Wednesday, January 19, 2022

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) Blu-ray Review



The Vampire Lovers (1970) d. Roy Ward Baker (UK) (88 min)

In the late 18th Century, in the Austrian province of Styria. General Spielsdorf (Peter Cushing) holds a ball celebrating the birthday of his daughter Laura (Pippa Steele), who is engaged to the handsome Carl (Jon Finch). He is pleasantly surprised to see his old friend the Countess (Dawn Addams) along with her daughter, Marcilla (Ingrid Pitt), in attendance. When the Countess is called away to attend to a sick friend, Spielsdorf and Laura agree to care for Marcilla, with the two young ladies growing deeply attached. Sadly, Laura immediately falls ill to a wasting disease, punctuated by nightmares of being smothered by a large gray cat, and dies shortly thereafter, with Marcilla disappearing mysteriously into the night. Spielsdorf’s distant neighbor, Roger Morton (George Cole), comes across the aftermath of a carriage accident and takes in the passenger, Carmilla… who uncannily resembles Marcilla. Soon, Morton’s daughter Emma (Madeline Smith) is also under the exotic young woman’s spell and begins to experience the same nightmares and diminishing health. Meanwhile, the General, through his friend Baron Hartog (Douglas Wilmer), learns of the Karnsteins, an ancient family of vampires, and begins to put two and two (fangs) together….

Monday, January 17, 2022

VOODOO BLACK EXORCIST (1974) Blu-ray Review



Voodoo Black Exorcist (1974) d. Manuel Caño (Spain) (88 min)

Despite trying to cash in on the name of William Friedkin’s possession classic (and the quickly fading blaxploitation era), this is really a mummy movie in disguise. Things kick off “2000 years ago” with two men fighting over the love of a woman on Caribbean island… all sporting black face (and body) paint. After one kills the other, there is a big ceremony wherein the woman is beheaded and the high priest is mummified while topless women dance around the fire. That’s the first five minutes, folks.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

THE AMUSEMENT PARK (1973) Movie Review



The Amusement Park (1973) d. George A. Romero (USA) (54 min)

This recently uncovered and restored “lost” film from the Zombie King is a decided curiosity, with as much going on behind the scenes as in front of the camera. I’m sure most of the folks reading this are familiar with the backstory by now, so I’ll keep it to a thumbnail version: Apparently, Romero was approached by a religious organization, The Lutheran Society of Western Pennsylvania, about creating a PSA about the ill treatment of the elderly and highlighting the need for empathy and support. What Romero subsequently delivered is an Expressionistic nightmare of an older gent (Lincoln Maazel, who would later star as Martin’s vengeful vampire-killing uncle) trapped inside an amusement park filled with attractions that highlight the ageist plight. (“You must be this old, and a limited fixed income and no preexisting conditions, to ride this ride…”)

Thursday, January 13, 2022

Civilian 2021 Wrap-Up and Year-End Stats!



And we’re back!

Having addressed the horror genre in the previous entry (hey, this is HORROR 101 after all), it’s now time to give the civilian flicks a moment in the sun. As always, the titles listed were encountered for the first time from January 1 to December 31, 2021 (i.e. no repeat viewings were eligible), with top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

It's a time of reflection, you see. Get it? Mirror? Reflection? Anyway....

Anyone who was paying attention (and odds are you weren't, given that there was plenty going on in the world), it was not business as usual this year at the Doc’s office. In fact, one could argue that there was barely any business at all. I initially attributed it to the fact that I was selected to serve on the 2021 SAG Awards Nominating Committee and, as is the way with such awards, there was very little consideration given to the shocking and the scary. By the end of January, I had watched two, count ’em, two fright flicks vs. 50+ Civilian views and I confess, I felt a bit conflicted taking up that much time and space reviewing a bunch of awards bait for a site supposedly devoted to horror. So I did what any normal human being would do….

I totally bailed.

"Class Act, Doc."

Monday, January 10, 2022

Dr. AC's 2021 Horror Wrap-Up Extravaganza!



Greetings, my fellow fiends!

With a worldwide pandemic ongoing and in our faces, I suppose it’s worth reflecting on the fact that it’s a minor miracle to have made it through any given year with a modicum of physical, emotional, and mental health intact. So, if you’re reading this, I offer a cyber-raise of the glass and a toast to a job well done. We made it.


That said, I openly confess that I was barely keeping up with the brightest and shiniest new objects. In fact, I only took in 79 first-time horror Views last year (with the Kryptic Army missions accounting for 23 of those), most bearing a time-stamp well before 2020. So if you’re looking to discover the best of the current crop, I suggest adjusting expectations accordingly. However, that’s not to say I didn’t discover a few “new” gems in the process, and I’m excited to share my findings with you, Faithful Reader.


In time-honored fashion, the titles listed below were encountered by your humble scribe for the first time during the past year and, to acknowledge as many as possible, I've broken them down into various categories in alphabetical order, with my top picks denoted with an asterisk. (*)

CLIMAX (2020) Movie Review



Climax (2020) d. Varma, Ram Gopal (India) (52 min)

Diane (adult film star Mia Malkova) and her boyfriend Diego (Renan Severo) are out cavorting in the desert, looking for good times and good places to snog. They venture into an area clearly marked Do Not Enter and “weird things” happen....

Well, not really. It’s mostly just them driving their Jeep around in the sand, with lots and lots and LOTS of shots of Ms. Malkova’s rear end in short shorts.

Sunday, January 9, 2022

HOUSE II: THE SECOND STORY (1987) Blu-ray Review



House II: The Second Story (1987) d. Ethan Wiley (USA) (88 min)

Barely a horror film at all, this wannabe comedy revolves around a crystal skull possessing magical powers which has been squirreled away for safekeeping in the coffin of our nominal hero Jesse’s (Arye Gross) great-great-great grandfather who is dubbed… Gramps (Royal Dano). As they say, you can’t keep a good man down, and soon our mummified cowpoke is holed up in the basement and causing a ruckus from time to time while certain rooms in the house serve as portals to other dimensions populated by animatronic creatures with a terminal case of the cutes.

GONJIAM: HAUNTED ASYLUM (2018) Movie Review



Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (2018) d. Beom-sik Jeong (South Korea) (95 min)

Inspired by a real-life article written for CNN Travel, wherein the Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital was tapped as among “the freakiest places around the world,” writer/director Jeong and co-writer Sang-min Park aim fairly low on the creativity scale with this found-footage exploitation piece. The premise is simplicity itself: “Horror Times” is a web-series that seeks out strange and unusual locations, sending its camera crew in, along with “special guests,” to check them out and record their findings. The GPH is next up on the list. They prepare. They go in. Bad things happen. The crowd goes wild.

Saturday, January 8, 2022

DR. CALIGARI (1989) Movie Review



Dr. Caligari (1989) d. Stephen Sayadian (USA) (80 min)

The only non-hardcore offering from the Artist Commonly Known as Rinse Dream is a knowingly cheeky and theatrical presentation, production-designed to the teeth and performed with great artifice and gusto by its go-for-the-throat ensemble. The “concept” sees the famed Dr. Caligari’s (of the 1920 Robert Wiene classic) granddaughter (Madeleine Reynall) having set up shop as a groundbreaking psychiatrist working with a nymphomaniacal patient (Laura Albert) at the behest of her befuddled husband (Gene Zerna). Meanwhile, the other doctors at the clinic, who question Caligari’s taboo-busting methods, seek to have her booted from the staff.

Friday, January 7, 2022

FRANKENSTEIN'S GREAT AUNT TILLIE (1984) Movie Review



Frankenstein’s Great Aunt Tillie (1984) d. Myron J. Gold (UK/Mexico) (100 min)

Six days before the loan defaults on the Frankenstein estate (with proceeds reverting back to the greedy town elders, led by Aldo Ray), a long-lost relative of the Baron (Donald Pleasence) shows up in Mucklefugger along with his sister Matilda (Yvonne Furneaux) and his sexy and busty consort Randy (June Wilkinson). Matilda wants to win the town’s car race, the Baron wants to find the mythical buried treasure in the castle, and Randy wants to lie down and rest her aching back. Naturally, they uncover the blue-skinned remains of the original creature (Miguel Angel Fuentes) and set about resurrecting him because, well, because it’s a Frankenstein movie.

Thursday, January 6, 2022

GRIZZLY II: REVENGE (2020) Movie Review



Grizzly II: Revenge (2020) d. Andre Szots (USA) (74 min)

Other than the fact that its plot centers around another big killer bear on the loose, this has no connection to William Girdler’s 1976 “Jaws with Paws” drive-in classic. Screenwriters Joan McCall and David Shelton borrow from the “This Time It’s Personal” playbook with a mother bear avenging the death of her cubs at the hands of poachers by murdering everyone in her path. Shot in 1982 in Hungary (with American money), the drama that went on behind the camera is far more fascinating than anything that transpires before it, ranging from the collection of talent assembled to the financial wheeling and dealing that ended up with the workprint languishing on backroom shelves for nearly four decades.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

THE RED HOUSE (1947) Movie Review



The Red House (1947) d. Delmer Daves (USA) (100 min)

Daves, who directed the classic Westerns 3:10 to Yuma, Jubal, and Broken Arrow, got his start – like so many other directors in the 1940s – dabbling in the crisp shadows of film noir, and while this Edward G. Robinson vehicle is not preoccupied with criminal underworlds and double-crosses, it’s steeped in atmosphere so thick you could swim in it.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

CRUISE INTO TERROR (1978) Movie Review



Cruise into Terror (1978) d. Bruce Kessler (USA) (100 min)

This Aaron Spelling-produced made-for-TV movie has all the earmarks of the medium: an ensemble of lower-wattage “stars” happy to make a buck, slimmed-down production values, some not-so-special effects, and an entertainingly outlandish script allowing for squabbling, snogging, and the occasional shock.

Monday, November 29, 2021

SILENT NIGHT (2021) Movie Review



Silent Night (2021) d. Camille Griffin (UK) (92 min)

With Michael Bublé blaring through the soundtrack, far-flung members of a British family converge on the moneyed country homestead of Nell (Keira Knightly) and Simon (Matthew Goode) for the Christmas holiday. Her posh sister Sandra (Annabelle Wallis) arrives with her soft-hearted and soft-bodied husband Tony (Rufus Jones) and holy terror offspring Kitty (Davida McKenzie) in tow, while her other sibling Bella (Lucy Punch) sails along with partner Alex (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), taking odds as to how long before one of them needs to drink themselves into a stupor. The final party to arrive is schoolmate chum James (Sope Dirusu) with his younger girlfriend Sophie (Lily-Rose Depp), who have a rather portentous announcement to make. Rounding out the crew are Nell and Simon’s eldest son Art (Roman Griffin Davis) and their younger twins Thomas (Gilby Griffin Davis) and Hardy (Hardy Griffin Davis), all of whom swear like longshoremen and add lively color to the proceedings. This eclectic cast of characters squeeze in tight for an evening of “truth, forgiveness, and love,” a holiday they will never forget.

Because it’s the last one they will ever see.

"Wait... what?"

Thursday, November 4, 2021

DR. AC ON THE AIRWAVES!!! (RECENT PODCASTS, INTERVIEWS, ETC.)



Howdy, folks!

As you might have noticed (last month not withstanding), things have been a little quiet around here lately. Chalk it up to a fairly nonstop schedule of personal training, health coaching, and self-defense workshops which has not afforded me the chance to dedicate much brainspace to the moving image. (Although it has afforded me some pretty substantial IRA contributions, heyooooooooo....)

However, please don’t infer from my relative silence that I have given up on chatting about all things spooky and ooky. Far from it, in fact. I’m still a regular foot soldier with the Kryptic Army over at Kitley’s Krypt, I served as both contributor and co-copyeditor for Vanessa Morgan’s latest book, Evil Seeds (celebrating malevolent kiddies onscreen over the last century), I was invited to participate in Webster University’s month-long “April Fulci” program, I was a recent guest on the sensational new podcast It’s Not That Scary, and our old pal Ian Simmons over at Kicking the Seat has been kind/foolish enough to offer me a place at the table at least once a month (and sometimes more) to chat about all things Hammer, gialli, and Scare-a-Thon over the past year. I’m wildly blessed to be surrounded by all manner of prime movers who are willing to have me ride along, even when I’m not producing on my own platform.

With that in mind, I thought this would be a grand time to highlight some of those programs, in the hopes that you, Faithful Readers, will BOOKMARK THIS POST and give them a listen, watch, or read during your next patch of quiet time.

Enjoy!!!!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

2021 SCARE-A-THON FINAL RESULTS!!!



And that, my candy corn comrades, brings us to the end of Scare-A-Thon 2021 and yet another OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE!

As always, the Challenge itself is to watch (at least) one fright flick for each of those glorious 31 days that make up the month of October, 16 of which must be first time viewings. I am happy to report that goal has been accomplished, along with this year's added BONUS CHALLENGE of watching 31 movies from 31 different countries. Along the way, thanks to the generous hearts and minds of fans like you, over $2,900 has been raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT, with additional funds still coming in, making this one of the most successful Scare-A-Thons to date! (Yes, you can still drop a line at drach101@gmail.com if you wish to donate!)

My thanks to everyone who participated in some way, whether it be reading the reviews, making a contribution, watching the Kicking the Seat podcasts, sharing a YouTube link, or just stopping by to chat. During these isolated times, it's nice to connect with each other in any way possible, Sharing the Scare across the ether as best we can.

Below are the 31 "official" international features viewed (with links to full-length reviews), as well as 8 additional horror and horror-adjacent titles "just for fun". Beyond that, there is the usual assemblage of useless factoids you might enjoy, like reaching around in the bottom of your popcorn bag to see if you missed anything. You just never know.

Have fun!

CHALLENGE STATS:
Total Movies Watched: 40
First Time Views: 19
Total Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2,902.85

Sunday, October 31, 2021

EVIL ED (1995) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 19
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $2,583.85

Evil Ed (1995) d. Anders Jacobsson (Sweden) (96 min) (2nd viewing)

A raucous blood-soaked joyride, revolving around timid film editor Edward Tor Swensen (Johan Rudebeck) who is pulled off his regular duties working on black-and-white Bergmanesque art films and tasked instead with trimming particularly offensive scenes from ponytailed sleazebag Samuel Campbell (Olog Rhodin) T&A horror romps for international distribution. With the overload of blood and gore being pumped into his brain, Ed soon loses his marbles and begins seeing demons, talking to corpses, and chopping up everyone in sight.

Saturday, October 30, 2021

NIGHT WATCH (aka Nochnoy dozor) (2004) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 30
Total First Time Views: 19
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $2,500.50

Night Watch (aka Nochnoy dozor) (2004) d. Timur Bekmambetov (Russia) (116 min) (3rd viewing)

An epic blend of horror, action, science-fiction, and fantasy, all set in the humdrum workaday world of modern-day Moscow, where yellow power truck whiz back and forth carrying all manner of supernatural powers wrestling with unimaginable forces. We are dealing with no less than the Forces of Light and Darkness, with two epic armies filling the ranks on either side. An uneasy truce formed hundreds of years ago, the Night Watch governs the vampire-like creatures that make up the dark side, while the Day Watch keeps the various shapeshifting wizards in check. But now, the prophecy of a Great One has come to pass, He whose path (and to which side His alliance is cast) will decide the fate of the universe.

THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE (1972) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 29
Total First Time Views: 19
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $2,417.15

The Twilight People (1972) d. Eddie Romero (Philippines) (81 min) (3rd viewing)

During a deep-sea dive in the Pacific, “scholar, soldier of fortune, hunter, and the Last Renaissance Man” Matt Farrell (John Ashley) becomes the prize capture of bleached-blond gun-for-hire Steinman (Jan Merlin) and gorgeous Neva Gordon (Pat Woodell), the latter the daughter of the infamous Dr. Gordon (Charles Macauley), shunned by the scientific community for his literally inhuman experiments. You see, Dr. Gordon, has been working in seclusion on his secret island laboratory, attempting to cross-breed the local natives with various species of wild animals, and has designs for Farrell's prime DNA to serve as the final touch for his already impressive collection: Ayesa the Panther Woman (Pam Grier), Kuzma the Antelope Man (Ken Metcalfe), Darmo the Bat Man (Tony Gosalvez), Primo the Ape Man (Kim Ramos), and Lupa the Wolf Woman (Mona Morena). Luckily for our hunky hero, Neva also has her eye on him, ultimately planning a mini-revolution/escape of the motley herd.

Friday, October 29, 2021

THE THIRD PART OF THE NIGHT (1971) Movie Review


Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 28
Total First Time Views: 19
Amount raised for ALBANY PARK THEATER PROJECT: $2,333.80

The Third Part of the Night (1971) d. Andrzej Zulawski (Poland) (107 min) (1st viewing)

A young man, Michal (Leszek Teleszynski), watches helplessly from the edge of the woods as his mother, son, and wife (Malgorzata Braunek) are senselessly murdered by passing German soldiers during the Polish occupation of WWII. Driven by vengeance, he joins the resistance fighters, but his first assignment goes horribly wrong, with his mission partner killed and his own life saved only due to a freak accident where a neighbor wearing the same beige overcoat is mistaken for Michal and shot by the Gestapo. Astonishingly, the neighbor’s pregnant wife Marta looks exactly like Michal’s murdered bride (again played by Braunek) and, after helping to deliver her baby, Michal and she form a deep attachment. She gets him a job in the typhus center, allowing lice to feed off his blood in order to create vaccine; as a typhus patient, the Nazis leave him alone (as does everyone else), isolating him even further, allowing his pain and delusions to grow.