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!

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Hobgoblins (1988)

Dear sweet baby Jesus, please make it stop! Hobgoblins may very well be one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life. That's saying a lot because I've seen LOTS of wretched movies over the years. Think of Hobgoblins as the worst version of Gremlins you can ever imagine and it will far exceed your expectations! The characters are paper thin. The acting is simply atrocious. The script doesn't always make sense. And then there's the hobgoblins which are puppets with a fixed expression on their face. Their heads bob up and down and their jaw moves a little but that's it. When they attack the director switches to stuffed animal versions whom the actors fake-pretend are attacking them. It's beyond hilarious and looks like something out of a Saturday Night Live skit. They are supposed to be terrifying but I could only laugh at these poorly constructed creatures.

What more is there to say? Beware this stinker of a film. You've been warned.

RATING: Bad (Really bad).

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

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Xtro (1982)

What the hell did I just watch? Xtro is one of the weirdest Sci-Fi movies I've seen in a long time. Alien abduction, vampiric-like activity, midget clowns, telekinesis, Argento-style blood spurts and a black leopard are just some of the strange happenings in this movie. Someone must have been doing some serious LSD when they wrote this screenplay! It's hard to know what to say about Xtro except that it has to be experienced firsthand. There is no way to convey the craziness in this movie in a way that makes sense. But I can say that I couldn't stop watching it because I wondered what bizarre thing I would see next.

Xtro was written and directed by Harry Bromley Davenport who ended up directing a trilogy of these unusual and somewhat disturbing films. His resume is small and that's understandable. After doing something like this, studios would be hesitant to hire him to do something more mainstream.

The bright spots of Xtro are the acting and the special effects. Bernice Stegers [Atlantis, Final Fantasy XII] is the heart and soul of this movie. She's a wife whose husband mysteriously disappeared three years ago and she was left to raise her son. Now, three years later, her husband is back, but something is not quite right about him. Most of the other British actors are not well-known to Americans but you may be familiar with Maryam d'Abo who played the Bond Girl in The Living Daylights. The rest of the cast is sold as well.

Now, let's talk about the special effects. The team on Xtro definitely paid homage to Dario Argento and other Italian horror masters. Their work is gooey, graphic and even made this hardcore horror fan squirm a time or two. Much of the work they did on Xtro is very unique and felt like a fresh and creative take on gross-out effects.

The weakest link in Xtro is the soundtrack. Good God, it was awful. I know they had a limited budget but this lone synthesizer became annoying at many points in the movie and never added anything to the mood of the film. Simplicity is not the problem because John Carpenter proved that simple can be very effective in Halloween (1978). The score is just poorly written and Harry Bromley Davenport should have given the task to someone who was more capable than he.

So, it's hard to know how to rate this film. I have to give it a Fair because my overall impression is that it's a little weak. It has some great things going for it, but the sum is definitely less than the parts. However, if you have a taste for the strange and the gross then you will probably enjoy Xtro.


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

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sometimes They Come Back (1991)

Although this is slightly outside of my time frame for vintage horror movie reviews, I just had to include it here because, for some odd reason, I had never seen it and absolutely loved it. Sometimes They Come Back is an adaptation of a Stephen King story. How I missed this film is a mystery to me. As far as I'm concerned everything about it works well.

The story revolves around a teacher who comes back to the town his family ran away from due to the death of his brother when they were kids. His return unleashes something, or several somethings, he needs to confront if he is going to have any peace in his life. It's classic King territory and the story is told very well.

Director Tom McLoughlin (Jason Lives: Friday the 13th Part VI) pulls off something that rarely happens: This made-for-tv movie feels like a big budget movie release. It has great filming locations, set designs and tons of suspense. I also admired the special effects work which, until I looked it up, suspected it belonged to someone like Rick Baker. Instead, it was done by the team of Gabriel Bartalos (Darkman, Godzilla remake), Patti Brand, and Daniel Marc (A Nightmare on Elm Street 2, House II). Kudos for just the right gory touches to add to the mood of the film.

The cast was pretty much near perfect. Tim Matheson (Animal House, The West Wing) plays the adult version of the boy whose family fled the town many years ago. He's great in this role and so is Brooke Adams (Invasion of the Body Snatchers remake, The Dead Zone) who plays his wife. They make it easy to care for the family at the center of this supernatural drama.

And what's a good horror film without its bad guys? Robert Rusler (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Weird Science) and Nicholas Sadler (Twister, Idle Hands) are lots of fun as two street punks who simply won't stay dead. They play off of Matheson perfectly.

I also need to mention Chris Demetral (The Secret Adventures of Jules Vern) who is the older brother who was killed early in the movie. His presence is seen and felt throughout the film and it wouldn't be the same without him.

So, if for some reason you've never seen this one then do so ASAP. You can find it streaming on YouTube. It's great for fans of supernatural horror as well as Stephen King. Don't miss it!

RATING: Excellent.

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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Strange Behavior (1981)

This movie had a lot of potential it didn't quite reach. It's strongest point is the screenplay written by Hollywood legend Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters) and director Michael Laughlin. This was Condon's first screen credit as a writer. It's classic Sci-Fi/Horror stuff where a "mad scientist" experiments on teenager's brains and turns them into murderers. The story unfolds nicely and has at least one nice twist toward the end of the film.

The weakest part of Strange Behavior is that the acting is a bit uneven…and what's up with the manic teenage Halloween dance scene? It's both silly and weird and I'm not exactly sure why it's in there! Some of the music choices for the early 80's were way off. My friend and I would have NEVER danced to Lou Christie's Lightning Striking Again. We would have thought the host of the party had lost their mind!

I was drawn to the film because of Louise Fletcher (Flowers in the Attic, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest) whose work I absolutely adore. Alas, she is regulated to a minor role even though she often received top billing.

The main teenager Pete Brady (Survivor Girl?) is played solidly by Dan Shop (Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, TRON). He reminds me of a number of friends I had in High School and fits the role well. His love interest, Caroline, is played by Dey Young (The Serpent and the Rainbow) who has a long career in TV and films. They are definitely the bright spot in this dead teenage universe with most of the other roles being on the weak side. With a little better acting I think this could have really been a good film.

What can I say? I was really rooting for this Strange Behavior to work. It just fell short of my expectations. It's not one big glaring thing. It's just a bunch of small things that are a little bit off. The result it that it made me long for what this film could have been.


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

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Night of the Demons (1988)

I had high hopes for Night of the Demons. I recently saw the 2009 remake and found it to be entertaining. Therefore, I hoped the original would put a fun, classic 80's horror spin on the story. No such luck. The original suffers in so many ways.

First of all much of the acting is awful and amateurish. Most of the characters are total stereotypes and I couldn't have cared less about what happened to any of them. They lived. They were killed by demons. Big whooping deal!

The first exception to this is Amelia Kinkade [Night of the Demons 1,2,3] who plays Angela, the hostess of a Halloween party gone wrong and one of the first to become a demon. Her possession dance is excellent and her presence on screen is very good. Too bad, everyone else does not rise to her standards. This could be a really great film if this were the case.

Kudos also go out to Linnea Quigley [The Return of the Living Dead, Silent Night Deadly Night] whose femme fatale turned crazy demon is also worth a shout out. The sight gag with a tube of lipstick is not to be missed!

The second weakness of the film is that while there was tons of gory demon make-up, I found myself being bored with it all.  Everything I saw has been done before and done better. Give me Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser over this film any day! Some of the demon make-up was good but the 80's spoiled me and I expect more!

The third weakness is that Night of the Demons was trying its best to imitate The Evil Dead in terms of its snarky attitude and cartoonish over-the-top gore. Epic fail as far as I'm concerned. No comparison between these two films.

Finally, while I'm a big fan of 80's music, the soundtrack suffered because of it. D-List bands composed most of the tepid score which contains some of the most god-awful metal music I've ever heard. A stronger soundtrack would have really helped with film.

Enough already. How this one got a 6.2 on the IMDB baffles me to no end. If you're a fan, tell me why. I'm listening. It's frustrating because this film has SO MUCH POTENTIAL it never quite reaches.

On a positive note, I really enjoyed director Kevin Tenney's [Witchboard] choices of scene composition. He gives the movie a claustrophobic feel during the scenes that take place in the house and the lighting is also really effective.


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

NOTE: A sequel entitled Night of the Demons 2 came out in  1994 and is about on par with the original. It starts out strong with lots of humor mixed in with its horror. But then, unfortunately it drops its snarkyness which was its biggest asset. The biggest surprise is Night of the Demons 3 (1997) which I think is actually the best of the bunch in spite of its low rating on IMDB. The plot is well developed, the acting is solid, and the overall direction is stronger.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Sisters of Death (1976)

If this film feels like it's more late 60's early 70's, there is a reason for this. Sisters was actually shot in 1972 but was never released until 1976. As far as I'm concerned, it should have never been released period!

It's clear from the get-go that sisters is a low budget "exploitation" picture disguised as a horror film. It opens with a secret initiation where one of the sisters is accidentally murdered during a pledge ritual…or was she? Seven years later, they are all mysteriously invited to a reunion at the house of…the father of the murdered girl. You can imagine where it goes from there.

Bad acting and melodramatics abound as these beautiful bombshell fashionistas try to unsuccessfully escape impending danger. If there is any sense of fun in this film, it's trying to guess who will be killed next.

Joe Mazzuca has only four screen credits to his name as a director and Sisters of Death was his last. No big surprise there! Thankfully he turned out to be a great production manager and has a nice resume of TV credits to his name.

The cast has a few recognizables. The Dad of the murdered girl is Arthur Franz [Monster on Campus, Abbott & Costello Meet the Invisible Man] who is the best actor in this movie. One of the drivers who took the ladies to a secluded hideaway for their reunion is Joe E. Tata who is probably best known as the owner of the Peach Pit Diner in Beverly Hills 90210. The rest of the cast is just grist for the murder mill.

Trust me, you can skip this one!


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

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Children of the Damned (1964)

Children of the Damned is not so much a sequel to Village of the Damned (1960) as it is it's own entity. You don't really need to see the earlier film in order to enjoy the second one. That being said, there is a lively debate regarding which one is the superior film. My preference is Village over Children.

The reason for this is that Village sets a more menacing tone. The children in question are more menacing and the "glowy eye thing" works better in this film. In Children it is more inconsistent and the kids spend the vast majority of their time staring blankly and saying nothing.

Furthermore, Village has more of a Sci-Fi/Alien thing going on, while Children is more a Cold War morality/Human evolution tale.  Both have their merits. It just depends on what you're looking for.

So, let's talk about Children for a moment. The cinematography by Davis Boulton [The Haunting] in this film is gorgeous. The stark black and white is beautifully shot and gives the film lots of power. The art direction by Elliott Scott [Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Haunting] is also spot on, especially the scene which take place in a dilapidated cathedral.

The acting is also solid through and through. The children are well cast, although I prefer the David in Village over the David in Children who takes on a more "Damian Thorn in The Omen" kind of vibe.  Barbara Ferris is particularly good as Susan, who becomes the protector of the children. Her character is much stronger than the Mom in Village.

My advice with Children of the Damned is don't give up on it half way through the film. It is a slow starter but the ending scenes are really excellent and well worth your time. Just go into it knowing this is not so much a horror film as it is a morality tale.

Rating: Very Good.

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