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message 1851: by Shawn (last edited Sep 27, 2012 09:38PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments ...and a review of a less recent film

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The granddaddy of creepy waxworks films (the great-grandaddy is the silent horror anthology WAXWORKS from 1924), this was the last of the two-color technicolor films (the first experimental attempt at creating - limited - color in films). In 1921 London, renowned wax sculptor Ivan Igor's famous display goes up in flames after his business partner wants to collect the insurance money. Now, in 1933 New York (the movie opens on New Years Day), Igor is readying his new display (despite his fire-damaged hands causing a need for assistant sculptors) while spunky, brassy, wise-cracking reporter Florence Dempsey (Glenda Farrell - the epitome of fast-talkin, devil-may care attitude) does some proto-Carl Kolchak work and realizes that 8 bodies have disappeared from the morgue in the last 18 months. Mix in a framed young man-about-town, some smugglers, a junkie professor and a slouch-hatted, sinister figure prowling the foggy streets and you've got - well, not a horror movie exactly, more like a weird pulp mystery. Because that actress who committed suicide on New Year's Eve and whose body was stolen from the morgue... well, the new Joan of Arc display looks suspiciously like her. And Florence's much more dreamy and romantic roommate Charlotte (Fay Wray)... well, Igor thinks she looks exactly like his lost Marie Antoinette statue...

There's some great creepy moments in this film (the initial morgue sequence where a presumed "body" suddenly sits up, the hideous creeping figure moving through the streets, Florence stumbling into the wax museum initially and getting freaked out by the mannequins and a worker slowly plunging a dagger into a figure, a cracked wax mask exposing the hideous truth - ala PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, et. al.). And there's some really bravura camera work, sets and set-pieces (the camera crawl up the apartment building on New Years Day brought to mind a similar moment in Argento's TENEBRE as windows display little dramas to us, the huge CALIGARI-like sets of the Wax factory and any number of scenes that are posed like old pulp magazine covers brought to life) and some nice dialogue juxtapositions ("I prefer warm wax over cold stone" "the public wants chambers of horrors not beautiful figures").

But the real reason to see this is Glenda Farrell. The character of Florence Dempsey is great fun to watch as she spits out snappy, plucky, sarcastic dialogue ("how's your sex life?" to a cop, "you raise the kids, I'll raise the roof" to Fay Wray as Florence lays out her gold-digger philosophy, "I've got to make news if I have to bite a dog!" as she hunts for a story) and plays her worldly cynic/tough-dame act to the hilt (watch as, exiting with the police from the bootlegger's hideout, she pauses to pocket a few bottles of hooch! "You've been doing experiments with scotch and soda again, huh?" her long-suffering editor asks as she comes into work nursing a hangover). Also, people throw things at each other in this film, and propose marriage at the seeming drop of a hat. It all ends in fisticuffs at the waxworks, of course, (and the only alternating brassy/sappy ending I've ever seen). Remade with Vincent Price (in 3D) as HOUSE OF WAX in 1953.

message 1852: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments I remember watching House of Wax when I was a kid and it terrified me.

Who has seen Pontypool? Thought it was terrible.

message 1853: by Bandit (last edited Sep 10, 2012 06:52AM) (new)

Bandit (lecturatoro) | 9799 comments Love House of Wax, even the recent remake was entertaining, although no Vincent Price.
I kinda liked Pontypool, I thought it was an interesting concept.

message 1854: by Bark's Book Nonsense (last edited Sep 10, 2012 09:33AM) (new)

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
Tressa wrote: "Who has seen Pontypool? Thought it was terrible."

That was the low budget virus movie? I saw it and found it incredibly dull and uneventful but I went into it expecting greatness after hearing some rave reviews.

I also watched "And Soon Comes the Darkness" an old british thriller from the late 70's about two young nurses who run into trouble while cycling their way across the backroads of France. It was pretty good. Anyone seen it? It's a bit meandering but still manages to kick up the dread without sex, gore or language and it was filmed entirely in broad daylight.

message 1855: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Yes, Bark. A virus through words. I was looking forward to a new type of zombie movie but this fell flat for me.

message 1856: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikedecshop) | 2133 comments And Soon the Darkness remade in 2010

message 1857: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments Quite liked PONTYPOOL - review coming eventually.

message 1858: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments [REC 3]: GENESIS (2012)

Any movie that waits nearly 25 minutes before running its title card is certainly glorying in its willingness to push against expectations. And so the Spanish film franchise that served us up rabid zombie-like infecteds attacking people in close and inescapable quarters (and which spawned it's own American remake franchise that decided to go in a slightly different direction) gives us a wealthy wedding party at a sprawling, posh, walled-in villa where one uncle arrives late, not feeling very well after being bitten by a dog... and, we're off!

Okay, well, it's not a bad film but it's not all that good either - or perhaps, it just gives us more of the same (so much for the pushing expectations), while shifting tone from the first two installments a bit more than it should. Is it another hand-cam film? Yeeeees... until 20 minutes in, when someone angrily smashes the ever present recorder and then we're back to straight-ahead film-making (with occasional detours to infra-red cam for the ubiquitous air-vent crawl). Reality, by the way, always has better production values and constantly smooth camerawork. There are some visual nods (as in REC2) to Lamberto Bava's DEMONS and DEMONS 2, but the film tries to make the familiar proceedings a bit more interesting by eventually treating everything in a vaguely sub-Tarantino, tongue-in-cheek mode (or is that tongue-through-cheek?) - cue guy dressed in a suit of armor and a demure bride in bloodied wedding dress wielding a chainsaw like an avenging angel! Much like QUARANTINE 2: PEOPLE RABIES (not the actual title, but too good not to use), this should be the installment that kills the franchise, but I believe they have one more planned (REC4: APOCALYPSE).

Don't get me wrong, there's some good moments here (let's just say a bus full of children do not have a good time at the wedding, and the guest appearances by "Spongejohn Squarepants" and a music rights bureaucrat looking to ferret out music license infringements at the wedding) but also some unevenly handled stuff (those who contend that there was no supernatural aspect to the virus as portrayed in the previous films - despite definite plot details in REC2 - will be unable to make that claim now, thanks to scenes involving holy water, a full-length mirror and the inventive use of a PA system). Also, despite my presuppositions from the "GENESIS" name, this is not actually a prequel but instead is taking place concurrent with action of REC and REC2. In the end, it's an amiable time waster (with a silly melodramatic ending) but nothing you haven't seen before.

message 1859: by Tressa (last edited Sep 11, 2012 04:02AM) (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Maybe I'll appreciate Pontypool more after reading your review.

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
Michael wrote: "And Soon the Darkness remade in 2010"

Did you see it? And did they gore and sex it up?

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
Tressa wrote: "Maybe I'll appreciate Pontypool more after reading your review."

Maybe me too. I was tired and distracted when I watched it and probably didn't appreciate it at the time.

message 1862: by Michael (new)

Michael (mikedecshop) | 2133 comments BarkLessWagMore wrote: "Michael wrote: "And Soon the Darkness remade in 2010"

Did you see it? And did they gore and sex it up?"

Sorry have not seen but I put it in my queue. Let you know.

message 1863: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments BarkLessWagMore wrote: "Tressa wrote: "Maybe I'll appreciate Pontypool more after reading your review."

Maybe me too. I was tired and distracted when I watched it and probably didn't appreciate it at the time."

In its own way it was kind of annoying, too.

message 1864: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Paula, that's exactly why I didn't like it. And that DJ was annoying as hell.

OMG, people. I watched Human Centipede 2 last night and am floored that it was even made. It was gross and violent and that fat little maniac lead character did a fantastic job. You couldn't pay me enough money to tape my face to someone's ass for a day's filming.

message 1865: by Tressa (last edited Sep 15, 2012 08:00AM) (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments I'm not ever going to watch Salo or Serbian Film, so this movie will probably be number one on my list of disgusting films forever. Most cuttings in films look fake, but everything this portly psycho did to these people looked real. Where did they find this actor? I gave it 4 stars because for what it set out to do, it did it very well.

message 1866: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments LMAO. I typed "Siberian Film" when I meant Serbian Film. Thanks for adding the title to your post so I could change it.

There are just some films that have reputations of being so vile that I know I don't have the stomach to watch them. A Serbian Film, Cannibal Holocaust, and Salo are just a few of them. I know there are others out there from reading the douchebag comments of the IMDB members. Cannot stand smarmy, know-it-all movie and music nuts.

message 1867: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments Tressa wrote: "Maybe I'll appreciate Pontypool more after reading your review."

Eh, probably not - the reasons given for you and others disliking it were the things I liked about it. Que sera sera and all that...

message 1868: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments OK. Never mind. I hated Pontypool.

Finally saw King's Speech and it was good but nothing you've never seen in other overcoming adversity movies.

message 1869: by Kat (new)

Kat (Kat2011) | 90 comments I just saw "Bait" about sharks in a supermarket. I know, sounds like some sort of SciFi original film or something. But it actually wasn't that bad. I was entertained. I have an official review here @ Shivers of Horror

message 1870: by Bark's Book Nonsense (last edited Sep 17, 2012 10:11AM) (new)

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
I watched The Zombie Diaries . It's a low budget DVD about a zombie infection (no, really?) and I don't recommend searching high and low for it unless you're a complete zombie freak. The acting was bad, especially one character named John who recites his lines in a lifeless monotone. The whole film felt very disjointed. It flipped around in time and though it follows three separate sets of survivors; all of them have one "handy cam" available and a guy to man it. Sorry, not buying it. In the end, some of the ideas were good (if nothing new) but I didn't give a damn about any of the characters. I didn't get to know them enough to care if any of them lived or died and all they seemed to do was wander about aimlessly and act irrationally. The blurb promised "The BESTEST Zombie Film Ever Made" but delivered just another bland copycat. Meh

message 1871: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments BLOOD BATH (1966)

This AIP (American International Pictures) quickie (currently streaming on Netflix) is legendary as being a Roger Corman patch-up job built around some atmospheric bits from a Yugoslavian film (OPERATION: TITIAN) that Corman bought. These would be shots of a mysterious caped, slouch-hatted figure creeping through the cobblestone streets of an old Eastern European town (thus - instant production values!) and occasionally attacking people. Around this, Jack Hill shot some footage in Venice, California. Later Stephanie Rothman shot more footage with a slightly altered script, confusing the intended plot even more.

In some way, this is a pretty typical horror plot - crazed artist kills his models and produces artwork as a result. But is he haunted by a curse placed on an ancestor and driven to kill, or does he turn into a completely different looking person who is also a vampire (thus enabling the marrying of shots of a different actor)? Both and neither and both! "Are you suggesting Sordi is a vampire who abducts women?" Max the beatnik asks - even the film doesn't know.

Antonio Sordi (the enjoyable William Campbell of DEMENTIA 13 - who always seemed to have an Irish Tony Curtis vibe going, to me), who maintains a studio in a Gothic bell tower (in Venice, CA?) once run by his family, is famous for painting a series of well-selling "Dead Red Nudes" - morbid posed still-lifes (literally!) of murdered women - but is haunted by bizarre dreams (one of the best bits of the movie, they replicate the spooky empty desert landscapes of Salvador Dali paintings, haunted by a mocking femme fatale, and feel like images from the unconscious) even as he attempts to maintain a relationship with ballerina Dorian (Linda Saunders) (who may be the reincarnation of Erno Sordi's - Antonio's cursed ancestor - betrayer). Meanwhile, he's also transforming into a vampire creature and prowling the city day and night (!), killing women. Some local seedy beatniks, lead by dumpy little painter and artistic blowhard Max (Carl Schanzer - reminding me a lot of Ernie Kovacs), eventually figure out that something is up and try to intervene.
...but is it art?
No one could seriously recommend this rag-tag, choppy and uneven film - or at least not without some caveats. Some of the killings are well-done (some not so much). Sordi's nightmarish cleaver attack in his studio on model Daisy that starts the film has shocking amounts (for the time, natch) of flowing blood, and an assault at a party that culminates with death in a swimming pool - presaging a similar bit in THE NIGHT STALKER (1972) - uses eerie near-silence nicely. Also good is the stalking (the killer momentarily foiled in his pursuit by unexplained costumed revelers who dig his vampire outfit!) and death of Daisy's sister Donna that ends on a carousel (why she thought to "hide" on a carousel we must leave as a mystery for the ages). And those obsessive dreams previously mentioned are very striking. There's an alternatively bombastic and plunky Ronald Stein theremin score opening the film.

As in Corman's BUCKET OF BLOOD, far-out artistic pretensions are the subject of gentle ribbing. The beatniks - including Sid Haig - dig on a metronome with a picture of an eyeball pasted to it, and Max pontificates on his theory of "quantum art" created with his quantum gun (which oddly predicts William Burroughs' shotgun paintings by a few decades) but they all also rally to become unlikely heroes in the end (a face-off on the pilings under a pier is both goofy and kinda cool), mostly because they pay attention. Donna (Merissa Mathes) is a very attractive beatnik chick!

At a slim hour and 6 minutes it still feels padded but if you like films from this period, or Corman's stuff, or just enjoy moody black and white films of creeps prowling the streets at night, you should check it out.

message 1872: by Shawn (last edited Sep 27, 2012 09:45PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments MAD MONSTER PARTY? (1967)

Probably one of the least seen of the Rankin & Bass puppetoon musical presentations (as it was a feature film and not a made for TV movie like RUDOLPH, et al.), this has been a personal favorite my entire life and I can remember going to a church basement showing with my sister Susan when I was a teenager just for chance to see it again after many years of it being MIA on video. There is now a DVD available of this charming film that serves as a good marking point for the end of the first wave of Monster Kids, the generation that grew up with the Shock package of old Universal horror films on television, that grew up with "The Monster Mash" and Aurora models and horror hosts (technically, I'd be part of the end of the second wave of Monster Kids or the beginning of the third wave).

In the grand tradition of the "monster rally" (Universal films latter entries of multiple monsters in the same film, that continues even today in films like FREDDY vs. JASON) and Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" (and myriad knock offs), comes this children's musical comedy horror film wherein Baron Boris Von Frankenstein (grandly voiced by Boris Karloff), head of all the world's monsters, calls a convention on his Caribbean island to unveil his latest discovery and announce his retirement. Invited also is his nebbishy, allergy-ridden nephew Felix Flankin (currently a pharmacist's assistant in Vermont). Mayhem results as Dracula and The Monster's Bride (wonderfully voiced by the late Phyllis "Ha-HAH!" Diller - she even refers to The Monster as "Fang"!) plot with (and against) the Baron's personal secretary, sultry femme fatale Francesca (voiced by Gale Garnett and possibly the most...uh, "pneumatic", puppet Rankin & Bass ever designed) and his crawling zombie major domo Yetch (voiced by Allen Swift ala Peter Lorre) to steal the Baron's formula and rule all the world's monsters. Oh, and besides all the aforementioned characters, The Werewolf, The Mummy, The Hunchback, Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and The Creature From The Black Lagoon are also on hand, along with assorted zombie bellhop flunkies, carnivorous plants, blob-like pets, a skeleton acid-rock band ("Little Tibia and The Phibias") and the Baron's demonic chef Mafia Machiavelli... and a surprise party crasher late in the game (the pseudonymous - due to licensing problems with RKO no doubt - "It").

This is a purely fun film and a great way for kids to enjoy monsters. There's some good songs (the title piece, sung by Ethel Ennis, Baron Frankenstein's philosophy of life "Stay One Step Ahead" by Boris Karloff, and Francesca's sultry declaration of love, "Never Been A Love Like Mine Before"), some not so good (The Bride's song to the The Monster, "You're Different", sung by Phyllis Diller, and Francesca's number during the attempted seduction of Count Dracula, the ragtimey "Our Time To Shine" - you *will* see Dracula tap dance!) and some dumb fun (the acid-rock "The Mummy" wherein, surprise surprise, the aged, brittle creature is the first one out on the dance floor to shake his mouldering stuff to a tune that endlessly repeats "IT'S THE MUMMY!"), not to mention the excellent, jazzy harpsichord and horn driven incidental pieces by Maury Laws. The puppetwork is excellent throughout - the designs are wonderful (check out the hollow clothes of The Invisible Man, the manly chin of Dr. Jekyll, the moon-like crater-face on Yetch, the Mummy's hideous teeth, the redesign of a potbellied Creature From The Black Lagoon, not to mention "It" - all design work by EC Comics superstar Jack Davis!) and sequences (the scene of Francesca sinking underwater in the moat, the early bit of Baron Frankenstein being showered with sparks when charging his new discovery with lightning, and yet again the final biplane assault on "It").

Baron Frankenstein, The Monster, his Bride, Dracula, Felix, Francesca, "It" and Yetch are the prime stars here - most of the other monsters get little bits of business but not much else (most of them don't speak at all, just grunt or howl or moan - although The Invisible Man sounds like Sidney Greenstreet and Dr. Jekyll seems to have made his peace with Mr. Hyde). The humor isn't very sophisticated (this is Rankin and Bass, after all!) but there are occasional funny and subtle jokes (Francesca thinks much too loudly in one scene and her request that Felix go on without her as they flee.. "just leave me something to read" she says, cracks me up every time), including one bit of foreshadowing so subtle I never picked it up until just this viewing (and I've probably seen this film twenty times at least). Adults may also raise an eyebrow at Yetch's rather obvious masochistic personality type, not to mention the fact that it takes Francesca being slapped (twice!) out of hysterics before she realizes she loves Felix.
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Finally, for the spoiler zone, while I may be stretching things a bit (view spoiler). It always brings a smile to my face and you should watch it at Halloween with the kids!

message 1873: by Bandit (new)

Bandit (lecturatoro) | 9799 comments Has anyone watched Silent House? it wasn't very original, but I thought the main actress did a very good job

message 1874: by Shawn (last edited Sep 20, 2012 10:09PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments I'll agree about it not being original (it's pretty much Polanski's REPULSION doing the same camera trick as Hitchcock's ROPE) and I can't imagine watching it again but I was reasonably entertained. I liked the bit where she ran out of the house and across the lawn and through the field and saw the little girl - something about the lighting and the open space after the cramped inside of the house really worked there.

message 1875: by Chrissy (new)

Chrissy | 26 comments I saw human centipede and it probably is at the top of my hate list. I think I was very disturbed by it, and by that I mean scared to death. Hostel made me never want to travel, human centipede made me weary of even the innocent greeter at the store. I love scary movies, but this was to much.

message 1876: by Larry (new)

Larry | 227 comments silent house wasn't very good. I blame the studio, if the had advitised the movie as a psychological horror I think I would have liked it better.

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
Watched Dream House the other night. I wish I hadn't. It wasn't scary, a big reveal happens midway through and then the story just goes to hell and makes little sense. Rachel Weisz looks lovely however, so there is that.

message 1878: by Shawn (last edited Sep 26, 2012 05:03PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY (1976)

Some films have no need for sequels - and some get them anyway. VIDEODROME and DON'T LOOK NOW are lucky. ROSEMARY'S BABY (1968), not so much. Oh, this made-for-TV movie has nothing to do do with the actual book sequel Ira Levin penned years later (how could it, chronologically?) but obviously someone in the mid-70s said "ROSEMARY'S BABY made a lot of money, let's do a movie about the baby grown up!" - and thus you get this ungainly titled telepic, rendered from now on as LWHTRB (because we've all got ways to spend our time, right?). Obviously, a MFTV movie isn't going to get Polanski on board, so you get the original film's editor, Sam O'Steen, to direct. You can't get Mia Farrow back, so Patty Duke takes the role of the unlucky Mom. George Maharis subs for John Cassavetes as scheming hubby Guy Woodhouse. Ray Milland (always a treat to watch) takes Sidney Blackmer's role as Roman Castevet (nee Steven Marcato) but, hey, Ruth Gordon is back, for good or ill, as Roman's wife Minnie (for ill simply because the filmmakers play up Roman and Minnie as bickering oldsters, stretching a good joke from the film into a shtick).

Despite the need for no sequel, I've always felt that ROSEMARY'S BABY sets up a nice little nature/nurture argument at its end - can the love of a good mother overcome the ultimate in (spiritually) bad genetic programming? Well, the likelihood of a made-for-TV film from the 70's answering that question in any serious way is practically nil, but will they gnaw at it for 100 minutes (while pushing a secret agenda I'll get to in a moment)? Why yes they will... in classic 3 act structure, no less!

"THE BOOK OF ROSEMARY" - so Rosemary kidnaps her own 8 year old boy (Adrian, nee "Andy" - or, as you might remember, "Jenny" if he'd been a girl) from his black nursery full of spooky satanic toys and goes on the run. She hides in a synagogue and then calls ex-hubby Guy (living the high life as a Hollywood mogul, his reward for turning his wife into the Devil's brood-mare) and demands money from him to help her disappear. The country-wide (worldwide?) cult was expecting such a move, though, and a Rosemary ends up whisked away on a driverless, empty bus after trusting cultist Marjean (Tina Louise, Ginger from GILLIGAN'S ISLAND!) who then takes over raising Adrian. 20 years later "THE BOOK OF ADRIAN" finds him (Stephen McHattie - looking a bit like James Woods) grown and living at Marjean's casino (thus, this film is taking place in the then-future year of 1988!), a troubled young man seething with anger but tempered by kind memories of his lost mother. He drives recklessly and picks a fight with some bikers - which allows us to see that he can, much like The Incredible Hulk, be driven to the point where his eyes glow and he, uh, "Antichrist's-out", I guess, displaying strength, viciousness and mind powers (but he has no idea he's the Antichrist, you see). Roman, Minnie & Guy show up at Adrian's anointing ritual/acid-rock party which goes badly when his best friend is electrocuted by his (legal) Dad and a drugged Adrian also receives a hefty jolt, setting up... "THE BOOK OF ANDREW" finds our titular character now an amnesiac being treated by a pretty nurse who later drugs and rapes him, revealing she's also a cult member (they're everywhere!). The movie ends with Adrian, conflicted, confused and fearful, on the run - attempting to find his mother and solve the mystery of his origins.

I like to play a game when watching MFTV movies from the 70's that's called "what if this was a pilot?" - because many ended up being, whether intended to or not (FANTASY ISLAND & THE NIGHT STALKER come to mind). This game is usually helped by the open endings many of these films had - DEVIL DOG: THE HOUND FROM HELL ends with many more demonic puppies being spread through the suburbs, and one could imagine Richard Crenna chasing them down week after week like some virtuous dog catcher - and if that seems stupid, you haven't seen a lot of 70's TV shows (lucky you). Make no mistake, LWHTRB is not very good (although the occasional moment - the bus scene and the acid-rock freakout - are kind of cool), but one can honestly see the potential groundwork of a TV series being laid here, something like the aforementioned THE INCREDIBLE HULK, with our conflicted Antichrist wandering the country, learning to trust and fear, cast into the wilderness like his earlier Christian analog as he searches for his loving Mother while hounded by the law, a satanic cult and the random manifestations of his own evil nature - like some flip side of GODSPELL. It might have been interesting... who knows, it might have even been good (it certainly has more potential than that terrible OMEN IV tv-movie/pilot from the 90s - the Devil's Granddaughter? seriously?). What could it have been called? LOOK WHAT'S HAPPENED TO ROSEMARY'S BABY: THE SERIES just doesn't trip off the tongue (and, besides, he's not a baby). ADRIAN ONE: SON OF SATAN might be better, as that's the name his amnesiac self finds on his driver license (a cute joke callback to one of my favorite moment's in the Polanski film, as Mr. Castevet crows "the year is ONE!" at Adrian's birth). But it was not to be, and maybe that's for the best - all we have is this silly little piece of 70's TV horror, barely up to the task of shining the curled toe shoes of the Polanski masterpiece, let alone topping it.

Ahhh, TV... "you always were a headache and you always were a bore" (to paraphrase William S. Burroughs).

message 1879: by Ken (last edited Sep 26, 2012 05:50PM) (new)

Ken | 5690 comments Shawn wrote: "MAD MONSTER PARTY? (1967)

Probably one of the least seen of the Rankin & Bass puppetoon musical presentations(as it was a feature film and not a made for TV movie like RUDOLPH, et al.), this has b..."

I am going to have to find this one!!!!!

....just ordered it! I am excited!

message 1880: by Craig (new)

Craig Nickerson | 12 comments Ken wrote: "Shawn wrote: "MAD MONSTER PARTY? (1967)

Probably one of the least seen of the Rankin & Bass puppetoon musical presentations(as it was a feature film and not a made for TV movie like RUDOLPH, et al..."

I JUST saw that. Found it at the library. Phyllis Diller...good lord.

message 1881: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments Hope you both liked it!

I'm sorry to say that I've misunderstood how the "spoiler" tag worked and assumed that it kept the material inside hidden but *readable* if clicked upon - which is how it appears to me. But seemingly, the tag does not work like that for others - which makes me wonder what purpose it serves at all...

message 1882: by Tressa (last edited Sep 28, 2012 05:38AM) (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Shawn, are you talking about GR's spoiler tags? It works the way you described it. The spoiler is hidden in a spoiler link and one has to click on it to see the spoiler. Not sure why it doesn't work for others.

message 1883: by Shawn (last edited Sep 28, 2012 04:00PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments Well - see, here's the thing - it works as you described for *me*, the author of the post. And I assumed it worked like that for others viewing the post. But occasionally I would see posts here made by others (yourself included, IIRC correctly) with the "spoilers removed" note, but it was "unclickable", that is to say it just said "spoilers removed" and was not highlighted or hilightable and just appeared as plain text, so whatever extra info the "spoiler" was covering was not accessible. I just always thought that this was people using it incorrectly, then it just occurred to me recently that I couldn't remember seeing *any* spoiler tag/note that I could actually open and read other than my own. Then, just recently, in those automatic emails that show up posts by our friends, it included my own movie reviews and the *spoiler* link was similarly "dead".

I guess the simplest way solve this is can you read this (view spoiler)?

message 1884: by Tressa (last edited Oct 02, 2012 02:44PM) (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Yes, I can click on your "view spoiler" link to reveal the spoiler. Then I can click on "hide spoiler" and it's once again hidden.

That is so weird what's happening to you. Maybe Otis and the other Admins are trying to drive you mad.

message 1885: by Shawn (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments did you have a good lunch?

message 1886: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments LOL. Well, it was OK. Assholes forgot my cranberry sauce in my to go order.

message 1887: by Shawn (last edited Oct 04, 2012 09:48PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments THE HOUSE THAT WOULD NOT DIE (1970)

Yet another made-for-TV movie let-down. Based on the 1968 women's Gothic novel Ammie, Come Home by Barbara Michaels, this was an elusive one to see until it recently turned up on YouTube. Not worth the wait says I. Directed by reliable talent John Llewellyn Moxey (THE NIGHT STALKER, THE STRANGE AND DEADLY OCCURRENCE) and starring, in her first TV role, Barbara Stanwyck (c'mon, do I really need to say anything?) this is TV movie New England Gothic to the hilt. Stanwyck is Ruth Bennett, a Government employee who has recently inherited "Campbell House", a Revolutionary War era home (in Gettysburg, the internet tells me, I don't remember that detail being mentioned). She moves in with her niece Sara Dunning (Kitty Winn) and they make the acquaintance of unctuous Anthropology Professor Pat McDougal (Richard Egan) - who takes an interest in Ruth - and his mustachioed student Stan Whitman (Michael Anderson Jr.) who takes an interest in Sara. Cue two old medium ladies, seances, old paintings, mysterious winds and fogs and shouting voices in the night ("Ammie, come home!"), dreams and visions of settler times (did Puritans ever get more of a workout for horror purposes than the 1970s?), superimposed faces, slow-motion and that 70s staple, uncontrolled fits of passion. Cue also Sara going into trances, as she's seemingly possessed by the spirit of Ammie. There's a mystery to be solved here and it has to do with a secret scroll in the attic, a sealed cellar and the solution to who is actually possessed by whom.

But seriously, this is weak tea. There's a nice, eerie opening with a POV camera prowling around the empty house as the soundtrack plays out the ghostly sounds of a murder from hundreds of years ago, and one of the seances has a nicely timed scream but, seriously, that's about it. On top of the expected shenanigans, there's also the old "rationalist college Professor versus spiritualist beliefs" claptrap, all seemingly to fill up time. It's a real snoozer as Sara seems to have no chemistry with that drip Stan and Stanwyck has nothing to work with (sample dialog "Looks like an old scroll! This could be the key we're looking for!" - said scroll, though from the 18th Century, is as supple and flexible as modern paper and can have old ink easily scraped from it - but that's just being petty, I'll admit) and the ending has to mine a just-out-of-reach can of mace for suspense. In a way, very much influenced by DARK SHADOWS, as it's not really about scares but moody, historical atmosphere and mystery. The title is nonsensical (and, btw, the title got contracted to THE HOUSE THAT WOULDN'T DIE at some point in later re-release, go figure!)

message 1888: by Shawn (last edited Oct 31, 2012 09:28PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments THE HAUNTING OF JULIA (aka FULL CIRCLE) (1977)

This is on Netflix streaming and here's the thing with this - I should have loved watching this movie. I love the time period and approach (70s atmospheric horror), I love Mia Farrow and her look at this time (still sporting the ROSEMARY'S BABY Vidal Sassoon haircut), heck - I had totally forgot about this film and, while preparing to watch it, thought maybe it was really a psycho-drama masquerading as a supernatural film and that's why it's faded into the past but - no, it's a spook movie! I even had vaguely disturbing, if muddled, memories about it from long, long ago showings on HBO (and the Straub paperbacks' cover). Everything was in place but, in the end, no dice!
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Adapting Peter Straub's Julia by Peter Straub (creepy cover, huh?), this movie has Julia (Farrow) moving into a new London home after being released from a mental institution where she's been for a couple of months after the horrific death of her young daughter (she choked to death and Julia attempted a last minute tracheotomy with a kitchen knife - this was pre-Heimlich - see also THE LEGACY - was there some kind of popular news incident where someone was saved with a makeshift tracheotomy around this time?). After some half-glimpsed sightings of a young girl, Julia begins to think she's being haunted by her daughter (her creepy-ass "harlequin clown version of the clacking monkey cymbals" toy keeps showing up) but then wonders if perhaps it's the ghost of an earlier tenant, a young girl who died in that very house (also choking to death), was by all accounts a quasi-sociopath and may be tied-up in the mutilation murder of a small boy by her group of child friends back in the 1940s. Meanwhile, an innocent turtle gets the knife, a seance has a suddenly dramatic coda and Julia's friends (Tom Conti), acquaintances (Robin Gammell) and husband (Keir Dullea) start to meet nasty endings.

It's all very DON'T LOOK NOW and it's not terrible or anything but Richard Loncraine is no Nicolas Roeg. It's filled with atmospheric moodiness - old, shadowy homes and bleary, grey watery November light filtered through cold air and dead trees during outside shots. It even has a moog synthesizer type score by Colin Towns which is half very good and half kind of silly (that noodly 70's synth sound is not frightening - suprisingly, the nice parts sound similar to Keith Emerson's music for Dario Argento's INFERNO from a few years later). There's some effective moments - Julia's daughter's death that opens the film is *horrifying* as it captures the suddenness of such a terrible event and her parents' complete helplessness. There's a nice bit with creepy hands caressing Julia in her sleep, the final moments are both tense and appropriate in their melancholy (Julia finally gets what she's wanted the whole movie) and - it has to be said - the final image is morbidly poetic and powerful and the viewers just have to look at it, freeze-framed forever, as the end credits roll (I imagine people turning from the screen in the movie theater, cringing as they head out with this enormous, creepy image hanging over their shoulders behind them) (I won't spoil it by posting it here - you'll have to see the movie for yourself).

But, having said all that, it's also a movie that just doesn't gel or hang together well or something (for me - it seems to be a forgotten-gem favorite of a lot of people on the internet). There's this very loosey-goosey, vague thing that 70's eerie continental horror did very well (again, think DON'T LOOK NOW) and that requires you to kind of pay attention and track whispery dialog, but when it doesn't work well (as I feel it doesn't here), you're left with some nice moments but a strange feeling of choppiness and disconnectedness - no flow to the proceedings which should (especially given the alternate title) feel inevitable. I'd normally say "maybe it was just me" but I really wanted to like re-discovering a lost gem in this film. Ahh, well...

message 1889: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments I read Julia a loooong time ago, and remember liking it but with the exception of a scene or two, it hasn't been that memorable for me. I think I've seen bits and pieces of the movie, probably back in the early days of HBO.

message 1890: by Addy (new)

Addy | 4349 comments Just saw grave encounters cuz i see part 2 is coming out soon. Have to say I love documentary horror. It creeps me out and this one was pretty good if ur into that. Atrocious is also very good. Both on netflix.

message 1891: by Shawn (last edited Oct 11, 2012 07:50PM) (new)

Shawn | 1055 comments PHANTASM II (1988)

The original PHANTASM (1979) is certainly in my top 5 personal favorite horror films. There are better horror films, deeper horror films, more popular, more resonant horror films to be sure, but I saw PHANTASM at exactly the right age under exactly the right circumstances. As a low-budget, inventive creepfest with a surprisingly sharp exploration of a pubescent boy's fear of the adult world underlying the plot, nothing beats it. The movie needs no sequel - as the nightmare/dream logic of the story engulfs our young hero at the end, the movie fulfills its promise to be a rollicking, extended horror comic-book tale, and such things never end well for the main character...

Except, 9 years later (director Don Coscarelli having had some success with BEASTMASTER) Universal wanted a new horror franchise... and here we are. I saw this in the theater when it came out. How could I not? I watched my beat-up videocassette of PHANTASM before heading out to the local cinema. It is currently streaming on Netflix, for those interested. You can stay away from PHANTASM III (trust me on this) but die-hard fans of the original may be interested in PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION - it's not very good either, but inventive use of old footage allows it to vaguely begin to recapture some of the weirdness of the initial film. It ends on a cliffhanger - there is no PHANTASM V.

PHANTASM II picks up immediately (literally) after the ending of the original, then flashes forward about 8 years (during which young boy Mike - originally played by Michael Baldwin - is replaced by a buff James LeGros as the same character, newly released from a mental hospital). After teaming up with the always affable Reggie The Ice-Cream Man (Reggie Bannister, returning from the original, and always fun to watch) - we're off on the road for scenes of the duo creeping around cemeteries and funeral homes in an attempt to scotch the unfathomable plans of the strange, evil Tall Man (Angus Scrimm - still a great boogeyman - he would have made a great live-action version of horror host Uncle Creepy!) and his horde of crushed-corpse death dwarfs, pick-axe wielding gravers and, of course, certain shiny flying objects (now, newly upgraded!).

I guess if you *had* to turn PHANTASM into a franchise, this wasn't a bad way to do it (not that you *had* to, though). What PHANTASM II does is it takes a very effective, very personal little low-budget horror film and expand it into a typical 80s horror franchise vehicle (much like what was done to the original A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET) - and, in doing so, loses some of the heart and soul of the original. But as a compromise, it's acceptable. Mike Baldwin's absence is sorely felt (not that Le Gros is *bad*). Coscarelli still shows he has a deft hand at occasionally conjuring a strange, dream-like mood (there's some very nice hazy, golden sunsets here) and throws in a few scenes, shots or framing nods for fans of the original (In one moment, Mike wakes up with his head right on the line in the center of the road, just as in a similar moment in the first film - reinforcing that deja-vu dream vibe), but it's still obvious that the director (or the studio?) had become enamored of the over-lit, glossy look and slick feel of a lot of 80s horror films (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3, from the previous year, seems to be an influence, with some plasticy looking special effects, jokey dialogue and money thrown around on elaborate sets that still look like sets). On top of that, the horror-slapstick-comedy styling of director Sam Raimi (he's even name-checked in the film during a sight gag involving a bag of cremains) are embraced. Now, I enjoy Raimi's style and films, but it's never something I wanted to see too much of in other horror films, as a little goes a long way and it sets the tone of a film as decidedly "goofy" (and thus, the threats are less threatening and more "fun house"). In a sense, since the PHANTASM series does have some strange, horror comic-book trappings to its story, I guess it kind of makes sense - but in that sub-genre sense, PHANTASM, to me, was more like a bizarre European story in HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE, than a cackling, broad, EVIL DEAD 2: DEAD BY DAWN/CREEPSHOW or TALES FROM THE CRYPT-type horror comic book.

So there's some action horror, jump scares and a generally jokey tone - watch our blue-collar, suburban shlubs suit-up like Rambo to confront the Tall Man! Reggie builds a quadruple-barreled shotgun! People get kicked (and worse) in the nuts! It's okay, I guess (Bannister does a great job selling the humor) but it's also leagues away from the strange, brooding, low-budget but visionary and yet oddly real-world menace of PHANTASM. There's too much tough-guy action (even if humorously postured), many of the jump-scares don't work, Paula Irvine as Mike's telepathic love interest Liz is passable but bland (much like Le Gros, to be honest) and Samantha Phillips as mysterious hitchhiker Alchemy isn't given much to do except get naked and deliver one of the most stilted single lines I have ever heard in a mainstream movie (when they're standing at the front door to the bed and breakfast - you'll know it when you hear it). The telepathy aspect, in general, just seems included as lazy storytelling. The music underscores *every* moment you should expect to be scared, just in case you missed it and forgot to be scared. There's also some facile religious imagery (dead priest, a cross wrapped in barbed wire, upside down crucifix necklace) that seems kind-of out of tune with the original.

To be sure, there are some things that work - the Tall Man gets to deliver some good lines (one in particular - "You think when you die you go to heaven? You come to us!" - resonates with the first film's revelations of his secret machinations and implies that the world Mike glimpses in both films has informed Mankind's ideas of the afterlife for a very long time) and there's a nice weirdo special effects moment right before the meltdown climax that, again, implies much strangeness still to be learned (I also like how the Tall Man crushes one the silver spheres as if it were made of aluminum foil!). The spheres themselves get to show some new (gruesome) tricks and I have to applaud Coscarelli for not making *every* sequence that could be potentially gory play out on the screen (in particular - the "man with hand stuck to door" payoff, shot only in passing, and the crematorium scene - which shows just enough through a small window). Little details like the scene/s with the butterfly hatpin are also welcome and I like the implications of the Tall Man moving across America, using up and killing small towns as he enslaves the dead (I'll resist the obvious political point). And, yes, the ending is pretty good as well - the kind of ending, in retrospect, the film had to have.

As I said, PHANTASM III is eminently skip-able (the Raimi-isms are turned up to 11, IIRC). Mike Baldwin returned for III and IV, so while the latter is also not too good (having to continue the story forward from III) there's a notable aspect to it - the deployment of unused footage shot during the first film but never incorporated in the final production. It appears in IV not as flashbacks but instead, rather cannily, suggests that perhaps the entire PHANTASM series *is* all just a dream and Mike is still in his hometown in 1979, a young boy trapped in the throes of a nightmare, desperately trying to wake up. Perhaps he actually is. We'll never know, and perhaps that's all for the best...

message 1892: by Addy (new)

Addy | 4349 comments Just saw Sinister. Most disturbing movie of my life. It will haunt you..didnt like it at all.

message 1893: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments I watched most of Bloody Reunion without falling asleep. I did drift off near the end. It wasn't what I thought it would be, though. It was one of those movies where the young people are murdered one by one. Quite boring.

A group of former elementary school classmates watch their plans for an idyllic reunion in the countryside crumble in this slasher flick.

message 1894: by Tressa (new)

Tressa  (MoanaLisa) | 23546 comments Hubby and I are finally off on weekend time together in two weeks. Maybe we'll check out Sinister.

message 1895: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 2496 comments I loved Sinister! It will haunt you...great slow burn.

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
Sounds like this is one worth seeing in the theater. I haven't done that since "Cabin In The Woods".

message 1897: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 2496 comments My boyfriend and I went into with very low expectations. It turned out to be far creepier than we thought it would be. It has a couple flaws but it leaves with you a really unsettled feeling. It has cheap scares, but I hadn't seen a scary movie that left me feeling that unsettled in a long time. I get the willies just thinking about going up into my attic now...

message 1898: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 2496 comments BarkLessWagMore wrote: "Watched Dream House the other night. I wish I hadn't. It wasn't scary, a big reveal happens midway through and then the story just goes to hell and makes little sense. Rachel Weisz looks lovely ..."

I hated this movie! I saw it in the theater because it was the only "scary" movie I could find coming out before Halloween last year! They revealed one twist in the preview and the other is just not that compelling. I didn't find it all that scary or think Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz had great chemistry. That's strange cuz aren't they dating or married now?

Bark's Book Nonsense (BarkLessWagMore) | 976 comments Mod
I blame it on Daniel Craig. He just left me so cold in this movie. Maybe he's different IRL?

message 1900: by Earline (new)

Earline Beebe (scificricket) | 6 comments Tressa wrote: "I watched most of Bloody Reunion without falling asleep. I did drift off near the end. It wasn't what I thought it would be, though. It was one of those movies where the young people are murdered o..."
I really liked Sinister.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Mario Bava: All the Colors of the Dark (other topics)
A Book Full of Movies: You May Not Have Seen (other topics)
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When Michael Calls (other topics)
Demon Seed (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Tim Lucas (other topics)
Maury Terry (other topics)
John Farris (other topics)
Robert Marasco (other topics)
Robert Bloch (other topics)