Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Lady Frankenstein (1971)

Only the late 60's and early 70's could give birth to this wild reinterpretation of the Frankenstein story. Rosalba Neri is delightful as the daughter of Baron Frankenstein who returns home after having become a "surgeon" and is determined to assist her father in his research. She is a force to be reckoned with: smart, sexy, ambitious and just a little bit crazy. Perfect! The film starts out as a woman's liberation tale but gets stranger as the plot develops which is a good thing. The basic moral of the story is if you bring the dead back to life, you die. If you have sex, you die. If you bring the dead back to life and have sex with them...well, I think you can figure out the rest for yourself.
The Frankenstein monster is a bit more like Michael Meyers in Hallloween (1978) than Boris Karloff's iconic performance in the original Frankenstein (1931). There is no sympathy for the monster here. He is a not so lean, mean killing machine. This movie is so much better than I thought it would be. I found it thoroughly entertaining and am glad I stumbled upon it. Warning to the timid:  There is a little bit of T&A in this film.  But since you're a fan of horror, I hardly think this will shock you.  
The one unintentionally funny thing for me in Lady Frankenstein is the mob with torches and pitchforks. Does every village have one of these? Where do they keep their torches when they're not using them? How do they keep them lit while they go about their vigilante justice? Inquiring minds want to know.
RATING: Very Good.
Download a copy of the film from Archive.org
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Diary of a Madman (1963)

Is Magistrate Simon Cordier slowly losing his mind or is he being possessed by a darker, more sinister force? This is the question that is explored in Diary of a Madman. Vincent Price [The Fly, House of Wax] is wonderful as Cordier. Although Price can sometimes be guilty of over-the-top performances, his work in Diary is subtle and nuanced. This is definitely Price's show and everyone else is along for the ride.

The screenplay for Diary is from veteran writer Robert E. Kent [Zombies on Broadway, Twice-Told Tales] who adapted several of the short stories of French writer Guy de Maupassant. He gives Price plenty of great material to work with and the story is classic thriller material. Director Reginald Le Borg [The Mummy's Ghost, The Black Sleep] is no stranger to the director's chair and does an excellent job of bringing this story to life. The only bad choice in this film is this way the Horla (the evil entity in question) is portrayed. The green light bar over Price's eyes and the "voice in an echo chamber" come across as cheesy other than menacing. With a different choice, Diary would have been even more powerful and dramatic.

So, if you like thrillers and are a fan of Vincent Prince, then I highly recommend Diary of a Madman. It is one of Price's most overlooked and underappreciated films.  Don't miss it!

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Thursday, January 5, 2017

Curse of the Undead (1959)

A vampire western? You betcha! I know it sounds like a bad idea but somehow Curse of the Undead avoids all of the the vampire and Wild West cliches you see in most films. It gives us, instead, interesting characters you care about and actors who give dynamic performances in their roles. Why director and co-writer Edward Dein was not given more films to direct is a mystery to me. He handles his subject matter well both in print and onscreen. Curse of the Undead is also helped by a great symphonic soundtrack by Irving Gertz which adds tons of atmosphere to film.

Standout performances include Kathleen Crowley [tons of TV credits] as Dolores, who is the vampire's one true love.  She is tough when she needs to be but also vulnerable when the scene calls for it. Michael Pate [The Black Castle, Julius Caesar] leaves all the bad Bela Lugosi impressions behind him, in favor of a more human vampire. It works rather effectively here. Finally, Eric Fleming [Conquest of Space, Queen of Outer Space] gives the Preacher Dan a stoic grace presence without resorting to the pious clergyman you see so often in movies.

So, if you like vampire pictures you definitely need to give this one a try. It's not as well known as some of the others but you will be surprised and pleased by what you find in Curse of the Undead. You can find it easily on YouTube.

RATING: Very Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Gallery of Horror (1967)

One would think that a horror anthology with Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine in it would be a home run. Well, this one struck out at home plate! Galley of Horror presents five short stories that are unimaginative and horribly acted. The budget for this yawn-fest was a paltry $20,000 and it shows. Lon Chaney only appears in one of these stories and it's clear he did this just for a paycheck (However small it may have been). It's some of the poorest work I've ever seen from this much beloved actor.

John Carradine is the host for this anthology and also appears in several of the stories. His work is sub-par as well and he showed more spunk in the god-awful Ed Woodesque Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (1970) than he does here. The other actor with a major stick up his posterior is Roger Gentry who, unfortunately, appears in four of the five stories. I have rarely seen lines delivered with less enthusiasm than he does here. He is completely devoid of emotion and is stiff and wooden in every scene.

The director for Gallery of Horror is David L. Hewitt who is better known for his special effects than he is for his directing. He also worked on the screenplay which is never a good idea. M Night Shyamalan does this all the time with mixd results, and I think it's always good to have someone around who can tell you "no" when it is needed!

Not much more need to be said about this terrible film. The stories include witches, vampires, zombies and mad scientists but none of these is the least but menacing nor interesting. If you want a good horror anthology from this time period, try Tales of Terror (1962) starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Basil Rathbone. It's the perfect example of how a collection of horror stories should be done.

Gallery of Horror can be found on YouTube. Watch it if you dare, but you've been warned!

RATING: Bad.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Vampire Men of the Lost Planet, a.k.a. Horror of the Blood Monsters (1970)

What fresh hell is this? Or, rather, what rewarmed hell is this? Vampire Men of the Lost Planet (VMLP) is an unforgettable film in all the wrong ways. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it!!

Director/producer Al Adamson made his living making cheap films for the drive-in market during the 1960's and 1970's. With VMLP he adds new footage to snippets from three old movies in order to create an unforgettable, as well as unforgivable, viewing experience. The films in question are One Million B.C. (1940), The Wizard of Mars (1965), and Tagani (1965). Visually, he ties everything together by using monocolor filters on all the old film stock and then includes an explanation in the plot as to why this phenomenon is happening. It's audacious and brilliant!

This is the kind of film that would make Ed Wood smile. The sets are cheaply constructed and look like something from a High School play. The cast of characters include vampires, astronauts, cavemen, dinosaurs, and crabs and bats that are humans in Halloween costumes (I kid you not)! Then there's the over-the-top, exuberant performance of John Carradine who tries to keep this sinking ship afloat by over-acting the part. He fails miserably. The only other notable actor in the cast is Robert Dix who also starred in Forbidden Planet.

If you like really, really bad cinema, then VMLP will tickle you with delight. Otherwise, I would avoid this film like the vampire plague depicted in this movie!

RATING: Good.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Monday, December 26, 2016

The Amityville Curse (1990)

Please. Make. It. Stop. As far as I'm concerned The Amityville Horror (1979) was, and should have always been, a stand alone movie that was based on the real life story of the Lutz family. However, when Hollywood has a cash cow they usually milk it to death! Such is the case of The Amityville Curse which has NOTHING to do with the original story nor the original house. The screenplay was based on a book by the same name. However, IMDB lists multiple authors which is never a good sign and usually indicates there were problems that needed to be fixed. After watching this film, I would say this is the case because the story is all over the place. At first, its a murder mystery. Then it's a supernatural thriller that's not very thrilling. Finally, it's a slasher flick. What a mess!

To make matters worse, they were on a shoestring budget so we have a director with no significant credits to his name, actors who are sometimes god-awful, and special effects that mostly consist of wind machines and lots of candles!!! There are many moments which are supposed to be terrifying but I found myself giggling constantly. I won't belabor the point so if you're tempted to watch this film on YouTube, PLEASE for the love of cinema, resist the urge. You've been warned.

RATING: Bad.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

TerrorVision (1986)

This film is much beloved by some as a campy 80's classic. I guess it depends on your sense of humor but I just didn't get it. This is no Ferris Bueller's Day off or Weird Science. I found TerrorVision to be painful to watch. Comedy is a tricky thing to pull off, especially when it's the over-the-top kind. TerrorVision feels a bit like Pee-Wee's Playhouse with its brightly colored sets and cheesy over-exuberant characters. The only problem is that it's not nearly as funny as Pee-Wee nor quite as subversive.

The monster in this movie can best be described as a big pile of oozing flesh. There were lots of great puppetry effects in the 80's such as The Ghoulies but the way this monster is constructed makes it difficult for it to convey terror or any other emotion. It's sort of like the Grimace in the old McDonald's commercials whose only way of communicating was giggling and jumping up and down. Yeah, this is that kind of monster.

To be honest, the acting is fine. The cast is full of character actors such as Gerrit Graham [Child's Play 2, Demon Seed], Diane Franklin [Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Better Off Dead] and Mary Woronov [The House of the Devil, Death Race 2000]. There's also the adorable Chad Allen who was also starring in the TV Drama Our House the same year this film was made. They give it their all, and then some. It's just that the screenplay doesn't have the kind of humor that works for me.

So, give it a shot if you like uber-cheesy 80's movies. Just be forewarned that there is barely any horror in this one and lots of groan-worthy humor.

RATING: Fair.

For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.