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!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Amityville 3-D (1984)

Back in the early 80’s there were a number of 3-D films made, most of which were rather gimmicky.  Those done in the horror genre included Amityville 3-
D, Friday the 13th Part III,  and Jaws 3-D. 

A3-D starts out strong with a seance that is debunked by a paranormal investigating team.  The scene works well and sets the stage for all that is to come.  As scene one draws to a close, we hear the sound of a fly and then the creepy music kicks in!  The next shot is of the infamous Amityville house that one of the investigators, John Baxter, decides to purchase.  Boys and girls, we have a horror film!

The cast is packed with a solid cast of character actors.  Tony Roberts [Serpico, Law & Order] plays John Baxter and the always excellent Tess Harper [No Country For Old Men, Tender Mercies] plays his wife.  The cast also includes Lori Loughlin [Full House], Meg Ryan [Sleepless in Seattle, When harry Met Sally] and Robert Joy [CSI NY, Land of the Dead] who I’ve always thought is an immensely underrated actor.  [You’ll know him when you see him.   He’s been in everything!]

While the copy of A3-D I saw was in 2-D, it’s easy to see where they applied the effects.  Most of it is cheesy such as opening titles jumping from the screen, a swarm of flies and a hand reaching out.  Ho-hum.  It never takes advantage of the medium like modern 3-D films such as Avatar.

Overall, I don’t see why IMDB rates it a 3.9.  It’s a much better movie than that.  While the 3-D work is silly, the basic storyline is solid [except for quite a few really bad special effects] and the acting is good as well.  I also enjoyed the symphonic soundtrack that was done by Howard Blake [Flash Gordon, RoboCop, The Hunger]. It beats the usual synth-driven film scores which were so prevalent in the 80’s.

So, don’t count this one out.  A3-D is much better than you might assume it would be.

RATING: Fair.

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


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Once Bitten (1985)

Jim Carrey [The Truman Show, Ace Ventura] as a teenage virgin who becomes the obsession of sexy vampire Lauren Hutton [American Gigolo].  Ah, the 80’s.  Director Howard Storm [Mork & Mindy, Valerie] tries to maintain that difficult balance between horror and comedy and succeeds more times than he misses.  Jim Carry gives a more subtle performance than his usual over-the top-lunacy.  It serves him well here.  Hutton is fantastic as the vamp Countess with a great mix of sultry and playfulness. 

The two other stand-outs are Cleavon Little as the Countess’ fey manservant and Karen Hopkins who is Carrey’s girlfriend.  Little steals every scene he’s in and delivers all his lines to perfection.  Hopkins is strongest when she’s going toe-to-toe with the Countess.  Their dance-off to prove who deserves Carrey’s love is priceless.

The negatives include a less than spectacular 80’s soundtrack and some terrible homophobic material that might have worked in the 80’s but falls flat on its face in 2014.  Overall, it’s not a bad movie.  I think it needs a little more comedy and a little more horror.  It never reaches the greatness of such 80’s horror comedies such as Teen Wolf (1985) and Gremlins (1984).

RATING: Good.

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


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Mummy Lives (1993)

While The Mummy Lives falls beyond my usual cut-off date of 1990, I thought it needed to be reviewed since no one ever talks about this version of the Mummy legend.  I found a copy of this in the $3.00 bin at my local used CD/DVD store.  The verdict?  It’s a mixed bag that could have been so much better than it turned out to be.

The good news: The cinematography by Avi Koren was quite nice.  Portions of the movie were actually filmed in Cairo and Luxor.  This was a nice change from the usual backlot mummy film.  I’ve visited both Cairo and Luxor and can vouch the film crew was
actually there!  The scenes inside the tomb aren’t bad either even though they were  clearly filmed in a studio.

The bad news: There’s lots of it.  First of all, Tony Curtis [Some Like It Hot, The Defiant Ones], who is usually good, is just god-awful in this movie.  His acting is wooden and stiff.  Perhaps some of this can be blamed on the director but Curtis shares some responsibility for this.  The rest of the cast is equally as tepid.

Further bad news comes with the plot which is predictable every step of the way.  It borrows everything from the old 1940s films starring Boris Karloff and does nothing to add to the Mummy legend.  The ending is also painful when the “god vengeance” is suddenly given a voice.  It’s groan-worthy to say the least!

The Mummy Lives has been ripped to shreds on IMDB with a 3.3 rating.  I think it’s a bit unfair.  Yes the acting is quite bad but the visuals are enough to make the film watchable.  It’s hardly the best film I’ve ever seen, but it ain’t the worst either!

RATING: Fair.

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


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll (1964) a.k.a Dr Orloff’s Monster or The Secret of Dr Orloff

Dr. Orloff’s Monster Andros HATES jazz, hussies and men who try to kill him.  He does, however, have a sweet spot for “good girl” Melissa.  Dr. Orloff’s Monster [Netflix title] is the “sequel” to the Awful Dr. Orloff.  The basic storyline is a familiar one: Dr. Orloff is dying and he passes his secrets on to his research assistant Dr. Conrad Jekyll.  [Now you understand the confusion of the title of the film.]  Where it goes from there is pretty much by the book.  No surprises here at all!

The biggest problems with this film are as follows:
 

1) It is set at Christmastime and they make mention of this throughout the film.  However, there are almost no Christmas decorations to be found anywhere!  Hmm.  This film could have been set any other time of year without changing anything in the plot.
2)  The monster is activated by hyper-sonic sound which isn’t abel to be detected by the human ear.  Yet, every time they use this machine we hear a high pitched whining sound.  Hmm.
3) The film is HORRIBLY misogynistic and treats all the women in the cast as little more than toys to grope and ogle at.  Argh!  All the “sluts” get murdered, and the “good girl” survives.  Puh-lease!
4) At times Dr Orloff’s Monster feels more like an Italian melodrama/soap opera than a horror film.  In my book, this is not good.

The brightest spot is Dr Jekyll’s self-loathing, alcoholic wife who has a wonderful presence on screen.  If only Bette Davis could have inhabited this role.  It would have been over-the-top delicious!

As a final ho-hum, the version streaming on Netflix is horrible.  The picture is grainy and the sound isn;t much better.  If anyone know of a better version out there, please leave a comment.  Good film quality would have definitely helped my enjoyment of Dr. Orloff.

RATING: Fair.

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