Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974)


The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974)
Director: Alan Gibson
Writer: Don Houghton
Starring: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Coles

            The Satanic Rites of Dracula was as you probably known already know the last Hammer Dracula picture to have Christopher Lee play as Dracula, its also sadly the last Hammer production to have Cushing and Lee in the same movie together. The end result though of this movie is kinda a mixed bag and its going to come down to personal taste as to whether or not you like this movie. If you want to know what I think, I hold to belief that this movies awesome.  I love it, its a crazy 70s horror movie with an odd mixture of horror, sci-fi, and espionage all with excessive amounts of gore. Plus if you ask me its better than the last Dracula movie from the series Dracula A.D 1972.
           This movie has Dracula at one of his most evil. In this movie he literally wants to exterminate the human race.You may wonder why would he kill his whole food source? Van Helsing theorizes that because Dracula is a cursed immortal he wants to end his existence in the only way he sees possible by exterminating the human race, create the Armageddon. Dracula plans to do this by creating a incurable and 100x more contagious version of the black   plague. To make matters worse he has all these top minds from England professors, scientists, etc involved with the creation of the plague and participating in the "satanic rites". Leaving it up to Van Helsing (played once again played by the great Peter Cushing), Van Helsings granddaughter, and a couple Scotland yard detectives to stop Dracula before all hope is lost.
          Peter Cushing is awesome as always in the role of Van Helsing. While Christopher Lee plays Dracula one last time for Hammer and even though he was really tired of the role hes none the less great as usual,with that dark presence present on screen ever time hes there. Also if you've seen The Elephant Man by David Lynch you might recognize Freddie Jones who plays a scientist in league with Dracula.
         Overall I think this is a pretty cool Dracula movie and better than what most people give it credit for. Its dark and sports some great performances from Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Though it gives some odd ways of killing vampires, its in this movie I learned that silver bullets kill them, as well as Hawthorne bushes? Van Helsing explains that its because it was a Hawthorne bush that they put on Christ when he was crucified it can kill Dracula to, oh and there's another scene were Dracula accidentally touches a Bible and it burns his hand. So there is no shortage of ways to kill Dracula. Anyways this film has fallen into the public domain and is thus easily attainable if your interested in giving this movie a try.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Lords of Salem (2013)


The Lords of Salem (2013)
Written and Directed by Rob Zombie
Starring: Sherri Moon Zombie, Bruce Davison, Jeff Daniel Philips 

      Rob Zombies latest film is a well done, original, and utterly artistic and classy horror film. Now that being said it almost goes with out saying that this movie is definitely not for everyone. Its a very unusual movie and kinda disturbing at times, though it is not at all violent. I really don't feel though that the general public would appreciate let alone understand this movie, its a more of a film that people who a have great appreciate of horror and or Rob Zombie (which I have both) will understand and most likely really enjoy.

     One thing that I particularly liked about this movie was it evoked styles of film making that evoked the same kinda feeling I felt while watching Stanley Kubrick`s The Shining and Roman Polanski`s Rosemary's Baby, or pretty much any film by Ken Russell for that matter. Plus another thing I love about Rob Zombies films is he like Quinton Tarantino and Joe Dante have mastered this art of referencing older films within their films. Its hard to explain, but its as if they have constructed and utilized their own movie "geekyness" into their own personal films for other film geeks like me for example to pick up on and enjoy.

      Anyways The Lord of Salem is truthfully a very unique horror movie.What its about though is this radio D.J named Heidi whose sent this record that only says " a gift from the lords". When she listens to it the sound triggers disturbing flashbacks of Salem's dark past. Causing you to wonder is Heidi going mad, or are the Lords back to take revenge on Salem.

      Then as usual Rob Zombie has assembled a great cast of actors. His wife takes the lead role as Heidi and what can I say the role was literally made for her. Jeff Daniel Philips and Ken Foree play her fellow disc jockey co-workers, and Bruce Davison is especially good in his role as Francis Matthias a scholar whose a expert on the Salem witch hunts who is trying to help Heidi but unaware of the shear size of the situation shes in. As usual for a Zombie movie the movie filled with cult actors in supporting roles like Judy Gleeson (who plays Heidi's sinister landlord), Patricia Quinn, Dee Wallace, Meg Foster, Andrew Prine, and then Michael Berryman and Sid Haig play witch hunter brothers! Unfortunately though most of their scenes ended up being cut. Udo Keir and Clint Howard also had roles in this movie but sadly ended up being cut completely from the film.

     Altogether this is a great horror movie. Its very artistically directed by Rob Zombie and for me was just a breath of fresh air in regards of originality. The cast is fantastic and when I found out that this movie was 100% practical effects meaning no CGI, it just made me appreciate the movie even more. Also i`m lucky I was able to see it in the theater because I know it didn't go to 3,000 + theaters like Iron Man 3 but instead went to only I believe 400 or so theaters which is unfortunate, but lucky for me my local Harkins was showing it so I made a point of going opening weekend, but I understand a lot of other people didn't have that convince I did. Anyhow I am none the less looking forward to both this films Blu-Ray release (which i`m hoping has a directors cut and some great special features) and what ever film Rob Zombie puts out next; which I heard him say the podcast The Nerdest recently will be a sports film called The Broad Street Bullies which is about the hockey team the Philidalphia Flyers.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013)


"What we do now digitally with computers, Ray did digitally long before. But without computers; only with his digits."
-Terry Gilliam

Today I got the sad news that special effects legend and icon Ray Harryhausen has died, he was 92 years old. I know I am one of countless amounts of people who have been fascinated and inspired by his work. 

Filmmakers such as George Lucas, Joe Dante, Jon Favreau, Tim Burton, John Landis, Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam and many others have been inspired by Harryhausen and all of them have at some point paid tribute to him in at least one of there movies. 

For me personally Ray Harryhausen is who got me interested in watching movies for the special effects.  As opposed to watching a movie just for the story, an actor, or a director. Like do I watch "It Came from Beneath the Sea" to see Kenneth Tobey or Faith Domergue? Or  watch "The Valley of Gwangi" because its directed by Jim O`Connolly? The answers heck no I watch "It Came From Beneath the Sea" to see Harryhausen`s amazing giant octopus destroy San Francisco and I watch "The Valley of Gwangi" to see his stop motion dinosaurs fight cowboys. 

Overall Ray Harryhausen has one the best imaginations of all time and is next to Willis O`Brian is one of the greatest stop motion artists ever. And for me there are not too many better ways to spend a cold rainy day were you cant go outside than by sitting back with a hot drink and watching one of his movies like Jason and the Argonauts and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms. 

Rest In Peace Ray Harryhausen you will be missed

Here are some Posters to his movies: