Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Half Way to Hell (1960)

Promo Materials for Half Way to Hell (1960)Half Way to Hell (1960) by #VictorAdamson & #AlAdamson




#Action #Western

In keeping with my recent streak of Al Adamson movies – or, more specifically, my recent exploration of three different versions of the same Al Adamson movie, which in fact started out as his very first feature film as a director,  Psycho a Go Go (1965), which then became The Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1967), and then finished as Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971) – I thought I’d look at another very early Al Adamson movie. In fact, the truth is that Al Adamson made this one (uncredited) before his official debut. It was a co-directing job with his father, Victor Adamson, and as you may have guessed by now, it’s called Half Way to Hell (1960). I decided that I had to take a look at this movie which may well have inspired Al Adamson to become a film director. 

It’s not the kind of movie that I usually feature at the Home Drive-in. It’s a Western. Don’t get me wrong. I love Westerns. I watch them all the time. I used to watch one a week, minimum. And there was a time, when I was working on writing my own epic Western story, that I immersed myself in Westerns and watched one pretty much every day – except for Fridays.

I’m not sure why, exactly. Westerns certainly were common drive-in movie fare back in the day. I guess I’m still stuck on the fact that it was horror and monster movies that really got me into the drive-in appreciation society. Having said that, I enjoy many other types of drive-in movies, as you may have noticed if you’ve ever read this blog before. I have, in fact, featured at least a couple of Western crossover films in past posts. One was Jack the Ripper Goes West aka A Knife for the Ladies (1974). So, it’s not unheard of for the Wild West to make an appearance on these blog pages. It just isn’t… usual, I guess.

In any case, I am still experiencing the technical difficulties and inconveniences of modern life that made me have to cut last week’s blog post short. So, alas, I will have be brief.

Half Way to Hell (1960) is a low budget B Western that probably came and went without much fanfare back in the day. Having seen quite a few B Westerns in the past, I wasn’t really looking forward to it, because I find a lot of them to be kind of tedious.  I was pleasantly surprised, however. It’s by no means a masterpiece, but it’s far more entertaining than I ever expected it to be. It held my interest, and I kind of liked it. I found the ending to be a bit of head-scratcher, but what can you do? If this is the movie that made Al Adamson decide to be a filmmaker, then it deserves to be celebrated for launching a true master of #NotQuiteClassicCinema on his epic journey. 

I probably won’t watch it a lot of times in the future, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one day Half Way to Hell (1960) gets another chance to entertain me on a dusty #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Tattooed Dragon (1973)

Poster for The Tattooed Dragon (1973)The Tattooed Dragon (1973) by #WeiLo

w/ #JimmyWangYu #SamuelHui #SylviaChang

The Tattooed Dragon comes to the rescue after violent gangster types take over a small village by opening a casino and fleecing all of the locals.

from Golden Harvest Productions

#HongKong #Action #MartialArts


The Tattooed Dragon (1973) is a vehicle for star Jimmy Wang Yu, who had great success with One-Armed Boxer AKA The Chinese Professionals (1972) – which I talked about on a previous Friday Night at the Home Drive-in

Due to vagaries of modern existence, I will not be able to spend a long time talking about this movie today. To be honest, I don’t really have a lot to say about The Tattooed Dragon that I didn’t already say about One-Armed Boxer. Same star. Same old-school martial arts entertainment. 

I would say that One-Armed Boxer is probably the better of the two movies, but The Tattooed Dragon still has lots to offer. I was thoroughly caught up in it’s relatively simple storyline for most of the movie’s 93 minutes. Things do take an unexpectedly dark turn toward the end, and the ending itself is a bit unsatisfying, but I was certainly never bored.

All in all, The Tattooed Dragon (1973) is a fine example of the kind of Hong Kong #NotQuiteClassicCinema that I might have seen when I was a kid, but didn’t. It confirms my interest in seeing more Jimmy Wang Yu movies (an interest that began with One-Armed Boxer). And I will look forward to doing exactly that on some future #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971)

Poster for Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971)Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971)
by #AlAdamson

w/ #JohnCarradine #KentTaylor #TommyKirk #ReginaCarrol

A mad doctor creates a fiend with an electronic brain.

“Human Zombies Rise From Their Coffins As Living Corpses”

#Horror #SciFi

What can I say about Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971)? It’s the third (or is it the fourth?) version of Al Adamson’s first feature film (not counting the movie he co-directed with his father).

According to Sam Sherman, it started life as something called Echo of Terror, which was a pretty good low budget crime film. Unfortunately, Al Adamson couldn’t find any distributor willing to take it. So, he added in some music and go-go dancing and changed the name to Psycho a Go Go (1965), which did find some limited distribution.

This is the first version of the movie that I ever saw – and I liked it. I wrote about it on a previous Friday:

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: Psycho a Go Go (1965)

Still, it wasn’t a huge success. So, Adamson (and Sherman) got the idea to add some more footage into the movie and make it more of a horror film. They also hired famous actor John Carradine to appear in it. This would make the movie more marketable. They managed to sell it to television, where Sherman claims it played quite a bit in syndication. This version of the movie was called The Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1967) and I wrote about it on another Friday:

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: The Fiend with the Electronic Brain (1967)

Still not satisfied, Adamson and Sherman added even more horror footage to the movie – this time featuring zombies of a sort – plus some new scenes with character actors Tommy Kirk and Kent Taylor. And some scenes featuring Adamson’s wife, Regina Carrol. I believe that they were going for the drive-in market with this one, and they pretty much got it. Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971) played top and bottom halves of drive-in bills for years. 

Sherman admits that the best version of the movie is probably the original version that never saw the light of day. It just wasn’t marketable, and at the end of the day, this was a business. So, even though he had to compromise his artistic vision, Al Adamson was okay with “ruining” his movie to create these other films.

Ruining is my word, but Sherman has used it in the past to describe what he did to other movies by adding new footage, so I don’t think he would mind me using it here.

Basically, I think I agree with Sherman. Psycho a Go Go (1965) is my favourite version of this film. I can enjoy the added scenes with Carradine, and I’m always glad to see Regina Carrol, but basically the movie worked best as a low budget crime film. The added horror stuff is fine, but it doesn’t really belong. 

Of course, I haven’t seen the Echo of Terror version, which may have been the very first version (if it in fact exists). But I actually LIKE the songs performed by Tacey Robbins – and the go go dancing – so I think I’m going to assume that Psycho a Go Go is the most satisfying version of the movie. 

Still, Blood of Ghastly Horror (1971) is about as #NotQuiteClassicCinema as any movie can be. It was made for drive-ins, and it certainly deserves a chance to  improve – or ruin – your next #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn.

Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: New Year’s Evil (1980)

poster for New Year's Evil (1980)New Year’s Evil (1980) by #EmmettAlston

w/ #RozKelly #KipNiven

On New Year’s Eve, a psycho vows to kill one person as midnight strikes in each time zone.

“This New Year’s, you’re invited to a killer party…”

#Horror #Slasher



Looking at my previous blog post about New Year’s Evil (1980), I see that I predicted that I would be watching it again this year, as December 31 was, in fact, a Friday. I had forgotten all about that prediction, and was quite shocked to discover that New Year’s Eve 2021 fell on a #FridayNightAtTheHomeDriveIn. I considered watching some other movie that’s set on New Year’s Eve, but truth be told I felt like watching New Year’s Evil (1980) again.

So I did.

Instead of writing a whole new post about it, which would feel a little weird, I will simply invite anyone who is interested to take a look at last year’s post. I think it still stands as an accurate representation of my thoughts and feelings about the much maligned piece of #NotQuiteClassicCinema that is New Year’s Evil (1980). Enjoy!

Read: Friday Night At The Home Drive-In: New Year’s Evil (1980) from 2021!

Trash Or Terror Tuesday: Satan’s Playground (2006)

It’s time for #TrashOrTerrorTuesday

…when I examine a film that’s been languishing in my personal library to determine if it is #Trash or #Terror

– or more importantly, if it deserves to stay in my collection.

And so, out from the dusty shelves of #VHS tapes & DVDs comes…

DVD cover for Satan's Playground (2006)Satan’s Playground (2006) by #DanteTomaselli

w/ #FelissaRose #DannyLopes #EllenSandweiss #EdwinNeal

A family gets lost in the Pine Barrens and becomes the prey of the Jersey Devil. Not to mention some crazy backwoods family with a creepy door knocker…

“Enter If You Dare”


Satan’s Playground (2006) is one of those curious movies that I could remember watching some years back – and I could remember a fair bit of detail about it – but I simply never felt like watching again. So why had a kept it in my collection? I must have, at the time, felt like I would want to watch it again in the future. But even since starting this #TrashOrTerrorTuesday thing, I keep looking at it and thinking “not this week.” 

So, I guess that’s reason enough to put it to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test.

The first thing that a person might notice about Satan’s Playground is that it’s got an interesting cast. It stars Felissa Rose, who rose to fame as Angela in Sleepaway Camp (1983). She only appeared in a handful of things over the next 20 years, but starting in 2003 she’s amassed almost 150 credits in ultra low budget horror films. 

Ellen Sandweiss plays Felissa’s sister in Satan’s Playground. Her name is not as well known, but she played Cheryl in The Evil Dead (1981). Satan’s Playground was apparently her first movie appearance after that. 

Edwin Neal, who plays a member of a crazy backwoods family in Satan’s Playground, is best known for playing a member of a crazy backwoods family in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). He’s also in another one of my favourites, Future-Kill (1985) – not to mention over 70 other movies, TV shows, and video games.

It becomes clear when watching Satan’s Playground, that writer/director Dante Tomaselli is hugely influenced by both The Evil Dead and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. There are stylistic flourishes that seem to evoke Sam Raimi, like a POV camera racing through the woods and a loud, rhythmic banging sound as the characters approach a decrepit looking house in the woods. 

The crazy backwoods family terrorizing (and killing) people seems like a definite nod to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but like I said in one of my recent #TrashOrTerrorTuesday posts, there are so many ripoffs of that movie out there that it’s almost pointless to mention it. In this case, however, the casting of Edwin Neal seems to make it particularly obvious.

Perhaps the weirdest thing about Satan’s Playground is that if feels like two different ideas fused together. On the one hand, it’s a monster movie about The Jersey Devil attacking people in the woods. This is actually the more underdeveloped side, as we don’t spend a lot of time on it – but it is introduced first. The second idea is, of course, the victims running afoul of the crazy backwoods family in the woods. There is also some nonsense about Satan worshipping cult members in robes, but we only get a few glimpses of them. It may be that they are worshipping The Jersey Devil, in fact. 

So what’s the verdict?

Satan’s Playground is Trash – with a dash of mild Terror on the side. It does actually feature some good cinematography and some creepy atmosphere. There are a few decent moments of horror and gore. However, like many other movies, the problem is the script. Characters make bone-headed decisions, and very little that happens in the movie makes sense. For example…

A family’s car gets stuck on a deserted country road. The father says that he will go and get help. He wanders off into the woods (rather than following the road) in broad daylight. The rest of his family waits in the car until it is pitch dark. I’m guessing that it must be hours later, and the father has not returned. So, his wife decides to go looking for him (or for help), and she wanders into the same woods. Next we see the father arrive at the decrepit house in the woods. Minutes later, the wife arrives at the same house. Huh? How did she manage to catch up with him? Or, how did it take him so long to get there?

This could have been fixed in editing by showing the father arrive at the house first, then cutting to the car hours later. We would just assume that much time has passed. By showing him arrive at the house, and then immediately showing the wife arriving at the house, we are convinced that very little time has passed (although the filmmakers might want us to think otherwise, I’m not sure).

There are many other WTF moments in Satan’s Playground. And even though it does have some decent qualities, I don’t think I need to watch it more than twice in this lifetime. Much like other movies I’ve put to the #TrashOrTerrorTuesday test, I’d rather watch the films that influenced it, than this one.