Jun 13, 2021

The Curse of the Alpha Stone (1972)

 


Okay, so we're finally getting around to this one.  This is the one that really started it all for me - the mother of all sleazy B-movies.  It was around 1985, and I'm at a mom-and-pop video rental store, and I'm not having any luck finding anything.  I wasn't in the mood to rent Trading Places or Heaven Help Us yet again; so, I grabbed this box with the intriguing looking cover. Maybe it would be a cheesy sci-fi movie in the vein of Logan's Run or Colossus: The Forbin Project.  Nope - not even close.  What I got blew my fucking mind.

It's not necessarily that this movie is the sleaziest movie ever made (although it is quite sleazy), it's that I'd never seen anything like it.  I didn't realize movies this profoundly disturbing and trashy even existed. I'd seen my share of horror movies, but they were more-or-less your standard Halloween II, The Omen, etc. I basically watched this slack-jawed from the minute I pressed play until stop/eject. WTF did I just watch?

You have to understand that films like this simply weren't available to watch until the video revolution. They came and went from the drive-in theaters never to be seen or heard of again. I watched my share of late-night horror hosts; I grew up in Ohio, the world capital for horror hosts.  But the closes they would come to a movie like The Curse of the Alpha Stone is something like Blood Beach (1981) with any sexual material removed. It wasn't until home video that truly depraved low-budget shit like The Sinful Dwarf and Bloodsucking Freaks would be accessible to your average joe. 

Now, I'm sure most renters intrigued by the VHS box art took this movie home and didn't care for it.  Possibly didn't even finish it, then moved on with their lives.  I did too.  But it did get me wondering if there were other movies like this.  So, when I moved to CA in 1988, it was a routine after work to stop at the various mom-and-pop rental stores (Blockbuster hadn't fucked everything up quite yet).  I'd usually pick up a relatively normal movie like Altered States, Eraserhead, Repo Man.... plus a B-movie surprise.  

What do I mean by surprise? Again, this is still before the internet or any good books which could serve as a good database for these obscure films. So, when you picked up The Kill (1968) or The Body Shop (1972) you didn't know what the hell you were in for. Psychotronic magazine comes along a bit later, but that was far from a Leonard Maltin or IMDb resource, so every one of these tapes was a surprise. The horror section in particular was a Whitman's Sampler of forgotten sleaze.

So, I don't mean to hype this movie up to be more than it is.  It's just that this happened to be the first "video nasty" that was truly nasty, and I've been hooked ever since. What's amazing is that I don't think I'll ever reach the bottom of this well.


Abe Adams (Jim Scotlin) is a mad scientist; the youngest to ever be on the faculty at the medical school.

Abe narrates his experiments:
The resulting neutrino harmonics resonate with the alpha waves of the brain and the protoplasm of the body to create psychological and structural changes. I call this life controlling factor 'The Alpha Force'... I am now very close to producing the true Philosophers' Stone.

Abe is visited by his super hot girlfriend, Patricia (Olivia Enke).

They have sex.



Abe discusses his experiments with Clem, also on the faculty at the med school. Pretty much everyone in this film has a southern accent; I wonder where in the South this was filmed.

Abe teaches class; the students gossip that Professor Adams is into black magic.

The dean of the school (an incredibly bad actor) says he's going to give Abe a raise, he's such an asset to the medical college.

The dean's secretary Ms. Knapp (Caroline Ronchetti) - called "Nappy" by her friends.  Not a very flattering nickname.

Casey is a gay guy who regularly hangs out at a bar with his fat gay friend. Casey spots Abe; learning that he's a professor at the medical school, he asks if he can get some drugs.  He's turned away, but will be back later.

My favorite sexploitation queen of the seventies, Sandy Carey, plays Evelyn Findlay. She's the dean's ex-wife, and she runs the apartment complex where Abe lives.

Evelyn is friends with Nappy. They have tea and pastries - both ladies are very straight-laced and conservative.

Nappy tells Evelyn about her new tenant - the genius Abe Adams.

The film wasn't released until about the time I saw it on video around 1985.  I suspect this has something to do with the fact that it takes a while to get going. You're almost into this movie an hour and, in terms of action and sleaze, you've only had a brief sex scene.  But once it gets going, it doesn't let off the gas.  However, I'm not sure drive-in or grindhouse audiences would have had the patience.

Abe is hard at work when he's paid a visit by his buddy Clem.

Clem finds out what Abe is up to, and he tells him to cut it out.  He'll ruin a promising career.

I love this - we get a look at the "genius" Abe's checklist.  

The more he works on the "Alpha Stone" the more maniacal he gets.

Until finally, Abe goes full-bore occult. If you're not a GenX or older, you don't realize how saturated we were with the occult in the early part of the seventies.  Astrology was everywhere (hell, I even had an astrology themed sleeping bag), and the bookshelves were lined with this shit.  The Exorcist, The Devil Rides Out, Rosemary's Baby led an endless stream of satanic and occult based films; and for whatever reason it faded out in the early eighties, and was met with an equal and opposite reaction via the "satanic panic".  But in 1972 it was in full effect and this film clearly was a product of its time.

Abe basically becomes possessed.

Remember Casey?  Abe recruits him from the bar to be a guinea pig.  He chips off a tiny flake from the Alpha Stone and has Casey drink it.

Casey starts to behave strangely.  He steals a mannequin and has sex with it (!)

Casey stakes out the park, waiting on female victims to rape.

He grabs a girl standing alone by the water.

This Alpha Stone has made him an insatiable rapist - and he's aways swung for the other team until now.

Working with the Alpha Stone, the smoke escapes and into the apartment's air ducts.

The maid gets a whiff.

The smoke emanates from the vent and the maid is suddenly overcome with orgasmic sensations.

A neighbor is on the phone with her mother when the smoke gets into her kitchen.

She shows up at Abe's ready to have sex.

Even straight-laced Evelyn is affected by the smoke.

She takes off her clothes and admires herself in the mirror.


She goes to the closet to put something sexy on.

She goes to Abe's apartment and they have sex.




Nappy visits Evelyn and finds that her fuddy-duddy friend is acting strange.  Suddenly she's dressed attractively and brags about having sex with Abe.

Nappy debates about whether to tell her boss about his ex-wife's behavior.

She decides to spill the beans.  The dean blames it on Abe's experiments - he must be stopped!

Abe's girlfriend, Patricia, comes downstairs butt naked.

We watch her water literally every plant in the room.


Patricia calls Abe to tell him that she's coming over tonight.  Abe protests, but she won't take no for an answer.

Nappy marches over to Abe's apartment.

She yells at him, "You've gone too far, Professor Adams!"

But then she becomes frightened.  Abe looks... different.

Uh-oh.

Abe attacks Nappy, dragging her to the bedroom.


To his horror, Abe finds that he's raped Nappy to death!

He tries to jostle her awake, but the girl is dead.


He checks her pulse to confirm.  The girl is dead - what's he going to do?

On her way to Abe's apartment, Patricia notices she's being followed.

Casey is still on the prowl. 

He knocks her out and rapes her in the apartment's laundry room.

He places her on the washer and puts in a quarter.  Patricia's body jostles with the washing machine's agitator. This scene really stuck with me back in 1985 -  it just seemed so nasty and macabre.  

Casey goes into Abe's apartment and finds Nappy dead on his bed.


Caroline Ronchetti doesn't have any other IMDb credits; as with most of the few actors/actresses listed. Only the great Sandy Carey found any subsequent success.  Olivia Enke did one other movie, The Amorous Adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza (1976), which also happened to feature Sandy Carey.  

Casey tries not to vomit.  He rails at Abe for doing this to him.

Abe is a wreck, saying it wasn't supposed to be like this.  Sorry - not good enough, Abe.

Casey tries to destroy the Alpha Stone.

We find that Patricia is not dead.  She arrives to find Nappy dead on Abe's bed.

But Casey is unable to destroy the Alpha Stone; instead it possesses him.  He says, "I am Alpha. Men may judge me good or evil, but I am beyond good and evil. I can take on any form!"

And so, we are to assume the Alpha has now possessed Evelyn who happily enters a building.  If only there could have been a sequel.  I would have loved to see Sandy Carey as the deadly Alpha.

 I understand if most don't have a similar affection for this nasty little film. However, I can't understand some of the hate it gets from reviewers.  Putting aside my nostalgic feelings, there's still a lot for a trashy film connoisseur to love: 

  • Sandy fucking Carey
  • A guy has sex with a mannequin
  • The synthesizer music is incredible; a proto vaporwave
  • Nude plant watering
  • Occult-o-rama
  • Hilariously bad acting... except from the guy who plays Casey.  He was actually quite good.
  • Epic levels of problematic sleaze: the washing machine agitator, the buttinsky secretary's violent end
  • Shades of Re-Animator with Olivia Enke in the Barbara Crampton role
I could go on, but I've already spent too much time gushing over this film that no one on earth likes.  I would just feel wrong not giving this a perfect ten, given that this site wouldn't even exist without out it.

★★★★10/10

2 comments:

  1. Well, now I simply have to see it!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey, thanks for this great review. I'm from Germany and I was able to buy the dutch tape from Video Network. I like this one, too! :-)

    ReplyDelete