Friday, October 31, 2014

The American Scream (2012)

Director: Michael Stephenson

Composer: Bobby Tahouri

Starring: Matthew brodeur, Victor Bariteau, Manny Souza, Lori Souza, Richard Brodeur

More info: IMDb

Plot: Each year, in the sleepy town of Fairhaven, MA, the creative minds behind three local homemade haunts valiantly try to ignite the town's Halloween spirit.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I'm a passionate movie guy and I'm off the charts in love with films and the whole movie making process so I can appreciate other people who have a passion for something.  The subjects of this movie live all year for one night and sometimes their passions affect others and not always in such a good way.  These people are rock stars in their own world and that's awesome.  It sucks, though, when you learn that not all is rosy with Lori, the wife of Manny, as you can tell she's disappointed that her husband's hobby has taken over his life and it's not the life she envisioned.  Still, it's easy to see that these people are obsessed with making their homes a Halloween Disneyland for one night.  Some viewers will laugh at them but think about how much pleasure it brings them and the people who visit their homes.  There are lots of memories being formed because of these folks and it's hard to put a price on that. The first half of the documentary runs pretty slow but do stick with it as the second half flies and it's got a nice emotional payoff.  How about that awesome poster? And I almost forgot, Bobby Tahouri's score is outstanding.  Keep an ear on this cat's career.  If this is indicative of what he can do, he should a top composer in the next decade or two.

Moon of the Wolf (1972)

Director: Daniel Petrie

Writers: alvin Sapinsley, Leslie H. Whitten

Composer: Bernardo Segall

Starring: David Janssen, Barbara Rush, Bradford Dillman, John Beradino, Geoffrey Lewis, Royal Dano, John Davis Chandler, Claudia McNeil, Paul R. DeVille, Dan Priest

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Deadly secrets emerge from the shadows when the full moon rises!

Plot: After several locals are viciously murdered, a Louisiana sheriff starts to suspect he may be dealing with a werewolf.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

When you're watching a 40+ year old made for TV movie, you've got to cut them a little slack, especially when it's a horror picture.  You know there's not going to be much (if any) gore but then it was the beginning of the 70s, a decade where TV movies were a much bigger deal than they are today and they put some effort into making a good product.  This one is more of a horror/drama/mystery than something made to dial up some scares.  It wouldn't be hard to figure out who or what is causing people to up and get themselves killed.  I had a blast just seeing all of the familiar faces (and voices) in the cast.  That's what drew me to this one.  The story is fine, the Louisiana locations are great and the acting works.  You don't really get any horror action until the last fifteen minutes but it's not like you're dying to see it at any point beforehand.  It's an OK film that's really only of interest to fans of any of the cast. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Madhouse (1974)

Director: Jim Clark

Writers: Angus Hal, Ken Levison, Greg Morrison, Robert Quarry

Composer: Douglas Gamley

Starring: Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri, Natasha Pyne, Michael Parkinson, Linda Hayden, Barry Dennen, Ellis Dayle, Catherine Wilmer

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Lights, Camera, Murder!

Plot: A horror movie star returns to his famous role after years in a mental institution. But the character seems to be committing murders independent of his will.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

Alright, I'll watch anything with Vincent Price OR Peter Cushing.  That's a fact.  Put 'em in the same movie and I'm fast-trackin' that bitch.  I really dig the premise and for the most part the film works but it drags.  The score is either too thin or it was recorded strangely which doesn't help.  While Cushing isn't in it as much as I would have liked, he's marvelous as usual.  Like I said, it drags in a few spots so a little trim would be nice but even so, as it is, it's pretty entertaining and the ending is balls-out fun plus you've got one of the greatest masks (the one he wears on the poster) is horror history.  I want one of them sumbitches.  Netflix instant has a nice widescreen print. 

Sorority House Massacre (1986)

Director: Carol Frank

Writer: Carol Frank

Composer: Michael Wetherwax

Starring: Angela O'Neil, Wendy Martel, Pamela Ross, Nicole Rio, John C. Russell, Marcus Vaughter, Vinnie Bilancio, Joe Nassi, Mary Anne, Gillian Frank

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Who'll survive the final exam?

Plot: A little girl's brother kills the whole family but her (she escapes by hiding in the basement). He is committed, and she grows up with a new family, eventually going to college, where she joins a sorority. Due to a memory block, she doesn't remember that the sorority house was her childhood house. Her brother senses her presence in the house and escapes so he can finish the job he was unable to complete.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This would be an average 80s slasher flick if it weren't so slow and dull.  Most of the kills are the same (a knife to the stomach), which can be considered kind of original since most of these types of films from this era were all out to give you wild and creatively fun kills.  There's a little nudity which helps (another staple of the genre) but everything else is just mediocre and there's nothing special about it.   Judging by the score on IMDb the sequel looks just as bad although I see there's a ton more nudity.  That's an improvement but are the kills any better?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Devil Within Her (1975)

Director: Peter Sasdy

Writers: Stanley Price, Nato De Angeles

Composer: Ron Grainer

Starring: Joan Collins, Ralph Bates, Donald Pleasence, Caroline Munro, Eileen Atkins, Hilary Mason, John Steiner, Janet Key, George Claydon, Derek Benfield

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Not Since "Rosemary's Baby"...

Plot: A stripper regrets spurning the advances of a lecherous dwarf after he curses her unborn children. Months later, her newborn son is a vicious monster.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Besides 95 minutes lasting hours, it's not that bad of a film. It's entertaining in a campy, fun way.  The shit they do with that baby is hilarious.  They were very clever and creative when it came to editing the baby's reaction shots and movements.  I laughed my ass off.  The rest of the picture is played as a serious horror but there's no escaping that 8 pounds of cute monstrosity.  The cast does as you'd expect.  Having Donald Pleasence is a plus.  The kills are OK.  You'll probably get a big kick out of Lucy (Collins) talking about and recreating her stripper days with the dwarf.  The ending, while satisfactory I guess, isn't as grandiose as you'd want (you know to wake you up in case you fell asleep), it serves the picture.  This is one of many examples of how the Brits had lost way in the 1970s when it came to horror films.  It's not bad but don't expect much.  It's currently on Netflix instant with a nice widescreen print.

Last House on the Beach (1978)

Original title: La Settima Donna

Director: Franco Prosperi

Writers: Ettore Sanzo, Romano Migliorini, Gianbattista Mussetto

Composer: Roberto Pregadio

Staring: Florinda Bolkan, Ray Lovelock, Flavio Andreini, Sherry Buchanan, Stefano Cedrati, Laura Tanziani, Laura Trotter, Karina Verlier, Luisa Maneri

More info: IMDb

Plot: Sister Cristina (Bolkan) plays a nun who takes the teenage girls in her care to a remote house where they rehearse A Midsummer Night's Dream. Three thugs show up, brutally raping and terrorizing the girls, killing one by raping her with a cane, until Bolkan renounces her teachings and seeks bloody revenge.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Nah.

We've all seen these kinds of pictures before, the ruthless criminals invade some innocents' home, terrorize them until the residents fight back with a few casualties along the way including rape, torture and death.  No?  Well you should!  The US title is clearly trying to cash in on the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) fame.  I suppose in some ways this is a better film.  The bad guys do some nasty stuff to the house full of hot women including a nun with a past (LHotL didn't have that).  The vengeance is fun but I really dug the location the most. The villa on the beach is beautiful, inside and out.  I thoroughly enjoyed staying there for an hour and a half.  It's bright and well-lit and it really helped sell the film. The performances are fine but there is some questionable English dubbing. The widescreen print was nice and it's a pretty good Italian thriller/horror picture with a very satisfying ending.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Stake Land (2010)

Director: Jim Mickle

Writers: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici

Composer: Jeff Grace

Starring: Nick Damici, Connor Paolo, Kelly McGillis, Michael Cerveris, Bonnie Dennison, Jean Brassard, Chance Kelly, Sean Nelson, Danielle Harris

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Most Dangerous Thing Is To Be Alive.

Plot: Martin was a normal teenage boy before the country collapsed in an empty pit of economic and political disaster. A vampire epidemic has swept across what is left of the nation's abandoned towns and cities, and it's up to Mister, a death dealing, rogue vampire hunter, to get Martin safely north to Canada, the continent's New Eden.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

One of the biggest issues with horror films like this is having characters you care about or at least like to a certain degree.  Most horror films fail on this.  STAKE LAND does not.  I really dug Mister (Damici, who also co-wrote the film).  He's very serious about what he does but he's not over the top or goofy about it.  He's got a sense of humor but it's not for wisecracks and play time.  He's a survivalist and he's very much like you think that kind of guy would be if the situations in this film were real.  Paolo (as Martin) does a great job, too, and much in the same manner as Damici.  He holds back and doesn't allow his character to become a stereotype or the comic relief.  That's the high praise this film deserves.  The story and gore are good but they don't stand out as much as the grounded performances because we see good gore in a lot of films these days (and better than that CGI crap on THE WALKING DEAD) and stories similar to this aren't hard to find, although vampires do make a nice, albeit easy, substitution for zombies here.  It's definitely worth seeing although I'm not sure I will need to see it again.  I'm glad I finally got around to it.  I've been hearing about it for years and Netflix made it all too easy to finally pull the trigger.