Monday, December 27, 2010

House Of Dracula (1945)

Genre: Horror,Vampire,Werewolf,Monster

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: B

So last night I decided to watch this and House Of Frankenstein back to back, since in case you didn't know i`m a huge fan of House Of Frankenstein and since this being the sequel to it, that until now I had yet to see, I was pretty excited to watch it. But alas It just could not match the quality or the epicness that House Of Frankenstein held. This was in a way the sequel that was not needed. One of the reasons I believe for it falling short of manging to the quality of other Dracula/Frankenstein sequels was because the great writer Curt Siodmak had no hand in the story. In case your not familiar already with who Curt Siodmak is he was one of the greatest of all the classic horror writers from the Golden Age of Universal Horror. His works would include that of The Wolf Man, I Walked With A Zombie, and Earth Vs The Flying Saucers. He also plotted out the story's to movies like House Of Frankenstein, and Son Of Dracula. But unfortunately his hand in the story is completely void in this movie, and it really shows in my opinion.

           I really came into this movie expecting to find out how Dracula, the Wolf Man, and Frankenstein are alive again. Because in House Of Frankenstein I feel it was pretty well established that they were all killed. But this movie offers no explanation to why they are alive again, I mean other then Frankenstein they all just randomly appear.  I was a little disappointed with that this new writer couldn`t come up with a good explanation  to why they were alive, so he completely bypassed the problem and just left it like the other movie never happened.
        Then I was still let down with the story they had, I noticed it just wasn`t that well developed and seemed they just went with the writers first draft without proofreading it or making any editing to the story what so ever. But this movie did have a first, Larry Talbot aka The Wolf Man has a Mustache! In no other film with the Wolf Man does he have any facial hair, and well its actually good they didn't because the mustache just didn't work for me. But there were some other scenes in the movie that were memorable like when Inspector Holtz who was played by the great Lionel Atwill comes to the doctors lab with three other police officers to arrest the doctor, who then in response goes all crazy and kills all the police officers. Like the doctor throws Lionel Atwills character at a piece of lab machinery which electrocuted him in this super epic scene.

   Well overall its not a Horrible movie, its just not nearly as good as other universal horror films. It lacks the story that movies Like House Of Frankenstein and Son Of Frankenstein had. But it does sport a great cast like John Carradine as Dracula, who of course is not nearly as good as Bela Lugosi, but hey he had his own original style for Dracula which I liked. Lon Chaney Jr returns to play the Wolf Man once again in this movie, and then of course there was Lionel Atwill in his traditional Inspector role he always played so well. So like I said earlier not a terrible movie but just can`t even come close in comparison to other classic Universal Horror films.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Magic Sword (1962)

Genre: Fantasy,Dark Fantasy

Source: Netflix (Instant Que)

Grade: A+

The first time I ever even heard of  this splendid little underrated fantasy movie was while I was watching the awesome late 90s TV show "100 Years of Horror" and I came to the episode that was specifically about Sorcerers and it did a little clip of Basil Rathbone as the evil wizard Lodac in this movie and which I then thought  looked really cool. So your probably able to imagine my joy when I looked it up on Netflix and saw it was listed in instant view. So this ended up being the first thing I watched that night.
             I have also been a fan of almost the entire Fantasy genre from as long as I can remember really. And the classic Fantasy movies from the 30s to the 60s are among some of my favorites. Like this one for example, as well as the 30s "The Adventures of Robin Hood" movie, the 1952s "Ivanhoe" and 1963s "Jason and the Argonauts" Movie are among some of my favorites.
                 So anyway this film was actually loosely based on the story of "Saint.George and The Dragon" which I kind of guessed when I was about a quarter way through the movie when they kept calling him George. Anyways the story was a great Dark Fantasy, quest sort of story. The whole time the movie sported some great fights and surprise twists which I was really impressed by because I was not at all expecting it to be that good! Then on top of all that the cast was really well made up. You had the great Basil Rathbone as the evil wizard Rodiac. His performance was just as good as ever, sinister, flamboyant,and all around interesting character. I think one of the main reasons I watched this movie was because he was in it. Then the main character was played by Gary Lockwood who has gone on to play such roles as Dr.Frank Poole in "2001:Space Odyssey" and even be a guest star on "Star Trek". We`ll to be truthful his performance was very standard and not nearly as standoutish as Basil Rathbones.
             Burt I.Gordon was the director, special effects guy, and the guy who ploted out the story. Now he`s one of my all time favorite directors from the 50s and 60s era. Some of my favorite films of his include "Earth Vs The Spider" and "The Cyclops". He`s always been an underrated director in my opinion and all his movies i`ve so far have really decent. Yet for some reason people always seem to bag on his movies, which is very irritating to me.  But his director in this film was great he set the mood and the atmosphere at a perfect level. His special effects were cool to, like the ogre and the hag with melty looking face stood out to me.
      So overall this was a really cool movie that I would recommend to anyone a fan of the Fantasy genre. The fights are awesome, the effects are great for the era, and the performance of Basil Rathbone alone make this movie something you should definitely check out.  

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Madhouse (1974)

Genre: Horror, Serial Killer

Source: Netflix (Instant View)

Grade: A

Wow this is unusual that i`ll have two reviews back to back from the 1970s, because by far that is my least favorite decade for movies, especially Horror films. But you know whats even more unusual is that both films being this one and "Shock Waves" I have actually come to enjoy. Though probably the main reason for that would be they both have had actors like Peter Cushing, John Carradine, and Vincent Price star in them.

So about this movie, I had heard about and heard some good things to, but I just was never able to get a hold of a copy of the film. It never was shown on TV, for some reason it wasn`t available on Netflix, So as soon as it was released on Instant Que I admittedly jumped at the chance to view it. Well I have to say it was very creepy and boasted some great performances from Price and Cushing. There were even some scenes that honestly scared me, and the suspense was awesome.
            Now if your familiar with the film "Targets" from 1968 that starred Boris Karloff, then you`ll see similarities in this movie story wise. Though I have to say I  prefer this one to "Targets" only because this ones more of a actually Horror film while Targets was just kind of like a Dirty Harry movie except with Boris Karloff. So anyways this movie revolves around a washed up horror actor played by Vincent Price who`s come to London to make one more movie with his old friend played by Peter Cushing, the only thing is some serial killer is gruesomely killing people involved with the movie, oh did I mention Price is dabbling on sanity after having found his one wife beheaded only a few years earlier. So you`ll probably be able to guess how the film goes from there. Now the serial killer in the film really reminded me of Scream, so if you know how the whole Scream type of slasher goes then you already sort of have an idea of how this movies kills will play out. Though the way the killer looked wearing his mask and dark cape was a pretty chilling sight and at the end when you find out who the killer is you`ll most likely be at least a little surprised.
              So on to the acting, starting with Vincent Price, He was marvelous as usual and was a absolute perfect cast for the role. He made his character so sinister and seemingly evil but at the same time  he was a completely sympathetic character that you were sort of rooting for. Then you had the great Peter Cushing he acted so different in this movie, just the way he portrayed his character was unlike many of his characters which were either good guys like Van Helsing in "Horror of Dracula" or really evil guys like Victor Frankenstein in "Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed". The Character he played in "Madhouse" was very much in the middle. He seemed like a good guy but at the same time he seemed sinister with a dark motive in store. Robert Quarry was in this also, you might remember him from movies like Dr.Phibes Rises Again and The Count Yorga movies. Personally I didn`t find him to be the stupendous of an actor he really acted the same in all his movies and the fact that the movie studio was going to replace Price with him actually makes me really mad and apparently it pissed Price off to, like I read one time when Quarry was bragging about how he was all good at opera, and then told Price "I bet you didn`t know I could sing". Price jut responded by saying "Well I knew you weren`t a fucking actor". Haha I would have said the exact same thing.

        So overall it was a pretty sweet movie, that had some great actors like Vincent Price and Peter Cushing and just a really cool story. With a very chilling and unexpected ending that I highly doubt you`ll see coming unless your freaken Sherlock Holmes. So yes  I would definitely recommend this movie to about anyone, especially if you like this particular type of movie.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Shock Waves (1977)

Genre: Horror, Nazi Zombies

Source: Netflix (Instant View)

Grade: A-

A Nazi Zombie movie starring both Peter Cushing and John Carradine!! "Have all my dreams come true"! I thought to myself and the answer is..... not quite. Despite being a pretty good horror movie it just wasn't  as good as it could have been.
Now i`ve always been interested in the whole Nazi Zombie subgenre and for one to have two of my favorite actors star in it just made it even more appealing, so I was really excited to see this movie to say the least. But alas I just didn't get the feel that it was as good as it could have been. Cushing and Carradine both died off way too soon, the film didn't move as fast as I would have liked, and there just weren't any of those awesome kills you come to expect from a zombie film. Not all`s lost though this movie did boast some cool looking zombies with those really freaky goggles, a pretty interesting story to how some Nazi zombies super soldiers came to be off the coast of Florida, and Cushing proved to be quite sinister in his performance, though how little his screen time was. 
               So basically the story follows the getting shipwrecked off a strange island formula. Oh, yeah and the way the started the movie really killed a ton of the suspense, I won`t tell you how but you`ll probably see what I mean when you watch it. Anyways its the whole boat gets wrecked off the coast of some weird ole Island, and then the captain played by the legendary John Carradine disappears leaving the remaining two crew members and all the passengers to fend for themselves. When they reach the Island,the people start getting picked off and nobody has any clue why or how until the sinister Peter Cushing (who they find in a old creepy seemingly abandoned hotel building) who tells them how and why these Nazi Zombie Super Soldiers are killing everyone. Peter Cushing knows all this because he`s the Nazi SS Commander who brought them to the island. So by just watching Peter Cushing fake a German accent made this movie all the more watchable.

               Now about the films cast, it wasn`t a really big one,thankfully. It included John Carradine playing the rusty old ship captain but unfortunately he`s only really at the beginning of the movie since they kill him off so soon,so he never shares any scenes with Peter Cushing which as you can imagine was of great disappointment to me. But Cushing does have slightly more screen time then Carradine, and his portrayal of the old SS Commander was pretty cool, one his evil and sinister type of performances he does and then like I said before watching the British Cushing fake a German accent was very amusing. The main female character played by the young Brooke Adams was a pretty good unannoying female character. Plus the fact she was really hot and spent most the movie half naked really put a plus on watching her. The rest of the cast was pretty basic characters you had the honcho guy, the clueless obnoxious yet pitifully comical tourist couple, and the smart crew member who always seems to have a solution to ever dilemma. So really overall none of the performances were bad.     

        Now the zombies were pretty sweet looking they were kind of big and broad while wearing these really freaky yet awesome looking goggles. But there were not any real epic kills and to me that is a big disappointment because zombie films really have a name for awesome unique kills and there were absolutely zero in this, come on there should have at least been one or two. Instead they have most the killings occur off screen or its just like a zombie drowning somebody all casual. The one way you could kill them was well....different... you basically tore off their goggles and then they just like died. Wasn`t what I was really expecting but its not bad either.
.              Well that just about sums up that movie and my feelings toward it. Which are its cool its just not awesome, and didn't turn out as awesome as it was capable of. The cast was pretty cool, despite the best actors(Cushing and Carradine) not having nearly enough screen time in my opinion. But its a worthy incorporation to the whole Nazi Zombie subgenre which i`m a fan of. So anyone who has a interest in this type of movie or is just a fan of Peter Cushing should really consider checking this movie out sometime.