Sunday 15 July 2018

23 (4 refs = 25)) - horror, Son of Hitler, Captain Kidd, Diamonds for Breakfast

The Mafu Cage (1978) - Carol Kane and Lee Grant play sisters (though with a massive age gap). Not really a horror, more one of those annoying mad-people psychodramas like Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly  or the overrated Spider Baby (1968 -B/W - a silly nonsense)). But it avoids some of the cliches of that. Perhaps being directed by a woman, Karen Arthur helps. Even though the performances are good, with Will Geer riffing on his Grandfather Walton role and Kane escorting an orangutan around. It's a strange, oddly likeable film. It should be an annoying New Hollywood thing, but there's lots of weirdness including the very odd climax where Kane dons blackface, as if unable to see herself as anything but a product of her father's African fantasyland. It does go on a  bit, may have been better as an anthology segment, but it is really very odd.

Tourist Trap (1979) - An insanely good performance by Chuck Connors, a good soundtrack by Pino Donaggio,  and a creepy setting make this probably the best Charles Band production. Connors' folksy charm hiding  a streak of backwater malevolence is something that people have tried to copy - most notably Rob Zombie, but none have captured the familiarity that Connors brought from the Rifleman and ads for toys. The thing about horrors I often find is that they need a good villain, hence why I find a faceless slasher kind of redundant in a lot of cases. The victims aren't annoying. It manages to hone Band's obsessions into something that isn't jokey crud. Though there were precedents like Tobe Hooper's Death Trap and the godawful Nightmare in Wax (1969), this adds things like the necrophiliac tomb of Connors' waxen wife. It is a little stretched, but the setting is so interesting and Connors so good (apparently, he hoped this would launch him as the Karloff of the 80s - but horror went a different way). He's not a caricature like "Captain Spalding" in Zombie's films or even Rory Calhoun in Motel Hell.  The "handsome" brother is an interesting touch. As is the whole split-personality ventriloquism. It may be one of the best American horror films of the 1970s, if ever.

Silent Scream (1980) - Yvonne De Carlo keeps daughter/prom queen Barbara Steele (barely used) locked in attic. Avery "who is this fat chap on the Muppet Show, mam?" Schreiber and Cameron Mitchell are cops who add filler. Suspense-free nonsense with unendearing characters.

Fade To Black (1980) - Also from Compass, an interesting failure. Dennis Christopher is a weirdo who falls in love with an Aussie Marilyn lookalike/ex-Blankety Blanks model. Not sure if it is a horror or fish out of water drama, never really succeeds in either.  Weirdly has B/W footage of Horror of Dracula, instead of Tod Browning's Dracula. Film star and not pop star Mickey Rourke appears. It's not a cinematic themed Theatre of Blood either, as Christopher's fanboy massacres are so hopeless, although  a murder based on the Prince and the Showgirl is interesting. It's an interesting film, not bad, but it seems to be aiming too high, especially with the intercut scenes of B/W classics.

Homebodies (1974) - Slow, strange Avco Embassy geriatric black comedy - the "Blind Alleys" Tales from The Crypt segment as a  ninety minute film, an oddity, not great, not sure what it is. Takes too long to get where it is. Some interesting deaths, and a game cast including the ubiquitous Ian Wolfe, but very strange.

Time Walker (1982) - An interesting Egyptian ancient astronaut preamble gives away to a slasher with Erich von Daniken trappings. There are a few interesting touches, i.e. the cars going wild, and the mummy effects are interesting until he reveals himself as a goggle-eyed thing in a black jumpsuit.

Dead and Buried (1981) - It creates a world, The images of people taking photos of deaths are creepy. Jack Albertson is great as the villain. And the cosmetics sequence is interesting. But it is slow. There is a blandness that comes through the soft-focus nature. The whole film feels like a flashback. Mendocino is a great location. It does perk up forty minutes in, but the thing is the tone is slightly too serious. It perhaps needed someone like Joe Dante. The whole idea is this grim joke. The ending's great, with Melody Anderson being shot constantly and trying to understand why until she realises she is dead. It's quite similar to Halloween III, but I think it needed some of that black humour. A Larry Cohen or a Joe Dante may have added something to it. Gary Sherman is very serious, It's very well-made, but it needed a little excitement, a little fizz. Plus Joe Renzetti's score is a little too sombre. Clearly, the script had more humour that the crew phased out.

Alone In the Dark (1982) - Well-shot, but a mess, an enjoyable mess, but flawed. Donald Pleasence as a doctor who is also a murderous chef, with a very unconvincing accent. Landau, Palance and Pleasence are very good, but it can't tell if it is a slasher or a black comedy. Interesting to see Dwight Schultz playing the sane one for a change. Horror lost something by 1983. There was something in the early 80s, when it was still 70s enough before the VHS revolution hit, and everything became a bit rubbish.

Wild Beasts (1983) - Hard to make out Italian nonsense.

A Story Of Love (1977) - Ion Popescu Gopo's Romanian space-fantasy via Tales from Europe- with a spaceman and a cartoon crow in a fairytale kingdom. Pretty but twee.

House of Seven Corpses (1972) - Meta-horror set in a film set. John Carradine turns up. Quite colourfully garish, but unmemorable nonsense.

Mission Stardust (1968) - Italian SF, sub-Barbarella nonsense based on the Perry Rhodan novels. Mostly Eurospy awfulness set in Africa.

Captain Kidd (1945 - B/W) - Not one of Laughton's best. Not a fan of pirate movies, really.

I Walked With A Zombie (1943) -  I find the drama bits kind of bland, the real power in the stuff with the voodoo. The sequel, Zombies on Broadway (1945), with added Bela Lugosi and a monkey is an interesting embarrassment.

Basket Case 2 (1990) - With an elevated budget and a Glickenhaus sheen, and professional actors, much of the charm is lost, the grotesqueness elevated. And Annie Ross is there to give sausages for the boys. That sort of not-great mix of jokes and prosthetics, rather than just a lovably rubbish puppet. Saw it before, couldn't understand it. I like Henenlotter, but this is kind of caught between two stools, and feels almost like a Sid and Marty Krofft-type kids' show with sex.

End Play (1976) - Dragging Australian giallo, with Charles "Bud" Tingwell and Paul Hogan stooge Delvene Delaney,  very Clemens-esque, with a ridiculous hippie disguise,  and a story  that goes in circles. Basically says that being a wheelchair makes you murderous.

Devil and Daniel Webster (1941) - Some 1940s anachronisms slip into the 1840s  setting. I find it's the sort of Twilight Zone-y story I don't gravitate to. Kind of complicated, slightly overlong. The climax is rather haunting, but everything building it up doesn't quite appeal. The highlight possibly the way Walter Huston devours a pie.

Invaders Of The Lost Gold (1982) - Filipino-Italian Dick Randall nonsense, involving Stuart Whitman, Glynis Barber (with her Blake's 7 hair) and Woody Strode finding gold in the Filipino jungle.  Scenes of sailors in a Tokyo bar chatting up lingerie-wearing dancers. Laura Gemser appears. Some kind of murderer on the loose. Incomprehensible nonsense.

Licensed to Kill (1965) - Not a good film, so cheap it makes an ITC TV series episode look like Cleopatra. Lindsay Shonteff didn't improve with age. The Shonteff-less sequel Where The Bullets Fly has Sid James and Wilfrid Brambell and Michael Ripper as the baddie, but from what I've seen, is just as bad. Just lots of talk and half-baked gun chases through parks.

Kong Island (1968) - Jungle adventure with snarling tortured chumps in gorilla suits, also from Dick Randall. Incomprehensible, with nude slow-motion girls dancing through the jungle.

Son of Hitler (1978) - An alleged comedy made by some German industrialists, with four ASSISTANT EDITORS, and Peter Cushing, Anton Diffring and Bud Cort as the titular illiterate offspring. With a $5 million budget, it looks expensive, but doesn't  work. It is jawdropping,   makes no sense, and runs out of plot.

Diamonds for Breakfast (1968) - Silly post-imperialist heist by Christopher Morahan, an Italian coproduction, theme sung by Mastroianni in an Italo-Russian accent. Feels very cheap. Rita Tushingham turns up. I'm not one for heists. Watched it simply to make a note.

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