AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Alabama's Ghost
Director: Fredric Hobbs (Dir)
Release Date:   1973
Duration (in mins):   93
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Cast:   Christopher Brooks (Alabama)  
    Peggy Browne (Zoerae)  
    E. Kerrigan Prescott (Carter's ghost)  
    Steven Kent Browne (Otto Max)  
    Ken Grantham (Granny/Moxie [the Magnificent]/[Jerry] Gault)  
    Karen Ingenthron (Dr. Caligula)  
    Ann Weldon (Mama-bama)  
    Ann Wagner Ward (Marilyn Midnight)  
    Joel Noble (Doc)  
  Groupies: Linda Shelburne    
    Squeak Krauthamer    
    Erica Shapiro    
    Lani Freeman    
    Hillary Roth    
    Patricia Shallcorss    
    Catherine Keir    
    Rebecca Sand    
    Richard Marion    
    John Carter (Sandor)  
    Evalyn Stanley (Vampira)  
    Ralph Mountain (Voodoo drummer)  
    Philip Gerson (Sailor)  
    Michelle Marrus (Witch)  
    Timmy Cole (Monkey)  
    Cedric Clute (Doctor)  
    Neena the Elephant    
  Special guest appearances by: Turk Murphy Jazz Band    
    The Loading Zone    

Summary: In the 1930s, Adolf Hitler’s brilliant scientist, Dr. Caligula, vanishes from Berlin and reappears in India to interview legendary magician Carter the Great about his discovery of raw zata. Derived from an especially potent form of hashish, then refined and introduced into the body by Chinese acupuncture techniques, the substance transforms into “deadly zata,” allowing the user to enslave any human within the sound of his voice. In San Francisco in the 1970s, Alabama, a band manager, is cleaning the equipment in a bar basement when he accidentally drives his forklift through the wall. The wall crumbles, revealing a tunnel that leads to a darkened storeroom. Although a voice intones a dire warning to avoid the “tomb,” Alabama discovers that the sound emanates from a recording. Inside the storeroom are Carter the Great’s worldly remains, including his lavish costumes, props and furniture. Discovering a box of hashish with the note: “Please return to Agatha Carter in Sausalito,” Alabama steals it, ignoring the recording’s admonition not to take any of the goods in the spirit of greed. He visits the address on the box, a tumbledown shack by the bay where a beautiful young woman named Zoerae answers the door. She takes Alabama to Granny, an ancient woman claiming to be Carter’s sister. Alabama asks her for Carter’s possessions, and when she refuses, threatens to turn the hashish over to the authorities. Granny urges Alabama to smoke the hashish with her, after which he raves about his desire to be a star magician. Upon Alabama’s departure, Granny sheds her disguise and is revealed to be Jerry Gault, a demonic vampire. Led by Zoerae, Alabama visits Carter’s old protégée, Moxie the Magnificent, who, after extracting a promise never to reveal his secrets, spends the next six months teaching him Carter’s greatest tricks. Finally ready to perform, Alabama dazzles his first audience by conjuring a ghost in his “spirit box.” After the show, British entertainment manager Otto Max signs him to a contract. Max books a tour in which Alabama and a cadre of beautiful girls play to increasingly larger audiences until Alabama is world-famous. Soon, Gault, in his public persona as the head of international conglomerate Media Consortium, arranges to book Alabama at an upcoming outdoor festival to be televised throughout the world, during which he will perform his renowned vanishing elephant act, then reveal how it is accomplished. Soon after, during one of his shows, Alabama drives swords into a box with a girl inside, and is horrified to discover that the girl has been injured and is near death. Although Max assures him the girl will be sent to a private sanitarium, Alabama is convinced that Carter’s ghost has been visiting him ever since he agreed to reveal the elephant trick’s secret. At another show, Alabama locks a performer into the spirit box, and while trying to free him, sees Carter’s ghost. The ghost, bearing a bloody heart on the outside of his chest, warns him to beware a “vampire contract written in the hand of Gault.” Alabama passes out and regains consciousness in Max’s hotel room, where Zoerae seduces him while Alabama describes his mother in New Orleans and the black magic he witnessed there. Just then, the ghost returns, declaring that his mortal body lies in danger as long as he is with Zoerae. Alabama is unrepentant and intent on remaining a star until he notices Zoerae’s fangs, at which point he escapes out the window. Unable to evade her, he races to his mother’s house, and she brings him to Doc, a voodoo witch doctor who performs a protective black magic ceremony. Meanwhile, Max visits Gault, promising that Alabama will resurface and provide the biggest show of the century. Gault, who plans to use his company’s control of the media during the festival, along with the deadly zata, to enslave the world, incites the vampire minions who gather in his huge mansion. Soon after, Alabama arrives there with his mother, the dancers and Doc. That night, Carter again materializes and promises death, but Doc announces that he will protect Alabama. Unknown to them, Dr. Caligula has created an exact robotic replica of Alabama, controlled by remote control, which emits deadly zata. Max is horrified, but is bitten and inducted into the vampire clan, who are feasting on the dancers as they roll by on a conveyor belt. One girl, however, Marilyn Midnight, escapes and reveals Gault’s plan to Doc. The music festival begins the next day in the desert. The massive crowd pours in and all around the world people tune into the broadcast. Alabama and the elephant are driven to the venue, but before he takes the stage, Alabama is knocked out by Doc, who puts the robot Alabama in his place. As the robot performs the act, Gault summons his followers and prepares to take over the crowd. Just then, however, Doc reveals to Gault that Alabama is a robot and Gault, his plans thwarted, kills him and flees in Alabama’s car. The vampires attack the crowd, but Doc has programmed the robot to kill them with a wave of his magic wand. As the elephant tramples Max, Alabama and Midnight, who were hiding in the back of his car, assault Gault, who eventually is killed by Carter’s ghost. When Gault dies, the other vampire bodies disappear and the box of hash explodes into black smoke. Standing in the debris, Alabama’s mother embraces Doc as Midnight hugs Alabama.  

Production Company: Fredric Hobbs Films, Inc.  
Distribution Company: Ellman Enterprises  
Director: Fredric Hobbs (Dir)
  Karen Ingenthron (Asst dir)
Producer: Robert S. Bremson (Pres)
  Fredric Hobbs (Prod)
  William L. Sullivan (Assoc prod)
Writer: Fredric Hobbs (Wrt)
Photography: William Heick (Dir of photog)
  William Heick (Cam)
  Gordon Mueller (Cam)
  Laurence Grunberg (Cam)
  Harold Zegart (Unit two)
  Susan Heick (Unit two)
  Michael Waldear (Best boy)
  Raymond Theriault (Key grip)
Art Direction: Fredric Hobbs (Prod des)
Film Editor: Richard S. Brummer (Ed)
  Evalyn Stanley (Ed asst)
  Jack Hooper (Negative conformer)
Costumes: Squeak Krauthamer (Cost)
  Ann Wagner Ward (Cost)
  Elaine Joines (Cost)
  Dr. Caligari's Cabinet (Cost)
  Yarmo (Cost)
  Lux (Cost)
Music: Andre Brummer (Mus score)
Sound: Richard S. Brummer (Sd)
Production Misc: Richard S. Brummer (Tech dir)
  Harry Malpas (Prod)
  Dorothy Sauer (Prod)
  Judy Clute (Prod)
  Tiny Hauer (Prod)
  Stevie Lipney (Prod)
  E. Prentice Welles (Unit mgr)
  Ted Derby (Elephant trainer)
  Pat Derby (Elephant trainer)
MPAA Rating: PG
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Alabama's Ghost" and other songs, words and music by Turk Murphy and Tom Coster.
Composer: Tom Coster
  Turk Murphy
Source Text:

Physical Properties: Sd:
  col:

 
Genre: Horror
 
Subjects (Major): Ambition
  Ghosts
  Greed
  Magicians
  Spiritualism
  Vampires
 
Subjects (Minor): Carter the Great
  Dancers
  Drugs
  Elephants
  English
  Experiments
  Mothers and sons
  Magic
  Managers (Entertainment)
  New Orleans (LA)
  San Francisco (CA)
  Voodoo

Note: Although the onscreen credits include a copyright statement to Fredric Hobbs Films, Inc., the film was not registered for copyright. An onscreen list of acknowlegments includes the Magic Theater and The Cockettes. Richard S. Brummer's credit reads "Technical Director: Editing, Sound, Continuity" and Fredric Hobbs's credit reads: "Written Produced Directed by." The film begins with voice-over narration by an uncredited actor explaining that Dr. Caligula developed deadly zata for Hitler.
       A modern source adds Pierre LePage to the cast. Although a Jul 1973 Box release chart cited a Nov 1972 release for the film, no reviews have been located and no national release date has been confirmed. Carter the Great, whose real name was Charles Joseph Carter, was a prominent magician in the early twentieth century. Carter was born in San Francisco in 1874 and died in 1936. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   2 Jul 1973.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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