B-movie horror director Del Tenney passed away at his home in Jupiter, Florida on February 21, 2013.
Del Tenney (1930 – 2013)
Delbert Tenney acted in theater for most of his life, making it to Broadway. After spending some time as assistant director, he produced the Richard Hilliard directed Violent Midnight in 1963. Violent Midnight owed a debt to Hitchcock’s Psycho but managed to generate a cult following.
1964 was a big year for Del Tenney, as he managed to produce and direct 3 B-horror cult favorites: The Curse of the Living Corpse (Roy R. Scheider’s first film role), Horror of Party Beach, and I Eat Your Skin.
Woo! Beach Party!
The Horror of Party Beach was a monster movie that incorporated the Roger Corman monster horror with the teen beach movies of the period (made popular by Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon). It starts off with toxic waste poured into the ocean, which mixes with the remains of some dead sailors and creates mutant fish monsters with what look like mouths full of hot dogs. They proceed to kill people (including 20 teenage girls at a slumber party) before being taken out by the metal sodium. The original theatrical release of Horror at Party Beach was paired The Curse of the Living Corpse as a double-feature. The advertising included clever gimmicks like making patrons sign a “Fright Release” before viewing in case the movie kills them from fright. (Something similar was done in 1958’s The Screaming Skull). The movie billed itself as the “First Horror Monster Musical,” but it was probably beaten to that crown by Ray Dennis Steckler’s The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies, which came out a month earlier. However, there are extended segments of songs from the Del-Aires. The film was good/bad enough to be featured on an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. (episode 817).
I Eat Your Skin is about a cancer researcher on a remote island who discovers how to create zombies out of the local natives. This film, originally called Voodoo Blood Bath, went unreleased for 6 years before distributor Jerry Gross attached it to I Drink Your Blood as a double-feature and changed the title. Strangely enough, there’s not much of a blood bath or skin-eating in the movie, but it does have its fans. Still, it’s probably best remembered for its advertising. (You can watch the movie here.)
Del Tenney then switched gears and went into theater production with his wife Margot. The couple lent their support to various theaters, including the Musical Theater Works in NYC, the Hartman Theater in Stamford, CT, and the Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival in Jupiter, FL.
Tenney didn’t just stick to entertainment, he also had some experience in real estate, building homes and condos in Connecticut, Florida, and Rhode Island.
Del Tenney was 82 years old. He is survived by his wife, actress Margot Hartman Tenney, children Matthew, Karen, and Jesse; along with seven grandchildren.