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, March 22, 2017

Demons 3: The Ogre (1988)

Lamberto Bava, son of Italian horror legend Mario Bava, definitely knows what he's doing behind the camera. I'm definitely a fan of Demons 1 and 2, but when it comes to Demons 3: The Ogre, here's what you need to know to enjoy it more:

This movie has nothing to do with Demons 1 and 2. In fact, the title of the movie is The Ogre or House of the Ogre which was its original title. Demons 3 got slapped onto the box art of the latest DVD release in the US in order to generate more sales through name recognition. Lamberto never intended it as a sequel. Booooo!

The Ogre was created as a made for TV movie. This means its a lot tamer than the usual "buckets of blood" Italian horror film. This is not a bad thing. You just have to go into viewing it with this in mind.

Where Bala excels in The Ogre is creating tons of atmosphere. In all the scenes where the actual creature is lurking about it's a total home run. The visuals are greatly enhanced by a simple but ominous musical theme that is repeated throughout each of these scenes. It helps to build a sense of dread every time.

The two things that prevent The Ogre from receiving a Very Good rating form me are it's length and the design of the creature itself. The Ogre would have been much stronger with a shorter run time of around 1 hour. There are far too many scenes that don't contribute much to the story. With regard to the creature, it's best when we only see a hand or part of his torso. When we finally see him in full form he looks more like a giant, slimy Ewok! The clothing choice is too cartoonish and would have been more effective with a more disheveled/degraded look. Hansel & Gretel outfits don't exactly work in creating a menacing monster.

So, definitely give this movie a chance is you like Italian Horror. It's strong points definitely outweigh its weak points.

RATING: Good.

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

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Zombie Nightmare (1987)

Zombie Nightmare is, indeed, a nightmare but not in a good way. Heinous acting. Stereotypical characters. The worst Italian and Jamaican/Haitian accents I've ever heard in a film. No wonder this movie was the target of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In fact, I recommend that if you dare to watch this film watch the MST3K version so at least you can laugh at this "so bad, it's bad" movie.

The basic story revolves around a mother whose husband dies early in the film. Then, years later, her son is killed in a hit and run car accident. Mama isn't going down without a fight so she enlists the neighborhood voodoo priestess (Doesn't everybody have one?) to bring her son back to life so he can seek his revenge. The scenes with the priestess are laugh-out-loud ridiculous and the make-up on the zombie son looks like something you're likely to see in your neighborhood on Halloween night. I know they had a limited budget but, even I do better work than this! The rest of the film involves zombie-boy bashing in everyone's skulls in with a baseball bat until everyone who was in the car that hit him is dead. What makes it worse is that there is no gore in these scenes so the deaths have no emotional or visceral impact whatsoever.

The only bright spot in Zombie Nightmare are the songs from Motörhead and Girlschool. [Why the UK band Girlschool never got noticed in the US is a mystery to me.] The rest is the worst of what hair metal has to offer from bands you've never read of. [Virgin Steele, anyone?] Even the promise of Adam "Batman" West isn't enough of a draw since he doesn't appear in the film until about 45 minutes into it and then gives a lackluster performance.
So if you're looking for zombies of the flesh-eating type, look elsewhere. If you're looking for horror that's scary, look elsewhere. If you're looking for a movie that has been made wit at least a minimum of competence, look elsewhere. You've been warned!

RATING: Bad.

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Unseen (1980)

Oh. My. Goodness. I really enjoyed this movie. If I didn't know any better, I would swear it was made in the early 70's because it has that slightly trashy, exploitive quality to it. And there's enough screaming and overall angst in the closing 20 minutes to rival any Italian horror film I've watched. Bravo!

The Unseen is the story of three female television reporters who end up staying in a house where something sinister is lurking in the basement. Granted, you figure out what's in the basement long before the reporters do, but that's half the fun.

Director Danny Steinmann only has four movie credits to his name which is surprising. He sets up the scenes very well and gets the maximum amount of suspense out of the story. His first film, High Rise, which he wrote and directed under the alias Danny Stone, was a hardcore porn feature. He definite carries that sensibility into The Unseen.

The biggest reason why this film works is the remarkable performance of Sydney Lassick [Carrie, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest] who plays Ernest Keller, the owner of the house where the women are staying. He is able to cover a wide range of emotions from child-like innocence to bat-shit crazy. It's a delightful performance to watch and I cannot say enough good things about his work in this film.

The "star" of The Unseen is Barbara Bach, a doe-eyed model/actress who once graced the cover of Playboy magazine. She is best known for her role in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Unfortunately, they don't give her much to do in this film except crawl across the floor screaming, crawl through the mud screaming, etc. Jeez, she only twisted her ankle. Why was she so helpless in the climatic scenes of this film? I hate disempowered women in movies and wish they had made a few stronger choices for her character.

I'm not going to give away the ending because watching The Unseen unfold is half the fun. This movie is so much better than its rating on IMDB. You can watch it on YouTube so definitely give it a try, especially if you like your murder movies a little on the trashy side!

RATING: Very Good.

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


Friday, March 10, 2017

Curse 2: The Bite (1989)

Dear sweet Jesus, please make this movie stop! Bad story. Bad acting. Bad sequel. Bad sound editing. Bad snake cam shot from the snake's perspective. Bad radioactive mutant snake-dog. Bad soundtrack. Holy crap, this is one bad movie! I simply couldn't watch it all the way through so I fast forwarded to the ending scene. What did I behold? Bad mutant snake and a woman wallowing in mud.

Don't watch it. Just don't watch it! Even if you like cheesy movies, just don't watch it! You've been warned! There is a Curse 3 and there is no way in hell I'm watching it! Thank God this is the only film director/writer/producer Frederico Prosperi ever directed. He only produced one more. Enough said!

RATING: Bad. (really, really bad)

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Witchboard III: The Possession (1995)

Who knew you could receive hot stock tips from a Ouija board? But proceed with caution, because everything has a price. That pretty much sums up Witchboard III: The Possession (W3) which is an attempt to milk a little more money out of a movie that never needed a sequel let alone a trilogy. There are a few clever moments in the movie  such as a death by taxidermy butterflies (Believe it or not, it's quite effective) and a shocking suicide. However, most of W3 is pretty predictable stuff.

The problem begins with the script which starts out strong but gets a little lost along the way. With three authors listed for the story and screenplay, this usually indicates there were problems that needed to be fixed. It shows. This story definitely has potential that was never fully realized.

The second weakness lies in the main character whose body is stolen by the demon. All of a sudden his speech pattern is different, along with his new hairdo…and his wife doesn't seen to notice! It's a bit silly and a subtler approach was definitely needed.

The last weakness is the ending which has some ridiculous CGI effects including a wife spinning rapidly in midair (an LOL moment is there ever was one) plus a demon who is a guy in a slimy Godzilla suit. It just kills what's supposed to be the climax of the film.

So, viewer beware. I was a fan of the first Witchboard but, honestly, the other two are not exactly great cinema. Rumors have been swirling on the internet on a remake of the first film. If it comes to fruition, I look forward to seeing what they can do with it. It's still a great story that has never reached its fullest potential on the big screen.

RATING: Fair.

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


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Curse (1987)

How this movie was never on my 1980's horror radar remains a mystery to me. Forget its low rating on IMBD. The Curse is a fun film that, somehow, I have not seen until now. Director David Keith, who is known more for his acting [An Officer and a Gentleman, U-571], does an excellent job of bringing all of the elements together to make The Curse work. First of all, he's got Will Wheaton who captured my heart as the troubled Gordie in Stand By Me (1986). He was excellent in that film and he is excellent here as a young abused farm boy who suspects something is amiss when an "asteroid" crashes nearby. Wheaton gives this character lots of emotional depth which is a rare gift for an actor his age. His counterpoint in this film is his religious zealot crazy father, played by veteran actor Claude Akins [Battle For the planet of the Apes] who has more acting credits to his name than can be mentioned here. They are great together. As an added bonus John Schneider [Bo in Dukes of Hazzard] makes an appearance as a TVA inspector who comes to the family farm to see what the fuss is all about.

The other element in The Curse that is a total home run is its special effects. Sight gags and gross out moments are in ample supply. This is old-fashioned ingenuity in an age where not a lot of CGI was happening. Modern audience will find that it still looks good and has aged well. The sight of mom going full-on crazy is pure delight and the maggots spewing from a cow is laugh out loud disgusting!

Hiding in the shadows of The Curse is horror legend Lucio Fulchi [City of the Living Dead, Zombi 2] who is listed as an associate producer and uncredited as a special optical effects designer. He has an artistic eye when it comes to gore and I have no doubt his input helped to make this a better film.

Thankfully, The Curse is readily available for viewing on YouTube so, what are you waiting for? If you love 80's horror, you will thoroughly enjoy this somewhat forgotten gem.

RATING: Very Good.

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