“She Should’a Said No!”/”The Devil’s Sleep” (1949, Kino Lorber/Something Weird Video) The horrors of marijuana and diet pill addiction, as revealed by America’s fearless exploitation showmen. The top of the bill stars Lila Leeds, a minor actress who rose to notoriety in 1948 when she, along with actor Robert Mitchum, was arrested on marijuana possession charges. In “Should’a,” Leeds essentially plays herself as Anne Lester, an aspiring performer whose life spirals into moral and legal decay after indulging in a Tinseltown “tea party.” Like Leeds, Lester serves 60 days after the bust, but is also subjected to her brother’s suicide, a stint as a dealer, and a tour of LA County’s jails and psychiatric wards for her sins. Relentlessly moralistic and shamelessly hypocritical (and sexist) grindhouse melodrama from exploitation legend Kroger Babb (who took his moniker from the Kroger supermarket chain) and culled from the Something Weird Video library; it’s joined by “The Devil’s Sleep,” a creepy “expose” of both the health spa and diet pill rackets that features another Mitchum (Robert’s brother, John), Charlie Chaplin’s teenage bride, Lita Grey, and bodybuilder George Eiferman (as himself). Ed Wood devotees will note that two members of his bizarro repertory company – Lyle Talbot and Timothy Farrell – appear in “Should’a” and “Sleep,” respectively, while “Sleep” cinematographer William C. Thompson lensed nearly all of Ed’s features, including “Plan 9 from Outer Space.” Kino’s Blu-ray includes commentary on “Shoulda” by historian Alexandra Heller-Nicholas.
“Shock Treatment” (1973, Severin Films) Worried about the ravages of age as she approaches 40, Annie Girardot visits the chic-boutique health clinic of the aptly named Dr. Deviler (Alain Delon), where the clientele appears to grow younger by the day while the immigrant help seem to turn weaker and sicker. Morbid medical horror hews towards pointed satire of upper class anxieties (political and personal) before shifting gears into full-bore freak-out when Girardot discovers the ugly secret of Delon’s treatment. Arthouse favorites Girardot and Delon – whose own uncanny eternal youth makes him an ideal casting choice – appear to enjoy both the black humor and creepy-crawly elements of writer/director/co-composer Alain Jessua‘s script; Severin’s Blu-ray offers a 2K restoration and interviews with co-composer Rene Koering, who also provides commentary about the breezy score for three scenes, while Jessua is profiled in an interview and featurette. More hospital horror from Severin can be found in “Patrick Still Lives” (1980), a supremely tacky, in-name-only Italian sequel to the 1978 Australian thriller “Patrick,” with pop singer Gianni Dei as a coma patient who uses his psychic abilities to gruesomely murder his father’s debauched friends. It’s best appreciated by Eurocult completists.
“Pit Stop” (2020, MVD Visual) Two industrious, if not very bright young men decide that the kick-it-up-a-notch component for their underground rave is cheap, mild-altering drugs, which they purchase from weirdo dealer Bruce Payne. Said bathtub acid transforms the partygoers into flesh-eating zombies, which proves stressful for the fellas and two young women that made the unfortunate decision to tag along with these dopes. British horror-comedy delivers standard-issue zombie action mixed with broad laughs, many of which play funnier in the gag reel that rolls under the credits; if you want blood, you get it here, but if you ask more from your living dead movies, you have many, many other choices. MVD’s DVD is widescreen.
“The Eleventh Commandment” (1986, Vinegar Syndrome) Conniving Dick (Darren II from “Bewitched”) Sargent bundles his out-to-lunch nephew (Bernard White), a failed seminary student, off to an asylum, but he promptly escapes and begins hacking his way back to his uncle. Largely bloodless slasher film from Paul Leder, whose daughter is film/TV director Mimi Leder, and whose eccentric c.v. includes the South Korean 3-D monster movie “A*P*E” and two of the most memorably titled horror films of the 1970s – “I Dismember Mama” and “My Friends Need Killing,” both featuring “Commandment” co-star Greg Mullavey and screenwriter William Norton. This isn’t quite up to the level of grindhouse grit in those titles, but does operate on a similarly off-kilter energy. Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-ray includes a 2K restoration and interviews with White and co-star Lauren Woodward.
“The Chill Factor” (1993, Arrow Video) Snowmobilers stranded in an abandoned Christian youth camp (!) must hold their own against the forces of darkness, which have taken up residence there. Supernatural thriller lensed in Wisconsin does its best to draw attention away from its low-budget shortcomings and stultifying pace with attempts at spooky visual effects (spinning crucifixes, Jesus figures weeping blood), woo-woo supernatural trappings (Ouija boards, possession), and even some gonzo snowmobile stunts. That can-do spirit does lift the proceedings out of the pool of vintage VHS spookshows, if only by an inch or two. Arrow’s Blu-ray includes commentary by and interviews with members of the cast and crew, as well as a feature-length workprint. And Arrow offers a second cup of homegrown horror from America’s Dairyland with their Blu-ray for “Trapped Alive” (1988), which pits escaped convicts, hostages and a deputy against a hairy cannibal in an abandoned mine, while Cameron Mitchell remains wisely indoors, fretting up a storm.