Saturday, December 8, 2012

White Zombie (1932)

White Zombie (1932)
Director: Victor Halperin
Staring: Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, Robert Frazer

          Despite a significant spike recently in the zombie genre the quintessential grandfather of all zombie movies "White Zombie" remains seemingly unrecognized and underrated. "White Zombie" is the first zombie movie and along with George Romero`s "Night of the Living Dead" one of my favorites. It has a haunting atmosphere, disturbing allusions to such things as necrophilia, and has Bela Lugosi in one of the best roles of his career.

      I am aware though of the argument over "White Zombies" actual quality; you have people like myself who find it to be a absolute classic and phenomenal early 30`s film. Then on the other hand you have people who don`t see the value in it and think its a dull and slow movie. I can see they`re argument but I completely disagree. I think those people come from the more modern mindset were zombies are nonstop action and filled with vicious zombies who eat the living alive. No, this is the classic sense of zombies were its all voodoo and the zombies are controlled through the voodoo  priest. So don`t worry the zombies still kill people just not by eating them.

     The films plot is about a young man obsessed with a girl so badly that he goes to a voodoo priest Murder Legende (Bela Lugosi) to lure the girl away from her fiance and make her fall in love with him, but instead basically turns her into a soulless zombie slave. Bela Lugosi`s character the wicked voodoo priest Murder Legendre is really what makes this movie so great. He looks intensely evil and can just feel the eerie atmosphere radiating off him ever time he`s on screen. For me its his hands down best performance after Dracula.

    There is one interesting rumor about this movie were evidently director Victor Halperin stepped down from the movie for some reason and Lugosi actually stepped up into the directors chair and finished directing the movie for him. I haven't had that information verified and even if its true it doesn't answer the question why Lugosi never directed again? Since this movie was really good as well as a huge box office success.

     Altogether "White Zombie" is a really creepy, atmospheric, and artistically done horror film. The sets are fantastic, especially considering this was an independent film at the time and didn't have the massive studio bucks to fiance itself. Plus with  Bela Lugosi in one of his greatest roles you have nothing to lose with watching this movie. Yet I still feel that this movie is underrated, but it has had a noticeable cultural impact the most obvious being Rob Zombie named his first band "White Zombie" specifically after this movie. Then there's the great tribute made to this movie in Tim Burton`s "Ed Wood". Finally of course there's my theory that Ra`s Al Ghul from the Batman comics was inspired by or at least partially inspired by Lugosi`s character Murder Legendre. For awhile there was talk of Tobe Hooper remaking this movie but it all fell apart back in like 2006 and there haven't been any plans or talk of trying again since, meaning more then likely well not see a remake for a  very long time if ever. Anyways "White Zombie" is a great zombie film that I would highly  recommend to anyone.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

R.I.P Herbert Lom & Turhan Bey

Herbert Lom September 11 1917 - September 27th 2012
Turhan Bey March 30 1922 - September September 30th 2012

         It is so sad for me to have to report and talk about the two fairly recent deaths of some actors who made some very significant contributions to the Horror genre. Herbert Lom is probably best known to the conventional audience for his roles and contributions to the original The Pink Panther movies, Stanley Kubricks Spartacus, and 1955s The Lady Killers. Through to me his involvement in the horror genre is something that was to great to over look. He played The Phantom in Hammers 1962`s The Phantom of the Opera, He stared along side Christopher Lee in 1970`s Count Dracula as Van Helsing, he was the witchfinder Lord Cumberland in the grotesque German horror film Mark Of The Devil, and then of course he can seen alongside Peter Cushing in the horror classic And Now the Screaming Starts. 

        Turhan Bey had a very active film career in the 1940`s and 1950`s starring in a wide variety of Adventure and Horror films. The first movie I ever saw him in was the above average film-noir thriller The Amazing Mr. X from 1948, but Turhan Bey has the distintion of acting along side Lon Chaney in The Mummys Tomb (1942) playing the antagonist Mehemet Bey, Boris Karloff in 1944`s The Climax, and George Zucco in 1943`s The Mad Ghoul. Though after being in 1953`s sword and sandal adventure film Prisoners of the Casbah, he left Hollywood and movies altogether and didn't make another appearance on screen until 1993 when he had a guest role in the TV show SeaQuest 2032. 

                                               HERBERT LOM:




                                            TURHAN BEY:






Sunday, August 19, 2012

Voodoo Island (1957)

Genre: Supernatural, Zombie(?)

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: C-

      You know honestly I really wish that I could say that I loved this movie and that its a great late 50s Karloff horror film but I can`t even pretend that I liked it. Its just to much of a bad movie that its not even good. Its overwhelmingly underdeveloped and most of the movie feels like a really dull drama than a horror movie. If it were not for Boris Karloff, a couple cool plus point, and a few hilariously stupid moments this movie would be a complete lose and probably earn a D or F.

      I`m going to start with the good stuff of this movie; for one its got the great Boris Karloff. Who whenever is simply on screen is awesome. In this movie though they put him in a more unusual role, were instead of playing the voodoo priest or mad scientist of the "voodoo island" like you'd think, he plays a famous skeptic who is notorious for debunking myths and legends and is going to this island to debunk its voodoo claims. He`s different as this type of character but essentially plays the part to full satisfaction.
     Elisha Cook is this movie also and plays pretty much the same kind of character he plays in The Haunted Palace and House On Haunted Hill. That overly fearful guy who no one takes very seriously. Like I said before they're are somethings he does in this movie that are just hilariously stupid, like for example if you get kidnapped by a bunch of cannibals like they did in this movie do you up right call them "inferior animals that don`t deserve to live"? Well apparently he thought so and of course met his demise because of it.
      Oh and lastly something I didn't know or even notice until after I finished watching was this movie was Adam Wests film debut. He has a super small role as a weather station radio operator. Which I found to be actually pretty funny. Other than this I cant think of anything else that's really nice to say about this movie.
      The biggest problem with this movie is that its so painfully underdeveloped and obviously rushed. It seems the writer wrote the thing in one day and just went with the rough draft (kind like how a lot of Roger Cormans early movies like The Last Women On Earth and Creature From the Haunted Sea were done). On top of that none of the cool horror elements introduced were barely used, for instance the man eating plants that are on the island were pretty much squandered and replaced with nonsensical and super dull drama between all these uninteresting characters who wear there pants really high. When the movie does finally end it is an extremely abrupt ending that outdoes resolve barely anything. I could not tell you the ending its so random, your just going to have to see it yourself.

     Unfortunately I was not a fan of this movie. I've always known it was not one of Karloff`s best movie`s but I still tried to hold onto this faint hope that maybe i`d end up liking it. In fact if Karloff was not in this movie at all i`d say it would just be a cheap bad forgettable horror movie. So unless your really compelled to watch this movie I say avoid it and watch one of Karloff`s better 50s horror movies like Frankenstein 1970 or Corridors of Blood.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Four Skulls Of Jonathan Drake (1959)

Genre: Supernatural

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: C

     I always have a hard time reviewing particular movies such as The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake because it isn't a necessarily terrible movie were I can just go on and on about all the bad things in it but at the same time its not that special so I can`t go on praising it. Nope its right there in the middle, an overall OK but kind of forgettable little horror movie.

     The movie is just another one of those "family curse" movies, only in this movie the curse involves ever time one of the Drake family members turns 60 they die "mysteriously" and have they're head stolen and eventually returned shrunken. The reason for this curse has something to do with a member of the Drake family way back when killed a tribe of natives in the Amazon. Though at the end they pull this "twist" to the whole story that is neither interesting nor necessary at all.
      Though one thing I did really like was the creepy looking guy who killed the Drake family members he had his mouth shown shut and stuff. Without a doubt his character was the highlight of the entire movie. Anyways his character is like  the henchmen to the main bad guy Dr.Zurkue whose played by one of my favorite actors of all time Henry Daniel ( you might know him from such movies as Robert Wises The Body Snatcher and Charlie Chaplins The Great Dictator). Unfortunately though due to probably his older age or lack of interest his performance in this movie just didn't have the life or effort that his performances in prior movies had; though this was one of his last movies.
       As for the rest of the cast I really have nothing to say. The rest of the cast wasn't bad or anything they just didn't do anything special and just don`t have anything to add to them.

     Finally I cant say that this movie is for everyone. I can imagine a lot of people would find it terribly dull and slow, but if you love Black and White horror movies like I do and are at all curious about then by all means please give it shot. Its only 70 mins long so it won`t be like you wasted a ton of time if you watch it and find out you absolutely hate it. Unfortunately though for me this movie was just OK and i`m probably going to forget about most of it since the movie really didnt leave much of an impact on me personally. (Though I have to admit I really like the Poster)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Return Of Dracula (1958)

Genre: Vampire

Source: Netflix Instant

Grade: B

Before I start i`d like to apologize for my SUPER long hiatus that I put my blog on because of stupid school which consumed all my time and energy for the past few months. Now though its thankfully all over and I get back into the routine of updating my blog. Anyways whats a better way of making a comeback then by posting a review of an obscure Dracula movie?

      To be honest this movies been sitting on my Netflix instant Que for well over a year now, for some reason I just haven't motivated myself until now to watch it. To be straight forward this movies small but it holds up surprisingly well and to me its a quite underrated horror movie.
        Despite this movie having no one that I had any attachment to or familiarity with I am impressed with its assembled cast and crew. For one the cast was very well put together except for the annoying little kid who left his small cat in a freaking mine shaft; he got on my nerves. Other then that the rest of the cast was fine, especially Francis Lederer who plays Dracula. He brought this great like slimy and unromantic version of Dracula into this movie, sure he`s no Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee but his unique approach to the character helps elevate this movie above the "just another Dracula movie" subcategory.

         One thing I liked about the story was it was not a adaption of the novel Dracula. Instead it was like a squeal type story to the novel. Which is sorta of a relief because there is in no way a shortage Dracula novel adaptations. Anyways if your wondering what the movie`s synopsis is its basically about a man whose killed in Transylvania by Dracula, who then takes the recently killed mans identity and uses to get into get into America and wreck havoc in a small town there. The movie`s climax was OK, like the way Dracula dies was cool, but the way the two people get him to die was a little disappointing, I hope that makes sense.

          Overall I must say this movie was much better than I thought it would be, It is quite a underrated Horror movie and I think deserves some extra attention. Now I found out that not long after this movie was made the Hammer classic Horror Of Dracula was released which is what pretty much caused Return Of Dracula to be even more completely forgotten. Which makes sense because I can see why people would be more interested to see the colorful and vibrant Dracula movie as opposed to this more simple and black and white Dracula movie. But if you are at all curious to check it out, a fan of Dracula movies, or a person who likes obscure horror movies then i`d recommend giving Return of Dracula a try.



Friday, April 27, 2012

I`m Very Sorry!

I`m very sorry that I haven't posted anything up here I have been very busy with school and have either been too busy or tired to post anything. BUT I promise as soon as things slow down i`ll be posting some new stuff.
So hold tight and thanks for reading.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Upcoming Dracula Movies

The last couple of the days i`ve been reading quite a bit of news on upcoming Dracula films. Now thankfully none of them are straight adaptations of novel by Bram Stocker, because we have PLENTY of those! No these ones are all original stories taken from different perspectives of Dracula, sort of like all the Hammer Dracula movies like Taste The Blood Of Dracula or Dracula A.D 1972. Anyways here they are:

Predicted release date: 2013

This movies story is going to be solely about that ship in the novel Dracula that transports the Count and Renfield from Romania to England, only thing is when it crashes ashore no one on board is alive, or like in the Universal Dracula movie only Renfield remains laughing manically.
Personally out of all of the upcoming movies this is the one i`m most looking forward to. If they do it right it can end up being one hell of a scary movie. The cast is not really set so far i`ve heard rumors of both Jude Law or Adrian Brody to play Dracula, which as much as I like both of those actors I can`t see either of them playing Dracula, they just don't have the edge that people like Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee had. Plus I bet if they were in the movie the studio would have it so they were on screen like the whole time which would kill the suspense and make the movie much less scary. Then i`ve heard that both Ben Kingsley and Val Kilmer were up for playing the captain of the ship. Ben Kingsley would be perfect for that role, but Val Kilmer is about one of  the worst ''actors'' for the role not only would it just about piss off ever Horror fan but to have him as the Captain of the ship would just look stupid,plus he`s to fat and annoying. The only other person who I can think of at the moment fit to play the role is John Rhys-Davis. To bad this movie wasn`t made like 30 or 40 years earlier then we could have had like Peter Cushing or Vincent Price play that role.

Predicted release date: 2014

Harker is a bit unique in how its about the character Jonathan Harker except instead of being a lawyer like he was in the book hes a Scotland Yard detective who`s consumed with finding Dracula. I am completely unsure if this is supposed to follow the Dracula story or if its supposed to be its own thing entirely. I have a feeling though this is going to lean on more of a Thriller Action angle as opposed to straight Horror (think Van Helsing). As for the cast they are looking at getting Russel Crowe to play Harker which is very wise casting decision. As of now Jaume Collet-Serra director of Unknown and Orphan is set to direct. All I can say is sounds pretty awesome; almost like something Dark Horse Comics would publish and with Russell Crowe to play Harker I think this film sounds promising.

Predicted release date: ?????
This movie serves as a origins story to Dracula. Meaning its going to combine Vampire mythology with the true history of Prince Vlad (aka Vlad the Impaler) showing how a Romania ruler became Dracula the prince of Darkness. So far I have not heard anything about the cast and its going to be directed by a unknown director named Gary Shore which I have no problem with , and I`m not even familiar with either of the writers  currently attached. Though I do know they have talked of doing this movie for quite sometime and its been in dreaded development hell for years, but recently its looks like studios are taking an interest in it and it just might get made. Personally I think it will be a great movie if its done right and serve as a excellent companion piece to Dracula. I just have no idea how soon we can expect to see it.  

Overall I am very happy to hear about all these Dracula movie that have suddenly popped up, the one i`m looking most forward to would have to be The Last Voyage Of Demeter, for some reason its story just really appeals to me and i`d really love to see it get made. 

Now what say you? Which of these Dracula movies most appeals to you? 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Zombies On Broadway (1945)

Genre: Zombie, Comedy

Source: My Own Collection

Grade: B-

Zombies On Broadway is basically the Shaun Of The Dead of the 40s. Except unlike Shaun whose parodying  viscous flesh eating zombies from Dawn Of The Dead, Zombies On Broadway is a parody of the slower,and  traditional voodoo zombies of the movie I Walked With A Zombie. In the end however Zombies on Broadway achieves getting a couple laughs, provides some great Voodoo style sets, and really cool appearance of Bela Lugosi, but other than that its a bit slow and comes a little short of achieving a A list movie.

The story's about these two very "Abbott and Costello" like characters who get themselves in some hot water after they piss off there club owning/mobster boss and given in return the cast of going out to some creepy tropical islands and bringing back a REAL zombie for the nightclub. Along the way the cross paths with some unique characters like  Bela Lugosi's mad scientist character whose trying to cross science with dark voodoo magic, long story short; after a series of strange and silly events they get back to the club with a zombie only its not what you'd expect. The rest you'll just need to see yourself.

   The performances in this movie were pretty funny, or in the case of Bela Lugosi sinister as usual. Alan Carney had a very stooge style 40s comedy routine going on throughout the movie, not that am complaining or anything. Anne Jeffreys was also in the film as the seductive girl, I looked her up on IMDb and was amazed to see shes still alive and doing roles in movies! Finally Bela Lugosi was fun to watch as the mad scientist Professor Renault ( I wonder if his name as Renult is a nod or connection to the 30s mad scientist movie Dr.Renaults Secret?), though the only thing they're simply wasn't enough of was his character in the movie.

     Altogether I think this movie is probably not for everyone. On the other hand I personally had a good time watching it and laughed at a bunch of the gags and non offensive jokes. Now the DVD set this movie came in is one i`d really recommend to classic horror fans. Its called "Karloff & Lugosi Horror Classics" it comes with four movies two of which are Frankenstein 1970 and The Walking Dead two of the best and most underrated Boris Karloff movies. All four of the movies are very well restored, though the only drawback is the special features are kinda skimpy, its just two trailers one for Frankenstein 1970 and the other for You'll Find Out. Then of course there are some commentaries on the DVDs. Oh well anyways Zombies On Broadway is a funny little zombie comedy from the 40s that if your curious enough to watch it i`d defiantly say check it out.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

126th Birthday of the Great and Unappreciated George Zucco

George Zuccos 126th Birthday passed last Wednesday with little to no recognition. Which is kinda a bummer I think because this guy is one of the great horror icons, undoubtedly up there with Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. He not only was a staple in Horror films he performed in a wide variety of cinema and played in such movies as The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes were he played one of the best Professor Moriarty`s (if you ask me I think his image of Moriarty had an influence on this past Decembers Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, just my opinion though). He also played the Governor in one of my favorite swashbuckler pirate movies from the 50s The Black Swan. As well as having a supporting role in the 1939 version of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. Then his role in the 1947 thriller Lured is one of the best performances of any actor i`ve ever seen.
          Anyways the movie that made me realize that George Zucco was a awesome horror actor was when I watched 1943`s Dead Men Walk for the first time, that movie is a highly over looked vampire movie that has Zucco playing two roles (twin brothers) and costars Dwight Frye. In the way Boris Karloff and Lionel Atwill were to the Universal Frankenstein series was what George Zucco was to the Universal Mummy series. He was three of the Mummy movies including the second one The Mummy's Hand were his villiones portray of Professor Andoheb has laid the groundwork for just about ever antagonist in any Mummy movie since. Though he also had a brief but memorable role in 1944s House Of Frankenstein were he played  Bruno Lampini (the guy who had Dracula's skeleton).
           Of course he was in share of super B-Horror movies such as Voodoo Man, and The Flying Serpent both very low budget but none the less fun and very enjoyable to watch. Overall George Zucco was a phenomenal actor who truly left a mark on Horror.

                                         This cartoon is from an episode Johnny Quest and I cant help but
                                          notice how much that guy resembles George Zuccos character in 
                                           The Mummy's Hand.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freakshow (2007)

Genre: Psychological, Exploitation

Source: Netflix Instant Que

Grade: C

   Before I watched this gut wrenching gruesome horror movie, I was a bit unclear on weather or not  it was intended to be a remake of Tod Browings 1932 masterpiece Freaks. According to IMDB it was and on the cover of the DVD it clearly says "In The Tradition Of Tod Brownings Freaks". Yet there is no credit given to Browing or the writer of Freaks on the screen credits. So I was trying to decide was this a honest remake? Or just a sleazy cheap rip-off? Well upon finishing the movie I discovered the answer is yes its a intended remake, but just barely.

        For starters contrary to my prior expectations this movie is or at least appears to be set during the 30s like the original and not the modern day like I expected. Which I feel is a wise choice because I don`t think the story would work nearly as good had it been in the modern day. Also they used some very cool music from that time period. Which for some reason actually enhanced the overall freakishness of the movie. I was very impressed at how well the director made the movie with such a minuscule budget, $1,000,000 to be exact. 
         Now unfortunately on the other hand if this remake does anything for the original "Freaks" it just goes to show that that movie is one that cant be replicated and true untouchable classic. This film pretty much falls short of achieveing the greatness of Browings original film in every way possible.For starters they strip the original story down to its thinnest almost to the point were its unrecognizable and rather than go for the suspense and atmosphere the original had this one decided it be better to go for the gross out Hostel/Saw style scares were its not at all scary or suspenseful but just flat out disgusting. Which i`ll give it to them  I was pretty grossed out at some points, almost to the point of me wanting to cover my eyes it was so disgusting. Especially the ending were they turn the "evil" girl into a worn thing, which they show ever disgusting sicking detail.

          I must also say I felt that ironically there weren't enough freaks in the movie. Or at least they spent more time focusing on the band of criminals who are attempting to rob the circus. Though to be truthful the freaks just arnt as freaky in this version as they were in the original. I am guessing because most if not all the freaks in this movie are fake as opposed to the original were they were real actually circus freaks. Now to be fair plot wise they kept a couple of the trademark original scenes of the original like the "One of us, One of us" scene and the ending were you see what they did to the girl. Unfortunately both scenes were shallow and did not have the same effect when compared to the original.

            I know it was probably unfair to compare this particular remake to its original. But with Freaks being one of my all time favorite movies of all time I just could not help it. Though as far as remakes go this ones not to bad, it boosts a couple good scenes and some great music from the 30s. Sadly the over the top torture porn "Hostel"style horror that was way overused in this movie just did not work for me.