Wednesday, February 20, 2019

HORROR EXPRESS (1972) Blu-ray review



Horror Express (1972) d. Eugenio Martín (UK/Spain) (84 min)

Renowned anthropologist Prof. Alexander Saxton (Christopher Lee) boards the Trans-Siberian Express in China with a crate containing the frozen remains of a primitive humanoid which he believes to be the missing link in human evolution. The truth, however, proves to be far more complex, as the not-dead-yet cargo begins to exert its will over the passengers, sucking their brains dry and gaining their knowledge, leaving a trail of lifeless, white-eyed husks in its wake! That’s only the tip of the proverbial Iceberg of Weirdness (there is a proverb about that, right?) as Saxton and fellow passengers Dr. Wells (Peter Cushing), Countess Petrovska (Silvia Tortosa), Inspector Mirov (Julio Peña), and the sexy, mysterious Natasha (Helga Liné) attempt to contain the prehistoric menace before they reach Moscow.


Tuesday, February 19, 2019

THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) Blu-ray Review



The Mole People (1956) d. Virgil W. Vogel (USA) (78 min)

John Agar (The Brain from Planet Arous), Hugh Beaumont (TV’s Leave It to Beaver) and Nestor Paiva (Tarantula) star as three archaeologists who come upon the Sumerians, an unusual race of albino beings (led by Alan Napier) who shun all forms of light and have mutant mole men as their slaves. Because of their “magical cylinders of fire” (i.e. flashlights), the explorers are treated like gods, with Agar’s character even finding time for romance with the tannest and prettiest of the Sumerians (Cynthia Patrick), until they try to liberate the unfortunate enslaved creatures from their oppressors. Can the archaeologists escape this hallowed mountain in Asia ... or will they be trapped forever in this strange underground world?


Monday, February 18, 2019

THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943) Blu-ray review



The Return of the Vampire (1943) d. Lew Landers (USA) (70 min)

In 1918, Armand Tesla (Bela Lugosi), a 200-year-old Hungarian Vampire, prowls the English countryside, feeding from the jugulars of the villagers. But Tesla’s reign of terror is interrupted when a pair of scientists, Lady Jane (Frieda Inescort) and Sir John Ainsley (Roland Varno), drives a spike through his heart. The undead Tesla remains safely entombed for two decades until the impact from a stray Nazi bomb accidentally releases him. Along with his werewolf servant Andreas (Matt Willis), the resurrected vampire plots vengeance on the family that put a halt to his nocturnal feasting, setting his sights on the young and beautiful Nicki Saunders (Nina Foch).


Saturday, February 16, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF THE DARK (1972) Blu-ray review



All the Colors of the Dark (1972) d. Sergio Martino (Italy) (95 min)

The gorgeous Edwige Fenech (Strip Nude for Your Killer) stars alongside George Hilton (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh) as a couple recovering not only from a car accident, but also from her resulting miscarriage. She’s also been having some rather strange dreams in which Ivan Rassimov (Eaten Alive) attacks her with a knife. When pills and psychiatrists fail to resolve the nightmares, she is persuaded to go all New Age by lovely blonde Marina Malfatti (The Night Evelyn Came out of the Grave), only to discover she’s been lured into a coven of lascivious Satanists.


Friday, February 15, 2019

AUDITION (1999) Blu-ray Review



Audition (1999) d. Takashi Miike (Japan/S. Korea) (115 min)

After seven years of mourning and encouraged by his teenage son to find a new wife, Shigeharu Aoyama (Ryo Ishibashi) seeks the advice of a business colleague (Jun Kunimura) within the film company they work for. Together, they hit upon the perfect plan: Staging an audition for actresses, ostensibly for a new feature project, but in reality hoping to find the new ideal woman to share Aoyama’s life. While interviewing a series of candidates, the lonely widower becomes enchanted by Asami (Eihi Shiina), a quiet, 24-year-old woman, who is immediately responsive to his charms. The two seem to instantly fall for each other, but things take a very dark and twisted turn (or three) as we discover Asami isn't all she seems to be...


Wednesday, February 13, 2019

ALL THE COLORS OF GIALLO (2018) Blu-ray review



All the Colors of Giallo (2018) d. Federico Caddeo (USA) (89 min)

Direct from Severin Films comes this loving examination of the evolution of Giallo, Italian for ‘yellow,’ the color of the lurid pulp novels that inspired one of the most intense, extreme and influential genres in cinema. Brimming with exclusive interviews with directors Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, Sergio Martino, Antonio Margheriti, and Umberto Lenzi, screenwriters Ernesto Gastaldi, Dardano Sarchetti, and Luciano Ercoli, and actors George Hilton, Daria Nicolodi, Barbara Bouchet, Edwige Fenech, and Nieves Navarro (aka Susan Scott), alongside all-new featurettes that take us even deeper into the genre’s origins, including that of the German “krimi,” the suspense films that predated and inspired their Italian successors.


Tuesday, February 12, 2019

VALENTINE (2001) Blu-ray review



Valentine (2001) d. Jamie Blanks (USA) (96 min)

Four attractive young ladies are being stalked by the grown-up version of the awkward nerd they used to tease and torment in high school. Problem is, no one know what he looks like anymore, especially since when he exacts his sweet revenge, his visage is concealed by a Cupid’s mask. Broken hearts (and other mortal wounds) await! Blanks, following up his 1998 surprise smash hit, Urban Legend, unfortunately misses the bull’s-eye; while clearly emulating an ’80s slasher vibe, the murder and gore scenes have been trimmed down to a mere trickle and the strong and empowered female characters (yay!) conjured by the four, count ’em, four screenwriters (hmmmm) have no real spark or connection (boo!) and the men are even more nondescript (zzzzzz). Starring David Boreanaz (Angel, Bones), Denise Richards (Starship Troopers), Marley Shelton (Scream 4, Planet Terror), Katherine Heigl (Grey's Anatomy) and Jessica Capshaw (aka Steven Spielberg’s stepdaughter).


Monday, February 11, 2019

Fool's Views (1/1 – 1/31)


Someone shut that door, it's freezing in here....

Howdy, folks,

Kicking off the year in grand style, with an ample mix of horror and honors, atrocities and accolades from across the decades!

Other than catching up with a number of 2018 horror releases that I missed last year, Other areas of focus will include watching the films of the two Richards, Lester and Fleischer, as well as doing a little Charles Bronson retrospective. Also, realizing that in the past, my annual “projects” have been primarily male-dominated, one of my stated cinematic goals this year is to track down as many of the Best Actress Oscar winning performances that I have not previously seen as possible, a number that currently sits just north of 20 films. Should be a good year.

Without further blather, let’s dive in! Time’s a-wasting. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

SCREAMERS (1995) Blu-ray review



Screamers (1995) d. Christian Duguay (Canada) (108 min)

Set in the far-off future of 2078, a violent 10-year war rages on between the loyalist Rebel Alliance and the splinter faction of the New Economic Bloc, with Col. Joseph Hendrickson (Peter Weller) assigned to protect the distant Sirius 6B outpost from the NEBs. Assisting him in the cause are Autonomous Mobile Swords, manmade killing devices programmed to eliminate all life forms, dubbed “Screamers” for their high-pitched mechanical whine as they sweep underground like supersonic moles. Unfortunately for both sides in the conflict, the artificially intelligent Screamers have begun to evolve and mutate, transforming from easily identifiable robots to cybernetic creations that look disturbingly… human.


Saturday, February 9, 2019

OBSESSION (1976) Blu-ray review



Obsession (1976) d. Brian De Palma (USA) (98 min)

A 10th wedding anniversary celebration in New Orleans in 1959 ends tragically when Michael Courtland (Cliff Robertson, Brainstorm) discovers that his wife Elizabeth (Geneviève Bujold, Dead Ringers) and 9-year-old daughter have been kidnapped. When an attempt to thwart the captors goes awry, Courtland's wife and daughter are never recovered. 16 years later, while vacationing in Florence (where Michael first met Elizabeth), Courtland falls in love with a young woman, Sandra (also Bujold), an exact, if younger, double of his dead wife. On the eve of their wedding, Sandra disappears, with only a ransom note left behind ... a duplicate of the one found several years earlier.


Tuesday, February 5, 2019

ZOMBIE (1979) Blu-ray release!!



Zombie (1979) d. Lucio Fulci (Italy) (92 min)

In Italy, it was released as Zombi 2, the unofficial sequel to Dawn of the Dead. In England, it was known as Zombie Flesh Eaters and banned as an official Video Nasty. In America, it was called Zombie and advertised with the depraved tag line, “We Are Going To Eat You!” Tisa Farrow (Anthropophagus), Ian McCulloch (Contamination), Al Cliver (Cannibals), and Richard Johnson (The Haunting) star in this worldwide splatter sensation directed by Lucio Fulci (City of the Living Dead, The House by the Cemetery) that remains one of the most eye-skewering, skin-ripping, shark-chomping, gore-gushingly graphic horror hits of all time!


Friday, February 1, 2019

SCREAM FOR HELP (1984) Blu-ray review



Scream for Help (1984) d. Michael Winner (USA) (89 min)

Terror invades an upper-class New York community as 17-year old Christie Cromwell (Rachael Kelly) cleverly uncovers her stepfather Paul Fox’s (David Allen Brooks) horrifying plot to murder her wealthy mother (Marie Masters). She's onto him, yet no one will believe her because she's just a kid. Suspense builds when a series of shocking events confirms her worst fears. Alone, afraid, and helpless, terrified Christie and her mother are held prisoner in their own home at the mercy of Paul and his ruthless accomplices (Lolita Lorre, Rocco Sisto).


Thursday, January 31, 2019

HOWLING III: THE MARSUPIALS (1987) Blu-ray review



Howling III: The Marsupials (1987) d. Phillipe Mora (Australia) (94 min)

Marsupial werewolves attempt to outwit and outlast their human counterparts in this offbeat horror sequel that has nothing to do with the previous two installments. Long ago, the now-extinct marsupial wolf (aka the Tasmanian Tiger) roamed the Australian Outback with its terrifying 180-degree jaw-opening capacity. Today, a werewolf colony that has descended from these marsupials has taken over the land. The race for survival is on as the humans struggle to contain these out-of-control creatures, and yes, it’s just as ridiculous as it sounds. Director Mora (The Beast Within, Howling II) claims the bonkers plotline and outrageous narrative and tone were intentionally designed to be over-the-top, but that doesn’t make the final product any less hodgepodge or inept or entertaining for all the wrong reasons.


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

MANIAC (1980) Blu-ray Review



Maniac (1980) d. William Lustig (USA) (88 min)

Renowned character actor Joe Spinell creates one of the most memorable (and certainly the sweatiest) psychopaths ever to grace the grindhouses. Constantly moaning, mumbling and crying, Spinell’s Frank Zito conducts a reign of terror on the NYC streets, murdering young women and tacking their bloody scalps onto his ever-growing collection of female mannequins. Working from a script by Spinell and C.A. Rosenberg and aided enormously by Tom Savini’s gut-churning and (literally) mind-blowing f/x, William Lustig directs this notorious bit of nastiness with the grime and degradation piled on an inch thick throughout. Gorgeous Caroline Munro also stars as a fashion photographer, although her attraction to and ensuing relationship with Spinell are the weakest elements in the film (not to mention the fact that his “normal” behavior is completely at odds with the remainder of his unhinged performance).


Tuesday, January 29, 2019

URBAN LEGENDS: FINAL CUT (2000) Blu-ray review



Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000) d. John Ottman (USA) (97 min)

At Alpine University, the most prestigious film school in the country, someone is determined to win the Hitchcock Award at any cost - even if it means eliminating the competition. No one is safe and everyone is a suspect. The making of a horror movie takes on a terrifying reality for students at in this lackluster, factory-assembled “follow-up” to 1998’s smash hit (our killer is inexplicably wearing a fencing mask as opposed to the all-purpose parka), with lesser stars, tenuous connections to the urban legend concept, and an uneasy balance between humor and horror.


Monday, January 28, 2019

URBAN LEGEND (1998) Blu-ray Review



Urban Legend (1998) d. Jamie Blanks (USA) (99 min)

While turning the scary little “true” stories that everyone has heard from “a friend of a friend” into horror films is nothing new (see When a Stranger Calls), this slick feature attempts to incorporate as many as possible into the context of a slasher movie with moderately successful results. First-time director Blanks (Valentine, Long Weekend) assembles an extremely photogenic cast to play students enrolled in professor Robert Englund’s college class on urban legends. Silvio Horta’s smirking script then proceeds to creatively eliminate the student body utilizing the syllabus’ grisly methodologies.


Sunday, January 27, 2019

10 TO MIDNIGHT (1983) Blu-ray Release!!



10 to Midnight (1983) d. J. Lee Thompson (USA) (102 min)

Charles Bronson plays Leo Kessler, a cynical Los Angeles cop on the trail of Warren Stacy (Gene Davis), a homicidal maniac who turns rejection from beautiful women into the ultimate revenge. When the legal system sets Stacy free, Kessler plants evidence to put him behind bars for good. But Kessler's plan backfires, leaving him with only one option: to hunt down Stacy on his own before the crazed killer can strike again!


Saturday, January 26, 2019

THE PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES (1966) Blu-ray Release!



The Plague of the Zombies (1966) d. John Gilling (UK) (91 min)

In a remote 19th-century Cornish village, an evil presence lurks within the darkness of the witching hour. A mysterious plague relentlessly consumes lives at an unstoppable rate. Unable to find the cause, Dr. Peter Tompson (Brook Williams) enlists the help of his mentor, Sir James Forbes (Andre Morell). Desperate to find an antidote, they instead find inexplicable horror: empty coffins with the diseased corpses missing! Following a series of strange and frightening clues, they discover a deserted tin mine where they discover a world of black magic and a doomed legion of soulless, murderous slaves ... the walking dead!


Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Civilian 2018 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!



Aaaaaaaaand we're back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s time to give the Civilian flicks their moment in the sun. As always, all titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2018 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

As mentioned in the horror wrap-up post, I didn't spend a lot of effort keeping up with the current output - I only indulged in two or three cineplex binge-trip theater-hop voyages, with most of the current crop viewed in the latter half of the year once they’d hit home video. I also will admit to spending a fair amount of time revisiting films that I hadn’t seen in a while to see if my opinions had changed (or hey, just for fun - what a concept!)

I am also happy to report that after two years of less-than-ideal stats, I managed to climb back into the 300+ Club (not really a club) and, as you’ll see below, I devoted a healthy amount of time to several actor/director projects over the course of the year. In addition to another successful Scare-A-Thon/October Challenge, I decided to re-introduce the notion of a November Turkey Hunt, tracking down the best of the worst, tallying 30 Gobblers (plus a few fence-sitters) when all was said and done.

Many thanks to everyone for their support and feedback and conversation over the years. We'll see what 2019, the last year of the “teens,” has in store!

Let the OCD madness begin!!!


TOP 10 2018 CIVILIAN RELEASES

Avengers: Infinity War
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
Eighth Grade
First Reformed
Game Night (*)
Leave No Trace
Mission: Impossible – Fallout (*)
Sorry to Bother You
Thoroughbreds (*)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Monday, January 7, 2019

Dr. AC's 2018 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!


Clearly it's been a very productive year....

Howdy, folks!

I’m not even going to waste your time with the usual apology/justification this time around for not having seen all the latest and greatest, brightest and bloodiest objects that 2018 had to offer. That said, I’m pretty happy with the amount of newer flicks that passed my peepers, as well as the revisits I was fortunate enough to engage in either for review or recreational purposes.

To compensate, this year I’ve extended my field of view for recent fright films to include the past two (2) years since I was playing quite a bit of catch-up during the early months of 2018. (Hey, as I’ve said many a time before – we’re all on our own path. What’s important is that we keep walking it.)