Sunday, October 30, 2011

Curse Of The Demon (1957)

Genre: Supernatural, Occult

Source: Channel TCM

Grade: A+

This is just one of those awesome movies that within the first five minutes I already know  its going to classic. Not only that but the direction was fantastic! The story was incredibly well written and filled with great lines and genuine suspense. Curse Of The Demon is a horror film that completely stands out from all the other horror films from that era.

         The plot is about an american scientist who comes to England to help formally debunk activities and claims of a certain powerful demonic cult. The story admittedly picks up and never gets boring or slow from start to finish its almost nonstop suspense  and genuine frights that made me jump from my seat a couple of times. Now whats so remarkable about this suspense and scares is they all almost completely accomplished through simple objects popping out of nowhere like for instance a branch or little kid in a crude Halloween mask, the use of shadows as well as the atmosphere also made large contributions to the suspense and horror. Interesting enough that demon you see in the poster only makes like two actual physical appearances in the entire movie, yet you don't really notice it and it seems like its there throughout the whole movie,now that's masterful filmmakeing if you ask me. Anyways when you see the demon its pretty freaking cool, the special effects were great and very memorable. The creature design its self is very cool and medieval looking. Not to mention this movie has a really chilling and freaky seance scene, that was extremely well acted.

             This movie was directed by Jacques Tourneur who had previously done directing some work for Val Lewton with such movies as I Walked With A Zombie and Cat People. His style used in thouse movies is clearly reflected into this movie. Heck there's even a "Leopard" attack in this movie which was obvious brush off from Cat People. The Screenplay was written by Charles Bennett who had written for Alfred Hitchcock a number of times with films such as The 39 Steps and The Man Who Knew Too Much; which happen to be two of my favorite Hitchcock films. Now when you combine two high class people like Tourneur and Bennett its no surprise to why this movie was so good and a guaranteed classic.
            After I got through watching this I started to think to myself has this ever been remade? There would be absolutely no reason to remake this, but still I was curious to see if id been done yet. Come to find out it hasn't been remade but Sam Raimi was really trying to remake it but couldn't secure the rights to it so instead he made a movie that borrowed very heavily from it that movie is called Drag Me To Hell. Now Drag Me To Hell is a very good modern horror film in my opinion but it does borrow many elements from Curse Of The Demon such as the passing of the demons curse through something as simple as a piece of paper or button, and how the demons curse would take effect after three days, to just to name a couple. Also I can see the influence this movie has had on Raimi`s earlier work such as The Evil Dead.

            Altogether I really did enjoy this movie a lot. it`s a very unique horror film and is without a doubt years ahead of its time. Its masterfully directed and has more then enough chills and suspense. As well as a outstanding cast. Overall its simply a perfect movie especially for Halloween time.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Dracula's Daughter (1936)

Genre: Vampire

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: B-

   This movie has some pretty good things going on in it, and is very well directed. Unfortunately though I have to admit it isn't nearly as good as it could have been. Also for something supposed to take place directly after the events in Dracula this is a really inconstant sequel.

       This movie is supposed to take pick up right were Dracula ended in Carfax Abbey were Dracula's killed by Van Helsing, for the most part yes it does this like the dead body of Reinfield is at the bottom of the stairs and Van Helsing has just got done killing Dracula, well looks like the police show up and arrest Van Helsing for murder and put the body of Dracula in some station were Dracula's Daughter comes and steals it. First off two things it seems like ever character from Dracula is disregarded, for example when the police ask Van Helsing who can prove that Dracula was an undead vampire he says no one. Um wait what about Jonathan Harker and Mina Harker, or Dr.Seward or even that one caretaker from Sewards Asylum who saw Dracula and had to take care of Reinfield? Nope I guess they are disregarded now and Van Helsing is on his own, or in this case they change his name from Van Helsing to "Von" Helsing. There was absolutely no reason for that change and its never even mentioned why that was even necessary to do.
          Anyhow the rest of the movie consists of Dracula's daughter trying to get a doctor Van Helsing called upon to help him, to cure her of her vampireism all the while stalking and killing victims in the dark London fog. Not a horrible idea, but the ending were the main character chases her back to Transylvania to kill her and save his love interest is unfortunately very anti climatic and a rather abrupt ending. Now its not all bad, this movie has great production value its got some really good sets that looked awesome in B&W, then the actors weren't bad either Gloria Holden put on a very errie performance as Dracula's daughter and Edward Van Sloan was great as usual in the part of Van Helsing.

             I have actual heard that at one time Bela Lugosi was supposed to be in this and James Whale was set to direct this movie, except with a different screenplay. I guess stuff happened and obviously neither of those happened leaving the world to forever wonder how this movie could have been. Interesting enough I just learned that a lot of this movie is based off of Bram Stockers book or technically deleated section of his book Dracula called Dracula's Guest which after pointed out I clearly see the resemblance. Overall this movies not bad and is decent atmospheric horror film, its just not a very good sequel to Dracula and is sadly an just an overall average film.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Changeling (1980)

Genre: Haunted House

Source: TV (channel IFC)

Grade: A

         The first thing I thought when this movie was over was "why the heck don`t more people know about it"? I really can`t understand why this movie is as underrated and overlooked as it. This is an outstanding Haunted House movie with a plot that kept me interested and on the edge of seat. Some very suspenseful and scary scenes and not mention a outstanding cast. That has one of my favorite actors of all time playing the main character George C.Scott.

       Now for regards to the story this movie takes a slightly different approach to the Haunted House genre. By rather then being like say The Haunting or The Legend Of Hell House were everyone knows the house is haunted and why,and its all about surviving the night. The Changeling makes it so no one really seems to notice its haunted or even know why, so ends up obsessing the main character to finding out why its haunted and how to end it. When they reach the climax and you find out why the house is haunted its quite surprising and a little disturbing.
        Then like I said earlier the cast is magnificent! George C.Scott plays the main Character John  Russel, he portrays this character so good and makes him a very sympathetic character. Melvyn Douglas a veteran of the golden age of Hollywood has a more significantly then expected role in this movie. He`s a actor who I most remember for playing the hero in the 1932 horror movie The Vampire Bat, and now to see him much older and playing an antagonist was on its own a very interesting. This was also sadly to be one of his last movies to.
          Despite this movie being overlooked in my opinion its definitely not forgotten. I noticed a lot of scenes and ideas that have been "borrowed" in other movies such as the creepy seance scene was very similar to the one from this years Insidious and the frequent use of POV from the Ghost was something that's been used like wise in The Evil Dead. Stephan King has regarded this movie as being one of his favorite ghost movies and considers it to be more of a horror movie then The Haunting. Even Martin Scorsese has high regards for this movie, he even put it on his list of the 11 most scariest movies of all time.

         True this movies not the best movie in the world, but its definitely one of the best Haunted House movies i`ve seen in quite sometime. It offers some good concepts and ideas that make it stand out compared to other Haunted House and Ghost movies. The cast is great and George C. Scott is awesome, as usual. As well as a great appearance from Melvyn Douglas. So overall even if your not into all the ghost movies i`d still definitely reccomend this because its much more then just a ghost movie.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Morlocks (2011)

Genre: Monster, Time Travel

Source: Syfy Channel

Grade: C-

          You know I can`t believe this movies been out for three weeks and still not one poster! Usually Syfy channel is prompt with there poster as well as making some of the best poster designs i`ve ever seen (sad the movies aren't as awesome as there posters). Anyways in regards to reviewing this made for TV movie i`m a little unsure of which angle to go from. First of all its a kinda sorta sequel/prequel to the H.G Wells novel The Time Machine. Then on the other hand its so distant from its source material that it becomes its own thing which in this movies case is nothing more then a bad episode of Primeval. On top of that the movies a complete mess. Which is such a shame since this was a Syfy channel movie I was really looking forward to, because it had such potential as well as having one of my favorite actors Robert Picardo in it.

            I suppose I should start off by explaining how and when this movie ties in with the Time Machine. Well first off this movies supposed to explain how the Morlocks in the Time Machine came to be and how they ultimately destroyed humanity. Even though anyone with the slightest knowledge of the story of The Time Machine knows that the Morlocks were mutated humans who had lived underground for thousands of years and in order for them to survive they had to feed off the humans who lived on the surface called the Eloi. Who basically served as cattle for the Morlocks. This is completely disregarded in movie and is replaced with instead by a with the whole "secret government project plot" were the governments got there own time machine (which reminds me of something from Stargate SG-1 rather then a time machine) and then of course the government breaks the time machine, which allows Morlocks to randomly go through and wreck havoc on the base. In response the government tracks down the inventor of the time machine and enlists him to go to the future to fix it because for whatever reason you had to go to the future to fix it.
           You know at first I thought this movie was going to go with the whole "the future caused future by going back and screwing up the past" kinda deal like in Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes. Instead they go with the concept that the Morlocks were accidently created  by doctors looking for a cure for cancer or something I can`t remember, but that really isn't explained clearly until the very end. Through out the movie there were a few allusions to the novel but they were pretty scarce and some might have not even been intentional. For example the entire government project is called Project Eloi an obvious allusion to the Eloi of the novel. The main character is also a author of a book regarding time travel; possible a reference to to H.G Wells? Other then that their were no other noticeable connections to the book or either movie adaptation.
            As far as action goes this was so-so, I will admit there were a couple bloodier then expected scenes for a TV movie especially. When the Morlocks attack people they're fairly brutal and bloodier then expected. Unfortunately the filmmakers decided  to make their own version of how the Morlocks look. To me they just looked like the vampire monsters from Priest and a terrible CGI version at that. My favorite film version of the Morlocks has always been the ones from the 1960 version by George Pal, those Morlocks looked so awesome. 2011s Morlocks is just cheap and crappy CGI .

          Sadly this Syfy channel movie ends up being yet another one that had a great concept and could have been awesome but instead fails and ends up being a complete disappoint. The reason to blame for Morlocks could be the budget, the cheaply written screenplay, and the awful CGI. At least though Morlocks has a few redeeming factors like a good performance from Robert Picardo, some kinda cool morlock attacks, and it never got truly boring like Mongolian Death Worm did for instance. Overall not that great of a movie and I can`t really recommend this for anyone to go out of there way to watch.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Frankenstein my #1 Favorite Monster

This October all month I am going to be showcasing my favorite monster`s of all time. Today I decided to go with my favorite monster Frankenstein, to me Frankenstein has been a icon to me since before I can even remember; I have read the outstanding novel by Mary Shelly twice and have seen almost all the movie adaptations. Naturally my favorite is the 30s version with Boris Karloff and directed by James Whale. Which brings to mind a conversation I had earlier this month with a friend of mine; we were both came to the conclusion that without James Whale and his phenomenal movie adaptation, Frankenstein simply would`t be what he is today. Whales movie definitely strayed  from the novel quite drastically in many areas and is almost completely its own thing but yet its still the perfect Frankenstein movie. As well as Karloff being the perfect Frankenstein monster, even though the way he looks in the movie is quite different from how the novel describes him, he is still the immortal image of Frankenstein. Universal then made some squeals to this movie starting with Bride Of Frankenstein which some people have argued to being better then the first, for me i`m not to sure if I completely agree with that, but I do agree its a timeless classic and is a movie that has so much to offer. Son Of Frankenstein was the first Frankenstein movie that didn't have James Whale as director and was the last appearance of Boris Karloff as the monster. On the other hand this movie is just as awesome the first two, you have an all star cast of Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone, and Lionel Atwill all at there best; as well as the introduction of some of the best and most well known Frankenstein characters like Ygor and Krogh the crazy police chief with the fake arm. This movie was also the longest of the series at 1hr 40mins.
          Ghost Of Frankenstein on the other hand has a great cast and some good ideas but just can`t even come close enough for me to being as good as the first three movies. Lon Chaney jr was good a Frankenstein and Cedric Hardwicke is at one of his best performances here, yet this movie sadly falls short of my expectations for some reason. Now on the other hand House Of Frankenstein is simply amazing! I am welling say I like even better then Son Of Frankenstein, and ever time I watch this movie it gets better and better. Its ultimate monster mash, you have Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, the mad scientist (played by Boris Karloff) and of course his evil hunchbacked assistant Daniel. The best word to describe this movie would be EPIC! Its got almost ever Horror star form that era minus Lugosi unfortunately, instead John Carradine plays Dracula. Which despite all the crap people give about him being Dracula I think he was great, of course he was not as good as Lugosi or as evil as Christopher Lee; but he has his place. Alright enough about Dracula for now, back to Frankenstein. He comes back one last time in the disappointing squeal House Of Dracula, were hes supposedly killed for good. Oh I haven't forgot Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man I saved it for last because its sort of a blend of both movies and is sort of more of a squeal to the Wolf Man then Frankenstein because it picks up right from the events of the Wolf Man. Anyways in this one Lugosi plays Frankenstein and pretty darn good if you ask me. Though originally he was supposed to speak but in the final cut the monster remains incapable of speech.

       The monster pretty much remained dormant after House Of Dracula, with the exception of a couple low budget takes such as I Was A Teenage Frankenstein and Frankenstein 1970. Well for me I love Frankenstein 1970, you have Boris Karloff himself in the role of Victor Frankenstein`s grandson who`s disfigured from being tortured by Nazi`s and absolutely insane and the films climax and ending was a respectful nod at the original Universal movies. I will say the monster doesn't look all that great but you could probably blame that on the budget.
          But once you get to 1957 you get Hammers absolutely amazing adaptation of the novel, Curse Of Frankenstein. This is nothing like the Universal movie at all, for instance it focus more on the scientist Victor Frankenstein rather then on the monster, Its also a lot more bloody then universals, and in the way the monster looked was much more in the style of the novel. I`ve heard it argued that its closer to the novel the Universal version, all I have to say is maybe thats true; but this strays pretty far from the novel to (not that i`m complaining). Peter Cushing is awesome as the Victor Frankenstein unlike Colin Clive, Cushing is super evil and won't let anyone stand in his way but you know what oddly he`s still a very sympathetic character. Then Christopher Lee is great as the monster he looks much more like how Mary Shelly would have imagined him.
         Curse was almost admittedly followed up by a very good sequel Revenge Of Frankenstein, which I have noticed ever time I watch it I appreciate it more. Its got such a good scenario and has unique atmosphere to it. Now I have to admit I haven't seen The Evil Of Frankenstein yet.Though from what i`ve heard it doesn't really fit in with the series and is sort of its own thing. I have on the other hand seen Frankenstein Created Women which I did not have much expectations for but after I finished watching it was completely blown away by it. Its just so good in the way it delivers itself, and Cushing gives his character a larger then life fell to him. Created  Women is probably Hammers closes thing to Bride Of Frankenstein but that`s of course debatable.
          The follow up to Created Women was Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. This follow-up is described by many including its director Terrance Fisher to be the best of the series. I personal don`t agree with that but hey this movies still great. Its probably one of the darker Frankenstein movies but since i`ve only seen it once I can`t really say to much on it, other then its pretty good of course and that I wasn't too big of a fan in the monster this time. Finally you have Hammers conclusion to there series Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, unfortunately I still haven't seen this one but believe me I really want to! One thing I have heard about it though is the monster looks like a shaved gorilla. Also i`m pretty sure its the only one in the series that's actually rated R, which that alone makes me very curious to check it out.

         Altogether Frankenstein is my favorite monster, despite all the many adaptions and film  appearance`s he`s still a icon that will never get old for me. he`s been in some amazing movies and he`s had some not so amazing movies such as Kenneth Branagh`s 1994 Mary Shelly`s Frankenstein which boasts as being the most true to the book, that may be true but hell it still strays from the book quite a bit and has some really stupid additions and is an altogether weak and forgettable movie. Despite all that it never even taints the Frankenstein name and he remains the king of all Monsters.

Now as usual I just have to add a picture from a cartoon I grew up on .