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.

The Initiation (1984)

Director: Larry Stewart

Writer: Charles Pratt Jr.

Composers: Gabriel Black, Lance Ong

Starring: Vera Miles, Clu Gulager, Daphne Zuniga, James Read, Marilyn Kagan, Robert Dowdell, Patti Heider, Frances Peterson, Hunter Tylo, Paula Knowles, Trey Stroud, Peter Malof

More info: IMDb

Tagline: ...the night new blood is pledged.

Plot:  Kelly Fairchild has become a college student and a member of the Delta Ro Kai sorority. During all her life, she has suffered from a nightmare where a man is burning. She meets an assistant professor who can help interpret the dream. The sorority's initiation ritual is a nighttime breaking-and-entering into her father's department store.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.  Twice is enough.

Don't you hate it when you get halfway into a movie only to realize that you've seen it before?  And in the last year but you completely forgot?  Yeah, that's this one and it's one of the reasons why I started this blog 7 years ago because it happened then, too.  THE INITIATION is a good looking film, like an A-list Hollywood picture.  The performances are fine (the girl that played the professor's assistant was pretty darn good) but the electronic score is pretty awful in spots, the kills are even trying to be creative but maybe this isn't that kind of slasher.  Maybe the director and pals were trying to make a more realistic slasher picture.  But then maybe it's just a big weakness.  Two thirds in you find out a lot of the back story that you think is going to help you figure out who the killer is over the next half hour but you could be wrong.  It's not until the final few minutes to you really know who the killer is and you might be disappointed, just like in some Giallo pictures that pull that ??? bullshit at the end out of nowhere.  It's not that it doesn't work, which it does, it just feels kind of like a cheat. Like a lot of slashers of the 80s there's a nice sprinkling of nudity and a little bit of blood but not enough to keep you coming back.  It's not a bad film but it's just not all THAT good. Better than average and that ain't bad.  Jesus fucking hell the music over the end credits is annoying as fuck. AHHHHHHH!  Modulate.  AHHHHHHH!  Modulate again...and again...and again...and again.  It's currently streaming on Netflix with a nice widescreen print.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Angry Red Planet (1959)

Director: Ib Melchior

Writers: Ib Melchior, Sidney W. Pink

Composer: Paul Dunlap

Starring: Gerald Mohr, Naura Hayden, Les Tremayne, Jack Kruschen, Paul Hahn, J. Edward McKinley, Tom Daly, Don Lamond

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Spectacular Adventure Beyond Time and Space ...

Plot: The first spaceship to Mars, presumed lost, is found in space and brought back to Earth by remote control. Only two from an initial crew of four are still alive, but one is unconscious due to an attached alien growth, while the other is traumatized, blocking out all memory of what happened. In hopes to save the unconscious crewman, the amnesiac is interrogated back into remembering. Those in charge thereby learn of the terrible dangers awaiting anyone venturing into the spooky, ruddy stillness of the very alien Martian ecosystem.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This is a sometimes hilariously bad movie but it's kind of tough to get through because of the excessive talking and lack of angry red planet horror action.  The dialogue is funny as shit and all of the characters fit in nice little cubby holes of stereotypes.  All of that is part of the fun.  It's a half hour in that we get to Mars and it looks pretty cool.  The whole time our heroes have boots on the ground the camera is filtered metallic red and that goes a long way in selling it.   You can still tell the kids are standing in front of a painted backdrop but who cares.  I also dig the vibrant colors of the rest of the picture.  The green icky on that guy's arm near the end just pops right off the screen.  You're already on board for some craptastic fun.  That bat spider creature on the poster is fucking badass and that's how it is in the film which is a real shocker that the picture delivers what the poster promises. Sadly it's not in the film much.  It's not all that bad of a film and I rather liked a good deal of it but there's a lot of boring nonsense that bookends the picture.  That's Ted Cassidy providing the voice of the alien at the end.  There's enough of interest that fans of the genre are going to want to give this a shot but don't think it'll end up on your re-watch list because it probably won't.

Son of Dracula (1943)

Director: Robert Siodmak

Writers: Eric Taylor, Curt Siodmak

Composer: Hans J. Salter

Staring: Lon Chaney Jr., Robert Paige, Louise Allbritton, Evelyn Ankers, Frank Craven, J. Edward Bromberg, Samuel S. Hinds, Adeline De Walt Reynolds, Pat Moriarity, Etta McDaniel, George Irving

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Can You Take It? More Startling . . . More Blood-Curdling Than Anything You've Ever Seen!

Plot: Count Alucard finds his way from Budapest to the swamps of the Deep South; his four nemeses are a medical doctor, a university professor, a jilted fiancé and the woman he loves.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Really?  They had six years to come up with a sequel to the drab DRACULA'S DAUGHTER (1936) and this is the best they could do?  Before I forget, the coolest thing in the picture is the guy shooting at Dracula and the bullets kill the woman standing behind him.  Nice!  I mean, really nice!  Could Chaney be any less interesting and drab?  It's like he was trying to out-bore the vampire from the previous film.  Was there some rule at Universal that whoever plays Dracula or someone like him has to be devoid of any charisma?  Ugh.  And what's with him going back and forth from calling himself (and other referring to him) as Dr. Alucard and Count Dracula?  I don't think it's ever even mentioned that he's the son of Dracula.  This film is mediocre at best.  I won't be seeing it again.  This is included in the Universal Dracula Legacy DVD set and the only extra for this film is the theatrical trailer.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Konga (1961)

Director: John Lemont

Writers: Aben Kandel, Herman Cohen

Composer: Gerard Schurmann

Starring: Michael Gough, Margo Johns, Jess Conrad, Claire Gordon, Austin Trevor, Jack Watson, George Pastell, Vanda Godsell, Stanley Morgan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Not since "King Kong"...has the screen exploded with such mighty fury and spectacle!

Plot: Dr.Decker comes back from Africa after a year, presumed dead. During that year, he came across a way of growing plants and animals to an enormous size. He brings back a baby chimpanzee to test out his theory. As he has many enemies at home, he decides to use his chimp, 'Konga' to 'get rid of them'. Then Konga grows to gigantic proportions and reaks havoc all over the city of London!

My rating: 3/10

Will I watch it again? Oh, gosh, no.

There is so much dialogue in this picture that if Gough was paid per word (just name your price) he could have retired and that's no exaggeration.  I kind of felt sorry for the actor.  It's like Shakespeare going cheesey.  Is it fun?  Not after ten minutes.  I'm not hating on this picture just for the sake of it but it's really tough to say much that's positive.  It's 90 minutes long and it felt like twice that.  It's cheesy and campy but that will only go so far.  You know relatively early on what's gong to happen for the rest of the film in regards to the titular character.  Knowing that brings more pain in suffering through dialogue filled minute after dialogue filled minute.   When the monkey action starts you don't care because you're so damn bored and when the giant monkey shit hits the fan (FINALLY the hilarity begins but it's not until the last 13 minutes!) it's too little, too late.  If you must watch this (it's currently on Netflix instant), seriously skip ahead to the last 15 minutes.  Twasn't beauty killed the beast, twas boredom.

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Director: Lambert Hillyer

Writers: Garrett Fort, David O. Selznick, John L. Balderston, Charles Belden, Finley Peter Dunne, Kurt Neuman, R.C. Sherriff

Composer: Heinz Roemheld

Starring: Otto Kruger, Gloria Holden, Marguerite Churchill, Edward Van Sloan, Gilbert Emery, Irving Pichel, Halliwell Hobbes, Billy Bevan, Nan Grey, Hedda Hopper, Claud Allister, Edgar Norton, E.E. Clive

More info: IMDb

Tagline: She gives you that weird feeling!

Plot: Hungarian countess Marya Zaleska seeks the aid of a noted psychiatrist, in hopes of freeing herself of a mysterious evil influence.

My rating: 5.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

At first it was a little annoying that there was so much exposition that opens the film (and with some idiot coppers) that was all covered in the first film, DRACULA (1931), until you realize that this is the 1930s and audiences hadn't seen the other film for five years.  That and it's actually important to the story.  Also at first, Gloria Holden's performance (as the titular character) is low, breathy and mysterious.  The problem is that she doesn't change her delivery for the rest of the picture.  That makes her either look like a bad actress or her character about as boring as they come.  I can't see whey anyone would want to be around her and not everyone is under her spell.  She's almost constantly in a 'woe is me' mode.  Her performance brings the picture down a lot.  Then there's the plot line where her (Contessa Marya Zeleska) vampirism is compared and somewhat treated like an addiction.  That was great except they abandoned it before the end.  I'd like to seen that explored more.  You could make a case that she changed her mind and decided not to kick the blood sucking habit.  If that were true then it's the failing of the actress to show any kind of transition from wanting it to not and I didn't see it.  I'm watching this (again but for the last time) from the great Universal Legacy Collection with the Dracula films.  The only extra for this film is the theatrical trailer.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Berserk (1967)

Director: Jim O'Connolly

Writers: Aben Kandel, Herman Cohen, Joan Crawford

Composer: John Scott

Starring: Joan Crawford, Ty Hardin, Diana Dors, Michael Gough, Judy Geeson, Robert Hardy, Geoffrey Keen, Sydney Tafler, George Claydon, Philip Madoc, Ambrosine Phillpotts, Thomas Cimarro, Peter Burton, Golda Casimir, Ted Lune, Milton Reid

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Screen Screams out at a Hundred Horrors!

Plot: Monica Rivers is the owner and ringmaster of a traveling circus, and she'll stop at nothing to draw bigger audiences. When a series of mysterious murders begins to occur and some of her performers die gruesomely, her profits soar. She hires high-wire walker Frank Hawkins, impressed by the handsome and muscular young man. They begin an affair which arouses her previous lover Durando's jealousy. When Durando is found dead shortly afterward, the other performers begin to take alarm, as a mysterious killer is obviously loose in their midst. Many suspect Monica herself of the killings, especially Matilda, who has set her sights on Monica's new lover. At this point, Monica's unruly, sixteen-year-old daughter Angela is expelled from school for being incorrigible, and Monica is forced to take her into the circus, allowing her to become the partner of knife-thrower Gustavo. Meanwhile, the dead bodies continue to pile up.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Sometimes it's who's in the picture that makes a big difference for me, people I don't realize at first glance in the opening credits.  Geoffrey Keene's voice is instantly recognizable to Bond fans of the Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton films and then there's Milton Reid as the strongman who looked awfully familiar and it's because he was the guy who's holding on to Bond's tie before he falls in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977).  Yep, those are the highlights for me.  Oh, and the poodle act was really cute.  This picture is an odd bird because there is a good deal of filler in the way of circus acts.  Did they really need to put so much of it in here?  Nope.  Maybe they were catering to the folks who couldn't get out to see the circus but could buy a movie ticket.  Beats the mess out of me but I don't care.  It's an OK murder mystery of sorts set in a circus.  It's harmless and there's nothing all that exciting about any of it.  Near the end you wonder which knife thrown at the spinning girl is going to land where it shouldn't (I won't spoil it) or when someone is going to snuff it during a performance but that's about it.  It's not a bad film but it's not likely to do anything for anyone except for the 68 people on IMDb that gave it a 10/10.  The ending surprised the hell out of me.  Didn't see that one coming.  I dug it. You'd think the circus horror subgenre would be ripe with great ideas for horror but I haven't seen them.  The best of the bunch I've seen is CIRCUS OF HORRORS (1960) which is worth your while over this picture any day. 

Crucible of Horror (1971)

Original title: The Corpse

Director: Viktors Ritelis

Writer: Olaf Pooley

Composer: John Hotchkis

Starring: Michael Gough, Yvonne Mitchell, Sharon Gurney, Simon Gough, David Butler, Olaf Pooley, Nicholas Jones, Mary Hignett, Howard Goorney

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The nightmare never ends!

Plot: A mother and daughter hatch a scheme to murder their family's domineering and sadistic patriarch.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? No.

There are two things that hurt this picture.  The first is the dreadfully long running time.  91 minutes felt like 120.  The story is more suited to either an hour episode of something like ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS or, better still, it could be a great 20-30 minute segment in an Amicus horror anthology film.  The other thing, the story is very reminiscent of the excellent French horror thriller, LES DIABOLIQUE (1955).   I just remembered how little music is in the film.  The first half hour feels like forever but that could be a good thing.  We get to spend time with the Eastwoods in what must be a painful way to live.  They're boring as hell and Walter (Gough) is a right bastard who's job it seems is to make his family miserable and he's good at it.  If that was the goal, for us to feel like one of them, then the filmmakers succeeded in spades but it's still a slugfest to get through it.  It does pick up when his wife and daughter decide to do something about it...but then it continues to drag.  It's currently on Netflix streaming.  As a side note, the current 1970s horror films on Netflix are pretty piss poor.  There's a great site,, that lets you search what's on Netflix in a MUCH better manner than Netflix's own site. Do a search for horror and then narrow it to just the 1970s and you'll see how little there is (41 films) and how low the quality of them is (not in picture quality but in how good they generally are).  There are a few gems but they're rare.  It's even worse when you're a horror junkie like me who has seen most of them already.  I'm going through them slowly but the ones I haven't seen are boring as hell (usually).

Friday, October 24, 2014

Shrunken Heads (1994)

Director: Richard Elfman

Writers: Charles Band, Matthew Bright

Composer: Danny Elfman (theme only), Richard Band

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They're superheroes from the their necks.

Plot: When three N.Y. kids are murdered, the local Hatiian voodoo priest re-animates their shrunken heads to exact revenge. Complications arise between one of the heads and his former girlfriend.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I guess I'm glad I watched it.  The big reason I did was because it was directed by Richard FORBIDDEN ZONE (1980) Elfman (brother of composer and Oingo Boingo god, Danny).  There's A LOT of setup before you get to the shrunken head action.  It's an odd film but it is kinda fun.  The kids look like they're out of a 50s juvenile delinquent picture and the score apes WEST SIDE STORY () which is hilarious.  It's obviously shot on a studio backlot but it moves quickly and it's not boring.  You may be put off (like I was) by the ridiculously broad characters that are meant to bring the funny but don't because it's so over the top.  The big selling point of course is the shrunken heads and their killing rampage.  It's not too gory and the effects are cheap even for twenty years ago but that's not necessarily a detriment to the picture.  It's playful and it's geared toward a younger audience.  My forty-something crowd saw it for the cheesefest it was.  The dialogue is pretty bad.  If you want to make a drinking game out of taking a shot after any character says another character's name then you'll be hammered in seconds.  That's right, seconds.  Incredible, you say?  Watch the movie and find out for yourself.  It's amazing how many times two people, alone, in conversation mention the other person's name.  Who the fuck does that in real life?  It reminded me of THE EDGE (1997) and how insane it was to hear Alec Baldwin say "Charles" a gazillion times.  There used to be a video out there of it but I can't find it. Life is hard.

Race with the Devil (1975)

Director: Jack Starrett

Writers: Lee Frost, Wes Bishop

Composer: Leonard Rosenman

Starring: Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Loretta Swit, Lara Parker, R.G. Armstrong, Clay Tanner, Carol Blodgett, Phil Hoover, Ricci Ware, Jack Starrett

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Peter Fonda and Warren Oates are burning their bridges and a lot of rubber... on the deadliest stretch of road in the country!

Plot: Two couples vacationing together in an R.V. from Texas to Colorado are terrorized after they witness a murder during a Satanic ritual.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

HOKEY SMOKE, BULLWINKLE!  What a fantastic flick!  I loved it!  Hell, all of us watching it did.  The less said, the better.  Hell, don't even watch the trailer.  Read the plot outline and watch it.  It'll keep you guessing until the end and the finale will blow your mind.  Starrett (who you'll see pop up in a lot of early biker flicks) crafted one hell of a great ride.  The performances are solid but it's the writing and the direction that elevate this beyond what a film like this would normally be.  The Anchor Bay DVD looks fantastic and it's got some great extras including an 18 minute making of, a commentary track with producer Paul Maslansky, actress Lara Parker and DVD producer Perry Martin, the anamorphic widescreen theatrical trailer, radio spots, poster & still gallery, behind the scenes photo gallery and trailers for THE ENTITY (anamorphic widescreen), QUICKSILVER HIGHWAY and GHOST IN THE MACHINE (both fullscreen).  This is a great flick and a great release. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976)

Director: Charles B. Pierce

Writer: Earl E. Smith

Composer: Jaime Mendoza-Nava

Starring: Ben Johnson, Andrew Prine, Dawn Wells, Jimmy Clem, Jim Citty, Charles B. Pierce, Robert Aquino, Cindy Butler, Christine Ellsworth, Earl E. Smith, Steve Lyons, Joe Catalanotto, Roy Lee Brown

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Not Everyone Who Comes to This Lover's Lane Has the Same Thing on Their Mind.

Plot: A Texas Ranger hunts for a hooded serial killer terrorizing the residents of a small town, set in 1946 Arkansas. Loosely based on a true story.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

I've got to say that I would love to see this in a drive-in theater. It's ideal and not only because of the nature of the horror aspect with the killings but because it's centered in and around (and filmed on location) Texarkana, Texas and the outdoorsyness of it all looks like it'd be fun watching outdoors.  I really dig the acting. There seem to be a lot of people who either aren't actors or have little feature credit.  That works great in selling this docudrama.  Ben Johnson isn't doing anything different than he's done before but he brings a lot of gravitas to the production.  He's not too far from playing the same character he did in DILLINGER (1973) but a little lighter and with more fun.  Speaking of fun, Dawn Wells (Mary Ann on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND) is fantastic. I need to check out more of her pictures because she really blew me away with how she handled her part.  It was completely believable. Prine is good, too.  I don't want to leave him out or he'll come kick my ass with that awesome Texas accent.  The one big issue I have with this is the silly slapstick comedy crap that's all from the director who plays Patrolman Benson, the cop who drives Johnson and Prine around.  Benson isn't the brightest bulb on the tree and the stupid shit he does makes you want to cringe.  It's completely uncalled for.  It's like director Pierce wanted to also make this a hybrid drive-in horror and rednexploitatoin picture.  The horror and police procedural aspect is great and the broad comedy really hurts the film.  If you're familiar with the true story (I wasn't) then you'll dig the ending.  I did.  No spoilers here but it satisfies both the ending of the real events and movie making.  I really dug this picture and I can see slapping this in one night on my backyard screen.  I wish I had done it last night. 

My Sweet Satan (1994)

Director: Jim Van Bebber

Writer: Jim Van Bebber

Composer: ???

Starring: Jim Van Bebber, Terek Puckett, Alydra Kelly, Sherri Rickman, Tamara Bell, Michael Capone, Pete Ludlow, Mike Moore, Gregory Charles

More info: IMDb

Plot: Ricky Kasslin hangs himself in prison. Flashbacks and discussions with friends trace his degeneracy into drugs and Satan worship that culminates in the crime that put him behind bars.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

After watching Van Bebber's short film he made back to back with this one, ROADKILL: THE LAST DAYS OF JOHN MARTIN (which I really dug), I was excited to see this one which runs about 19 minutes.  It's a vastly different horror short with only a little gore and more story.  It's more of a crime horror as it focuses on a young man who pays for his crimes after his stint dabbling in Satanism and the killing of a young follower.  He's ridden with guilt and punishes himself while in jail.  It's not all that bad.  You can tell it's a low budget flick but there are moments of quality that may surprise you.  The voice work could be better but this isn't coming from a studio so I can forgive pictures like this and overlook its shortcomings.  Tonight I'm going to watch one of his few features, THE MANSON FAMILY (2003).  I hope it's good. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ganja & Hess (1973)

Director: Bill Gunn

Writer: Bill Gunn

Composer: Sam Waymon

Starring: Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn, Sam Waymon, Leonard Jackson, Candece Tarpley, Richard Harrow, John Hoffmeister, Betty Barney, Mabel King, Betsy Thurman, Enrico Fales, Tommy Lane, Tara Fields

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The Devil wanted their souls...She wanted their bodies and more!

Plot: Dr. Hess Green, an archaeologist overseeing an excavation at the ancient civilization of Myrthia, is stabbed by his research assistant, who then commits suicide. When Hess wakes up, he finds that his wounds have healed, but he now has an insatiable thirst for blood, due to the knife carrying ancient germs. Soon after, Hess meets his former assistant's wife, Ganja. Though Ganja is initially concerned about her missing husband, she soon falls for Hess. Though they are initially happy together, Ganja will eventually learn the truth about Hess, and about her husband. Will she survive the revelation? Will Hess?

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

I don't know.  See the newspaper advertising below?  Don't dare go into this expecting anything as exciting as that.  It's just not that kind of horror film.  It's slowly paced (which works), it's got nice visuals but it's more of a meditative kind of easy going horror drama.  Does it work? I'm not sure how well.  I think it'd take another viewing or two to really soak it all in before I can really say how much I liked it.  I'd like to believe I'd dig it more after another viewing but there are thousands of films I haven't seen and life is too short so that's probably not going to happen.  The acting is quite good.  A lot of the performances feel like you're a fly on the wall and you're hearing real life conversations.  I don't know if there was any improvisation with the script but it works nicely.  Watch the YouTube clip above and that'll give you an idea of what you're getting into before you decide to take the plunge. It's not a bad film but I can't exactly say for certain that it's a great one.  At least not yet. 

Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin (1994)

Director: Jim Van Bebber

Writer: Mark Gillespie, Jim Van Bebber

Composer: ???

Starring: Mark Gillespie, Marc Pitman, Maureen Allisse

More info: IMDb

Plot: A John offers a couple with a broken-down car a ride to the nearest gas station, little do they know he's actually taking them back to his place for dinner.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Probably not.

This is a short 15 minute gruesome film about a sick fuck who eats dead animals raw...

picks up a couple stranded on the highway, takes them back to his bachelor flat...

and kills them. 

There's not much story than that and it's all about blood, guts, killin' and nudity.  It's pretty fuckin' great and it's shot on 16 mm, looking like something made at least twenty years earlier.   The entire film is on YouTube (above).  This would be a fun short to play for a Halloween party between movies.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Bloodlust: Subspecies III (1994)

Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writer: Ted Nicolaou

Composers: Richard Kosinski, William Levine, Michael Portis

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Love Bleeds

Plot: Still in the thrall of the evil vampire Radu, Michelle yearns to be taught the skills of the vampire. Meanwhile, her sister Becky tries to free her from his evil clutches, and this time, she's brought some help.

My rating: 5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Since this was filmed back to back with the second film, it's pretty much more of the same except it's duller.  One thing I didn't cover in that review was that the acting by the two baddies, Radu (Hove) and his mother, Mummy (Gordon), is over the top but not so much that it ruins the picture.  That's a style choice that I don't dig where the grotesque, once-human, creatures have to behave all twisty and gruesome and their speech is filled with hisses, lots of air and the exaggerated facial expressions.  Even when Radu is talking one on one with his woman he's like that even if it is toned down for that scene just a little.  I can't stand it.  Wouldn't it be nice if the head vampire was more articulate (you can still have them look nasty and falling apart) instead of a gassy monster?  There's barely any stop motion animation (the first two films had a lot more) and the little subspecies  dudes on the fucking poster only show up at the end for mere seconds as if to get all in your face with it to remind you that they didn't forget about a big reason why you watched this to begin with.  Well, at least that's a reason why I watched it and I was very disappointed they were all but absent from the film.  Oh, and the music is a mixed bag.  The synth stuff is forgettable but the Romanian folk-influenced stuff was great.  The Full Moon DVD sports a fullscreen transfer with the only extra being a 7 minute behind the scenes making of featurette. If you saw the one for the second film it's just more of the same as this was filmed alongside the other.  You're really not getting much more from this one. I know there's another sequel but I'm done with this franchise.  I really want to see that badass little fuckers wreaking havoc in Romania.  I guess I'll have to sleep-induce that dream.

The Tell-Tale Heart (1960)

Director: Ernest Morris

Writers: Edgar Allan Poe, Brian Clemens, Eldon Howard

Composers: Tony Crombie, Bil LeSage

Starring: Laurence Payne, Adrienne Corri, Dermot Walsh, Selma Vaz Dias, John Scott Martin, John Martin, Annette Carell, David Lander, Rosemary Rotheray, Frank Thornton

More info: IMDb

Tagline: From the Terrifying Pages of Edgar Allan Poe!

Plot: When Edgar sees his girlfriend Betty getting up close and personal with his best friend Carl, he murders Carl in a jealous rage and hides the corpse under the floor of his piano room. Comes the night, and Edgar begins to hear strange sounds coming from under the floor...

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Nah.

Despite the poor quality of the print I watched it's a good Poe adaptation.  The acting is strong and solid.  It is a bit stagey as if it were a play shown as a TV adaptation and the music reflects that sometimes, too, but it's very well done otherwise.  Poe fans will dig it for sure.  Look quick for Frank Thornton (of ARE YOU BEING SERVED? (1972) fame) as a bartender.   I love that show.  This picture pops up on some public domain sets but you can see it for free above on YouTube.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Bloodstone: Subspecies II (1993)

Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writers: Charles Band, Ted Nicolaou

Composers: Richard Kosinski, William Levine, Michael Partis, John Zeretzke

Starring: Anders Hove, Denice Duff, Kevin Spirtas, Melanie Shatner, Michael Denish, Pamela Gordon, Ion Haiduc, Tudorel Filimon

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Some things are better left Undead

Plot: A woman who has just become a vampire tries to escape the evil vampire, Radu, who seeks her as his love interest. But she has taken the vampire family's bloodstone, and now Radu must find her to get it back. While her sister comes to Romania to save her soul. It might be to late.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

This first sequel takes up where the last film left off. Like that film the production values are higher than a lot of other Full Moon pictures and a lot of that has to do with the shooting locations and the gore effects. The subspecies guys are back but only at the beginning and they've got very little screen time at that which is a shame because they're super cool.  There are a couple of scenes with some fantastic shadow work like you would find in the 1920s and 30s German expressionism films.  As nice and unexpected as they are it's not enough to make this any better than the first film but it's not really worse, either.  The music score is, as with a lot of Full Moon films, practically a footnote to the rest of the production, often just getting by in the background.  The ending is kind of cheap because it stops just like the end of a TV episode in that you'll have to come back next week to find out.  If you see it you'll know what I'm talking about. It doesn't end like a movie would.  It's as if it ended halfway through the movie.  There's a reason for that as it was filmed back to back with the sequel.  The only extra is a ten minute Videozone behind the scenes making of featurette which is fantastic.  It kind of makes me like the movie more.  They've convinced me to watch the third one now.

Willard (1971)

Director: Daniel Man

Writers: Gilbert Ralston, Stephen Gilbert

Composer: Alex North

Starring: Bruce Davison, Sondra Locke, Elsa Lanchester, Ernest Borgnine, Michael Dante, Jody Gilbert, Williams Hansen, John Myhers, J. Pat O'Malley, Joan Shawlee

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Where your nightmares end...WILLARD begins.

Plot: A social misfit, Willard is made fun of by his co-workers, and squeezed out of the company started by his deceased father by his boss. His only friends are a couple of rats he raised at home, Ben and Socrates. (And their increasing number of friends) However, when one of them is killed at work, he goes on a rampage using his rats to attack those who have been tormenting him.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? Nope.

I've been wanting to see this for probably more than thirty years.  Worth the wait?  Nope.  It's not all that interesting except that I've seen the remake, WILLARD (2003), and it's neat to compare.  The remake is better.  The original isn't compelling, it's too leisurely paced and the payoff is minimal.  The actors do a good job (and what a great cast, too) but they don't go far enough and I'm talking mostly about Davison (Willard) and Borgnine (Mr. Martin).  This is where the remake got it right.  In the '71 film Willard isn't sympathetic enough and Martin isn't harsh enough.  I would really liked to have seen Borgnine a fierce and brutal man which he's certainly capable of.  He's too jolly and soft on Willard to make it believable and Willard doesn't seem as mentally screwed up as you'd think he would be to be pushed over the edge to do what he does.  It actually gives me more of an appreciation for the 2003 flick.  I was, though, taken aback that Alex North wrote the score.  He's one of my top favorite film composers and I completely forgot that this one was in his catalog.  It's pretty impressive that this picture had a guy like that writing the music. It makes sense, though, that he and the director worked on a few pictures together.  Even though I didn't dig this flick as much as I'd hoped, I'll still check out the sequel, BEN (1972).  And by the way, where the hell are these films on DVD?  The only way you can find them is on VHS.  It's a shame.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Subspecies (1991)

Director: Ted Nicolaou

Writers: Charles Band, Jackson Barr, David Pabian

Composers: Stuart Brotman, Richard Kosinski, William Levine, Michael Portis, John Zeretzke

Starring: Angus Scrimm, Anders Hove, Irina Movila, Laura Mae Tate, Michelle McBride, Ivan J. Rado, Mara Grigore, Adrian Valcu, Michael Watson, Lili Dumitrescu, Ion Besoiu

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The night has fangs.

Plot: The evil vampire villain Radu returns to his hometown Prejnar, after spending years in exile. He steals the precious blood stone which is said to be bleeding from all saints, from his father and kills him. Meanwhile two American schoolgirls team up with a local girl for work on Romanian culture. Radu becomes attracted to them but runs into trouble when his brother Stephan helps the girls.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No. 

I've had a lot of love and respect for Full Moon since I discovered them in the mid-to-late 80s.  This low budget horror/sci-fi film making studio has put out some really fun film but they've also made some stinkers.  This one's been on my radar for over twenty years and here we are. It's not quite what I expected but then I didn't know anything about the picture except for the poster/video cover box which prominently features these neat little demon dudes. One thing I LOVE about Full Moon is their use of stop motion animation.  It's a costly technique but it's really effective, even when used sparingly as they do.  The demons are really neat but they're not given much screen time and I suppose that's largely due to the cost of animating them.  Filming this in Romania goes a long way the establishing a nice atmosphere.  But what really hurts this is not shooting this on film.  And it doesn't help that the score sometimes feels like an afterthought as if the composers, director or studio (or all) weren't sure what to do.  Story wise its a variation on the Dracula tale.  You're not getting anything all that new here but the Bloodstone is cool as are the little red guys.  Even at about 90 minutes it feels twenty two long.  I've got the box set and I'll bang through the next two sequels.  The fullscreen image is accompanied by a behind the scenes Videozone that's about ten minutes.  These are welcome extras on Full Moon's releases.  In such a short time you find out a lot including seeing footage of the original subspecies as humans in costume.  It's clear why they went with stop motion and puppetry after that.  The only other extras are trailers (all anamorphic widescreen) for EVIL BONG 3, GINGERDEAD MAN 3, KILLJOY 3, SKULL HEADS, DEMONIC TOYS 2, PUPPET MASTER: AXIS OF EVIL.

Killer's Moon (1978)

Director: Alan Birkinshaw

Writers: Alan Birkinshaw, Fay Weldon

Composers: John Shakespeare, Derek Warne

Starring: Anthony Forrest, Tom Marshal, Georgina Kean, Alison Elliott, Jane Hayden, Nigel Gregory, David Jackson, Paul Rattee, Peter Spraggon, Joanne Good, Jayne Lester, Lisa Vanderpump, Debbie Martyn, Christine Winter

More info: IMDb

Tagline: One endless night of terror!

Plot: Four mental patients - who, due to unauthorized experiments, believe they're living in a dream and have shed all moral imperatives - escape and find their way to the nearest bus-load of stranded schoolgirls.

My rating: 4.5/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Anyone who knows me knows I really digs some British horror, especially that of the 60s and 70s variety.  Unfortunately this one doesn't cut it.  It teases you with a bit of gore, a dusting of nudity, and the rest is all about teen girls surviving a night of terror from some guys who look like they were Droogs lifted from A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971).  But it's not the kills or the body count that help make this picture watchable.  It's the dialogue and it's the best thing in the picture.  It's peculiar, quick and funny. 

Killer: [with a shotgun ready to fire] I hate you because you understand me.
Victim: But I don't understand you. 
Killer: [sad face] No one does. 

The delivery setups are serious and then you get that throwaway line that just kills.  I laughed a few times.  Unfortunately that's the only reaction I had when I wasn't fighting falling asleep.  At times it's dreary and dull and that's a one two punch in the guts for a recipe for boring.   Even with some really great and funny lines I can't recommend this.  There are better ways to kill an hour and a half.  It's currently on Netflix streaming if you dare.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Chopping Mall (1986)

Director: Jim Wynorski

Writers: Jim Wynorski, Steve Mitchell

Composer: Chuck Cirino

Starring: Kelli Maroney, Tony O'Dell, Russel Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton, Nick Segal, John Terlesky, Suzee Slater, Paul Bartel, Mary Woronov, Dick Miller, Angus Scrimm

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Tonight Park Plaza Mall switches on the world's toughest security force. Absolutely nothing can go wrong.

Plot: Eight teenagers are trapped after hours in a high tech shopping mall and pursued by three murderous security robots out of control.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Probably not.

At first I thought this was a ripping off ROBOCOP (1988) until I realized this came two years before ROBOCOP.  Nice.  The film opens with one of the security bots doing its job.  After a couple of minutes you realize it's a demonstration video.  Then you've got the bots attacking the teens that stay late in the store.  A lot of this feels like ROBOCOP in small ways.  There are some great kills like the head exploding from a laser blast .  There's also a nice bit of nudity that's all in one spot just before the shit hits the mall fan.  Again, nice.  Seeing Bartel, Woronov and Miller in any film is a plus.  Too bad they're not in it more but I'll take what I can get from those kids.  It gets a little draggy in the last half but it's still kinda fun.  I enjoyed it.  The ending was as expected except there's no way the last person standing would have lasted that long before the bot would have lasered their ass.  Yeah, that's right, I'd like to see at least a little bit of realism and logic in the dumb ass movies I watch.