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!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Clairvoyant a.k.a. The Evil Mind (1935)

The Clairvoyant is a forgotten gem of 1930’s cinema.  While it’s not as well known as Dracula (1931) or Frankenstein (1931), The Clairvoyant has two marvelous performances from Claude Rains [The Invisible Fan]  and Fay Wray [King Kong].  I’ve always been a huge fan of The Invisible Man so it was delightful to actually SEE Claude Rains in the flesh.  His physical presence in this role shows what a powerful and versatile actor he was.  Fay Wray was a cinematic beauty of great grace and charm.  She does not disappoint in this film.

The Clairvoyant is the story of Maximus, a fake clairvoyant who suddenly gains real psychic powers.  It’s a great premise that develops quite nicely as we see Maximus struggle with this newfound gift.  The Clairvoyant also boasts a train wreck scene, a mine disaster, and a big horse race.  That’s pretty good for 1935 and it takes the viewer on quite an adventure.

The copies of The Clairvoyant that are available to view and download for free are not the greatest quality. However, this film is well worth your time even if the picture is less than perfect.  You can find this film on archive.org under the title The Evil Mind and on YouTube under both names.  Netflix also streams it and has the best quality of all the sources I looked at.

Don’t miss it!  It’s short, sweet and showcases the talents of both Rains and Wray.

RATING: Very Good.

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

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Barracuda (1978)

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…there’s another killer shark, no wait, piranhas, no wait, whales, no wait, barracudas!  Why not?  After the immense success of Jaws, everyone was itching to make a buck off the next man-eating sea creature.  Enter Barracuda.  Thanks to cinematographer Edmund Gibson [Flipper] we have some beautiful underwater photography to look at.  Things go downhill, however, when the actors break the surface and the dialogue begins!

There are many problems with Barracuda.  The big ones are a plot that’s been done to death and actors who are rather amateurish at best.  They also have terrible dialogue to work with which makes matters worse.  Director/writer/actors Harry Kerwin  and Wayne Crawford are at the helm of this sinking ship of a film.  Well, at least we know who to blame!  Two other Kerwins are listed among the credits so this film may be a family affair as well!

Unlike Roger Corman’s gleefully spoofy Piranha (1978), Barracuda takes itself way too seriously and has no sense of fun about it whatsoever.  It just drags on and on and we know exactly where it’s headed every dreadful step of the way.

If you like beautiful underwater photography watch Animal Planet on TV.  If you’re looking for a nice suspenseful monster movie, go elsewhere!  You’ve been warned.

RATING: Bad.

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


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Piranha (1978)

Sometimes I just crave a Roger Corman cheesefest.  Piranha fits the bill quite nicely!  Corman knew how to make a wide array of films from the inexcusably horrible Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961) to the brilliant Mask of the Red Death (1964).  Piranha falls somewhere between these two extremes.  After the success of Jaws (1975) and The Deep (1977), filmmakers continued to look for water terrors that would lure people into the movie theaters.  Corman, quite aware of what he was making, set out to spoof them a bit and the results are quite delicious!

The story begins in a summer resort town that, conveniently also has an abandoned US Army test site where the uber-hungry piranhas were created.  Naturally, they get loose and things go downhill from there.  Director Joe Dante (Gremlins, Innerspace) knows how to shoot action with a lot of heart and Piranha has it.  Each scenario is achingly predictable but also enjoyable to watch as the next group of victims is lined up for the attack.  The sound and look of the piranhas is intentionally bad, adding to the fun of it all.  There is nothing surprising that happens in Piranha.  All the predictable stereotypes are there.  Who could ask for anything more?

Well, the film also has a cameo role by Italian scream queen Barbara Steele [The Pit and the Pendulum, Black Sunday ] as a scientist.  It just adds to the fun.  Bradford Dillman channels a bad Charlton Heston in the lead character, Paul Grogan, and Heather Menzes-Urich is prefect as his perky blond sidekick Maggie.

If you watch Piranha expecting Jaws, you will likely be disappointed.  If you’re looking for a tongue-in-cheek good time, then you just might fall in love with it.  MANY sequels and remakes were made but I think the original is still the best.

Sometimes bad is good and Roger Corman knows how to serve it up like no one else!

RATING: Good. [Impossible to rate]

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


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

April Fool's Day (1986)

Dead Teenager Movies.  You either like ‘em or you hate ‘em.  Personally I like ‘em, especially those who take the time to develop their characters before killing them off one by one!  April Fool’s Day is a simple but clever Dead Teenager Movie.  The action takes place when a group of college students spend a weekend at a friend’s island mansion.  With a solid script by Danilo Bach [Beverly Hills Cop] and excellent direction by Fred Walton [When a Stranger Calls] a great deal of time is spent on the front end of the movie introducing us to this group of teens to make sure we care about them.  Then, after a freak ferry accident, the fun begins and these crazy co-eds begin disappearing one by one. 

A lot of April Fool’s Day is by the book Dead Teenager Movie stuff with classic kills and things that jump out at you.  However, the surprise ending of this movie will knock your socks off.  As the final credits roll, the viewer realizes just how clever this film really is.

April Fool’s Day is also helped by a great cast including the likes of Ken Olandt [Leprechaun], Deborah Foreman [Waxwork, Valley Girl], Deborah Goodrich [Just One of the Guys, Remote Control] and Thomas F. Wilson [Back to the Future].  They may not be household names but if you love the films of the 80’s you will recognize them immediately.  They make you care what happens to these teens and that’s quite an accomplishment in a Dead Teenager Movie.

So, definitely give this one a try.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable film with lots of action and a few interesting twists along the way.

RATING: Very Good.

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