Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: Don't Open the Door!

Since Halloween is later this week, I wanted to write about a horror movie, and they don't get much more overlooked and obscure than DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!, made in 1974 for an extremely low budget in Jefferson, Texas, by producer/director S.F. "Brownie" Brownrigg. It's the story of a young woman who moves in to take care of her elderly, ill grandmother, only to find that there's a crazy killer hidden in the house. There are some nice touches in the script, including a small-town judge who lives in a house made from an old railroad car, and despite the mostly unknown cast and the production values that are sometimes lacking, the movie generates a fair amount of suspense.

However, there are a couple of other reasons I find this movie interesting. One is that it was written by my longtime friend Kerry Newcomb and his writing partner Frank Schaefer very early in their careers. I believe Frank wrote a couple more low-budget horror movies, but as far as I know DON'T OPEN THE DOOR! is Kerry's only film credit. I'm not really at liberty to go into the details, but the writing of this movie was an adventure in itself. I didn't know him at the time it was made, but I've heard him talk about it many times.

The other thing I find interesting about this movie is that when it got its first videotape release in the early Eighties, it was brought out by a company owned by E-Go Enterprises, better known for publishing books and magazines. In fact, E-Go Enterprises (which was really a guy named Edward Goldstein and his wife, I believe) was the publisher of none other than MIKE SHAYNE MYSTERY MAGAZINE, having bought MSMM from Cylvia Kleinman's Renown Publications, which she'd inherited from her husband Leo Margulies. Goldstein's venture into the world of video included a dozen or so low-budget horror movies like DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!, and evidently he helped finance this part of his operation by, well, not paying the writers at MSMM, including me, who was still owed $242 when the whole shebang went bankrupt a few years later. (Bitter? Obsessive? Me? Just because I remember the exact amount more than thirty years later? Nah.)

So Kerry writes the movie in '74, before he and I know each other, and then ten years later after we've become friends, it comes out on videotape from a guy who stiffs me on what he owes me for Mike Shayne stories. Small world, isn't it? (You can still get a DVD of the movie on Amazon, by the way, and if you enjoy suspenseful, low-budget horror films you should check it out.)


Todd Mason said...

I'll bet that $242 was a lot more important to you at the time than it might be any time since...I remember the odd film magazine-type stuff that E-Go was advertising in MSMM, items I never saw on newsstands (perhaps I didn't look hard enough).

Ed Gorman said...

Chemo brain has erased the title of the very down market men's magazine that went bust after buying a few stories from me...but the editor (who was I believe in his early twenties) said that if we ever got together he'd give me some very good grass.

Cap'n Bob said...

I got shafted for twenty bucks by Oxford, of all places. It still rankles.