Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hands of the Ripper (1971)

What a weekend! I did battle with my sink (note: garbage disposals do not like whole grain pasta), dealt with a severe cough that was made worse by Liquid Plummer (which did not work) and listened to Jillian and Markie torture each other for fun. To relax a bit, I decided to check out a different take on the legendary Jack the Ripper, in Hammer Studio’s 1971 tale Hands of the Ripper.

Plot/ The infant daughter of Jack the Ripper is witness to the brutal murder of her mother by her father. Fifteen years later she is a troubled young woman who is seemingly possessed by the spirit of her father. While in a trance she continues his murderous killing spree but has no recollection of the events afterwards. A sympathetic psychiatrist takes her in and is convinced he can cure her condition. Soon, however, he regrets his decision.

As a person that has always had an outside interest in Jack the Ripper, this flick definitely took an interesting trip into that legend. While not one of the most popular or well known entries from Hammer, this one should be. Complete with the signature gothic scenery and atmosphere, this film boasts some great performances, a solid script, and some interesting and bloody killings. Yes, the pacing can feel slow, but the tension created the detailed story and development make this an easy aspect to overlook. In the end, this often overlooked gem from Hammer Studios is a suspenseful ride that many horror fans haven’t experienced. Sure, the pacing may turn some people off, but true horror fans should enjoy it!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Elvira's Movie Macabre: I Eat You Skin (1964)

After a long day, it was time to settle down and enjoy some more Elvira’s Movie Macabre. This installment was the 1964 low-budget zombie flick from Voo Doo Island, I Eat Your Skin.

Plot/ A cancer researcher on a remote Caribbean island discovers that by treating the natives with snake venom he can turn them into bug-eyed zombies. Uninterested in this information, the unfortunate man is forced by his evil employer to create an army of the creatures in order to conquer the world.

Being a fan of the drive-in era, I always sit in amazement at some of the low-budget flick made to meet the demand. This movie definitely falls into the so-bad it is almost good category. While there are the usual flaws, bad acting, poor editing, and a misplaced sound track. However, all is not lost. The pacing is decent, the scenery is beautiful and the zombie make-up is better than expected. Originally titled Zombies, which may make more sense because there is no flesh eating, this B-Movie is far from great, but if you love the cheese factor, check it out.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spellcaster (1992)

After some time catching up on business paperwork, I decided to check out Adam Ant in the 1992 scavenger hunt gone bad flick Spellcaster.

Plot/ A group of contestants start to die one-by-one from a mysterious source within the castle. Figuring that evil forces are at work, the remaining members race to stop the assailant from finishing their work.

While far from perfect, this flick was not as bad as it could have been. Yes, the film takes forever to get going, the acting is uneven and the plot never truly gets moving until the movie is almost over. But, it does feature a nice array of interesting special effects and atmosphere when the focus is the castle and surroundings vice the characters. If you are a fan of cheesy “B” horror flicks from the 1990s, check this out, if not, Stay Clear!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Graduation Day (1981)

While I continue to break in the new TV, it was time to venture back to my youth and see how a 1980s slasher comes across. My choice was the well known Troma entry Graduation Day.

Plot/ After a high school track runner, named Laura, suddenly dies from a heart attack after finishing a 30-second 100-meter race, a killer wearing a sweat suit and a fencing mask beings killing off her friends on the school track team one by one. The suspects include the track coach Michaels, Laura's sister Anne who arrives in town for the funeral, the creepy school principal Mr. Guglione, and Laura's strange boyfriend Kevin.

It was a blast from the past when I saw this on Netflix, I almost remember riding my bike to the video store. Ironically, even after all of these years, I came away from this flick with the same feeling, why did I watch this one? Yes, it is not the worst slasher from the era, but it is far from the top. The characters, acting, plot and soundtrack are pretty lame and often unnecessary, Couple that with the “B” Movie quality and you can see where this is going. To its credit, there are some good moments with some pretty funny murder sequences and it does have Vanna White and B-movie scream queen Linnea Quigley, but really, not much more. If you are into campy slasher flicks that cry 1980s, this one is for you, if you aren’t, stay clear!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Piranha 3D (2010)

After a few days at rebuilding the living room after moving into the HD age, it was time to sit down with a few flicks. My first choice on the new TV set was the 2010 remake of the 1970s Roger Corman flick Piranha, Piranha 3D.

Plot/ After a sudden underwater tremor sets free scores of the prehistoric man-eating fish, an unlikely group of strangers must band together to stop themselves from becoming fish food for the area's new razor-toothed residents.

From the first time I heard of this remake, I really did not expect much. Honestly, I got more than I expected. Yes, the plot, script, acting and some of the CGI was off, and seemed Sci-Fi Channelish at best. However, for me the boobs, comic moments, nudity and gore at least made it an enjoyable hour and a half. Plus, seeing Richard Dryfuss on the water was pretty funny, not Bill Murray funny, but funny. In the end, this is far from a great flick, but if you like blood, guts and boobs, you should enjoy it at least a little. I at least enjoyed watching my wife jump at the ending!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Billy the Kid Versus Dracula (1966)

After enjoying the horror/western Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, I decided to venture back into that era and genre with Billy the Kid Versus Dracula.

Plot/ Dracula travels to the American West, intent on making a beautiful ranch owner his next victim. Her fiancé, outlaw Billy the Kid, finds out about it and rushes to save her.

While better than its sister piece Jesse James meets Frankenstein’s Daughter, many of the flaws and elements are the same. Yes, the title is alluring and the fundamental idea is interesting, but much like the other entry, it fails to take full advantage of the potential of the interesting old west meets classic monster horror romp. The plot is rough full of many unanswered questions within the unbelievable sequences that consistently take place. The film lacks action, is rather slow, and boasts some of the worst effects I have ever seen (rubber bats anyone?). John Carradine is a ham as Dracula, a performance that at least makes the flick a tad enjoyable. This may not be great, but it should at least be on your list to watch once if you are a fan of old-time monster movies.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Elivira's Movie Macabre: Werewolf of Washington (1973)

Last night, I decided to check out an episode of Elvira’s Movie Macabre, as the Mistress of the Dark is always good for some entertaining moments. This installment was 1973s Werewolf of Washington. This weeks installment on THIS is Don’t Look in the Basement (if interested).

Plot/ A reporter who has had an affair with the daughter of the U.S. President is sent to Hungary. There he is bitten by a werewolf, and then gets transferred back to Washington, where he gets a job as press assistant to the President. Then bodies start turning up in D.C.

I am not sure whether this was supposed to be such an over-the-top horror comedy, or if it is just that bad. One thing is certain it is definitely perfect for Elvira’s Movie Macabre. I will admit that there are some funny moments, with a pretty witty script. However, some of it was just too far out there to even be entertaining. The pacing was slow, the acting uneven and there was no gore or blood during the kills. Overall, it was definitely more political satire than horror flick. If you are into odd 1970s flicks, check this one out, if not…

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Beach Girls and the Monster (1965)

After watching House of Long Shadows, it was a fun trip down “B” Movie lane with the 1965 beach creature themed Monster from the Surf (AKA The Beach Girls and the Monster).

Plot/ A young girl is killed at the beach in Malibu. Professor Otto Lindsay suspects that it is some form of mutated fish. However, his son Richard, who was a good friend of girl, thinks that it is a madman who has a grudge against Richard and his friends. Soon the list of victims grows to include one of Rich's surfing buddies, Rich's bitchy stepmother Vicky and his friend Mark who was crippled in an auto accident.

Really, there is not much to say about this “B” movie entry. Shot during an era when beach movies and creature features were all the rage, this part beach party flick, part whodunit, and part horror tried to pull it together all at once on a shoestring budget. I imagine that they got what they expected, a total laugher featuring a rubber suited monster and some groovy music. Yes, this is a bit fun, but really that is just because it is so bad that it is good fun. The pacing, acting, effects and script are all bad. However, at just over 60 minutes, it is better than some TV that the networks are pushing.