Ah, that clever bastard, Barry Mahon. Never offensive to anyone but the fundamental—never insulting to anything save the sense of quality. He was and perhaps still is the avatar of the God of Sixties Sleaze. Let us never forget.
Surreal as all hell and barely sexy.
You have to remember that The Beast That Killed Women was from a different time. To those who are dedicated to the history of porn, the closest thing humankind had to cinema porn was the stag film; those movies that you paid a nickel to see when looking into those big boxes where ladies took their clothes off.
As time went on, and we reached the 1960s, mankind had a desire for video porn but couldn’t move past the stag film. This was also, however, when the horror genre was developing out of the monster genre. It’s in this weird kingdom of almost-porn and innocent monster horror that we find today’s film. Let’s take a quick peek–you can mail me your nickels later.
There’s this monster, right? You could say he’s a real gorilla—in fact, he is a real gorilla! Ha, I kid. The gorilla is hiding out at this nudist camp. We get a literal never-ending stream of stag-film style butts-‘n’-boobs. The guys all wear shorts, so there is nary a hot dog in sight. The gorilla kills someone—cops show up. Then the gorilla throws a guy in the water and he sets up our frame story from the beginning, set in a hospital.
The guy’s wife decides to play bait for the gorilla, and the cops shoot him down. The camp reopens for business and the Something Weird Video fodder reopens with it for about ten minutes, where we squeeze in a couple of jokes and a ham-fisted ending.
The entire thing goes nowhere. But you can follow the cash, and that leads to some distant meaning. The God of Sixties Sleaze is watching down on us from His Heaven of stained dollar bills and mountains of holy boobs.
I hope people understand this particular genre that The Beast That Killed Women belongs to. In the ‘60s, the era where people made movies in the way that they made plays was gone. (Ironically, stag films happen to come from that particular age.) Just as so many “writers” today realize that there are big bucks incoming from books, people had realized that riches beyond one’s wildest dreams were in movies. It triggered this sort of indefinite movement that I believe still carries on its secret, intangible agenda to the modern age.
Exploitation arrives whenever people realize money is present, and this was no different; so on-the-cheap movies that took on specific, audience-general properties appeared. There are two things which will universally sell with people who have always done so: naked women, and monsters. The two together invariably make a mint for the person who did the creating.
And it is here, at a sort of Golden Age of Cheapo Sleaze, that dozens of movies like The Beast That Killed Women were churned out at insane speeds. The movies are not meant to be savored or enjoyed or placed in a fictional hall of classics that sits only in the mind. But when the men and women who made these things have moved onto other ventures…why not?
The movie is certainly enjoyable. All of Mahon’s films are. They are so whacked out that they take on a similar feel to Doris Wishman’s immortal A Night to Dismember. They feature crackling prints, horrible acting, little plot, barebones continuity, and random moments of insanity that the director no doubt giggled over. I’ve seen this as well as the maddeningly dull Blood of the Zombie (1961) and the tentacled abomination that mortals call Santa Claus and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972). I wonder what I would say to Barry if I met him face-to-face. He’s a weird ‘un.
So, all in all, I’d recommend The Beast That Killed Women. But it’s not like it’s meant to be one of the greats. You can make it what you want it to be, and I think that’s something that’s not all bad.