Category Archives: Horror

Movies and the like that will put a shiver down the spine.

The Power

Date:
1984
Stars:
Suzy Stokey

Warren Lincoln

Lisa Erickson

Writers:
Stephen Carpenter
Jeffrey Obrow 

Director:
Stephen Carpenter
Jeffrey Obrow

WRC Score:
2/4

A series of small Aztec idols cause horrible problems in The Power.

Or maybe there was just two.

Sure there wasn’t only the one.

But don’t hold me to that.

Anyway.

We can’t always say what will work for us and what won’t.  I’ve experienced various forms of entertainment that I went in expecting to like only to find myself disappointed without knowing quite why.  We think we know our standards, but sometimes those standards are different than we expect.

A word way of saying that  The Power worked for me.   I felt an emotional charge and connection with the characters.  I didn’t want to see horrible things happen to them.  I don’t know why this is, as if anyone deserved horrible things to happen to them it’s these characters.  They only had one brain cell between the lot of them, and one of them lost the cell.

These people are dumb.  One character sees another character has been impaled upon a flagpole after using The Power, and runs right out to get himself some of that action.  At no point does anyone do anything more than the bare minimum to fetch the cops, even when the bare minimum is leaving the place where the bad things are happening.  And the ultimate solution to the problem really should have occurred to them within the first five minutes of having to deal with this mess.

And yet there still was a degree of frission.  The Power does seem to have some really good, effective moments.  Once you get through the two prologues to get to them.

i’m not kidding.   There are two prologues that don’t seem to have any real connection to the bulk of the film.

Also lacking in connection are things like logic and reason.  Especially with The Power itself, which kills for no apparent reason.  One guy wasn’t anywhere near the thing and he’s still killed by it.  For what end?  A “scary” scene?  Who can say?

The Power is unquestionably a bad flick (0.5 points).   That I liked it (1.5 points) doesn’t really say much, as I like a lot of bad films.  Some even worse than this one.

That it worked for me doesn’t mean it will work for you.  However, there’s nothing here that gives me the feeling I should warn people off.  Give it a shot.  Maybe it’ll turn out to be a nice little time killer, or the next subject for a riffing party.

You never know.

Score: 2 points out of a possible 4

 

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Jaws 3

Also Called:
Jaws 3-D
Date:
1983
Stars:
Dennis Quaid

Bess Armstrong

Simon MacCorkindale

Writers:

Richard Matheson
Carl Gottlieb
.

Director:
Joe Alves
WRC Score:

 2.5 points

The children of Martin Brody try to start life anew after two disastrous ocean related incidents. Unfortunately these attempts aren’t far enough from the water, as soon swimming death makes a third attempt at claiming them.

Which shouldn’t come as a shock, as this is call Jaws 3 and not The Happy Life of the Brodys.

Let me get this right out of the way:  I love this movie.  Love.  It.  I’ve watched it more than the original.  It is a fun, fun, fun movie.

Too bad it’s not a very good one.

Oh, the acting’s fine.  Too many pros involved for it to be any other way.

Directing and script, however, eh, not so much.

The film’s not scary.  Not in the least.  Doesn’t help that it’s a 3-D movie filled with “Hey, let’s throw something in the audience’s faces, give ’em a jump” moments.

Worse, anyone whose watched Shark Week probably groans their way through the shark bits.  Sharks that can swim backwards?  Roaring sharks?  Really?

Still, in it’s defense, it doesn’t waste much of the viewers time, and, again, I think it’s a load of fun.

Heading back to the obligatory scoring, I’d call this one a mid-way film (1 points).  I know, I know, it really should be mediocre, but I think it does enough of it’s job.  It entertains.  It may not scare, it may have special effect moments that stagger the imagination, but if you come at it in the spirit of Bad Movies (perhaps even MST3K or Rifftracks) you should be fine.

Oh, and did I mention I love this movie (1.5 points)?

Yeah.

Yeah.

I have no taste.  No taste at all.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Frankenstein

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1931
Stars:
Colin Clive

Mae Clarke

John Boles
Writers:
Garrett Fort

Francis Edward Faragoh

Director:
James Whale
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 3, 2012

The film that made Boris Karloff and destroyed Bela Lugosi. Or at least that’s the way the Horror film historians would have it. Whether this is the case might not be as clear-cut as they might think.

Intended to be his follow-up to Dracula (1930), Lugosi was less than thrilled with the idea of playing the monstrous creature.  “I was a star in my country” he reportedly said, “and I will not be a scarecrow over here!” And a heart-throb at that. Had he had his druthers, the character certainly would have had a different portrayal to it than Karloff’s, and not necessarily as successful a one at that.

Whatever he thought or intended with the role, others factors might have kept him off the project in any case. Before camera rolled, Universal Pictures fired intended director, Robert Florey, and gave the reigns to James Whale. Let me underscore that a little. Whale had the option of doing any picture he wanted, and he chose Frankenstein. He had full control of casting, too. Odds are good, I think, that Lugosi’s number would have been up even if he loved the role.

What might have been: A poster advertising Bela Lugosi as Frankenstein’s Monster

All that said, even if things had run smoothly, there’s no real indication this film would have been much of a career highlight. According to the Wikipedia article on the movie (where I lifted the above quote), Florey had a different interpretation of the story, to say the least. In it, the monster “was simply a killing machine without a touch of human interest or pathos.” As far a cry from source author Mary Shelly‘s literate creation as… well, as any movie based on her novel, including this one.

Would that have connected with audiences the same way this film did and does? Any thoughts on the matter only amount to so much guess-work. It’s hard to imagine, though that the peculiar alchemy of film making present in this Frankenstein could have been bested. Mainly because it really hasn’t been equaled in any production that come since.

But come. Leave the modern-day behind and let us drift back nearly a hundred years. There are funerals to attend, graves to rob, the dead to rise and a wedding to curtail. A word of warning before we begin. Classic or not, I will have my fun with the film as this review goes on.  I just can’t go after the “bad” movies without having a go at the “good” ones.

Besides,  I try to entertain as best I can, and dry reads simply don’t do it.

Blood Beach

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1980
Stars:
David Huffman

Marianna Hill

Burt Young
Writer:
Jeffery Bloom
Director:
Jeffery Bloom
WRC Score:
3.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
January 31, 2014

I used to see the movie poster for Blood Beach a lot back in the glory days of the video rental chains.  As posters go, it’s simply the best.  And that tag line: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water – you can’t get to it.  Even if you don’t know it’s referencing Jaws 2‘s own tag, it’s still great.  Really makes you want to see the film.

Never did rent it.  By the time I got money of my own, it was long gone from the shelves.  Replaced by other films of dubious worth.  I won’t say I missed it, exactly, but I didn’t forget about it.

I mean, with that poster how could you?Blood Beach 000

Closest time I came to watching this in the years between then and now was when it was playing on a UHF channel back in Chicago.  It was like Channel 60 or maybe 66. One of those two.  And not on cable; antenna all the way.

What those youngsters out there need to know is that the UHF signal quality via antenna back then was often trashy.  Fuzzy picture, sometimes dropped reception, the works.  Sometimes you’d even lose the picture right before the film ended, which was happened to me with the deliriously bad The Pit (1981).  Which was a shame, as the ending makes the film.

Anyway.

With Blood Beach the reception was almost good enough to see something.  Not great, but enough to get the gist.  Especially the monster.  That really stuck in my memory.

So between the poster and that one viewing, I really, really, really wanted to watch a good copy of this film.  Which has never, ever happened.  No DVD release as far as I can tell.  Film’s been lost for a while

Then, as fate would have it, technology comes through for me.  Not only could I buy the flick, I can download it direct to my computer.  Isn’t that great?

Well, a little yes, a little no.  But that starts on the next page…

Island Claws

Also Called:
Night of the Claw

Giant Claws
Date:
1980
Stars:
Robert Lansing

Steve Hanks

Nita Talbot

Writers:

Jack Cowden

Ricou Browning.

Director:
Hernan Cardenas
WRC Score:

 2.5 points

Island Claws tells the sordid tale of a Florida island catching a bad case of crabs.  As in the ocean dwelling Crustaceans coming out of the water and seeking human flesh.

As well as growing to a preposterous sizes.

As is their wont.

What to say about Island Claws?  Lemme noodle that a moment.

Sometimes, you just really want to like things.  Yeah.  Yeah, That’s a start.

This marks the third draft of this review.  As I finished ahead of schedule, that’s not a bad thing.  Gave me time to think about the flick a little more, try to decide if this is where I want to stand on the matter.

My first impression was that this was almost a good movie.  The acting seemed good to me, I made snide remarks about direction, this, that, and the other.  A fair review, I thought.

Only it doesn’t quite hold water.

Island Claws, on further reflection, probably should be my go to standard for what a mediocre flick looks like.  It doesn’t hit the mark enough to be good, but it doesn’t miss enough to be bad.

There’s something missing about the acting.  The performers are going at it, and I don’t think that they’re really bad.  Professional might be the right word for it, at least among the more seasoned faces there.  But even the newer ones don’t seem as terrible as they could be.

That’s a really nasty sentence I just wrote there.  Still think its true.

Maybe it’s the fault of Director Cardenas.  Some of the scenes have the same feel to it:  Professional but not passionate.  Maybe it’s just me.  Yet the crabs never looked threatening.  When they “attacked”, it looked like the victims were overreacting to the situation.

With the Giant Crab, which I adore, there’s a stillness to it that can’t be ignored.   Best part of the flick happens when it shows up, but I’m a Giant Monster fan.  Your own mileage may vary.

As for the story…  And here I hesitate.

See, there are aspects I like  For instance, the film seems to be hinting towards radiation causing the harm (or maybe toxic waste, I can’t quite remember which (another damning statement, I know)).  Yet all it does.  Hint.  There’s no confrontation with authorities, no real finger pointing.  Just enough evidence to point that way.

Yet the script has issues.  It feels fragmentary, like the writers didn’t know what it was supposed to be (or got entirely too many notes on the matter.)  Is it a story about a small town’s troubles?  A Birds type story about a crab invasion?  A giant monster movie?  It goes along all three tracks for a time, to no great effect.

This is typical low budget film making, but instead of being disjointed there is a narrative flow there.  One point follows the next, almost smooth.

Except plot points tend to float loose and drift away into the distance.  The young lead has a hidden connection to his new love interest?  Mentioned  to him once then gone.  Said love interest is attacked by crabs?  Investigate, find out its true, then apparently tell absolutely no one.  Discover evidence of a giant monster crab on the island?  Hey, that’s neat, let’s tell only one person, then go out to eat where our friends might be attacked.

It’s very, very frustrating.  The movie had promise.

So now that I’m done crabbing about the film (I pun claws I love), how does the whole thing score?

As I said on the onset, Island Claws is a mediocre flick (1 point).  It could have been worse, but oh, could it have been better.  It’s got a little something that makes me fond of it (1.5 points).  It’s probably that final battle at the end.  If the whole flick had hit that mark throughout, it might have been something special.

Oh well.

Score: 2.5 points out of a possible 4

 

The Void

Date:
2016
Stars:
Aaron Poole

Kenneth Welsh

Daniel Fathers
Writers:

Jeremy Gillespie

Steven Kostanski  

Director:
Steven Kostanski 
Jeremy Gillespie 
WRC Score:
3/4

(-_-) d

The Void tells the tale of a lone cop who takes the single survivor from a massacre out to a near abandoned hospital for treatment.  This proves to be a mistake, as it starts a chain reaction that might send every living soul into a fate worse than death.

I have a hard time working up interest in modern movies.  They all tend to blur together in my mind, being just retreads of ground well-traveled in previous decades.  Oh look, here’s a bunch of young idiots messing with a Ouija board; I wonder if that’s going to be a stupid idea.  Oh look, there’s a creepy doll; I wonder if its going to inspire inventive deaths.  And so on and so forth.

Don’t misunderstand.  You can have excellent movie dealing with the usual suspects.  I know this.  It just takes a certain something to excite me, and that certain something hasn’t been popping up in trailers or film descriptions.

The Void was different.  I saw the trailer, I knew I had to see it.  Knew it.

Which is a scream, as The Void is nothing but a retread of old ideas.

I should say that this was the film makers’ intent.  It’s a throwback to Eighties Horror.  One of the movie’s web site mentions John Carpenter’s The Thing and the video game Silent Hill being inspirations.  While watching the film, though, I compared it more to Italian Horror flicks in general (City of the Living Dead sprung first to mind) and John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness in specific.

Not to tread too deeply into dread spoiler territory, but Prince of Darkness is an excellent story to compare it to.  Both deal with a small group of people trapped in an isolated locale by a murderous group determined to keep the protagonists inside for obscure reasons of their own while another, single threat works towards an evil end.  They are both excellent examples of Lovecraftian Horror done without falling back on Old Providence’s mythos.

Prince of Darkness ultimately wins out over The Void, as the former’s story is not only far more coherent but doesn’t have the niggling little questions the later’s plot leaves unanswered.  Still, it’s not for lack of trying on The Void‘s part.  It’s by far the more ambitious of the two, filled with glorious practical effect monsters.  Also, I think it has more mood and general creepiness in its favor. Though it has been a while since I watched Prince of Darkness. I probably should rewatch it, just to make sure.

Oh to be blessed with such misfortune.

Everything about The Void is top-notch, from the acting to the scenery to the story (though, again, it could have used a wee bit of tightening.)  The person watching The Void with me felt the deaths didn’t have the impact they should have, and were for the most part silly, but I didn’t agree with that at all. Still, it might be worth keeping in mind.

  For me, two days after viewing the film, I can’t help to think it was a very well done film.  Maybe not great, maybe just very good (1.5 points), but whose complaining, right?  I like The Void a great deal (1.5 points) and RECOMMEND it to Horror Fans.  Especially those fans who are over-saturated with CGI

The monsters are great.

Score: 3 points out of a possible 4 (-_-) d

 

The Slayer

Date:
1982
Stars:
Sarah Kendall
Frederick Flynn
Carol Kottenbrook
Writer:
J.S. Cardone

Bill Ewing
Director:
J.S. Cardone
WRC Score:
3/4

A retreat to a secluded island turns to terror as The Slayer stalks a couple of couples. Who will live? Who will die? Who will write the long form of this review so I don’t have to?

Nah, I’m just playing. It’s already in the can.

For the majority of its run time this flick is, if not a scary film, then a moody one. The characters don’t descend to hatefulness thanks to the actors (maybe), but you probably won’t care if most of them died. Or none of them. Or all of them.

It’s a low budget affair, so if you don’t expect too much, you probably won’t be that disappointed. Just know going in that the lead female is having mental issues and, yeah, she tries desperately to get the others to believe her about the evil going down.

Deeply original this film just isn’t, but for the most part there’s nothing wrong with it, outside it isn’t really scary.

“Majority of its run time.” “For the most part.” Sounds like a major caveat coming, doesn’t it?

Here it is, in as mild a spoiler as I can manage.

In the last third The Slayer commits a major sin that I can’t look past. I knew it was coming from around the credits, I was braced for its appearance. Still didn’t matter. It should never have happened.

Thus I’m taking a half point off, pushing a meh flick down to bad (0.5 points). I also can’t say that I like it that much, though a part of me really seems to want to. I don’t dislike it, though, so that’s an official meh (1.0 point).

Your mileage might vary, but I really don’t think so.

The Undertaker and His Pals

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1966
Stars:
Warrene Ott

James Westmoreland

Marty Friedman
Writer:
T.L.P. Swicegood
Director:
T.L.P. Swicegood
WRC Score:
0.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
August 10, 2012

Few people stop to think about it, but Comedy and Horror live next door to each other.  In fact, they go about the same sort of jobs.  One that tries to get a certain response out of the audience.  Laughter from Comedy, screams from Horror.  They’re so close, in fact, they are almost brothers.

(Tragedy, incidentally, is on the same street, working a similar beat, pretending he doesn’t know either of these jokers.)

You’d think the two of them wouldn’t get along, that they’d be polar opposite.  Never friends.

Yet now and then the two of them have parties together.  Sometimes they’re even fun parties.

However, more often than not (say 90% of the time), these parties are a tedious affair.

Here’s the thing.  When Horror is bad, he can be quite the card.  People can laugh at him and walk away relatively pleased they met him.  In fact, odds are very good that this will happen, unless he’s really, really dull that day.

But Comedy?  No.  When he isn’t funny, he’s nothing.  He’s a bore.  Nobody likes Comedy when his jokes drop flat.

Which leads us to The Undertaker and His Pals.

Cure

Date:
1997
Stars:
Kôji Yakusho
Masato Hagiwara
Tsuyoshi Ujiki

Writers:
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
Director:
Kiyoshi Kurosawa
WRC Score:
3.5/4

Cure tells the story of a strange series of murders done by various people.  The victim in each has an X carved in their bodies.  The killers has no motive to commit  the crime.  And none of them have any connection to one another.

Well, actually they do have one connection…

This movie is what got me into Japanese Horrors and, having watched it for the first time in years, I don’t think its a good representation of the subgenre.  Probably a personal prejudice of mine, but I think of J-Horror as like Italian Horror: More style than substance.

Oh, and not quite as gore or nudity laden.

Cure might not have the sort of style I’m looking for in J-Horror, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an excellent flick.  It’s disturbing and well acted.  While not everything gets explained, in the end enough does to satisfy.  It’s a really well made flick (2 points.)

I liked and enjoyed watching this (1.5 points), much more than the first time when I came in half way through.  However, it isn’t a really big Gotta-See-Again.  Once every ten years or so is just ducky with me.

Score: 3.5 points out of a possible 4

 

Crazy Eights

Date:
2006
Stars:
Dina Meyer

George Newbern

Traci Lord
Writers:

Dan DeLuca

Jimi Jones

Director:
Jimi Jones
WRC Score:
2/4

Crazy Eights is a card game dealing with…

Wait, we’re not talking about the card game?

We’re talking about a movie?  One that wasn’t made several decades ago?

Huh.  Thought I learned my lesson about that last time.

Anyways, Crazy Eights details the efforts of a group of friends trying to honor the last wishes of a departed member of their group.  This puts them in contact with another former member, much to their sorrow.  Madness, mayhem, and other fun party games soon ensue.

Let’s get the good out of the way, first, shall we?  This is a decently acted, decently directed flick.  The characters do not grate on the nerves too badly, and when they do, it’s usually intentional.  There are some oddities with editing, but it can be quite a moody flick and work perhaps a little better than it should.

Which is me slipping into a little more critical a mood.

See, Crazy Eights is one of those films that works best if you don’t think about it too much during the run time.  There are a whole flock of questions that get asked (chief of which is “What the hell is going on?”) that don’t quite get answered.  With this comes the usual Horror Clichés such as characters running around by themselves when they know they aren’t supposed to

Guess what happens to them when they do?  You’ll be so… not surprised.

In fact, the characters tend to act more like chess pieces than people.  To be fair to the flick, I didn’t notice or mind right up until towards the end, when the characters started doing really, really stupid things.

And talking about the antagonist will only result in spoilers, which isn’t what this review is for.

Worse, though, is the soundtrack.  The music never lets up, and sometimes drowns out the dialogue.  It’s almost as if the filmmakers had to pay the composer by the note for just composing and wanted to make sure they got their money’s worth.

Very annoying.

Now that this hand is done, let’s tally up the points.  Crazy Eights isn’t by any stretch a bad movie.  It just isn’t really a good one, either (1 point).  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t work for me on watching it, but after… don’t care (1 point).  Don’t hate it, don’t like it, it just is.

Too bad.  I think it did have some potential there…

Score: 2 points out of a possible 4

 

La chiesa

Also Called:
The Church
Date:
1989
Stars:
Hugh Quarshie

Tomas Arana

Feodor Chaliapin Jr.
Writers:
Dario Argento

Franco Ferrini

Michele Soavi

and others
Director:
Michele Soavi
WRC Score:
3/4

La chiesa (also known as The Church) is another in a long line of stories dealing with Medieval Knights only half solving a problem, forcing modern day folks to deal with the supernatural fall out centuries down the road.  You know.  Typical real life stuff.

Or, if you want a better little synopsis, a greedy librarian uncovers a secret in an old cathedral that he really shouldn’t have.

Anyway, La chiesa started out life as the second sequel to the Horror Cl– film.  Horror film Demoni.  However Director Michele Soavi wanted to do something different.  Something that wasn’t “pizza schlock”, a term which, despite my liking the two films, is entirely too apt.

What he got instead is what I feel to be one of the better Italian Horror flicks.  Like most in the subgenre,  the flick has more style to it than substance.  What narrative structure it has goes to pieces around the half way mark, but by then, I think the mood and imagery carries the viewer through the rest of the way.  Plus, if I can be allowed one small spoiler, the story short of covers this, too, so it might have been intentional.

La chiesa is not without flaws.   The (dubbed) acting isn’t the best and the special effects aren’t quite golden.  Still, I believe it hits its marks more often than not and is a damn good movie (1.5 points).  I really kind of liked it (1.5 points).

You’re mileage may vary.  especially if you have no use for Italian Horror.

Score: 3 points out of a possible 4

 

Slugs

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1988
Stars:
Michael Garfield

Kim Terry

Philip Terry
Writers:
José Antonio Escrivá

Ron Gantman

Juan Piquer Simón
Director:
Juan Piquer Simón
WRC Score:
0.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
February 4, 2012

I don’t want to hate movies.

Really.  I don’t.  I’m like a normal person in many ways.  I enjoy being happy and relatively pleasant.  Sometimes I even like speaking kindly to people, though I make sure to keep that to a bare minimum.

Sad to say, though, is that some flick really dig at the tender bits beneath the fingernails.  They dig and dig, then they dig some more.  And when you ask ever so politely for them to cut it the hell out, they bring out the lemon juice to squirt up and in.

Slugs makes those flicks look like they aren’t even trying.

So I look at that score, that 0.5, and I frown.  I frown a lot.  It should be a ZERO, I think.  Maybe even a minus one.  After all, the story breaks down so bad towards the end, and it wasn’t doing all that great to begin with.

And yet Slugs does hold together tolerably well in places.  As I believe a zero score has to be scraping the ground beneath the bottom of the barrel, it squeaks by.

Just.

With the greatest of reluctance.

So why is it I dislike this movie so?   Let’s go to the next page, shall we, and watch as one man goes from being relatively well pleased to actively shouting at the screen.

Don’t know why I do that.  They never listen…

The Ghoul

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1933
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Cedric Hardwicke

Emest Thesiger
Writers:
Rupert Downing

Ronald Pertwee

John Hastings Turner
Director:
T. Hayes Hunter
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
November 12, 2011

Most won’t care, but here’s my mindset going into this one:

Five years and two review formats ago I had just completed a review on Octaman, and that flick hit me like a hammer. I didn’t want to review movies after that. I didn’t want to watch movies period. What I wanted to do I didn’t know, but not that.

Well there was a little problem. NaNoWriMo looms once again, and experience taught that little gets done in the way of extra writing during that. While this site had gone fallow in the past (and no doubt will again), at the time I wanted to keep a run going.  Thus I’d worked on a nice buffer of posts. Up to Octaman.

Which, if you notice the note, hit in the midst of November.

You know what the problem is with a buffer of posts? It decreases with each update.

Thus, to keep up the buffer, I needed a film. One that I could count on not to hurt me too bad.

Which was the reason behind picking this film. While not considered a true classic, The Ghoul has never had the stench of badness that some films possessed. Plus it had Boris Karloff in it. How bad could it be?

Don’t… don’t start, okay? Let’s turn the page and see what we shall see…

Profondo rosso (Whale)

Opening Thoughts

Also Called:

Deep Red

The Hatchet Murders

Date:
1975
Stars:
David Hemmings

Daria Nicolodi

Gabriele Lavia
Writer:
Bernardino Zapponi
Director:
Dario Argento
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a different form on November 12, 2011

When I speak of Dario Argento I speak from a great well of ignorance.  Not as great as, say Lucio Fulci, who I’ve only seen one film, but it’s fairly good sized.

So when I tell you that I think Deep Red is his best film, you should know that it’s a praise on the shakiest of legs.

However, of the films of his I’ve seen (which include the glorious messes such as Suspira (1977) and Inferno (1980)), this is my favorite.  Not that I’ve watched it a lot in my life; this marks my second viewing.  The first happened to be, as I recall it, on a pan-and-scan copy.  And a horrible print at that.

Anyways, let us proceed.  As (almost) always, the next section was written as I watched, with thoughts along the way.  There has been some condensing (most of the murders are touched on but not described), so you might not get the feeling that this is a gory, gruesome movie.  Let me assure you, it is.  A trifle fake looking in places, but gory nonetheless.

Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna

Date:
1986
Stars:
David Edwin Knight Nancy Brilli

Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni

Writers:
Dario Argento Lamberto Bava Franco Ferrini Dardano Sacchetti
Director:
Lamberto Bava
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
April 19, 2014

In Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna, tenants at an apartment building find themselves trapped in a hellish situation as a late night horror movie turns one of its viewers into an actual Demon. One that can change others into Demons with a scratch, or a drop of her blood.

This sequel to the originally Dèmoni can easily be described as Dèmoni in an apartment building instead of a theater. It has the same large cast, the same lapses in logic (though in different ways), and the same sense that it really should have been better than it is. It is also just another Zombie flick with Demons instead of Zombies. It might be a little better than some, but only enough to push it into the mediocre category.

If you feel kindly towards it.

Which I do.

In fact, I love this flick, howlers and all (2 points). There’s no rational reason why I do. It’s just that Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna hits all the right buttons for me in all the right ways. In fact, I seem to think it might be a wee bit better than the original.

Again, Dèmoni 2… l’incubo ritorna isn’t a good movie. However, if you like reasonably Bad Movies you could do a lot worse.

Overall Score: 3 total point out of a possible 4

Mil gritos tiene la noche

Also Called:

Pieces

Date:
1982
Stars:
Christopher George Lynda Day George  Frank Braña

Writer:
Dick Randall

Joe D’Amato
Director:
Juan Piquer Simón
WRC Score:
0/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
April 4, 2014

Mil gritos tiene la noche (also called Pieces, which is how I’m going to call it from here) tells the sad story of a little boy trying to complete a jigsaw puzzle.  Specifically a pornographic one.  His mother catches him in the act and stops him from finishing, causing him to go murderously insane.  Years later, he resumes trying to finish the puzzle.  This time using real girls as pieces…

Sounds kind of interesting, put like that.

Don’t let that fool you.  Pieces is a film that manages to make the Friday the 13th series look like works of Shakespeare. Calling the characters cardboard would be complementary. The acting can be referred to as acting for maybe three actors; the rest… no. Not so much. Though in fairness they were all most likely dubbed.

Tellingly there doesn’t seem to any real effort for story telling. While the nonsensical plot flows from point to point better than some films I could mention, Pieces bogs down with pointless, out-of-the-blue scenes. More thought went into the murders than anything else, and without characters to care about or, really, much style at all and the whole thing’s a lost cause. (0 points)

Some might find a degree of entertainment value making fun of Pieces, but the sleaze and general misogyny on display here (more so than what might be expected in this type of flick) just puts it beyond the pale for me. You know your own tolerances better than I, but I believe few will enjoy this flick. Thus it isn’t recommended.

Overall Score: 0 total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

Blood Beach

Date:
1980
Stars:
David Huffman

Marianna Hill

Burt Young
Writer:
Jeffery Bloom
Director:
Jeffery Bloom
WRC Score:
3.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
January 31, 2014

Blood Beach warns us of the ever-present dangers of heading to the beach.  Specifically, you never know when something will suck you down beneath the surface and eat you.

Man I hate it when that happens.

What makes for a cult classic?  Damned if I know.  I think a decently made flick like Blood Beach might qualify.  It’s got a good script, good acting, good direction, and actor John Saxon in a disappointingly small role.

It’s not all roses, though.  There’s an unnecessary near rape scene that blemishes the experience.  On this, the monster, when seen, is sadly stiff.

Still, Blood Beach is one of the better Monster Movies (1.5 points)  I might be in the minority on this, but I had a great time watching it.  It rates a favorite with me, and if you give it a chance, you might like it too (2 points).

Your own mileage may vary, though.

Overall Score: 3.5 total point out of a possible 4

Octaman

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1971
Stars:
Pier Angeli

Kerwin Mathews

Jeff Morrow
Writer:
Harry Essex
Director:
Harry Essex
WRC Score:
1.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 29, 2011

Sometimes with these Opening Thoughts i talk about myself or this site.  It’s not the preferred course.  The preferred course is talking about the film in question.  Giving interesting tidbits and the like.

With Octaman, unfortunately, I sort of wish I had nothing at all to say.

Why is that?  Well…. here goes.

Octaman happens to be the last film of Pier Angeli, an actress who came close to marrying the one and only James Dean. Her career wasn’t exactly the brightest, but it’s still a shame it ended so early, with her being only 39.

This is also the last theatrical work for Jeff Morrow. Here is a name that will be popping up later in this Review site’s life (assuming I survive more pictures like this one). He stared in such classic films as This Island Earth, Kronos, and… um… The Giant Claw. Closer in line to today’s feature, he appeared in The Creature Walks Among Us.

Odd coincidence, no? But that’s not all, for there’s one more lasts for us to mention. This is the last film of its writer/director, Harry Essex. Like Morrow, Essex had a hand in such classic movies as It Came From Outer Space and… ah… Man Made Monster. Well I liked it.

More importantly, though, Essex wrote the original Creature from the Black Lagoon. Thus he cribs from his own past glories.

Now wasn’t that cheerful?

There is one more point of historic noting that must be attended to. This is the first film of Special Effects master Rick Baker. From here he would (in time) go to create creatures for movies like King Kong (1976), Star Wars, and the classic American Werewolf in London.

I know about the dates not matching. This movie was made in 1972 but not released until 1976. F

Why?  Let’s find out!  Turn to the next page, where a  misnamed monster laboring to leave the water’s depths…

Note: The IMDb has failed me with names for this film. Thus only the few names given there will be reported here.

Curse of the Faceless Man

Date:
1958
Stars:
Richard Anderson

Elaine Edwards

Adele Mara
Writer:
Jerome Bixby
Director:
Edward L. Cahn
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 6, 2013

The Curse of the Faceless Man isn’t just that he survived the eruption of a volcano.  Nor is it surviving being encased in molten ash.  Nor, really, is it living buried alive until the late fifties, where he gets freed to walk the Earth looking for the exact image of his lost love.

No, it’s being trapped in a scatter shot Mummy Plot, complete with a metric ton of narration and mediocre acting.

Which really sucks, as the core idea is rather interesting.

Ah well.

With all its problems, Curse of the Faceless Man doesn’t quite make mediocre (0.5 points).  about the kindness I can be to it is say it’s inoffensive, pointless, and justifiably obscure.

Which sounds like I’m being nasty, but really, it’s just the truth.  I’ve seen it.  It makes me neither sad nor mad nor glad. (1 point).

And that’s the real curse on the Faceless Man.

Overall Score: 1.5 total point out of a possible 4

Night of the Cobra Woman

Date:
1972
Stars:
Joy Bang

Marlene Clark

Roger Garrett
Writers:
Kerry Magness Andrew Meyer
Director:
Andrew Meyer
WRC Score:
0/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
August 13, 2023

A young researcher seeks out a rare cobra venom in the Philippines.  What she finds instead is BOREDOM!  PURE, UNADULTERATED BOREDOM!

Oh wait.  That was me.

What she found amounts to the Night of the Cobra Woman.  Or, honestly, nights.  With a woman who’s turning into a cobra.

Which sounds like it might be interesting, doesn’t it?

Now where was I?

Oh yes.

BORING!  ABSOLUTELY!  WITHOUT A DOUBT!  BOR! ING!

I can’t stress that enough.

Night of the Cobra Woman is a film without purpose.  It moves from one plot point to the next without a course or wind to guide it.  Without this purpose it ends up with a boring story, boring characters, and a bored audience.

There’s a very real sense that huge chunks of the narrative are missing, perhaps never even put into script form.  This is a terrible, terrible movie, without a hint of style or substance to save it.  (0 points.)

This film is probably the worst I’ve seen since… well, it hasn’t been that long, sadly, but let’s let the comment stand.  I had no idea how good I was having it before watching this.  I wish I had never seen this flick and will not make the mistake of watching it a second time. (0 points)

Bad movie connoisseurs beware of this turkey.  It may well test your limits.  I know it did mine.  I neither recommend nor not recommend out of fear of encouraging someone from having a horrible time.  More than I just already did, natch.

La casa fantasma

Also Called:
Ghosthouse

Date:
1988

Stars:
Lara Wendel

Greg Rhodes

Mary Sellers
Writers:
Sheila Goldberg
Cinthia McGavin
Director:
Umberto Lenzi
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
June 14, 2013

A ham radio operator picks up a strange signal while listening to the airwaves.  He tracks it down, unaware its a prophetic signal from La casa fantasma, or the Ghosthouse.

The word that springs readily to mind when describing La casa fantasma is perfunctory.  Perfunctory direction, perfunctory acting, and perfunctory special effects.  All of which abetted by a scripted powered by pure stupid.

Really.  This can be such a stupid, stupid flick.

About the best you can say for it is that it’s coherent. Even there there are places where “The Hell…?!” springs readily to mind.

So La casa fantasma is a bad movie. No question, no argument, no doubt. (0.5 points).

Still, there’s something charming about its folly. I kinda love every idiotic moment of it (2 points).

Thus it’s confirmed: I have no taste.

As if by this time there was doubt…

Overall Score: 2.5 total points out of a possible 4

The Ape Man

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1943
Stars:

Bela Lugosi

Louise Currie

Wallace (ugh) Ford
Writer:
Barney A. Sarecky
Director:
William Beaudine
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 15, 2011

Not a lot to say here. I watching this movie for the express purposes of watching the sequel, Return of the Ape Man.

Which was dumb of me, as Return of the Ape Man is as much a sequel to The Ape Man as The Return of Dr. X is to Dr. X. Or Kingu Kongu no gyakushû/King Kong Escapes is to King Kong.

Now that I’ve listed at least four flicks more worth your time than this one, let’s go to the next page to see if Lugosi leaves any furniture left or if he chews through them all before the ad for war bonds pops up.

Curtains

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1983
Stars:
John Vernon

Samantha Eggar

Linda Thorson
Writer:
Robert Guza Jr.
Director:
Richard Ciupka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 1, 2011

I picked this up due to seeing the trailer.  It looked like it had potential.  Which it does.  It has a great deal of potential.

It just doesn’t make it.  Close enough, though, but…

Hey.  Why don’t we just check it out for ourselves.  This one’s a bit more rambling than usual (despite the short length), so beware of that.

Oh, and least I forget, here is a couple of notes:

One: It may help to preview the following essay on Slasher movies I’ve prepared. It covers my beliefs on what the sub-genre is and how a good Slasher flick should run, with various terms. If you know what a Final Girl is, you might not need it. Otherwise, feel free to click here and catch up.

Two: Rule of thumb here, I write the upcoming Viewing Experience first and everything else after that.  (In fact this part of the review was ironically the last one worked on.)  While I mop up afterwards, it’s sort of my thoughts as I watch.  Things don’t always mess neatly there and elsewhere.  Sort of like this film.

Blathering done.  Let’s get to business.

The Flying Serpent

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1946
Stars:
George Zucco

Ralph Lewis

Hope Kramer
Writer:
John T. Neville
Director:
Sam Newfield
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 9, 2011

I pick each movie I review on this site with the same thoughtful, considered method.  It’s called “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Sometimes it works nicely.  Sometimes it bites me in the butt.  And Sometimes it takes a giant bat and beats me over the head, screaming “WHY WON’T YOU LEARN?  WHY WON’T YOU LEARN?”

In short, I gotta find a new system.

In this particular case I picked The Flying Serpent for one reason and one reason only: Quetzalcoatl.  I’ve been a big fan of his since watching the classic (CLASSIC I TELL YOU!) giant monster movie Q (1982).  The chance to see him in an earlier performance?  Why, I couldn’t pass that up.

Maybe I should have.  Might have had more fun that way.

A couple of things about The Flying Serpent.  It is benefited by the presence of one George Zucco, an undeservedly less Horror Giant in comparison to Karloff and Lugosi.  While not one of his better outings, it’s always good to see him.

Speaking of Lugosi, this is an unofficial remake of the second greatest Dracula’s The Devil Bat (1940).  Six years existed between this two films.  So the next time you hear something about Hollywood no longer having any creativity, you can point and laugh.

Cause Hollywood never had much creativity to begin with.

In any case, let’s pay the city of San Juan, New Mexico a visit, shall we, and see a man about a plumed serpent.

Dead & Buried

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1981
Stars:
James Farentino
Melody Anderson
Jack Albertson
Writers:
Ronald Shusett

Dan O’Bannon

Director:
Gary Sherman
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 3, 2011

Dead & Buried.

I’d heard about it for years.  What I’d heard about it escapes me now, but it was enough so that when I had a chance to jump at watching it five years ago I did.

Now sometimes these longed for films turn out to be a bit of a disappointment.  For the most part, that’s not the case with Dead & Buried.  The flick has its issues, but for the most part it and I are on good terms.

Which is why I’m going to put forward a wee bit of advice.  See Dead & Buried before reading this review.  I know, I know, that’s bass ackwards, but humor me.  I think it’s worth it, and besides, all of my snideness will still be here when you get back.

That said, on the next page begins my own little viewing experience.  Written as my poor little self watched.   And cringed…

Gritos en la noche

Also Called:
The Awful Dr. Orloff

Date:
1962
Stars:
Conrado San Martín

Diana Lorys

Howard Vernon
Writer:
Jesús Franco
Director:
Jesús Franco
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
May 28, 2013

Gritos en la noche (also known as The Awful Dr. Orloff) tells the familiar tale of a mad doctor stalking the streets for women to carve into, abetted by his faithful blind servant.  You know.  The “Mad Doctor Waltz”.

Or maybe it’s a polka.

Whichever.

Except for a few sour notes strummed by Writer/Director Jesús Franco, there’s nothing in Gritos en la noche that stirs the blood for or against.  Though a couple of nude scenes seem tacked on to add “spice” to the proceedings, one of which borderlines on rape.  But even with that ever so classy moment, it doesn’t do much to be more than an average Horror flick (1 point).

I can’t say I was that thrilled with it, but moving towards it’s rather abrupt climax I found myself grooving to it more and more.  By the time it finished, I rather liked it (1.5 points) and probably would watch it a chance, if nothing better were on.

But that’s my bad taste in music… er… film for you.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

Virgin Witch

Date:
1972
Stars:
Ann Michelle

Vicki  Michelle

Keith Buckely
Writer:
Hazel Adair
Director:
Ray Austin
WRC Score:
0.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 2, 2013

Virgin Witch blows the lid off the late Sixties, early Seventies modeling scene. Two sisters head off for a modeling shoot only to find the whole affair a front for a coven of Witches led by a dirty old man and a lesbian.  Who is of course evil.  Because it’s the Seventies.

Oh, and that title?  Becomes quite inappropriate long before the one it refers to actually becomes a Witch.  For the record.

Anyway, it wasn’t until the reboot here that I realized how close this came was to Le lac des morts vivants.  You can’t begin to believe how happy it made me, a lonely Heterosexual man, to have to watch two flicks that made female nudity absolutely boring almost back to back.

No.  You can’t.  You really can’t.

It’s not like Virgin Witch has anything else going for it.  It’s a dull movie that substitutes attractive nude women for any type of suspense or characterization. Over and again.

Had the movie bothered to do more than a half-hearted effort towards Horror, it might have been a mediocre time killer. Or hey, maybe even something worth watching at all.  It didn’t. Nowhere near (0.5 points)

The more I think about this movie, the more I want it set on fire, covered with bees, and forced to listen to a single out of tune note repeatedly for the rest of time. Copies of this should be kept out of children’s hands for fear of stunting their growth. Any company that releases this flick on DVD or any other format should be duly embarrassed that they have done so.

If I haven’t been clear, I really don’t like this movie. If this was a TV murder mystery series, I’d either be the guy framed for its murder or the actually murderer who laughs maniacally over what he had done as the police drag him away (0 points).

And to think I could have watched a Uwe Boll movie instead.

What terrible choices we make.

Overall Score: 0.5 total points out of a possible 4

Le lac des morts vivants

Date:
1981
Stars:
Howard Vernon

Pierre-Marie Escourrou

Anouchka
Writer:
Jesús Franco
Director:
Jean Rollins
WRC Score:
0.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
February 22, 2013

Men in bad green face paint pretend to come out of a lake to dribble fake blood on–

Wait.  I was supposed to be taking this flick seriously?  Really?  Have you seen–

Huh.

Okay, then.  Undead soldiers play hob upon the populace of a small town in Le lac des morts vivants (also known as Zombie Lake.)

Now in the interest of fairness (and we all want to be fair here),  I’ve seen worse Zombie movies in my life.  I think.  Names aren’t springing readily to mind.  But I’m sure sooner or later they’ll come.

Of course, that’s assuming you can call Le lac des morts vivants a Zombie movie.  The name doesn’t quite pop up and they don’t quite act the way you expect a Zombie would.

Then again, you can pretty much say that about everyone else in this flick. Le lac des morts vivants is a terrible, terrible movie.  Acting, plot, script, make up, you name it, they muck it up.   About all it has going for it is that it is sheer awful (0 points).

Le lac des morts vivants might make a decent night’s riffing for some, but I found it too dull myself (0.5 points). I don’t recommend you watching it, but you know you best.

It’ll help if you watch the nudity packed version. You’ll know which one you’re watching soon enough to bail, if need be…

Overall Score: 0.5 total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

Las garras de Lorelei

Also Called:
The Loreley’s Grasp

When the Screaming Stops

Date:
1974
Stars:
Tonny Kendall

Helga Liné

Silvia Tortosa
Writer:
Amando de Ossorio
Director:
Amando de Ossorio
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
August 3, 2012

Las garras de Lorelei tells the story of a hunter gets called into a German town in order to protect a girl’s school from a killer with a thing for human hearts.   What he doesn’t know is that he’s pitted against a monster.  One that has been doing this sort of thing for centuries…

Also known as The Loreley’s Grasp and When the Screaming Stops, Las garras de Lorelei is a borderline decent Monster Movie.  What holds it back is bad gore and more questions regarding plot than real answers.  As a spoiler-free example, just where in myth does the Lorelei appear as a beautiful woman who changes into a scaly horror?

For whatever faults it has, Las garras de Lorelei never quite moves into Bad Movie range for me (1 point).  That, of course, might be a subjective thing.  I rather liked the flick, in fact(1.5 points).

Not that you could tell this from reading the Whale version of this review.

Seriously, this is about as nice as I get towards it.

Funny what trips the compassionate switch and what doesn’t…

Overall Score: 2.5 total points out of a possible 4

My Bloody Valentine

Date:
1981
Stars:
Paul Kelman

Lori Hallier

Neil Affleck
Writer:
John Beaird
Director:
George Mihalka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
February 16, 2013

My Bloody Valentine, in simplest form, sound very familiar.  In a small town, there was once a traditional dance that everyone loved.  But, due to a horrible tragedy, it hasn’t been held in years.   Until this year, when a group of youngsters decide the past the past and fun is fun.  Except someone doesn’t like the idea and is perfectly willing to kill people over it.

This is the exact sort of set up The Prowler has, and it’s deeply interesting (at least to me) how two films can take a similar premise and come up with two completely different films.

And that’s not because one’s set in a mine and the other isn’t.  With The Prowler I found the main characters likable, while the ones featured in My Bloody Valentine…  Let’s be nice and say less agreeable.

We’ll leave the comparisons between the two at that, as it’s just an interesting thing, rather than any sort of negative.  Both films do their job quite well.  I haven’t seen the unrated version of My Bloody Valentine, but the R version holds together quite well and is well worth seeking out (1.5 points).

I like My Bloody Valentine quite a bit (1.5 points) and just this little rewriting here makes me want to seek it out.  Hell, not a big gore guy, but I might even go unrated.  Or even… Well…  Maybe not far enough to see the remake.  But at least consider it.

If you’re looking for a Slasher movie to watch, you could do MUCH worse than watching My Bloody Valentine.

Overall Score: 3 total points out of a possible 4

The Undertaker and His Pals

Date:
1966
Stars:
Warrene Ott

James Westmoreland

Marty Friedman
Writer:
T.L.P. Swicegood
Director:
T.L.P. Swicegood
WRC Score:
0.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
August 10, 2012

The Undertaker and His Pals details the struggles of the small store owner to survive in the modern world, and triumph that can come of two businesses working together for their mutual good.  In this case, a greasy spoon in need of cheap meat and an undertaker in need of plentiful corpse.

Gee willikers, that last paragraph wasn’t very funny.

Which fits this flick to a tee.

The Undertaker and His Pals is like someone smashed a farce and a gore flick together to form a cake or something, only never bothered to mix it the rest of the way up.  Bad analogy or no, the flick suffers from Comedy that wasn’t funny and Horror that was only horrific in the fact someone thought this film good enough to show people.

All of this makes for a really awful flick (0 points).  While I have loved me many a bad film, and many a terrible one, this one in particular hits me in all the wrong places, to the point I really don’t care for it at all (.5 points).

The Undertaker and His Pals may have its defenders, but I feel that most people won’t care for this experience, and thus it is most heartily NOT RECOMMENDED.

Overall Score: .5 (-) total points out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

Dead Men Walk

Date:
1943
Stars:
George Zucco

Mary Carlisle

Nedrick Young
Writer:
Fred Myton
Director:
Sam Newfield
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
June 23, 2012

A truly evil man dies. But, as the title Dead Men Walk suggests, this doesn’t slow him down much.  Soon enough he’s  back as a Vampire, seeking vengeance against his murderer.

Dead Men Walk happens to be one of the best Poverty Row Horror flicks I’ve ever seen.  It also might well belong with the best of Forties Horror.

Even with that said, this is a Vampire movie, more or less in the Traditional mode.  A very good Vampire movie (1.5 points), but if you’ve seen one, you’ll know the beats as they come.

Still, I had fun watching the movie (1.5 points).  George Zucco is well worth watching any time, and here he gets to play both the vampire and the vampire’s twin.  Though he seems to be enjoying the vampire role more…

Anyways, if you’re a fan of Vampires that don’t sparkle in the daytime, you might find this worth your time.

Overall Score: 3 total point out of a possible 4

Il gatto nero

Opening Thoughts

Also Known As:

The Black Cat

Demons 6: De Profundis

Date:
1989
Stars:
Florence Guérin

Urbano Barberini

Caroline Munro
Writer:
Luigi Cozzi
Director:
Luigi Cozzi
WRC Score:
0.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 19, 2011

Two minutes, I knew Il gatto nero was a mess.  Not ten minutes into this movie and I wanted to watch something else. And worse?  The movie itself was giving suggestions as to what to seek out.  Such wonderful, wonderful suggestions.

But, as you’re reading this you know that I did indeed watch all of Il gatto nero. Watched it all and wrote a review for it.

I’d like to tell you this was due to some sense of duty.  Some need to warn the world.  Some inner strength that all great reviewers have.

This, though, would be a lie.  The only reason I finished this review is because I couldn’t find the movies I really wanted to watch.  Despite searching.

For hours.

And hours.

God damn it.

Amusingly, now that I’m rebooting my site, I can find the movies I wanted to watch quite easily.

Il gatto nero?  Not so much.

Big tears streaming down my face.

In any case, I hope that my extreme anguish is your great pleasure.  You sadists.  The review begins on the next page.

Pharaoh’s Curse

Date:
1957
Stars:
Mark Dana

Ziva Rodann

Diane Brewster
Writer:
Richard H. Landau
Director:
Lee Sholem
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 31, 2012

Pharaoh’s Curse tells the tale of a wife trying to be reunited with her husband explorer in a war-torn Egypt.  When she gets there (finally, after a long stretch) she finds that he’s gone and cause the titular happenstance to happen.

One of the great joys of Movie Watching is discovering a seldom seen movie.  This happens to be one of them.  Never even heard of it before stumbling over it at a streaming service.

It seemed quite strange, as Pharaoh’s Curse had an interesting premise (a mummy movie with no mummy?  A vampire movie without an actual vampire?).  Watching it, I found nothing wrong with the acting.  And about 2/3 of the script was decent enough.

Unfortunately it happens to be the last 2/3.  The first 1/3  meanders pointlessly, wasting considerable time and good will.   Worse though, is the lackluster climax, of which I can say no more about.

So instead of a forgotten gem I found a forgotten flick, really no better or worse than its contemporaries (1 point).  Still, for all of its flaws, I kind of liked it (1.5 points).  Give it a watch when you’re in the mood for Fifties horror, but have seen all the good ‘uns.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

Frankenstein (1931)

Date:
1931
Stars:
Colin Clive

Mae Clarke

John Boles
Writers:
Garrett Fort

Francis Edward Faragoh

Director:
James Whale
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
March 3, 2012

I’m going to be kind and assume you actually know who Frankenstein and what his deal is.  In this particular case, he’s a young student determined to prove his theories correct.  He succeeds, only to have things turn toward tragedy.

Beyond that?  Well, this is mandatory viewing if you have any interest in the history of Horror Films, so no matter what I say it goes RECOMMENDED.

That said, is it still any good? Or has the advancement of film taking all the bite out of this bad boy?

While I don’t feel Frankenstein works any more as a straight ahead Horror film, as a Speculative Flick it’s near perfect, with only a few minor issues to hold it back. The acting is either a bit hammy or a bit stiff, depending on whose doing it, but considering the time period it is most excellent. Unless you have a thing against old films, you should find a lot to enjoy here (2 points).

On a personal note, while I didn’t fall in love with Frankenstein , I got more than I expected on rewatch. My memories of it being as dull as dirt were, quite thankfully, wrong. I find myself liking it quite a bit, and am kicking myself for putting off watching it for so long. (1.5 points)

Overall Score: 3.5 (+) total point out of a possible 4

Slugs

Date:
1988
Stars:
Michael Garfield

Kim Terry

Philip Terry
Writers:
José Antonio Escrivá

Ron Gantman

Juan Piquer Simón
Director:
Juan Piquer Simón
WRC Score:
0.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
February 4, 2012

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Mutant Slugs develop a taste for meat and begin stalking a city’s populace. Really. Not much to add here.

That said, Slugs is sort of a Bad Movie nexus.  Acting, writing, directing, a few good F/X, all swirl together to form one bad flick (.5 points).  It gets damn near incoherent in places.

In fairness, I’ve seen worse.  That said,  Slugs never reached the “so bad it’s good” level of terrible.  It’s especially hard going for me as I found most of the characters in it perfectly hateable.  The few I did like died horrible deaths.

Not the best way to endear me, as you might imagine.  (0 points)

To shorten a review that should be short to begin with, you can do better elsewhere.

Overall Score: .5 total point out of a possible 4

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Profondo rosso

Also Called:

Deep Red

The Hatchet Murders

Date:
1975
Stars:
David Hemmings

Daria Nicolodi

Gabriele Lavia
Writer:
Bernardino Zapponi
Director:
Dario Argento
WRC Score:
3.5/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in a different form on November 12, 2011

Profondo rosso (also known as Deep Red) opens with a psychic demonstrating her abilities to a conference room filled with people.  Unfortunately she manages to read the wrong mind, setting in motion a chain reaction of death as a killer tries to keep hidden in the shadows.

And that, I think, is enough information.

Profondo rosso is a very enjoyable Giallo. It’s most likely one of director Dario Argento‘s best films, if not one of the best in its particular subgenre.  Not that my exposure to either is definitive, mind.

As much as I want to, I can’t force myself to give it a perfect score.  Some very questionable plotting in places, which, frankly, is a part of being a Giallo.  Still, it’s damn good (1.5 points).

I loved it when I first saw Profondo rosso on a poor copy, and now that I’ve seen it in pristine condition I love it even more (2 points).  I RECOMMEND it to Italian Horror movie fans. Others might not agree with such high praise, but should check it out. Gory but good.

Overall Score: 3.5 (+) total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)b

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The Neanderthal Man

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1953
Stars:
Robert Shayne

Joyce Terry

Richard Crane
Writers:
Aubrey Wisberg

Jack Pollexfen
Director:
Ewald André Dupont
WRC Score:
1/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 14, 2011

Walking into this one, I thought I was watching a rip-off of Monster on Campus.  To my vast amusement I find that this is the earlier film.  So beyond these comments and a brief one in the Viewing Experience, you won’t find a comparison to that… I hesitate to say “worthy”.  Let’s be polite and say “better film”, then move on.

You will notice as you go through the Viewing Experience a shift in tone.  I wrote and condensed while I watched, as has been my wont.  I find this gives a better window on my thoughts as I experience things than I have afterwards.  I tend to see things more… favorable in the moment.

This will become even clearer in the Thoughts After the Film.  I’m writing this opening before doing that section, and I find myself growing more and more angry with this film as I go.  Not for the first time does this second thought process provoke a negative response.

Now you might ask yourself, why is Cullen so angry?  Click on the next page, and let’s find out together.

Kind of.  Sort of.  Take it as a figure of speech and let us move on.

The Ape

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1940
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Maris Wrixon

Gene O’Donnell
Writers:
Curt Sidomak

Richard Carroll
Director:
William Nigh
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on April 11, 2011

Boris Karloff.

Now there’s a name, in more ways than one.   While not the first to play the role, he is in many ways the definitive Frankenstein’s Monster.  The one every other Monster actor gets compared to and found lacking (and yeah, I’m including Curse of Frankenstein‘s Christopher Lee in this).

He made three movies portraying the role before moving on (the original, Bride of, and Son of, respectively), but by that time he was already type cast as “Monster”.  The type of monster, though, tended to change from film to film.  As the forties rolled in, when he wasn’t playing mad killers he was playing mad scientists.

Which, now that I think about it, are almost the same thing.  Except with more technobabble.

A perfect example of the mad scientist typecasting appears when one glances at his output in 1940.  Karloff made eight films that year, and half of them had him playing scientists of dubious methods, if not intent.  In Black Friday he was a surgeon performing the world’s first brain transplant, resulting in a man who was part average Joe, part gangster. In The Man with Nine Lives he was a research scientist who discovers the secrets of cryogenics and had no qualms murdering to continue his work.  In Before I Hang he plays a scientist who, through a poorly timed pardon, becomes the next Jekyll-and-Hyde.  Then in The Ape, he…

Wait a moment.  Why don’t we turn the page and find out ourselves?  It is today’s feature, after all.

The Ghoul

Date:
1933
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Cedric Hardwicke

Emest Thesiger
Writers:
Rupert Downing

Ronald Pertwee

John Hastings Turner
Director:
T. Hayes Hunter
WRC Score:
2.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
November 12, 2011

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In The Ghoul, the death of an Egyptologist starts a struggle by interested parties over a fabulous treasure.  Things become really interesting when the Egyptologist comes back to join in the fun.

Fun.  That’s the word for The Ghoul, up to a point.  An excellent example of Thirties Horror, it has good acting, spooky sets, a decent script, and Boris Karloff in what amounts to an extended cameo part. For this alone, one might consider it worth hunting down.

Where it drops the ball (and where I dare not reveal) is at the climax.  The end is, at best implausible.  At worst it’s maddening.  Thus, with great sorrow, I slip what could have been a good Horror flick into the mediocre files (1 point).

Such is life.

Still, I do like the movie (1.5 points).  Karloff is always watchable and, as I said, the cast is good.  You might wanna check it out; Cull Problems aren’t universal, after all.

Overall Score: 2.5 total point out of a possible 4

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Octaman

Date:
1971
Stars:
Pier Angeli

Kerwin Mathews

Jeff Morrow
Writer:
Harry Essex
Director:
Harry Essex
WRC Score:
1.5/4

(-_-)p
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 29, 2011

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Small change of format.  Bear with me.

If classic monster movies are soda pops, then Octaman is flat Creature from the Black Lagoon. You have the expedition heading out to the middle of nowhere to catch a great find, you have the find finding them first,then becoming attached to the lead female, etc. etc. None of which should be surprising; the same guy who wrote Lagoon made this flick.

What sets the two apart is the terrible monster.  The bland acting.  The ever-present feeling of doom and despair, as if cast and crew suddenly realized that this as far as the career train was going and there was no other stops.  Which was sadly true; several actors involved died soon after.

Octaman is an awful flick (0 points). It does nothing for me, and I think it might even be a chore to sit through for the Bad Movie crowd.  I DON’T RECOMMEND you seeing it.

Overall Score: .5 (-) total point out of a possible 4 (-_-)p

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The Ape Man

Date:
1943
Stars:

Bela Lugosi

Louise Currie

Wallace (ugh) Ford
Writer:
Barney A. Sarecky
Director:
William Beaudine
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 15, 2011

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The Ape Man tells the tragic story about a young scientist (played by sixty year old Bela Lugosi) who has accidentally turned himself into the title creature.  As no one will help him with finding a cure, he and his ape servant will go out and do the job themselves.  And if people die in the process?  Meh.

As one can judge by the proceeding paragraph, The Ape Man is a standard Horror fare.  But it has an extra problem, and I don’t mean co-star Wallace Ford.

Wait, I do mean Ford.  Why can’t movies kill his characters off in the first five minutes?  Why, God, Why?

But beyond that, how can you respect a film that has no respect for itself?

You can’t, really. The Ape Man is a transformation flick without a single transformation, a by-the-numbers job that hits a checklist of clichés before striding out the door. It comes close to mediocre, with a definite uptick in entertainment (at least for me) in the late quarter. However, the last three minutes (while mildly amusing) bring it low. (.5 point).

Most of The Ape Man left me with not enough to like though (1 points), but that’s a judgement call. I kept comparing this to the Boris Karloff vehicle The Ape and the numbers sort of slipped after that. Lugosi almost makes it worth while with his acting, but really, it isn’t near enough.

Overall Score: 1.5 total point out of a possible 4

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Curtains

Date:
1983
Stars:
John Vernon

Samantha Eggar

Linda Thorson
Writer:
Robert Guza Jr.
Director:
Richard Ciupka
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
October 1, 2011

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Curtains details the true horrors of the movie scene.  A group of women brought out into the middle of nowhere by an eccentric, probably sadistic director, in the desperate hopes of getting the lead for his next film.

Perhaps too desperate.

Curtains is a mishmash of the visions of two very different directors. It has very little gory, a lot of unnecessary nonsense, and, surprisingly enough, a cast of characters you don’t want harm to come to.

Well, most of them.

Curtains has issues, true, but all in all it is superior Slasher fare (1.5 points). I liked it, but I’m not quite sure I’d ever watch it again (1.5 points). Instead of watching the usual Slasher cast of teens slaughtered by the usual Slasher suspects, you might just want to give this Slasher film a chance.

Overall Score: 3 total points out of a possible 4

Paura nella città dei morti viventi

Opening Thoughts

Also Called:

City of the Living Dead

Gates of Hell

Date:
1980
Stars:
Christopher George

Catriona MacColl

Carlo De Mejo

Writer:
Lucio Fulci
Director:
Lucio Fulci
WRC Score:
3.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on March 19, 2011

Here we go, back into the world of Italian Horror.  Last time I had the pleasure (if I might sully the word pleasure) of witnessing The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Tomb, a film that makes you wish someone would gather up every last copy of it, set it on fire so that you might foul the ashes.  This time, it’s a work by the Gore-Hound’s best friend, Lucio Fulci, the guy who brought us zombies fighting sharks and women who scuba dive in the nude.

Classy pictures, don’t you know.[1.]

Paura nella città dei morti viventi was my first Fulci movie, and, frankly, my expectations were quite low.  That might explain the high marks I gave it.

2016-City of the Living Dead-Side Note-001Then again, there are quite a few stylish touches in the film and, after watching too many screaming dead teen movies beforehand it was nice to see someone who seemed to know what they were doing, horrorwise.

In any case, let’s go see what’s to see in a city of the living dead.

The Flying Serpent

Date:
1946
Stars:
George Zucco

Ralph Lewis

Hope Kramer
Writer:
John T. Neville
Director:
Sam Newfield
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 9, 2011

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You think you’ve got problems?  Well in The Flying Serpent the female lead has a stepdad with an ancient god for a pet that he sends out killing.  Then this jerk enters the scene determined to ruin her life forever.

Oh wait, that’s supposed to be the romantic lead.

My bad.

The Flying Serpent is, at best, an average Grade Z forties monster flick.  Nothing startlingly original (in fact, a quasi remake of an earlier Z), nothing startlingly bad.  ‘Tis what ’tis (1 point).

The only thing it has going for it is an interesting performance by genre vet George Zucco.  So if you’re a Zucco fan, you might wanna check the old man in action.  For me, though, his presence didn’t rouse me from my apathy (1 point).

Overall Score: 2 total point out of a possible 4

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Dead & Buried

Date:
1981
Stars:
James Farentino
Melody Anderson
Jack Albertson
Writers:
Ronald Shusett

Dan O’Bannon

Director:
Gary Sherman
WRC Score:
3/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
September 3, 2011

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Dead & Buried tells the tale of a small town and the rather unpleasant way it has begun welcoming visitors.  Naturally the local sheriff wants to put paid to this.  Unfortunately, if he keeps sticking his nose in the matter, he’s going to be the one hurt the worst of all.

This is a very creepy film.  It does have some rather massive problems, plot-wise.  Structure and the like.

With the acting and directing, though I think Dead & Buried does it’s job at getting to the viewer.  If only just.

Don’t let that stop you from giving it a go, however. I myself rather liked in the end (1.5 points).

I’m glad I watched it. Maybe you will be, too.

Overall Score: 3 total point out of a possible 4

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Intruder

Date:
1989
Stars:
Elizabeth Cox

Renée Estevez

Danny Hicks
Writer:
Scott Spiegel
Director:
Scott Spiegel
WRC Score:
1.5/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on August 27, 2011

A closing market means everything in the store must go.  Prices will be slashed.  And so will the employees.  There’s an Intruder walking the aisles this evening, and nothing will be the same again.

Which is a description that can be used for most Slasher flicks.  But leave us not dwell upon such technicalities.

For the most of Intruder‘s run, things run smooth.  Not too terrible acting, some good scenes, and, if you like it, some gore all await the viewer.  Perhaps in enough quantities and qualities to satisfy.

My problem is that the moment Intruder reveals the killer, the flick turns to crap.  Really, really irritating.  Almost as bad as the ending itself.

But wasting Bruce Campbell in a small cameo?  Unforgivable!

Now this is a critic thing, and perhaps to a greater degree a Cullen thing.  You might not find irritating what I found irritating, you might think it better than a mediocre (1.0 points).  Then again, you might really dislike the little stylistic games the film makers play with the audience, as I did  (.5 points).

In any case, if you need a Slasher flick, seeking out another title would be the way to go.

Overall Score: 1.5 total point out of a possible 4

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Il gatto nero

Also Known As:

The Black Cat

Demons 6: De Profundis

Date:
1989
Stars:
Florence Guérin

Urbano Barberini

Caroline Munro
Writer:
Luigi Cozzi
Director:
Luigi Cozzi
WRC Score:
0.5/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 19, 2011

My usual course of action here is to give a small spoiler free summary of the subject here in the opening paragraphs before moving on to the main review.  With Il gatto nero (which goes by so many more names that just The Black Cat) any summary I give you will give you the impression of a coherency this flick simply does.  Not.  Have.  The best I can do is call it a Horror “sequel” to Suspiria that’s about an attempt to make a “sequel” to Suspiria.  And not the actual sequel; that never gets mentioned.

Even without comparison to better works (which, for some reason, this flick repeatedly brings up) Il gatto nero would be a chore through. Bizarre cuts, bizarre plot, and bad acting, all the low points you expect from the very worst of Italian Horror. Il gatto nero is one awful movie (0 points), one  that I really didn’t like (.5 point).

Oh, and black cats have nothing to do with the plot. For the record.  Making us two for two in that regard.

You’ve been warned.

Overall Score: 0.5 total point out of a possible 4

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The Neanderthal Man

Date:
1953
Stars:
Robert Shayne

Joyce Terry

Richard Crane
Writers:
Aubrey Wisberg

Jack Pollexfen
Director:
Ewald André Dupont
WRC Score:
1/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 14, 2011

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A professor taps his primordial side in the hopes of proving that prehistoric man was superior to the modern version.  The results are The Neanderthal Man, an ape-like savage trapped in a world he doesn’t understand.

Oh, and he also creates sabretooth tigers.  Because who wouldn’t if they could?

The Neanderthal Man might have been a decent Horror flick.  Trouble is, it’s weighted down with a variety of problems.  A bad script, mostly, though there is a sabretooth tiger prop that tests “Seeing is believing” to its limits (the curious can click here without threat of spoilers).

Because of this problems, I’m giving The Neanderthal Man a bad mark, though it’s a close one.  Were we to be anal about the scoring, it be more .75 that .5.

But I’m not going to do that.

Because my scoring would become even more anal and obscure than it already is.

While at certain points I found myself involved in The Neanderthal Man, I find myself disliking the film the more I think about it. (0.5 point). Bottom line? If you need to see a professor turning into a caveman movie, seek out Monster on Campus instead.

Overall Score: 1 total point out of a possible 4

 

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The Ape

Date:
1940
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Maris Wrixon

Gene O’Donnell
Writers:
Curt Sidomak

Richard Carroll
Director:
William Nigh
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on April 11, 2011

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The Ape is about a disgraced doctor struggling to save the life of a young woman he considers a daughter.  His efforts will lead him to a dark place he might never come back from.

Oh, and there’s a killer ape involved.  Because it was the Forties and you could hardly swing around a stick in a Mad Scientist movie back then without hitting one.

I don’t review enough Boris Karloff films.  Actually, there’s a lot of actors I can say that about, but Karloff!  He set a bar few can reach.  Sometimes without saying a word at all.

With The Ape, Karloff plays lead, and does a great job making you feel for a man making the wrong choices for the right reasons.  Adding him in this is a script co-written by the great Curt Siodmak (The Wolf Man).  It makes you wish it was better than it actually is.

It isn’t.  The Ape is little more than yet another Karloff-as-Mad-Scientist film.  No better, no worse (1 point).  I enjoyed it as I watched, but not enough to say I liked it. (1 point).

The Ape something to watch when you can’t get a hold of better Karloff.  Or maybe when you’ve seen one gore flick too many and you want something a little more old-fashioned.  At an hour and two minutes, you won’t waste too much of your time with it, that’s for certain.

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

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