Friday, October 9, 2015

The Trollenberg Terror (1958)

AKA: The Crawling Eye

Director: Quentin Lawrence

Writers: Jimmy Sangster, Peter Key

Composer: Stanley Black

Starring: Forrest Tucker, Laurence Payne, Jennifer Jayne, Janet Munro, Warren Mitchell, Frederick Schiller, Andrew Faulds, Stuart Saunders, Colin Douglas, Derek Sydney

More info:IMDb

Tagline:  WARNING: If you've ever been hypnotized, do not come alone!

Plot:  A series of decapitations on a Swiss mountainside appear to be connected to a mysterious radioactive cloud.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe after I've seen every horror movie from the 50s.

This neat little horror picture has a surprisingly well-acted cast.  You kind of expect that with the British but not so much when they have an American at the top of the cast list but Forrest Tucker really holds his own against the Brits and he's great in those little moments that could have easily been tossed off.  The story's pretty good and it's helped with the beautiful mountain scenery and observatory/lab sets with the mountains showing outside the windows.  The monster is pretty cool, too.  Sure, it's fake as shit but I don't care.  The effect and model work were still neat-o.  And it's got a good soundtrack and vibe, too.  There are also some really grisly moments of horror with decapitations and lots of deaths.  You just don't see that in horror films of that time which makes it even more shocking.  The Image DVD (European Edition) sports a gorgeous anamorphic widescreen print but the extras are REALLY weak.  You get the fullscreen theatrical trailer (as The Crawling Eye) and a stills gallery consisting of THREE (!!!) fullscreen images taken directly from the film and that's it.  What a joke.  

Escape to Witch Mountain (1975)

Director: John Hough

Writers: Robert M. Young, Alexander Key

Composer: Johnny Mandel

Starring: Kim Richards, Ike Eisenmann, Eddie Albert, Ray Milland, Donald Pleasence, Walter Barnes, Reta Shaw, Denver Pyle, ALfred Ryder, Lawrence Montaigne

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Escape To The Unknown!

Plot: Two mysterious orphan children have extraordinary powers and are chased by a scheming millionaire. But where do these kids really call home?

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  Sure.

This is a blast from my past.  I was just a kid but I remember seeing this one and the sequel in the theater and I had a crush on Kim Richards.  She had that sultry smoker's voice like Lauren Bacall and Kathleen Turner but I wasn't aware of them at that age.  Anyway, it's a fun picture with a great cast and a well-paced story.  I know what you're thinking.  What the hell am I doing watching (and liking) a family picture?  Nostalgia goes a long way.  The two kids do a fantastic job and it's all kinds of fun watching a tender Donald Pleasence and a gentle Eddie Albert.  Just the other day I watched (again) THE LONGEST YARD (1974) where he played one brutal mother fucker.  He's always fun to watch.  Maybe it's just me and my fondness for seeing this as a kid 40 years ago but this is a Disney picture and it's more adult than you'd expect.  There are some kiddie elements but it's not nearly as bad as family films have been since.  But then again, it was the 70s and things were a lot different.  The 80s changed everything and it hasn't gotten better.  Hollywood's modern treatment of family films is to pander to the kids and the lowest common denominator of funny.  I'm looking forward to seeing the sequel with Bette David and Christopher Lee.  Like this one it'll have been nearly 40 years since I saw it.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Capture of Bigfoot (1979)

Director: Bill Rebane

Writers: Ingrid Neumayer, Bill Rebane, John F. Goff

Composer: ???

Starring: Janus Raudkivi, Randolph Rebane, Stafford Morgan, Katherine Hopkins, Richard Kennedy, Otis Young, John F. Goff,  George 'Buck' Flower, John Eimermann, Randoph (not that one) Scott

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A story so amazing it can only be true!

Plot: A small town has made an industry out of Bigfoot sightings and ancillary merchandising. All this may come to an end very soon though. A local businessman hopes to trap Bigfoot once and for all, so that he can get all the publicity gravy.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I was a kid of the 70s and that meant being glued to the TV every time there was anything sci-fi or crazy like it was at the height of the Bigfoot craze which this film was riding the waves of.  As an adult I like to watch the 70s Bigfoot pictures for the goof factor.  That and I'm a sucker for horror movies set in the wilderness.  This flick barely has any Bigfoot action and most of it is crammed into the last 7 minutes.  The acting as OK at best and sometimes it's pretty bad but I can appreciate that when you've got a low budget movie where you're relying on inexperienced actors or locals. The music is late 70s synthesizer which is a mixed bag but you do get a groovy club scene...

Yeah!  Disco the shit out of this.  I'd go 5 out of 10 on this one if it weren't so dull in spots.  You get just enough Bigfoot action (mere seconds every 20 minutes or so) to remind you of what you're watching. I don't know what you could do to fix this flick except tightening it up more and throw in a better score.  There are a lot of scenes with no music and that can mean death to any film.  I might feel a little better about this if maybe the print I saw wasn't a fullscreen VHS copy.  Instead of this I'd rather watch ANY 70s documentary on the subject.  Those are hilarious.  This film isn't even so bad it's good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two on a Guillotine (1965)

Director: William Conrad

Writers: John Kneubuhl, Henry Slesar

Composer: Max Steiner

Starring: Connie Stevens, Dean Jones, Cesar Romero, Parley Baer, Virginia Gregg, Connie Gilchrist, John Hoyt, Russell Thorson, Billy Curtis, William Conrad, Richard Kiel

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  Two on a Guillotine - or 7 nights in a house of terror - or the unkindest cut of all.

Plot:  Duke Duquesne is a very eccentric magician, and owing to his lifestyle his two-year-old daughter, Cassie, is sent away to live with an aunt. After twenty years, news of her father's death brings her back to Los Angeles to attend his funeral. The day after her arrival, she is told he left a rather odd will. It specifies that she will inherit her father's estate on the condition that she stay in his creepy palatial mansion for seven nights in a row - alone.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

I went into this picture blind.  I was ready for a horror flick and the title and poster was all I knew about it.  Boy was I surprised when it was clear from the first few minutes this was more of a light murder mystery than a horror picture but I liked it.  Dean Jones in the 60s had that early Sean Connery good looks but he almost always played light romance and comedy roles.  He's a lot of fun, though, as is Connie Stevens. Cesar Romero is awesome as always.  Max Steiner's score (he'd have only one more feature film after this one) had moments of eeriness that worked very well.  The interiors of the 'castle' are nice.  I wasn't crazy about the lightness in tone for most of the film but the final fifteen minutes or so are firmly placed in horror and I REALLY liked the ending which went a long way into liking the film as a whole.  I was surprised to see that William Conrad directed the picture and he had an extensive career behind the camera as much as he did in front of it.  Oh, there's a few faces you'll recognize like Richard KKiel, Billy Curtis and Parley Baer). I'm almost inclined to say I'd watch it again but while I liked it, I'm not so crazy about it that I'll forgo the gazillions of other movies I haven't seen to make room for this one.  The Warner Bros. DVD is from their Archive collection.  The anamorphic widescreen print is gorgeous but there are no extras.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Hulk (2003)

Director: Ang Lee

Writers: James Schamus, John Turman, Michael France

Composer: Danny Elfman

Starring: Eric Bana, Jennifer Connelly, Sam Elliott, Josh Lucas, Nick Nolte, Paul Kersy, Cara Buono, Todd Tensen, Kevin Rankin, Celia Weston, Mike Erwin, Lou Ferrigno, Stan Lee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Unleash the fury!

Plot:  Bruce Banner, a genetics researcher with a tragic past, suffers an accident that causes him to transform into a raging green monster when he gets angry.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I've seen it twice now (once in the theater) and really don't understand the hate this picture gets.  It's not that bad.  It feels a little long, yeah, and the final fight with Bruce fighting his pop is over the top and marred by taking place at night when you can't see much, but that's really all of the issues I have with the film.  Danny Elfman's score is nice and the film doesn't take itself too seriously enough to ruin it.  I rather like it.  The tag at the end in South America is fantastic and the best part of the film.  I'm not even bent out of shape about the CGI.  I guess some people just want to bitch about shit.  I'm not invested in the comics so I can't compare it to anything except the 70s TV I watched religiously back then.  The Universal 2-disc DVD has the film presented in anamorphic widescreen and there are loads of extras.

Count Dracula (1970)

Original title: Nachts, Wenn Dracula Eerwacht

Director: Jesus Franco

Writers: Erich Krohnke, Augusto Finocchi, Jesus Franco, Dietmar Behnke, Milo G. Cuccia, Carlo Fadda, Harry Alan Towers, Bram Stoker

Composer: Bruno Nicolai

Starring: Christopher Lee, Klaus Kinski, Herbert Lom, Maria Rohm, Fred Williams, Soledad Miranda, Paul Muller, Jack Taylor

More info: IMDb

Plot:  A film version of Bram Stoker's classic novel.

My rating:  5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I've had this for a few years and I've been meaning to give it a spin. Now that I have I wish I'd gotten it over with long ago.  It's not all that good.  I hoped that Lee was finally given a decent Dracula role where he could stretch his acting chops and give the character some much needed life instead of largely playing the monster seen in his Hammer pictures.  I was wrong.  He's got some dialogue in the beginning when he welcomes Harker into his castle but little else in the rest of the picture.  Franco has made some decent Gothic horror pictures but you can't tell from this film.  The camera gets crazy sometimes with more than a few quick zoom ins and outs.  A few scenes even have visible shadows from the crew.  It's lazy film making.  I don't know how closely this follows Stoker's book but I hear it's more faithful than most Dracula pictures.  Nicolai's score has some nice moments but the music he wrote for the "opera" is just awful.  The cast is good.  Hell, it's great having Kinski as Renfield but he doesn't really add much to the role enough to where you're glad he's in it.  He's OK and that goes for pretty much everyone.  No one stands out.  Nothing in this picture stands out. I can't say watch it but you will if you're like me and you won't listen to folks who try to steer you away from early 70s EuroHorror.  The Dark Sky DVD presents the film in its original 1:37 ration (fullscreen...why wasn't this shot wide?).  The  extras you get are a 26 minute featurette on the making of the film with Jess Franco (which is a great watch), Christopher Lee reading Stoker's novel (an hour and 24 minutes of audio with moving images of poster art for this picture as well as music and sound effects - it's quite good), a text essay on Miranda and a still gallery.  Considering you can pick this up for under 8 bucks, it's almost worth it just for the extras. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

August Underground's Mordum (2003)

Directors: Jerami Cruise, Killjoy, Michael Todd Schneider, Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles

Writers: Jerami Cruise, Killjoy, Michael Todd Schneider, Fred Vogel, Cristie Whiles

Starring: Jerami Cruise, Killjoy, Michael Todd Schneider, Fred Vogel, Cristie While

More info: IMDb

Plot:  Degenerates go on a torture/killing spree, take a break to party and get some piercings before torturing and killing again.

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

I kind of liked AUGUST UNDERGROUND (2001) but this sequel is definitely a huge step down.  The characters in the film that are making the film are annoying as hell (much like the first film).  Yeah, they're revolting humans but they're also way too childish to like.  But you don't watch these pictures for the characters, you watch them because you want to see some fucked up shit.  I'd like to tell you that you see some fucked up shit but the camera shakes like Katherine Hepburn in a blender.  It's more off-putting than the people that take turns holding it.  Like the first film, there's a musical interlude of sorts where our filmmakers go to a party with loud, harsh music. The Toe tag DVD  has the film presented in anamorphic widescreen which is odd considering the purposefully shitty VHS quality of the movie.  The extras you get are 20 minutes of footage (in night vision) of the U.S. premiere where there are maybe 60 people in attendance.  There is a brief Q&A at the end of it but it's abruptly cut short mid-sentence.  The trailers are two crudely animated half-minute pieces that do nothing to promote the film.  It's the same stuff that serves as the background to the menu and there are 7 deleted scenes (17 minutes total).  The first one at least sets up the motivation for why these people are torturing their victims which seems like it should have been included in the film.  I was wondering what the motivations were instead of being an act of randomness.  I really wish the DVD had a behind the scenes featurette but the closest you get is a 14 minute slideshow of behind the scenes pictures which is the best thing about the whole disc.  At least you get some of that making of stuff and the images are still for a change.  HA!  Have you ever wanted to see a woman's stomach gutted and then a guy sticks his dick in her wounds and fucks her?  You're wait is over.