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!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Fright Night, Part 2 (1988)

As far as I'm concerned, Fright Night 2 is one of the best horror sequels that is every bit as good as the original. This time around our hero, Charlie Brewster, is in college. He's in therapy trying to convince himself that vampires don't exist but this doesn't last for long. William Ragsdale [The Reaping] is wonderful as Charlie. He gives the character humor, vulnerability, bravery and fear in equal measure. It is definitely the role he was born to play. The ever-magnificent Roddy McDowall [Planet of the Apes movies] is back as horror TV host Peter Vincent. I just love him in this role. Together they are magic.

Without spoiling any of the surprises, director Tommy Lee Wallace [Halloween 3, Amityville 2, John Carpenter's Vampires, It] knows how to make a great horror movie. Fright Night 2 has tons of atmosphere to spare and the vampire effects work very well. The pacing is perfect and he ramps up the tension to a fevered pitch at the end of the film. He also gets wonderful performances out of all his actors.

Speaking of special effects, there are far too many people to mention but they get it right from start to finish. Costume design, set design, make up and prosthetics create a seamless look. This is one of the best the 80's has to offer.

Fright Night 2 also has a solid soundtrack by Brad Fiedel [Terminator, Gladiator] that is thoroughly 80's but doesn't give into cliches. It helps to set the mood as much as the visual effects do.

If you've seen the original but not the sequel, don't hesitate to watch Fright Night 2. As a side note, I'm also fond of the  2007 Remake of the original Fright Night starring Colin Farrell and Anton Yelchin. It's a modern adaptation of the original 80's film that is quite possibly better than the original. This proves that you can do a remake that doesn't totally jump the shark [Rob Zombie's Halloween comes to mind].

RATING: Excellent.

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

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Cry Wilderness (1987)

Thank God I saw this one on Mystery Science Theater 3000. It's really the only way to view this warmed over piece of dookie that uses grainy stock footage and a horrible bigfoot costume as it's best cinematic effects. Thankfully director Jay Schlossberg-Cohen only has two movies to his credit [4 as a producer] so at least we have something to be grateful for!

Cry Wilderness is the not-so-touching and totally predictable story of a boy and his sasquatch. Honestly, there's not anything else you need to know. Eric Foster plays the boy in question. He does an adequate job considering he's been given virtually nothing to work with. [Why the hell is a 11 year old hitchhiking in a snowstorm in the middle of the Colorado wilderness and NO ONE thinks this is odd.] When he finally catches up with dear old Dad in the wilderness we're greeted with some of the worst acting in the film at the hands of Maurice Grandmaison. Thankfully this film was the end of his acting career. Watch it and you'll know why! The cherry on this crap sundae is the prolonged fits of laughter that is truly creepy. It will haunt you for days!

How this film ever got made is a mystery to me. I'll take Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outerspace over Cry Wilderness any day. Truly one of the worst movies I've ever seen.

Rating: Bad.

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

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Invitation to Hell (1984)

Fun! That's the best way I can describe Invitation to Hell, directed by horror-meister Wes Craven. This made-for-tv movie is predictable stuff but it's done with lots of energy and enthusiasm and, thankfully, does not take itself too seriously.

The story centers on your average American family looking to have their slice of the American Dream. Robert Ulrich [Spencer For Hire, Vegas] is the father of this clan and gives his usual excellent performance. He grounds the film and makes some of the more absurd elements believable. Soap Star Susan Lucci [All My Children] is the leader of The Club which offers more than most people bargain for. It's clear the entire costume budget was spent on her and she has a blast delivering all the comedic lines and campy elements of the movie.

If the kids look familiar they are Soleil Moon Frye [Punky Brewster] and Barret Oliver [The NeverEnding Story]. The cast also includes such veteran actors as Joanna Cassidy and Kevin McCarthy. You simply can't go wrong with all the talent assembled.

I won't tell you much more because the fun of it is watching all the silliness unfold. Craven has a good time directing this one and delivers the kind of thoroughly entertaining movie many of us watched on TV in the 1980's. The interesting thing to note is that this was also the same year that A Nightmare On Elm street was released. These two films together, show the breadth of talent this wonderful director possessed.


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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Revenge of the Zombies (1943)

Monogram Pictures produced and released a series of low budget films from 1931 to 1953, some of which were thrillers like Revenge of the Zombies. This one is a strictly-by-the-book old-school voodoo zombie tale that is set in Louisiana. If you've seen one of these babies, you've seen them all.

Yet, this one has a few things going for it that some of the rest don't. First of all, John Carradine is quite good as Dr. Max Heinrich Von Altermann. It's the type of character he played many times in his career and has no trouble delivering his lines, even when they are sometimes poorly written.

My other favorite performance was Madame Sul-Te-Wan [King of the Zombies] who plays the good doctor's domestic servant, Mammy Beulah. She's got sass to spare and a cackle that's infectious. She's also the smartest character in the movie but doesn't let others know how observant she is.

Matan Moreland [King of the Zombies]  plays, well, Matan Moreland. He's the court jester of Revenge of the Zombies and gives the film its comedic elements. I'm sure he was a hoot in the 1940's but the ethnic stereotype he represents in these films is somewhat offensive and strange to modern audiences.

Finally, Director Steve Sekeley [The Day of the Triffids] knows how to make these low budget films work. He makes the most of a small set and paces the story well.

So, this is hardly Oscar worthy but it's not a bad little film. If you like films similar to it from this era, you will enjoy this one as well.


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

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Scared to Death (1947)

Depending on your expectations, you may or may not enjoy this film. If you're looking for atmospheric, gothic horror, then you better look elsewhere. If you're in the mood for a melodramatic, comedic thriller then Scared to Death will fit the bill nicely. The film is a series of flashbacks that begin with a dead body and then go back to explore how she arrived on a mortuary slab.

The star of this show is the recently departed Laura Van Ee, played by Molly Lamont. Her acting style is typical of many 1940's films, but modern viewers will find her affected delivery [over-annunciation and a bit too rapid for natural speech] to be over the top and a bit annoying.

The reason why I watched this movie is because of Bela Lugosi. To my knowledge, this is the only color film Lugosi made during his career so that piqued my interest. However, his performance feels more like a parody of his other roles than a fully-embodied character. [A cape, really? Who does that other than Dracula?] He is definitely collecting a paycheck here and not much more.

George Zucco [The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Black Raven, Dead Men Walk] plays Ms. Van Ee's husband. He is well-known to fans of vintage horror and gives his usual performance here. Not outstanding but solid and dependable.

As far as I'm concerned Scared to Death does not deserve its low 3.9 rating on IMDB nor the thorough trashing of many user reviews on the site. This is lighthearted stuff and doesn't pretend to be anything else. If that's what you're looking for, this could be a nice way to spend an hour.


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

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Teenagers From Outerspace (1959)

You know you're in trouble when the spaceship is the size of a clown car and aliens keep coming out of it again and again and again. Then, to make matter worse, a commanding officer gives the orders to "Go down below and bring up the Gargon." While my curiosity was peaked as to what a Gargon was, there is clearly no "down below" from which it can be fetched!

Teenagers From Outerspace is just plain awful. The plot pf this film has been done to death and there are no surprises at all. Furthermore, the acting is wooden, although it's delivered with such sincerity and conviction that you can't help but laugh and be entertained by it.

Writer/director/producer Tom Graeff is not so much channeling M Night Shyamalan as he is Ed Wood [Plan 9 From Outerspace]. Thankfully, he has only four director credits to him name and Teenagers is his swan song. RIP.

The viewing audience needs to keep in mind the this film was made for only $14,000 and it definitely shows. It explains the suitcases which the astronauts carry [I kid you not], but it doesn't justify the horrible acting.

Teenagers From Outerspace made its way to Mystery Science Theater 3000 as well as Elvira's Movie Macabre. It was also featured in the film Schlock! The Secret History of American Movies. I am one of those people who usually enjoys really bad movies but I just couldn't get into this one. Perhaps, if I saw it as a MST3K episode I would have enjoyed it much more.

This one is definitely a red, hot mess so, depending upon your taste in cinema, you'll either love it or hate it. Put me down in the hate it category.


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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Dark Star (1974)

Yes, it's miraculous that director/writer/producer/musician John Carpenter made this film for a mere $60,000. [Even George Romero spent approximately $114,00 to make Night of the Living Dead.] Yes, it looks WAY better than it's budget constraints. Yes, it's somewhat funny and definitely quirky. Yes, it gives us a taste for certain filming techniques that he would use in other movies that followed. But, honestly, I have to go against nearly critic on this one and say that Dark Star was just okay. I can't believe it has a 6.5 score. I adore John Carpenter's work but I just couldn't get into this film. I think it's a case of you either like a "cult classic" or you don't. Some people adore Rocky Horror Picture Show and others just don't get it. Some think Attack of the Killer Tomatoes is a hoot and others wonder what in the heck people see in it. It all comes down to a matter of taste and Dark Star is not my taste in Sci-Fi. So, I'm not going to trash it as incompetent filmmaking because it is skillfully made. I'm just not going to gush over it like it's the end all and be all of campy Sci-Fi. For me, Dark Star is a highly overrated movie.

Rating: Good.

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