Frederic March gives powerful performance(s) as noble scientist and his ruthless alter ego. Great supporting cast; fluid direction. The best version of the classic story.
005) 10/01/2020 Freaks (1932)
When a trapeze artist and her strongman boyfriend cross a wealthy circus "freak", they soon learn the freaks' code regarding hurt one, hurt them all. One-of-a-kind film beautifully balances humor, drama, and horror. The finale during a thunderstorm is especially chilling.
006) 10/02/2020 Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
Universal followed up Frankenstein with this disappointing tale of mad scientist (Bela Lugosi) mixing human and gorilla blood with disastrous results. While Lugosi is fun and the visuals are strong, the supporting cast is a bust. There's no one like an Edward Van Sloan or Dwight Frye to keep things interesting when Lugosi is not on the screen. There's also a would-be comic scene with three men arguing about the nationality of the killer, just when the tension should be reaching its peak. Shout! Factory's Blu Ray is a revelation though; the film looks gorgeous.
007) 10/02/2020 Vampyr (1932)
Fascinating, surreal German film about occult investigator who learns a vampire may be on the prowl near the inn where he is staying. One of the best nightmare-come-to-life films there is, with knockout visuals and brilliant use of shadow. Practically a silent film, this effort casts its spell from first frame to last.
The weakest in the series so far as aliens come to Earth to borrow Godzilla and Rodan so that they can go back to their planet and battle Monster Zero. Umm.... yeah. The GODZILLA series gave us a lot of very boring humans and now they are giving us very boring aliens. The monster battles are fun but sadly they are basically supporting players in this film.
Jaws 5 (1995) ** 1/2
Better known as CRUEL JAWS but if Severin had the guts to release it I'll call it the "piss Spielberg off title." It's amazing how lazy and rather pathetic Bruno Mattei could get in his career but this film is just bonkers. It borrows footage from JAWS, JAWS 2, DEEP BLOOD, THE LAST SHARK and I honestly don't think there's any original shark footage here. The shark is supposed to be a tiger shark but most of the ones used are great whites. This is a really awful and rather pathetic excuse of a "movie" and that's what keeps it so entertaining.
Aenigma (1987) * 1/2
Lucio Fulci's take on CARRIE just shows how bad the Italian horror market was at this time and it's also clear Fulci just wasn't in his prime any more. There's really nothing good to be found here, although the death by snails scene was yucky and somewhat effective. There's a little bit of gore but certainly not enough to carry the film and the story itself was told much better in both CARRIE and Argento's PHENOMNIA.
Trauma (1993) ***
I'll never understand why this film doesn't get more credit than it does. Argento's second American film has Asia Argento playing a young woman suffering from a variety of things who must try and find out who is the serial killer that murdered her parents. I thought Asia gave a terrific performance here and her chemistry with Christopher Rydell was terrific and made for a fun time. There's a great supporting cast and the serial killer likes to remove people's heads in the rain, which leads to some nice work by Tom Savini as well as some black comedy involving talking heads. I thought the small town American setting worked quite well and overall I think you could make the argument that this was the last really good Argento picture (although I did like a couple that followed).
1) Vampyres* (1974) (iTunes HD Streaming) 2/5 stars - Full of atmosphere, breasts, and sex - that's about it. The nonsensical plot mainly exists as an excuse to showcase the two female leads (Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska) snogging each other and various men that they lure to their decrepit mansion in the British countryside for a little bloodletting. Lots of nudity and humping almost qualifies it as soft porn, which is most likely why it has such a cult following. Yawn.
2) Horror of Dracula (1958) (Warner Archive Blu-ray) 5/5 stars - After watching Vampyres I needed to get its taste out of my mouth, so I queued up one of my favorite Hammers. Hard to believe that this was released the year I was born! Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee are at their absolute finest, and this film never fails to entertain me. The WAC Blu has been criticized for being too dark, and it certainly does have a fair amount of black crush. However, I still prefer it to the other releases available, which have all been too bright IMO.
3) Looper (2012) (iTunes 4K Streaming) 4/5 stars - One of the more creative time travel movies out there, Rian Johnson's first major theatrical film is extremely entertaining, with strong performances from Joseph Gordon-Levitt and a wonderfully sexy Emily Blunt. Paul Dano has a memorable minor role, but Bruce Willis is phoning it in and Jeff Daniels is miscast as a murderous crime boss. Still, the positives absolutely outweigh these minor quibbles.
Another old favorite. Steven McQueen, in an early stab at breaking into movies, is pretty good, although not really believable as a teenager (nothing surprising as he was 28 at the time). Aneta Corsaut, in her first movie (she'd been in a couple of TV show episodes prior), plays his girlfriend and is a bit more believable as a teen (she's 25). In fact all of the "teenagers" have always come off to me as post-college grads with teen attitudes. Audiences must have felt it odd that McQueen was a "teenager" here yet was starring in the TV series Wanted: Dead of Alive at the time playing an adult gunslinger type drifter.
The 1988 remake is OK too. I also like the Larry Hagman (yep... J.R.) directed Beware! The Blob sequel from 1972.
First two down. Vinegar Syndromes horror this year has been more miss than hit for me this year so I'm burning them early.
001 10/01 The Eleventh Commandment (1986) 2/5 A young man escapes a mental hospital, kidnaps his cousin and seeks vengeance on his corrupt family that put him there in this thriller with some slasher vibes. Dick Sargent is the big pull in this one, which tells you all you need to know about what this one has to offer. It’s not terrible or unwatchable. It’s also not particularly interesting or engaging either. I found it dull and plodding with nothing standing out to elevate it.
002 10/02 The Caller (1987) 3.5/5 Tight thriller about a woman who is spending time in her cabin when a gentleman shows up with car trouble needing to use a phone. It’s basically a two actor show with Malcolm McDowell and Madolyn Smith Osborne entering into a cat and mouse game that keeps escalating while getting stranger and stranger. Osborne is a bit theatrical for my taste, but overall they pull this one off and director Seidelman does a good job of building suspense and keeping things moving. This one was a real nice surprise and a little gem of a film.
College students go into the woods of Louisiana looking for a rare bird but instead discover a ton of secrets including the living dead. When I first watched this years ago I hated it but it wasn't too bad this time around. It has nothing to do with the previous ZOMBIE films but there's actually a good atmosphere going on and some memorable and bloody death scenes. It seems Joe D'Amato has gotten credit for directing this one but I personally don't see it.
Primitives (1980) **
Indonesia attempt at making an Italian cannibal film. The problem with this film is that it's somewhat well-made considering the budget but at the same time the lack of a real budget means that there really aren't any special effects but instead an insane amount of real animal deaths. Yes, this is a part of cannibal movies but usually these films offer up special effects on the humans. That's not the case here as everything is animal deaths and if you take these out you've honestly got a PG rated film.
Demonia (1990) **
Lucio Fulci's attempt at a comeback has some nice gore and a decent story but the budget just doesn't allow the director to do much. The film has some fun leads that help but there's just not too much energy to the film or anything else. The most memorable moment is when one poor sucker gets pulled into two pieces. The effect is poorly done but it's at least fun and makes you miss practical effects.
Io zombo, tu zombi, lei zomba (1979) ** 1/2
This was released shortly after the success of DAWN OF THE DEAD and ZOMBIE and it's clearly a spoof on those films. A morgue worker accidentally brings back three corpses, they kill him but bring him back too. The four go out looking for food. If you've seen any of the Italian sex comedies then you'll know the pacing and style of this picture. I had to watch this without subtitles but I must admit that the fast-pace kept me entertained and there was some nice physical comedy as well.
Year: 2019 Director: Patrick Lussier Writer: Todd Farmer (Writer), Patrick Lussier (Writer) Rating: NR Length: 101 Min. Video: Widescreen 2.35:1 Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio: 5.1 Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Omar Epps as Det. Mike Denver
Tom Atkins as Talbott
Jamie Kennedy as Dr. Dteven
Ellen Adair as Sheriff Jayne
Kristina Reyes as Cheryl Winston
Vanessa Aspillaga as Agent Mendez
On Halloween night in 2015, Patrick "Trick" Weaver massacred his classmates at a costume party. After being arrested, he managed to escape police custody, but not before being shot five times by Detective Mike Denver. Everyone believes Trick must be dead, but when a masked killer reappears the following Halloween, and every Halloween after that, they realize the nightmare is not over. With Trick wreaking havoc and killing people in increasingly terrifying ways, Denver will stop at nothing to finish what he started and bring the carnage to an end.
I got this one from the library this past week. I would say this one is no more then an average slasher film. Willing to add to my collection for cheap.
Out of a Possible 5
U- 4k UHD B - Blu Ray Viewing D - DVD Viewing S - Streaming
Bold/Red = Denotes first ever viewing
Rating - Out of a possible 5
Night of the Demon - D - Nightmare Cinema- D - 1/2 Invisible Man - U - Trick - B - 1/2
A college girl is murdered by a masked killer but she keeps repeating the same day over and over until she can figure out how to stop the killer. Thanks to the clever script and fun cast (especially the lead), this is an enjoyable movie.
2. Happy Death Day 2U
The same college girl is pulled into a different dimension and they begin to look into how the time loop of the first movie occurred. I missed this in the theaters so it was a new viewing for me. Overall, it's a step down from the original but it is a pretty decent idea (though unnecessary) for a sequel that goes a little more for comedy. Once again, the cast comes through to make it fun and makes you care more about the characters than you probably would with less likable actors.
3. Prom Night (1980)
At the prom, a killer stalks a group of high school kids who were involved in the death of a classmate six years before. Solid slasher movie that is definitely helped by Jamie Lee Curtis and funny disco dancing.
The Goes Wrong Show ep 1: The Lodge - first time viewing
Just a fun, clever really funny show. This was the halloween episode, with some great theatrical lighting and eerie music cues.
A couple and their daughter stranded in a mansion on a dark and stormy night are visited by the owners dead wife. ****
4) Caltiki, the Immortal Monster* (1959) (iTunes HD Streaming)3.5/5 stars - A new-to-me oldie, I actually liked this one quite a bit. The cinematography is excellent, the lighting and sets impressive. The actors all do a great job, and while the titular monster looks like nothing more than a pile of really dirty dishrags, and one of the characters is practically a direct rip-off of Richard Wordsworth's Victor Carroon from The Quatermass Xperiment, the film is quite entertaining. It was interesting to watch an Italian sci-fi/horror movie with English subtitles from this era.
5) Dark: S2.E5 - Life and Death* (2020) (Netflix 4K Streaming) 4/5 stars - Dark is an exceptionally well done German series about time travel, wormholes, Einstein-Rosen Bridges, murder, incest, and lots and LOTS of angst. There are twists and turns galore, and the effects and performances are amazingly good. The only gripe I have is that it sometimes feels the show is going in circles, with no real satisfying resolutions. Still, it's one of the best TV series I've ever watched. Make sure you experience it in the original German, with English subtitles. Highly recommended.
Thursday, October 1st
1. Paranormal Activity (5) The Marked Ones. 2014 All kinds of funny and some underrated freaky spooky times. I always love the people they get for these PAs because I like them enough to yell out stuff to em like you're supposed to do for really fun horror movies! Hector don't do it!!! But he slides down the stairs in the basket anyhow. lol I really like the comedy relief Hector! The main cast here is fantastic in every scene they're in together and when grandma is there too. Dealing with the spookies is a group of Hispanic friends, although the very cute and sweet Marsial actress is African American/Irish but looks the part. Some might roll their eyes during some parts, like the scenes with the old Simon game. But this is the comedy of the franchise and for me it's a damn good one with plenty of laughs and some great jumps and downright eerie times when I first saw it I was numbing out my fingernails first time! Moving from the suburbs to a dirty apartment building was like breathing fresh airs. I love this franchise!! Forgot to watch the extended, this was the theatrical. I knew I remembered some stuff that was missing! This shorter version has a nice running time though.
2. Cropsey. 2009 You remembered how the stories woke you up at night screaming but you didn't tell your friends? Those scary stories that sounded so real but when you woke up you were happy they were not. But not so fast little freaked out dude! This covers the legendary boogie man called Crospey and his real terrors in and around an asylum on Staten Island. Truth, before this shivering documentary I didn't know a lot about that island and nothing about Cropsey and it is just as well! I needed some damn sleep when I was a little boy! The hosts got access to some enthralling (thank you thesaurus.com) vintage news reports and interviews. The lady with a disabled child who tirelessly hunts the area for more victims gets a virtual hug from me. She's a hero. I've seen this many times but plan to read some updates of the cases. I hope every real crime fan has seen this. Don't miss it!
Friday, October 2nd
3. The Pit & the Pendulum. 1991 (New to me!!) I borrowed this and didn't know a single thing about it. Watching the starting credits and my bottom lip kept dropping and then rolled around on the floor! This is Full Moon and they got some of my favorite people to do this! Every thing looks the business but wait! Nobody is actually taking this seriously. It looks like they are but there are some clever funny times underneath. I think the direction was probably minimum but these folks knew how to play it for the people who love this kind of thing. Jean of Arc this is not! I loved it! Will be getting my own copy. I wish Ollie was in it more. Nobody expects Ollie!! Reed is one of my favorite actors and this makes me want to watch the classic The Devils.
4. Mother's Day. 1980 (New to me!!) Still need to finish up the last 30 minutes but had to run to work, blah! Even this is better than work. That Friday the 13th with the stupid country bumpkin mom and son characters? The same here just add another stupid son. It's kind of fun to laugh at but any F13th is better. I was thinking the lady who plays the crazy Mother plays Ed Gein's mother in Deranged. I didn't look that up though. Oh, there's some vintage porn that I believe Something Weird put out that has this ridiculous badly transferred porn with some hysterical goofy voices dubbed in. The small talk the ladies do now and then reminded me of that. In fact, that old porn is better than this too. lol
October 2:Another Wolfcop (2017) – 2 out of 5 – First Time Viewing
The former washed-up, drunken joke of a police officer, who also happens to be a werewolf, may no longer be quite so washed up, but he’s still got a problem with booze and full moons. When his town appears to be the center of a deadly alien plot, he and his police partners must save the day.
The first Wolfcop (2014) was a bloody, goofy, gory hoot. It knew it was schlocky nonsense and had fun with the absurdity of its premise. This sequel, while it still knowing it’s nonsense, has lost quite a bit of its charm and novelty. The prosthetic work is still good for a film made with a budget this small (the first film was seeded by crowd funding), but the plot lacks mystery, and that missing ingredient, which gave the first film thrust, turns out to be pretty important to the silly mix.
Still, there are some fun moments and entertaining gross-out effects so that it’s not a write-off, but it pales in comparison to the first film.
Cecilia sneaks out of her seaside mansion in the dead of night in an attempt to escape from her brilliant and wealthy, but also abusive and controlling husband, Adrian. Aided by her sister, she goes into hiding, living a paranoid existence where even going outside to get the mail is overwhelming. With the news that Adrian is dead, she thinks this may be her chance for a fresh start. However, odd things begin to happen that lead her to believe Adrian is not really dead, and has figured out the secret of invisibility, but can she convince anyone else before she loses absolutely everything?
Watched this for the second time and had a good time looking for things I might have missed in my first viewing, and found the scares to be just as effective the second time around. A well-done modern update on the classic tale, with a great performance by Elizabeth Moss. Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (writer of Saw, Insidious, writer/director of Insidious Chapter 3, Upgrade) and produced by Jason Blum, this was already a pedigree that made this film eagerly anticipated by me. I'd hoped to see it in theaters, but it was one of those unfortunate releases that came out just prior to theaters shutting down for COVID. Still, even with a truncated run in theaters it was a worldwide hit relative to budget ($135 million gross vs. $7 million budget). A sequel is being discussed (and Whannell's next project is an update of The Wolf Man).
003 10/02 Pandemonium (1982) 2/5 This one is a horror spoof about a cheerleader camp and boy, is comedic horror hard. It goes big with slapstick, most of it misses. Which is a shame since there are so many great people in this. Early bit roles for Phil Hartman and Pee-Wee Herman, Carol Kane is pretty much the star and people like Tom Smothers show up and are pretty game. It’s just mostly not funny and the horror elements don’t land either. The only laughs I got were from Herman who is just naturally funny to me. Aside from that, it’s not a disaster, it’s just another one that’s not all that exciting and only really interesting for the casting that is mostly wasted.
004 10/02 Memorial Valley Massacre(1989) 2/5 A bunch of campers are trying to have a weekend but there's a wild boy on the loose knocking them off. Another plodding horror/slasher form Vinegar Syndrome, it’s the tried and true “nothing really wrong with it, there’s nothing really there to elevate it”. The horror never works, it’s more slasher than thriller so there’s no suspense to get you invested, and it’s pretty chaste on the titty and gore front so you just have a light Friday the 13th rip. If you can’t elevate Friday the 13th, you’re in trouble.
I havent seen this since its theatrical run 31 years ago and was curious how it would hold up.
The first 15 minutes were rough with an overly dramatic suit malfunction and Daniel Stern's poorly written and embarrassing portrayal of stock character "horny frat guy."
But Weller, Crenna and Elizondo can act. It moved along at a brisk pace. And it was refreshing to see some good old pre-cgi practical creature effects. There were a couple of cheesy 80s one liners, just enough to wax nostalgic without being groan inducing. But overall it holds up well I thought.
Slow start, but I hope to pick up in the coming days especially with the Cardinals out of the playoff.
First time viewings are in Red.
Cardinals vs. Padres The Red Spectre (1907) This was on the Grotesqueries blu-ray from Thunderbean and Blue Mouse Studios. It is a compilation of short oddities.
The Red Spectre is a beautifully stencil colored short from Pathé directed by Ferdinand Zecca. I loved all the special effects.
Also from Grotesqueries: Felix Woos Whoopee (1928) Sure-Locked Homes (1928)
A pair of Felix the Cat cartoons that are delightfully surreal if not really scary. The Fall of the House of Usher (1928) Webber & Watson
This is a very strange imagining of the Poe story. It has incredible visuals and seems to be almost an homage to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But it is confusing and repetitive. This print was tinted purple through most of the running time then switching to a garish orange. I am not sure if this is normal for this film or not. I have it on a few avant-garde collections and I'll have to investigate that.
Cardinals vs. Padres
And finally, The House on Haunted Hill (1959) directed by William Castle and starring Vincent Price.
It was not as campy as I feared. The atmosphere, Price, and Elisha Cook overcome the preposterous story. I also did not see the twist coming at all. I watched this on TCM instead of trying to find my DVD. I'm looking forward to catching up on several of the older films that I have in my collection that I have not watched.