Want to be knowledgeable about our filmmaker of the month without committing yourself to an entire filmography? Then you need the Hell Is For Hyphenates Cheat Sheet: a suggested double that will make you an insta-expert in the director we’re about to discuss…
THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) and DIRTY MARY CRAZY LARRY (1974)
Normally, when we recommend two films in our Cheat Sheet, they’re films that are not only great watches, but represent the filmmaker’s entire body of work. But how do you represent John Hough’s work? This is a guy who did Hammer Horror, war thrillers and Barbara Cartland TV movies. There’s no easy pair of films that can sum all that up. So this time, we’re going to simply suggest two of his best films. The Legend of Hell House is a tremendous horror, with great performances, terrific sound design, and superb direction. If you’ve been wondering why our guest Mark Hartley has picked Hough, the work he does in The Legend of Hell House will put that question to rest. But even better than that is his next film, Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, a wild thieves-evading-cops road movie with Peter Fonda, Susan George and Vic Morrow. It boasts a brilliant script, and Hough’s direction is insane in all the best ways. Both of these films are a tight ninety minutes, and don’t waste a nanosecond. If you want to watch a pair of great genre films this weekend, you couldn’t do much better than these two.
Substitutions: If you can’t get The Legend of Hell House, try the Hammer horror Twins of Evil (1971). If you can’t get Dirty Mary Crazy Larry, try the assassination thriller Eyewitness (aka Sudden Terror) (1970).
The Hidden Gem: We always strive to recommend an off-the-beaten-path work from our filmmaker of the month, but pretty much everything Hough qualifies as off-the-beaten-path. Still, if you want a schlocky, supernatural horror flick starring John freakin’ Cassavetes, you might want to seek out 1982’s Incubus, even if just to see one of New Hollywood’s most compelling actors say the word “sperm” several hundred times in the most serious manner possible.
The next episode of Hell Is For Hyphenates, featuring Mark Hartley talking John Hough, will be released on the morning of November 30 (AEST).