The Wildest Hairdos in Horror, Vol. 1

Below are in my opinion a few of the wildest hairdos in “horror”, used here in a loose sense to include all manner of cult, exploitation, horror, drive-in and B movies. Personally, I’d love to see some of these looks make a comeback, but I’ll leave it up to you to decide which ‘dos are dos and which ‘dos are don’ts. I tried to cut deep with these picks, so you probably won’t find them on other such lists, if indeed there are any. Major spoilers below.

I may update this post with higher quality screen shots as I come across them.

Carl Root’s Unibrow — Blood (1974)
Credit: Exploitation.tv

From my Blood review: “It looks like someone just picked up a fistful of rabbit hair from the carpet and mashed it into his forehead. The actor here is a cabaret pianist by the name of John Wallowitch. I’ve Googled pictures of him, and he doesn’t actually have one of these. In this high-def screen shot from Exploitation TV, you can even make out Mr. Wallowitch’s real eyebrows underneath the hot mess. My question is whose idea was this, and what did they think it would add to the movie? Like, why?” Something else I’ve just noticed is that his hair wasn’t greyed all the way and is brown toward the bottom. A double whammy.

Tim’s mustache — Blood Shack (1971)
Credit: Shriek Show DVD

As a huge fan of Blood Shack, this makes zero sense. When the killer’s hood is pulled back and we finally see who it is, he has a painted-on mustache and diamonds on his cheeks like a half-assed clown. It isn’t explained why, and the makeup does nothing to conceal his identity. My question again would be why?

Frank the cop’s mustache — Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Credit: Tubi TV

This one’s fascinating as Frank the cop starts the film with an actual mustache, then re-appears toward the end with whatever this is on his face. The reason for Frank’s sudden change in appearance is simple. The actor shaved off his ‘stache for another role, not realizing he’d be needed for pick-ups. The real mystery is what materials they used and why director Robert Hiltzik chose to draw attention to it by shooting in close-up. I always thought it looked like football player eye black some with pubes mashed into it, but that would be flat, and upon closer inspection, this does have some depth to it. Fan theories include electrical tape, clay, and even strips of felt. Your guess is as good as mine. I haven’t picked up the Sleepaway Camp Blu-ray yet, but I’ve read it’s impeccable. Maybe the hi-def picture quality sheds new light on this mystery.

Judy’s side pony — Sleepaway Camp (1983)
Credit: Tubi TV

The crushing weight of such a voluminous side pony would surely throw a lesser woman’s spine out of wack, but years of swimming, playing volleyball, and tilting her head to give bitchy looks has given Judy supernaturally strong neck muscles. Sadly, they don’t protect her vagina from curling irons. Not pictured here is the shirt she wears with her own name on it. Have you seen the meme going around claiming Judy’s side pony died for our sins? Well, it’s true. Pay your respects in the comments below.

Bobby’s mustache — The Manson Family (2003)
Credit: Dark Sky Films DVD

It doesn’t translate the best in this screen shot (the interview scenes look to have been shot on video to resemble archival news footage), but writer/director/actor Jim Van Bebber is wearing a laughably fake biker ‘stache that flaps around while he talks. The worst part about it? Photography started in 1988 and ended in 2003, meaning Van Bebber had fifteen years to grow an actual ‘stache for this scene and did not. There’s no excuse for this fake one.

Ricky’s hair — My Sweet Satan (1994)
Credit: Dark Sky Films DVD

Credit: Dark Sky Films DVD

Van Bebber sports an even more bizarre hairdo as Ricky Kasslin in My Sweet Satan, based on the real-life murder of Gary Lauwers by teenage Satanist Ricky “Acid King” Kasso. Van Bebber’s head is shaved down the middle with a zig-zag pattern in back. Most of the hair on his right side is short, but one part is long. He has three rattails in back and two on his left side, all tied into braids. Some of his hair has a red tint to it. Kasso did not have this haircut; Van Bebber just wanted to look like this.

King Vladislav’s hair — Subspecies (1991)
Credit: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment DVD

Alright, I know I said I was going to be impartial, but this is just bad. The actor underneath this abomination is the legendary Angus Scrimm, famous for playing “The Tall Man” in the much loved Phantasm series. Anyone watching this movie should already know who he is and that he was bald. It was part of his gimmick. Nothing about the character he’s playing here really necessitates having this hairstyle, making the decision to slap such an obvious terrible wig on him even more baffling. In a post on a site called the Classic Horror Film Board, member Red Gargon describes it as a “cumulus cloud of cotton candy” and that sums it up perfectly.

Fuad Ramses’ eyebrows — Blood Feast (1963)
Credit: Something Weird DVD

From my Blood Feast review: “You can’t talk about Blood Feast without mentioning [Fuad’s eyebrows]. You just can’t. I don’t know if it’s ever been said what they used to gray the guy’s hair. To me, it looks like his eyebrows were coated with silver enamel paint. They’re completely unnatural looking, yet, Lewis focused so closely on them that we see every hair, pore, and sun spot on Mal Arnold’s face in perfect detail. I guess he knew there was no hiding how bad they looked.”

Director Ted V. Mikels’ mustache
Credit: The Wild World of Ted V. Mikels, Tubi TV

Schlockstar Ted V. Mikels came up with some truly memorable stories and characters over his fifty-three career as a writer/director, but none are more interesting than him. Following the success of his drive-in cult classic The Corpse Grinders, the Saint Paul, Minnesota native moved into a sprawling 27-room castle in Glendale, California where he built a functional torture dungeon and lived with multiple young beautiful women for ten to twelve years. Although he insisted nothing “funny” went on, stories of late-night S&M games persisted, making their way back to fellow exploitation director Don Farmer, who filmed Cannibal Hookers there. Mikels’ most recognizable features were his genuine boar tusk necklace and Salvador Dali-esque evil guy mustache, which he started at 22 and maintained for sixty-five years, never once shaving off until his death in 2016. Mikels revealed to a mustache forum (I guess those exist) in 2011 that he was partly inspired to grow said ‘stache by famed magician Leon Mandrake, who he briefly toured with at 17. What a life.

Dr. Owens — Mark of the Astro-Zombies (2002)
Credit: Tubi TV

Speaking of Mikels, his good friend Wendy O. Altamura pops up in probably my favorite movie of his. Credited only as “Shanti”, the Las Vegas psychotherapist plays a remote viewing expert (someone who psychically sees past and/or distant objects). Her look consists of a buzzed head, curly sideburns, drawn-on eyebrows, tons of make-up, six earrings, and a head wrap. I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable opening up to this woman. She looks really intense.

this character — Neon Maniacs (1986)
(exposure boosted for clarity)
Credit: Archive.org

Technically, he’s not so much a “character” as an extra who appears for three to four seconds outside of a club at the start of the movie. Another slightly more fleshed-out character rolls by in a van and yells “Punk assholes!” at the crowd of people, prompting this guy to flip off the camera. Maybe he’s one of those straightedge vegan punks; his scalp resembles a vegetable garden. I’m waiting for Mario to come along and pick the sprouts and throw them at Shy Guys. I especially love how his sprouts all appear to be varying lengths and thicknesses, and were tied using multicolored hairbands. His nose and ear rings really tie it together. Extra points for the pink squirrel’s nest on the right.

Manny Fraker’s hair — Death Wish 3 (1985)
Credit: MGM DVD

As the leader of New York’s most dangerous street gang, Manny Fraker has an image to uphold. He shaves his head down the middle to make room for a long red line that forms part of a “not equal to” sign (≠) he paints on his forehead. He keeps his remaining hemispheres of hair slicked back to each side. All the members of his gang wear this symbol. The funny part is that it’s been used by white supremacist groups in real life and the gang is mostly made up of minorities. Fraker may be a cold-blooded killer, but one thing he’s not is a racist.

Osso — VigasioSexploitation Vol. 2 (2011)
Credit: Vigasiosexploitation.com

In the very first scene of this movie, a leather-clad prison escapee with tape across her nipples named Osso is frozen in place by a boobed Grim Reaper and told to become the leader of an invisible motorcycle gang. Osso agrees, and is magically gifted a handlebar moustache that matches her frizzy orange pig-tails. It only gets weirder from there.

Michael Myers’ blonde mask — Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988)
(image enhanced with AI for the hell of it)
Credit: YouTube

Michael Myers’ mask is one of the most iconic images in all of horror. While it changes perceptibtly from movie to movie, it’s always been white with brown hair. That’s why it’s so weird that a blonde mask (reminiscent of the one Ben Tramer wears in Part 2) pops up in two shots in Halloween 4. How does this happen, and why was it left in the movie? In Back to Basics: the Making of Halloween 4, makeup technician Ken Horn says when he was first hired for the film, he was shown a pink mask with white hair (not blonde). Knowing the mask wasn’t right, he ordered replacements from the son of the man who designed the original William Shatner mask John Carpenter altered for Part 1. Apparently, the replacements also came in pink and white, and nobody checked to make sure they were good until shooting began. Director Dwight Little says he “thinks” the inclusion of the pink and white mask was a mistake, implying he may have done it on purpose. He theorizes that somebody ran to the prop truck at 4 in the morning and grabbed an unaltered mask and everybody must have been too tired to notice. Then, he just brushes the whole mistake off, saying there wouldn’t have been time to reshoot it even if they did notice. I guess that explains the mask, but it doesn’t excuse it.

I Still Don’t Know What a “Chooper” is — “Blood Shack” (1971)

This post first appeared on my old blog. I’ve revised it and added new thoughts.

Directed By
Ray Dennis Steckler as Wolfgang Schmidt

Version Reviewed
Shriek Show DVD © 2004, Region: 1, Format: NTSC

Total Runtime
~55 minutes, 38 seconds

Synopsis
The setting sun reflects off a zooming camera lens, a kaleidoscopic effect. A character we’re introduced to later on breathes a few lines of voiceover narration, setting the stage for this I-guess-supernatural slasher. “There is a legend about this valley, a tale carried across the winds of time. A legend strange and sinister. The legend of the Chooper.” And no, that’s not a mispronunciation, nor is it a typo on my part.

Three teenagers — two guys and a girl in a striped Freddy Krueger shirt — pull up to an old, abandoned shack on a barren stretch of desert. Off to the side, a bare-chested desertbilly named Daniel looks on, propped against a shovel. Daniel lives next door and is caretaker of the property. He takes his job seriously. The girl in the striped shirt explains to her friends that an “old Indian ghost” (the aforementioned Chooper) haunts the run-down dump before them. She tells them she intends to spend the night as a “challenge”. Hearing this, her guy friends take off. Alone but undeterred, the girl walks up to the building’s doorless entranceway.

Daniel the desertbilly caretaker runs over. He has no chill. “Hey! What are you doing here?!” he demands to know. “This is private property! Now get out!”

“Hey man, I’m gonna spend the night here…” the girl in the striped shirt replies. “I heard about your ghost and how it kills people. Well, I ain’t a chicken, not like my friends. I dare it to come get me.”

“Go ahead and stay, but if the Chooper comes to get ya, well, you just deserve it!” Daniel fires back. “…I warned you, the Chooper will get ya, and I know it.”

And that’s precisely what happens. That night, a figure dressed in black with a tight hood concealing its face materializes out of the shadows. “Rrraaawwrr, rraawr!” it grunts and growls while it chases the girl around the house with a flimsy dueling sword comically raised overhead, its free arm outstretched like a zombie’s. The girl is cornered. A series of stiff, over-pronounced stabbing motions. Her body writhes. A dollop of blood.

Credit: Shriek Show DVD

Daniel comes back the next day, finds the girl lifeless, buries her body and takes her money. “I sure am glad the Chooper couldn’t use this money,” he says, “cos I sure can.” Then, rebuking the corpse, “I warned ya. I told you that Chooper would get you. This is exactly what you deserve.”

A Carol later shows up to assess the property, having inherited it from her father some time ago. Then comes Tim, who’s almost obsessed, it seems, with buying the land in question. Tim won’t take no for an answer. Will Carol ever sell? In the meantime, who will survive the savagery of the Chooper? Is the Chooper even all it’s cracked up to be? Is someone exploiting its legend?

Google’s description.
Credit: Google

Thoughts (Possible Spoilers)
When asked what he thought his appeal was in an episode of a TV show fittingly named after his most well-known movie (that show being The Incredibly Strange Film Show, that movie being — get ready, it’s a mouthful — The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!?), cult crap director Ray Dennis Steckler replied, “I hope it’s originality. I hope when they see my movies they can say only one thing — that they’ve never seen one like it by anybody else, or anything even close.”[1]

Rest assured, Mr. Steckler, in all my years on this earth, I’ve never seen anything quite like, well, what happens here

“I’ll Choop you good!”
—The Chooper, probably
Credit: Shriek Show DVD

I mean… What? Why? How?

And why again?

Blood Shack is one of RDS’ attempts at the horror genre. It was shot on short ends (partial rolls of film leftover from what was undoubtedly a bigger, better production) for a total of $500. It has literally no effects to speak of, so little story the whole thing had to be padded with largely irrelevant rodeo footage (and still clocks in at less than one hour), a bewildering, supernaturalish villain dressed up in a dollar store ninja costume, and probably the most poorly choreographed, rib-ticklin’-est kill scenes ever committed to celluloid, including one of its blundering bedlamite “thundering” off a roof at a sheriff — err, constable — as a fellow lover of this movie put it. The graceless, cheapoid incompetence of this bad boy never ends.

Ok, ok, but you still haven’t told me… what the Hell is a Chooper? you might be asking yourself about now. The crazy part is that Steckler explains how he came up with the word in a special feature contained on the disc and I still have no idea what it means. The guy was a fascinating kind of eccentric.

He repeats himself to no end in the audio commentary, breaks out into song and makes lots of weird sound effects. He reminds me of me forty years from now. I’m pretty sure I have undiagnosed ADD. In addition to being an old guy, I can see myself acting like that down the road.

One of the guy’s trademark quirks, and he admitted this, was shooting movies without writing scripts. He preferred to show up and just let things happen organically. As a result of this, some of his movies shift greatly in tone, even genre (see Rat Pfink a Boo Boo), from one act to the next. While this unorthodox approach was just one of many to make Steckler’s no-budget home brewed productions so delightfully psychotronic, it also had obvious drawbacks, like making it difficult to ascertain just what in the blue Hell is happening. Blood Shack, I’m assuming, is narrated by its main character (Steckler’s then-ex-wife Carolyn Brandt) for this very reason. Steckler probably realized in the editing room that he’d failed to film enough dialogue to explain things. Luckily, voiceover narration is always an easy fix for that, and his wife was good at providing it. But Steckler never learned, and his ex-wife would dutifully return to narrate the majority of his work.

Another of Steckler’s trademarks was casting his family and friends. His lead here, as mentioned above, was his then-ex, Carolyn Brandt, the musical chair (no “s”, there was only one chair)-playing neighbor girls were their daughters, the unrelenting Tim was an old friend and regular, Ron Haydock (who’s also credited with co-writing the nonexistent script) — heck, the Steck even used his air conditioner repairman fifteen years later in The Las Vegas Serial Killer. With budgets like his, it was nepotism out of necessity, folks!

One thing that surprised me about this is that the acting as a whole is ok. I expected it to be horseshit, so either it isn’t, or I’ve lowered my standards too far. As I’ve already noted, the Chooper turns in the performance of the night, but the rest of the cast does a pretty good job. The only real exception would be the shirtless man-meat that played Daniel. His delivery is clunky and loud like he angrily adlibbed his lines, and his hat hilariously blows off his head at least three times throughout the movie. What a goofus.

Credit: Shriek Show DVD

I was also pleasantly surprised by how well the shack works. It’s ominous and iconic; there’s a definite, heavy atmosphere to it. For me, it ranks up there with the death house from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and the cabin in the woods from The Evil Dead.

But that’s where comparing this schlock to fan favorites — masterworks, even — like those has to end. Blood Shack just ain’t a good movie. Now, if you can look past that, accept it, embrace it for what it is, you’re in for a lot of fun. I assumed I would hate this the first time I watched it. I loved it. Check it out.

Blood Shack is on YouTube. Step inside if you dare. It’s some of the best fun I’ve had with a horror movie in recent memory.

My copy came in the “Midnight Movies II Collection” DVD box set with three other Ray Dennis Steckler gems — Body Fever, The Las Vegas Serial Killer, and The Hollywood Strangler Meets the Skid Row Slasher. These four are from his later, less celebrated years.

Extra features for the Shriek Show DVD contained in that set include trailers for Nightmares Come at Night and Slaughter Hotel, audio commentary by Ray Dennis Steckler, a fourteen-minute interview with the man, a ten-minute interview with Miss Brandt, an “exclusive photo gallery” made up of six images that plays twice, and last but not least, an extended cut of the film called The Chooper with an optional intro and “comedy” commentary track by film critic Joe Bob Briggs that’s well worth a listen. For some reason, the disc lists itself as Samurai Cop in my disc drive.

There are quite a few differences between the two versions of this film, but the long and short of it is that The Chooper has even more rodeo footage (!), and an alternate soundtrack, the highlight of which is the Ron Haydock ditty “The Chooper”. I seriously can’t stop listening to it. I’ve played it more than a hundred times, easy.

Spectacular.

Til next review, keep on Choopin’.

Body Count
5.

Bod Count
0.

Overall Enjoyability
5 games of musical chair out of 5.

I Got My Copy From
Amazon.com.

Recommendations
Start with the first Midnight Movies Collection and work your way up to the second. You won’t go wrong.

References
1. “Ray Dennis Steckler”. The Incredibly Strange Film Show. Channel 4. United Kingdom. 12 Aug. 1988. Television.

Further Reading
Blood Shack — Chooper Jubilee!