biographyLow-budget horror director and producer Del Tenney is responsible for bringing several cult classic horror films to the screen in the early 1960s, including The Curse of the Living Corpse, I Eat Your Skin (aka Voodoo Blood Bath), The Horror of Party Beach, and Violent Midnight (aka Psychomania). Born Delbert Duane Tenney in Mason City, Iowa, on July 27, 1930, Tenney moved to California with his parents in the early 1940s. In college he took an interest in the dramatic arts and later took roles in theater and appeared as an extra in several early 1950s films. With his Hollywood career in the slow lane, Tenney relocated to New York in mid 1950s to act in off-Broadway productions. During one of these productions he met actress Margot Hartman, and the couple soon married. Eventually, Tenney appeared on Broadway in a play titled Ross (1961-1962). Deciding to move behind the scenes, he took on the role of assistant director of the low-budget exploitation flick Satan in High Heels (1962; with Meg Myles and Grayson Hall). Tenney also has a role in the film. The following year, Tenney served as assistant director for the low-budget nudie Orgy at Lil's Place (1963; with Davee Decker).
Cult director Del Tenney also acted in a few films. He is pictured here in a scene from Satan in High Heels
Tenney's first effort as producer resulted in the 1963 horror film Violent Midnight, aka Psychomania, an axe-murder thriller made in Connecticut for about $40,000, an amazingly low figure given the good quality of the film. This film stars Lee Phillips, Jean Hale, James Farentino, Sylvia Miles, and Margot Hartman. Del Tenney also appears in some scenes. Hartman also appears in The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964; with Roy Scheider and Candace Hilligoss) and in Peter Bogdanovich's US/Russian science fiction film Voyage to the Planet of Prehistoric Women (1966; with Mamie Van Doren).
In 1963, Del Tenney decided to produce, direct, and write his own films in the community of Stamford, Connecticut, during the spring of that year. The Curse of the Living Corpse and The Horror of Party Beach were made in Stamford, shot back-to-back in two weeks, and initially released in Alan Iselin's chain of drive-in theaters, with Curse leading the double bill. Coming up with the titles first, he got theater-owner Alan Iselin to back the two films, which cost a combined total of $120,000. The screenplays were written immediately before film production began, which became a problem when Tenney became ill at the end of filming Curse and ultimately was too sick to write the screenplay for The Horror of Party Beach. Voodoo Blood Bath was made in the spring of 1964 and shot in Miami, Coral Gables, and Key Biscayne, Florida. However, distribution problems shelved the film until late 1970, when producer Jerry Gross bought the rights to the film, changing its title to I Eat Your Skin for the second feature of a double-bill with Gross' picture, I Drink Your Blood. While prints of nearly all his films are available and in fantastic condition, many copies of I Eat Your Skin are from a poor print and suffer from video and sound glitches. However, recently released is an excellent print of this film, which can be found on the Morella's Blood Vision DVD.
the films of del tenney
Satan in High Heels (1962)
LEFT: Tenney with Grayson Hall in the gritty exploitation drama Satan in High Heels. CENTER and RIGHT: With Meg Myles as the title character and Grayson Hall. Tenney also served as assistant director on this film
Curse of the Living Corpse (1964)
LEFT: Margot Hartman fears for her life. CENTER A: Candace Hilligoss as Deborah Benson. CENTER: With Helen Warren, Candace Hilligoss, Margot Hartman, and Dino Narizzano. RIGHT: Del Tenney, as the living corpse, enacts the revenge of Rufus Sinclair
LEFT: The maid's head is found on the dinner table. CENTER A: Roy Scheider comforts his mother, Helen Warren. Hugh Franklin is pictured in the background. CENTER B: Abigail Sinclar (Helen Warren) returns the broach to her dead husband. RIGHT: Tenney drowns Vivian Sinclair (Margot Hartman) in her bath
The Horror of Party Beach (1964)
LEFT: John Scott and Agustin Mayor duke it out over the affections of Marilyn Clarke. CENTER: A drunk stumbles upon a gruesome scene. RIGHT: As Elaine Gavin, Alice Lyon is menaced by one of the monsters in a promotional photo. This scene is not in the film
LEFT: Local teens dance to the beat of the Del-Aires at the end of The Horror of Party Beach. RIGHT: The Del-Aires, consisting of Ronny Linares, Bob Osborne, Garry Jones, and John Becker. The Del-Aires, a garage rock band from New Jersey, appear throughout The Horror of Party Beach. The band was locally very popular and they actually released an album which included songs from the movie, such as The Zombie Stomp and You Are Not A Summer Love
I Eat Your Skin (1964)
From I Eat Your Skin. LEFT: As novelist Tom Harris, William Joyce is surrounded by a bevy of scantily clad housewives at the hotel pool. CENTER: Tom's agent Duncan Fairchild (Dan Stapleton) saves him from an irate husband. CENTER and RIGHT: William Joyce as Tom Harris
LEFT: With costar Betty Hyatt Linton. CENTER: One of the killer zombies from I Eat Your Skin. RIGHT: William Joyce begins to get wise about the mysterious deaths on the island
later yearsIn 1975, Del and Margot Tenney started the Hartman Theatre Company, which produced both familiar and new plays in Stamford, Connecticut. These plays often featured New York-based daytime drama actors, as well as Margot Tenney. Del Tenney often served as director. The Tenneys left the theatre company in 1980, and it folded in the late 1980s. In the 1990s, the couple was still very active in off-Broadway productions and sponsored the Hartman-Tenney series of musicals in Stamford.
After 35 years away from the film business, Del and Margot Tenney returned to filmmaking with the 1999 release of Clean and Narrow, directed by and starring William Katt. Del Tenney served as producer and also appeared in the film along with Margot Tenney. In March 2001, Do You Wanna Know a Secret? was released, starring Joey Lawrence and Jeff Conaway, and again featuring Del and Margot Tenney in small roles. Del Tenney again served as producer. Sadly, Del Tenney passed away on February 21, 2013, at the age of 82. He was survived by his wife and three children, Matthew, Jesse, and Karen.
tenney crew member rhoden c. streeter: filming the horror of party beach and the curse of the living corpse
In 1998, Rhoden Streeter, who served as a crew member on two of Tenney's films, reflected on the making of The Curse of the Living Corpse and The Horror of Party Beach:
I had just dropped out of college when I went to Tenney to get a job. I said, 'Exploit me.' His response was, 'That's just the kind of talk I like to hear! I worked on Horror of Party Beach and Curse of the Living Corpse, first in set construction, and then as assistant editor, sound boom man, extra, etc. (I was the blond's body thrown in the quicksand in Curse and the smallest monster in Horror). I left before the editing was finished on Curse to get a better film editing job in Boston. I told Tenney he hadn't bought my loyalty. He understood---$50 a week wasn't that much even in 1964. (I'd had a $10 raise up from $40.) There are two different sets of monsters in Horror. The first set is three guys in shapeless rubber suits with sponges glued on. The second was just a mask used for close-ups when the first set didn't seem to cut it. We didn't have any flash powder for effects to blow up the monsters in Horror, so I went to the local pharmacy and bought the ingredients for gunpowder that I mixed up. There was a Horror of Party Beach comic book put out with stills from the film instead of drawings.
In Curse of the Living Corpse, when the mother is burning in the four-poster bed, in the high-angle long shot, you can just catch me crouched down pumping the smoke machine like crazy!! Thirty-four years ago? Heck I'm still smiling!" When I last heard from Rhoden Streeter, he was happily retired.
del tenney films available from amazon.com
This listing includes films directed by Del Tenney, and well as films he has acted in:
Descendant (2003) with Jeremy London, Katherine Heigl, William Katt, and Margot Hartman
Do You Wanna Know a Secret? (2001) with Joey Lawrence and Jeff Conaway
Clean and Narrow (1999) with Laura Leighton, William Katt, Sondra Locke, and Wings Hauser
I Eat Your Skin (1964) with William Joyce and Heather Hewitt
The Curse of the Living Corpse (1964) with Roy Scheider, Margot Hartman, Robert Milli, and Candace Hilligoss
The Horror of Party Beach (1964) with John Scott and Alice Lyon
Satan in High Heels (1962) with Meg Myles and Grayson Hall
del tenney film now showingWatch Del Tenney's 1964 film I Eat Your Skin
Click on the logo to go back to Brian's Drive-In Theater
This page premiered March 20, 1998.
Copyright and Disclaimer Information