Thursday, September 11, 2014

THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE (1973) Blu-ray Review

Legend of Hell House, The (1973) d. John Hough (UK)

In the pantheon of top-notch haunted house movies, this fine, moody offering ranks just below Robert Wise’s outstanding The Haunting, to which it owes a great debt. The familiar premise concerns a team of spiritual sleuths – a scientist, his wife, and two mediums – assigned to investigate Belasco House (aka “Hell House”) to prove (or disprove) the notion of life after death. However, unlike the ambiguity of Shirley Jackson’s story or the subsequent 1963 film version, Richard Matheson’s screenplay (adapted from his 1971 novel Hell House) elects to make the existence of the malevolent presence within the so-called “Mount Everest of haunted houses” undeniably explicit. According to Matheson, his personal dictate was “I’m going to do a haunted house story where you damn well know it’s haunted and there’s no question in your mind.”

Friday, September 5, 2014

Fool's Views (8/11 – 8/31)

Nothing phallic about this shot at all.

Howdy folks,

Well, once again, the good folks at Kitley’s Krypt saved my horror bacon, as my required monthly Kryptic Army mission were the only two fright flicks caught during the last three weeks of August. I lay the blame squarely at the feet of Cincinnati Playhouse’s long rehearsal days and the fact that my little apartment came fully stocked with a subscription to Turner Classic Movies; needless to say, my viewing priorities shifted almost immediately. In addition to the full features listed below, I enjoyed catching 20, 30, or sometimes 60-minute snatches of literally dozens of others. And, thanks to a TCM-sponsored viewing of Three Days of the Condor, I was further inspired to try out the Chicago Public Library’s downloadable video option for two other Redford flicks (bringing 2014’s total to nine), as well as paying tribute to a recently deceased comic master by watching what many consider to be his last great performance.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Thursday, September 4, 2014


Puppetmaster III: Toulon's Revenge (1991) David DeCoteau (USA)

True story: Prior to tackling this for this month's Kryptic Army mission theme (that of "revenge), I’d only seen the original 1989 Puppet Master and that viewing was at least 10 years in the rearview. However, having read Gert Verbeeck’s outstanding retrospective of the series for HorrorHound back in 2012, I had learned that this installment was 1) a prequel, so I wouldn’t be lost by o’erleaping the first sequel and 2) many fans consider this the high point of the franchise. Thus bolstered, I ventured in and I gotta admit, it was pretty entertaining.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge (1989) d. Richard Friedman (USA)

I’ll be honest – I didn’t actually believe this was a real movie when I first saw it pop up in one of my reference books (I think it might have been Legacy of Blood, Jim Harper’s fine examination of slasher films). I mean, could you come up with a cheesier title? But upon actually visiting the beast, it’s a fairly faithful repurposing of Phantom of the Opera...set in a shopping mall, so what else would you call it?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Fool's Views (8/4 – 8/10)

Sunscreen is your friend.

Well, hello!

Thanks to a week of memorizing lines and getting prepared for the awesomeness that was Flashback Weekend 2014 (celebrating their 10-year anniversary), I didn’t spend too much time in front of the tube, but I did manage to knock out a couple more Redford flicks (bringing 2014’s total to six, to which I’ve already added an additional three), as well as the glorious Blu-ray debut of a certain Hidden Horror and an impromptu Share the Scare with filmmaker pals Robert Cappelletto, David Schmidt, and Clare Martin. Remember: Frights always go better with friends.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Fool's Views (7/28 – 8/3)

Pardon the delay. I've had a lot on my mind lately...

Howdy folks,

This week marked the mad dash of banging out reviews for Scream Factory’s awesome “Summer of Fear” as well as a long overdue return to the multiplex to check out a few of the flicks that had been generating some positive buzz. Happy to say that of the four big-screen features imbibed, all were worthwhile and two will likely land in my top 10 list for 2014 (Boyhood and Guardians of the Galaxy).

As part of this year’s ongoing Robert Redford festival, I was given the chance to introduce the femalien to the joys of 1973’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, although I’ll come clean that I only made it 20 minutes into 1960’s Play of the Week version of The Iceman Cometh starring Jason Robards; I’m not a huge fan of the four-hour play anyway, and our young Redford is just so very terrible as Parritt. This guy was on Broadway? Wow. To paraphrase Monty Python and the Holy Grail, he got better.

Also, being as I am in the throes of rehearsals for Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park’s season opener, Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Suicide Club, I thought it might be fun to shine a light on a few of my favorite fellow reviewers’ thoughts for this week’s Civilian offerings (and one semi-horror flick). Follow the links provided and you will find my own sentiments captured with grace, eloquence, and in greater detail than I can afford at present.

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Friday, August 8, 2014

CURTAINS (1983) Blu-ray Review

Curtains (1983) d. Richard Ciupka / Peter Simpson (Canada)

This moderately entertaining Canadian slasher flick centers on tyrannical director Jonathan Stryker (John Vernon) as he auditions six female candidates for the lead role in his upcoming film project, Audra. However, Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar), the aging starlet originally promised the part, has checked herself out of the mental institution where she was incarcerated to do “research,” arriving at Stryker’s secluded mountain cabin getaway to size up – and perhaps scythe up – the competition.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

LEVIATHAN (1989) Blu-ray Review

Leviathan (1989) d. George P. Cosmatos (USA/Italy)

Days away from completing its tour of duty, the highly photogenic crew of Tri-Oceanic Mining Corporation’s Shack #7 encounters a submerged Soviet submarine and salvages one of the craft’s storage containers. A couple sips of pilfered noxious vodka later, several members are dead, with their bodies mutating into a strange and messy amphibian organism possessing tendrils, teeth, tails, and a terrible ’tude. With icy deep waters all around, the surviving rock jockeys pit their wits against the carnivorous monsters below and wait for help from the corporate monsters above (personified by oily Meg Foster), though they probably shouldn’t hold their breath.

Sorry, I had to.

MOTEL HELL (1980) Blu-ray Review

Motel Hell (1980) d. Kevin Connor (USA)

“It takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters.” So runs the tagline for this oddball combo of black humor and horror, featuring veteran character actor Rory Calhoun as Vincent, the proprietor of the titular establishment (the “O” on the “Motel Hello” neon sign keeps going on the blink) He and equally wacky sibling Ida (a pre-Porky’s Nancy Parsons) make their living by snaring unsuspecting passing motorists to fill up the skins of their famous, delight-of-the-county sausages. When Vincent takes a shine to potential tasty treat Terry (bland blonde Nina Axelrod), tensions rise between the killer siblings, not to mention goofy brother Bruce (Paul Linke) who serves as the local badge.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

WITHOUT WARNING (1980) Blu-ray Review

Without Warning (1980) d. Greydon Clark (USA)

Despite the emphatic warnings of the local gas station attendant (Jack Palance), a quartet of hormonal teens head out to the ol’ swimming hole for a weekend getaway and find themselves in the middle an extraterrestrial’s private hunting preserve. The result is a don’t-go-in-the-woods thriller that swaps out the requisite blade-swinging psycho with a melon-headed space alien given to flinging blood-sucking parasites at myriad hapless victims (including a young David Caruso in his second screen appearance, sporting some wicked short shorts).