Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Short Film: Nightmare at Elm Manor (Great Britain, 1961 or 63)

Nothing like a well-made, enjoyable nudie cutie! How we love them! And that is exactly what this extraordinary short film here is: a top notch, quality example of a "horror" nudie-cutie from over 50 years ago! And, yes: there is a lot of naked breastage in this film, so not only is Nightmare at Elm Manor totally NSFW, we also proclaim loudly: "If the sight of beautiful love pillows swinging freely doth offend thee, then away with thou now!" Go here instead and leave this little film to the more sinful-minded…
We stumbled upon this visually entertaining, almost innocent but nevertheless boob-opulent piece of cinematic cheesecake at one of our favorite sites for public domain films, the indispensible Internet Archives, where it bears — bares ? — the title Nightmare at Elm Manor aka Flesh and Fantasy; we have since found it elsewhere as Nude in Dracula's Castle.
The plot is very simple: A lone, lovely lass (June Palmer) takes a room at the Elm Manor Hotel, a remote and secluded boarding house populated by a sinister-looking butler (Stuart Samuels). That night, as she prepares for bed (for the most part in the nude, of course) by doing such logical things as applying lipstick, she sees something scary — but nothing is there! Later, resplendently nude in bed, she awakens thirsty, so she pulls on an evening gown that she never bothers to tie shut and goes to find some water — only to end up running in terror, her evening gown forever open and her bodacious breasts always in view, from the threatening vampiric butler... Come daylight, however, the world is once again in order. Or is it?
Perhaps the most precise explanation of the events pictured is found at the Ultimate Vampire Movie Guide, which calls Nightmare at Elm Manor "a rather interesting short that is the perfect example of the vampire as a sexual predator". While fully acknowledging the exploitation roots of the film, the website nevertheless also sees a deeper meaning in the events and postulates that "Our vampire is the heroine's fantasy demonization of a man she perceives as a sexual threat." An on-the-mark interpretation, and an oddly Freudian theme for a simple nudie cutie.
Nightmare at Elm Manor:
As a low budget piece of exploitation, Nightmare at Elm Manor is surprisingly entertaining and funny, and offers a certain level of visual intrigue beyond just that of the delightful love pillows of the movie's unnamed lead, the pleasantly curvaceous (38–23–37) and non-anorexic June Palmer (1 August 1940 — 6 January 2004), seen here in this filmlette in her youthful prime of 21 years of age. June, who began her career as a topless dancer at the famous Windmill Theatre in London and "glamour" model, made a number of 8-mm shorts for the great Harrison Marks, who also directed this little film here. June went on to have bit parts in a variety of family favorites — Otto und die nackte Welle (1968),  The Nine Ages of Nakedness (1970 / full movie), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970 / trailer), Not Tonight, Darling (1971) and Games That Lovers Play (1971) — and an occasional TV show, but undoubtedly she left her most lasting impression in the memories of the heterosexual youth of her day.
Director [George] Harrison Marks (6 August 1926 — 27 June 1997), a familiar name to Brits, "was a British glamour photographer and director of nudist, and later, pornographic films who was active in the fields for several decades." In 1957, Marks and his model wife Pamela Green (28 March 1929 — 7 May 2010, 38-23-37) launched Kamera magazine, a beat sheet like no other at the time and a huge success. (June Palmer premiered in issue #23 [1959], and later went on to become the only model to appear in two different issues of Green and Marks' follow-up publication Solo under the same name.) Green and Marks' "glamour films", of which Nightmare at Elm Manor is one, were a natural follow-up product to their magazines. (Pamela, by the way, as "Milly" meets a grisly end in the disquieting classic Peeping Tom [1960].) The couple split in the mid-sixties, but continued to work together for a long time thereafter.
 Trailer to Michael Powell's Career-Killing Peeping Tom (1960):

Monday, April 21, 2014

R.I.P.: Kate O'Mara, Part II

The English actress Kate O'Mara (10 August 1939 — 30 March 2014) is dead. For us here at A Wasted Life, she was one of our favorite actresses from the Golden Age of English Gothic Cleavage, despite the fact that her horror output was extremely limited. Indeed, though often lumped together with the beautiful Hammer Screamers, she only ever appeared in three Hammer films and turned down a contract when offered in fear of being typecast. We've seen all her three of her straight Horror Films, and she was without a doubt always the most impressive looker in the given movie, despite some hefty competition.
An active stage and television actress, "She was perhaps most widely known for her role as Caress Morell, the scheming sister of Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) in the 1980s American primetime soap opera Dynasty."
Born to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor and actress Hazel Bainbridge (25 January 1911 — 7 January 1998), she was the older sister to actress Belinda Carroll. Twice married and twice divorced, she had two sons, one of whom, Dickon Young (1964–2012), hanged himself in the garage of the £750,000 cottage he shared with his mother, O'Mara, in the village of Long Marston, Warks.
O'Mara died on 30 March 2014 in a Sussex nursing home at the age of 74 after a short illness. We looked at her best films in Part I; here, we look as what's left...

(1976, Patrick Dromgoole)
The year previously, director Patrick Dromgoole directed his only horror movie, Deadly Strangers (1975 / full movie). This TV flick here, which Cathode Ray Tube calls "an eccentric, rather seedy and often violent detective story", eventually received a DVD release. Over at YouTube, The Disappearance 62 says: "Leonard Rossiter plays Cyril Dugdale, a Bristol debt collector (the 'machinegunner' of the title) and would-be detective who agrees to handle a well-paid divorce case for the mysterious Felicity (Nina Baden-Semper). His job is to get incriminating photographs of property developer Jack Bone (Colin Welland), who is carrying out an adulterous affair, but after getting the shots, Dugdale finds himself caught up in an escalating series of events — hunted by Bone's heavies who want the negatives, he manages to just about avoid them only to see Bone murdered by people who are just as keen to get hold of the photographs and get rid of business (not to mention romantic) rivals. And Felicity is refusing to reveal who her real client is...
Machinegunner is a tight, twisting mix of dark humour, noir-esque crime drama and gritty Seventies bleakness, topped off with a heavy sprinkling of racial tension (delicate viewers might cringe at some of the language used here). It's got a Sweeney-esque feel at times, with villains toting sawn-off 'shooters', corruption in high places and urban violence, and is laced through with a black comic feel. [...] There are solid turns from Welland and Kate O'Mara as the woman at the centre of the action."
Full movie:

The Nativity
(1978, dir. Bernard L. Kowalski)
TV Trailer:

While we must admit that the legendary lost gay porno film, Ed D. Louie's Him (1974), is Numero Uno on our list of films we would even buy Crisco and bend over for, in general we are not into religious movies, so though Kate O'Mara appears as the legendary Salome in this TV flick, we probably won't see it — or does she drop all veils when dancing?
Director Bernard L. Kowalski made mostly TV crap, but he did make an occasional real feature film, including a horror film or two, namely: Sssssnake Kobra (1973 / German trailer); Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959), with Yvette Vickers;  and Night of the Blood Beast (1958 / trailer / full film). Currently (01.04.14), Wikipedia explains this movie as: "The Nativity is a 1978 television film starring Madeleine Stowe as Mary, set around the Nativity of Jesus and based on the accounts in the canonical Gospels of Matthew and Luke, in the apocryphal gospels of Pseudo-Matthew and James, and in the Golden Legend.
The Nativity was [...] written by Morton S. Fine and Millard Kaufman, and filmed in Almería, Spain. Millard Kaufman also wrote the classic noir Gun Crazy (1950) and the not-so-classic sci-fi flick, Unknown World (1951 / full movie), both movies more worth your time than this snoozer here.
Fan-made Gun Crazy "Trailer":

 Tuntematon ystävä
(1978, dir. Lars G. Thelestam)
Title Track:

Aka An Unknown Friend. God only knows how Kate O'Mara managed to get in a Finnish crime film, but she's there — check out the trailer — as the "reluctant femme fatale". She plays "Karen Lindén / Judith Russell / Berit Lindström". This film seems to be forgotten and unknown, but over at imdb, Yrmy from Helsinki — that's a city in Finland, my fellow Americans — says that the movie is "Unknown for a reason": "Tuntematon ystävä was the third attempt to film the works of popular and populist Finnish detective novelist Mauri Sariola. Based loosely on the 1970 novel Susikoski virittää ansan, the film also features his most famous protagonist, the no-nonsense, conservative Detective Inspector (later Superintendent) Susikoski. It was also probably the worst of the three.
Sariola's strong points usually lay more with his characters and typically acerbic observations about society and people than his often mechanistic and haphazard plots. Unfortunately, what Tuntematon ystävä takes from its source is mostly the heavily reworked basic plot, which in the film concerns an American-Finnish couple who murder various 'society's parasites' for their insurance money.
The film does try. At the time, it was for Finnish cinema an exceptionally brazen attempt to make a mainstream commercial thriller with international cast and a climax shot in Morocco. The end result, however, is on par with a mediocre television film, which totally wastes its elite cast, including Lindholm in the title role. Staging, dialogue and attempts at suspense in fact now seem more fitting for a comedy than a thriller. Even a record-breaking marketing campaign couldn't turn the film into the hit it aspired to be."

 The Plank
(1979, dir. Erik Sykes)
Director Sykes, a well-known if now-dead comedian in the UK, can also be found in one of our favorite Vincent Price films, the classic Theatre of Blood (1973 / trailer), as well as the surprisingly effective Nicole Kidman vehicle, The Others (2001 / trailer). The Plank is a TV short and, as the Sydney Morning Herald says, when speaking of the first version of the filmlette made in 1967, "Eric Sykes' classic 1967 short is a sterling reminder of how great comedy does not age and, in its purest form, requires no words. An extended homage to the type of comic invention replete during the silent era, the short film (remade poorly in 1979 with a grating laugh track) follows two workmen (Sykes and British comedy legend Tommy Cooper [in the remake, Sykes and Arthur Lowe]) as they visit a timber yard to buy a plank." According to Wikipedia, "Like the original, it has an all-star cast of British comedians and other celebrities; although only Sykes, Jimmy Edwards and Kenny Lynch reprise their previous roles." Kate O'Mara shows up to say the only spoken line in the entire short: "It's paint."
New version, full short:

Beauty and the Beast
(1992, dir. Timothy Forder)
After the Finnish crime flick Tuntematon ystävä, Kate O'Mara stuck to television, where she had a viable career as both a regular (on series like Denver or Dr Who) as well as a featured guest star. In 1992, she finally returned to the movies, if only as a voice artist alongside — of all people — Christopher Lee in this direct-to-video animated film that road on the shirttails of Disney's major release of the same title the year before. She voiced Lucinda, one of Beauty's sisters. MJ Simpson — not to be confused with OJ — says: "This is an entirely British production; there are no Korean names in these end credits but maybe they should have considered farming this out to Seoul because the animation is awful. Very crude and basic and not helped by frankly poor character designs by Paul Gunson [...] and Gerard Kenny [...]. Though the characters are awful and their movements basic and repetitive, there is some consolation in well-painted backgrounds by Ian Henderson who also worked on both Watership Down (1978 / trailer) and The Plague Dogs (1982 / trailer)."
The first 14:27 minutes:

(1992, dir. Timothy Forder)
For his next animated film, Timothy Forder didn't even wait a full year but, rather, the very same year that Disney brought out their big budget version of Aladdin (trailer), Forder jumped on the wagon and dashed out his low-budget, direct-to-video version. Christopher Lee obviously took for the hills this time around, but O'Mara is still there, now doing the voice of "Madam Roly Poly". Another person there for the second time after Beauty and the Beast: Sean Connery's son Jason Joseph Connery, who is also found in masterpieces like Penance (2009 / trailer), The Thirst: Blood War (2008 / trailer), wih C. Thomas Howell), Hoboken Hollow (2006 / trailer), Brotherhood of Blood (2007 / trailer), Night Skies (2007 / trailer), Alone in the Dark II (2008 / trailer) and Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell (2001 / trailer).
Over at imdb, the User Reviews have such enlightening headings as: "Buyer Beware", "Made for children whose parents hate them", and "This Aladdin is cursed!!!!" At Amazon, anijunk — who, going by the moniker shouldn't have anything against junk films — says: "Sorry but this 'animation' is not worth the money. First of all the story locations are wrong (Morocco and China instead of Egypt and Bagdad). Then anachronisms like a genie with sports shoes. And a dialogue that uses 3 sentences to say something twice. The animation itself is poor and amateuristic (sic), the music is electronic and boring. But see it for yourself if you do not believe me."
See for yourself — the full movie:


 The Road to Ithaca
(1999, writ & dir Kostas Dimitriou)
As far as we can tell, this war drama/romance is the last known directorial effort of the Greek producer, director and actor Kostas Dimitriou, who acted alongside Alexandra Bastedo in the 1979 TV miniseries The Aphrodite Inheritance, which we did not look at in Bastedo's R.I.P. career review. Kate O'mara appears somewhere in The Road to Ithaca, yet another forgotten and seemingly unavailable movie, as "Despina". The year it came out, the movie was screened at the 40th International Thessaloniki Film Festival, where they wrote the following: "The loss of loved ones and the tragic present become entangled with memories of the past. Hope and the struggle for survival alternate with despair and hopelessness. In the turmoil of the war and occupation, a young Turkish girl, Yasmin (Berna Raif), refuses to stop searching for her great love, the Greek-Cypriot Telemachos (Alexis Conran, seen somewhere in Below [2002]), who has been taken prisoner by the Turkish occupying forces. While Yasmin never gives up hope of finding her beloved, her childhood friend, Eleni (Frances Ruffelle), is pregnant with the child of a Greek man, who, however, turned out to be a Turkish secret services officer who abandoned her after the invasion. Eleni keeps her secret buried deep inside, constantly haunted by nightmarish memories."
Although Kate O'Mara continued to act on the small screen and on stage, The Road to Ithaca was her last appearance in a feature or direct-to-video film.
Costas Cacyannis' ELEGY from The Road to Ithaca:

Kate O'Mara — R.I.P.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Disaster (USA, 2005)

 German Trailer:
Ah, the genre of disaster films! They've been around since the silent era, the earliest possibly being the British short film by James Williamson's Fire! (1901 / film), which was undoubtedly a direct influence on the first US disaster film, Edwin S. Porter's later short, Life of an American Fireman (1903 / film). But when it comes to feature-length films, say over an hour, the first true disaster movie is (arguably) Michael Curtiz's part-talkie Noah's Ark (1928 / trailer) — the filming of its flood scene cost the lives of three extras; others merely suffered broken bones or amputated limbs — or, after the arrival of full talkies, Felix E. Feist's Deluge (1933 / NYC destroyed), a once-lost movie that — like Roland Emmerich's disaster comedy 2012 (2009 / trailer) — involves the end of the world.
In the decades since Deluge, many disaster films of note and lesser note have come and gone (and were then mostly forgotten), but the genre truly flowered in the 1970s, with the support of big budgets, the "All-Star Cast" and "The Master of Disaster" Irwin Allen: one after the other they flickered across the screen, including such fun films as The Poseidon Adventure (1972 / trailer), The Towering Inferno (1974 / trailer), Earthquake (1974 / trailer), and the so-bad-it's-good Airport 1975 (1974 / trailer) and many, many more.* During the polyester decade, Hollywood rolled the disasters out one after the other, killing people en mass anywhere they could think of, until the genre's coffin was opened wide by such terrible and cheap-looking big budget feculence like The Swarm (1978 / trailer) and the mega-embarrassing Meteor (1979 / trailer), and then nailed shut with the take-no-prisoners comedy Airplane! (1980 / trailer).
But come the 1990s, the genre raised its head like a revived and unstoppable zombie in the (most notable) form of the idiotic and unpalatable alien-invasion movie Independence Day (1996 / trailer), the far more entertaining and knowingly ironic Sylvester Stallone vehicle Daylight (1996 / trailer), and the consciously culty Tim Burton movie, Mars Attacks! (1996 / trailer). Since then, hardly a year has gone by without some big budget disaster film being dumped on the market in which one nation's capital city or landmark after the other (if not the whole world) gets pulverized.
And among this plethora of mostly wasted celluloid are two films that must be seen as the illegitimate babies of the turkey's turd from 1979, Meteor: Deep Impact (trailer) and Armageddon (trailer), both from 1998. Neither is very good in the end; Deep Impact is by-the-numbers and unsurprising, while Armageddon is hilariously terrible. And, indeed, it was the latter movie that, despite being the bigger hit, got the worst reviews. (As an example, Roger Ebert, who put the movie on his worst films of the year list, said Armageddon "is an assault on the eyes, the ears, the brain, common sense and the human desire to be entertained".)
Here at A Wasted Life, however, we must admit we have a soft spot for that movie. It is a train wreck, a total waste of all the talent of any and all involved, which of course explains why it was such a hit. But like most train wrecks, it is also oddly fascinating and, despite being a disaster movie — and unlike most Hollywood movies that advertise themselves as comedies — Armageddon is truly hilarious. We laughed our way through from beginning to the end and, since then, have heartily recommended it as the comedy it is to many a person — none of whom have found it as funny and entertaining as we. (Some people just don't know how to appreciate a good train wreck.)
So, enough film history and enough verbosity, let's get to the movie at hand...
We would assume that the makers of this movie here, Disaster!, were also not very fond of Armageddon. Perhaps, so amazed by the overall stupidity of that blockbuster, and inspired by the big-budgeted puppet movie Team America (2004 / trailer), they came up with the inspiration to do both better by doing both worse — sort like pointing out the overall stupidity by being even more stupid, both in narrative and in execution. (You know, sort of how the stupidity of Republican politicians sort of helps to reveal the stupidity of Democratic politicians, or the Muslim religion that of the Christian religion.) A "schnapps idea", to use some German terminology generally used to infer that the idea is so stupid that one has to be drunk to even think of it, but in all truth this time around the schnapps idea actually works — to an extent.

In execution, the movie works fine. A stop-motion movie of intentional low-quality execution, the stop-motion technique used is as primitive as the puppets, which display a total rejection of any attempt of quality execution — to the extent that no attempt is even made to smooth out the seams that arise from the casting of the puppets. The overall look of the film is one of loud and proud cheapness, and in its dedication to its tawdry shoddiness, the movie achieves a holistic style that not only succeeds but is enjoyable to watch. (As sloppily as the characters are made, the sets and backgrounds in which they agitate are prime examples of loving detail, full of so many throwaway gags that even attentive eyes hardly catch half of them.)

This cheapness is matched by the crude, overly puerile humor that never stops from the first to last frame of the flick: sex, violence, flatulence, drugs, gore, the handicapped (in the form of a wheelchair-bound and drooling "Stephen Mocking"), Afro-American studliness, white man penis inadequacy, blonde stupidity, dim-witted names ("Harry Bottoms", anyone?) — you name it, and the film probably takes the piss out of it. No topic is too haloed, no joke too stupid for Disaster! The movie is totally juvenile and totally tasteless from beginning to end, and we loved it — despite some glaring flaws.

The biggest flaw is simply the storyline. Armageddon was so hilariously stupid that it really didn't need a full-length parody; Disaster! might have been even better had the overall storyline not been a virtual one-for-one spoof. True, a lot of other films are obviously referenced — amongst others that we noticed: Godzilla (1954 / trailer), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968 / trailer), Alien (1979 / trailer), Alive (1993 / trailer), Twister (1996 / trailer), Deep Impact, King Kong (1933 / trailer), Dante's Peak (1997 / trailer) — but the overall narrative, despite all the jokes, is almost too familiar. True, we laughed a lot, despite the feeling that we've seen it before, but that feeling wouldn't have arisen had the script shown a bit more narrative creativity and a bit less Armageddon (or, optionally, had gone in the direction of Airplane! or Top Secret [1984 / trailer] and broadened its breadth of parody even more).

In our view, this is the only flaw of the film. Everything else we liked, and in truth we laughed our heads off despite not being stoned and despite the familiar plot — but then, we are partial to the P.I., foul and infantile take-no-prisoner approach that this film bathes in.

That said, be warned: viewers who want their jokes intelligent and refined should avoid this movie like, dunno, Pat Robinson a NAMBLA meeting.

* Of these films, The Poseidon Adventure has aged well and remains the best of them all — and indefinitely better than the misfired remake in 2006 (trailer). The Towering Inferno has aged the worst and despite its at-the-time huge budget looks oddly cheesy and cheap now. Earthquake has aged a tad better (but not much), while Airport 1975 — like all the movies of the franchise but for the very first, the relatively involving Airport (1970 / trailer) — is still as crappy and funny as the day it came out. The last movie, like all the Airport movies that followed, now stands out as excellent proof of the fleeting nature of fame: most of the "name" stars of the all-star cast that parade by in their cameos of varying length are long gone, forgotten and totally unknown today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

R.I.P.: Kate O'Mara

10 August 1939 — 30 March 2014

The English actress Kate O'Mara is dead. For us here at A Wasted Life, she was one of our favorite actresses from the Golden Age of English Gothic Cleavage, despite the fact that her horror output was extremely limited. Indeed, though often lumped together with the beautiful Hammer Screamers, she only ever appeared in three Hammer films and turned down a contract when offered in fear of being typecast. We've seen all her three of her straight Horror Films, and she was without a doubt always the most impressive looker in the given movie, despite some hefty competition.
Also active on stage and on TV, "She was perhaps most widely known for her role as Caress Morell, the scheming sister of Alexis Colby (Joan Collins) in the 1980s American primetime soap opera Dynasty." Born to John F. Carroll, an RAF flying instructor and actress Hazel Bainbridge (25 January 1911 — 7 January 1998), she was the older sister to actress Belinda Carroll. Twice married and twice divorced, she had two sons, one of whom, Dickon Young (1964—2012), hanged himself in the garage of the house he shared with his mother, O'Mara, in the village of Long Marston, Warks. O'Mara died on 30 March 2014 in a Sussex nursing home at the age of 74 after a short illness.

Home and Away
(1956, dir. Vernon Sewell)
At the tender age of 17, Kate O'Mara, billed by the name her parents gave her, [Frances] Merrie Carroll, made her film debut playing "Annie Knowles" in this comedy directed by Vernon Sewell, better known for his later sleaze and horror films like the Stanley A Long produced The Blood Beast Terror (1968 / trailer) or such faves as Curse of the Crimson Altar  (1968), with Michael Gough, and Burke & Hare (1972 / trailer). 
The plot of Home and Away, according to the BFI:"Comedy concerning the troubles loosed on an ordinary British home when one of the family finds he has won a half-share in the pools." At imdb, John Howard Reid says the film is only for those who will watch anything: "Writer-director Vernon Sewell's career was mostly limited to British 'B' films or quota quickies. Even by his humble standards, however, this entry is well below average. In fact, it's the sort of movie that you can happily come late for and yet have no trouble picking up the threads of the almost non-existent plot. If you are watching a TV transmission or a DVD, you can even keep the movie running while you visit the kitchen and make yourself a midnight snack. There's absolutely no danger of missing anything of consequence! [...]" 
The next year "Kate O'Mara" would have a bit part as a nurse in the TV series Emergency Ward, but she pretty much never showed her pretty face on the screen again until 1967 when she began doing regular bit parts on British TV series.
Trailer to Vernon Sewell's Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968):

  The Limbo Line
(1968, dir. Samuel Gallu)
O'Mara's second feature-film credit, and she's already headlining on the poster. The Limbo Line is the second to last movie of director Samuel Gallu, whose better-known works would be Theatre of Death (1967 / trailer) and his last project, the rarely screened Arthur! Arthur! (1969). The Limbo Line is based on the 1963 Victor Canning novel of the same name, the cover of which was graced by a photo of O'Mara when republished after the release of the movie. She plays the lead damsel in distress, Irina Tovskia. The plot of the movie seems to follow the book rather closely, and the plot of the book, according to the Mount Benson Report is as follows: "Richard Manston is a retired agent living the life of leisure as a gentleman farmer and golfer. He gets drawn back in to the game by his superiors to break a Russian kidnapping ring that is grabbing low level defectors and whisking them back to the Motherland. The British Secret Service has identified the next victim, a ballerina, Irina Tovskaya, as the next victim. Manston’s job is to dangle her as bait and follow her through the 'Limbo Line' the organization that handles the kidnapping, brainwashing, and smuggling of the kidnapped defectors. Of course, nothing goes as planned and like any good spy novel there are various crosses and double-crosses, escapes and evasions. This was a fully satisfying and fun read."
Richard Manston was played by the husband of actress Alexis Smith (8 June  1921 — 9 June 1993), Craig Stevens, an American B-movie actor best known for The Deadly Mantis (1957) and Abbott & Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953 / trailer).
Craig Stevens in The Deadly Mantis:
 Great Catherine
(1968, dir. Gordon Flemyng)
Kate O'Mara appears to play "Varinka" in this forgotten comedy based on a George Bernard Shaw play from 1931 which, according to Wikepedia, "is loosely based on the story of Sir Charles Hanbury Williams and his time spent as an envoy at the Russian court." O'Mara is not on the poster.
The NY Times says "Braced immeasurably by the Shavian lines, as arranged by the scenarist, Hugh Leonard, and stylishly piloted by the director, Gordon Flemyng, the picture is also beautiful in its lavish décor, costumes and color photography." A Tank Full of Gas, however, calls the movie "an acquired taste": "Peter O’Toole plays Captain Charles Edstaston, a British officer dispatched to Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great (Jeanne Moreau). Edstaston is betrothed to Claire (Angela Scoular), the daughter of the British Ambassador to Russia (Jack Hawkins) who feels the dashing young officer might be able to win the Empress's confidence. First, however, Edstaston must get past Potemkin (Zero Mostel), the Empress's drunken, boorish chief minister. Fortunately, after an initially difficult encounter, Potemkin eventually comes to believe that Edstaston would make a perfect lover for Catherine and literally carries him to her boudoir. Unfortunately, Edstaston is so deeply mired in the social dictates of his country that he almost immediately blows his chance of learning anything from the Empress, even though she clearly takes a shine to him. [...] The decadence of Catherine's reign — and its inevitable consequence — is symbolized by the movie's high point, an opulent ball that degenerates into a drunken orgy while Catherine pleasures herself by teasingly torturing a prostrate Edstaston in her own private torture chamber." 
Great Catherine is the last film to feature a score composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, whose long career includes films like the original version of The Thing (1951 / trailer) and Mad Love (1935 / trailer). He shared the 1952 Oscar for Best Music, Original Song with Ned Washington (lyrics) for the title track High Noon (1952 / trailer):
Tex Ritter — High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, Oh My Darlin'):
(1968, dir. Robert Hartford-Davis)
Kate O'Mara is the second lead and best-looking babe in this fabulously trashy piece of English sleaze horror featuring one wigged-out Peter Cushing. Our spoiler-heavy review of the film — hell, we tell everything that happens — can be found here.

The Desperados
(1969, dir. Henry Levin)
A former stage actor and director, Henry Levin, who entered the biz in 1943, had a long and prolific career in films: he had produced well over a movie a year by the time he died in 1980 while shooting the TV movie Scout's Honor (1980). Among his many movies are Cry of the Werewolf (1944 / full movie), the second movie to ever feature a female werewolf; two Matt Helm flicks, Murderers' Row (1966 / trailer) and The Ambushers (1967 / trailer); and the fabulous guilty pleasure Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die (1966).
Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die:
Dennis Schwartz of Ozus' World Movie Reviews, which calls the movie "An unpleasant, below-average revenge western about an outlaw rebel family ruled by a fanatical sicko father," gives the plot as follows: "As the Civil War draws to a close, the rabid psychopathic Parson Josiah Galt (Jack Palance) and his three sons, Adam (Christian Roberts), Jacob (George Maharis), and David (Vince Edwards), lead a gang of southern guerilla pillagers and rapists. Josiah is crazed over the death of his visionary Indian wife and ruthlessly raids the Kansas town of St. Thomas. Revolted over the carnage inflicted, David tries to escape from his family but is captured. Dad accuses him of treason and plans to execute him, but David escapes and lives under a new name with his wife Laura (Sylvia Syms) in Texas. Six years later, after the war, the notorious Galt boys are still marauders. The gang catches up with David and the climax has David set a trap with the local sheriff (Neville Brand) to catch the gang in a foiled railroad heist. It leads to a tragic confrontation between father and son, as prophesized by David's soothsayer mom."
David Whittaker's Music to The Desperados:
A Tank Full of Gas is of the opinion that "The Desperados is an ill-advised American/British co-production — which explains the unlikely presence of such quintessentially British actors as Kenneth Cope and Kate O'Mara in the wild, wild west. As such, it suffers from the kind of messiness that is common to many international co-productions. And The Desperados is messy, a very messy movie, with very sloppy editing, gaping holes in the narrative, a leading man who appears to be in the throes of some kind of emotional numbness, and Jack Palance hamming it up for all he's worth."
Aside from the female eye candy of Kate O'Mara as Adah, The Desperados also has the male eye candy of George Maharis as bad guy Jacob, whose bed Adah keeps warm. Maharis was one of the first (and few) Hollywood men to show wurst in Playgirl (example photo, with horse, above), which he did the same year (1974) that he — to quote Gay Influence  — "was arrested [...] and charged with committing a sex act with a male hairdresser in the men's room of a gas station in Los Angeles. 46 years old at the time, Maharis was booked on a sex perversion charge and released on $500 bail. Six years earlier Maharis had been arrested by a vice squad officer for lewd conduct in the restroom of a Hollywood restaurant; the officer said Maharis made a pass at him." 
George Maharis sings You Don't Know What Love Is:
 Cannon for Cordoba
(1970 Directed by Paul Wendkos)
Director Wendkos began his directorial career with the excellent and unjustly forgotten low budget flick The Burglar (1957), starring a young and pneumatic Jane Mansfield. According to Wikipedia and Boot Hill, Kate O'Mara appears in this movie as a whore, but we were unable to find much confirmation in this regard other than in a William Amazzini review at Amazon, which states "Keen Euro-viewers will also spot Aldo Sambrell, beautiful Francine York, Giovanna Ralli who graced many a spaghetti western, and Hammer actress Kate O'Mara." The movie was scripted by Stephen Kandel, who four years earlier wrote the entertaining but rarely screened Chamber of Horrors (1966).
Chamber of Horrors:
The plot, according to 10K Bullets, which calls the movie "average": "The year is 1912 and there is a revolution going on in Mexico. General Hector Cordoba steals six cannons from the forces that have been sent to eliminate him and solidify the Texas-Mexico border. General Pershing gives the job of retrieving the six stolen cannons to Captain Rod Douglas (George Peppard)." TV Guide, which calls the movie "average", adds the following: "[A] subplot concerns Ralli as a woman who helps Peppard because she seeks revenge on [Raf] Vallone for raping her." Filmed in Spain, set in Mexico.
Belly-Dancing in Mexico — A Scene from Cannon for Cordoba:

The Horror of Frankenstein
(1970, dir. Jimmy Sangster)
We already took a look at this flick in our R.I.P. career review of Jimmy Sangster. To simply re-use what we wrote there: "The Horror of Frankenstein, Hammer's 6th Frankenstein film, is a stand-alone film that occurs outside of the Peter Cushing films. Often dissed as the worst in the Hammer series, it is also Sangster's directorial debut, a reworking of the script he supplied for the first film of the series, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957 / trailer), revamped for a younger audience. Contrary to popular opinion, the humor, like all the sex, is intentional. The plot as told at Popcorn Pictures: 'Victor Frankenstein (Ralph Bates) is angry when his father forbids him from going to study at college to continue his anatomical experiments. So kills his father and makes it look like accident, thus leaving Victor with the family fortune and title of Baron. He uses this wealth to finance his college studies but leaves when he gets the dean's daughter pregnant. Returning home, he sets up a laboratory and starts a series of experiments aimed at bringing the dead back to life with the intention of creating a human being from stolen body parts. Unfortunately his creature doesn't behave the way he intended it to.' The film, like all of Sangster's feature film directorial efforts, was less than a commercial success."
Kate O'Mara is there as the supposedly 16-year-old Alys, the housemaid bonking both Frankenstein senior and, later, junior. Hammer fave Veronica Carlson is also on hand to show cleavage. Ralph Bates went on to play Dr. Jekyll in the Hammer film Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971).

The Vampire Lovers
 (1970, dir. Roy Ward Baker)
O'Mara, as the Governess Mme. Perrodot, gets bitten by none other than the great Ingrid Pitt  in this adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu's novella Carmilla. This lezzie vampire flick, the first of the so-called Karnstein Trilogy — the others being Lust for a Vampire (1971 / trailer) and Twins of Evil (1972 / trailer) — wasn't too well accepted at its release, but it has stood the test of time rather well and has long since become a cult fave. Among the many other films directed by Roy Ward Baker (19 December 1916 — 5 October 2010) are the equally entertaining Hammer outings Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974), neither of which are truly as good as this film.
All Movie explains the movie: "This sexy horror story from Britain's Hammer Films finds Ingrid Pitt playing three roles [Marcilla / Carmilla / Mircalla Karnstein], the most notable being a lesbian vampire who will resort to biting a man only when it is absolutely necessary. A doctor and a manservant are victims, but only after she has exhausted all attempts to sink her fangs into the bosoms of young women. The General (Peter Cushing) finds his daughter Laura (Pippa Steel) is victimized by the bite of the vampiress. With the help of Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), they try to end the horror brought by the blood-sucking beauty. Blood, gore and a few decapitations are depicted before the wooden stakes and crosses are brought out."

The Tamarind Seed
(1974, dir. Blake Edwards)
Director Blake Edwards began his career as an actor (in such fine stuff as Strangler in the Swamp[1946]) before moving onto directing and marrying Mary Poppins. And though he is remembered today primarily for comedies, he used to do all sorts of flicks, including stuff like this Cold War thriller based on a novel by Evelyn Anthony starring Dr. Zhivago and Mary Poppins.
Strangler in the Swamp — Full Movie:
We've never seen The Tamarind Seed, but Kate O'Mara is in there somewhere as "Anna Skriabina", a part not big enough to get her on the poster or into the trailer. TCM explains the plot as "Rival Cold War diplomats (Zhivago & Poppins) fall in love in the Caribbean," a plot (like the stars) that hardly promises a good film; but if one is to believe Parallax View, the film is indeed of quality: "Between the shopworn genre, then, and Andrews and Sharif, I wasn't clamoring to be the first in line when The Tamarind Seed opened. I should have been. For The Tamarind Seed, like Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974 / trailer), turns a Good Will genre into the genuine article, shifts and reshapes our thinking and feeling and seeing. And that new perception of reality is not just four-walled within a theater or the confines of a frame of film, but makes its way — or should — into the larger, less defined, and thus less understandable, territory of our lives."

(1976, dir. Gerry O'Hara [as Laurence Britten])
"Hand-made babies...Was it the hand of God...Or the hand of the devil?"
Gerry O'Hara's directorial debut was the 1963 you-fuck-you-get-VD tale That Kind of Girl aka Teenage Tramp (1963); aside from working with Babe O'Mara, he also made films with Babe Olivia Hussey (All the Right Noises [1971 / song to film]), Babe Fiona Lewis (The Chairman's Wife [1971]); Babe Lisa Foster (Fanny Hill [1983 / trailer]); Babe-in-Decline Joan Collins (The Bitch [1979 / trailer]); and Babe Sarah Douglas in Brute [1973]) — "serious" dramas one and all.
Trailer to That Kind of Girl aka Teenage Tramp:
Feelings is the feature-film debut of Paul Freeman, one of those great actors everyone always recognizes but never knows from where. (Hint: His face melts in Raiders of the Lost Ark [1981 / trailer].) He plays the blank-shooting "Paul Martin" to Kate O'Mara's baby-hungry "Barbara Martin". Like any good "serious" (exploitation) drama, the main topic of Feelings — "test-tube children" — was very timely, if not anticipatory: the world's first official, real "test-tube child", Ms. Louise Brown, wasn't even born for another couple of years, on 25 July 1978. (In truth, the film seems to be more about artificial insemination than test-tube babies, but who's gonna draw fine lines like that in an exploitation film?)
Feelings is yet another O'Mara film we've never seen, and with its original title, Feelings, we probably never would have wanted to — as far as we're concerned, Kate O'Mara never really made another good film after The Vampire Lovers (1970) — but then we read a blurb at imdb written by Blood The Telepathic Dog from North Dakota, who states: "Kate O'Mara teased horror film viewers all throughout such films like Horror of Frankenstein and Vampire Lovers, but there is no teasing whatsoever here. In fact, the first 45 minutes of the film, Kate is completely naked half the time. Bare skin is also supplied by the ill-fated lab tech. Her nightmare scene may be the film's highlight."
This "serious" (exploitation) drama — re-issue/aka titles include Test-Tube Baby and Whose Child Am I? — has suddenly jumped high on our "We Want to See It" list.
Another Gerry O'Hara film — The Pleasure Girls (1965),
w/ Klaus Kinski:
Temple of Schlock, which supplied the newspaper clips, offers another aka: "The British fertility clinic exploitation pic Whose Child Am I? — shot in 1974 as Who's Harriet? [...] — was submitted to the MPAA in February 1975 and began a regional roll-out from Brian Distribution later that year. With newspaper ads that made it look like a horror film, and co-billed with a real horror film (The Devil's Wedding Night [1973]), it opened at the Marbro Drive-In in Kingsport, TN on September 29, 1977. Over a year later — and no longer aimed at the horror crowd — it opened in the New York City area on a double bill with Embryo (trailer / full film) December 15, 1978."
The Devil's Wedding Night:
Films de France says Feelings is "very poor, a hideous monstrosity of a film with absolutely no redeeming features — a seriously bad film to be avoided like the plague." A view shared by the 1995 publication of Video Movie Guide, which tersely says "Artificial insemination is this pitiful excuse for this ridiculously sordid film."
Blood The Telepathic Dog is of the opinion that "The main problem with this film is that it tries to do too much. The central couple are Kate O'Mara and Paul Freeman who can't have a child of their own [...]. But since there apparently wasn't enough meat on that bone, the script introduces other couples with ties to the fertility clinic. There is a lesbian couple, a kooky hippy broad accidentally planted with 'African seed,' and the most interesting sub-couple is the young clinic lab tech who is in love with an older man, who might be the sperm donor her mother used many years ago. This is an interesting film that presents the viewer with many socially taboo questions. Lesbianism is scratched at but nothing profound is said and even less is said about racism since the hippy lady's screen time was limited [...]. The spotlight really rests on O'Mara and Freeman and how they cope with not having a child conventionally. Kate takes drastic measures to get impregnated when the AI doesn't take either and the film gains speed when Freeman learns of Kate's adulterous methods."
Has nothing to do with the film — 
Morris Albert lip syncs Feelings (1975):

Click here for Part II