Miami's B-Movie Mogul

K. Gordon Murray may have invented the weekend kiddie matinee, but don't forget his scowling bikers, howling werewolves, lumbering mummies, brain-sucking monsters, and scheming decapitated heads

The Curse of the Crying Woman (1964). Tightly wound Mexican gothic creepout includes all of the genre's essentials: misty moors, man-eating dogs, secluded castle with de rigueur bell tower, bats, rats, shuffling servant, cruel mistress, rotting corpses, centuries-old family curse, and ooky-spooky organ and theremin music. Feminist-studies majors will go gaga over the subtext, with nearly all of the male characters depicted as being either hapless or subjugated. A negativeland flashback and a genuinely effective climax make the copious chatter -- notably the frequent use of the word malediction -- worth the wait. Memorable line: "There's something strange about her, she's really quite a mystery -- all alone in this big house with no domestic help."

The Wrestling Women vs. the Aztec Mummy (1965). Screwy Mexican hybrid gives viewers two-two-two movies in one. First three-quarters of film devoted to comic-book thriller, wherein the good guys, led by beauteous Amazonian wrestlers Loreta Venus and Golden Rubí (Las Luchadoras) and their cop boyfriends, square off against ersatz Fu Manchu villain the Black Dragon, his judo-chopping sisters, and a gnarly mob of dark-suited thugs in effort to secure various segments of "codex" that detail whereabouts of fabulous Aztec treasure. After brief flashback scene to ancient Aztec days -- sorcerer, ritual sacrifice, premature burial -- the final 25 percent of the picture features a shape-shifting Aztec mummy (a bat! a tarantula! wait, a mummy again!) terrorizing heroines and heroes. Memorable line: "She's under my hypnotic power, but I'll release her in a normal state, so don't worry."

The Golden Goose (1966). Crazy-quilt West German adaptation of Brothers Grimm fable meditates on the perils of greed. Three brothers -- Karl (a goldbrick), Franz (a kvetch), Klaus (kindly, industrious Frankie Avalon look-alike) -- in turn meet a crone in the woods seeking sustenance. Karl and Franz rebuff her, but Klaus gives her the royal Boy Scout treatment. His reward: a golden goose. Nuttiness ensues when goose casts a spell that welds people to one another, resulting in a human daisy chain consisting of Klaus and goose, two sisters, their father, three minstrels, a donkey, and the king's captain of the guard. They set off to cheer a "sad" (a.k.a.: bored and depressed) princess, then Klaus saves the day when upstart prince and his rowdies attack king's castle. Sappy songs! Memorable line: "My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my."

Jonathan Postal
K. Gordon "Ken" Murray (above) was unknown to the 
general public, but an icon to the psychotronic 
cognoscenti who treasure radioactive mutants, female 
prison inmates, vampires, and bikers
K. Gordon "Ken" Murray (above) was unknown to the general public, but an icon to the psychotronic cognoscenti who treasure radioactive mutants, female prison inmates, vampires, and bikers

Shanty Tramp (1967). Murray's best -- and best-known -- original production features cast of unknowns invoking all the verities of the Southern exploitation picture: dissolute dame, rape, incest, nudity, miscegenation, patricide, bikers, fiery car explosion, moonshiner, gangsters, false prophet, lynch mob, and go-go dancing. Vampiric-looking small-town slut tempts slimy revival preacher, fends off welshing biker leader named Savage, willingly submits to -- then betrays -- young, confused black man, and winds up facing off carnally against drunken Daddy Dearest. Tennessee Williams on a shoestring. Memorable line: "Crazy like, man. Like me and my chick want to find a dark corner somewhere anyway, Daddy-o."

Savages From Hell (1968). Murray dived into the deep end of the late-1960s biker genre with this original production that proffers the usual escalating confrontation between an untamed group of cavorting motorcycle losers (leader named High Test) and a handful of solid citizens, in this case a migrant Latino family ready to quit their perambulations and settle down. Notable for its early portrayal of Hispanics in a fictional U.S. film, as well as for a rare screen appearance by Cyril Poitier, older brother of Sidney. Includes: actual footage of Florida swamp-buggy races, with voice-over narration by Murray; airboats; cat fight; food fight; hippie body-painting on the beach. Memorable line: "I'll get you for this, bean-picker -- you and your black friend."

The Brainiac (1969). Bizarre Mexican shocker opens in 1661, with sacrilegious baron sentenced to burn by hooded members of the Inquisition of New Spain on the night when a Casper the Ghost-like comet mysteriously appears. Using his X-ray vision, the baron discerns their identities, swearing to return upon comet's reappearance in 300 years to murder their descendants. He shows up on schedule in 1961, materializing from the comet as a shaggy-headed, lizard-faced monster with crablike claws and a two-pronged, Gene Simmons-style tongue that he uses to pierce his victims' skulls and suck out their brains. Ultra-high yuck factor: When in human form as the baron, he snacks from huge goblet packed with brains, his "medicine." Memorable line: "My hate is so much stronger than my love, like a master no one can control."

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