aka The Fiend With the Electronic Brain; The Man With the Synthetic Brain; Psycho-A-Go-Go
Director – Al Adamson, Screenplay – Chris Martino & Dick Poston, Story/Producers – Al Adamson & Sam Sherman, Photography – Louis Horvath & Vilmos Zsigmond, Music – Don McGinnis & Jimmy Roos. Production Company – Independent International/TAL Productions.
Roy Morton (Joe Corey), Tommy Kirk (Lieutenant Cross), John Carradine (Dr Vanard), Regina Carrol (Susan Vanard), Kent Taylor (Dr Corey), Tracey Robbins (Susan Clarke), Joey Benson (Sergeant Frank Ward), Arne Ward (Sergeant Grimaldi), Kirk Duncan (Dave Clarke)
L.A. is struck by a series of killings being conducted by what is described as a monster. Detective Cross relates a bizarre story – during the investigation of a jewel robbery, police discovered that Dr Vanard had implanted a chip in former Vietnam veteran Joe Corey’s brain to help him recover from war wounds. However, this had had the effect of transforming Corey into an unstable homicidal maniac. Corey abducted singer Susan Clarke and her daughter in an attempt to find the whereabouts of the missing jewels from the robbery but was shot as he fled into the mountains. Vanard’s daughter is now abducted by Corey’s father, seeking revenge for what was done to his son.
Al Adamson is a director whose work has attracted great prominence amongst the Z-movie cult. Adamson made films in a number of genres, including the biker movie, the Western and the softcore porn film, but most of all is known for cheap horror movies such as Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969), Horror of the Blood Monsters/Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (1970) and most famously Dracula vs Frankenstein (1971). Stylistically, Al Adamson’s work falls somewhere between that of Russ Meyer and Edward D. Wood Jr, although without either the pretensions or campiness that makes either director’s work so cultish. Blood and Flesh: The Reel Life and Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019) is a documentary about Adamson’s life and films.
Blood of Ghastly Horror is not so much bad as it is dreary and dull. As a director, Al Adamson lacks any style or imagination. His work, aside from the miserable cheapness, is utterly pedestrian on every level. The film never generates the remotest frisson or thrill. The fight scenes here must rank as some of the most unconvincing ever put on film. Adamson’s monsters are, as always, badly made up variations on the classic figures of the 1940s.
What is perhaps most laughable about the film is its ramshackle structure. As with most of Al Adamson’s films, Blood of Ghastly Horror was made over several years and has been known and shown under several different titles. It intriguingly began life not even as a horror movie but as a diamond robbery thriller. All the scenes with Roy Morton as Joe Corey and the extended climax with he pursuing Tracey Robbins into the mountains come from here. Shot later at various points have been the scenes with John Carradine, who in his brief appearance adds a spindly dignity to the film; and other scenes with Tommy Kirk’s detective and mad scientist Kent Taylor abducting Regina Carrol. Adamson makes an ungainly attempt to transform the jewel robbery film into a monster movie by trying to convince us that Morton is not a petty hoodlum but – in an uncanny prefigural of The Terminal Man (1974) – is the result of an electronic brain implant gone wrong, which has caused him to become a homicidal maniac. The results are completely unconvincing.
Al Adamson directed a number of genre films including Satan’s Sadists (1969) about a sadistic motorcycle gang; Blood of Dracula’s Castle (1969); Horror of the Blood Monsters/Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (1970); the Filipino mad scientist/monster movie Brain of Blood (1971); Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971); the softcore sf film Cinderella 2000 (1977); Death Dimension (1978), an action film with some sf elements; the possession film Nurse Sherri (1978); co-directed Dr Dracula (1980), which is confusingly about the reincarnation of Svengali; and the bizarre children’s film Carnival Magic (1981) about an intelligent circus chimpanzee.