Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Savage Weekend (1979)

After finally finishing off the Horror: Do Not Watch Alone set (again), I dove into another set I have, the Drive-In Movie Classics box set for the 1973 forgotten gem Savage Weekend.

Plot/ Several couples head upstate to the country to watch a boat being built. Unfortunately they are stalked by a murderer behind a ghoulish mask.

I do not know exactly what it was about this flick, maybe it was the nudity, and maybe it was the Halloween-like slasher element, who knows. But, I do know this was an interesting little slasher that goes almost unmentioned. Yes, some of it is really BAD, with the boom microphone making multiple appearances and terrible pacing for the first half of the film. Not to mention the kills are average with minimal gore. Yet, the acting is solid complete with some realism to the diverse characters, there is a combination of nudity and trashy sex scenes, and while decently easy to figure out, the twist ending seems to actually fit. Sure it is not for everyone, but fans of slashers and 1970s exploitations should like this underrated flick. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Horror: Do Not Watch Alone

After viewing all 15 movies on this set, it was definitely worth the $5.00 I spent on it at WalMart. Yes, there were some down moments, but in the end, there were more winners than losers. My only major complaint is that there was no true theme togroup the films together, but then again for 5 bucks does that even matter?  The best films on the Horror: Do Not Watch Alone  set are:

Dementia 13
The Ghost
Fangs of the Living Dead
Bloody Pit of Horror
Night of the Living Dead
The Undertaker and His Pals
Carnival of Souls
I Bury the Living
The Last Man on Earth
House on Haunted Hill
Nightmare Castle
The Satanic Rights of Dracula

Dementia 13 (1963)

Well, I thought I was done with the Horror: Do Not Watch Alone set when it dawned on me that I have not wrote a review of one of the first horror movie I have ever seen (not to mention watched a few times over the past 30 or so years). So, I watched it again last night. That movie is Dementia 13.

Plot/ John Haloran has a fatal heart attack, but his wife Louise won't get any of the inheritance when Lady Haloran dies if John is dead. Louise forges a letter from John to convince the rest of his family he's been called to New York on important business, and goes to his Irish ancestral home, Castle Haloran, to meet the family and look for a way to ensure a cut of the loot. Seven years earlier John's sister Kathleen was drowned in the pond, and the Halorans enact a morbid ritual in remembrance. Secrets shroud the sister's demise, and soon the family and guests begin experiencing an attrition problem.

Ironically Hollywood Icon Francis Ford Coppola's made his debut with this one (it is amazing how many greats start in Horror). This combination Thriller/Mystery/Horror is one of the first entries in what became the slasher boom, this flick is pretty good featuring a solid storyline, great atmospheric build-up with the use of sound effects and some shocking scenes especially for that era. Unfortunately, the flick is far from perfect and does suffer some minor flaws with the killers identity too easily discerned throughout the film, which tends to take away from the overall feel. In the end, this is a low budget gem backed by Roger Corman and one that is easily found and a must see.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Legend of Sorrow Creek (2007)

Now that I have run out of newspaper and boxes for the last few items that I need to pack up, I decided to spend some time on my blog as I watch Dario Argento’s Creepers (Phenomena). Prior to this, I watched The Legend of Sorrow Creek from 2007.

Plot/ Kayla and Jesse loved spending their childhood summers at their grandfather's secluded cottage in the pristine mountains of rural New England. Now, fifteen years since their last visit, the sisters return along with Kayla's boyfriend Dean and his best-friend Tobe for a much-needed break from their busy lives in New York. But when a simple fishing accident leads the foursome to follow an unexplored shortcut through the woods, the lives of this small group of friends are shattered forever as they suddenly find themselves facing the shocking and terrible curse of one of America's most haunted places.

When I picked up this 8-Movie Pack Midnight Horror Collection V.1, I was unsure what to expect from the majority of flicks. I started with this one and discovered something better than an average low-budget B-Movie. The movie was interesting with a storyline that while not perfect kept me engaged. The acting was sound, the cinematography was solid overall it had some good moments. Unfortunately, the plot development and scripting seemed a bit sporadic and underdeveloped, which did detract from the feel. In the end, I did enjoy this one and think it was a great opener for this set. I probably would not run out and buy this by itself, but as part of a $5.00 box set it is worth watching.  

Blood Tide (1982)

As the hurricane came and went, it was finally time to put the Horror: Do Not Watch Alone set to bed. The last flick in the set is the 1982 snoozer Blood Tide.

Plot/ An adventurer hunting for treasure in Greece accidentally frees a monster that forces local villagers to sacrifice virgins.

Let me start by saying, if this was the first flick from this set I watched, I may have stopped right there. It is just that bad! The premise and storyline are interesting and some of the acting is alright, but in the end, it was just a BAD movie. Even worse, it was so boring that I could barely pay attention to it. The special effects are nothing spectacular, there is little to no killings or gore, and it just seems to plod along. Hell, I nearly missed the scene with the monster because I just could not get into it because of boredom. With that all said, I could not recommend anyone searching this out to watch it. If it is part of a set like this, then watch only to complete the set, but only if your options are limited.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Ghost (1963)

Saturday has gone, another day gone by, and another few hours of counting down until Hurricane Irene makes her presence known (although, I expect more rain than anything). As I sit here thinking of my blog (and the vintage wiggling hand I picked up earlier). I decided to finish up a review of the underrated 1963 Italian Horror flick The Ghost starring the lovely Barbara Steele.  

Plot/ A woman and her lover murder her husband, a doctor. Soon, however, strange things start happening, and they wonder if they really killed him, or if he is coming back from the dead to haunt them.

Man, I love Barbara Steele! She is a true horror icon and is captivating on screen. This movie is no different as she is at the top of her game.  This rather bland and clich├ęd story is something of a quandary. Yes, it features some great atmospheric elements, some solid cinematography, sound and Steele,, but the overall feel lacks depth. The acting is so-so and the plot is fairly common, really nothing spectacular. In the end, if you are a fan of Italian Horror, you will definitely enjoy this one and really it is worth watching at least once.  

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fangs of the Living Dead (1969)

After watching some classic 1970s occultism, I decided to move onto something a bit more horror themed, vampires. My selection for the evening in the land of the undead was Fangs of the Living Dead from 1969.

Plot/ A beautiful virgin inherits a castle, but when she arrives at it, she finds that the inhabitants include a strange nobleman and a bevy of beautiful women she suspects may be vampires.

This was a decent example of Italian Gothic Horror, featuring the trademark vibrant colors, awesome scenery, a solid soundtrack and an eerie atmosphere that brings the gothic elements to light. Unfortunately, the sound quality and dubbing are so poor that it drags the flick down a touch. Yes, the acting is uneven, some of the effects are poor and the pace drags a bit, but that is sort of to be expected.  In the end, this rather unoriginal film is not all bad and if you love Italian Horror, than you should check it out. If you don’t, there is nothing here that will truly excite you!

The Pyx (1973)

As I sit waiting for the hurricane to come, I decided to take a break from packing and watch a couple of flicks last night. While, I have a bunch to choose from, I decided to finish off the Horror: Do Not Watch Alone set. My first flick was Karen Black in The Pyx from 1973.

Plot/ A detective investigating the death of a heroin-addicted prostitute uncovers evidence pointing to the existence of a murderous devil cult.  

This was a decent combination of detective thriller, horror and occult.  While the storyline was interesting, the atmosphere OK and Black performing amazingly, this flick seemed to just plod along with nothing special jumping out. Yes, some of the scenes are interesting, but knowing what the outcome is from the outset truly takes away from the story. Sure, the other performances are not terrible and the plot is ok, there just really isn’t anything for the flick to hang its hat on and the flashback sequences start to get old. In the end, I would not watch this again. But, if you are like me and buy a lot of the multiple movie packs, you can at least watch it to complete the set. Other than that, I would not waste my time (and this is coming from someone who loves stories of Satanism and the Occult).

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dagon (2001)

As I sat trying to decide what to watch today, it dawned on me that today was H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. With that in mind, I decided to venture into his vast realm and check out Dagon.

Plot/ Based on a short story by H.P. Lovecraft, the undisputed master of the macabre, Dagon tells the story of Paul Marsh, a young man who discovers that the truth will not set him free instead it condemns him to a waking nightmare of unrelenting horror. A boating accident off the coast of Spain sends Paul and his girlfriend Barbara to the decrepit fishing village of Imboca looking for help. As night falls, people start to disappear and things not quite human start to appear. Paul finds himself pursued by the entire town. Running for his life, he uncovers Imboca's dark secret: that they pray to Dagon, a monstrous god of the sea. And Dagon's unholy offspring are freakish half-human creatures on the loose in Imboca.
This is one of my favorite Stuart Gordon adaptations of Lovecraft. The feel of the movie is solid, with a great plot that builds tension throughout. In fact, this is one of the first flicks that I feel truly captures the surreal atmosphere that permeates through all of his writings.  One of the things that I find outstanding is the fact that the majority of the horror and suspense relies more on fear of the unknown than gore. Yes, there are some flaws, but those are pretty minor. In the end, this is a flick that is entertaining on many levels and should be checked out, especially by fans of Lovecraft!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Paul McCartney Really is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison (2010)

As some may know, I love conspiracies! I am a conspiracy theory nut, who is always searching for answers to some of the strange things that surround us, or am looking over my shoulder for the men in black to arrive. Last night I stumbled onto a flick that I had not watched before, the Beatles related Paul McCartney Really Is Dead: The Last Testament of George Harrison.

Plot/ Until now, the "Paul is Dead" mystery was considered a hoax. However, in this film, a voice that sounds eerily like George Harrison reveals a secret Beatles history, chronicling McCartney's fatal accident, and dozens of unknown clues, exposing "Paul McCartney" as an imposter!
While there is a plethora of material on the Paul is Dead Hoax online, it was nice to find quite a bit of that in one visual place that I could watch on my television. Yes, none of the material was really new.  However, while the story definitely seemed far fetched and implausible, some of it truly tied things together in a strange way. Of course, the reality that some truths and facts were changed to skew the story in this way really takes away from the flick. Honestly, I had to laugh about the Heather Mills piece that is a classic! As a fan that has always found this conspiracy theory fascinating, I definitely enjoyed it. Sure it is a flawed mockumentary that probably should not be taken seriously, but somewhere inside the clues may be some sort of reality. Really, why didn’t Faul (I mean Paul) attend the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction? The idea in this could be true couldn’t it? I would not rent this one, but if you have Netflix give it a chance, you may get a good laugh!

Inferno (1980)

As I sat down enjoying some flicks last night, it was awesome to travel back to my youth and enjoy some decent giallo. My decision was the 1980 Dario Argento entry Inferno.  

Plot/ Semi-sequel to Suspiria has a American college student in Rome, and his sister in New York investigating a series of killings in both locations where their resident addresses are the domain of two covens of witches.

Being the second movie in a series can be great or terrible, and I honestly feel this one falls somewhere in between. While not perfect, this flick has some great moments that make it a solid and chilling entry in the Argento’s world of the Three Mother’s.  The story, while vast and rather fluid, creates a world all its own, full of darkness. The casting, acting, and effects are solid. And as always, the flick features Argento’s timeless cinematography, color pallet and use of a dramatic score that transforms the mood into a gothic nightmare. Sure, the character development is lacking and some of the story is truly incoherent, but those flaws are easily overlooked. In the end, if you are a fan of Argento this is a must see. If not, check it out anyway, you will probably enjoy it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Devour (2005)

With Brenda and the kids headed back this way to help finish packing, I decided to do very little tonight other than check out some horror flicks. In fact, right now I am enjoying a classic Argento tale, Inferno. Prior to that though, I started the evening with my friend the devil, in 2005s Devour.

Plot/ In Cheever Lake, the twenty-one years old Jake Gray has bloody nightmares while awake. His friends Conrad Dean and Dakota apply him in a weird game called The Pathway. Jake begins to mix reality with daydreams, while his closest friends die. Jake blames the game, which might be connected to the devil, for the deaths of his friends and decides to investigate the mystery.

Let me start by saying that this movie caught me off guard. I went in not expecting much, but what I found was an interesting and entertaining storyline that held my interest throughout. Yes, this suffers like most low budget flicks with some plot holes, scripting issues and poor character development, but what it lacks there it more than makes up for it with some solid acting and good cinematography.  And while the characters seemed a bit undeveloped, they were at least interesting. In the end, this is a hidden gem in the genre. Yes, it is far from perfect, but it is entertaining and interesting, which is a lot more than most flicks.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)

Packing and cleaning, packing and cleaning, that seems like all I have been doing for months. Finally, I decided to settle in an enjoy something more my speed. My selection for the evening was the Italian camp classic Bloody Pit of Horror.

Plot/ A photographer and his models go to an old, abandoned castle to shoot some sexy covers for horror novels. Unbeknownst to them, the castle is inhabited by a lunatic who believes himself to be the reincarnated spirit of a 17th-century executioner whose job it is to protect the castle against intruders.

To me, the combination of Something Weird Video and the legendary Marquis de Sade (albeit loosely) should be enough to draw anyone in and I was sold. Yes, this is camp at its finest with over the top performances, a nice combination of horror and exploitation, and an unbelievable storyline. It has it all, near naked chicks, an erotic feel, crazed torture devises and the cinematography boasts a great color pallet. Yes, the acting is all over the place and most of the ideas a ludicrous, but it is what it is, a great blast of Italian exploitation horror. While not for everyone, it is definitely worth watching.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me (1981)

After spending the day packing (33 boxes and counting from the bedroom), it was time to relax and let my stomach heal a bit before going at it tomorrow. For some relaxation, I decided to venture back to the 1980s for some slasher fun. My selection for the evening 1981s Happy Birthday to Me.

Plot/ Virginia is proud that she belongs to a clique feature the best students at a private school. But before her 18th birthday, a grueling set of murders take place and her friends are the ones who are falling prey. Could it be her? She suffers from blackouts due to a freak accident one year earlier. We soon learn the truth behind her accident and what is going on.

To me, Happy Birthday to Me is one of the best slashers of the era and a top notch horror flick / thriller to boot! Originating from the heyday of the slasher flick, this one often goes overlooked and I am not sure why. It boasts a decent cast, a great storyline, gore and atmosphere. Everything you need for an entertaining and memorable horror movie. Yes, some of the acting is below average, but everything cannot be perfect. In the end, this is a  great flick that must be seen. I highly recommend this one!