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Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 05:05 PM
I'm reading the Eyeball Compendium, and I'm intrigued by the chapter on Brownrigg... I've never seen any of his films, though I've heard of them before. What are the best editions of his films available R1? Thanks in advance!

Phil B.
03-31-2010, 05:20 PM
I think the VCI dvd of DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT looked ok. I'm no expert on screen ratios and all that jive, but the copy looked much better than the other Mill Creek edition I have of it.

http://www.amazon.com/Dont-Look-Basement-Bill-McGhee/dp/6305459452

I have only seen DLITB, but I have heard that KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN is a fun show too.

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 05:28 PM
SCUM OF THE EARTH and DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT will play theaters this year and we will finally issue the SCUM DVD as well.

David

Aleck Bennett
03-31-2010, 05:47 PM
KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN isn't among his best. It's got some okay elements, but it's generally sub-par. VCI's double-feature set of DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT and DON'T OPEN THE DOOR both look and sound far better than I'd seen them on VHS (whatever framing issues there might be to one side, though the 16:9 cropping never really bothered me), though that shouldn't be read to mean that they look pristine. They're just better than previous. BASEMENT and SCUM are my favorites, and I can't wait for the DVD of SCUM to hit. DOOR doesn't reach the giddy heights of BASEMENT, but I've got a certain sentimental attachment to it.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 06:08 PM
I was gonna order that double bill, but I read that Basement is cut - is there an uncut release, or is that version, in fact, uncut?

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 06:14 PM
I agree with Aleck, the VCI double feature is the only way to go for now. I simply cannot wait for the SCUM dvd release. I'm still wondering if it will have the Grindhouse logo or be from Box Office Spectaculars. I say this because I suspect Sage may not be the biggest Brownrigg fan.

Troy, I'm VERY interested in how you respond to Brownrigg. That Thrower article is great, especially when he suggests that the use of vibrant gels in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR may be evidence of Brownrigg being a SUSPIRIA fan.

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 06:19 PM
I was gonna order that double bill, but I read that Basement is cut - is there an uncut release, or is that version, in fact, uncut?

I'm pretty sure that it's uncut. There are rumors about the finale originally being much bloodier, but it's rather tame in all of the many releases I've seen.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 06:31 PM
Well, I went with the double bill... we'll see how I like them!

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 06:48 PM
SCUM will be a Box Office Spectaculars release. I am co-producing the disc with Bob Murawski. Sage is helping with the extras.

Stephen Thrower was wrong when he wrote that the lighting in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR was influenced by Argento's SUSPIRIA. Brownrigg's movie was filmed in late 1973, pre-SUSPIRIA... besides, Brownrigg wasn't the type to be "influenced by Dario Argento".

That scene in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR was just an example of how Brownrigg designed his movies around a location - they shot the film in a historic Texas house that had a room with stained-glass windows. My friend Brian Hooper (R.I.P.) shot the movie w/ Bob Alcott - Brian built a pulley system for the camera that Brownrigg used to create one of the movie's more ambitious shots. I have photos of the crew shooting this movie where you can see the room w/ the stained glass.

BASEMENT and SCUM OF THE EARTH are his best movies; the other two horror films suffered because they were backed by Martin Jurow, who was aiming for the "classy suspense film" route rather than drive-in exploitation. I am still dying to read Stephen's interview with actor Charlie Dell, who refused to participate in the SCUM DVD extras.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 06:55 PM
Sounds like a release to look forward to!

While Brownrigg could not possibly have been influenced by Suspiria, is it possible he may have seen the odd Bava title on the grindhouse circuit?

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 06:59 PM
No... Brownrigg was not into that. He spent most of his career producing commercials & industrials. He was not a cineaste or really a fan of this stuff; he was happy to make the low-budget movies and he enjoyed the fact that people liked them. But "Bava who?" would have been his answer to that question.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 07:02 PM
Sounds practical enough. Sometimes good ideas and aesthetics simply reappear in other films, independent of any specific influence. In any event, I look forward to delving into these two films... and I certainly look forward to the DVD release of Scum. Any idea when it will be out, or is it too premature to say?

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 07:05 PM
Thanks Troy - I don't have a street date but I will have theatrical dates for SCUM soon.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 07:06 PM
I doubt it will make it to Johnstown, PA - but I look forward to the disc!

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 07:29 PM
Stephen Thrower was wrong when he wrote that the lighting in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR was influenced by Argento's SUSPIRIA

It's still amusing at least.

Thanks for the SCUM dvd information, David. I look forward to seeing updates about the theatrical dates. I would love to see this even more than the great Grindhouse titles currently making the rounds.

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 07:49 PM
I can't help but add that SCUM OF THE EARTH aka POOR WHITE TRASH II is a masterpiece. It floors me everytime.

And Troy, I think the best way to approach Brownrigg is to know that you have to be forgiving of some things. That's not a put-down to his work; sorry to use a cliche, but he accomplished a whole lot with very little.

Troy Howarth
03-31-2010, 09:07 PM
That's what I gathered from the chapter, I read. They sound like rough hewn works at best, but sometimes the diamond in the rough stuff is more interesting than the more technically accomplished ones.

Stephen Thrower
03-31-2010, 09:48 PM
Hi!

Good to see the Brownriggs being discussed. I think all four have their charms, and if you get a taste for one you'll very likely get something from each of them.

Regarding the piece in which I mentioned a possible Argento or Bava influence, the word to bear in mind is 'possible' - I did qualify the remark, and I knew it was an outlandish suggestion, which is why I added 'don't laugh!' in brackets! Anyway, despite such influence being impossible (Argento)/or highly unlikely (Bava), the scene in question still has a weird flamboyance that's quite at odds with Brownrigg's generally more restrained approach.

I wrote the Brownrigg piece in Eyeball before I started researching Nightmare USA, which is when I was informed of the true filming dates. For years, we were labouring under the impression that DON'T OPEN THE DOOR was released in 1979! Looking back, it seems obvious now - DON'T OPEN looks very much of the same period as the other three movies.

I was amazed to discover just how close together the four films were shot. If only Brownrigg had found a really good supportive producer in the late 1970s...

Stephen Thrower
03-31-2010, 09:55 PM
That's what I gathered from the chapter, I read. They sound like rough hewn works at best, but sometimes the diamond in the rough stuff is more interesting than the more technically accomplished ones.

Hi Troy!

They all have such a wonderfully melancholy mood - that's what distinguishes them, I'd say. BASEMENT adds gore and violence to the stew, SCUM has the sleaziest dialogue (plus violence) whereas the other two get by on melancholy atmosphere alone, pretty much. That, plus stalwart acting from Brownie's rep' cast, who rarely put a foot wrong.

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 10:06 PM
Totally agreed on the appeal of the Brownrigg movies, Stephen. Like you said, the Eyeball piece goes back some years & we didn't know back in the day that all these movies were shot in less than two years. Here is the chronology of shooting dates for anyone interested:

Don't Look in the Basement - July 1972
Scum of the Earth - March 1973
Don't Hang Up - September 1973 (re-cut version with new footage released as Don't Open the Door, 1979)
Keep My Grave Open - April 1974

DON'T OPEN THE DOOR and GRAVE were also both shelved for years (partly for tax reasons, but mainly because no one wanted them!) , another factor in the confusion on the dates. I like the dreary Southern Gothic vibe in both movies, and Larry O'Dwyer's psycho performance in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR is pretty great.

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 10:14 PM
SCUM OF THE EARTH also has the emphasis on gore and violence seen in BASEMENT - when Brownrigg paired with a different producer, the results were more anemic. There was a fifth horror movie planned in the mid-'70s - that script was more along the lines of his two hits than DON'T OPEN THE DOOR or GRAVE.

Brownrigg always had films "in the works" but as Stephen said he didn't find the money to realize those projects. Sadly, the one movie that got made wa the awful THINKIN' BIG which I recommend to no one!

edit: Also, check out the bizarre family film THE PICKLE GOES IN THE MIDDLE - it features a lot of the Brownrigg actors. Charlie Dell, now embarrassed of playing a retard in SCUM OF THE EARTH, has an even more ridiculous role as the star of this movie about warring fast-food chains. This is a movie that the guys from DEVO would appreciate! (By the way Doug Smith, co-founder of the Church of the SubGenius and friend-of-DEVO, worked on several of the Brownrigg movies.)

Stephen Thrower
03-31-2010, 10:15 PM
Totally agreed on the appeal of the Brownrigg movies, Stephen. Like you said, the Eyeball piece goes back some years & we didn't know back in the day that all these movies were shot in less than two years. Here is the chronology of shooting dates for anyone interested:

Don't Look in the Basement - July 1972
Scum of the Earth - March 1973
Don't Hang Up - September 1973 (re-cut version with new footage released as Don't Open the Door, 1979)
Keep My Grave Open - April 1974

DON'T OPEN THE DOOR and GRAVE were also both shelved for years (partly for tax reasons, but mainly because no one wanted them!) , another factor in the confusion on the dates. I like the dreary Southern Gothic vibe in both movies, and Larry O'Dwyer's psycho performance in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR is pretty great.

Larry O'Dwyer is great, isn't he! What a creepy performance.

When you hear that the film was shelved for years, it makes you wonder just how many more strange and uncommercial little gems there are languishing in attic cupboards in Texas, North Carolina, etc.!

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 10:16 PM
Stephen, thank you very much for showing up. You're a true hero.

Sorry about my fanboy drool.

Stephen Thrower
03-31-2010, 10:19 PM
SCUM OF THE EARTH also has the emphasis on gore and violence seen in BASEMENT - when Brownrigg paired with a different producer, the results were more anemic. There was a fifth horror movie planned in the mid-'70s - that script was more along the lines of his two hits.

Brownrigg always had films "in the works" but as Stephen said he didn't find the money to realize those projects. Sadly, the one movie that got made wa the awful THINKIN' BIG which I recommend to no one!

THINKIN' BIG proves one thing only - that while Brownrigg may not have considered himself a 'horror specialist', no one would ever mistake him for a comedy director!

Stephen Thrower
03-31-2010, 10:22 PM
Stephen, thank you very much for showing up. You're a true hero.

Sorry about my fanboy drool.

:) Nice to be back. I haven't posted here for a while. The lure of a Brownrigg thread drew me in! It's like someone waving a bottle of Jack Daniels at an alcoholic.

Matthew BB
03-31-2010, 10:27 PM
I told everyone how much I liked your Faust piece.

But back to Brownrigg...

I am very much looking forward to the chapter in Nightmare USA 2. The whole book too, of course.

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 10:28 PM
Supposedly Andy Kaufman was a big fan of O'Dwyer's performance in DON'T OPEN THE DOOR. Larry is a well-respected stage actor - most of the Brownrigg regulars came from Dallas' Theater 3. There is a kind of stage-play atmosphere to some of the Brownrigg flicks that is endearing (to some, ha ha.)

Norma Moore, the lead in SCUM OF THE EARTH, was an actress at the prestigious Dallas Theater Center. She had a traumatic experience working on the movie, taunted by the other actors who called her "Norma Dogsbody." Kind of a real-life Southern Discomfort scenario.

David Szulkin
03-31-2010, 10:33 PM
I like Stephen's line about Brownie's "usual evening in with the barbituates & whiskey" (I think that was in an old Shock Xpress), in reference to the depressing effect of his movies.

Matthew BB
04-01-2010, 12:03 AM
There is a kind of stage-play atmosphere to some of the Brownrigg flicks that is endearing (to some, ha ha.)

I would say that is perhaps the biggest reason why Brownrigg is such tough going for many viewers. Honestly, I expect most people to call him 'garbage' and turn him off after getting just a few minutes into the set-up and feel of any of his films. And no matter how many great writers discuss him, it will take a serious push of some sort for him to finally break through to the audience he deserves. Hopefully, the new release of SCUM OF THE EARTH will be a step in the right direction.

THINKIN BIG-It's really strange to watch Brownrigg outside of the 70's. He even reuses that creepy flute effect. As bad as that movie is, I will go so far as to say that it's worth watching...it's fucking weird! It's like when a band attempts an album that's too atypical for them. It might suck, but the results are somehow compelling.

We obviously cannot ignore Gene Ross in any Brownrigg discussion. I think he's the most memorable thing about the films. I bet that many would be surprised that they've seen him in plenty of less obscure roles. David, I wonder if you have any info on how he's doing, if still alive.

Aleck Bennett
04-01-2010, 12:56 AM
By the way Doug Smith, co-founder of the Church of the SubGenius and friend-of-DEVO, worked on several of the Brownrigg movies.

Ah, yes, the good ol' Reverend Ivan Stang. I remember when I first heard that, suddenly all of the mentions of Texas regional flicks in the Church's literature made total sense. (I'm fairly certain that he's the first person I ever heard make mention of MANOS, and I've been searching for Palmer Rockey's SCARLET LOVE after first reading about it in The Book of the SubGenius.)

Brendan M
04-01-2010, 02:25 AM
i finally had the chance to watch a shitty vhs rip of scum of the earth the other night and holy crap does that film pack a punch!! ive always been a fan of Dont look in the basement and am keen to check out keep my grave open...

Stephen, how is Nightmare USA Vol 2 coming along? the first volume was mind boggling!

Marshall Crist
04-01-2010, 02:42 AM
One might also wonder aloud what the hell is going on with David Szulkin's Brownrigg book. Some people can't wait for it!

Chad D.
04-01-2010, 03:02 AM
A Brownrigg film, a fistful of beers & a bong hit or five on a moist summer night makes me an extremely happy camper.

http://i44.tinypic.com/23mj2a.jpg

Stephen Thrower
04-01-2010, 07:04 AM
i finally had the chance to watch a shitty vhs rip of scum of the earth the other night and holy crap does that film pack a punch!! ive always been a fan of Dont look in the basement and am keen to check out keep my grave open...

Stephen, how is Nightmare USA Vol 2 coming along? the first volume was mind boggling!

Thanks Brendan! The second Nightmare USA is on hold while I finish my book of Jess Franco film reviews, which should be done by the end of the year.

Troy Howarth
04-01-2010, 07:22 AM
Hi Troy!

They all have such a wonderfully melancholy mood - that's what distinguishes them, I'd say. BASEMENT adds gore and violence to the stew, SCUM has the sleaziest dialogue (plus violence) whereas the other two get by on melancholy atmosphere alone, pretty much. That, plus stalwart acting from Brownie's rep' cast, who rarely put a foot wrong.

FYI, I also got a copy of Nightmare USA! ;)

I'm looking forward to the double feature of Basement and Door. It's a pity Scum is out of reach for now, but I do plan to see it when it becomes available.

Stephen Thrower
04-01-2010, 03:59 PM
A Brownrigg film, a fistful of beers & a bong hit or five on a moist summer night makes me an extremely happy camper.

http://i44.tinypic.com/23mj2a.jpg

A good spread, I have them in my collection too, except for that large boxed version of DON'T OPEN THE DOOR.

Matthew BB
04-02-2010, 12:04 AM
I mentioned this clip in another thread. Here it is. The first couple of minutes are of interest.


<object width="500" height="405"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ncmRcpbJ5sc&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ncmRcpbJ5sc&hl=en_US&fs=1&rel=0&border=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="500" height="405"></embed></object>

Chris Baker
04-02-2010, 02:09 AM
SCUM OF THE EARTH and DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT will play theaters this year and we will finally issue the SCUM DVD as well.

David

Excellent news! Have never seen any of these projected - and, due to a technical malfunction, have never seen the last 10 minutes of SCUM :)

I first encountered DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT on late-night TV in NYC in the late 70's, on a sweltering night, while having no idea what it was - it blew my mind, and I love it to this day.

Matthew BB
04-03-2010, 01:56 PM
A Brownrigg film, a fistful of beers & a bong hit or five on a moist summer night makes me an extremely happy camper.

http://i44.tinypic.com/23mj2a.jpg


Great, great post!

I tend to watch some of these with grape popsicles.


According to Jim Arena's DVD Drive-In article on the Fright Night show, DON'T LOOK IN THE BASEMENT was a staple on Channel 9 late night from the late 70s to the mid 80s. The listing has many other great low-budget early 70s titles.

I saw DON'T for the first time on a Saturday afternoon horror program called Spine Tinglers which aired on Channel 20 in CT. It was 1987. I was six years old. I spent a good deal of my childhood being obsessed with its weirdness.

Armando Hernandez
04-03-2010, 09:22 PM
I finally got to watch all his movies last month (Keep My Grave Open and Thinkin' Big actually, I seen Basement and Door last year) and I must say he was a very good director but "Thinkin' Big" sucked a lot though.

Marshall Crist
09-11-2010, 02:08 AM
There is a kind of stage-play atmosphere to some of the Brownrigg flicks that is endearing (to some, ha ha.)


I would say without irony that Brownrigg is the Tennessee Williams of horror.

Matthew BB
09-11-2010, 03:34 PM
I see that KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN is in that new Mill Creek 50 movie thing. Not that I don't like it (the final 20 or so minutes are what really make it worth sticking around for), but most will agree that's the least likely Brownrigg film to win him any new fans.

SCUM OF THE EARTH however...I think I've already blathered enough about how much I like it. But now I can add some more by saying in my view it's him at his most Williams-esque :D.

Andrew Ellis
09-11-2010, 11:55 PM
I have a public domain copy of "Don't Look in the Basement" (my favorite), a bootleg of "Scum of the Earth", and with "Don't Open the Door" and "Keep My Grave Open, I have DVD-Rs that I copied from VHS-Rs that I copied years ago from VHS rental tapes. Naturally, I'd love to replace all that crap with a deluxe box set with extras, liner notes, etc. So I've been waiting. . .

I love the 70's regional filmmakers like Brownrigg, Larry Buchanon, Frederick Friedel, and William Girdler (although the latter eventually got pretty big). With the death of the drive-ins and the grindhouses, it's not possible today to compete with Hollywood even on the level they did. And while anybody today can easily make a movie and sell it on the internet, that's also the problem: I just can't spend my time and money sorting through all the "movies" made by drunk suburban kids in their backyard with their parents camcorders in order to find the S.F. Brownriggs and Larry Buchanons that may be out there today.

I agree with everyone though, I hope someone gives us a book and a box set soon.

Matthew BB
09-12-2010, 12:59 AM
Naturally, I'd love to replace all that crap with a deluxe box set with extras, liner notes, etc. So I've been waiting. . .

...With the death of the drive-ins and the grindhouses, it's not possible today to compete with Hollywood even on the level they did. And while anybody today can easily make a movie and sell it on the internet, that's also the problem: I just can't spend my time and money sorting through all the "movies" made by drunk suburban kids in their backyard with their parents camcorders in order to find the S.F. Brownriggs and Larry Buchanons that may be out there today.

These particular parts of your post brought a big smile to my face, I can't lie :).

But I wouldn't lose any sleep over maybe missing out on someone who could be the next Brownrigg. Not to get too sappy, but there just can never be another like him. Though he doesn't really have anything in common content wise with Andy Milligan (who I don't like nearly as much), he is the only other example I know of in this realm whose films don't seem like they were made on planet Earth. Stephen Thrower has suggested something like this about both, so I'm kinda stealing from him when I say that. He's so on the money to me, I just don't know how else to put it.

Maybe I haven't seen enough modern low-budget/homemade horror, but I have yet to come across anyone nowadays who isn't indebted to pop culture. I'm not saying everything new sucks, I just can't imagine anything as charmingly bizarre and individualistic as Brownrigg even at his worst.

Daniel M
09-14-2010, 04:31 PM
While Brownrigg and and Milligan share little in terms of content, there's an intense theatricality to the acting in their films that creates a stylistic link of sorts.

james_brummel
09-14-2010, 07:15 PM
While Brownrigg and and Milligan share little in terms of content, there's an intense theatricality to the acting in their films that creates a stylistic link of sorts.

Absolutely, it's probably well known here that Milligan was a player in the early days of off off Bway NYC 1960s. Among the many things I like about his films is they combine the stylized acting with new cinema technique and Williams style melodrama.

I never say never about there being "another" Milligan or Brownrigg or whatever, it always seems just when I think I'm jaded something suprising happens. Those guys were probably influenced by the culture of their time, but they lived during the era of 5 tv channels and the local movie house. We are innundated with media now of widely varying styles so we have way way more reference points. Just wait, nature abhors a vacuum.

Tim Mayer
09-14-2010, 08:44 PM
"And while anybody today can easily make a movie and sell it on the internet, that's also the problem: I just can't spend my time and money sorting through all the "movies" made by drunk suburban kids in their backyard with their parents camcorders in order to find the S.F. Brownriggs and Larry Buchanons that may be out there today."

Well put. I've seen countless guys selling their slasher movies at Monster Mania.

Sebastian H
09-14-2010, 09:18 PM
Massive Brownrigg fan and without doubt he represents the golden age of cinema where the stranger it was the better. Apart from Thinkin' Big I think all his films were worthy and of course his work with Larry Buchanan is worth mentioning too as they were so much fun.

Two questions, 1) are there any pictures of him online? I've never seen what he looked like and 2) what the hell has happened to the Grindhouse DVD which was supposed to have been released last January I think it was. It seems to have vanished entirely and that's a shame because Poor White Trash II is one of my all time favourite movies and the DVD itself sounded like a corker.

james_brummel
09-14-2010, 11:04 PM
I just can't spend my time and money sorting through all the "movies" made by drunk suburban kids in their backyard with their parents camcorders in order to find the S.F. Brownriggs and Larry Buchanons that may be out there today."
.
Reminds me of when I moved to NYC in 1986, when life was cheap. There was a video place called Royal Video on Flatbush Ave in Bklyn--I think rentals were .50 or .75 cents. To my virgin eyes it looked like thousands of tapes. Being the wilds of Brooklyn it was all bargain basement junk, IE a treasure chest. I was paralyzed: where do I start? One box had "THE DEMON LOVER directed by Fred Olen Ray" crudely scrawled in red marker. It was dubbed in Spanish. I kept expecting to find snuff films.

I still had the exuberance of youth, a 40$ a month marijuana habit and was a freelance production assistant with the emphasis on "free". I must have watched 500 movies in about a year. 90% was crap. But I "discovered" Brownrigg, and Buchanan and Crazy Fat Ethel etc etc. Ah youth.

Daniel M
09-15-2010, 12:00 AM
^ Curious, had you caught any Buchanan on TV prior to finding his titles in the videostore? I grew up with the man's AIP Azalea productions on Saturday morning "creature feature" programs, although I was fortunate to catch things like GOODBYE NORMA JEAN and BEYOND THE DOORS at the drive-ins older friends would smuggle me in to...

james_brummel
09-15-2010, 02:00 AM
^ Curious, had you caught any Buchanan on TV prior to finding his titles in the videostore?

Yes, and I had seen BASEMENT on WOR in 70's and lots other stuff but I didn't appreciate them the same way as after I saw EVERY Buchanan movie and EVERY Brownrigg. Plus I saw them in context with other real junk and learned the difference between a plain bad boring useless movie and an unconventional and maybe technically flawed movie with lots of moxie. IE Hills Have Eyes PartII vs Alien Factor. Most people would say they both suck but Alien Factor was endearing and fun, Hills was just bad.

My point re the quoted post was I had to wade through lots of junk to find the good stuff. Now there is exponentially more product, but then we have lots of resources that review them and sort them. Back in 86 all I had was wall after wall of boxes. I don't even think I knew about Psychotronic. There's this story of a man who finds a little boy in a stable shoveling manure. He asks "why are you doing that" and the kid says " with all this shit there must be a pony here somewhere".