Tag: John Hough

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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The Legend of Hell House

by on Jun.03, 2010, under Daily Review

I cannot emphasise how good this film is. It’s not just a great film, it’s probably the greatest ghost film ever made which is a strong term when classed alongside The Innocents and the Haunting: This for me is the finest of them all.

A simple yet effective plot which is solid as it is obvious. A team of ghost hunters spend some time in a huge haunted house in order to gain evidence of supernatural activity. So we’ve heard this plot before? Yes, but this film is a whole new ball game to what we’ve seen prior. This is 1973. The film is groundbreaking, beautiful and engrossing. Mesmerising in fact.

From the opening scene, we are straight into the plot. No slow build up to this one, so room for lengthy character generation and tension and history. This is right in there. Within the first few scenes we are in the house with a séance taking place, a few scenes later and we have stuff flying around rooms, possessions and apparitions. The character generation is applied through the events which happen within the house and although the film has a real dream like quality, the film rockets along at such an aerie pace, it injects pure creepiness into the mind of the viewer, a terrifying experience which clings and leaves you wanting more. There are absolutely no laughs here, this is as close to experiencing a true supernatural experience as you will ever get.

The film itself looks absolutely glorious, one of the finest looking films I have ever seen. Comparitable to Suspiria: huge praise I know, but this has got to be one of the greatest films of its genre and probably one of the most underrated. My only reason for its underratedness has to be the dreadful video/DVD box cover, and the title is slightly questionable.

The cast are stunning. Pam Franklin is obviously the highlight here. Amazing performance, and last seen on these pages in The Innocents, but she’s all grown up now and what presence she has. Clive Revill, Gail Hunnicutt and Roddy McDowall all offer brilliant performances here too. Probably McDowall’s best role outside Planet of the Apes.

Based on a Rich Matheson novel with accompanying screenplay, John Hough (Twins of Evil & Incubus) Directs his cast into outstanding performances which is gripping to watch. Cinematographer, Alan Hume (Lifeforce) here creates some legendary shots with plenty of green and red lighting, each frame is perfectly balanced making plenty of use of the screen, from obscure angles and close-ups to swirling spinning scenes of madness.

I can’t speak more highly of this film. I encourage you all to buy and view this movie, and promise you will not be disappointed.  

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