Oct 28, 2011
Oct 28, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Another hideous piece of schlock, Monster A-Go Go (1965). Once again, it has been years since I’ve seen it. I viewed it back in the days when I was obsessed with schlock movies (which would’ve placed it sometime between roughly ‘84 and ‘97), and it was baaaaaaaaaad. Not even Herschel Gordon Lewis - who bought the unfinished film and pieced it together to release with one of his Grade-Z trash films - wanted his name associated with this steaming brown turd. IMDb Mini-Plot: “An astronaut comes back to Earth and crashes in a field, incredibly irradiated and wreaking havoc. Just as they have him cornered, he disappears, and the ‘real’ astronaut is found 7,500 miles away in the Pacific Ocean, ‘alive, well, and of normal size.’” Important to note: The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Amazing Colossal Episode Guide says this is the WORST film they’ve ever viewed, which is saying a lot. Watch at your own risk!
Oct 28, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: An oldie but a baddie from 1966: The Navy vs. the Night Monsters. Quick premise: The personnel at a Naval base in the south seas find themselves fighting off acid-spitting tree monsters (!), perhaps relatives of Tobonga the Tree Monster in From Hell It Came (1957)? The things come from an expedition to the Antarctic (!). This schlocky, mid-Sixties drive-in fare is nigh-unwatchable, saved only by the curvaceous Mamie Van Doren - and even she can’t do much to salvage it. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen it since about 1987. Maybe I need to go back and re-watch it. On second thought…
Oct 26, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: After my Tumblr account was hacked, I missed my “Horror Movie Poster of the Day” posts for several days. Making up for lost time, I will keep the commentary short. The wartime Mummy movies that were part of the Universal Monsters movie franchise were never my favorites, but they - like the rest of the B-horrors churned out by the studio - were still enjoyable. The Mummy’s Curse is set in Louisiana and (believe it or not) if you go by the timeline set in the Kharis (the mummy played by Lon Chaney, Jr.) movies, the story takes place in 1999! The Mummy’s Curse is the last of the wartime mummy movies, alas. Universal wouldn’t make another mummy film until Abbott and Costello met bandaged one.
Oct 17, 2011
Oct 16, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Don’t say it, hiss it! Sssssss (1973) was a horror film from the Nixon Era which, like so many films from that period, has a made-for-TV feel about it, even though it was released in the movie theaters. It was one of the first horror movies I ever saw, and had quite an impression on me when I watched it as a little kid. The movie is about a mad doctor who, thanks to a chemical he’s injecting into his young male assistant (who’s a real wussy pushover), turns the poor fellow into a cobra (!). Sssssss stars Strother Martin as Dr. Stoner (I shit you not - that’s his name), Dirk Benedict (Starbuck on Battlestar Galactica) as his assistant (who figures out that old Strother has a few skeletons in his closet involving a past assistant) and Heather (What the hell else was she in?) Menzies as the scientist’s babe daughter (who starts to fall for Dirk). Have you got all that? Because there’s going to be a quiz after. If you can endure lots of campy, overacted scenes and a farily sketchy script, Sssssss (consisting of seven S’s, in case you were wondering) actually has amazing makeup effects, way ahead of its time. The makeup is the real reason to see the film. With a tighter script and better acting, this might’ve become a modern horror classic. As it is, it’s fairly typical Seventies camp.
Oct 15, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: From the 1927 silent Universal film The Cat and the Canary. The movie, directed by German expressionist filmmaker Paul Leni, is an unusual horror/comedy about the relatives of an eccentric millionaire gathering at his spooky mansion on the twentieth anniversary of his death for the settling of his will. Meantime, a maniac called “The Cat” is wandering around the mansion, looking for his next victim. This film must’ve served as the prototype for Scooby Doo, because it’s similar to every episode of the cartoon ever made. It’s an odd film that comes on often on Turner Classic Movies. At slightly over 80 minutes, it’s well worth your time.
Oct 13, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Werewolf of London (1935) was not in the same league as The Wolf Man, made six years later, but it certainly deserves points for being Hollywood’s first American werewolf film. The film fared poorly at the box office and is often overshadowed by The Wolf Man in horror film histories. But it’s a gripping film, with Henry Hull as an excellent lycanthrope and hot British babe Valerie (Elizabeth Frankenstein) Hobson turns up as Hull’s wife.
Oct 13, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Back in the 1970s, when I was a little kid and just starting to get into movies, KTLA Channel 5, Los Angeles, which used to specialize in showing old classic movies (in the years before Turner Classic Movies came along) aired Ernest B. (King Kong) Schoedsack’s 1940 horror/sci-fi tour de force Dr. Cyclops. It turned out to be one of the reasons I fell in love with the horror film genre. Its brilliance lay in its twistedness (if that’s a word?). Think Honey I Shrunk the Kids if the Rick Moranis/Dad character turned out to be a psychopath. Albert Dekker is over-the-top as Dr. Alexander Thorkel, a mad scientist working away in the Peruvian jungle. He shrinks a group of visitors and then goes all sadistic on them. The special effects hold up extremely well, and the early saturated Technicolor look only enhances the film. Won’t give too much away. See it. Apparently, a Daniel (Harry Potter) Radcliffe remake (in which he plays Dr. Cyclops) is in the works!
Oct 12, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: The granddaddy of all horror anthology films, Dead of Night (1945) was British horror at its best. The movie is divided into six sequences: 1) The overarching narration; 2) The Christmas party tale; 3) The haunted mirror story; 4) The humorous ghostly golf story; 5) The best for last: The haunted ventriloquist, starring Michael Redgrave (in one of his most memorable roles), a sequence that inspired countless demonic ventriloquist dummy ripoffs. Amazingly, not a single one of these ghost stories disappoints. Each is directed by a different director (Basil Dearden, Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Chrichton, Robert Hamer). Each, in its own way, is a masterpiece.
Oct 8, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Trog (1970) was a campy film from the UK, made at the start of the Seventies, and - sadly - it turned out to be Hollywood legend Joan Crawford’s final big-screen feature film appearance (she died in 1977). At the time, critics really let the film have it, but it really isn’t quite as bad as they insisted it was. Michael Gough, who teamed up with Crawford in 1967’s Berserk, appears again here and lends a certain gravitas to the film. It’s essentially a remake of King Kong (troglodyte is discovered; troglodyte is taken away from his hiding place for experiments; troglodyte gets loose and goes on rampage). Campy as the film is, it has some suspenseful moments and a little bit of pathos sprinkled in here and there. It comes on Turner Classic Movies from time to time. Worth checking out.
(Above: WHO TAKE HEAD OFF TROG BARBIE? TROG LOVE BARBIE! WANT HEAD BACK! RARRRRRR!)
Oct 6, 2011
From the Horror Movie Poster of the Day File: Check out this poster - which is really more a work of art than a movie poster - for Danish filmmaker Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1932). Have you seen the movie? What can I say about it? It is one of the greatest dream-like films ever made. It feels more like a nightmare than a movie. The poster is appropriately tattered and surreal. The film is available to watch online here. I am at a loss for words to describe it, except to say that it is full of shadows, weird angles, muffled dialogue and ghost-like characters. It is eerie as all get out - a genuinely unsettling early sound horror film.
Oct 4, 2011