Archive for June, 2010

The Blood Splattered Bride

by on Jun.21, 2010, under Daily Review

Newly weds head off for a romantic holiday in an ancestral castle in the Spanish countryside. But all becomes unnerving when the hubby acts a bit odd, with devious sexual tendencies of the domination variety, liking to give his new missus a good beating and even attack her with a tight over his head. (What was goin’ on in that scene!?) Next up, the new wife (Maribel Martin) has nightmares involving a beautiful woman (Alexandra Bastedo) from the woods (You can’t blame her after being treated so badly by her hubby). Things become stranger when the woman of the dreams turns up at the house, rescued from a swimming accident, but starts to work her charms over the new bride. The bloodbath starts here.

It could have been much better, but looks and feels really cool. Vicente Aranda directs and creates a very nice looking film, although with more umph, it might just have worked a bit better; He’s no Franco as you’d expect from this film at first glance. There’s very little nudity, strange due to the subject matter. The film is dream like throughout, but has such a dark element to the storyline. The husband (Simon Andreu) is a vicious character who seems to swing from kind and caring to a bloody evil swine. The Vamipiric side of things are done with real compassion and fine detail to the source without any obvious caricatures, which you’d usually expect. The gore is pretty good and somewhat nasty in some scenes. The Final moments are vicious and harsh and earlier on, an absolute unwarranted killing of a fox in a trap is disgusting.

The actors are all very good and for the most part, it’s very easy on the eye both visually and mentally.

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Carmilla, Nightmare Classics

by on Jun.20, 2010, under Daily Review

This probably wasn’t the best way to break into Carmilla week, but we needed to start somewhere and I’ve always liked American culture of the 19th Century, and not to mention Meg Tilly. Is it good?

Well, not really, but what do you expect? From 1989, the TV series of four of the horror classics, brought to the small screen. The acting is good and the story works well in this medium.

The tale takes us to a plantation in the South of America during the Civil War. Marie and her father live a lonely life which is turned upside down with the visitor, Carmilla who is involved in a coach accident and taken in until she is well. She soon becomes great friends with Marie who have a close relationship, running through the woods in huge white layers dresses. (note, these dresses never get any muck on ‘em at all). Although, when things are this good, there must be a twist. Carmilla has a thing for the red stuff and soon, people start dropping off.

Meg Tilly is great, always is and here, steals the screen. Ione Skye is also very bloody good and Roddy McDowall is also great and perfect. The real problem is just the sheer size of this thing. It’s small simple plot which has been done to death, but this obviously is due to being based on the novel by Sheridan Le Fanu (25 years prior to Dracula) so there’s no wonder we’ve all heard and seen this all before. It’s shot pretty dream like for the most part but there is no real revalation and not enough blood, gore and sex for this kind of film (Due to it’s TV audience). So, take it for what it is. It’s cute looking vampire girls in big dresses, a big house and lots of woods. Very gothic and a nice idea setting in a plantation.

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Week 34

by on Jun.19, 2010, under 365 Schedule

After all the fun of John Hough week and one of the highlights being Twins of Evil, this week i’m heading down the Carmilla route.

  • Carmilla, Nightmare Classics
  • The Blood Splattered Bride
  • Alucarda
  • Vampyres
  • Blood and Roses
  • Vampire Lovers
  • Lust for a Vampire
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The House of the Devil

by on Jun.19, 2010, under Daily Review

I remember watching the trailer for this a while back and really didn’t like the look of it, but after hearing good things and especially the marketing ploy, releasing the film as a limited edition VHS, complete with big 80’s clam shell box, it sounded appealing.

Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) is eager to earn some fast cash, to more out of her student digs and away from her evil room-mate and find her own apartment. She phones an advert for a babysitter, but ends up being paid for more than she expected.

This is a beautiful looking film and a pure homage to the classics of the 80’s. Creepy peculiar characters, a regular situation which gets turned on its head, a crazy spooky house and a beautiful protagonist. Can’t really go wrong with that. Ti West, Director pays tribute to those that have gone before. Amityville, Omen, Black Christmas, Stranger Calls listing influence and placing this fine piece of cinema back into the horror cauldron. It’s unusual, but expected after the big push towards gorenography and all the recent remakes of 80’s classics this is perfect on track to step up to the mark with a slow burning character 80’s horror, which could possibly start a trend; one which I would welcome.

Donahue is a great choice in the lead role. She carries an 80’s vibe and has a mesmerizing presence and an innocence, which works well with the plot. Her career really should take off after this. Tom Noonan always spooks me out and here is no exception. Another perfect slice of casting is the inclusion of Dee Wallace who brings with her the pure spirit of the 80’s for me, from The Howling, ET and more recently Halloween.

Don’t expect gore. This not what it’s about. Great pace, atmosphere and a creeping feeling of dread and unnerving presence of something bad, which is about to happen at any moment. Also, hats off to the unconventional stunning finale.

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Virus (Fukkatsu no hi)

by on Jun.18, 2010, under Daily Review

This film is something of a mystery to me. Growing up skulking around the local video store, renting films with cool covers and big boxes, Virus was always on the shelf. Had a great cover too, with a rotting corpse in the drivers seat of the car. For some strange reason, I never rented this. I think it was due to the low censorship certificate it had. PG was it? Obviously it must have no gore or violence, which is all I craved as a teen. So a friend of mine mentions this a few weeks ago, ‘Remember that film cover with the corpse in the car?’ So here we are, and what a film it is. Christ, it’s 155 mins long and full of human emotion and the survival of mankind, dealing with so many social issues, it’s surprising that it’s not recognised as a lost classic.

The plot is a simple one. A killer virus wipes out most of mankind. Only a few survive. We follow a small team holding out in Antarctica. They face a bleak future, but question how they can survive the killer Italian Flu which has destroyed their world. This plot has since been recreated on numerous platforms and is basically a Cold War horror story. Threads, Dawn of the Dead, Survivors, Triffids, 28 days, Autumn. We have the same plot, but what makes this film stand out is it’s hugeness and attention to detail.

This is the biggest film ever to be financed from China, even in today’s climate, it still holds this record. The cast is one of vastness. It’s got everyone. George Kennedy, Olivia Hussey, Ed James Olmos, Chuck Connors, Robert Vaughn, Glenn Ford to name a few. It’s great to see Olmos in his youth, stunning performance here as expected, real presence.

The film is a long slow trek through mankind and human traits facing decisions which are tough, a battle of survival and rebuilding of a new world. It’s a big talkie film, loads of dialogue and discussion which is always great, but many high adventure moments too and what a glorious final 20 minutes! Well worth a look this one and as relevant today as it was in 1980. (Beware of the short version, only 108 mins)

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Eyewitness (Sudden Terror)

by on Jun.17, 2010, under Daily Review

This is more of an action thriller rather than horror, but it looked pretty good and sat in well with the rest of the John Hough films this week.

The story follows a young lad Ziggy (Mark Lester, famous for his role as Oliver… and the Father of Jacko’s kids?) on a sunny summer holiday, the beautiful Mediterranean island of Malta with his sister. (Susan George). It’s all fun and games until someone gets killed, and Oliver (er.. i mean Ziggy) is the only witness. It’s a political assassination, JFK style. So from this point on, Ziggy is on the run with gangsters, cops and family chasing behind.

Sounds great eh? Too right. Hough’s cast are brilliant. Some legends: Lionel Jeffries from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Susan George is always a plus and the perfect reason to watch any of her films, Tony Bonner is great in his Ray Lovelock style role, blond shaggy surfer hair. Finally, Peter Vaughan is brilliant as the main villain, a vicious bent cop.

As expected, the film looks great, feels great having a real tension and sweeping pace whilst still managing to allow characters to flourish. Some great murders too. One has a bloke tipped off the edge of a cliff from a JCB, crashing to his death. There’s some good car chases too. Land Rover vs Triumph Herald: It doesn’t get better than that.

Hough here shows his versatility as a director. A film which Hitchcock would be proud of, and a tribute to Hough’s strength, capturing real character through situation and drama.

I’m eager to view more of Hough’s films after this weeks fine form, but alas, most are not really appropriate for this site.

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American Gothic

by on Jun.16, 2010, under Daily Review

A group of young friends head off on a camping holiday to a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. They find themselves in an old rundown house with ancient clothes and items about the place, but this house is not deserted. A crazy cute family who live a simple life live there and offer the friends food and a room for the night, only these people are a bit strange. Well, you know what those country folk are like and we’ve all seen Deliverance and Hill Have Eyes.

This is a serious oddity. It works very well with good characters, mostly unknown actors, although a few veterans fill in the gaps whilst the plot runs smooth and simple with some terrifying moments. Director, John Hough has a way of shooting films which look simple. They look like you are there with the characters who are all so naturally normal, just like your neighbours, and when he hits you with some horror, yikes it’s good. His camera work is also very dramatic. Some stunning inferior angles and twisted shots really add tension.

Ultimate creepy moments. A 30 year old woman who thinks she’s only 11, and has a mummified baby in a cot: A hideous moment. Another great scene has a bloke forced to play on a rope swing, whilst the odd country folk push it harder and faster, swinging out over the sea and the craggy rocks below. These scenes, you just can’t make them up. Brilliant scenes of cinema.

Rod Steiger, Yvonne De Carlo and Michael J Pollard are the real stars of the film, classic veterans who eagerly encourage the rest of the cast, and through characterisation, haunt the rest of the characters with a terrifying country hospitality.

Keep your eye on Cynthia (Sarah Torgov) though. Here character is amazing and deep and goes through all the emotions. A scene late on between Cynthia and Fanny (Janet Wright) is brilliant, captivating and engrossing and soon we the viewer are questioning who are the crazy folk.

This is a great twist on the typical creepy inbreed families which we’ve seen many of in the cinema. Here, we see that these people are normal everyday people, just living a bit different. They don’t have lampshades made out of skin, or anything else to that extreme, but an embalmed baby, that’s just something else.

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Twins of Evil

by on Jun.15, 2010, under Daily Review

‘What kind of Plumage is this?!’ exclaims Gustav Weil (Cushing) as he finds the two Twin girls in his living room.

This is a fine plot, I’m sold on the title and the basic story. Twins of Evil. Two young girls are orphaned from Venice to live with their Witchfinder Uncle, meanwhile, a rich bloke in a castle is in league with the legendary Camilla, the vampire queen. Back to the two girls again, one is good, the other very naughty. I can hear the pitch for this film now, a producers dream.

So, it sounds great on paper, but does it work on celluloid? Damn right. Peter Cushing is perfect here, as always, as the religious focused witchfinder, whilst Damien Thomas is the evil Count in the castle, not quite Christopher Lee, but he’s pretty good. Katya Wyeth plays Camilla (or Mircalla) as her brief appearance. (I understand Ingrid Pitt was offered this role, but turned it down. Shame) Next we have the legend that is David Warbeck, as the love interest Anton, is stunning as always, but obviously, the stars in this film are the twins, Maddie and Mary Collinson as Frieda and Maria. Which ones Virgin, which ones Vampire is the tagline. Stunning.

The film works a treat due to plot and pace. It’s a classic looking Hammer film, and similar to Vampire Lovers in look and style, but with the added Witch trial business going on. Two in one you could say. The film is also quite brutal in some scenes, and even though the women in this film are empowered, we have plenty of violence towards them, derogatory actions. The gore too is very impressive. Scenes of stabbings and a great machete to the head is always a good thing.

Other highlights include some great photography tricks, a bloke drunk in the woods, captivated by Frieda (or is it Maria) but as he’s drunk, he see double. Good fun, and clever too. The fight with Frieda and Anton in the bedroom is brilliant though, all crucifixes and floaty gowns.

Watching this has really sparked my interest in digging out some more Hammer. This is a glorious film, probably my favorite Hammer.

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The Incubus

by on Jun.14, 2010, under Daily Review

The story is set in a small town in New England. A Doctor, Sam Cordell (John Cassavetes) and his daughter Jenny (Erin Flannery) are new to the area, the kind of town where everyone knows your business. When a woman is brutally raped and left for dead, it shocks the town, but this is the first of a string of similar attacks. Families massacred, girls raped. Then one of Erin’s friends visits; he tells her he has been having visions, he can see the murderer as the attack happens.

This is another fantastic film from John Hough, tackling the social characters of a small town, brutal attacks and a huge supernatural plot. This is perfect Hough. The film works well, looks good and old, very classic actually. The suspense builds throughout the movie as we investigate who or what is the cause of these attacks, but nothing will prepare you for the final scene. I’m amazed that this has never been mentioned to me, it’s pure cult classic horror.

The story is great, I think I’ve already made that clear, but the film is not perfect. The pace drops after the first half hour to what seems like a crawl, but bare with it as it all picks up. The final half hour is great and as I say, the final scene is stunning. Another point is the echo of Hammer which hides in this film, a dream sequence and some historical stuff which involves witchcraft and torture is a sure tip of the hat to his ‘Twins of Evil.’

Cassavetes is great here, holding up the film, and in the majority of the scenes: a tried and tested solid actor who does not let us down, whose character here has depth with a dark past. The other highlight is Kerrie Keane who is mesmerizing. Here in her first movie, she is captivating. The effects are very good too, some are brutal, but when we get an eyeful of the Incubus, late on in the film, the effect is gorgeous.

I wasn’t expecting too much from this one, but got a lot more in return.

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Bad Karma

by on Jun.13, 2010, under Daily Review

I had a bad feeling about this film, but how wrong could I be. It’s a great film to watch, easy on the eye, suspenseful, fast moving and atmospheric. The locations are great too, interesting, but realistic characters dramatised by some pretty good actors although the script lets the film down slightly, it’s forgivable.

The story follows a crazy woman, (Patsy Kensit) institutionalised for believing she was involved in the Jack the Ripper murders, 1888, Whitechapel London. As an assistant to Jack himself, she believes there is an afterlife and reincarnation, and that it’s her Doctor (Patrick Muldoon) that is the Ripper. She also believes they should be together again in this life, as wolves, slaughtering the lambs. So, she escapes from the hospital in search of her true partner, hacking and slashing as she goes.

So, crazy plot really, but it works. The music is a big dramatic score that never stops for a minute, which lifts the film into a suspenseful place. Kensit is great in this film. I’ve always been a fan and here she is at her finest. She’s got real screen presence but here actually does a great job with the violent crazy bitch character. It’s the first time I’ve seen Muldoon in a film and he’s pretty good too, a background working on US TV, Melrose Place and Days of Our Lives, but her shows he can make the step into film and does so with some real ability. Amy Locane is bloody good too in a supporting role as the Doctors missus: again, I’ve always been a fan since seeing here in the delicious Cry Baby.

John Hough has been making films for years and he carries a real charm and style with his film making. It’s accessible and enjoyable to watch with some twists and turns which work at a good pace and don’t hurt your head. I really enjoy his movies and here, he shows he’s still got the talent and ability.

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