We found another extraordinary gem in crate 7; a print of the fabled ‘export’ version of this horror classic. So much has already been written about Taste the Bloody Fear of the Hands of Horror and its producers, the infamous Zeppelin Brothers. But at the risk of covering old ground, here are a few details for the uninitiated. American-born Herbert and Chester A. Zeppelin’s first verifiable act was to open a movie theatre on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Their second was to burn it down for the insurance money. Little is known of them before that; Chester claimed to have been a concert pianist, Herbert often said that his background was “still classified.”

What is well documented is their move to England aboard the troop ship RMS Bastard during World War II. They were immediately imprisoned for the crimes of Being a Stowaway with Intent to Stow Away, and Wilful Misappropriation of Ship’s Biscuits. By the time of their release in 1947, Herbert and Chester had amassed an impressive fortune by importing and selling black-market goods into Dartmoor Gaol. Sadly they didn’t have long to enjoy it, being immediately re-arrested and convicted of Importing and Selling Black-Market Goods Into Dartmoor Gaol. On their second release in 1952, the brothers once again turned their attention to the movies.

Their first studio just off Soho Square was mainly used in the production of stag reels, though by filming the filming of such material they scored their first hit, Raw Sinful London Nights of Sin. This salacious and largely staged ‘documentary’ was popular at the less reputable Soho cinema clubs, running at the infamous Compton St. Boudoir for two years. The Zeppelins invested the profits in a number of areas: several public houses, a small hotel and a failed attempt to revive the sport of bear baiting. Their biggest outlay however was the construction of Thames-on-Thames Studios in Shoreditch. Soon their new company Zeppelin Brothers Films Telephotoplay Films Productions (ZBFTFP) was churning out programme-filler dramas, comedies and thrillers at an impressive rate.

Many of the top British stage and screen talents of the day appeared in Zeppelin productions, with their familiar tagline ‘If it Bombs, it’s A Zeppelin!’ The actors too had a saying; “if you’re resting for a day or two, get shitfaced. If you’re really desperate make a picture for the Zeppelins.” They remained a mainstay of the UK’s B-picture industry until Herbert’s mysterious death in 1964. Though no body was ever found, the amount of his blood that had apparently been drained into Chester’s septic tank was calculated to be fatal. Chester’s trial and groundbreaking ‘I never touched him’ defence made legal and tabloid press history.

Taste the Bloody Fear of the Hands of Horror was a curious project for the Zeppelins, it being their only production to be shot in colour. Like many independents the Zeppelins stuck largely to monochrome, though unlike their contemporaries this was not for financial reasons. Herbert’s deep religious convictions precluded the use of colour film, which he felt was more likely to inflame the lusts and sinful thoughts of audiences, unlike the more morally pure black & white. However materialism won out over spirituality once the Zeppelins saw the success of Hammer’s lavish Eastmancolor gore epics, a success they clearly wanted to emulate.

Richard Carlsberg stars as Professor Marcus Lichtenstein, a typical mad scientist intent on pushing back the frontiers of knowledge whatever the cost. To this end he attempts to combine the body parts of the vampire Count Arkoff, a gill-man and a werewolf into a new übermonster. The reasoning behind this is never terribly well explained, but one must concede that it’s the sort of thing a mad scientist would do. The monster, played by Welsh wrestler Taffy Boyo, is not one of cinema’s most memorable creatures, but these days the film is best remembered for its fabulous, oddly sympathetic performance by Carlsberg. The latter was already a stage and TV legend by the time he first worked for the Zeppelins, in 1958’s comedy Whoops! Armed Forces!

The film is directed with some flair by Francis Kevinson, also making his colour debut. Kevinson started out making public information shorts like The Screeching Tyres of Death before moving to Zeppelin in 1956. He became one of their most prolific directors, working on all but two of the popular Inspector Fogg mysteries. Some of these have become regarded as minor classics in their own right, particularly A Sticky Wicket for Inspector Fogg, Inspector Fogg meets the Young Filly and Inspector Fogg and the Dirty Hun.

What’s special about the print from crate 7 is that it is, as stated at the beginning, the semi-mythical ‘export’ version. It features additional scenes of fake gore deemed too explicit for UK audiences, not to mention the infamous nude bathing scene by sexy starlet Sandy Sars. Sars’ pin-up status was already assured by this time, after her turn as the secretary in Dale Wisbom’s 1959 farce Has Anyone Seen My Trousers?

The UK cut of the film, with all of these scenes excised by the British Board of Film Censors, eventually gained a US release in 1965. Distributor Mormon Independent Pictures further cut several key scenes of exposition that were felt to be ‘too English,’ replacing them with newly shot footage. This concerned a subplot about fading noir actor Robert Locker (The Blonde Wore Murder) as a detective on the trail of Professor Lichtenstein. The film was then released to the drive-in circuit as Nudie Brides of Werevampenstein. It’s this inferior cut, cropped to 4:3 by MIP’s television arm, which appears on many budget DVD labels in your local dollar store. Hopefully now we can allow this curious, remarkable film to be seen as it was meant to be.

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