2009) went on to become a character actor of small note seen somewhere in movies such as The Kiss (1988 / trailer), The Amityville Curse (1990 / trailer), Twists of Terror (1997 / scene), The Case of the Whitechapel Vampire (2002 / full TV movie), and the cheap but unjustly forgotten independent horror, Enter the Devil (1972 / 5 minutes).

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