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, January 29, 2015

Donovan's Brain (1953)

Curt Siodmak is a horror writing legend.  He is the genius behind Black Friday (1940), The Wolf Man (1941) and House of Frankenstein (1944) among others.  Siodmak also wrote the novel that inspired the screenplay for Donovan’s Brain.

The basic set up is a classic Sci-fi horror story about a scientist who keeps the brain of a dead millionaire after he was killed in a plane accident.  Where it goes from there is for you to enjoy!  Needless to say, things take a sinister turn.

While director Felix Feist is hardly a household name, he does a great job in the pacing of the film and builds suspense throughout Donovan’s Brain quite nicely.  He also gets terrific performances out of his lead actors.  Lew Ayres [Damien: Omen II and lots of TV credits] is perfect as Dr. Patrick Cory.  He has a commanding presence on screen and delivers his lines with confidence and strength. 

I also enjoyed Nancy Reagan [Yes! President Ronald Reagan’s wife!] who plays Dr. Cory’s wife, Janice.  What I especially like about the character is that this 1950’s woman is good for more than preparing dinner.  She is an invaluable and competent research assistant and Reagan nails the part perfectly.  Go, girl power!  I had never seen Nancy Reagan in a film before and I’m impressed with her performance here.

Enjoy this delightful piece of Sci-fi horror.  It is most definitely worth your time.

RATING: Very Good.

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

 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Damien: Omen II (1978)

Little Damien, the anti-Christ, is now an unruly teenager with raging hormones and a taste for unleashing the powers of darkness on anyone who poses a threat to him.  What’s a boy to do?  This sequel to the hugely successful horror classic The Omen (1976) hits more than it misses.  It’s a bit of a slow-burner but it has a few creative and surprising deaths along the way.

I’m not sure why but Richard Donner [Lethal Weapon, The Goonies], who did the original film, was replaced by Don Taylor [Remake of the Island of Dr Moreau, Escape from the Planet of the Apes].  Mike Hodges [Flash Gordon, Morons From Outer Space] is listed as an uncredited director which usually means the film was in trouble and they brought in another director to make things right. 

Damien definitely has a few nice special effects, including the use of the demonic crows, but the rest of the film is rather tepid with lots of brooding and consternating.  Jonathan Scott-Taylor does a nice job as Damien and doesn’t overplay the character.  In this film, he’s in the process of discovering his true identity and the writer handles this subtly and effectively. 

As the story begins, Damien now lives with his Uncle Richard and Aunt Ann in the suburbs of Chicago and attends a military boarding school.  He is surrounded by lots of people who pose a threat to his existence and they are eliminated, one by one.

That’s all you really need to know.  If you love lots of blood and guts, then this film is not for you.  If you enjoy a good thriller then Damien: Omen II might do quite nicely.

RATING: Excellent.

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