Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Voodoo Woman (1957)




Watched:  04/26/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward L. Cahn

So, Voodoo Woman (1957) is a low-budget picture released through API that's more or less a jungle horror adventure aimed at teens, I think.  

The plot gives us the ruthless Marilyn (Marla English) who wants GOLD in the jungle, I think.  Anyway, she dupes a local barkeep into funding her as she talks her would-be boyfriend (Lance Fuller) into going out there, along with a hired guide/ tough guy (Touch Connors).  But - whoops - they're headed for a village where voodoo magic is melding with mad science as colonialist scientician Dr. Roland Gerard (Tom Conway) is working with local tribes people who perform voodoo to (a) prove you can transform a person into a sort of Voodoo Monster, and (b) use science to keep them in that state.

I won't bother you with more details.  It's a movie that is rigidly against more than three set-ups per scene, doesn't make much sense, but has both an AMAZING monster suit for the titular Voodoo Woman and Marla English is terrific as the scheming evil-lady at the center of the picture.  

Go in expecting a movie-serial-level production and you'll be fine!  

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Crawl (2019)




Watched:  04/23/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  second!
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Alexandre Aja

This is the second time I saw this.  It was a good movie for a crowd with lots of go-to jokes about injuries minor and fatal.

SimonUK and I discussed my love of movies about animals eating people on a prior podcast about Crawl.  


Sunday, April 18, 2021

Maniac Watch: Maniac (1980)




Watched:  04/16/2021
Format:  Amazon Prime
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  William Lustig


One of the interesting things about horror is that it can be used to give an actor a showcase who might not otherwise get one.  Joe Spinell is not a name with which a ton of people are familiar, although he had appeared in two Rocky films. I knew him from his star turn as the villain in Starcrash.  

Spinell was in a ton of stuff, but mostly not in leading roles, and mostly played a heavy.  Maybe not the greatest way to stretch one's acting resume.  But in 1980 he was part of the creative team that wrote and created Maniac, the movie of which he is the star (but let's agree it's weird to call him a protagonist, even if he is, kinda sorta).  He created an opportunity, and he really made the most of it.

JAL recommended the film, and I'd been putting it off, but it seemed like good counter-programming to The Beautician and the Beast.  Anyhoo... I get why JAL suggested it, and I did, in fact "like" it, which is a curious thing to say about a movie where a guy kills a whole bunch of people over 90 minutes.

I'm going to recommend the movie as a terrific/ whacko character study, a truly grisly horror movie (I did not watch with Jamie), and having a hell of an ending.  

Plus, it briefly co-stars Signal Watch fave, Caroline Munro!  Just sorta being Caroline Munro - but as a photographer!  

see!  There she is!  



Anyway - no spoilers.  But if you like the grittiness of, say, Basketcase, this movie is for you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Watch Party Watch: Lady Frankenstein (1971)




Watched:  04/06/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Directors:   Mel WellesAureliano Luppi


Weirdly, this European produced take on Frankenstein co-stars film great Joseph Cotten.  I have no explanation other than Cotten wanted to have a stay in Europe for a while and this work was easy and probably wouldn't be seen by Americans, especially fifty years later on personal computers.  But here we are!  

The basic set-up for the story is that the good doctor (Cotten) is getting set for his grand experiment to bring a human to life when his daughter (Rosalba Neri) returns from med school, a fully licensed surgeon with amazing hair.  He has a sort of side-kick who helps him out in the lab, as well as the usual grave-robber types hanging about.  

But when the monster springs to life, he is super into murder, and starts with Baron Frankenstein.  Well, funny story, because his daughter Tania is way more of a freak than he.  So, as the monster runs around murdering pretty much exclusively copulating couples (viva Italia), the NEW good doctor gets to work on a plan for creating her own monster who will kill the first monster.  WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

She first seduces and marries her father's invalid sidekick, then convinces him to undergo a brain transplant into the local handsome moron.  

You guys, I'm not gonna lie.  This movie has a ton of nudity and sex, and then you remember "oh yeah, this is an Italian horror movie.  They think Americans movies are way too tame."  And so.  But it also creates a certain very dark take on the proceedings as Lady Frankenstein herself manipulates the men around her and seems to thrill in the more sadistic elements of what's going on - leading to an ending that had our watch party basically saying "well, huh" as the film wrapped.

It IS a horror movie.  Horrible things happen!  Some of it was some weirdly dark content I did not expect from what seemed initially like a goofy Hammer knock-off.  Because, man, there are some sharp turns there in the second half.  

I'll at least say: it was never boring!  But it is absolutely not for everybody.  Did I like it?  I mean, I was entertained.  I'm not sure it was a good movie, but it at least surprised me and wasn't entirely camp.  So.  I dunno.  

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Amazon Watch Party Watch: Piranha (1978)




Watched:  04/02/2021
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Joe Dante

You can't discuss Piranha (1978) without pointing out that it's the first film by director Joe Dante- and is already very Joe Dante.  And that it's also written by indie film director and writer John Sayles.  

Here in Central Texas, we also always mention "you know, they filmed this partially around San Marcos".  But I didn't know the final bit occurred at now-defunct water park Aquarena Springs, which was a feature of summer-time-life for the strip between Austin and San Antonio along I-35 for decades, and then - somewhat inexplicably, went belly up while I was in college as parents decided it was no longer hip, I guess.

But, yeah, the movie is about a skip tracer looking for some kids who went missing (the young lady who played Louisa in Sound of Music), and who winds up pairing up with an alcoholic to learn a mad scientist has been breeding particularly nasty fish in a tank near his house.  And, whoops, he and Louisa accidentally release them into the local river that people live on, contains summer camps, etc...

And, of course, this being a horror movie, things go poorly.  

The movie includes Kevin McCarthy, Keenan Wynn, Dick Miller, Paul Bartel, and for some reason, Barbara Steele.

Anyway, it's a lot of fun, the fish make buzz-saw/ bee sounds, and you see some pre-80's Texas.  

Here's a link to a trailer for a doc on Aquarena Springs, and they kinda talk about Ralph the Swimming Pig, which was something I desperately wanted to see in 4th grade, but didn't see til 7th.  You know what?  It lived up to the hype.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

PODCAST: "Anna and the Apocalypse" (2017) - a Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 episode w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  11/21/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's
Director:  John McPhail


SimonUK and Ryan have a holly jolly time biting into the 2017 multi-genre cult fave that has them singing and dancing in the aisles. Join us for a yuletide discussion of a newer film that might just be the Christmas treat you're looking for - it's a real slay ride. 
Christmas Means Nothing Without You - Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly 
Hollywood Ending - Roddy Hart, Tommy Reilly 
 
Xmas Genre Xrossover Playlist

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Watch Party Watch: Day of the Triffids




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1963
Director:  Steve SekelyFreddie Francis

I forgot to write this up in September, and now it's too late.


Tuesday, November 24, 2020

HOLIDAY PODCAST: "3615 code Père Noël"/"Deadly Games"/"Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus" (1989) - A Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 episode w/ JAL & Ryan

 


Watched:  11/07/2020
Format:  Shudder Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Rene Manzor


It's French. It's Christmas. It's got a deranged Santa and a kid who has seen a lot of 80's action films. It's like "what if 'Home Alone' were infinitely @#$%ed up?" Justin and Ryan take a deep dive into a movie that feels like it's about to break as a cult classic, and features a very Bonnie Tyler Christmas song. You may know it as "3615 code Père Noël", "Deadly Games", "Game Over" or even "Dial Code: Santa Claus". But it's a frikkin' delight, this thing. 
Merry Christmas - Bonnie Tyler

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020:

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Spooky Noir Watch: The Seventh Victim (1943)




Watched:  11/18/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1940's
Director:   Mark Robson


A Val Lewton horror film - that means a lot of atmosphere, mystery, wild plotting and not a lot of blood or outright frights - The Seventh Victim (1943) is a study in building a sense of dread and doom.  It's a strange, strange film, following one lead character for much of the film before putting her in a corner and finding other characters more interesting to watch.  

The film marks the movie debut of Kim Hunter*, who plays a private school girl who learns her bills aren't being paid by her sister - and her sister seems to have disappeared.  She hits the big city and learns her sister has sold the cosmetics company she owned, her shrink hasn't seen her in a bit, and she was romantically hooked up with Ward Cleaver (see a young Hugh Beaumont as a sort of romantic character!).  

Seems her sister fell in with a bunch of devil worshippers, and that's no gone great.  In fact, when paired with a private eye who decides to do the work pro bono, he gets bumped off.  At some point, we find the sister, and she's on a path that none of the men around her quite understand as they try to save her.  

But, I'm selling the film short.  Being a Lewton produced film, it's all about ideas and what you can't see in the shadows.  There's a Lynchian dream-like quality to portions, and the horror of what you realize must be happening (from people getting away with murder right in front of you) to rooms full of people trying to talk you into suicide that's far weirder than any makeup or jump scares.  Really, the closest thing I can think of in a "we're gonna watch someone end badly" closest to this film was Fire Walk With Me.  

Included as a Noir Alley entry - it works.  The film's aesthetics rely on expressionism, deep shadow, etc...  There's certainly a doomed quality and an underworld scratching at the edges of polite society.  In this case, an underworld that's what polite society does after 8:00 PM.  



*Kim Hunter is much beloved at The Signal Watch as the actor who (a) appeared as Zira in some Planet of the Apes films, and (b) as Stella Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire.  




PODCAST: "Krampus" (2015) - a XMas Genre Xrossover 2020 Special w/ Marshall and Ryan

 


Watched:  11/04/2020
Format:  HBO, maybe?
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  2010's
Director:  Michael Dougherty


Tis the season for genre mashes! It's horror with Christmas joy! Join us as we peek in on a family that has lost its Christmas spirit - and is now facing a giant beastman-shaped reckoning. Marshall and Ryan talk the 2015 holiday horror hit that's become a bit of a perennial favorite (already!) - which reflects on how the holidays with family can really be a nightmare.


Music:
Krampus Main Theme - Douglas Pipes

Xmas Genre Xrossover 2020 Playlist

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Watch Party Watch: House on Haunted Hill (1959)




Watched:  10/30/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Director:  William Castle

We were trying to find an ideal movie to prep friends for Halloween, and I think a William Castle spooktacular starring Vincent Price is a pretty good option.  

House on Haunted Hill (1959) is a classic in part because it's an examplar of Castle's interactive theatrical experiences (I believe during this movie, he released a skeleton over the audience on wires) and because it seems to be in the public domain.  But, I dunno, I kind of like it.  It's cheesy, it's giddily malicious, and it makes no sense unless you say "I guess maybe the house WAS haunted?"

Anyway - it's not high art, and doesn't have quite enough spooky scenes, but it's still a fun one.



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.  

Interactive Watch: The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

 


Watched:  10/27/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's
Director:  Edward L. Cahn


I had never heard of The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) before this week.  But it was Jenifer's selection for the Tuesday watch-along party, Halloween appropriate, and had a wacky premise.  And that premise was: what if someone read an article on head-shrinking in National Geographic?  

A family somewhere in America full of the last vestiges of Victorian gentlemen scientists/ explorers had once gone to South America, gotten killed and brought a curse down upon the Drake family.  Now, the brother of Jonathan Drake has been murdered/ decapitated, and a skull has mysteriously appeared in the family crypt.  

But a lot of heads have gone missing in the Drake family over the years, and skulls keep appearing in a handy skull-accommodating curio cabinet they've got.  

Well, turns out there's an evil scientist who seems to have it in for the Drakes (the last of which is a young woman with a solid profile), and there's a spooky guy dressed in some sort of clearly supposed to be "native" garb that looks like a track suit who has his lips sewn shut running around poking people with a stick dipped in poison, which is a real dick move.  

A cop gets involved and is cranky, but decides magic makes as much sense as anything else.

Look, these days it's hard to do a story where "evil" is based on anything coming from a place other than WASP-based culture without getting the twitter cops on you.  I get it - this movie is xenophobic at minimum, exploitative at best, and has the weirdest opposite of "brown face" you're gonna see in a movie.  I do think that it's okay to have *some* aspect of mystery out there in the world and that it's possibly not a reason to go into hysterics re: the movie's racism.  This is not the movies to champion that idea, but it's possible.

As a straight horror movie, it actually has a nice, pulpy set-up, and I can see this in a horror comic or the like, as much as on the screen.  It sticks to *some* tropes, like the big, strong American cop plowing ahead through the film's action, but it also has so much to set up with the premise, it still has a bit of novelty.  Mostly, it really, really leans into using a few key real-world terms and indigenous words and no one sounds natural using them.

Much discussion was had about the stiff acting of Valerie French in this film, but I think (a) she wasn't given much to do and this was probably shot in a week, and (b) she's doing something approximating an American accent over her London accent, and it's clearly a struggle.  She might have been happier in a Hammer Horror during this window.



Monday, October 26, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The House That Dripped Blood (1971)




Watched:  10/23/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming Watch Party
Viewing:  Second
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Peter Duffell

Really, an excuse for me to watch an Ingrid Pitt movie, I subjected friends to The House That Dripped Blood (1971), a horror anthology starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot and, of course, Ingrid Pitt, all in different sequences.  

The budget is modest, but it does have a sort of fun "let's tell spooky stories over the campfire" vibe to it, with four episodes of horror, all in complete different genres.  One - a writer conjures the villain from his book to life.  Two - a retired actor stumbles upon a wax figurine in a wax works in the village that reminds him of a woman with whom he failed to kindle a relationship, and he becomes obsessed.  Third - a man moves into the house with his young daughter, who may be a bit too much like her deceased mother.  Fourth - a horror movie star and his much younger girlfriend/ co-star move into the house while he also secures a cape that may really, really get him into the role of a vampire.

It is a silly movie, in many ways, but a darn good one for the Halloween season.  


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.

Hammer Watch: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1968)




Watched:  10/22/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Terence Fisher

I've watched the few Frankenstein movies from Hammer that I've seen completely out of order.  And this is no exception.  I think this is the second to last movie, but, really, do not know.

Completely spinning the opposite direction from Universal, Hammer decided the selling point for their Frankenstein films was not the monster, but the good doctor himself.  Building on the arrogant sonuvabitch from the novel, this version of Frankenstein is NOT humbled by his first creation, but emboldened by his success, and so the subsequent films are him doing what all good scientists would do - keep working on it.  

Thursday, October 22, 2020

PODCAST: "The Mummy" (1932) and "The Mummy" (1959) - Universal and Hammer Horror for Halloween 2020! w/ SimonUK and Ryan

 


Watched:  10/10/2020 and 10/13/2020
Format:  BluRay and Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  Unknown (a lot) and Third
Decade:  1930's and 1950's
Director:  Karl Freund and Terence Fisher




We get wrapped up in some positively ancient horror favorites; two takes on the ancient dudes coming back and causing a lot of problems for colonial pillagers of ancient burial sites! First up is the weirdly undiscussed 1932 Universal feature starring Boris Karloff as a former clergyman who would do anything for love, then we talk the 1959 version starring Christopher Lee in a similar role - but this time opposite Peter Cushing. We'll walk a Nile in their shoes as we dig deep and discuss two horror classics!
 

Music: 
The Mummy Opening Titles - Franz Reizenstein, The Mummy OST
King Tut - Steve Martin, 45rpm edition

Saturday, October 17, 2020

PODCAST: "Phantom of the Opera" (1925) and (1962) - Universal and Hammer Studios! - Halloween 2020 w/ SimonUK and Ryan


Watched:  October 4 ('25) October 6 ('62) 2020
Format:  BluRay (Kino Lorber) and Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  1000th and First
Decade:  1920's and 1960's
Director:  Rupert Julian and Terence Fisher



SimonUK and Ryan cannot remain silent on the topic of that wacky phantom what lurks beneath the opera! We take a look at two of the many film appearances where a creepy music teacher stalks and abducts his pupil while making the most of a poor real estate situation and skin condition. We take a look at the 1925 film from Universal as well as the 1962 take from Hammer, and, boy howdy, are these two different films. 
Toccata and Fugue in D Minor - JS Bach (unknown performer)
Don Juan Triumphant?   I'm not sure, honestly


Halloween and Horror (everything at The Signal Watch)

Hammer Watch: Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968)

 


Watched:  10/14/2020
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Freddie Francis

Let's start by saying "continuity" is not the watch-word for Hammer's Dracula series.  

The remote village which last saw Dracula die by drowning in a frozen moat around his castle is now located in a steep mountain area (as suggested in prior films, but which always seemed a whole lot like a forested area in a topographically uninteresting meadow).  I think the movie opens during Dracula's brief return to life from Dracula: Prince of Darkness when Dracula must have stopped off for a bite in the village, leaving a village maiden dead and inverted inside the bell of the local church.  

The plot is a bit windy, but involves a good-hearted Monsignor showing up, trying to ensure Dracula cannot return after the events of the prior movie, but a fallen priest winds up bringing Dracula back (and becomes Drac's henchman).  Dracula tracks the Monsignor home where he targets his niece.  The niece is dating/ apparently shagging a local student/ outspoken atheist.

Prior characters and locations are kind of nodded at, but only in the faintest ways.  The nearby abbey featured prominently in the prior film is unmentioned, as are any previously seen characters.  You'd think folks would invent speed-dial just to keep Van Helsing on it.

As in prior Hammer vampire films, there's a question of how Christianity and faith intersect with the abomination that is Dracula - and this film puts a fine point on it, featuring a priest who has lost his faith, a priest who has not and a smart mouthed atheist college student.  A cross is a good way to put Dracula off, but it requires faith in the object - something an atheist doesn't have (nor a fallen priest).  Released in 1968, while Britain and the US were wrestling with youth culture movements (our juvenile lead is doing his best to look like Roger Daltrey circa 1968) there's certainly a strain of "this new-fangled thinking by the youths is gonna get us all Dracula'd".  

Of course, seeing the inverse of God and miracles is a pretty good argument that one is not getting the full picture and answers questions of someone who might ask them - and so there's an emergency (and logical) jump to faith, or at least a reasonable facsimile of faith.  And the lack of faith by the fallen priest has made him vulnerable to Drac's evil ways and not even particularly interested in resistance.

Yeah, it's a bit on the nose that Dracula is literally impaled on a cross at the end, but given the themes, it's got a certain poetry and we'll allow it.  There does seem to be some sort of divine will at play in this film, but you don't want to be a flirty barmaid/ cannon fodder for the plot.

This is the Hammer Dracula with the weird "Drac Lens".  It's not a terrible effect, but once you notice it, you do keep looking at it instead of the action of the screen. It's not without motivation, but would have worked better as a POV device.

It's good to have Lee back as Dracula, who even has lines this time, and other familiar faces like Michael Ripper and Rupert Davies.  

All in all - enjoyable as the last, if very different in tone as this one was not directed by Terence Fisher.