Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Wolfman (2010)

I had intentionally stayed away from the remake of the Wolfman because with all of the hype, it could never live up to the expectations set. That was until last night when I sat down and watched the unrated version on DVD

Plot/ Lawrence Talbot, a haunted nobleman is lured back to his family estate after his brother vanishes. Reunited with his estranged father, Talbot sets out to find his brother... and discovers a horrifying destiny for himself. Talbot's childhood ended the night his mother died. After he left the sleepy Victorian hamlet of Blackmoor, he spent decades recovering and trying to forget. However, when his brother's fiancée, Gwen Conliffe, tracks him down to help find her missing love, Talbot returns home to join the search. He learns that something with brute strength and insatiable bloodlust has been killing the villagers, and that a suspicious Scotland Yard inspector named Aberline has come to investigate.

What I found was honestly a mixed bag. The cinematography and setting was great projecting a very interesting atmosphere especially when some of the gore was thrown into the mix. The special effects and make-up were tremendous, although, I would have loved to have seen less CGI (I am not a CGI fan at all). The acting was solid, but far from spectacular and the story was typical. However, I felt that this film could have been much more, and actually needed to weed out some of the back-story to allow the movie as whole to grow together. Some of it just seemed disjointed because there was not enough time dedicated to development. In the end, it is exactly what it is, a remake of a classic tale, and I believe its fate will be similar to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which will gain popularity as it ages. Look at it this way, it is an enjoyable film and one that is a better alternative for werewolf fans than Twilight.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Estate Auction Find of the Week

I picked-up this sealed puzzle as part of a lot at a local estate auction, little did I know that it was rather rare. What I found was that this is the elusive The Valley of Gwangi promotional puzzle, an ultra-rare premium that was originally sold at major movie houses when the film was first released.

As I am not a huge collector of Harryhausen items, I will probably eventually part with this. Although I have no idea what it is worth, and the only one on ebay is listed for over $200. If anyone has information on this, I would appriciate it. My email is

2010 Shorty Awards - Vote Now

There is still time to vote for my short film It Lives Somewhere In Jersey (only 18 votes back) for the 2010 Shorty Awards for Blobfest! Anyone interested in voting can go to the Blobfest Blog or the Colonial Theatre website

Thank You to everyone that has voted!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Pit and the Pendulum (1961)

As my celebration of Vincent Price comes to an end, I decided it was time to jump into his Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. For those that do not know, Poe is my favorite author of all time and have even dressed up as Poe for Halloween. My choice tonight was one of my favorites, The Pit and the Pendulum from 1961.

Plot/ Francis Barnard goes to Spain, when he hears his sister Elizabeth has died. Her husband Nicholas Medina, the son of the most renowned torturer’s of the Spanish Inquisition, tells him she has died of a blood disease, but Francis finds this hard to believe. After some investigating he finds out that it was extreme fear that was fatal to his sister and that she may have been buried alive! Strange things then start to happen in the Medina castle.

This may be one of my favorite performances of Price, He is absolutely terrific, providing this character with tremendous depth and sympathy. As a huge Poe fan, this adaptation written by Richard Matheson, is not really a faithful adaptation, it is a cleverly written story that fuses many different Poe's short stories in one. Yet, the movie comes across with such a chill and eeriness within the beautiful atmosphere created by Roger Corman, who did a masterful job at continually mounting the suspense until the climatic end. This is a great movie and another must for all Price fans to see.

Friday, June 25, 2010

House of Wax (1953)

While going through my Vincent Price collection this week, I have really taken a trip down memory lane. I grew up on his movies and they truly were my introduction into the horror genre. Looking back, I believe one of the first Price films that caught my imagination was House of Wax, a movie seemed to just stay with me and I could not wait to grab it when it came out on DVD.

Plot/ A sculptor of wax figures for a museum is horrified when his partner proposes setting fire to the unpopular museum in order to collect the insurance money. As the wax figures melt amid the blaze, the two men have a fight. The sculptor is knocked out in the scuffle and left to "perish" among the flames. He resurfaces many years later for the launch of his own wax museum. The opening coincides with the sudden disappearance of some dead bodies from the city morgue. His assistant begins to suspect his boss of foul play, especially after the deranged wizard of wax begins eyeing his assistant's lovely friend as a model for a waxed figure of Marie Antoinette.

House of Wax has a great and solid storyline, and is definitely one of the few 3D releases that does not have to rely on the special effects for it to be popular. While I do not believe this is Price’s greatest moment as an actor, it may be one of his most important and defining roles. This film started his path into horror history and is the foundation of his icon status (not to mention the influence left on the viewers). Complete with a very stylish and artistic feel, some creepy effects and some of the best early make-up, this movie is a classic and towers over the modern remake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

After spending the early part of the week going through some of the movies Vincent Price made famous in the 1970s, I felt it was time to take a step back. My choice for tonight was the 1959 Price classic House on Haunted Hill for my incarnation of Vincent Price Week on the Ringmaster’s Realm.

Plot/ Millionaire Fredrick Loren invites five strangers to a party in the House On Haunted Hill. The house has a past of brutal murders. Mr. Loren's fourth wife, Annabelle, warns the guests that her husband is insane and plans something that night. That is when everyone begins to suspect something is going on with Mr. Loren. At midnight, the doors are locked and there is no way to get out. Then when a game of murder begins and no one knows who is doing what there is no way to call for help.

To me, this classic version of the film is by far the best. Director William Castle does a great job in creating one of the most entertaining examples of the low-budget, black-and-white horror films that many of us were raised on. The low budget classic has a nice combination of thrills and chills and follows a very entertaining story while maintain great pace. As usual, Price does a masterful job at bringing his character to life, and is really at the top of his game taking advantage of all of the elements that the setting allows. In the end, this is truly a Price classic and very entertaining film, if you have not seen it pick it up now!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Madhouse (1974)

As I move into day four of Vincent Price Week, I decided to watch and review his 1974 entry Madhouse. While this is not my favorite Price film, it definitely seems to grow on me more every time I watch it.

Plot/ Paul Toombes made himself a Hollywood star by playing the role of Dr. Death in a series of successful horror films written by his friend, Herbert Flay. Now, after years in a mental institution following the murder of his fiancée, Ellen - a murder that many, and even he himself, believe he committed - he wants nothing to do with the homicidal character. Herbert, who is writing a new TV series about Dr. Death, persuades him to return to the role. Paul soon regrets the decision when the producer of the series turns out to be the former maker of porn movies in which Ellen starred. Worse, his new female lead is arrogant and incompetent. Meanwhile, he discovers that he is not the only guest in Herbert's home. There's also Faye, his former co-star, who has gone mad after being deformed in a car explosion. But none of this unpleasantness compares to the horror of Dr. Death himself. It seems the character has a will of his own - a will to commit murder.

This is definitely more of a mystery, rather than pure horror (cheaply made horror film at that) that manages to add a small tinge of creepiness. Boast icons Price and Peter Cushing, it is a shame that this film, based on the novel Devilday by Angus Hall, seems to miss more than it hits. The script as many holes and despite some brilliant flashbacks to some of Price’s best roles from earlier film, the movie does not keep its momentum throughout. However, the film does have a campy feel with some nice visual elements sprinkled throughout. With that in mind, while this is not the best movie of his career, Madhouse is at least good fun (especially for Price fans).

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Theatre of Blood (1973)

As I continue my journey this week through some of the films of Vincent Price, I could not help but to be in awe of his genius. Looking at his library of film is like reading Poe or Byron, so many titles that just jump out at you. Today’s choice is Theatre of Blood from 1973. I remember seeing this film later than many of the other Price films, as it seemed almost unknown. Once I did, I have to admit it is one of my favorites and one that I watch on a regular basis.

Plot/ A serial killer stalks London, targeting theater critics who he kills in methods inspired by Shakespeare plays. The police grow to suspect the killer is Edward Lionheart, an egotistical actor who leaped to his presumed death after being denied an important award, mainly due to his refusing to appear in any play not written by Shakespeare. The remaining critics and the police find themselves helpless to stop Lionheart's increasingly baroque revenge, though they contact his daughter in a desperate attempt to find something they can use against him. Everything builds to a reenactment of King Lear in which Lionheart will succeed or die for the last time.

Filmed on the heals of the Dr. Phibes movies, this movie does have some similarities. Yet, as a whole this film is so much more. Yes, There are some loopholes and vague areas in the script, but the movie flows right through those parts and they are really just minor flaws. Price is masterful as Lionheart, and shows extreme versatility by morphing into many different characters and playing them perfectly. The rest of the cast is solid, and have sound performances. However, it is the inventive death scenes inspired by the classic works of Shakespeare that will probably stick in most viewers’ minds the most. In all, this is a very underrated film on the Price resume and one that is a must see for all price fans.

Tomorrow for Vincent Price Week, Madhouse!