Thursday 21 February 2019

4319474817754836 -89 horror

Haxan (1922 - R/W)  The world's first History Channel documentary.

Vampyr (1932 - B/W) - Whatever it is, it is strange,primal, untypical and has a character called David Gray, not the bland 90s crooner.

White Zombie (1932 - B/W) - Muddled, dreamlike cash-in on the horror boom with Lugosi.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939 - B/W) - It feels like a living, breathing world, as opposed to the stagey (1922) Chaney version. Laughton is genuinely good, sinister but endearing and not in a silly way like Anthony Quinn or Anthony Hopkins as Mick Hucknall in the TV version. Maybe it is because Laughton's head shape suits the makeup, though at times he looks disconcertingly like Muttley.  Maureen O'Hara is good, and there's a great support cast.  A DISCOVERY.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1956) - Anthony Quinn is doing a Peter Lorre voice, for some reason. It's colourful, but it's stilted, being a Eurofantasy of a certain era.

The Lodger (1944 - B/W) - Though the period detail is halting, Laird Cregar is a menacing presence. And the climax is fun. But this is where that Americanised idea of the Ripper's world comes from...

Hangover Square (1945 - B/W) - Its recreation of London is so American-tinged, it's a bit of a shock when George Sanders pops up. In his final performance, Laird Cregar (the man who wanted to be Robert Morley) looks for once his own age. The ending, as he plays piano amidst the flames is ridiculous, but it never quite gels on a tone.

Strangler of the Swamp (1946 - B/W) - Oddly toned  PRC double feature filler, starring a young Blake Edwards. Weird mix of rural comedy and swamp noir.

Things Happen at Night (1947 - B/W) - Goofy but weirdly watchable quota quickie old dark house flicker. Has that odd, weird 1940s British comedy energy that Ealing killed. Has a weird thanks credit to Harry Price, the notorious ghost hunter.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951 - B/W) - Did the posh British sorts in this at Hong Kong inspire the airmen in Independence Day? Never saw this in full, and though it does go slow, it has lovely little touches like the backlot French village full of men in berets, "Calcutta Radio", scenes set at BBC TV Centre,  recreations of every corner of the world, and it has an ambition. And that's what I like - SF films with ambition.

Fire Maidens from Outer Space (1956 - B/W) - Threadbare Fauxmerican space antics, idiotic but strangely hypnotic in its awfulness. Suburban gardens double as an alien world. Stranger in Paradise overused.

Earth Vs The Flying Saucers (1956 - B/W) - Shots of great model work are squandered, and is an otherwise quite silly little film.

20 Million Miles to Earth (1957 - B/W) - Probably the best of the US Harryhausens. The Ymir is a wonderful beast.

The Trollenberg Terror (1958) - Warren Mitchell enlivens it as a mad scientist. More dynamic and fun than average US SF of the era. Though the ending is a bit of a cop out. Strange World of Planet X (1958), made by the same team, also with Forrest Tucker, also from an ITV serial, isn't anywhere near as good.

The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) - Hammer attempt to photocopy their formula the first time. Creates the beats each sequel would follow. But it seems too mired in period drama. All Eunice Gayson in big dresses and Francis Matthews in a cravat. And Charles Lloyd-Pack in the first of a couple of roles in the Frankenverse.

The Fabulous World of Jules Verne (1958 - B/W) - Somehwat samey but wondrously visual and inventive Czech SF from Karel Zeman, if at times easy to lose the plot.

Jack the Ripper (1959 - B/W) - A cheap, inept misty-even-inside British quickie made for fifty grand that nevertheless made many times more than that, thanks to Joe Levine at Embassy. Eddie Byrne does an Ulster-American-Cornish accent. John Le Mesurier cast to make people think he's Karloff. Ewen Solon plays the helpful superior who is actually the killer. Ends with " Fin " to make it more classy.

Werewolf in a  Girls' Dormitory (1961 - B/W) - Star Carl Schell, the brother of Maria and Maximillian was on Jackanory once. This is set in an England full of American accents. Luciano Pigozzi is dubbed with a Lorre-ish voice. Typical 60s Euroshocker.
Atom Age Vampire (1961 - B/W) - Ditto.

The Old Dark House (1963) - Probably the best of William Castle's comedies, helped by a British cast and Hammer. Maybe, it's because I saw this sick from school one day, but the whole stuff about the ark and having Janette Scott be the killer, it somehow works because it is so odd, rather than typical old dark house comedy nonsense.

The Last Man On Earth (1964 - B/W) - Italy fails to double as LA, though Vincent Price's narration is great, he's miscast, in this Richard Matheson adap. The zombies are unconvincing.

The Long Hair of Death (1964 - B/W) - Artless Barbara Steele vehicle by Antonio Margheriti. Remember that Victoria Wood joke about historical dramas based on a few spare wigs? That sums up a whole genre of period gothic made in Europe.

Children Of The Damned (1964 - B/W) - Better than Village, a remake rather than a sequel, placing the threat not in a nice, posh little village, but amongst the working-class and immigrants of London. A multi-ethnic gang of kids who are more dangerous than their white, Aryan forebears, who drive their mothers to ruin. Plus it has Alfred Burke.  The trouble is the kids are just ciphers. Though the church siege makes them grow. And nice performance from Harold Goldblatt as the generically "foreign" scientist.

Night must Fall (1964 ) - A close relation to The Haunting, though Finney's psycho is  clearly slightly Norman Bates-ish, though this is obviously a remake of an earlier film, though more realistic and Finney is a better psycho than Richard Montgomery doing an Irish/Geordie accent. Watching it in German enforces the krimi similarities even more, but it feels too slow, too hard to be a "proper film". The end is all very Diabolique.

The Night Caller (1965 - B/W) - What begins as a blatant Quatermass imitation becomes a typical Butcher's crime movie, with a few odd touches - inspectorly lead Maurice Denham supported by John Saxon, and the killer is a silly alien talent agent. But interesting cast- Alfred Burke, Marianne Stone and Warren Mitchell as bereaved parents, Aubrey Morris as a gay snitch, Ballard Berkeley as the typical authority.

Curse of the Voodoo (1965 - B/W) - Nonsensical Brian Clemens/Shonteff horror set unconvincingly in Africa.

War-Gods of the Deep (1965) - Lethargic and unmemorable fantasy-adventure, Vincent Price slightly miscast as the leader of a Lyonesse that doesn't feel lived in, Tab Hunter as himself and doesn't rub off Susan Hart, John Le Mesurier brought into replace Boris Karloff and is trying for something, but ultimately padded out by diving scenes. Feels like a crap Doctor Who episode, because of David Whitaker's involvement.  David Tomlinson keeps a pet chicken (more chemistry between him and the chicken that between Hunter and Hart), and wears a kilt, as the Doctor substitute.  Plus they don't even use a sub. They just walk via a secret passage from a library.

She (1965) - John Richardson is a plank. Bernard Cribbins is well... he's Cribbins. The trouble is She is kind of an unplayabale part, and Andress is not my type. Rosenda Monteros is far more attractive in a supporting part. And it's the sort of "generic historical civlisation" that always feels silly. The climax is well-staged, though.
The Vengeance Of She (1968) - Dull, ITC-ish sequel, from the director of the Morecambe and Wise films.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1965) - 90 per cent a western. Just because it has John Carradine doesn't make it a horror film. John Carradine was in as many westerns as he was in horrors.

Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter (1966) - Needed John Carradine, who at least had played the Coward Bob Ford. Just another shite western with anachronistic touches. Director William Beaudine had astonishingly directed Will Hay.

Munster, Go Home (1966) - There's some good jokes, i.e. Eddie presuming a wardrobe is a "bed". Marilyn is recast, and is sufficiently younger.  Terry-Thomas and Hermione Gingold  play  rival cousins.  Grandpa  gets the better of a lycanthropy potion. Robert Pine plays an unconvincing young English racing driver.   Shroudshire seems to be possibly in the North, with some Northern accents.  John Carradine is a butler.  An accidentally genius touch is the England the Munsters exist in is the England of Universal horror. But it runs out of material.

The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966) - Typical Don Knotts comedy. It's not that I dislike Knotts, in fact I find him a very personable and welcome character presence, but the film he leads in are the kind of quasi-Disney (and indeed actual Disney) fare that one grows out of in your teens. The sort that never really translated to this part of the world. Though it is nice to see Liam Redmond, an incongruous presence in a small US town in a major role. But it's  typical "Boo!" fake-ghost thrills, which are very routine.

The Witches (1966) - Uterrly ridiculous Hammer vehicle for Joan Fontaine, constantly gaslit by the likes of Leonard Rossiter, after experiencing voodoo. Not one of Kneale's best. Tries to make Sindy dolls look creepy.  Kay Walsh's butch lesbian teacher is so clearly a wrong one, because she seems to be seducing Joan Fontaine. Michele Dotrice uses her yokel accent.

Journey To The Centre of Time (1967) - Despite  Abraham Sofaer's presence, a even lesser do over of the Time Travellers and the earlier, even worse Beyond the Time Barrier (1960).

The Stolen Dirigible (1967  - B/Y, yes - black and yellow) - Charming tinted fantasy from Karel Zeman, with a CFF-ish concept. 

Nude Si Muore (1968) - Glossy, well-made but kind of empty, oddly playful giallo, by Antonio Margheriti, seems to be going for the feel of an ITC thing, a British film set in France, hence a few British cast members including an ageing Michael Rennie. Mostly teenage girls gossiping. Has the Nancy Drew type in love with headmaster Rennie, even though he's three times her age.

Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968) - Typical Tigon fare, cheap, sub-TV production values, despite Lee, Karloff and a wasted, green-skinned Barbara Steele, and Michael Gough as a doddery butler. The hero is future Coronation Street villain Mark Eden. Ron Pember plays a petrol station attendant. There's a random streaker. Goofy.

Savage Intruder (1969) - Psychedelic low-rent Hollywood set psychobiddy awfulness with a Joe 90 soundalike theme and Miriam Hopkins going on about George Brent.  Depressing. Features a plotline about a lookalike sex doll.

Blood of Dracula's Castle (1970) - Has weird shots of a walrus at a marine park. Paula Raymond and Alexander D'Arcy as the Draculas are like the posh villainous neighbours in a sitcom. Typical waste of ingenuity from Al Adamson. A fright is screams over a purple dress with a spider on top.

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) - Sporadically interesting visuals, and an interesting performance by Strother Martin fail to make good of a flat, confused and confusing shocker, though the scenes in the coven all look excellent.

The Man With Icy Eyes (1971) - Nonsensical giallo,  set and shot in Nevada, with Victor Buono, Keenan Wynn and Faith Domergue. Ends with Antonio Sabato getting out of prison, a car drives up and a little man with a Beatle-wig gets out, hugs Sabato and welcomes our hero in the car.

The Night Digger (1971) - Rather boring vehicle for Patricia Neal, crafted by her husband Roald Dahl, despite Peter Sallis and Yootha Joyce as a couple.

The Velvet Vampire (1971) - Dire performances colour this Corman-produced distaff Yorga/redneck Daughters of Darkness. But Celeste Yarnall is an interesting vampire. And the climax where Diane accidentally stumbles on some Christian iconography is actually quite inventive.

Web of the Spider (1971) - More evidence that Antonio Margheriti was a hack when he didn't have the chance to engage with miniatures. Weird seeing the distinctive-voiced German Peter Carsten dubbed with a generic British voice. Anthony Franciosa looks out of place, and very severe. And it all looks surprisingly cheap. The Italians' gothic horror never feels unique, bar except Bava. It mostly always feels like a photocopy, like so much of Italian cinema, where they can be only as half as good as what they are tracing over. Remake of Margheriti's hoary Barbara Steele shocker Castle of Blood (1964) - not the almost identical Steele-as-a-blonde schlocker Nightmare Castle (1965).

ZPG - Zero Population Growth (1971) - Astonishingly like the later Logan's Run, a cold, rather flat, televisual dystopia. 

Dr. Tarr's Torture Dungeon (1972) - Mexican horror with a caped Claudio Brook. It thinks it's European, but lots of badly staged nonsense including a wrestling match-like scene with pygmies confirms its true identity. Has a comedy musical interlude with a sheep.

Case of the Bloody Iris (1972) - Typical idiotic giallo, nice soundtrack and photography, though George Rigaud is not a bad antagonist (though bears quite a resemblance to Irish presidential candidate Peter Casey), and for a man near-seventy, quite physical.

The Flesh And Blood Show (1972) - Patrick Barr's hammy, shouty performance is the best thing about this film, which feels like a sex film and not just cos Robin Askwith pops up in it.     Though the flashbacks have anachronistic looking "young actors". It doesn't end, it just kind of stops.

The Holy Mountain (1973) - Transvestites, barechested gladiators, warrior tortoises, Mexican tourists all feature in Jodorowsky's epic for the sake of it. Memorable if not actually good.  It's just a stream of astonishing non-sequiturs, from the variety shows in coffins to the toy factory. And a chimp in a  tabard.

O Lucky Man (1973) - It's a bit insufferable, at three hours (I never got on with If), with Alan Price musical interludes, but it has Arthur Lowe being great, And in blackface. Not so great.  Even if he is taking it completely seriously to the point that he's almost convincing. And Bill Owen. And I have to say, Malcolm McDowell - a hot twink. And it's interesting to see such a proudly Northern genre film.  It may be the best film of its length, so yes... a discovery. And then the song from the Volkswagen ad comes on. Because it's Alan Price.

The Werewolf of Washington (1973) - Michael Dunn has Dean Stockwell walking around like a dog in peculiar but ultimately boring "satire".

Love Brides of the Blood Mummy (1973) - One of the most ridiculous and threadbare Spanish horrors. Set in an undefined, presumably Victorian England, has George Rigaud in a fur-lined dressing gown/judge's robe as Lord Dartmoor. And an Aztec  costumed Egyptian mummy.

Count Dracula's Great Love (1973) - Better in black and white. Paul Naschy does not register as a villain or a vampire, and the best thing about it is a dog howling sounds like someone doing a Scooby-Doo impression.

TORSO (1973) - A nice soundtrack doesn't help this rubbishy, generic proto-slasher giallo. Suzy Kendall about twice her character's age.

Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973) - Dreary 70s sexploitation nonsense written by Nicholas Meyer of all people. Uses Also Sprach Zarathustra.

The Antichrist (1974)  - Middle-class Italian relationship drama/Exorcist imitation, mundane, livened up by a weird goat-demon giving invisible cunnilingus, and George Coulouris as a mad monk who gives a great, hammy performance as the exorcist, bringing a gravitas to the role.

The Beast Must Die (1974) - Michael Gambon is so obviously the suspect that the secondary werewolf seems to be only there to make us think he isn't. This is a laughable attempt to do a British blaxploitation film. Calvin Lockhart is extremely fruity, but his character isn't much. Though he is arguably an early black superhero of the cinema. Charles Gray and Cushing do their best. Tom Chadbon tries, but his hippyish cannibal medical student doesn't really come off. But there's not much action, hence the werewolf break. Initially intended as a vehicle for Robert Shaw (who pre-Jaws was doing stuff like this, e.g. A Reflection Of Fear), and then Robert Quarry, before being retooled for a black lead. It doesn't work as a horror.

Man On A Swing (1974)  - Unsettling too much for its own good, typical New Hollywood studio filler, not that great, but Joel Grey steals it as a peculiar psychic. But it's alienating in its strangeness. Cliff Robertson is such an unlikeable fool that it's no surprise that Joel Grey is right.

Psychic Killer (1975) - Jim Hutton kind of looks lost, in a "what happened to my career?" way, but he gives a better performance than this cheap, tawdry, idiotic little schlocker deserves. Filled with ageing stars to give it pep, and to waste time. Della Reese pops up as a mother to buy meat from a butcher played by Neville Brand, that's just there to fill time.

Dracula In The Provinces (1975) - Silly, pervy Lucio Fulci sex comedy. Barely any Dracula.

Expose (1976) - Dreadful sex-drama with Udo Kier, Linda Hayden, Fiona Richmond, Patsy "Ghoul" Smart, and Vic Armstrong, and Karl Howman in his only video nasty appearance, ten years before his eventful appearance in he painting and decorating sitcom Brush Strokes.

The House With The Laughing Windows (1976) - Typically nonsensically arty giallo. Twist is the local priest (American poet and Fellini colleague Eugene Walter) is actually a transman because he has breasts. 

The Town That Dreaded  Sundown (1976)- Charles B. Pierce is a director whom I find more interesting than his films. He's an exploitation director who made films that harked back to an earlier time, not in an Al Adamson way, because unlike Adamson, he actually had talent and skill.  The trouble is he's making films that are far more glossy and TV-level and nostalgic than they should be. Ben Johnson is the name,  but Pierce casts himself as comic relief. They are bits that feel amateurish, tonally all over the place,  but at times he seems more interested in creating some kind of weird nostalgic local comedy than a horror or true-crime movie.  I do love the product placement of the modern epilogue with Pierce's own Winterhawk's gala showing being shown.

The Manitou (1978) - Utter nonsense. Michael Ansara is wearing a bad wig to portray a Native American (he was Syrian IRL).  He looks like Richie Kavanagh.  Burgess Meredith tries, but it's all so clunky. Susan Strasberg is miscast. Tony Curtis is overwhelmed by his large collars.

The Island (1980) - Such a deeply odd film. A big-budget US film featruing an almost entirely British cast, shot and set in Florida. Michael Ritchie seems to be in love with Colin Jeavons, lots of sexy shots of the legendary character actor, bare-chested, wearing what appears to be a halter top. But even Jeavons, Don Henderson, David Warner and Dudley Sutton all come across as silly, in a pantoish manner. Their performances are more suited to Educating Marmalade. It's not clear at times. The spectacle of the pirate raids are great, but it doesn't feel connected.

Virus (1980) - Watched the 106 minute version, which is a cobbled together version of the Japanese cut and the shorter 93 minute version. It loses the epic scale of the slower but larger version, plus there's no Sonny Chiba. 

Just Before Dawn (1981) - Bland, nothingy woodlands slasher. Not even George Kennedy helps to liven up this typical rural stalking match.

Looker (1981) - Bland, glossy thriller with Albert Finney (R.I.P.) once again miscast as an American action hero with a Lancashire accent. Typical Crichton.

Possession (1981)- I can see why this was banned. Because it's dreadful, arty codswallop dressing up fetish porn in the style of Berlin arthouse relationship drama.

Litan (1982) - Excellently gorgeously shot Jean Pierre Mocky surrealism, like Nuits Rouges in the land of the dead.

Android (1982) - Somewhat overdrawn, confused mess of a film. Seems to try and actually be a small, intimate sci-fi film for Corman, but is slightly too small. Nice twist, and some verisimilitude, i.e. the technological world and space industry being heavily German. Weird zydeco-electronica soundtrack.

Videodrome (1983) - Typical Cronenberg, cold, unfeeling, silly, James Woods as much as a gobshite as he is in real life.

Frankenstein 90 (1984) - Jean Rochefort and pop star Eddy Mitchell in a French comedy that apart from a flat-headed lunk, is barely a horror film or Frankenstein. Dreadful.

Tales of the Third Dimension (1984) - An Italian Rod Serling skeleton called Igor chats with annoying, rubbish puppet birds in the host segments for this Earl Owensby horror anthology. Like an amateur night Monster Club. Though  the goofy puppets are a neat touch.

Morons from Outer Space (1985) - It might be one of my favourite Cannon films. It's not without its problems, the aliens don't feel like real characters, but there's some fun jokes with the ministry, the bloke with the duck shouting "sod off!", Andre Maranne on the Wurlitzer, and what I find interesting is that a lot of the Earthbound investigation stuff almost feels like what Lifeforce should have been. It certainly looks more cinematic/expensive. But for a film supposedly starring Smith and Jones, there's not a lot of Griff, and Mel is kept away from him until the end.

The Supernaturals (1986) - Stupid Civil War ghosts versus Maxwell Caulfield-as-reincarnated soldier plus various Star Trek folk... One of the zombie-ghosts is played by Maurice Gibb. Yes, really.

Little Shop Of Horrors (1986) - It's a small story despite the alien plant monster, and the big sets and Pinewood glitz really don't suit it.  It looks like a jeans ad from the same era.

Curse of Snakes-Valley (1988) - Finally, a Polish-Estonian Soviet Indiana Jones knockoff with the female lead being a Linda Martin alike from Soupy Norman (or rather the Polish series it used footage of - Soupy Norman being the greatest RTE TV show of the modern era, certainly). Unfortunately, despite seemingly being filmed in Asia, it is rather dull. And there are multi-headed snakes, and aliens, and blokes in pith helmets.

Class of 1999 (1990) - Typical mid-budget video fodder, with a great cast, nice locations, but descends into one-joke dreariness mixed in with sub-Enzo Castellari post apocalyptic drivel.

The Ambulance (1990) - Interesting but ultimately flawed Larry Cohen film about body parts. Some nice touches, e.g. Eric Roberts working for Stan Lee as himself, at Marvel don't help a bland TV-like presentation. James Earl Jones has a nice bit as a detective who is now frightened by the Todd McFarlane/Rob Liefeld school of comics. Red Buttons pops up, and Eric Braeden is the baddie.

Batman - Mark of the Phantasm  (1993) - It's solid for an animation.

Tales From The Crypt - Demon Knight (1995) - It looks like it was made for HBO, there's some fun bits with Dick Miller but it feels just that bit too goofy.

Space Truckers (1996) - Dareisay it, Stuart Gordon's best film, and not just because it was shot in Ardmore. There's lots of ideas there. Sure, the film lags, and needed a stronger plot, but it's so detailed, it successfully builds a world even if the Mojave Desert is clumsily doubled by Dollymount Strand, and there's a strong character cast. It has Shane Rimmer as the big bad, and there's a really weird, scatological energy it has. It's obsessed with phallic imagery, in a really childlike manner. It has the sheen of Battle Beyond the Stars, rather than the earnest but rather dull worlds Charles Band has created. And Charles Dance gets to ham it up. And Pat "Pat Mustard" Laffan plays a greasy space pirate.

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