Sunday, October 24, 2010

Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1943)

Genre: Horror, Werewolf, Monster

Source: TV ( Channel AMC )

Grade: A+

 This is one of my favorite movies, period. For a variety of reasons though, first being this was one of the very first Classic Horror and one of the first Universal Monster I ever saw(I think the first on I ever saw was Dracula), I think it might have been one of the first I watched because the title stuck out to me so much. Another reason being I love the films story its just a overall  amazing sequel story that made it to the first movies standers.
       That's another thing, their is some debt in the horror community over which this movie is actually a sequel to. All I have to say is, its completely obvious its a direct sequel to The Wolf Man. Because first of all it takes place three or four years after the events in the Wolf Man, plus if it was a sequel to Frankenstein it would not even match up with any of the films in the Frankenstein series, I mean if it were a sequel to Frankenstein it would be a third or fourth installment  instead and have to have been a sequel to Bride of Frankenstein but that wouldn't make sense because Son of Frankenstein was a sequel to Bride, and since the castles destroyed in this movie it couldn't have happened before Son for the castle is main point in Son. So this movie really doesn't fit in with the Frankenstein series but fits perfectly in with the Wolf Man series. Also you have a couple of the characters from the Wolf Man returning like Maleva the gypsy women.

The story like I said before is just a classic awesome Universal Monster style story. Written by the master Curt Siodmak who wrote other such masterpieces as the original Wolf Man, and House of Frankenstein. So write of the bat the dialogue is awesome and the atmosphere is great. Everything in this movie to me was put together so well, I mean the Wolf Mans accidental resurrection by Grave robbers and the way they managed to incorporate the Frankenstein Monster was all so perfectly done. That even being my third time watching this movie i`m never bored and am always intrigued by its story.
The climax at the end was pretty epic if you ask me, the Wolf Man and Frankenstein go one on one in a awesome fight thats unfortunately interrupted so neither comes out as a clear winner, though if you ask me it looked like Frankenstein was winning.

Now on to the cast, the first person billed was Lon Chaney JR which is correct because he was the central character in this film. And once again he does an amazing job as the Wolf Man by making him sympathetic yet scary and evil like when he kills the constable at the beginning of the movie that was pretty dang scary. Then you had Bela Lugosi as the Frankenstein monster, now his version of the monster wasn`t bad I liked it better than Glenn Stranges portrayal of the monster but it just couldn`t match up with Boris Karloff`s portrayal of the monster. Especially in the sense of facial features, Karloff just had the best facial features for the monster that no other actor has been able to even remotely match.
Lionel Atwill even had a little role in this movie as the mayor of the town. He was great in the way he made his character more intellectual then all the superstitious villagers who were very easy to arouse into a mob. You know I love how Atwill always had some role in all Frankenstein movies after the secound one. And all his characters were different then each other like in Son of Frankenstein  he`s the awesome inspector, then he`s the Doctor in Ghost of Frankenstein, and yet another inspector character in House of Frankenstein, the list goes on.
Sadly no Evelyn Ankers as the films scream queen instead you have Ilona Massey playing the daughter of Frankenstein. Though not as good a actress as Ankers she was equally gorgeous. Dennis Hoey even has a role in this movie, fans of the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies will recognize him as the snooty pompous Inspector Lestrade. His Character in this movie was the exact same type of character, a annoying pompous police inspector.
Heck even the great Dwight Frye has a small role, actually its more of a cameo. Infact this was the first time I watched this movie and noticed him.

So all in all this movie is really good Universal Monster flick that I would highly recommend, Now I know there is a lot of people out their who don`t regard this movie nearly as high as I do, but hey what more could ask for from this type of movie? Oh, well anyways since I first discovered this movie when I think I was in eighth grade, I have made a point of watching it ever October, and so far I have been very successful.  So by all means make a point of watching this one night, i`m sure you won`t be disappointed.


Monday, October 18, 2010

The Plague Of The Zombies (1966)

Genre: Horror, Zombie

Source: TV (Channel TCM)

Grade: B

The first time I ever saw this poster or heard of this movie was in a book about the dark arts that I got at the library when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. I remember thinking how awesome this movie must be because it had such a cool poster. To bad the way I imagined the movie being in like 3rd or 4th grade has ended up being 10x better then the movie actually is.
Now i`m not saying the movies bad or anything i`m just saying it could have been much, much better. It had all the potential for it to be good zombie flick, but it just for some dumb reason couldn't grasp it.
OK so for starters Channel TCM (Turner Classic Movie) one of the best channels ever,has been doing a kick ass hammer horror marathon ever weekend, I recommend you check it out. In fact last weekend they showed all the Hammer Mummy movies in a row, it was pretty sweet.
Now anyways back to this film, as I said the movie just really didn't take advantage of its extreme potential, reasons being it doesn't contain nearly enough zombies in it! Seriously they were demoted to a subplot status. While the film seemed to be more concentrated around a "murder mystery " even though the culprit of the murder was very obvious as well as his motives for murder, not quite sure if that dramatic irony was intentional or not i`m going to say it was just for the sake of Hammer and that if it wasn't meant to be Dramatic Irony it would have been really, really been pathetic. Continuing on, there is next to no action in the film. I mean come on with a title like "Plague of Zombies" you would think that there would be seemingly to the wall action. Of like villagers in there seclusive village fighting a merciless army of zombies to a bloody death. Now that would be a spectacular zombie movie and would earn it a A+ on my standards. But alas it was not that instead its more a town with a creepy secret and cult with some zombies having a minor incorporation. Oh well cant win em all.

The cast wasn't bad though, you had Andre Morell who was in other Hammer films like "The Mummy`s Shroud" and "The Hound of Baskersville''. He played the lead doctor in this movie who was trying to make sense of all the strange happenings. And then you had John Carson playing a very sinister Voodoo zombie priest Character of the movie.
That`s another thing the films zombies are very traditional to the early tales of zombies which is more of a voodoo origin rather than that of brain eating fast sprinting zombies we seem to have today. No these zombies in the movie were slow and only killed if they had commands from there priest to do so, Fans of 1932`s White Zombie will be pretty familiar with this style. But man did the zombies look scary i`m going to be upfront about it these zombies looked scary and just flat out awesome. That was one major highlight of the movie I suppose.
Another interesting thing was it was located in the backlands of 19th century England as opposed to the jungles of Haiti which was a much,much more familiar setting for zombie films from that Era.Like "I Walked With a Zombie", "White Zombie", "King of the Zombies" they were all in that pre night of the living dead era except they all toke place in the Caribbean. So that to was an interesting highlight of the film.

Well in all this was not a terrible movie and don`t discourage anyone from watching it. But I just think it could have been way better then it turned out to be. Plus me already having way to high of standards for this movie probably didn't help much. But the movie does sport some great scary looking zombies, awesome performances, and an entirely unique and new setting for a zombie film from that Era. So please by all means check it out, you might actually really come to enjoy it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Black Sleep (1954)

Genre: Horror, Mad Scientist

Source: Netflix (Instant View)

Grade: A

  For some reason this movie was really hard for me to find,It toke me until Netflix final released it on Instant Que to finally be able to watch it. And well to honest i`d have to say I actually enjoyed this movie.
   Alright THE BLACK SLEEP is to horror what THE EXPENDABLES is to action. Which is a ton of actors who specialize in that genre of film, and just cram them all into one movie. Seriously, this movie has an all star horror movie actor cast its got Basil Rathbone, Lon Chaney Jr, Bela Lugosi, John Carradine, and Tor Johnson all in one horror film,plus the story is really good. So I was happy camper about this movie.
But of course there were drawbacks to the movie, like Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi`s character never say a word. Yeah there both mutes, though Lugosi makes some crazy facial expressions and Chaney has some scary grunts and snarls he makes so not all`s lost. Also I read Peter Lorre was supposed to be in this movie, he was to play the role of the sinister yet comical gypsy Udu. But they thought his price was far to high so they ended up replacing him with this other guy who wasn't bad, except if it had been Lorre it would have been absolutely perfect,so that was sorta a shame.
Now the films story is pretty cool basically its about this doctor who's to be hung in the moring, but then Basil Rathbones character comes in on the eve of his execution and gives him a drug that will only make him appear dead while leaving him in phase of suspended animation, in return for his rescue the doctor becomes the scientists assistant in his experiments. While he serves as the assistant he becomes suspicious of the doctors rather macabre experiments on living humans and begins to suspect things are not as they seem.
Yep so there you have it, the classic horror scenario except this time you have a group famous horror actors performing it. Which is what i`d have to say made this movie much,much better then if it had been made with a group of regular or obscure actors. The film was also well directed Reginald Le Borg who directed movies like THE MUMMY'S GHOST in 1944 and DIARY OF A MADMAN in 1963.
Basil Rathbone was the main bad guy so to say, in this movie. His performance was awesome he was different i this character then his Sherlock Holmes character that hes best known to play, he was much more sinister in this character. Bela Lugosi played his mute servant who like I said before was great and provided some cool facial expressions, but its also sad to say this was his last film he truly had a role in. Now Lon Chaney Jr was a crazy guy who was the product of an experiment gone wrong and just snarled and tried to choke people, so its cool but not his best role. And of course there was John Carradine who was this maniac who thought he was a Crusader in the holy land and was always yelling accusations of people being infidels, good role for him if you ask me.

So overall it was good movie, i`d recommend it to anyone. Especially if your fan of classic horror,yeah this is a must see for any Classic Horror fan its got a bunch of classic horror movie actors as well as a pretty tight story that's delivered very well through director Reginald Le Borg. Its just a shame they couldn't`t afford Peter Lorre.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Witchfinder General (1968)

Genre: Horror,Psychological

Source: Netflix (Instant View)

Grade: A+

One the best Vincent Price movies ever made! This has become a new personal favorite Price film for me. Honestly everything about this movie, was amazing. And now after watching this masterpiece for Halloween i`d like to be a Witchfinder.

Beginning with the films story, it is a masterpiece the story revolves around a couple characters really, but one being Matthew Hopkins the Witchfinder General played stunningly good by Vincent Price. But this Matthew Hopkins character uses his power as a witch hunter, basically just goes from village to village torturing "confessions" of witchcraft out of people before killing them and then getting paid by the city Magistrate for his services. So he`s just exploiting peoples fears and torturing and killing innocents just so he can get paid a big sum of money. But you want to know what also`s really scary about this whole thing? Crap like this really happened in the 16th Century England! I never really thought much about those mock witch trails until I saw this. It really shows the whole narrative in a scary and brutal light. The whole idea of this movie was so real and terrifying to me, I was completely in awe of it.
      Then the movie gets even better, it has a sub plot of this solider who's out to kill Hopkins, because Hopkins and his partner raped his wife, while also torturing and then hanging her uncle because he was suspected so how of being in league with witch's and dark magic. The finale of the movie were they confront each other was insane, not what you would expect at all. To add on to all that this movies packed with awesome scenes, like were they literally lower a girl accused of witchcraft into a fire while shes tied to a crucifix, and have her just get engulfed in flames, all the while her husband screams her name while being forced to watch her burn to death. Then there is the finale that is just mind blowing I won`t spoil it but i`ll give you the last lines spoken in the movie" Let God forgive us". And then just all the torture scenes are just so brutal and scary.

Now as for the acting, Vincent Price was absolutely brilliant in his role as the Witchfinder general. He was sinister, evil, and just the epitome of cruelty. Even Price considers this one of his best performances. Yep without a doubt no one could have played the role better then him, which is interesting because the director originally wanted Donald Plesance to play the role of Matthew Hopkins. Not that I don`t like Plesance ,but I don`t think he could have played the role half as good Price did.
The rest of the cast was pretty brilliant also, you had Robert Russel as Prices assistant who just loved to inflict pain upon people. Ian Ogilvy as the soldier out for revenge against Prices character, his act reminded me of Jack Nicholson character in Roger Cormans 1963s movie ''The Terror". And then Hilary Heath Ian`s wife that's raped.

So in Conclusion this is now one of my new personal favorite Vincent Price movies. It is absolutely amazing, filled with groundbreaking acting and stunning scenes, that shock and terrify you senseless. The sets, and costumes are authentic and add deeply to the dark atmoshere of the picture. And Finally Michael Reeves direction gives it a whole new feel, of psychological terror. So if your fan of horror movies, Vincent Price, or just good movies in general, Witchfinder General is a absolute must see. Plus thanks to this movie I now have a great idea for a Halloween costume.

The Evil Dead (1981)

Genre: Horror,Supernatural

Source: Netflix (Instant View)

Grade: C-

The main reason I watched this movie was because my good friend Tory requested it and I thought it sounded like a pretty cool movie, so I looked it up on Neflix Instant View, found it and watched it. And well to be honest I really wasn`t that impressed by it. Sure it has its moments and its not a terrible movie, but I personally just wasn't that in to it.

I`ll start with what I did like about it, I thought the films basic synopsis was actually pretty good, and quite scary. The daemons in this movie were pretty scary looking to, but whats interesting about that is I thought it was going to be about Zombies but the monsters in this movie take on more daemonic characteristics than zombie characteristics. The movie was pretty well directed, by Sam Raimi. There were some neat point of views he Incorporated, like for example the were he goes from one of the daemons point of views, that was really scary. And finally I think the action was pretty sweet, at first it was really slow like everyone was to afraid to kill the things. But as soon as Bruce Campbell's character starts beating up his possessed girlfriend with a bat, it gets awesome.
But there were some parts in this movie that were just way over done like the noise, my gosh this daemon seriously like screams this creepy sound for like 5 minutes strait, at first it was creepy but then it got to the point were it was actually annoying. There was also this gross stuff that came out of all the possessed people after Bruce Campbell's character kills them that is just flat out nasty. Its like this milky stuff comes out of the mouth and all sorts of colorful nastiness leaks out of the body, I honestly felt like I was going to gag, It was that gross. As for the Ending I was pretty satisfied, it was a very Sam Raimi ending, if you know what I mean.

So altogether I wasn`t a big fan of this movie, and I seriously don`t see whats all the hype about it,this movie its rather overrated if you ask me. But I do see its influence its left on a lot of today's horror movies, for example the movie "Alone in the Dark" had the exact same type of ending this one had, The excellent foreign zombie movie "Dead Snow" had a lot of concepts that were extremely smiler to "The Evil Dead", a very strong influence the more I think about it. Then the effects, the action, and the acting was really not to bad especially for it being a Independent film, with a amateur director. So just because I didn`t find this movie to a spectacular ground breaking horror film, it shouldn`t stop you from checking it out.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Devil Bat (1940)

Genre: Horror, Mad Scientist, Monster

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: A+

We`ll it toke me a little while to choose which Bela Lugosi movie I would review first, but after awhile I decided on this one. For a variety of reasons actually the first one being that this is one of my top favorite Bela Lugosi movies of all time. The second I don`t believe this movie gets nearly enough recognition for its superb quality.I mean other than me and all the other hardcore Bela Lugosi fans this movie is unfortunately rather obscure. And third this movie is just freaking awesome, one of the best in all the Mad Scientist movies.

Beginning with the story, its basic synopsis is a mad scientist who works for a colon company, creates this colon that once put on, his giant killer bat will smell it on you,then track you down, and finally just simply kill you. Though his motives are just, the people hes killing are the company's bosses who pretty much just short changed him on his colon he specially made for them. So hes really pissed about getting ripped off, so naturally in response he makes this enormous bat that will kill anyone wearing the colon that he made specially. Obviously there was a very strong revenge filled theme in the movie, perfect for a mad scientist movie.
Bela Lugosi`s character who was  the mad scientist, was a unique character or at least he was to me. His character was a sympathetic character, who you feel sorry for, I mean you feel more sympathy toward him then you feel toward the people he kills. You`ll see what I mean when you watch it. But his character wasn't this completely insane Mad Scientist like for example what J.Carrol Naishs Mad Scientist character in THE MONSTER MAKER, now that was an evil homicidal mad scientist that you didn't feel bad for. That is not the case here, Bela`s character is just madly bent madly on revenge. And no one could have played this role better than Bela, this is by far one of his best performances i`ve seen.
As for the rest of the characters you had a surprisingly comical pair of newspaper reporters covering the case, which I think is interesting because can you imagine the newspaper aiding the police in an investigation today, Like they were in this movie. But anyways the pair were pretty funny at times, it was a very Abbot and Costello style of humor. And then of course you had your stereotypical blond, attractive, damsel in distress type character, who's always getting herself caught in tough situations, at least the actress who portrayed her was a fairly decent actress.
Now the movie had some awesome sets and effects, to. Like the Lab that Bela conducts his experiments in and keeps his giant bat in was a super cool lab. It was the ideal Mad Scientist lab for it was creepy, sinister, and just a place you wouldn't want to be alone in. Then the bat was just terrifying, being so huge and then the noise it made was extremely nerve-racking and creepy sounding. Seriously if I saw this giant bat in person I would be scared shitless.
Well the only thing about the movie was the ending. It wasn't a terrible ending at all, it was just well predictable, and something that's been done countless times and if they had just made this ending much less predictable. Like  for example everybody dies except the Mad Scientist then the movie would be golden. But when I think about it some more I gets to me that endings like the one it had, are actually one of the reasons these movies are just so dang enjoyable.
So altogether THE DEVIL BAT was very good Bela Lugosi movie that should watched by anyone who considers themselves to be a fan of Bela Lugosi or classic horror in general. So please if you get the chance, definitely watch this awesome 40s Mad Scientist movie.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Flesh and The Fiends (1960)

Genre: Horror,Serial Killer, Psychological

Source: TV (Channel AMC)

Grade: A+

This is now definitely one of my all time favorite Peter Cushing movies, as well as just being one the best horror movies i`ve ever seen! I honestly have nothing bad to say about this movie, everything in the film was perfect and happened for a reason. Wonderful setting in the bleak 19th century England probably my favorite settings for a horror film. Great cast overall with Peter Cushing and Donald Pleasance in starring roles, two amazing horror movie icons. Then of course the story was flawless, in fact its based on actual events that really happened in Edinburgh, England around the 1820s, Plus I like to think of these movie as somewhat of a prequel to 1944s The Body Snatcher.

This story is flawless and thorough, to say the least. Basically what its about is these two guys Burke and Hare go around killing people and selling there bodies to a Dr.Knox. Who uses the bodies in his medical school, for education in anatomy reasons. So Doctor Knox (played wonderfully by Peter Cushing) is a sympathetic character, he really means no harm, hes just persistent in his passion in the field of anatomy. But While on the other hand you have Burke and Hare, who are much less than charming or sympathetic people. They are greedy, brutal, and unmerciful in there murders. They really don`t care who gets killed as long as they get some money for it afterwards. To make it even better you had Donald Pleasance playingWillam Burke. And  Pleasance really put in a great performance it was incredibly sinister to say the least, very very creepy character.

On top of all that you had some pretty amazing direction put into the movie. Just within the first few seconds, how the whole introduction is laid out I knew this movie was going to be really good. Then with all the authentic, detailed sets the movie gets even more in depth in its dark atmosphere. Just the way they made the city look was fabulous, and especially at the end gave it great senses of suspense. The sound was another thing that stood out for me, it was crystal clear. The costumes they all had were great, all that 19th century style of coat and top hat, classic and never gets old.

So in conclusion this was a great movie, with superb quality. A flawless story, were everything that happened had a point and significance to the story. Plus the fact that its based on a True event which makes it even more awesome. Then to top it off you had Peter Cushing as Dr.Knox, who was at one of his absolute finest performances. He Just really added great depth and sympathy to his character, that you felt bad for him,while at the same time he was stern and a bit unsympathetic to how he got his cadavers and who got hurt in the processes. Donald Plesance was also great in his portal of the vile, low class, greedy William Burke. Who adds this sinister aspect, that makes it all around more terrifying. And finally remember how I said that I viewed this movie a kind of Prequel or Prologe to 1944s The Body Snatcher. Here's why, it takes place in around the same time period just a few years later, in more the 1830s and it has basically the same concept getting bodies for medical reasons at any cost with no matter who gets killed or who's grave gets robbed. Next it even takes place in Edinburgh the same town this movie takes place, and the characters in The Body Snatchers occasional make references to Burke, Hare, and Doctor Knox. Some even talk about being in league with them,and not getting caught. Its really good, and both films are just golden, two of the best horror films ever.
So please by all means when you get a chance watch The Flesh and The Fiends! Its by far one of Peter Cushings best movies.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It ! The Terror From Beyond Space (1958)

Genre: Science Fiction, Alien

Source: Netflix ( Instant View)

Grade: A

The 50s decade sci- fi has always as far back as I can remember been a personal favorite style and type of movie for me,  But I can`t remember the exact movie that sparked my love for these movies, it could possible have been the time I watched the 1953`s War Of The Worlds when I was a little kid and was fascinated by the whole alien invasion concept, In fact I even read the original unabridged edition of H.G Wells "War Of The Worlds" when I was 11 or 12 before I watched the movie and just was enamored by it. It also could have been the time I watched the outstanding 1951s "The Day The Earth Stood Still" with my family and was captivated by its flat out amazing story and brilliant style.
But for whatever reason it may be I really do love 50s Sci-Fi, so its always a real pleasure for me to get to view another great Gem from that golden decade of Sci-Fi, and "IT! THE TERROR FROM BEYOND SPACE". Though its not as amazing as other films from the decade IT! was still a great movie that I really dug.

It has a interesting story and picks up the pace admittedly , with a classic 50s style space ship, you the one with the three tail fins and the bullet shape, has crash landed on Mars. Where a rescue ship has been sent to retrieve everyone, but find only the ships commander still alive. But for some reason they automatically assume he killed everyone, which didn't really make much sense how do they know they weren't killed in the crash or from injury's from the crash. And what possible motive would a captain gain from killing his own crew? There not freaken pirates with some treasure they all want for themselves. No the only thing that could have motivated a act of homicide like that would have been a mental breakdown or something. But as you can see their was really no logic to the accusative of this commanders act of homicide because hes absolutely normal and reasonable, and then the movie does`t give a very clear if at all explanation to the whole worlds suspicion of this captains "homicide".
Anyways the object of the rescue ship was to bring the commander to back to Earth, were he would court martialed, and probably executed. But the thing that really killed all the crew members sneaks on board and starts killing the crew members, gruesomely. So the rest of the movie consits of the crew trying to get rid of this thing, all the while the body count rises. Until they finally mange to kill it, and the final scene is a guy addressing what appears to be the media. By telling them that Mars is a plant better left avoided, Simple but it still works and stills awesome.

It has great atmosphere, and a very dark tone. The "were stuck in space with a savage alien in our dreary spaceship and no can help us" sort of tone. Much like that of films like "Pandorum" and "Alien", which were obviously influenced by movies like this in my opinion. But anyways the movie delivers some pretty cool, detailed sets as well as costumes, no hokey "Plan 9 From Outer space" status stuff. The spaceship had an awesome interior design,as well as a very logical design in comparison to the ships shape. Finally the monster was pretty cool looking . It had a scary Abominable Snowman/ Wampa looking alien. Very cool, if you ask me.
                Then of course the acting was not bad at all, please trust me I know terrible acting i`ve seen "Mesa of Lost Women" and ''Plan 9 from Outer space''. Plus No one in the cast was a really big name actor to me, so that even makes it more cool to me.Oh, I forgot to mention the screenplay was written by Jerome Bixby Star Trek fans will recognize that name as the name of the guy who wrote such episodes as "Mirror, Mirror" and "Day of the Dove", that really helps explain the movies high quality.

So in conclusion I really recommend this movie, obviously I really dug it. Therefore I believe pretty much anyone else with a appreciation for Sci-Fi, will really enjoy this.