Category Archives: Horror: Killers

Scary movies that feature human (ish) killers instead of monsters. Living, undead, whichever whatever.

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.

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

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.

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

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

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

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

The Neanderthal Man

Opening Thoughts

2016-neaderthal man-Note-000Walking 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

2012-the ape-notes-000Boris 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2016-link-box-002

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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The Black Cat (1934)

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1934
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Bela Lugosi

David Manners
Writer:
Edward G. Ulmer

Peter Ruric
Director:
Edward G. Ulmer
WRC Score:
4/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 18, 2013

Our film today is The Black Cat, a 1934 Universal Horror classic. It is also an important historic film as well. For no matter what its merits on its own terms, this film is the first time Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi worked together.

Depending on who you ask, the two were either great rivals or amicable professionals. According to Wikipedia, Karloff once told interviewers that there was some initial friction between the two. Only after being satisfied that the other actor wouldn’t upstage him did Lugosi settle down to the business at hand. Which suggests the former.

Of course, the same article quotes the normally very nice Karloff as saying that Lugosi “never learned his trade.” So who knows?

Whatever the truth, this entry into the Horror Hall of Fame takes place during Karloff’s first big creative peak and Lugosi’s, well, only peak. While flaunting the name Edgar Allan Poe, its story has nothing to do with the great writer. However, as with Poe, it does deal with madness, revenge, and death.

I hope you’ll join me on the next page as I poke fun at actors with more talent in their little fingers than Paulie Shore did in his…

What? You were expecting me to compare them to me? I wouldn’t dare shame them so.

Take that as you will…

Friday the Thirteenth: Part 2

Opening Thoughts

Date:
1981
Stars:
Amy Steel

John Furey

Adrienne King
Writer:
Ron Kurz
Director:
Steve Miner
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on January 18, 2014

And here we go again, back to Crystal Lake.

With this film we finally meet that loveable lug Jason Voorhees. He isn’t quite right yet — no hockey mask — but that won’t slow him down much I’m sure. At least, not any more than death did.

Before we begin, let me reiterate a few germane points. To start with I am not a fan of Slasher flicks, nor am I a fan of this particular series. Should the score above be higher than 2 points (I am writing this before viewing) it should suggest something. Whether it’s about the quality of the film or how my tastes have declined in my old age I will leave to the reader to decide.

It seem silly bringing this up if your reading these reviews chronologically, but once again, if you have no idea in the world what I meant by Final Girl, might I suggest boning up on the topic with my little essay on Slasher flicks before hitting the next part of this series? It might help.

Then again, as incoherent as my writing sometimes gets, it might not.

That all said, on the next page there’s a new camp opening, with new councilors come to test the knives of the killer.

And the patience of the viewer…

Friday the 13th

Date:
1980
Stars:
Betsy Palmer
Adrienne King
Jeannine Taylor
Writers:
Victor Miller
Director:
Sean S. Cunningham
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on May 29, 2012

Before we start, let me tell a couple of things. First off, I’m not a fan of Slasher movies. At all. Don’t get me wrong, I watch them. But when I go into them, I go in expecting the worst. Meaning I’m putting money on not being entertained. When I am, I tend to be most pleased.

Second of, of the Slasher flick series, Friday the 13th happens to be my least favorite. This particular film, the very first in a long, long series, is atypical for reasons that will become clear as we go on. That I liked it as much as I did comes as no little surprise to me.

And yeah, I remember that I gave it a mediocre rank above. That’s my point.

Finally, let me make the following declaration: Final Girl. If you have no idea what that means, you might find the following essay helpful in finding out where I’m coming from here. Or not. Depends really.

In any case, let’s take a little ride in the Wayback machine to the last campground anyone with any sense would ever want to go to… Or perhaps just turn the page.  Safer that way, really. After all, anyone who goes to Camp Crystal Lake is of course doomed…

The Black Cat (1934)

Date:
1934
Stars:
Boris Karloff

Bela Lugosi

David Manners
Writer:
Edward G. Ulmer

Peter Ruric
Director:
Edward G. Ulmer
WRC Score:
4/4

(-_-)b
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on July 18, 2013

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The Black Cat cautions careful wedding planning, as a newlywed couple find their European honeymoon forced into a detour by an accident.  Their only source of aid places them as pawns in a battle of wills between a mad doctor and an even madder architect.

But who cares about the plot!  We have Karloff!  Lugosi!  Together for the first time and at the peak of their acting powers.

If that’s not enough to make you seek out this film, consider also that, despite a frayed plot, the film inspires far more dread chills than any dozen of Slasher films.  One of the best Horror movies out of the Thirties, if not the best. (2 points)

As a rule, I tend to find this period a little dry, but not this film.  One viewing and I fell in love with the thing, warts and all (2 points).  It’s an important historic artifact and a damn good film, making it one any real student of Horror should see at least once.  This comes RECOMMENDED.

Oh, and for the record?  Nothing to do with writer Edgar Allan Poe.  There is a cat and it’s black.  That’s as close as it gets to Poe.

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

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Friday the 13th: Part 2

Date:
1981
Stars:
Amy Steel

John Furey

Adrienne King
Writer:
Ron Kurz
Director:
Steve Miner
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in
a different form
on January 18, 2014

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The Crystal Lake sage continues in Friday the 13th Part Two as a counselor training center gets training of the horrific kind by a masked man with an affinity for sharp objects.  Will anyone escape the slaughter?  Or are they all destined to get the point?

I am not proud of that last sentence.  Despite the fact it’s a beloved joke for me.  And will no doubt be used again on this site.

Often.

Now on to more serious things.

I’m rewriting this little minnow for the reboot, and I see the sentence “The second trip to Crystal Lake doesn’t work as well as the first.”  Which is vastly interesting as I’m pretty certain somewhere else on site I’ve proclaimed Friday the 13th Part Two “the Good One”.  What gives?

While the characters in this flick are a little less irritating to me than in its progenitor (fancy word alert: let’s race to our dictionaries to see if Cullen got it wrong again), they are still little more than cardboard cut outs. Added to this, there’s no real terror or horror involved. Just a series of Jump Scares that on reflection are almost insultingly dumb. When you add an inconclusive end to the mix, that’s makes for a bad movie (0.5 points).

However, and here’s the important part, as irritating as this movie got to me (and it did irritate me a great deal), I’m still rather fond of it.  Like it was an old friend. An old, really stupid, obnoxious, why the hell do I like this person kind of friend. (1.5 points).  You know the type.

And no, none of my friends think that of me.  Because I ain’t got no friends.  So neener neener neener.

As it stands, this is the pinnacle of the series for me.  I have yet to go ahead with the rest of the series (review wise), but if you have to watch one of the series and have never seen one before, Friday the 13th Part Two isn’t a bad one to start with.  A lot of the mythology, such as it is, comes into existence here.

Overall Score: 2 total point out of a possible 4

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Friday the 13th (1980)

Date:
1980
Stars:
Betsy Palmer
Adrienne King
Jeannine Taylor
Writers:
Victor Miller
Director:
Sean S. Cunningham
WRC Score:
2/4
Note: 
First posted in a different form on May 29, 2012

2016-link-box-002

In Friday the 13th an unseen individual watches as a group of young people gather to reopen a long abandoned summer camp.  Before long the body count begins to rise.  Will anyone survive the experience?

Man, writing a spoiler free paragraph shouldn’t come as hard as that last one didAnd really, with this movie, is there really a point?

Friday the 13th starts one of the most significant Horror film series of the Modern Age.  If you know anything the genre, you know of it.  Maybe as a celebrated classic.  Maybe as a foul stench in what was a noble field.  Depending on where you stand, obviously.

Judging by this film alone, it’s hard to see why it had a sequel, let alone such an influence. Paper thin characters, a lot of bland “character” moments, and the questionable (albeit occasionally effective) decision to keep the killer hidden from the audience all work against it. Had there been a little more flair to the direction or the writing, this might have almost been good. Instead, it’s just a mediocre Slasher flick (1 point), one of entirely too many.

Still, I can’t say I disliked watching the movie. It will never be one that I seek out again, but if there’s nothing else on, I might watch it again. Or study the walls instead. Whichever, whatever. (1 point)

Overall Score: 2 total points out of a possible 4

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La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba

Opening Thoughts

Also called:
The Night Evelyn Came Out of
the Grave

Date:
1971
Stars:
Anthony Steffen

Marina Malfatti

Enzo Tarasio
Writers:
Massimo Felisatti

Fabio Pittorru

Emilio Miraglia
Director:
Emilio Miraglia
WRC Score:
0/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
July 6, 2008

I distinctly remember vowing never to see this movie again.

Why, you might add?

To keep this page free of spoilers, an aspect of La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba really, really, really made me mad. Rereading the review for this reboot, I could see just where Past Cullen lost all his happy thoughts and went ballistic.

So had me my druthers, I’d just chop the old review up into bits, then post them in their respective plays.

Except I can’t. As it is the second movie I reviewed for the site and by that point the format I kinda stick to these days hadn’t gelled just yet. Thus a rewrite is in order.

Thus I’m watching La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba again.

It’s not all gloom and doom. They say every seven years we become new people, down to the cellular level. It hasn’t been that long yet; it hasn’t even reached six years even. But maybe in that time I’ve become who likes this kind of film.

I hope not. But it could happen.

Another hope spot: the film I watched all those years ago is but one of nine different versions. Three years ago I learned that I happened to own one of the other versions. One with an extra sixteen minutes. Perhaps this version will be better.

Of course I’m sitting here screaming sixteen more minutes of this film! in my mind.

At least I hope it’s my mind…

That silliness a side, turn the page (metaphorically speaking) for La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba, the rewatch.

Friday the 13th (2009)

Opening Thoughts

Date:
2009
Stars:
Jared Padalecki

Danielle Panabaker

Amanda Righettie
Writers:
Damian Shannon

Mark Swift
Director:
Marcus Nispel
WRC Score:
2/4

It’s not surprising that the Father of the Modern Slasher film was remade. What is surprising, to a degree, was how long it took to get made at all.

See, originally Friday the 13th was a Paramount exclusive. It went through a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy is a better word) amount of sequels, then petered out in the late Eighties. At some point the rights to its… um… protagonist Jason Voorhees went over to New Line Pictures. And about that’s all that went over. The bulk of the mythology, such as it was, remained with Paramount.

Thus making an honest remake a wee bit hard.

But the potential for mountains of money can move any obstacle in Hollywood, and towards the end of the first decade of the 2000’s Paramount and New Line worked out a deal between themselves to bring this ever so necessary remake into the world.

Thrilling. I know.

This was one of the many, many remakes I managed somehow to miss when they were in theaters. Don’t know how that is, exactly. Beyond having better things to do with my time, a dislike of Slashers and most modern Horror flicks, a complete absence of a social life, and so on and so forth.

So why am I reviewing it now?

A video store closed near me and the disk was on sale. What other reason did I need?

This particular version of the film is the “Killer Cut” of the film, or at least that’s what the box told me. As I’ve seen the original and its first sequel in recent memory, expect a few digs on how the remake simply doesn’t compare. Then after that, we’ll see just how true that is.

Our getaway to Crystal Lake begins with but a turn of the page.  So to speak.

La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba

Also called:
The Night Evelyn Came Out of
the Grave

Date:
1971
Stars:
Anthony Steffen

Marina Malfatti

Enzo Tarasio
Writers:
Massimo Felisatti

Fabio Pittorru

Emilio Miraglia
Director:
Emilio Miraglia
WRC Score:
0/4
Note: 
First posted in a
different form on
July 6, 20082016-link box-001

La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba (also know as The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave) is the story of a noble man working through his grief  by a tried and true method.  Which, as it turns out, is torturing women, specifically gingers.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to end his visions of his lost wife, which leads to further complications.

This, dear reader (readers as the case may be) is the first flick I reviewed for this site that I absolutely hated.  Which meant I screwed up my first review, so steamed I was.  Which meant that, on coming across it during the first reboot I felt compelled to watch it again and get it right.

I’m a freaking idiot.

La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba is a mess of a movie.  It has just enough verve to disappoint when it fails to come together in the end. The plot is load with the most basic of cheats, with its characters behaving as it demands rather than any rational fashion. The last twist pushes things over from bad to terrible, though in fairness not as far into terrible as it possibly could have gone.

Which is the limit of my praise. (0 points).

It could, of course, be just me. I know the movie does have its defenders. But the more I think about it, the angrier I get, and that really can’t be a good sign, now can it? (0 points)

Two viewings are about my limit for these hated few.  I hope against hope not to have to do it again. I don’t advise you going into it, there are plenty of other movies out there that are so much better. You have been warned.

Score: 0 points out of a possible 4

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Friday the 13th (2009)

Date:
2009
Stars:
Jared Padalecki

Danielle Panabaker

Amanda Righettie
Writers:
Damian Shannon

Mark Swift
Director:
Marcus Nispel
WRC Score:
2/4
2016-link-box-002

Friday the 13th presents the age-old story of a man protecting his land from intruders.  In this case, though, the man in question is the monstrous killer Jason Voorhees, and the intruders are young folk looking for a good time who would gladly leave if he asked politely.  Which, of course, he never does.

Now, what do I think about this flick?

On the surface Friday the 13th is just another Horror flick to add to the lists, one on first glance better put together than most. It has a competent cast, its well-directed and well shot, and its effects are effective.

When compared to other Friday the 13th movies, it might well be the best made. It also might be the best Horror remake this century. Not that the competition is that hot and heavy, mind.

That said, it’s not the greatest Slasher flick running around. Too many characters, not enough characterization. Too much time wasted at the beginning that could have been better spent elsewhere. The usual crap where Jason pops up wherever he needs to be to do his killing, even if it defies all logic.

This is, of course, standard for the series. But with all the other good bits here and there, it really stands out and, I think, hurts the film. Maybe not as you watch, but definitely after. Not a bad film, but definitely not a good one, either (1 Point).

As for what I feel about the film, well, I want to like it a lot more than I actually do like it. Watching it and reflecting on it, I find it doesn’t have the same charm for me as the original series films. Nor is it really better enough for my tastes (1 point). Given a choice, and despite its quality, I’d probably watch the old ones over the new.

Score: 2 points out of a possible 4

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