Thursday 11 April 2019

87 - horror, action - a load of films I got on dvd in a bulk buy...

The Golem (1920 - B/W) - Some silents create worlds. This is one.

Murder By The Clock (1931  -B/W) - Early Paramount suspense drudgery with Hopalong Cassidy.

Rewatched the 1935 She, and realised it's infinitely better than the Hammer versio
The Devil Bat (1940 - B/W) - Typical PRC schlock. Youtubed.

Mad Love (1935 - B/W) - Hmm, Lorre is at his best. But it's marred by a complicated plot, a strnge setting and too much MGM sentiment. Some attempt at Whale-ish eccentrics with the cockatoo-keeping old lady. Lorre in his disguise looks like a bald Ken Dodd.

The Devil Doll (1936 - B/W) - Strange kinda-horror, but moreso black comedy science fantasy, Lionel Barrymore dragging up as a criminal who turns his miniaturisation device into a doll shop and Maureen O'Sullivan in an unconvincing Paris. Very odd tone. Has no climax. Played up as a romance, again the MGM sentiment is Rehashed as the even less subtle Attack of the Puppet People (1956 - B/W). Youtubed in multiple parts.

Dr. Cyclops (1940) - Early colour SF from the King Kong boys, not unlike the Devil Doll, but with elements of jungle adventure. Mad scientist Albert Dekker forces a bunch of travellers to wear loincloths and shrinks them down. Colour and fun effects is really the only novelty. Somehow, I really wanted to see this as a small boy. David Thomson and Leslie Halliwell bigged it up. First horror film made in full three-strip Technicolor. Has a cat called Satanus.

The Black Cat (1941 - B/W) - Routine Universal old dark house grinder, notable only for having young Broderick Crawford as a goofball, and the appearance of a young Ladd named Alan...

Invisible Agent (1942 - B/W) - Dire propaganda piece from Universal. Not even Peter Lorre as an evil aristocratic Mr. Moto improves things. Ilona Massey reminds me of Helga from 'Allo 'Allo. Jon Hall is a plank. Silly.

The Strange Case of Doctor RX (1942 - B/W)  - Boring even on youtube, Universal quickie with Lionel Atwill that only becomes horror in the final minutes.  The worst kind of Universal 40s potboiler.

The Glass Key (1942 - B/W) - Tried another noir, and God noir is not for me. Brian Donlevy and Alan Ladd standing around in fedoras. Veronica Lake speaking typical noir dialogue. 40s LA doesn't really interest me in film, alas.

The Mask of Dimitrios (1944 - B/W)  - Clunky, uninvolving, confusing noir. How many times did Lorre and Greenstreet make the same film?

The Suspect (1944 - B/W) - Bluebeard-ish noir set in Edwardian London with Charles Laughton. More proof the Americans could never really do Victoriana/Edwardiana. Not as good as John Carradine's turn as Bluebeard, which I have warmed to slightly.

Brute Force (1947 - B/W) - I can see what makes it works, but prison movies and noir don't work for me. Nice set design, and it's weird seeing Hume Cronyn young, that familiar face devoid of wrinkles.

Mighty Joe Young (1949 - B/W) - Hmm, the stop motion work is superb as always, being early Harryhausen.

Three Cases of Murder (1954  - B/W) - Begins with Eamonn Andrews dressed as the Shadow, weird prefiiguring the credits of Orson Welles' Great Mysteries. And this is basically that. Three slightly above average anthology episodes including the latter with Welles as the UK Home Secretary who has an unconvincing death scene.  There should be more horror anthologies hosted by Irish TV stars. Ray D'Arcy's Rectal Dungeon of Dread, Daithi O'Se's Gaeltacht Grand Guignol, Marty Whelan's Wheel of Wonder.

The Giant Behemoth (1959 - B/W)  - Not worth it even for Jack McGowran and precious seconds of Willis O'Brien animation.

The Impersonator (1961 - B/W) - British B-feature about a homicidal panto dame. Not that great or suspenseful. Atmospheric, yes, but it's padded beyond belief. But, like 95 per cent of British features made between 1956 and 1976, it has Frank Thornton in it. Double billed with A Time to Kill (1955 - B/W) - Jack Watling and John Le Mesurier in a typical "fedoras in a rural house" British quickie.

The Horrible Dr. Hichcock (1962) - Typical Italian Euroschlock, glossy. YOUTUBED.

Experiment In Terror (1962 - B/W) - Silly, almost William Castle esque thriller from Blake Edwards. Has Ross Martin in disguise, per usual. Feels like the thrills are jokes played seriously.

The Comedy of Terrors (1964) - Typical AIP Hollywood froth.

The Castle of the Living Dead (1964 - B/W) - Some horror films are incredibly boring even at x60 speed. This proves that, despite Christopher Lee and Donald Sutherland in drag. On youtube.

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964) - Hmm, it sets out what it wants, but a slightly entertaining for 60s kids but utterly undemanding and not very interesting kids' special isn't going to date well. Apart from proving that the phrase "Santy" isn't an exclusively Irish thing.

Blood Bath (1965 - B/W) - Somewht atmospheric (nice noirish bits with men dressed in fancy dress wandering about) but mostly dreary Corman roustabout. Youtubed.

Rewatched That Man from Rio. It's just as bad as every other Eurospy film. Not even a genuinely daring lead in the charismatic Belmondo changes it.

Flashman (1967) - Typical colourful but kind of empty Italian superhero fare. Has scenes set at the Bank of Ireland. On youtube.

Project X (1968) - Sub-Star Trek psychedelia from William Castle. On youtube.

Night of the Bloody Apes (1969) - Odd, nonsensical Mexican wrestler movie and video nasty. Though better than the average Mexican knockabout. On youtube.

Dorian Gray (1970) - Dreadful sub-Franco Towers of London version with Helmut Berger going around bare-chested. Has an 1970 date on a presumably 1990s issue of Cinema X. Richard Todd has so much black dye in his hair it looks navy. Features a weird Italian view of the London seen in Goodbye Gemini. Filled half-with Ealing-ish eccentrics and the badly dubbed continental-looking socialites familiar from gialli of the era. The soundtrack is weak for this sort of thing. There is a random tramp. Time does not pass.
The Bloodstained Butterfly (1971) - Typical giallo fluff. Again with Berger.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971) - Possibly the ideal way to do a serial-murder film for me. Make the victims character actors and kill them off in fun ways. The sort of film that made me a horror fan. I forget that actually Norman Jones as Peter Jeffrey's superior is one of the best performances in it (because Price is kind of wasted, he's little to do with his voice, and he just stands there imposing). It's the sort of class act that most of other AIP's films perhaps wanted to be, but were often let down by bad supporting actors, flimsy sets and being too silly. This is daft, but it is not overdone even in an Avengers manner. However, it does dawdle. Joseph Cotten's stuff feels shoehorned in. He doesn't feel like the protagonist in the way that Peter Jeffrey does, perhaps because Jeffrey is a more interesting character and it's not often you get him to have a kind of lead. The unicorn kill is astonishing in its editing.  If it were an American film, it'd be tacky. If it were a European film, it'd be either mired in meaningless psychedelia (the type that indeed filters Fuest's later the Final Programme or indeed AIP/Price's own Scream and Scream Again) or have a gurning detective as hero - thinks Louis DeFunes in Fantomas. It's the sort of film that could only be made in Britain, c.1970.

Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972) I do love. Maybe more. Because it moves, from the ridiculous serial-style recap to the sets. I realise that the horror films I like are the ones with lots of ideas, lots of knobbly bits. A focused, tight ghost story may not excite me like something with lots of layers, locations, character actors, kills, and humour and colour. Jeffrey is given star billing, above Hugh Griffith. Robert Quarry is alright, for what he has to do. He's suitably hammy. It's got lots of settings. Only recently realised the  ship's officer is John "Sid from LOTSW" Comer, who admittedly is wasted. But it is nice that he gets a line or two, unlike an absurdly wasted John Thaw. But it may be one of the more gorgeously shot horror films ever, shot by Oscar nominee Alex Thomson.

I love Theatre of Blood (1973), but that's the formula in a different, less pulp/fantasy-imbued milieu. Phibes is a supervillain. Lionheart isn't, or at least he's not the Bond villain-type technocrat Phibes is. He's human. He doesn't have the ability to build a secret crypt to the afterlife in the Valley of the Kings. He's a man who he is deluded, whose talent has been overshadowed by his eccentricities and delusions that have driven him to kill.

Assignment Terror (1970) - A typical messy Naschy film, a monster rally with a mummy, a Monster, a vampire, werewolf and some aliens headed by Michael Rennie. A typical Iberian mess.

Death Walks On High Heels (1971)  With an almost identical theme by Stelvio Cipriani to his work on the rubbish-but- far better Dublin giallo Iguana With The Tongue of Fire (1971 - Niall Toibin as a sinister doctor and Emmett Bergin's studly body). This has blackface modelling (was this a thing in the 70s on "the continent"? Amanda Lear did it in-character as Josephine Baker?) Frank Wolff, the American actor best known as mutton-chopped McBain in Once Upon A Time in the West always reminds me of Alan "Mr. Pat Phoenix" Browning. Why do so many of these films end with people leaving on boats/planes? This is nonsense, complete with Hispanic-looking attempts at the kind of eccentric Scotland Yard men seen in Death Line or Frenzy or the Dr. Phibes films. Youtubed.

Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) - Hmm, somewhat entrancing in its dreariness. It has an atmosphere. Produced by Lloyd Kaufman in the early years of Troma, but released by pre-Golan Cannon. Has an interesting cast, Patrick O'Neal, John Carradine and several Warhol favourites including Candy Darling and a pre-B movie stardom Mary Woronov. Had never seen  this, despite passing various cheap copies in run down video stores, and a friend always recommending it.

Lady Frankenstein (1972) - Bland, dreary Euro-bollocks set in a strange, supposedly English but clearly mittel European milieu. On youtube.

Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks (1974) - A sort of sequel to the above. Slow but oddly entrancing Euro-monsterthon, which despite being a typical Italian gothic of the 70s, is decently shot and has a decent cast.

Psychomania (1972) - Always new delights to experience from this, terribly made but so joyous, i.e. "young" Beryl Reid's flashbacks with a huge black wig. Former RTE panto  star Mary Larkin is such  a world away from the rest of her RADA thug Please Sir-alike bikers. Her character name doesn't suit her. She's more a Deirdre or a Dympna, or an Eileen.  It is desperate, a badly thought idea - i.e. biker suicides as comedy sketches, but there is something so attractive about the wrongheaded-ness of the concept.

3  Days of the Condor (1975) - Better than the average conspiracier, but still a relative slog.

Black Snake (1973) - A peculiar curio from Russ Meyer, a mainly British cast - David Warbeck, Anouska Hempel, Percy Herbert, Thomas Baptiste, Anthony Sharp, in a well-produced but awkward mixture of Mandingo, Goodbye Uncle Tom and Keep It Up Downstairs. Youtubed.

And NowThe Screaming Starts (1973) - Confused attempt by Amicus to d period gothic.

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) - A rewatch. Alongside Horror Express (1972 - which I can't really say anymore than being brilliant and inventive), the one true masterpiece of Spanish horror in the 70s. The fact it is set in Northern England, a setting alien to British horror of the era, with Lyon's Maid ads and the Manchester Evening News being a plot point makes it even more wondrous. The fact that the Italians and Spanish managed to make a more British film than the British film industry often made is astounding. What makes it more enigmatic and mysterious is some of the bit parters? Who was the girl with Down's Syndrome? She wasn't imported from Italy, surely. Was she just a random girl they found in Sheffield?

The Spiral Staircase (1975) - A film so cheap, so televisual that you forget Christopher Plummer is the star. Bland attempt to recreate America in Britain. Hence Gayle Hunnicutt and Elaine Stritch. Jacqueline Bisset is hopeless. Youtubed.

Lord Shango (1975) - Odd melodrama, only horror-tinged. Almost closer to Ganja and Hess than Blacula. Marlene Clark seems to be the same age as her teenage daughter. Youtubed.

The Uncanny (1977) - Worthless but interesting and oddly engrossing Amicus spinoff where Peter Cushing tells Ray Milland that the world is controlled by cats - shot mostly in Canada. The final bit with Donald Pleasence as a Hollywood horror star (whose roles are portrayed by photos of his role as Blofeld, similar to how Jon Pertwee's horror career n the House that Dripped Blood is his Dr. Who stills) getting attacked by moggies is the best.

Devil's Express (1976) - Unusually solid production, but rather aimless kung fu/horror/blaxploitation hybrid. Youtubed.

Tentacles (1977) - Though endlessly padded, there are a few joys amongst it. The fat prosecutor from Midnight Express having a swim in the near-nuddy, kids getting ravaged by a squid at a Children's Film Foundation-style yacht race. John Huston trying to do it seriously, Henry Fonda phoning it in from his own house, Shelley Winters raising a son, and over-bombastic score from Stelvio Cipriani, from harspchicord terror music to a track that sounds almost too close to Van McCoy's The Shuffle, to the climax where the titular creature is defeated by Bo Hopkins and his Magical Friendly Pet Orcas. Youtubed.

Claws (1977) - Amateurish sub-Grizzly drivel notable only for being made in Alaska.

Ghosts That Still Walk (1977) - Ambitious but laughable ghost story about an old couple in a motorhome being stalked by ghosts, that also involves some weird psychic link with a young boy. Possibly shot on video.

The Island of Dr. Moreau (1978) - Maybe it is the excellent cast that makes this adaptation very likeable, despite the fact the beast-men are utterly ridiculous.

The Night, the Prowler (1978) - Surrealistic domestic absurdist horribleness from the director of Rocky Horror. Youtubed. But awful.

Hardcore (1979) - Another film I admired as a teen. I find the stuff in Michigan better, the porn industry stuff feels very OTT, very silly, with the character of Ratan beng this Manson-esque overlord.  The thing is Paul  Schrader positions this as this realistic drama, but it's George C. Scott and Peter Boyle going  almost Bronson on a cartoon torture cult who make snuff films. It's as much an exploitation film as the films it is about. And it feels very rushed. It dawdles on one thing, then quickly goes to the point, and then, "hey, my daughter's alive! Here she is!" and it ends. And none of the porn performers feel like real people, especially Big Dick Blaque.

The Exterminator (1980) - A brilliantly painted portrait of ate 70s/early 80s New York. Also watched director James Glickenhaus' McBain (1991), a much more rote action vehicle for Christopher Walken, that despite an interesting setting in Colombia, is confused by the very Vietnam atmosphere and Filipino locations.

Galaxy of Terror (1981) - I find this more interesting than Alien, even though the "Master"'s identity is so obvious because Ray Walston's voice and head shape are quite recognisable. But it is a terrible film that wastes promising ideas - Alien in a Star Wars milieu. On youtube.

The Orchard End Murder (1981) - A weird featurette from the days of British second feature shorts, set in the 60s, with Clive Mantle as a murderous, half-witted railway worker and Bill Wallis as a laughing gnome.  Shot in a lovely Children's BBC period drama film insert style.

Strange Behaviour (-1981) - An intriguing though not successful little film. With a strange atmospheric, an only sporadically appropriate but sometimes rather beautiful Tangerine Dream soundtrack, New Zealand authentically doubling for Illionois, and a decent cast (Louise Fletcher, Arthur Dignam, Michael Murphy, Charles Lane, Marc McClure predating his role in Pandemonium and a few local actors like Beryl Te Wiata, almost a double for her daughter Rima). There is one extraordinary sequence (the dance number), but overall it is a messy mix of mad science from the 50s and then contemporary slasher themes.  It feels a lot like Dead and Buried, in that you can tell humour was lost in the making of the film, though the film still has a pointedly happy ending.

The Aftermath (1982) - A valiant effort by one Steve Barkett, with the help of Ted V. Mikels to make a post apocalyptic epic. SF's answer to Rolf Harris, Forrest J. Ackerman appears as a curator. A Section III video nasty, bizarrely, because it's not a horror film. There's rapey violence, but it's a sci-fi adventure. It's padded, but it's watchable. It's got enthusiasm and is well-made, has nice effects,and is certainly above the typical no-budget post-apocalyptic actioner. And the ending is sweet. Barkett's own son plays his young charge. It's the sort of film one is glad to find. A good-natured, semi-amateur thing where people actually worked to make a decent film.

Banana Joe (1982) -More bafflement from Bud Spencer. SUB Herbie Goes Bananas scrapes.

Time Masters (1982) - Works significantly better in the French dub than the BBC/Ray Brooks English dub. Rene Laloux's masterpiece, mainly thanks to Moebius. French voices include Alain Cuny, pal of Picasso and lover of Emmanuelle.

Secret of NIMH (1982) - Significantly better than the Disney stuff of the era, but saddled with a confused plot. Interesting voice cast. Jacobi! Carradine! Baddeley!

Turkey Shoot (1982) - Like the above, a Tony Ginnane production, I can see why it appeals, but the lack of budget and that weird Australian desire to be Mid-Atlantic stifles its world building, and that is the key to every future film. And though it is fun, it is basically just a prison break film with gore and Most Dangerous Game touches. Which often needs nice locations. And this is just Australian farmland.

TAG The Assassination Game (1982) - Dreary, muddy Corman college ruckus with Linda Hamilton and Forest Whitaker in early roles. Youtubed.

The Terminator (1984) - Yes, I reviewed it. It's exactlhy what I always thought it to be. Blandly glossy, and 80s in that worst way. Overrated.

The Jar (1984) - Semi-amateur trash that slowly descends into a Christ metaphor, I think. Watched on youtube.

The Lost Empire (1984) - Despite some imagination and energy, a typical "tits and arse" fest from Jim Wynorski. Youtubed. Very Andy Sidaris.

Diesel (1985)- French apocalyptic nonsense with Richard Bohringer.
Terminus (1987) - French post apocalyptic epic of turgid awkwardness. Jurgen Prochnow is a sinister exec. There's a pink haired transvestite, Karen Allen drives a truck with Hollywood brat Gabriel Damon, while our Mad Max is pasty faced Johnny Hallyday, yes, the Gallic Cliff himself. Lots of foetuses. Weird organic-machinery imagery.

Monster In The Closet (1986) - I find monster movie spoofs always should feel more fun. This, of the 80s lot may be one of the best. For a Troma film, it has names - John Carradine, Donald Moffat, Henry Gibson, Stella Stevens, Claude Akins, pre-fame Fergie Black Eyed Peas and Paul Walker. For a Troma film, it has a good budget, a decent monster, and while there's a sort of "We want to be Joe Dante" vibe, it kind of works.
Better than Pandemonium (1982, despite a talented cast including a wasted pre-fame Phil Hartman, Tom Smothers as a Canuxploitation-spoofing Mountie), Wacko (1983) and Saturday the 14th  (1981-  Jeffrey Tambor playing a predatory sort in makeup - ha ha ha, huh?). Youtubed.

Something Wild (1986) - A bland, overstyled comedy/actioner.

Ga, Ga - Chwala bohaterom (1986) -  Polish space opera from Piotr Szulkin. Starring Jerzy Stuhr, Daniel Olbrychski and some people from Soupy Norman.  Possibly a sequel to Szulkin's War of the Worlds. In the same televisual satire area. Youtubed.

Programmed to Kill (1987) - Sandahl Bergman an unconvincingly blonde Palestinian in this Greek-set, California-made Terminator imitation. Like Monster in the Closet, features thirteen-year-old Paul Walker in an early role. Youtubed.

Remote Control (1988) - An interesting idea  (fake 50s b-movies sent out on VHS used to achieve an alien invasion, now easily thwarted by IMDB) cack-handedly achieved. Avoid. Youtubed.

Black Eagle (1988) - Boring Kosugi/Van Damme Bond-alike from Imperial.

Maniac Cop (1988) - Despite a Larry Cohen script, this feels like an uneasy hybrid between average 80s actioner and average 80s slasher.

Dr. Hackenstein (1988) - Phyllis Diller, and Anne and Logan Ramsey  star in this peculiar sub-Reanimator gore and sexcom that nevertheless weirdly has a period mittel Europe setting. Youtubed.

The Burbs (1989) - Some fun sequences and jokes, but it doesn't hold together.

Basket Case 3 - The Progeny (1989)- Interesting ideas fail to click.

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) - Another proof that somehow horror in the 90s got bland. This is a dreary, glossy updating of the old story with a rubbish baseball-hatted Phantom. Youtubed.

Bloodsucking Pharaohs in Pittsburgh (1991) - Starless but unusually glossy yet laughless Blood Feast redo. Youtubed.

Wicked City (1992) - Shot on video though expensive but noisy and unattractive Hong Kong anime adap about shape-shifting "raptors". Youtubed.

Dracula - Pages from a Virgin Diary (2002) - I admire the idea, but it's weird. I know Guy Maddin is weird. But it's dizzying, confusing, then again it is a ballet. I like the newsreel-y bits though.

murder by the clock supernatural gog double door hidden hand body disappears blood and roses television spy the girl from scotland yard black moon faywray face behnd the mask womaneater cry of the werewolf before i hang man they could not hang fog 1933   flesh and fantasy

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