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Well, it is ugly, wet, windy, and gray down here in Mississippi; while this may not be good weather for trick-or-treating, it is ideal for a night of horror. Good spirits were in the office despite the weather, many of whom were dressed up in Halloween costume. I'm going the lazy route tonight, watching the Vincent Price festival on Turner Classics. Might drop comments as I watch the three films that lead to midnight. Then I think some of us horror fans will take that much needed break (even if its only a few days or weeks) from the genre to watch something (anything) other than horror. Three films make up the line-up leading to midnight: Pit & the Pendulum, The Haunted Palace, and Masque of the Red Death. Nice line-up that are all three quite entertaining to me and as worthy a triple feature as I can think of for Halloween night. I hope all of you have a safe and happy Halloween night (perhaps with better weather than what we Mississippians have down here).


Pit & the Pend…

Paranormal Activity 3

Bringing over a box of tapes, Katie (Katie Featherston) hopes her sister, Kristie (Sprague Graydon) will allow her to put them in the basement (she has no room for them, she tells her). On those video tapes are the recordings of the sister's mother's second husband, Dennis. These VHS records from 1988 will foretell paranormal activity during the time when Katie and Kristie were children and how a demonic presence tormented their seemingly amicable family idyll.

Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man

Talbot was last seen dead by a cane to the skull by his father, but four years have passed and two graverobbers open his tomb, unknowingly releasing a werewolf to potentially savage innocents. Talbot will soon encounter Frankenstein's Monster, trapped in ice, in a weakened state, and dormant. Can Vasaria withstand not just a werewolf but undead brute as well?
Well, we are on the last leg of Halloween season, with two days left of October. I'm kind of torn. A part of me will kind of be glad to watch something (anything) other than one/two/three horror movies a day, and part of me will miss that special quality this month brings to the genre. Essentially, the horror fan in me never totally fizzles, but I would be remiss if I didn't admit that by the 31st, I'm a bit shopworn. Like most Octobers, I have big plans--a grand design--which includes 100 movies, and I wind up watching forty/fifty if I'm lucky. I just don't have the wherewithal or endurance  to do that at this juncture (nor will I if keeping this blog going during October is in the cards). I do lament inside not watching certain films I had planned to view (Captain Kronos, Twins of Evil, Martin, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Lemora, to name a few) this month, but realistically, there's only so much time one has when they commute to work, have t…

Chamber of Horrors

...reviewed October 26th 


A psychopath, who murdered his potential bride because she rejects him, vows to get even with those who were behind his arrest and sentencing for execution. Having to ax off his hand could very well be the catalyst behind this vow of vengeance. Two proprietors of a wax museum could very well be caught in the crosshairs of this dangerous killer.

Dracula, Prince of Darkness

While not one of my favorite Hammer Dracula films, Dracula, Prince of Darkness does have rather suspenseful goings-on, with a particularly strong cast of characters involved (and they have to be considering Lee is so scarcely in the film and never speaks!). Dracula’s use is sparingly so we have no option but to either enjoy the other characters (and the actors that portray them) or this won’t work at all. Thankfully, the awesomeness that is Andrew Keir is cast as the forceful, bluntly honest monk who doesn’t mince words or restrain himself from offering his opinion. He isn’t exactly reserved or sophisticated as Van Helsing, but I found him refreshing and a nice against-type hero to match wits with Count Dracula.

Let's Scare Jessica to Death

There is just some sort of ethereal power to Let’s Scare Jessica to Death that captures me. The independent filmmaking of the 70s (and the 60s prior to it) just had some advantages that seem to have been lost in the modern era of today’s digital, rapid-cut editing filmmaking. Long, extended takes, dependence on piano and guitar as background music, and the long-lost look of action and characterization on film; so much is now missing that is heavily visible on Let’s Scare Jessica to Death. I agree with Quentin Tarantino that the loss of film and total reliance on digital has removed a distinct look and feel no longer present today.
It never fails. I get right back absorbed in Polanski’s Ninth Gate any time it’s on. This time it was syfy showing it Sunday afternoon. Cut, with all that advertising crap from the channel at the bottom of the screen; the movie is up against it considering its on cable television, but the story is basically intact (there are some clips I’ll just watch to make up for that) with little taken from it. Criticisms (I’m still at a loss the likes of Maltin and Ebert gave it such poor reviews) have been against it since it came out in ’99 (it, as of now, rests as my #1 film of horror in the 90s).

It is more of a Satanic mystery/thriller than horror (I guess, although, it has elements that are very much horror to me) with European flavor (we get to essentially tour Europe as Depp’s “book detective” (I simply love Lena Olin's label for him) researches the authenticity of a book in his possession (a book that just might have been acquired nefariously)).Developments galore:the three books sup…
After writing Chamber of Horrors (still having trouble with the blog entry due to some sort of site issues where my written work doesn't show up, but oh well...) tonight, I realized I'm hitting that exhaustion phase of the month. I've been writing reviews for practically all the films I've watched this month. Some two films a day. It's my own fault, really. This obsession with image and word I now have since conducting this blog for the last few years. I was almost relieved watching Universal's The Mummy on Turner Classics tonight because I had written about it last year and I could just sit back without composing thoughts and words in my head/mind reflecting what I feel about it. This passion for writing doesn't leave. It is an itch I must scratch. Movies are a passion for a so many of us and the blog/website on the internet superhighway affords us an option to put word to a format that can be seen by those with similar interests. But I think October for …

Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

Can you cut evil out of man with a scalpel, Henry? Hammer's Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll concerns the scientist dealing with a dark side that overtakes him in personality and physically changes him from an older man to a young handsome buck with vitality and unrestrained by any consequence of morality. Could this lead to Jekyll's destruction?

The Tingler

Call it a bad movie worthy of many chuckles (with its own red carpet rolled out in Golden Razzie fandom) or a cheap way to get audiences in seats with a device that buzzes patrons in theatres, I positively adore The Tingler.

Daughters of Satan

Does the fly rest easy caught in the web?
There are times where I can’t tell you why I like certain movies. I can say that Daughters of Satan takes me way back. I can distinctly remember a number of films showing on TNT one Friday night back (I think; it could be a year before or after) in 1989, in kind of a “Chiller Theatre” night. Because TNT had the rights to MGM product, Daughters of Satan was one of those oldies that was available for such an airing. I can recall this coming on after Deadly Blessing, another film I watched today to commemorate a significant night that drew me to the horror genre for good. This was the kind of day I have been looking forward to. Both films, thanks to the internet, can be found, whereas when I wanted to see both of them in the 90s and early 2000s, I wasn’t able to. This day was a dream come true. Granted, neither film will ever hold their place in a top ten (or 100, for that matter), but both remained engrained in the depths of my nostalgia, resting…

Deadly Blessing

We take a look at the Hittite culture in this unique horror film from Wes Craven, a departure of sorts for him. It concerns a “gruesome secret” a certain farming community (untouched by the modern times) has kept. This secret could be unearthed thanks to an "outsider" who own a home/land in their world. Any outsider, according to the Hittites in this community in the area, is associated with the Incubus, attributable to the devil.

Macabre

Macabre (1958) was shown on Turner Classics Movies not too long ago on their TCM Underground which was exciting to me because it is one of William Castle’s lesser known and renowned films. I’m an absolute William Castle fan. Love the guy. Love his movies. This is a film with a plot that is a bit too soap opera for my liking but nonetheless he has some morbid aspects associated with it that at least appealed to my horror tastes.

Zoltan, Hound of Dracula

I was quite intrigued by the idea of “Dracula’s dog” on the pursuit of his “new” master, a descendant of Dracula (Michael Pataki, a psychologist living in a California suburb with his wife and two children). Reggie Nalder is perhaps known for his ugly (and really creepy) vampire in Salem’s Lot, and director Albert Band (father of Full Moon’s Charles Band) loves framing and shooting his face in various moods (especially at night when he is telepathically communicating with Zoltan). Nalder—and I mean this with the utmost respect—has a face that can give pause and cause nightmares, so his casting is perfect as this villager (and owner of Zoltan prior to its suffering the bite from Dracula in the form of a bat) who seeks a new master for him and his dog.

Dracula, the Satanic Rites

Evil rules, you know. It really does.You need to feel the thrill of disgust. The beauty of obscenity.

Well, perhaps this was the final adieu to Hammer’s Dracula series with Lee, set in Modern London of 1973, but its plot is loaded with oddball twists. Freddie Jones gets a part here that supplies him with a weirdo fooling around with a new strain of bubonic plague (Dracula’s urging obviously “inspires” this pressured testing and research), while Cushing plays another descendent of Van Helsing, Lorrimar, confronting him (they were “old college buddies”) about his dealings with a Satanic cult (tied to Dracula). There’s a special task force spying on a building that is used as the cult’s headquarters. This headquarters is Dracula’s hideout, protected by his cult, and those they discover are against them suffer the consequences.

The Mummy's Shroud

...reviewed October 5th


I’m not about to dispute the criticisms towards the Hammer Studios’ tendencies to leave their filmmakers with a rather unimpressive budget; tightening the screws on those needing to bring to life whole other eras and worlds set sometime in the past can make itself aware on screen. Like the opening narrative of The Mummy’s Shroud talking about an Egyptian Prince who was screwed out of his rightful place as king by a jealous brother who considered him in the way (this brother even murders his own father to ascend the throne through the power of an army devoted to him). The costumes, props, and sets are quite subpar and unconvincing. The plot further explains that the prince is taken off into the desert by a loyal slave to his father, and as the few remaining slaves behind them trek into the sun-baked lands outside of their home, death awaits them all.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark

...reviewed on October 4th



I thought I would end Friday night with a little Elvira. A little Elvira is never a bad thing for this guy who always wondered how she could keep those jugs in her dress from plopping out. After recently happening upon a nude pictorial of her under her real name absent the persona, red hair and all, I had a newfound appreciation for just how delicious her body is. But there's nothing like capping off a rather troublesome, exhausting work week with some Elvira. Yes'ir.

I Walked with a Zombie

...reviewed October 3rd


It’s common knowledge that the Val Lewton “horror” classics attempt (and succeed, methinks) to be more than just spookshows with monsters. I Walked with a Zombie is not typical October viewing for me, believe it or not. I can watch the Val Lewton movies (prefer to, even) throughout the year, or anytime one of them show up on Turner Classic Movies. Certainly more sophisticated in story and characterization, the Lewton classics like Zombie were a breath of fresh air if an audience was tiring of a shambling Frankenstein’s Monster or Kharis Mummy. I have to figure Zombie will be one of the most beautiful, well written and acted, horror films to show up in my watch list this year. It wasn’t too long ago since I last watched it (last year, when Turner Classics ran a couple of them), but seeing it tonight just further gave me an appreciation in subtlety and the lovely grace of the image made atmospheric.

Premature Burial

...reviewed October 2nd
Premature Burial has always been interesting to me because it rests in amongst the classic Corman Poe films, featuring Oscar-winner Ray Milland this time, sliding into the spot mostly occupied by the great Vincent Price (who was preoccupied with another film). I think because Price isn’t involved, Premature Burial kind of finds itself in the background while the likes of The Pit and the Pendulum, Masque of the Red Death, and House of Usher are at the forefront. Milland, an actor I think is terrific when in the right part, had seen better days in his career by this point.

The Wolf Man

...reviewed October 1st

I
 think why The Wolf Man leaves such an impact on me is that poor everyman Larry Talbot represents the very symbol of a tortured soul and mind. The wolf manifests itself out of Larry and he can do nothing to stop it. His father (played by the great Claude Rains) believes the mind can cause a good man to fall prey to the evils of mental disease if such a vulnerable state allows it to overcome him. A father, in the best interest of his son (and obviously his own welfare) will have to use the silver wolfs-head cane in order to end his torment. There was a moment that always stays with me…the Talbot family groundskeeper, and fiancé of Larry’s love interest (played by Universal Studios character actress, Evelyn Ankers), mentions to her (Ankers) that there is “something tragic about that man”. It’s a feeling that is foreshadowing and true. Impeccable casting in The Wolf Man I always felt gave it a major advantage over several of the later films featuring Talbot’s batt…

Halloween Television Version Deux

...reviewed October 1stI can remember two years ago how excited I was to grab a rental copy of Halloween: The Television Version. While Anchor Bay inserted the “new” footage with the original uncut Carpenter print instead of just showing the edited version as it was on television back in the day (for which I’m glad), the film really feels a little different than without the added scenes that pad running time a little bit. While I think the Loomis-in-Smith’s-Grove sequence is a rather intriguing moment that gives us an insight in how the psychiatrist attempted (futilely) to convince a panel (of two) of bureaucrats to place Michael (this is when he was still a boy) in a maximum security facility with proper security. Loomis is considered even at this point to be questionable in his professional opinion, and there’s this silence that really is deafening, following by the bureaucrats openly inviting to replace him with another court-appointed psychiatrist. I did notice the particular colo…

Torture Garden

Dr. Diabolo’s Torture Garden rests within a amusement park and its host has something to offer those who find their way into it. This funhouse has the usual grotequeries. Torture devices with mannequins on display with Burgess Meredith showing his patrons the ghoulish results of them. Diabolo even operates a faux electric chair for their amusement. What he offers for certain patrons willing to go into another room is the ultimate horror revealed to them by a peculiar magic (a wax figure, supposedly, with the “shears of fate” and strings representative of the lives of those in its possession is Diabolo’s offering to the bunch who paid 5 pounds to attend this special part of his funhouse) that allows them to take a look at the evil within and a possible future that could occur if they tread the paths on the horizon; this particular glance says that gruesome fates might just be averted, but will they heed such forewarnings?

The Mummy's Curse

Well, the Mummy Kharis series hits the road to Louisiana for a change of pace, but a swamp clearing turning up Ananka and Kharis (I’m not wasting my time even dwelling on the gigantic elephant in the room regarding how such a road trip from New England to Bayou country could happen) seems more than a little absurd. Not to get on that soapbox because it is exhausting.
For me, The Mummy’s Ghost is the lowest point in the Universal Mummy series. I can’t really find much good to say about it, to tell you the truth. It has those wonderful Universal (I’m guessing backlot) sets and there’s still some atmosphere, but the plot’s absurdities even had me (someone who actually can let that slide from time to time) rolling my eyes with this one. I have only seen this once before back a few years ago when I made my way through the series from start to finish. It is really something when you go through the various series and see how far in quality each one goes. The Mummy’s Curse does have its moments, so at least it doesn’t stink up the joint like this movie does.
Once again, Kharis just emerges thanks to brewing tana leaves. A professor and Egyptologist, Matthew Norman (Frank Reicher) discovers that nine tana leaves have a certain significance (a small chest with hieroglyphics tells him a secret involving nine so he brews tana leaves through the directions on i…

The Mummy's Shroud

...reviewed October 5th

I’m not about to dispute the criticisms towards the Hammer Studios’ tendencies to leave their filmmakers with a rather unimpressive budget; tightening the screws on those needing to bring to life whole other eras and worlds set sometime in the past can make itself aware on screen. Like the opening narrative of The Mummy’s Shroud talking about an Egyptian Prince who was screwed out of his rightful place as king by a jealous brother who considered him in the way (this brother even murders his own father to ascend the throne through the power of an army devoted to him). The costumes, props, and sets are quite subpar and unconvincing. The plot further explains that the prince is taken off into the desert by a loyal slave to his father, and as the few remaining slaves behind them trek into the sun-baked lands outside of their home, death awaits them all. So the prince is buried in a sacred hidden chamber, a specific death shroud over his body, covered in a type of sa…
About done with this, but wanted to go ahead and drop the write-up and add some revisions later tonight.Tombs of the Blind Dead is kind of a bridge between the Gothic horror in the age of Dracula and the exploitation film forming into the 60s and blooming in full into the ‘70s. While the ghouls in undead form rise from their graves looking for human sacrifices, the atmosphere created by director Ossorio is firstrate, while lesbianism and rape could be incorporated into his film due to when it was made. Victoria is in love with a man who doesn’t think of her as anything but a friend. He instead is smitten by her visiting tourist former acquaintance (and lover when the two were in college), Elizabeth. Victoria plans to go into the country with him, perhaps believing she could seduce him, but Elizabeth squanders those plans by inadvertently showing up. While on a train, Victoria can no longer tolerate seeing Elizabeth and him flirting so she overacts by getting off and heading to an aban…