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!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mountaintop Motel Massacre (1986)

Please don't disturb Evelyn.  She already is.  Mountaintop Motel Massacre is a cheapo slasher flick from the mid 80's.  I SO wanted this film to work.  It had a great set up in terms of plot, a creepy setting and creepy music to go along with it.  It could have been great but, alas, it was never meant to be.
Here are the problems with the film as I see it:
1) As soon as the killing starts, the acting falls apart.  Most of the cast was up to the job in the opening scenes but either die unconvincingly or were over-acting at being terrified.
2) The effects were bad but not so bad that they were entertaining.  Bless their hearts, they were trying really hard to make a horror film.  They should have gone with a sense of camp instead.
3) Why can't anyone seem to overpower a crazy old lady with a sickle?  Seriously, I could have taken her down and I'm not that particularly athletic.  Everyone seems willing to lie there and let Evelyn do her business.
Mountaintop Motel Massacre had so much potential that it never quite reaches.  If you want to see this theme done well, rent Motel Hell (1980) which is the perfect blend of gross out horror and camp.  It's the kind of of movie Mountaintop Motel Massacre should have been since there's no way it could pull off being a serious motel horror film such as Psycho (1960).  Sigh!
RATING: Fair.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Unnamable (1988)

Unnamable?  I'm not so sure about that.  Let's try...marginal acting, weak soundtrack, heinous adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft, boring as crap.  That's a start!  Wow. This one is bad.  I never knew a horror film could be so boring.  The basic storyline goes something like this...a woman gives birth to a hideous creature in the 1800's.  It's so ugly they refuse to name it.  The monster grows up, kills the family and is then entombed in a burial vault.  Now it's 1988 and a group of teenagers decide to check it out.  You pretty much know where it goes from there!
The monster in question only appears as a hand on screen  for most the the film.  This is NOT a case of "less is more."  This "less" is "less."  We needed to see some more of the creature in order to have any sense of interest in this uneventful film.  Yes, there's blood and people get killed.  However, the murders are neither interesting nor shocking.  I found myself saying through the whole film, "Who cares?"  I doubt you'll care either.
RATING: Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nightmares in Red, White and Blue (2009)

If you're looking for Horror Film History 101, then this is the place to get it.  Nightmares in Red, White and Blue dares to cover everything from the silent era to modern horror in only 96 minutes.  In reaching this goal it succeeds brilliantly.  Nightmares combines interviews from famous horror directors such as John Carpenter and George Romero with clips from well known and not so well known films.  
Director Andrew Monument shows how each decade of horror was influenced by what America was going through at the time.  It is insightful and extremely well put together.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, should see this film.  Even people who don't like horror should see this film because it makes the case that the horror genre has always been about more than entertainment.  It is a social commentary on the times we live in and the things that cause us to be fearful.  Don't miss it!
RATING: Excellent
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Manster (1959)

The Manster started out as a reasonable 1950s mad scientist movie that, quite possibly could have received a Good rating.  Then, about half way through the film it started tanking until it hit the rock bottom of brain-numbing stupidity.  Therefore, the challenge is how to rate such a film.
Here are the facts: The acting, for the most part is decent.  The mad scientist [Tetsu Nakamura] and his beautiful assistant [Terri Zimmern] are solid actors through and through.  Peter Dyneley who plays Larry Stanford, the biological experiment, starts out strong but then gets a bit too melodramatic for my tastes.  Part of the problem for Dyneley, however is that they give him the most ridiculous "paper mache" monster head to work with.  This head is attached to his shoulder and is laugh-out-loud funny.  Even the best of actors couldn't pull this one off.  His wife in the movie, Linda Stanford, is played by Dyneley's wife in real life, Jane Hylton.  She does a decent job of acting and is decked out like one of Hitchcock's women with impeccable clothing and hair.  Yet she, also, has a few moments of melodrama I could have done without.  
The biggest problem for me, in addition to the fake monster head, is that the screenplay is utterly ridiculous toward the end.  The premise of the film is is good but the resolution of how to cure the Manster is sheer scientific dookey.  I don't think even 1950's audiences would have bought it.
Therefore, I have to give it a Bad because even though the beginning of the film shows so much promise, it devolves into a red hot mess of a move that keeps the audience groaning long after it's preposterous images leave the screen.
RATING: Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (1984)

The Final Chapter?  I wish!  This is Part 4 in the Friday the 13th series and the last one I care to review.  This time out they went with a new director Joseph Zito (probably got him cheaper) and a little bit of star power with a very young Corey Feldman (pre Goonies and Stand By Me) and an angst-ridden teenage Crispin Glover.  They also brought in FX guru Tom Savini to choreograph the slaughter. 
The result? Well, it's definitely not the best of the series but it's better than Part 3.  The story picks up where the last one left off.  Jason is supposedly dead but springs back to life in the hospital morgue.  He then unleashes his reign of terror on a house full of teenagers as well as the  family in the vacation house next door.  Why these unfortunates picked Crystal Lake s their vacation spot is beyond me.  Seems like if they's read a newspaper or watched the evening news they would have made a better choice!
Part 4 is filled with all the things one would expect: randy teenagers skinny dipping, drinking, having sex and being slaughtered.  The sweet family next door who try to give us a few characters we actually care about.  And, of course, the unstoppable, now superhuman, Jason whose franchise refuses to die.  Thankfully, Savini gives us some great kills but this is really all Part 4 has going for it.  Everything else is a repeat of previous films.
I've always thought that Jason is the weakest of the 80's super villains.  Michael Meyers had Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasence to work with which gave those movies the emotional depth they needed.  Freddy had, well Freddy.  He was a one man show and didn't need anyone else to make him interesting.  By the time Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter made its appearance on the silver screen I found myself asking "Who cares?"  Perhaps you agree with me or maybe you're one of those people who can't get enough of serial killer movies with very little plot to sustain them.
Last count there were 10 Friday the 13th pictures, one Freddy vs, Jason, and an unnecessary remake of the first film in 2009.  All I can say is "For the love of God, please make it stop. Throw Jason in a wood chipper, toss the remains in a vat of acid and call it a day!
RATING: Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Mummy (1959)

It was just a matter of time for Hammer Studios to put their spin on Universal Studio's 1932 classic The Mummy.  This one stars Christopher Lee as Kharis,The Mummy, and Peter Cushing as John Banning, the archeologist.  How did they do?  Brilliantly!  It's the second best Mummy film ever made after the 1932 version.
The sets are breathtakingly beautiful.  Whether the cast is on an archaeological dig in the dessert, in a flashback to ancient Egypt, or in a stately English manor, every set gets the royal treatment.  I've always loved Hammer Studios for it cinematography and set design.   The Mummy represents some of their best work in this area.
Furthermore, Lee and Cushing are in top form, giving some of the best performances of their careers.  Lee is particularly strong as Kharis.  His make up is flawless and the way he physically inhabits the role is subtle, strong and believable.  Cushing is also great as the archaeologist.  It's the kind of role he was born to play and he brings some nice moments to the screen as well.  The rest of the cast is excellent and there is really not a weak actor in the bunch.
Kudos to director Terence Fisher [Horror of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein] for giving us such a beautifully made and well told story.  A total shout out to make up artist Roy Ashton for helping to bring to life a mummy that is worthy of the work of legendary make-up artist Jack Pierce.  Don't miss this one.
RATING: Excellent.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, June 22, 2012

City of the Living Dead (1980)

Italian Director Lucio Fulci has a unique vision for how to do a horror film.  Like Dario Argento, Fulci has a passion for blood as well as the grotesque which he portrays on film in artistic and squirm-worthy ways.  A year before City of the Living Dead was released, Fulci gave us Zombi 2 which was his homage to the zombie films of George Romero.  As I sat down to watch City of the Living Dead, I expected more of the same.  Boy was I surprised!
City is it's own film with a very different look for the zombies as well as the rules by which they behave.  It's a bit surrealistic, creepy as hell, and inventively disgusting.  This movie is definitely not for everyone.  You have to have a pretty high tolerance for graphic violence.  I must admit this is not my favorite kind of horror film, but I do admire the way Fulci handles the horror elements in City of the Dead.  I don't think I've seen anything else quite like it and that's saying a lot considering all the hundreds of horror films I've seen over the years.  The "drill bit through the head" and the "woman whose intestines spill out of her mouth" are prime examples of Fulci's disturbing imagination and he films these shots to absolute disgusting perfection.
If there is any weakness in City it is in terms of the acting which is a bit uneven at times and tends to lean toward the overly melodramatic.  Furthermore, while the main story line is rather straightforward, things get a bit confusing along the way.  You're not quite sure what's going on as the film progresses.  If this is intentional, which I believe it is, then the film succeeds admirably.  
The main reason to watch City of the Living Dead is because it's zombies embody pure terror and evil.  They are even more menacing than Romero's zombies if that's possible.    City is a unique and disturbing film that is a must see for fans of zombies and blood splatter.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Friday the 13th: Part 3 (1982)

These days 3D movies are all the rage with numerous titles coming out in 3D on the big screen and 3D TV's making their appearances in homes across America.  Personally I don't see what the fuss is all about.  With the exception of a few releases such as Avatar   and U2's 3D concert film, the effect is mostly wasted and adds very little to the experience of watching the movie.  
Now let's travel back to 1982 when Friday the 13th waded into the 3D pool and the effect was a novelty.  I saw it in the theater and remember thinking how cheesy the 3D effect was.  It was reduced to a sequence of gratuitous "cheap shots" where things jumped off the screen and into your lap in order to give you a scare.  Ho-hum.  Even watching it now in 2D the viewer can tell where the effect kicked in and can see it adds absolutely nothing to the experience of watching the film. 
Part 3 is the weakest of the franchise so far.  The 3D effect was enough to get people out to the theater but, unfortunately, they were treated to very little else.  The acting is the weakest of the first three films by far.  I found myself caring very little for what happened to anyone in this film.  Furthermore, the plot is basically non-existent.  It's just a series of mindless killings that aren't particularly inventive or interesting.
The biggest problem Part 3 has is continuity.  In the intro montage we have "Jason the small" with a pillow case over his head and a thirst for vengeance for the beheadding of his mother.  Then, all of a sudden, we have "Jason the large" who must have taken mega-doses of growth hormones between Part 2 and 3.  We also have the introduction of the iconic hockey mask and machete more than half way through the film.  Yet there is no creative explanation for why Jason chose these items.  He simply picked them up off the ground between killings.  Puh-lease.  Don't insult your audience.  We needed more than that!
Part 3 feels like lazy filmmaking, which I hate.  The subject matter is already wearing thin and doesn't really get any better in the sequels that would follow it.  The things that made Part 1 great are simply not present in Part 3.  Too bad everyone decided that making lots of cash was more important than artistic integrity.  This one belong on the bottom of Crystal Lake!
RATING: Fair.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981)

For those who care...Mrs. Voorhees, the original killer from Part 1, is dead.  She was beheaded, at the end of the first film.  This time it's Jason's turn to slash.  However, this is not the giant, indestructible Jason whose hockey mask spawned a million Halloween costumes.  This Jason is slightly smaller in stature and wears a pillow case over his head with one eye hole cut out.  His iconic form would follow in later sequels.
How good is Part 2?  Well, I think it's a bit weaker than the original but is actually very well made with lots of nice scares and blood effects.  Thankfully, director Steve Miner doesn't mess with the things that made Part 1 a classic.  He takes over nicely for Sean S. Cunningham and adds a few extra touches that work well in the sequel.
In Part 2 we have another group of camp counselors ripe for slaughter.  They are at a camp down the road from the now defunct Camp Crystal Lake.  But this doesn't stop Jason from paying them a visit as he seeks his revenge for the death of his momma.  This cast does an decent job in fulfilling their roles although I think the original cast was better.  My favorite of the bunch is "survivor girl" Ginny, played by Amy Steel.  She really shines in the final scenes of the movie which are some of the best moments in this film.
The fun of Part 2 is that it still manages to make me jump a time or two even though I've seen it over and over again.  There is a lot of misdirection in Part 2 as well as good use of making the viewer let their guard down before going in for the kill.  
Finally, my favorite thing about Part 2 is Harry Manfredini's iconic and masterful film score.  It builds on the themes established in Part 1 and sets the mood of each scene like few other scores out there.  Brilliant!
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Vicious Lips (1986)

Cult classics are not everyone's cup of tea.  You either love 'em or hate 'em.  I fall into the category of love 'em so proceed with this in mind.  Vicious Lips is the brain child of B-movie Director/Writer Albert Pyun.  Think of it as an 80's New Wave video that knows how ridiculous it is.  There is no bigger 80's hair than is seen in this film.  It's awe inspiring and makes Motley Crue look like slackers!  Vicious Lips is a mix of camp comedy, science fiction, horror and fantasy.  At times it feels like the Rocky Horror Picture Show.  At other times, well, I didn't know what the hell was going on.  But that's part of the fun!
The plot is nothing new: An all girl band called the Vicious Lips finally gets their big break, if only they can make it to the gig on time.  That's all you really need to know.  Any more and it will spoil the fun.  
Vicious Lips gets kudos from me because, like Rocky Horror, it does a lot with a limited budget.  The backdrops, costumes and lighting set the stage for an other-worldly adventure.  Is it realistic?  Heck no.  This is not Ridley Scott we're talking about!  This is a creative director who knows how to turn trashy into flashy and I mean that as a sincere compliment.
The only weakness is that Vicious Lips gets a little lost somewhere in the middle of the film.  However, it finds itself somewhere toward the end of the film and finishes strong with the kind of big 80's New Wave number that befits the occasion.  Kudos to Sue Sadd and Mary Ellen Quinn who did the all the vocals for the lead singer of the band, Judy Jetson.  They both have terrific sets of pipes and elevate the quality of the music way beyond what one would expect in this kind of film.  While the soundtrack is nearly impossible to find, a quick Google search will yield a number of Vicious Lips songs for those who desire to hear them again and again.  I have a massive 80's mp3 collection and these will find a welcome home right next to A Flock of Seagulls and Dead or Alive.
So, my rating for this one is Very Good IF you like camp.  Otherwise you'll probably hate  Vicious Lips and think it's a slice of 80's cheese you'd like to avoid as much as a can of hair mousse and skinny ties.
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the episode's entry in IMDB

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Shock Waves (1977)

In 2009 I watched with delight the Danish "Nazi zombie" film Dead Snow.  It made me wonder why the subject hadn't been explored before.  Then I came across Shock Waves, an small budget film that explored similar territory back in 1977.  Shock Waves is a mixed bag.  The premise by director/co-writer Ken Wiederhorn is a great one.  A young woman, who was found adrift in a small rowboat, tells a harrowing story of her experience on a remote island where her tourist boat was stranded.  On this island lives an aging SS Officer and a legion of zombie fighters he once commanded known as the Death Corps.
The zombies in this film are totally awesome and unique.  They are completely different from the typical Romero style zombie.  They are often filmed coming in and out of the water to great effect and have no interest in gut munching whatsoever.  They are simply mindless killers.  If you're a fan of all things zombie, they are a must-see.
Where Shock Waves falls short of the mark is in terms of its human actors, some of whom are pretty bad.  Even the great Peter Cushing is not at his best in this film.  Neither is John Carradine who appears in the beginning of Shock Waves as the captain of the tourist boat.  Furthermore, the script is also a little weak in places and is in need of a rewrite in the dialogue department.
Shock Waves is an uneven film with flashes of originality.  It is definitely crying out for a remake and I'm actually surprised it's never been done before.  Watch this only if you're a fan of the zombie sub-genre of horror.
RATING: Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Empire of the Ants (1977)

Take a perfectly good W. G. Wells story and pass it through the filter of 1950's Sci-Fi Horror B-movie fears about nuclear radiation.  Then set it in the 1970's where people wear buttoned up leisure suits to the beach [Seriously!] and have to face Joan Collins as the bitchy, ambitious real estate agent who will stop at nothing to make money.  What do you have?  Empire of the Ants, of course.
If you're looking for serious horror, then look elsewhere.  Director/Writer/Producer Bert I. Gordon made over 25 Sci/Fi and Horror films during this career and most of them are right up there with the worst of Roger Corman.  Bert is know for such "classics" as Attack of the Puppet People and The Food of the Gods [another H. G. Wells disaster] as well as Empire of the Ants.
The effects in Empire are groan-worthy.  In an era that gave us such classics as Halloween (1978), and Jaws (1975) this kind of effects work is inexcusable.  It's so bad that it is actually funny at times.  But, ultimately, the joke cannot sustain itself for the entire length of the film.
Furthermore, the acting is fine but it's hardly spectacular.  This film is fairly predictable every step of the way and offers no surprises to the viewer.  Even Joan Collins cannot save this film form its own excesses.  Perhaps a cat fight with one of the ants would have helped, but I doubt it!
If you like super cheesy B-movies, then you just might find this one entertaining.  Otherwise skip this one altogether. 
RATING: Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ghoulies (1985)

Ghoulies can be thought of as good or bad depending upon who is viewing it.  If your taste is toward serious horror, then you'll probably side with IMDB and give it a 3.4 rating.  [Ouch, that's gotta hurt!]  However, if you look at it as a film whose over the top performances are intentional and humorous, like a Road Runner cartoon, then you just might enjoy the ride.
I fall into the latter category so let me make my case.  If Jim Henson had made a pact with the devil, then his muppets might look a bit like the ones in Ghoulies.  I think they're absolutely fantastic.   They are masterfully constructed with moving eyes and expressive mouths.  Their slimy skin, gnarled teeth and sparse hair are quite effective, giving them an old world, decayed look.   For me Ghoulies gets a Very Good rating simply because of their presence in the film.
As for the humanoids, it's true their acting is sometimes over the top but I'm convinced this is intentional.  Watching them conjure up the Devil using ridiculous made up words, dry ice fog and lots of hocus pocus puts a smile on my face.  It's not supposed to be scary, people.  It's supposed to be funny so lighten up a bit.
My final argument for the film is that it is well made.  Yes, it's full of 80's excesses and cliches but in its darker moments it has a wonderful look and texture to it.  I find the "little people" that appear later in the film to be a bit too much, but most of this film works pretty well.  It's got a solid plot and the acting is much, much better than it's 3.4 rating on IMDB.
So, critics be damned.  I think Ghoulies is good fun if you approach it that way from the start.  As a final note look for a cameo from Mariska Hargitay from Law and Order:SVU.  It's a kick to see her all dolled up in her 80's hair and belted sweater skirt.  OMG!
RATING: Very Good.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Breeders (1986)

The fact that director Tim Kincaid was allowed to direct numerous films after Breeders is incomprehensible to me.  This one is right up there with the Roger Corman suckfest Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961).  The only thing this film has going for it is a plethora of bare breasted women which is fine if you're a 13 year old straight boy.  Otherwise, it serves no purpose artistically or otherwise.
Breeders is a "red hot mess" of a film.  The acting is marginal at best and often horrible.  The action and gore sequences are amateurish.  The main monster is among the worst I've seen on the silver screen.  They could have picked up a better costume at the Halloween Superstore!  For shame!
The fact that movies like this even exist is a mystery to me.  It's couldn't even hope to fall into the "so-bad-it's-good" category because it's just plain God-awful.  Avoid this one at all costs.  You've been warned.
RATING: Bad.  Really Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Car (1977)

This one is typical 70's far and I don't mean that in a good sense.  It feels more like a T.V. movie of the week rather than a feature film.  The Car spots plenty of cliches and is predictable from the opening scene.  There are a number of holes in the plot as well.  If you like the demon-possessed car theme, I suggest you spend your time with two films from the 1980's The Wraith (1986) and Christine (1983).  The former has Charlie Sheen going for it.  The latter is a Stephen Kind adaptation which is almost always a good thing, especially in terms of storytelling.
The car is not a bad film.  It's not a good film either.  The acting, direction, cinematography and music are solid.  The problem lies with the plot which is neither interesting nor frightening.  I won't belabor the point.  You can skip this one altogether.  Even veteran actors such as James Brolin and Ronny Cox cannot save this film from its lack of of excitement and originality.  I expect greatness from Universal Studios.  This one does not deliver the goods.
As a weird side note, Satanist Anton LaVey was the "creative consultant" for this film.  Too bad they didn't speak to either John Carpenter or Stephen King instead!
RATING: Fair.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)

How the critics gave this one a 6.9 on IMDB is a mystery to me.  Six years after George Romero's groundbreaking "Night of the Living Dead," we have an Italian zombie flick that already feel formulaic and predictable.  This one did nothing for me.  The story centers on a couple who become the targets of a zombie attack that was caused by the use of radiation on local farms.  Ugh!  How 1950's.
Unlike other Italian films that bring us interesting zombies [Zombi 2, for instance] the ones in Let Sleeping Corpses Lie [LSCL] are actually boring.  Yes, they shamble around like proper Romero zombies.  But they don't inspire the feeling of fear and dread that Romero's do.  For those who care, there is blood but it's not the kind that makes you really squirm in your seat.
LSCL has both Italian and English actors and the American version of the film is dubbed for both.  This is always a little weird because the English track doesn't always line up.  But after a while the viewer stops paying attention to this so it's not too distracting.
The cinematography and direction are fine on this but LSCL feels like a poor version of Night of the Living Dead.  Too bad director Jorge Grau didn't study Romero's film more closely.  He could have learned a lot about how to make an iconic horror flick that is still creepy over forty years later.
RATING: Fair.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Terror (1963)

Jack Nicholson is an actor of considerable talent.  However, this talent is hardly on display in The Terror.  Nicholson plays Lt. Andre Duvalier, a young French officer in Napoleon's army.  He pursues the lovely Helene, or is it Elsa, to the castle of Baron von Leppe, played by Boris Karloff.  Nicholson displays the acting talent of a high school play here, often delivering his lines without emotion.  It is cringe-worthy to say the least.  Glad to see he improved as his career advanced!
Karloff does a nice job with the Baron.  This film is toward the end of his career but he shows he still has the acting chops and the energy to pull it off.  Nicholson is bested by Karloff in every scene where they appear together.
Roger Corman is at the helm of this less than terrifying film.  It's hardly his best work either.  Everything about the time period seems a bit off in terms of set construction and many of the costumes.  Ugh!
The worst part of The Terror is the "twist" that occurs about fifteen minutes before the end of the film.  It's a WTF moment worthy of Gossip Girl.  I found myself groaning and screaming at the screen, "You've got to be sh**ing me!"  The end of the film is a complete red hot mess with a witch bursting into flames and a crypt flooding with water where Karloff was clearly replaced by a stunt double.  The final scene where Helene's face melts into something I can only describe as caramel ice cream topping is laugh out loud bad.  Skip this one unless you're a die-hard Karloff fan.
RATING: Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Prince of Darkness (1987)

I must admit I'm a big John Carpenter fan.  Prince of Darkness is certainly no exception to this rule.  The star of this show is actually the soundtrack which is amazingly effective in establishing the mood and never letting it go.  I can only wish all soundtracks were this good.  So kudos to Carpenter and Alan Howarth for their amazing work on this film.
Prince of Darkness is a supernatural/satanic tale starring [Yes!] Donald Pleasence [Dr. Loomis from the Halloween franchise] as a priest who takes over an abandoned church.  The problem is that there is a mysterious cylinder that was hidden in the church's basement and it begins causing trouble at every turn.  A research team is sent in to investigate and things keep getting weirder and wider until the film's suspenseful conclusion. Sweet!  The effects are mostly understated but effective.  The lady with the decaying, bloody face and the wide eyes was particularly awesome as she kept calling for the Dark Lord to cross over into this world.  Super Sweet!
I must admit that it takes a lot to unnerve me while watching a horror film.  But there is something about Prince of Darkness that's just plain old creepy.  There are no loud noises to make you jump or things popping out at you.  Just simple, unrelenting, creepiness which is actually a hard thing to accomplish.
When everyone talks about Carpenter's horror work they always reference Halloween and The Thing.  I think Prince of Darkness stands pretty close to both of them.  It's one of those films that tells a highly original and compelling story.  Well done.  Don't miss it!
P.S.  As an added bonus, rocker Alice Cooper makes an uber-creepy cameo appearance that puts him head and shoulders above the rest of Satan's minions in the film.
RATING: Excellent.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Monster Dog (1984)

Yes, this movie boasts Alice Cooper in the lead role.  But even this cannot save the mess that is Monster dog.  Cooper stars in this Spanish release as pop star Vince Raven.  Unfortunately, Cooper thinks this is a "serious" role and plays it straight all the way.  I prefer Cooper when he has a sense of camp about him such as in Suck (2009) which is what I can say about his performance here.  Cooper is not a dramatic actor.  He needs to be either creepy or campy or a combination of both.  Enough said.
The rest of the cast doesn't fare much better.  However, part of the problem is the script they've been given to work with.  At times, Monster Dog feels like two different films and you're not sure which one your getting at any given moment.  Furthermore, the special effects are pretty poor but not so poor that they fall into the "so bad they're good" category.  Even for 80's standards they fall short of the mark.
I just couldn't get into this movie at all.  I suggest you rent Suck and laugh your butt off instead.  It's a very clever spin on the vampire mythology and Alice Cooper is fantastic.
RATING: Bad.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.