Monday, December 31, 2012

Fool's Views (12/17 - 12/23)

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas
With a Film Every Night
Trading off Civilian Flicks
With Those Designed for Fright

Howdy folks,

This week’s Views were brought to you by HH101, OCP, CPL, and good ol’ JC.

(That would be HIDDEN HORROR 101, my Obsessive Compulsive Personality i.e. needing to watch films by certain directors in order to increase 2012’s tally, the Chicago Public Library, and He Who Was Born in a Manger, Thus Spawning a Million Christmas-themed Movies.)

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


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fool's Views (12/3 – 12/16)

Criminey, where is the year going? Oh, thataway. Right.

Spent a few nights catching up on the civilian flicks I’d piled up way back in January to take with me to Milwaukee. (True story: of the 72 originally pulled, I’ve only made it about halfway through the stack. Yes, I get distracted easily.) Meanwhile, the horror views were largely comprised of selections dictated by the able roster of HIDDEN HORROR 101, sparking interest in revisiting and/or sampling firsthand choice offerings from the frightful fringe.

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


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fool's Views (11/26 – 12/2)

Bonjourno, as Lt. Aldo Raine would say.

Been a long time, and I’ll just ‘fess up right now and say this ain’t gonna be the most detailed and glorious FV session on record. I’ve been keeping myself occupado with a brand new book project (which you’ll be hearing plenty about come the new year) and we’re fast running out of ’12. So, it’s time to slap this life raft of a cinematic journal together and get paddlin’ for shore.

This week’s Horror Views constitute a rather awesome weekend of Sharin’ the Scare with Oshkosh blood brother John Pata who came down to Chi-town and chilled on our futon to the tune of flicks, feasting and occasionally filming the short film version of Stephen King’s short story “Gray Matter.” Again, they deserve better than they’re going to get here, and hopefully we’ll remedy that in the not-too-distant future…but I wouldn’t hold my breath either.

Feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012


On the audio commentary for this latest iteration of his groundbreaking behind-the-scenes Document of the Dead, filmmaker Roy Frumkes compares his film to Michael Apted’s Up series (7 Up, 14 Up, 21 Up, etc.) in that he feels that his life has somehow become intertwined with that of his doc’s subject, George A. Romero. While a pronounced exaggeration alongside with Apted’s landmark half-century-and-counting achievement, Frumkes’ point is that with each new version, he has to choose what archival footage to excise in order to make room for the new. Sadly, the truth is that this 2012 release (dubbed “The Definitive Document of the Dead”) shows only too clearly that – arguably like Romero’s work itself – the past is where the good stuff lies.

While teaching at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1978, Frumkes was looking for a documentary subject and decided that, while there had been several behind-the-scenes films made for Hollywood studio efforts, there had not been many (if any) that covered the making-of an independent feature. Denied the ability to shoot in NY or California due to union rules, the instructor learned of Romero’s impending Dawn of the Dead shoot at the Monroeville Mall outside of Pittsburgh. Thanks to an already existing relationship with Dawn producer Richard Rubenstein, Frumkes was granted access to the set where he and a small crew (comprised mainly of SVA students) shot for several nights alongside Romero, Tom Savini, Ken Foree, et al., capturing delicious celluloid tidbits of a masterpiece in the making.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fool's Views (11/12 - 11/25) (Turkeys and Toons!)


Fool's Views (11/12 – 11/25) (Part 1 of 2)

Greetings, peeps.

Like any good Thanksgiving feast, there was a wealth of cinematic gorging taking place over the last couple weeks, with ample portions of both dark meat (horror) and white (civilian), as well as lots of cheese, corn and sweets to balance out the table. We’ve got a lot to get through, so let’s get on with it!

In addition to Jon Kitley’s 10th Annual Turkey Day Festival, during which idiots such as myself bury themselves in the basement bowels of cinema, I scarfed down an array of relatively recent civilian fare as well as a quartet of animated blockbusters. Also did a little Turkey snacking of my own, with a new horror release from IFC for dessert. All in all, it was a feast fit for a king...or at least a Fool.

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


BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO (2012) movie review

Berberian Sound Studio (2012) (1st viewing) d. Strickland, Peter (UK)

Called to Italy to work on a new film, British sound designer Toby Jones finds himself immersed in increasingly strange environs. Even if not for the language and cultural barriers that separate the already shy and bookish professional from his colleagues, there exists an oppressive feeling of otherness; the other sound engineers find him uncooperative, the eccentric director refuses to have his exceptionally violent giallo referred to as a “horror film,” and the seemingly simple task of reimbursing Jones’ flight expenses becomes a Sisyphean labor no one seems willing to undertake.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

THE BEAST OF YUCCA FLATS (1961) movie review

Beast of Yucca Flats, The (1961) d. Francis, Coleman (USA)

Tor Johnson, the ex-wrestler who attained everlasting infamy in several Ed Wood features, is the nominal “star” of this hilariously misguided cinematic achievement. “Noted scientist” Johnson is ambushed while carrying atomic secrets during a meet-up and chased onto an atomic testing ground. (Oh, sweet irony.) Before you can say Big Bang Boom, the hulking bald-headed brainiac is transformed into a hulking bald-headed maniac with a radiation-scarred visage and a pronounced hindrance in communication skills. Helpless women are kidnapped, kids are chased with sticks and a cuddly bunny bounces in for the greatest closing shot on celluloid.

ATTACK OF THE GIANT LEECHES (1959) movie review

Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959) d. Kowalski, Bernard L. (USA)

From producer Gene Corman (brother Roger exec-produced) comes this steamy tale of oversized bloodsucking annelids terrorizing the local swamp rat population, with a dash of moonshine, adultery, and suicide tossed in for good measure.

BRIMSTONE AND TREACLE (1982) movie review

Brimstone & Treacle (1982) d. Loncraine, Richard (UK)

With his career as a musical superstar firmly in place, relative screen newbie Sting was tapped to shoulder his third of this black comedy three-hander with venerable veteran screen talents Denholm Elliot and Joan Plowright. Turns out he’s more than up to the task, playing a playfully sinister sociopath who insinuates himself into the elder couple’s lives under the pretense of being their infirm daughter’s (Suzanna Hamilton) unrequited paramour.

Fool's Views (11/1 – 11/11)

Howdy troops!

Wow. Well, no surprise that I was a little burned out after the 31-day sprint that was the October Challenge; also no surprise that the content of the past couple weeks leaned in the civilian direction. Still, we managed to get a couple worthy fright flicks into the mix as well as embarking on the 7th Annual Turkey Hunt, where one tries to consume as many low-grade stinkers as possible over the course of November. (Films need to have an IMDb rating of 4.4 or lower to qualify, but as you’ll see, entertainment mileage is not necessarily proportionate.)

So, dive in! We’ve got all three Carradine brothers (David, Keith, Robert) and a triple-shot of Police frontman Sting in the mix, accompanied by another heaping helping of Danny Peary’s Cult Movies selections. As always, feel free to throw in your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Thursday, November 1, 2012


Hello Boils and Ghouls,

With that, we come to the end of another October Challenge. This year lived up to its name as I was endeavoring to watch only fright films I had never seen before, which proved both exciting and frustrating as every view that I shared with someone else had to be prefaced by, "Now, this might completely suck..." I sincerely thank everyone out there for their support, encouragement and feedback throughout the past 31 days of blood, babes and beasts. Hope you dug it as well.

A special word of thanks to those of you who came on board as donors to the Friends of Children fundraising drive - you are the ones who kept my eyes open into the wee hours at night…after night after night. Bless you. Please contact me at to send in your corresponding pledge amount and let’s get some much needed help to these kids.

Below are the final statistics, as well as links to each day’s respective reviews. Hope you enjoy the walk back down memory lane, dark and dangerous as it might be. As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.


Total Movies: 101
First Time Views: 101
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $1213.01

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/31)

Due to an unfortunate migraine, I was only able to knock out one more film. But since it brought the total to a fitting 101, I'm not complaining too much. (Well, the migraine is still here, so I'll complain about that, but you know what I mean...)

Close Your Eyes (aka Hypnotic aka Dr. Sleep) (2002) (1st viewing) d. Willing, Nick (UK) 98 min.

A hypnotist (Goran Visnjic) with a mysterious past becomes involved in the investigation of a spate of child murders with occult trappings. Well executed with identifiable characters and laudable scenes of suspense, but with a few too many unanswered questions come the final credits crawl.

Total Movies: 101
First Time Views: 101
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $1213.01

(I will be posting all the final stats, discoveries, etc. later on today, so stay tuned!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/30)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Case of the Scorpion's Tale, The (1971) (1st viewing) d. Martino, Sergio (Italy) 90 min.

Terrific giallo (complete with black sparkly masked killers, bottles of JB everywhere and hot babes getting knifed every 20 minutes) that genuinely had me guessing throughout as to whodunit and who was gonna get it next. Great fun.

Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key (1972) (1st viewing) d. Martino, Sergio (Italy) 96 min.

The greatest movie title in the history of movie titles. Not so much based on Poe’s “The Black Cat” as it simply incorporates the essential story elements throughout its twisted tale of sadistic burnt out writer Luigi Pistilli, emotional punching bag of a wife Anita Strindberg, and trampy niece Edwige Fenech who comes to stay and play (doctor, head games, et al) with them both. Another marvelous guessing game of who’s the victim, who’s the villain and who will take their clothes off next.

Vampire People, The (aka The Blood Drinkers) (1964) (1st viewing) d. de Leon, Gerardo (Philippines) 88 min.

For a simple genre programmer, this Filipino horror effort packs in a wealth of emotionally (if melodramatic) complex characters as well as cinematic artistry (colored filters and gels galore!) into its narrative. Lovesick vampire Ronald Remy attempts to revive his ailing mate by replacing her heart with that of her twin sister (both played by Amalia Fuentes); meanwhile, the beset village attempts to ward off the resident plague of bloodsuckers. On the one hand, we empathize with Remy’s plight; on the other, we can understand the locals’ issueswith he and his toothy band gumming up the joint. Very enjoyable.

Phantom Carriage, The (1921) (1st viewing) d. Sjostrom, Victor (Sweden) 107 min.

A gorgeously wrought and beautifully performed silent effort that continues to resonate nearly a century since it was first unveiled. A drunken wastrel (Sjostrom, pulling triple duty as actor, writer and director) at the hour of his death is forced to recall his pitiful life, as well as the many opportunities for redemption he has rejected throughout, by the titular vehicle’s driver. While there are indeed ghostly spectres drifting throughout the film (the translucent image of the carriage itself is both lovely and haunting), the real horror is of the Christmas Carol ilk – the pain of reliving each of one’s most damning missteps, helpless to change the past. Just wonderful.

Total Movies: 100
First Time Views: 100
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $1101.00

Monday, October 29, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/29)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Soul of a Monster, The (1944) (1st viewing) d. Jason, Will (USA) 61 min.

Val Lewton-like Faustian tale of ailing benevolent surgeon George Macready who is miraculously granted a new lease on life…but at a price (as these things often go). Rose Hobart lends a chilly calm to the proceedings in the Satan role, now seemingly everywhere that Macready goes, a fact that proves discomfiting to former flame Jeanne Bates and colleague Jim Bannon. Overall, a pretty solid melodrama of good vs. evil with a whole lot of Christianity on hand (down to a completely superfluous rendition of “Ave Maria” sung by a practicing boys choir), so if you’re the type offended by such things, be forewarned.

Visible Secret (2001) (1st viewing) d. Hui, Ann (Hong Kong) 98 min.

“Give me back my head.” This is the frequent refrain heard throughout this polished if unaffecting ghost story, made just before the U.S. remake of Ringu kicked the Asian ghost story machine into hyperdrive. Amiable slacker lad Eason Chan and quirky goth gal Qi Shu meet cute at a dance club, but she soon reveals herself to be more than a handful, not least of which due to her ability to see ghosts (solely through her left eye). The dialogue quoted above is voiced by any number of folks, possessed as they are by a wandering spirit – it is here that the film’s central mystery resides, and truth be told, it’s not a very engaging ball of yarn to unravel.

All the Colors of the Dark (1972) (1st viewing) d. Martino, Sergio (Italy) 94 min.

The gorgeous Edwige Fenech stars alongside George Hilton 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 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, only to discover she’s been lured into a coven of lascivious Satanists. Truly, wonderfully bonkers with wicked visuals – like Rosemary’s Baby dunked in marinara sauce.

Total Movies: 96
First Time Views: 96
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $1037.76

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/28)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Ghost Eyes (1976) (1st viewing) d. Kuei, Chih-Hung (Hong Kong) 98 min.

A shockingly underrated/under-viewed (only 29 votes on IMBd) flick with a novel narrative: a young beautician receives some unusual contact lenses from a mysterious optometrist. Cursed with extrasensory vision, she falls victim to a ghost/vampire/demon who first sexually assaults, then forces her to procure other female victims. Numerous jaw-dropping sequences, including a Taoist monk exorcism that puts its own spin on the head-spinning tropes.

Hypnotic Eye, The (1960) (1st viewing) d. Blair, George (USA) 79 min.

Genuinely macabre subject matter highlights this offbeat programmer, with a hypnotist (Jacques Bergerac) who sends his onstage female volunteers with a post-show suggestion to mutilate themselves in the privacy of their homes. (Acid, fan blades, oven ranges and lye are just some of the methods used…) Sexy Allison Hayes shows up as Bergerac’s assistant…or is she the one pulling the strings? Good stuff, released a few years back via Warner Archives.

Iron Rose, The (1973) (1st viewing) d. Rollin, Jean (France) 76 min.

A young couple wanders into a cemetery to make time…then find they can’t get out. Unfortunately, the Exterminating Angel story conceit runs out of gas even with an abbreviated run time – despite lots of shrieking and hysteria – leaving viewers stranded right alongside the increasingly obnoxious pair. (Based on this month’s views, can’t say I’ve become any more than the reluctant Rollin fan I already was. I like Grapes of Death, Living Dead Girl, Fascination and profess some grudging admiration for some of his 70s-era lesbian vampire flicks. Other than that...)


Invisible Ghost (1941) (1st viewing) d. Lewis, Joseph H. (USA) 63 min.

While the title may seem either redundant or a double negative, it’s actually a pretty entertaining vehicle for Lugosi who stars as an tormented cuckold whose wife’s reappearances at his window spark murderous trances. Also notable for Clarence Muse’s well-crafted performance by as the loyal servant Evans. (Having recently watched Mantan Moreland and other stereotyped “yassah, boss” Negro characters from the 40s, it was a refreshing to see a sensitive, intelligent and noble black man onscreen.)

Devil Bat, The (1940) (1st viewing) d. Yarbrough, Jean (USA) 72 min.

For years, I thought I had already seen this, but turns out that I was thinking of the Lionel Atwill flick The Vampire Bat. Here we have Lugosi as a disgruntled former perfume company employee who develops not only a way to enlarge a vampire bat’s size, but also whips up an aftershave lotion for his enemies that attracts the giant winged monster. Fun stuff.

Human Monster, The (1939) (1st viewing) d. Summers, Walter (UK) 73 min.

Bela hops the pond to play an evil insurance agent, one that preys upon the residents of a home for the blind where he serves as doctor-on-call. I mean, really, how cold can you get? There’s some unnecessary monster makeup applied to Blind Jake (Wilfred Walter) who Lugosi utilizes as the muscle in his operation, but it’s a small distraction.

Total Movies: 93
First Time Views: 93
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $958.83

Saturday, October 27, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/27)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Spasmo (1974) (1st viewing) d. Lenzi, Umberto (Italy) 94 min.

More psycho-terror than giallo, swinging sexyguy Robert Hoffman thinks he sees a dead girl on the beach, but it turns out to be Suzy Kendall who proceeds to lead him on a wild chase through murder, intrigue and a really serious case of sibling rivalry. There are also any number of life-sized sex dolls scattered throughout the film, which really don’t seem to have much to do with anything. Oh, and they never really explain the title either.

Two Orphan Vampires (1997) (1st viewing) d. Rollin, Jean (France) 107 min.

Blind by day, a pair of nubile vamps “see blue” when the sun goes down and wander around doing their neck biting thing. An intriguing concept, but in spite of Rollin’s confident cinematography and requisite prominent display of the female form, this is a silly, silly movie bogged down by waaaaay too much inane chatter from the titular teens.

Mansion of the Doomed (1976) (1st viewing) d. Pataki, Michael (USA) 89 min.

Severely freaky deaky story from early in producer Charles Band’s career, one that concerns brilliant surgeon Richard Basehart going a little bonkers after his daughter Trish Stewart loses her eyesight in an auto accident. Convinced he can set things right, Basehart proceeds to start plucking the peepers from any number of unsuspecting victims and then caging the poor blind bastards in his basement! Gloria Grahame is Basehart’s dedicated assistant, while an impossibly young Lance Henriksen is Stewart’s boyfriend who becomes a part of his lady love's life in ways he never thought possible. The eyeless visages are the work of aspiring f/x artist “Stanley” Winston, while future Fugitive director Andrew Davis handled the cinematography chores. Good, grim stuff.

Total Movies: 87
First Time Views: 87
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $896.97

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/26)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Revenge of the Zombies (1943) (1st viewing) d. Sekely, Steve (USA) 61 min.

Holy carp, apparently the Nazi zombie subgenre goes back much further than Ken Weiderhorn’s Shock Waves. Here we have John Carradine’s wicked scientist laboring away among the natives, even going so far as to revive his own wife in the service of creating an opening salvo of undead soldiers. (The fact that this was made while the war was actually going on I find all the more impressive. I mean, I would have been worried that the Nazis might actually be cooking something like this up.) As an added bonus, Mantan Moreland shows up to offer his particular brand of stereotype reinforcement.

Cry of the Werewolf (1944) (1st viewing) d. Levin, Henry (USA) 63 min.

While I was excited to find another “classic era” werewolf movie, this one feels pretty thin in both the fright and amazement departments. You’ve got a Gypsy princess (Nina Foch) afflicted with the lycanthropic curse, forced to kill a museum owner to protect her family secret, which of course sparks an investigation that threatens to expose the family secret. Some truly chintzy transformation scenes, cross dissolving from one completely dissimilar image to another so clumsily that at one point it actually arrested my cup’s journey from the table to my mouth to shout, “Terrible!”

Zombies on Broadway (1945) (1st viewing) d. Douglas, Gordon (USA) 69 min.

Wannabe Abbott and Costello comedy team Wally Brown and Alan Carney star as press agents who offer a mobster a faux zombie for his club opening, who then insists they provide the real article. So, the quaking duo head off to the island of San Sebastian where they encounter occultist Bela Lugosi (as well as Sir Lancelot and Darby Jones from Val Lewton’s I Walked with a Zombie). Silly but entertaining enough.

Late Bloomer (2004) (1st viewing) Shibata, Go (Japan) 83 min.

A ballsy, experimental film whose unconventional narrative overcomes any aesthetic shortcomings. Masakiyo Sumida stars as a character called Masakiyo Sumida, a severely disabled individual who against all odds seems to live a very full life. He drinks, he carouses, he attends rock concerts, he watches porn, he flirts with female caregiver Mari Torii, and cultivates a great deal of goodwill among his circle of acquaintances. But underneath his twisted exterior lurks a soul in pain, and that pain must be expressed. It’s easy to look at a disabled person and think, “Poor thing,” but the truth is this is not a thing, this is a person, a person with all the lightness and darkness that anyone has. Similar to Crispin Glover’s It is Fine. Everything is Fine!, Shibata presents a unique look at the serial killer subgenre, one that plays upon our knee-jerk “victim” response to the physically impaired. Maybe the find of the Challenge.

Love Object (2003) (1st viewing) Parigi, Robert (USA) 91 min.

Introvert office drone Desmond Harrington falls for sexy new temp gal Melissa Sagemiller, but lacking the courage to ask her out, he orders a lifelike sex doll “Nikki” (which strongly resembles his officemate) to play out a fantasy S/M relationship with it behind closed doors. Problems start when Sagemiller asks him out and Nikki starts getting jealous. With Udo Kier and Rip Torn in the cast, this is a very polished and well-executed look into a damaged mind.

Total Movies: 84
First Time Views: 84
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $866.04

Friday, October 26, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/25)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Night Monster (1942) (1st viewing) d. Beebe, Ford (USA) 72 min.

Fun if silly thriller featuring a house full of colorful characters – including Lionel Atwill and Bela Lugosi, though both of them are ill-used here – with a crazy crippled old man (who may or may not be wreaking vengeance on the doctors) who failed to cure him and his loopy paranoid sister feeding the narrative fires and mystical magical Hindi sorcerers materializing skeletons right and left. Never heard of it before, but found it on the same YouTube channel as Murders in the Zoo and I liked it.

Terror at Tenkiller (1986) (1st viewing) d. Meyer, Ken (USA) 87 min.

If I’m watching an Oklahoma-lensed no-budget slasher and there’s no suspense to the identity of the killer and the "performances" are dreadful and the sound is terrible and the dialogue is absolute crap and the kills are so-so and I was warned about all of this from the get-go by my pal Chris (who sold it to me for a dollar), do I really have any right to complain? Yeah, didn’t think so. Special mention for the incredibly grating Casio (with realistic high-hat sound!) soundtrack.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) (1st viewing) d. Joost, Henry/Schulman, Ariel (USA) 88 min.

As someone who has been enjoyed (to varying degrees) all three previous chapters of the PA franchise, it is with deep regret that I report this latest installment directed by Catfish co-directors Joost and Schulman to also be the least. (When the guy at the box office asks you, “Are you sure you want to see that?” it’s never a good sign.) Not only is it a serious case of the seen-it-befores, but it serves up some of the flimsiest “reasons for filming in the first place” already problematic to its found footage premise. Turning Katie Featherstone into Jason Voorhees was also a big serious misstep. And that ending? Seriously? If that was the best anyone could come up with, then it’s time to hang up the iPhone, camcorder and laptop.

Sinister (2012) (1st viewing) d. Derrickson, Scott (USA) 110 min.

While it admittedly goes on a little long, for a mainstream horror release I was pretty impressed with the creep level of this story about frustrated true crime writer Ethan Hawke who has recently relocated his family to a new home…one where the last residents met grisly ends (a fact Hawke hopes to exploit in a new book). An 8mm snuff snippet of the previous family’s demise opens the film and it sets the grim tone that Derrickson dutifully follows, as more of these doom-laden reels reveal themselves in surprising fashion. There’s a reason for the solid word of mouth on this one – maybe it’s no modern classic, but it’ll definitely serve the turn.

Frankenweenie (2012) (1st viewing) d. Burton, Tim (USA) 87 min.

This dark-hued, warm hearted animated tale is everything I wanted ParaNorman to be: it’s clever, it’s smart, the characters aren’t obnoxious, the jokes aren’t easy, and the “monster kid” homages are sly and plentiful without being on the nose. It’s also probably my favorite Burton film in a decade.

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957) (1st viewing) d. Cahn, Edward L. (USA) 70 min.

For some reason, I had it in my head all this time and would have laid money that this was included in both The Golden Turkey Awards and The 50 Worst Movies Ever Made. I would have lost money on that bet. Turns out I was avoiding a flick that, while surely no piece of stellar cinema, is actually a quite entertaining programmer with lots of waterlogged undead protecting a cache of cursed diamonds and a snarling supporting performance by the late great Allison Hayes (Attack of the 50 Foot Woman). Live and learn.

Total Movies: 79
First Time Views: 79
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $814.49

Thursday, October 25, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/23 - 10/24)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!


Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, The (aka House of Psychotic Women) (1974) (1st viewing) d. Aured, Carlos (Spain) 89 min.

Mysterious drifter Paul Naschy is hired on as groundskeeper for a trio of weird sisters (repressed spinster Diana Lorys with a malformed arm, floozy nymphomaniac Eva Leon, and paraplegic Maria Perschy confined to a wheelchair), as well as sexy nurse Ines Morales. Bodies soon start piling up, and the script (by Naschy and frequent collaborator Aured) does a splendid job of keeping viewers guessing as to who the murderer might be. Very entertaining Spanish giallo.

Tokyo Gore Police (2008) (1st viewing) d. Nishimura, Yoshihiro (Japan) 110 min. A futuristic Tokyo is beset by a genetically enhanced group of criminals (known as “engineers”), forcing the local constabularies to take unusual measures, led by Audition’s Eihi Shiina. The titular extravagant splatter is to be expected f/x man turned writer/director Nishimura, but the entertainment factor is dependent upon one’s ability to swallow the serious approach taken towards the cartoonish eviscerations and creature effects – for my money, it all needed to be a bit more fun.


Taxidermia (2006) (1st viewing) d. Palfi, Gyorgy (Hungary) 91 min. Not a whole lot of conventional “horror” here, but it’s still a fascinating cinematic voyage through a twisted family tree, one that begins with a grubbing harelipped soldier on through his illegitimate speed eating offspring and finally to the third generation’s wormy taxidermist (the goriest of the three sequences). Extremely well shot and performed, and might appeal to the adventurous art house crowd than your standard horrorhound.

Tony (2009) (1st viewing) d. Johnson, Gerard (UK) 76 min.

A meek and quiet misfit (Peter Ferdinando) makes his home in a tired London suburb, occasionally seeking out the company of others in encounters that always end in bloodshed. Comparisons to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer are not unwarranted although Ferdinando does not seem to relish his crimes in the same fashion. A bit slow and repetitive, but the brief running time helps.

Naked You Die (aka The Young, the Evil and the Savage) (1968) (1st viewing) d. Margheriti, Antonio (Italy) 98 min.

Engaging little giallo set at a girls school, where strangulations are occurring via gloved black hands at an alarming rate. There’s no shortage of suspects, be it strapping Phys. Ed teacher John Hawkwood, sweaty groundsman Luciano Pigozzi, hunky flirt Mark Damon, or is it one of the comely female students? No nudity per se, but plenty of flesh on display as the girls change in and out of nightgowns on a regular basis. Reportedly shorn of 15 minutes and retitled to run as a double bill alongside Vincent Price's Conqueror Worm (aka Witchfinder General). I will say that this is one of the least successful dubbing jobs I've seen - I'm still not entirely sure whether the actors were speaking Italian or English, because the sounds rarely synched up with the lip movements. (The DarkSky DVD offered only an Italian audio track with English subtitles.)

Total Movies: 73
First Time Views: 73
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $748.98

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October Movie Challenge 2012 (10/21 – 10/22)

Remember, if you would like to make a pledge toward Scare-A-Thon 2012 (benefitting FRIENDS OF CHILDREN) at any time, drop me an email at to let me know how much you would like to pledge per film. Your donation is tax deductible, 100% of goes directly to aid the kids, and seriously, even a penny per film helps. Thanks in advance!

Autopsy (aka Tarot) (1973) (1st viewing) d. Forque, Jose-Maria (Spain) 91 min.

Sue Lyon (of Lolita fame) is all grown up, playing a free spirited woman who falls for Christian Hey, the hunky manservant of blind rich fat cat Fernando Rey. She marries the moneyman, playing around behind his back with the lad, until former lover Gloria Grahame threatens to blow the whistle. So-so giallo that only wandered into my possession because I thought it was the 1975 Mimsy Farmer flick.

Atrocious (2010) (1st viewing) d. Luna, Fernando Barreda (Spain) 75 min.

Lazy if well realized “found footage” flick that has two siblings pursuing the urban legend of a girl in a red cloak while visiting their mother. Surprise, surprise; mysterious events occur with all the hysterical shaky-cam you can stomach and a ridiculous, tacked-on twist ending. It’s not that it’s terrible, just that it sets its bar so very low.

Arcane Sorcerer (1996) d. Avati, Pupa (Italy) 96 min. From the writer/director of underrated Italian horror efforts The House with Laughing Windows and Zeder comes another smart and atmospheric chiller about a seminary student sent to serve as secretary to a mysterious monsignor who spends his days communing with the dead.

Bluebeard (1972) (1st viewing) d. Dmytryk, Edward (France) 125 min.

A notorious bomb in its day, this Richard Burton vehicle probably could have done with some trims to its excessive running time (starting with the troubling hunting sequence where we see several animals encountering the wrong end of a gun) and the distracting literalized shade of Burton's chin whiskers. However, the black comedy has an array of lovely ladies losing their clothes preceding their fateful encounters with the titular serial killer and well, that goes a long way.

Blood of the Vampires (1966) (1st viewing) d. de Leon, Gerardo (Philippines) 90 min.

Filipino bloodsuckers provide the familial intrigue for young lovers being denied permission to wed. Pretty standard stuff, although it’s one of the few times where the vampires are more or less prayed to death, which had me thinking, “Hell, why don’t more people try that trick instead of fumbling for a crucifix?”

Beyond Evil (1980) (1st viewing) d. Freed, Herb (USA) 94 min.

John Saxon and Lynda Day George play newlyweds who head off to a Caribbean island where Saxon’s been assigned the task of building some new condominiums by an old friend and former flame of George. Oh, they’ve also been given lodging in a mansion that just has the slight hitch of being the former resident of an occultist madwoman whose spirit is none too quiet. Clumsily staged creative deaths abound while George wraps her particular thespian stylings (Pieces, anyone?) around the dialogue. Her taciturn co-star, on the other hand, barely restrains himself from looking at his watch to see if he can still catch a flight home. Goofy fun, but not enough to be a classic.

Total Movies: 68
First Time Views: 68
Money Raised for Friends of Children: $690.20