Monster Fest 2016 appearances: The Evil Touch & Homicide, episode 27, ‘Witch Hunt’

qualyeA quick heads up to Melbourne readers – Monster Fest 2016 will happen on take place from November 23 – 27, at the Lido Cinema, Hawthorn. Monster Fest is not something I have had much to do with in previous years, but this year it has been hugely revamped, largely thanks to the new program director, Kier-La Janisse, who has put together a new programming team, of which I am a part of.

Anyway, I particularly wanted to draw your attention to two events I am a part of.

Low Grade Transmissions From Hell: Revisiting the Lost Australian Horror Anthology, The Evil Touch

The early seventies are viewed as a peak period for horror anthology television. The Australian show, The Evil Touch is unique in that it was the only horror anthology show made locally, specifically for the US market. Successful in America, it bombed when aired in Australia in 1973 and the 26 episode series is now largely forgotten. Although cheaply made, The Evil Touch is strangely effective, at times, genuinely disturbing television. The grainy look and surreal narrative style give it the feel – in the words of American television critic John Kenneth Muir – of ‘a low grade transmission straight from hell’.

As part of Monster Fest’s Monster Academy, I’ll be giving a talk on the origins, making and reception of The Evil Touch. The session will also include a screening of what I think is its most innovative episode

‘Kadaitcha Country’. Kadaitcha Country stars The High Chaparral’s Leif Erickson as an unhinged Christian preacher who is assigned to a remote outback mission, where he immediately comes into contact with an Aboriginal ‘witch doctor’ called the Kadaitcha Man.

The talk will take place at the Lido Cinema on Friday, November 25, at 2.30pm and is free.

A special screening of episode 27 of Homicide, ‘Witch Hunt’

Satan, witches, warlocks, demons, they were everywhere in the sixties, even in the case files of what was then Australia’s favourite TV cop show, Homicide. Myself & my fellow Homicide enthusiast and film scholar, Dean Brandum, will introduce a special screening of episode the iconic Crawford drama, ‘Witch Hunt’. Aired in 1965 & written by long time Crawford scriptwriter & producer Sonia Borg, the episode concerns an investigation into a near fatal assault of an old woman that draws the Homicide team into the shadowy world of witchcraft in Melbourne’s outer suburbs. This is a not to be missed chance to see this rare slice of Australian TV history.

The session will take place at the Lido Cinema on Saturday, November 26, at 4pm. Tickets are available at the Monster Fest site.

I suggest you check out the entire program Monster Fest program, which can be found here. Some of the highlights, for my money, include a screening of the 1971 classic, Wake In Fright, attended by the film’s director, Ted Kotcheff, who is a guest at the festival and the Australian debut of Ben Wheatley’s heist thriller, Free Fire. I’ll also be attending the screening of Paul Schrader’s latest, Dog Eat Dog, which will be preceded by a screening of Melbourne director Paul Anthony Nelson’s much anticipated film, Cigarette.


40 Responses

  1. I dearly wish that I could have been at your 2006 talk about THE EVIL TOUCH. I’ve been fascinated by the series for a decade now, and have been looking for decent recordings for ages. Unfortunately, even had I known about your lecture in time, there’s no way I could have attended (as I live in the U.S.). But I’m thrilled to know that someone has devoted time to researching and discussing this unjustly overlooked gem. Here in the States, it’s difficult to even determine who owns the series’ distribution rights these days. It was last seen in the mid-1990s on a channel called TV Land, but has been missing from the airwaves in the two decades since. It’s great that you located a print of “Kadaitcha Country” suitable for theatrical screening. Gives me hope that good caliber prints of the series do still exist somewhere out there. Keep up the good work bringing attention to this minor classic.

    • Curt,
      Like you I have been obsessed by this show for some time now. Researching it was indeed a fascinating process. I wish I could get closer to discovering who owns the rights to the show.

  2. Here’s as much as I know, Andrew. THE EVIL TOUCH was originally distributed (in North America, at least) by Allied Artists Television. But Allied Artists went defunct sometime around the late 1970s or early 1980s. I’m unsure who the rights moved to at that time, but when ET aired in Canada during the 1990s on their cable outlet Bravo, the prints still bore the Allied Artists tag at the beginning. But when the series last aired here in the States (circa 1996 – 97), the opening Allied Artists credit had been removed, while separate tags for Viacom and Paramount were added to the end of each. So it’s pretty clear that in the late ’90s the series was being distributed by Paramount. It’s my understanding that since that time the Viacom and Paramount libraries have been acquired by CBS, so that would lead one to presume that CBS is EVIL TOUCH’s current owner. But I’ve had a look at CBS’s current syndication bible (accessible online), and there is no entry for THE EVIL TOUCH. Which brings us back to square one … Who owns the series?

    A few people have speculated that the rights have lapsed and the series has fallen into the public domain, but I find that hard to believe. Someone owns it, and hopefully has possession of the original film elements. Until the owner can be identified, it would be nice of some cleaner copies of the episodes would surface. I know a 16mm print of “The Fans” went up for auction on eBay last year, but the final bid was way out of my league. Happily, I have first generation VHS captures of a few episodes (including “Kadaitcha Country” and “They”), so I have better than average copies of a handful of them. But surely someone has better copies of the likes of “A Game of Hearts,” Wings of Death,” etc., or any copy at all of “Seeing is Believing,” “George,” and the other episodes completely missing in action. I notice that within the last year someone has posted three episodes to YouTube sourced from Asian broadcasts of the series. Unfortunately, their quality is poor, and their audio track is in Japanese. Oh well, I guess the search for the series is half the fun. Perhaps someday we’ll see a proper DVD released (but I’m not holding my breath).

  3. James Aitchison

    Hi Andrew,
    EVIL TOUCH was produced by APA (Amalgamated Pictures Australasia) and shot in Neutral Bay. The Executive Producer was Charles Wolnizer. Charles (sadly deceased) was a great friend of mine. We made many TV commercials together. From memory he was remembered mostly for an iconic children’s film he shot in Tasmania, THEY FOUND A CAVE. Charles spoke fluent Mandarin but didn’t look Chinese. Apparently as a wartime teenager he was assigned to sit at the docks and listen to what Chinese sailors were talking about. On another note, Andrew, I’ve only just discovered your wonderful website. I loved the feature about Aussie pulp fiction. I used to write pulp for ADAM magazine, published by KG Murray in the 1970s. I also wrote for Grace Gibson Radio Productions. She produced a lot of noir radio drama in the old days, e.g. Nightbeat, Carter Brown Mystery Theatre.
    Cheers, keep up the great work,

    • James,
      Thanks for your positive feedback about my site and for your interesting insights into the production of The Evil Touch. I am also very interested in what you say about writing for Adam and for various radio shows. I assume you were living in Sydney when that was occurring?

  4. Hey, Andrew.
    During your research into THE EVIL TOUCH, did you run across any info on episodes that didn’t make it into production? One of my favorite episodes of ET is “Heart to Heart” featuring Mildred Natwick. That episode bore the somewhat unlikely writer’s credit Q. Moonblood, which a minimal amount of research reveals to be a pseudonym for a then-unknown Sylvester Stallone (who was trying to break into show business as a screenwriter before his acting career took off). “Heart to Heart” is the only ET installment credited to Q. Moonblood, but several sites documenting Stallone’s early career state that he sold another script to ET … a piece titled “The Ballad of Butcher Bloom.” For reasons unknown, after purchasing the script, the powers behind THE EVIL TOUCH wound up shelving it, consigning it to the status of a “lost” episode. But last night I discovered that a short time back an auction house sold bundle of Stallone’s Q. Moonblood papers, among which were handwritten notes and a treatment for “Butcher Bloom.” Remarkably, the auction site still had scans of some of the papers posted, including bits and pieces of “Butcher Bloom.” While they only represent fragments of the story, you can piece together enough to tell where Stallone was going with it. At the outset, it’s obvious that he was drawing inspiration from the story of Sweeney Todd. **The story concerns a butcher living in an economically depressed small town. However, while other businesses are struggling, his shop flourishes, particularly because of a uniquely flavorful cut of meat he offers, which he calls “sweet meat.” Meanwhile, the local sheriff investigates a series of disappearances among the citizenry. (I believe we can see where this is heading.) The sheriff becomes suspicious that Butcher Bloom is somehow responsible for one of the disappearances (but apparently hasn’t put two and two together regarding the source of his meat products). He searches the butcher shop, but finds nothing suspicious. To show he harbors no hard feelings, Butcher Bloom invites the sheriff and all of his friends to a Sunday barbecue, at which he lays on a sumptuous feast. As the party breaks up at the end of the evening, the sheriff thanks Bloom for his generosity, but then asks the butcher point blank if he killed the most recent of the vanished citizens. Bloom laughs, and the sheriff looks around at the empty plates from the barbecue scattered about, horrible realization dawning on him.** So Stallone’s story was a mash-up of Sweeney Todd and Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Not bad, really, considering this was one of Stallone’s earliest professional writing sales. Mende Brown and the rest of the folks at EVIL TOUCH may have decided the twist ending was a bit too obvious from the beginning, but I still think with the proper handling it could have worked. The element of cannibalism certainly would have been edgy for television in 1973. Anyway, it’s interesting to get even a glimpse at a lost story from THE EVIL TOUCH.

    • Curt,
      I can’t say that I have. I was away that Stallone had written one show under a pseudonym and have seen said episode, but that is all I know. Indeed, you seem far more knowledgeable about it than I am. I wish you had made contact while I was doing the research for my presentation. You’ve inspired me to write something more detailed about the show on this site.

  5. Hi, Andrew.
    I’m so glad to hear you’ve decided to do a lengthier write-up of THE EVIL TOUCH for your blog! Little more than cursory notice has been given to the series over the past couple of decades (with the thankful exception of John Kenneth Muir). Wonderful to see diligent folks like you giving it some attention. Keep up the great work!
    i’m far from an expert on THE EVIL TOUCH, but I am a bit obsessive about researching shows that interest me. So I’ve done a fair bit of Google searching and digging into the old newspaper archives for TV listings, ads, etc. I did, at one time, have a minor personal connection to the series, as I kept up a correspondence with actress Mirren Lee (who had small roles in the ET episodes “A Game of Hearts” and “Happy Birthday, Aunt Carrie”). Unfortunately, I lost touch with her years ago, but she had fond recollections of the series.
    BTW, if you need any images to accompany the longer piece you’re planning to post, I’m hopeful (fingers firmly crossed) of obtaining a batch of ET promo material in the near future. Would be glad to share scans, if it would be helpful at all.

  6. Hey, Andrew.
    The EVIL TOUCH promo material isn’t a done deal yet, but things are looking good. I should know for certain by this time next week. At the very least, I already have low-res scans of a number of ET press photos and newspaper ads. But I’d love to be able to provide higher quality material if possible. Feel free to drop me a line anytime. My website is down right now, but my email address is good.
    Thanks, BTW, for the tip about the book with your chapter on “Happy New Year, Aunt Carrie.” I’ll definitely check that out.

  7. Here’s a little EVIL TOUCH themed video I cut together for my YouTube channel:

    it’s just a collection of newspaper ads and a syndication promo, but I thought I’d take a moment to share it here.

  8. I was just talking to someone about Evil Touch episode “George”. When I saw this years ago on American TV, the series name was Touch of Evil, BTW. Anyway, this was a good, surreal story with a twist at the end.


    Darin McGavin plays the title character. He has a series of bizarre hallucinations. As the story progresses, the hallucinations become more bizarre. (Example. George sees his father and talks with him. “You can’t be my father.” says George. “He died years ago!” George’s father is suddenly standing in an upright coffin.)

    At the end of the episode, George is in what appears to be a doctor’s office. The doctor examining George says that George has malfunctioned. George shouts, “Wait a minute! I’m not an android!” The doctor switches him off…..

  9. A seller on ebay sold several EVIL TOUCH 16mm copies including “Seeing is Believing” in 2018. Maybe he would contact the buyer and ask if they were going to have the films digitized.

  10. This odd little EVIL TOUCH video (in Japanese!!!) popped up on YouTube about a month ago:

    Someone has taken Japanese dubs of quite a few episodes, and chopped them down to primarily just Anthony Quayle intros and outros. But the compilation appears to have some snippets of footage from Darren McGavin’s episode “George,” which is not commonly in circulation. There may be some odds and ends from other “lost” episodes, too.

  11. No problem, Andrew. I contacted to the fellow that uploaded the video to YouTube, asking if he had full-length copies of any of these episodes (not just the Anthony Quayle bits). Unfortunately, he says he does not, but he confirms that THE EVIL TOUCH was broadcast regularly in Japan during the 1980s.

  12. The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia has posted more detailed listings of their EVIL TOUCH holdings, and they’re well worth reviewing:;page=0;query=evil%20touch;resCount=10

    Despite their preliminary catalogue entry indicating they had acquired 16mm prints of the entire series, their detailed entries seem to indicate they hold only 19 of the 26 episodes. But the 19 they hold include the *missing* episodes “Seeing is Believing,” “George,” “Faulkner’s Choice,” and “Dr. McDermitt’s New Patients.” They’ve digitized these 16mm prints, and theoretically for a fee they can provide researchers with time-coded copies of the episodes for review. However, they stipulate that you need permission from the copyright holder(s). Since it’s unclear who owns ET these days, this would be a daunting hurdle to clear.

    Equally of interest is that NFSA holds production documentation on the series, and even a selection of ET scripts that were never produced. The titles of the scripts in their collection include “The Breath of Death,” “Psycho Discharge,” “Dreamer High … Predator Deep” (2 different drafts), “The Veteran,” and “Thing Friend.”

  13. I’ve also just discovered that the British Film Institute has some holdings relating to THE EVIL TOUCH. Sadly, they don’t hold any film, but they do have scripts for 11 of the produced episodes:

    These include 3 of the “missing” installments, so it may be worth the time of finding out what their policy is on copying material for researchers. I’ll look into it if I can get some spare time.

  14. Seems that today is a day for EVIL TOUCH discoveries. I just found out that 6 episodes of the series were released on VHS in Italy under the title BREATH OF THE DEVIL: STORIES OF THE IMPOSSIBLE:

    The episodes included were “The Lake,” “Scared to Death,” “Wings of Death,” “Marci,” “Happy New Year, Aunt Carrie” and the ever elusive “Seeing is Believing.” These are bound to be dubbed into Italian, but if the picture quality is anywhere near decent I could match the audio from the poorer “off the air” copies currently in circulation to create English language prints. Only “Seeing is Believing” would be problematic. I’ve just sent an inquiry to an Italian video seller, to see if I can lay my hands on copies of these out-of-print tapes.

  15. Yet another unexpected EVIL TOUCH discovery! The following link will take you to about 16 full-length ET episodes, captured from broadcasts on Japanese television:

    The quality is relatively low (only 360p) and, of course, the dialogue is all in Japanese. But two of the installments included are the *missing* episodes “George” (starring Darren McGavin) and “The Homecoming” (starring Harry Guardino). And, honestly, even at only 360p some of these look better than the VHS recordings of ET I’ve seen in circulation.

    • Hi Kurt,
      Thanks for notifying me regarding all these discoveries. I don’t really know where to start with all the information that you have unearthed but I will certainly check out all the leads you have listed.
      I hope you are keeping well.

  16. Hi, Andrew.
    I’m always glad to share EVIL TOUCH news with you. There are a few quick follow-ups to the tidbits I posted recently. First, the BFI does not allow photocopying or scanning of any of their materials. So the only way to access their ET scripts is to physically visit their facilities in the U.K. and take handwritten notes. Second, the script titled “Dreamer High … Predator Deep” held by the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia is an early version of the episode ultimately titled “Dear Beloved Monster.” Finally, I was able to connect with an Italian seller on eBay who has hooked me up with both ET tapes released on VHS home video in his country back in the 1990s. It will probably take several weeks for the tapes to reach me, but I’ve already made arrangements to have their contents transferred to DVD-R after they’ve arrived. The big question then will be, are they in English with Italian subtitles, or are they dubbed into Italian. I’ll keep you posted as that all develops. In the meantime, I’m trying to take the better looking Japanese prints I found online, and merge the English audio tracks back into them. That’s proving a challenge, as there’s a discrepancy with the frame rates, but I’m hoping to work it out.
    So far, I’m staying safe and healthy during the current health crisis. Here’s hoping you are too.

  17. After several false starts, I was finally able to restore the English language audio to that Japanese print of THE EVIL TOUCH episode “Heart to Heart.” I think the result, while far from pristine, is a substantial improvement on the awful copy previously in circulation among fans. I’d like everyone to be able to enjoy the fruit of my labors, so I’ve posted a copy to YouTube:
    Andrew, if you’d like a copy of the Mp4 file without the added compression inherent in the upload to YouTube, feel free to email me privately. I’ll gladly send you a link to the original file on my Google drive. I’m hoping to be able to perform a similar upgrade to the episode “The Upper Hand” soon. If it works out, I’ll be sure to share the results here.

  18. Hey there, Andrew.

    I just finished merging the English audio to the Japanese print of “The Upper Hand”:

    The video quality is still muddy, as the Japanese source footage was only 360p. I upscaled it for 480p, but a lot of the fine detail is lost. Still, the overall picture is stable, and looks markedly better than the copy I had previously. I hope you’ll enjoy the result of my efforts. I’m still waiting for the commercial VHS copies of those six episodes from Italy to arrive. Those should give me far superior prints to work with. I’ll keep you posted on that.


    • Cheers, Curt, I’ll give this a watch. BTW, a three thousand word feature that I wrote on the show will appear on a US website tomorrow. I can’t conceive that there is anything in it that you do not know but I will give you a heads up about it anyway.

  19. Congrats on the publication of the new piece, Andrew! Which site is featuring it?

    My latest ET news is that the VHS tapes arrived from Italy yesterday. Picture quality on them is pretty good. They’re pretty obviously sourced from 16mm prints (which are a tad dark), but all in all they’re far better than the copies of the episodes currently in circulation. I’m sending the tapes to a buddy of mine who works in the video industry, to get a professional caliber transfer over to DVD-R. Then I’ll begin working on restoring the English audio to them (as they’re all dubbed into Italian). My only quibble with their presentation is that the manufacturers cut the closing credits from all but the final episode on each tape. But that’s not too dire. Once I get the DVD-R transfers, I’ll begin working on “Happy New Year, Aunt Carrie,” as I know it’s one of your favorites. Will give you further updates as the project progresses.


  20. Hey, Andrew.
    Here’s a link to my reconstructed version of “Gornak’s Prism”:

    It looks pretty rough, as I didn’t have any solid elements to work from. But I still thought it was important to spend time on it, because the only print I’ve previously seen in circulation is missing its opening sequence (about 60 seconds of footage). I located that “missing” material from a Japanese source, and have used it to restore the English print to its full running time. You’ll notice that I had to leave in a single line of Japanese dialogue (but it’s easy enough to tell what is being said by the context of the scene).

    In other news, last night I found the nicest looking copy I’ve ever seen of any EVIL TOUCH episode. I can’t take any credit for restoration on this one, but if you want to see an excellent print of “Campaign 20,” check out this link:


  21. Hey, Andrew.
    While waiting for my video industry buddy to transfer those Italian video cassettes for me, I’m working on restoring the English audio to some more of those Japanese EVIL TOUCH broadcasts. Here’s a link to my work on “Murder’s for the Birds”:
    I know there’s a moderately nicer print of this one from a TVLand broadcast floating around out there, but that copy is missing nearly 4 minutes of footage. This Japanese print has a “softer” picture, but runs the full 25 and a half minutes (so I thought it was important to preserve it).

  22. Hello again, Andrew.
    Here’s a link to my reconstruction of the full-length version of the EVIL TOUCH episode “Dear Cora, I’m Going to Kill You”:
    This one was a challenge, because I had to use video from three different prints, as well as two separate audio sources. The only other copy commonly in circulation is a fragmentary VHS recording of an Australian broadcast (missing about 7 minutes of footage). The quality on mine is rough, but I was able to reconstruct the full 25 minute production. And I was surprised to discover that the Japanese print of the episode contains a variant version of the scene in which Carol Lynley walks on along the beach. The majority of the sequence matches its English language counterpart, but it ends with the revelation that someone is watching her (hinting that she may be in danger). I thought this was interesting enough that I included it after the episode’s closing credits, as a bit of bonus footage. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing this little curiosity.

  23. I just realized that my reconstruction contains another snippet of Japanese footage that appears nowhere in the English language version of the episode. In the U.S. / Australian prints, after Cora drives to the beach house she gets out of the car and goes into the house. But in the Japanese print, once she gets out of the car we cut to a shot of another car pulling to a stop farther down the road, and a man getting out. So this actually plays into the later shot of someone on the beach watching Cora. Neither variation particularly changes anything in the story, but they are interesting attempts to heighten the suspense by implying that Cora’s stalker is close by, observing her. I wonder how these differences made it into the Japanese cut of the episode. So far, I haven’t noticed any variations in the other Japanese episodes I’ve worked with.

  24. Hey, Andrew.
    Here’s the first of the episodes from those Italian home video releases of THE EVIL TOUCH:

    The video is nowhere near DVD quality, but pretty solid for 35+ year-old VHS.  In all fairness, I can’t take credit for most of the restoration on this one.  I secured the elements, but a video enthusiast buddy of mine restored the English audio to the print and did a little clean up on the video.  I think he did an excellent job.  I’m still working on “Happy New Year, Aunt Carrie” myself, but it probably won’t be ready for several more days.  I’ll share it as soon as it’s done.

  25. Hi, Andrew.
    I finally finished syncing up the audio on that Italian print of “Happy New Year, Aunt Carrie.”

    Picture quality is far better than the copy I previously held, and the lip sync seems solid. Hopefully, it will be an improved viewing experience.

    In other ET news, I recently found a brief comment from Sylvester Stallone about writing for THE EVIL TOUCH. It was published in an interview he did for a book called CLASSIC AMERICAN FILMS: CONVERSATIONS WITH THE SCREENWRITERS. He mentions that he actually sold five story treatments to ET, though only one of them was ultimately produced. His treatment for that one was titled “The Monster of Manchester,” but of course ET changed it to “Heart to Heart.” Stallone remarked that the money from ET allowed he and his wife to eat regularly for a while during a time when they were struggling.

  26. Another of the *lost* EVIL TOUCH episodes surfaced last week on eBay, when a seller in Pennsylvania posted a 16mm print of “Faulkner’s Choice” up for auction. I tried to purchase it, but in literally the last six seconds of the auction my maximum offer of $351.00 was topped by another bidder. So now we know that there is at least one copy of “Faulkner’s Choice” in circulation (in addition to the one held by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia). But whether or not a copy will ever filter out to ET fans at large is anybody’s guess.

    • Curt,
      Thanks for always updating me on your investigations. It is always good to hear from you and I love your dedication to hunting down everything thing you can about this show. The fact that you were outbid on this episode so quickly is surely proof that there are a lot more die hard fans of the series out there than appears.

  27. It’s my pleasure to share my EVIL TOUCH findings with you, Andrew. If it’s of any interest, a second 16mm print of ET sold the same day last week on eBay. It was a print of the Carol Lynley episode “Death by Dreaming,” and its closing bid was substantially lower (around $125.00). I presume it garnered fewer bids because relatively good quality copies of the episode are in circulation among collectors and are fairly easy to obtain.

  28. Hey, Andrew.
    Things have been busy lately, and I haven’t had much time to do any work with THE EVIL TOUCH. But here’s my copy of the Italian VHS release of the episode “Wings of Death” (with the English language audio track restored):

    I’ve done the best I can with it, but the 16mm print used as the source of the VHS release was a bit dark / muddy. It’s still markedly better than the old home recording captured from the broadcast in the U.K. on Bravo. But I’d still like to see a better copy surface someday. Will keep you posted when I have another of the Italian prints finished.


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