Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dracula. Show all posts

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Hammer Horror Halloween Watch: Lust for a Vampire (1971)




Watched:  10/30/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Jimmy Sangster

So, way back when I was first getting familiar with Hammer, I watched Lust For a Vampire (1971), and wound up with one of those absolutely wild experiences you get once in a while on the internet.  Admittedly, I'd not *really* been watching the movie - I was online and just watching the movie with one eye and I dashed off a jokey, jerky write-up.  But I was so much not paying attention that I mistook a completely different actor for Christopher Lee, which should tell you how much I was *not* watching.  

Within 24 hours, actor Judy Jarvis (nee Matheson) - who plays Amanda McBride in the film - spotted the review and *rightfully* called me out.  My review was stupid.  I'm lazy.  It happens.  But it was also a reminder that I should actually pay attention to a movie and give it a fair shake if I'm going to criticize the film as a viewer.  And real people do work on these films.

I promised Judy Jarvis I would rewatch the film, but, honestly, that's a *lot* of pressure.  Now I didn't want to embarrass myself if Judy Jarvis was still patrolling the internet, and I absolutely wanted to give the movie a fair shake this time.

Suffice to say, I am now more familiar with Hammer, what was going on in 1970's British film, and know how to watch these movies from a better perspective.  I've read Carmilla and become more aware of what Hammer was doing with the Karnsteins (a family of vampires they employed as Dracula wound down and based on the novel Carmilla).

I am not just saying this:  I loved the movie this time.  

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Halloween Watch Party Watch: House of Dracula (1945)



Watched:  10/28/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Erle C. Kenton

I'd seen this before and couldn't really remember it.  But when I saw "Hunchback" on the poster, I was like "oh, yeah.  This one."  

Dracula (John Carradine) goes to a Dr. Edelman trying to figure out if he can be "cured".  Edelman being a movie scientist/ doctor is like "why not?"  The same day, frikkin' Larry Talbot shows up *also* looking to be cured of being the Wolfman.  And in the cave below the house?  Frankenstein's monster.  Because why not?  

Whether Drac was serious or not about his cure and whether he was overwhelmed by his own innate evil or not is never explained as he throws the plan out the window to get un-vamped in exchange for trying to turn one of the two nurses into a new bride.  Along the way, Dracula turns the doctor into a sort of quasi-vampire.  Shenanigans ensue.

We have to talk about Nina.



Look, this whole movie is not about Nina, but she's in, like, 1/3rd to 1/2 of the shots the movie.  And I do not know why.  She's set up as a major character, but is not.  She's just... there.

Nina (Jane Adams), the dutiful nurse to Dr. Edelmann, is the poster-specified a hunchback, which is mentioned like once, but otherwise goes unremarked upon.  So she's, visually, always there in bright white nurse-gear and trying to be helpful and has an obvious difference.  

Actress Jane Adams was not a hunchback, and whatever prosthetic they put on her seemed to really bend her over and make her arms hang a certain way.  The character has not a negative bone in her body.  She's sweet and helpful and literally everything points to things working out well for Nina.  Like, they introduce a potential cure for Nina's bone difference - which she gives up to help the frikkin' Wolfman instead.  That's Nina!  Always helpful.  

But at the movie's climax, Nina is just thrown in a pit to her death as a bystander in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Which...  weird flex to suddenly go dark in a movie that feels very much aimed at kids.  

I have no ideas or no theories as to what happened here.  Was there supposed to be another fate for Nina?  Was Nina always doomed?  Was she accidentally in more of the movie than they intended thus drawing focus?  Why take a super cute actress and suggest she needs work and then bump her off with her storyline unresolved?  

It's a mystery wrapped in an enigma and smothered in secret sauce.  But what reading I did do tells me that this movie was on a conveyor belt through pre-production to post-production and while Adams had a swell time working on it, the veteran actors were less than impressed with the industrial approach to movie making that they compared to how TV would be made in a few short years.

Anyway - Nina going down into the pit will now haunt me forever.  

Adams' career in film and TV was not terribly long.  She showed up in 1942 and sort of petered out in the 1950's, finishing with an appearance on The Adventures of Superman in 1953.  It looks like she did a lot of B's, monster and cowboy movies.  She was kind of short for Hollywood, I guess, at 5'3" (which doesn't seem that short), but she attributed that to how she wound up in less than glam-girl roles.

We think she's peachy.

So here's Jane Adams without her prosthetic.  Lovely girl.  Not exactly in the Dwight Fry in weird make-up mode.








Sunday, October 23, 2022

PodCast 218: "Near Dark" (1987) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  09/26/2022
Format:  DVD
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Kathryn Bigelow




SimonUK and Ryan head west to dig up a cult classic! It's a 1980's take on vampires that doesn't suck! This film helped pivot vampires into something other than romantic, well-dressed folk and gave us hard-travelling vagabonds who might just treat you like a Capri Sun pouch.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Rain in the Third House - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 
Mae's Transformation - Tangerine Dream, Near Dark OST 


Halloween 2022



Halloween and Horror - All

Vampire d'Halloween Watch: Fascination (1979)




Watched:  10/22/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Jean Rollin

I don't know the work of Jean Rollin, but I understand more cultured folks will.  Something to look into.  His imdb looks like horror and thrillers, so, sure.

This film is mostly mood in the best way.  I think some of y'all like JAL might dig it if you haven't seen it.  It's essentially a well telegraphed vampire movie with the languid pace of Daughters of Darkness that has some astounding moments that alone are worth checking the movie out for.  

I enjoyed it, but it's mostly paper thin when you want to discuss the plot, which is a young criminal takes the gold he and his compatriots stole and hides out in a mansion which is inhabited by two young, attractive women but no servants or anything.  He tries to sort out what is happening, has sex with one of them and dodges the gang of crooks.  Also, there's a reunion of more attractive young women.

I dunno.  Give it a shot. It has some stunning visuals and never overextends its reach as a lovely, moody bit of horror with a curious spin on the vampire idea.





Friday, October 21, 2022

PodCast 217: "Twilight" (2008) - a Halloween PodCast w/ JAL and Ryan




Watched:  09/13/2022
Format:  Amazon
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Catherine Hardwicke




Well, even sparkle vampires are still still technically draculas, and that means they fit in however loosely with Halloween. JAL and I take a bite out of the crazy hit sensation that spawned a whole industry and changed bookstores and movies. I genuinely think this one is gonna surprise you.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Decode - Paramore
Leave Out All the Rest - Linkin Park 


Halloween 2022

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Dracula Watch: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)




Watched:  10/03/2022
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First 
Director:  Alan Gibson

Well, this is the final Dracula movie starring Christopher Lee as the good count, it's 1973 happening out there, and the soundtrack has a wah peddle.  I won't say I didn't enjoy this movie.  I did!  It's got Cushing still leaning into it, Lee is much more engaged than in Dracula AD 1972, and how can you go wrong when you include Joanna Lumley?  

This movie follows what happens when Dracula gets himself a cult going, and managed to plan ahead.  His plan may make no sense, but it is very, very dramatic.  Some key scenes seem to take place off-camera, and you will not like the guy who they cast as "our hero".  He has a terrible haircut and is rude to Joanna Lumley while also clearly supposed to have a romantic spark with her that no one is buying.  She's clearly way, way out of his league.  

Anyway, a mysterious cult seems to have recruited some deeply important people with the promise of power.  They kill a chicken and everything.  But it's secretly Dracula planning to use a super-bubonic plague that will wipe out humanity.  As the authorities bring in Van Helsing to sort things out, he sorts out that Dracula survived their last encounter and is now working to create a plague so all of humanity will die, and he will then be able to die, himself.  This idea gets no further consideration as some kinda wild stuff.  

There's a basement full 'o brides, a gang wearing matching sweater vests of evil, a woman wildly othered and exoticized for being Asian, snipers, excellent use of a net, and Dracula getting caught in a shrubbery.  

Joanna Lumley plays Jessica Van Helsing, seen in the prior year's Dracula AD 1972 as portrayed by Stephanie Beacham.  And her wardrobe is 70's fabu.  No notes.  She looks terrific.  




The movie plays it pretty straight, and nobody is an idiot just to serve the story.  I'm not sure how unleashing a plague requiring physical contact that becomes obvious one has said plague is particularly frightening when you realize no one would touch those people and just walk away from the threat.  Literally Lee's scheme in Captain America: Death Too Soon is 10000x more effective.   

There's some kinda interesting direction here that shows we've moved well on from the TV-like set-ups on the first Dracula.  Even if the title sequence just yells "make it cheap!".  It's funny what some camera angles and not pumping a studio full of flat lighting can do.  But, man, you can also feel that this is not the world's most expensive movie when Dracula's office looks absolutely borrowed for the day.

Yes, Dracula has an office.

Anyhoo.  Go watch!  It's the last Dracula Lee/ Cushing team up.  

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Vampire Watch: The Velvet Vampire (1971)



Watched:  10/02/2022
Format:  Criterion Channel
Viewing:  First
Director:  Stephanie Rothman

You can't go wrong when your Dracula has a dune buggy.

I'm making light, but The Velvet Vampire (1971) was better than you'd figure with some stunning visuals and occasional actual sexiness, while being hampered by the budget and issues usually plaguing anything bearing the New World Pictures marquee from pre-1982.  

A lovely woman (Celeste Yarnall) who is absolutely and clearly our titular vampire stops for some death along the way to an art gallery show where she meets two dim-witted hip post-Summer of Love 1970's types.  The woman, Susan (Sherry E. DeBoer) rightly perceives Diane as a threat, but her husband, Lee (Michael Blodgett) sees a good looking dame who seems game and goes about telling his wife she has hang-ups and she should trust him.*  She absolutely should not.

The pair drive out to the desert where there's evil foreboding stuff and their car breaks down.  Fortunately, Diane appears driving a yellow dune buggy in full sunlight.  

At dinner (steak tar-tar, of course), Lee and Diane are basically announcing their intention to bang while Susan objects.  And then a bunch of vampirey stuff happens.  

If you showed up for partial nudity, you're in luck.  This is New World Pictures circa 1970 and they deliver on the spectacle you're hoping for.  If you showed up for Oscar-worthy performances, you may find yourself wanting.  But director Stephanie Rothman (the first woman inducted into the DGA, apparently?) does not screw around when she has an opportunity to do something cool.  And so we get some fascinating dream sequences and other bits that do a lot with some trick visuals, a fan and red negligee against the backdrop of the desert.

There's also a few other sequences that don't look like it was a crew fighting a losing battle with white walls and lighting, including a shot of Diane in a grave and two versions of voyeurism that appear in the movie.  

I can't say I loved the ending of the movie, but it's... fine.  I guess.  I would have ended it a full ten minutes earlier, but it's not my movie.  I'm just not sure how scary "vampire on a Greyhound" is.  But mostly I feel like it's a shame it appears Rothman never quite escaped doing exploitation films before hanging it up.   For example, I believe her take on the male hero of this film has to be satire in a way.  He's a being completely navigated by his dick who constantly gaslights his younger, vulnerable wife - even telling her it's no big deal when she witnesses him having sex with Diane.  The entire stance seems set up to get him murdered in the final reel.  

Susan's vulnerability and guilelessness is, frankly, unappealing and you can't blame either she or Lee for falling for the vampire's charms (there's definitely overt vampire lesbianism that never quite sticks the landing).  But it also makes Susan hard to follow as a character as the dramatic irony piles up around her.  And it all feels very intentional.  

I didn't love this movie, but as a curiosity, I'd recommend it.  It's not paced as glacially as some European films of the era, and you can feel okay about rooting against the leads.  I just wish the movie had left off much earlier and not decided a chase sequence was needed.  





*this, friends, is a red flag in your personal life as well as in vampire movies

Monday, September 26, 2022

PodCast 212: "The Hunger" (1983) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan





Watched:  08/08/2022
Format:  Bluray
Viewing: Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Tony Scott




Simon and Ryan bite into a legit 1980's cult classic that's big on mood, tone and lighting and shows rather than tells at every opportunity. If sexy vampires are your thing, we've got a cast that fits the bill, while also selling lifestyle porn and a great score. Join us for a movie that really makes it clear why you need a basement incinerator and an attic with plenty of storage space.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Trio in E Flat, Op. 100  - Franz Schubert
Flower Duet/ Lakme - Delibes


Halloween 2022 & all Halloween/ Horror Films

Monday, September 19, 2022

PodCast 211: "Vampira/ Old Dracula" (1974) - a Halloween PodCast w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  07/26/2022
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing: First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Clive Donner




SimonUK and Ryan take a bite out of a 1974 vampire movie neither of them had previously seen, starring David Niven as a Dracula whose seen better days. It's 1970's hipsterism mixed with Blaxploitation meets horror meets comedy meets a sad trombone moment in the last 45 seconds. Join us as we kick off Halloween 2022!


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Vampira - David Whitaker 



Halloween and Horror

Monday, April 11, 2022

Hammer Watch: Brides of Dracula (1960)




Watched:  04/11/2022
Format:  BluRay!
Viewing:  Second? 
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher 

It's my b-day tomorrow, and for my b-day, Dug and K sent me a couple of Hammer blurays I'd not picked up, and... I'm very excited.  Lots of extra features and whatnot and excellent picture quality. 

I wrote this one up in late 2020, so I'm not inclined to say a ton more.   I suppose this time it really struck me how much this movie seems to play with the idea of gothic romance novels, of the young woman entering a castle and uncovering a mystery - but in this case rather than a wrongly imprisoned prince or lord, she accidentally frees a Dracula.  It's kind of clever.

This is also a movie where we see Van Helsing continue on his arc as a bad-ass, fist-fighting Draculas and applying his anti-vampirism plan to himself.  It's crazy.  

I will also continue to contend that Andree Melly was very cute as a vampire.



Friday, October 29, 2021

Hammer Watch: The Scars of Dracula (1970)




Watched:  10/28/2021
Format:  YouTubeTV
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

Christopher Lee played Dracula 10 times on film, 7 times for Hammer, this being the 5th outing for Hammer.  This Dracula film is one of 9 movies Christopher Lee starred in during the year 1970, when he was still sort of doing lines as Drac, and not just standing there or growling.  

Anyway, the man was supernaturally prolific.  

Saturday, October 23, 2021

PODCAST: "Son of Frankenstein" (1939) and "Son of Dracula" (1943) - Halloween 2021 - Horror Sequels w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  09/06/2021
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  a whole lot
Decade:  1930's and 1940's
Director:  Rowland V. Lee and Robert Siodmak (I KNOW)



We check in on the boys and see what the kids are up to! One back in the old family villa and the other heading to Louisiana for some jambalaya, we assume. Two franchises rise yet again, stitched together from ideas new and old as we look at the third in the series for each, and sink their teeth into familiar tropes as well as all new stories and characters!




Music:
Son of Dracula Theme - Hans J. Salter Orchestra
Son of Frankenstein Theme - Frank Skinner


Halloween 2021



Saturday, October 2, 2021

Halloween Watch Party: Dracula (1931)

 


Watched:  10/01/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing: Unknown!
Decade:  1930's
Director:  Todd Browning

My friends, I have written and spoken more on Dracula than makes sense.  It was super fun talking with people over the movie on Friday night, tho.  Hope everyone had a spooky good time!

Friday, October 1, 2021

Friday Hallow-Scream Watch Party: DRACULA (1931)


This Friday we kick off our Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party 

Join us as we watch one of the movies that launched a movement!  It's not the first, or even the best, but it's certainly one that was a MONSTER hit and solidified Dracula as a pop culture figure for a century to come.  

Come find out what movies, plays, cartoons and candy mascots have been ripping off for 90 years!  Behold:  spooky armadillos, rubber bats, boring virgins, terrific cinematography and Dwight Frye just freaking out the squares.

Day:  Friday, October 1
Time:  8:30 Central, 6:30 Pacific
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Cost:  $4.00



8:30 PM Central/ 6:30 Pacific for all shows!

October 1 -   Dracula (1931)
October  8 -  Frankenstein (1932)
October 15 - Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
October 22 - The Wolfman (1941)
October 29 - Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)




The Universal Monsters Hallow-Scream Watch Party series is meant to be a casual good-time as we check out the run of horror movies that started with Dracula and have become staples of culture the world over!  Everyone knows what these monsters look and act like, but it's probable most people haven't ever actually seen the movies they're in!  So, come watch!  

Starting just two years after the silent era, these movies quickly became the blockbusters of their day, bringing strange ideas most people hadn't considered, wild visuals, and complicated creatures to the screen.  And, ever since, studios have been looking to recapture this particular lightning in a bottle.

We think you'll enjoy watching along and checking out the creepfest that is Universal Horror!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween Doc Watch: Wolfman's Got Nards (2018)




Watched:  10/29/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Andre Gower

I saw The Monster Squad at Showplace 6 on a weekday in late summer when I was a kid.  I must have said something about the movie and thinking I'd miss it (it wasn't released until mid-August of 1987, which would have been just as school was starting), so I'm guessing I thought the clock was ticking.  My dad loved movies, too, when we were kids.  Not like some of your dads who showed you Carrie or whatever, he just liked going to the movies or making a bucket of popcorn at home and watching a movie with us.  

All I know is that on a weekday in the few weeks Monster Squad was out, my dad took the afternoon off work - came home and got me, we watched the movie - and then he dropped me off and went back to work.  I don't think he remembers this at all, but it meant a lot to me when I was 12.  

Hammer Watch: Dracula A.D. 1972




Watched:  10/28/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Alan Gibson

So, we skipped a Dracula movie in there because we read it was super not good, and Jamie's been watching these with me, and I'm trying not to make her hate this.  I have a weird fondness for this very not good movie, which I'd seen before and picked up on discount on BluRay.  But, you know, from a critical standpoint, and through the eyes of 2020, it's hard to say Dracula A.D. 1972 aged particularly well.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

PODCAST: "Van Helsing" (2004) - our Halloween 2020 Finale! w/ SimonUK and Ryan




Watched:  10/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Stephen Sommers



Well, what better way to wrap up our review of classic monsters and monster movies than to discuss 2004's mish-mash of Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, hats, hair, bodices and swing around on ropes? Universal threw money at the guy who gave them the 1999 Mummy franchise and he promptly went bananas, abusing SFX teams and creating the worst kind of fan-fic. Join us as we make our way through Van Helsing.
 


Music
:
The Monster Mash - Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt Kickers



Halloween and Horror (everything)

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Hammer Watch: Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970)




Watched:  10/24/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:   Peter Sasdy

I actually liked this Dracula a bit more than I expected.  We're hitting 1970 by this time, Hammer was loosening up, and the characters feel a bit more three-dimensional around Dracula - which is welcome what with the lack of Peter Cushing.  

Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) picks up during the events of the prior Dracula film, with Dracula impaled on a golden cross.  A wayward English traveler comes upon the scene at that very moment, and, being an enterprising fellow, collects Dracula's cape, his clasp and his ring after the count is "dead".  As well as putting some of his blood in a vial.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Hammer Watch: The Vampire Lovers (1970)


 

Watched:  10/21/2020
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Roy Ward Baker

A few years ago I included The Vampire Lovers (1970) in my list of one of the best movies I'd watched that year, but I don't think I'd actually watched it again since.  Maybe in bits on cable, but this year I've been saving another rewatch for Halloween-season.   The last few Octobers were obnoxiously busy times for me (in no small part because of baseball, but the Cubs were very bad this year).  But, last year I squeezed in a listen to the audiobook of the source material, the novella Carmilla.  (I should mention, the novella predates Dracula by about 15 years).