Sunday, April 24, 2022

TRAUMA (1993) Blu-ray Review



Trauma (1993) d. Dario Argento (Italy) (106 min)

David (Christopher Rydell), a graphic artist for a local news station, encounters a young Romanian runaway Aura (Asia Argento) contemplating suicide on a highway overpass. He convinces her to come in off the ledge, but when he tries to comfort her at a local diner, she reveals her bulimic tendencies, fleeing for the bathroom and into the waiting arms Dr. Judd’s (Frederic Forrest) Farraday Clinic cronies, from which she had recently escaped. Returning Aura to her spiritualist mother Adriana (Piper Laurie), the family reunion is spoiled when Adriana holds a séance in which she senses a murderer at the table and is herself murdered along with her husband by a mysterious serial killer known as “The Headhunter,” so dubbed for his/her decapitatory tendencies with a portable garroter. (Who knew there was a call for such things?) Aura flees again into David’s arms, and the two begin an investigation into the killer’s connections to Dr. Judd, Adriana, and the increasing number of victims, all of whom seem to be connected by a common thread…

Sunday, April 17, 2022

TASTE OF FEAR (aka SCREAM OF FEAR) (1961) Movie Review



Taste of Fear (aka Scream of Fear) (1961) d. Seth Holt (UK) (81 min)

Following the recent death (by drowning) of her boarding school friend Maggie, wheelchair-bound Penny Appleby (Susan Strasberg) is beckoned to her estranged father’s seaside home in the south of France. After being literally picked up by the family chauffeur Robert (Ronald Lewis), she is informed by her stepmother Jane (Ann Todd) that despite the fact that her father has been suddenly called away on business, Penny is invited to consider this her new home. That night, Penny investigates a mysterious light in the summer house and sees what she believes to be her father’s corpse; in her hasty retreat, she falls into the adjoining swimming pool and is rescued by Robert. The cordial but stern Dr. Gerrard (Christopher Lee) quells her fears, telling her it must simply have been “a case of nerves,” but this marks only the first of Penny’s encounters with her pater’s inanimate form popping up in the most unlikely of places. It’s the kind of thing that could drive a person mad… and out of her inheritance.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

THE MUMMY (1959) Blu-ray Review



The Mummy (1959) d. Terence Fisher (UK) (86 min)

In 1895, archaeologists Stephen Banning (Felix Aylmer) and his brother-in-law Joseph Whemple (Raymond Huntley) unearth the opening of Egyptian princess Ananka’s tomb, much to the excitement of Banning’s son John (Peter Cushing), who is laid up with a broken leg but refuses to leave the site until his father breaks the seal. A local follower of the god Karnak, Mehemet (George Pastell), cautions the Westerners with a dire warning: “Whomever disturbs the tombs of Egypt… dies.” They shrug him off, but within moments, Banning is rendered a gibbering idiot after his encounter with… something. Three years later, ensconced in a mental hospital, he emerges from his stupor long enough to warn his son that the curse of Ananka is real, and is shortly thereafter dispatched by the murderous hands of the princess’ guardian mummy, former high priest, and forbidden lover Kharis (Christopher Lee), resurrected by Mehemet. Whemple is next on the bandaged assassin’s hit list, followed by John, although the latter escapes his fate when his wife Isobel (Yvonne Furneaux) distracts Kharis with her striking resemblance to Ananka, awakening a centuries-old fire in its dessicated breast….

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

MONSTER FROM GREEN HELL (1957) Blu-ray Review



Monster from Green Hell (1957) d. Kenneth G. Crane (USA) (71 min)

Dr. Quint Brady (Jim Davis) and colleague Dan Morgan (Robert E. Griffin) are performing the usual 1950s cinematic scientist duties of space exploration, researching the effects of cosmic radiation on a few animal test subjects (including wasps, monkeys, and crabs) by firing them in three, count ’em, three rockets into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, one of the capsules goes off course, disappearing from the radar although the “computer” determines that it will probably land somewhere “in Africa.” Sure enough, six months later, there are reports arising from an area known as Green Hell, already treated with much apprehension from the locals, that SOMETHING has arrived so unnerving that birds refuse to nest in the trees and herds of elephants (and other stock footage wildlife) steer clear. Oh, and one of the tribe has been killed by a predator that injected so much venom into its victim that resident white doctor Dr. Lorentz (Vladimir Solokoff) is stumped. Brady and Morgan FINALLY mount an expedition to track down their stray rocket to see if there is a connection. Surprise, surprise, there is, to the tune of mammoth radiation-mutated wasps buzzing, stinging, and strangling their helpless prey, and it’s up to our heroic Western eggheads to clean up the mess.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

ON THE 3RD DAY (2021) Blu-ray Review



On the 3rd Day (2021) d. Daniel de la Vega (Argentina) (85 min)

Enrique (Gerardo Romero) answers a mysterious phone call, telling him to bring a certain item to Santa Cruz, with it “hopefully being the last time.” Elsewhere, Cecilia Amato (Mariana Anghileri) and her son Martín (Octavio Belmonte) are taking a spontaneous road trip. These two disparate individuals literally collide one fateful night, with Cecilia waking up three days later in a deserted building with no idea how she got there and, further, no idea where Martin is. When a kindly service station agent brings her to hospital, she immediately falls under suspicion of having done harm to her child by the local police (Osvaldo Ventura) as well as her ex Fernando (Diego Cremonesi). But her doctor, Hernan Pastori (Lautaro Delgado), believes there’s something unusual about Cecilia and tracks her down after she escapes the house of healing, offering to help her remember what transpired and hopefully recover her boy.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

THE SWORD AND THE SORCERER (1982) Blu-ray Review



The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982) d. Albert Pyun (USA) (100 min)

Titus Cromwell (Richard Lynch), frustrated by noble King Richard’s successful defense of Ehdan, ventures to Tomb Island and resurrects a terrifying master of the black arts, Xusia of Delos (Richard Moll). With the wizard’s help, Cromwell crushes his foes then attempts to murder his newfound ally before Xusia can regain his full powers. Meanwhile, Richard’s young son Talon, who witnessed the murder of both his parents at Cromwell’s hands, escapes into exile, eventually becoming a highly profitable and respected mercenary. 11 years later, rebellion is brewing, with the Ehdan people championing Prince Mikah (Simon MacCorkindale) to reclaim the throne, with his faithful and spirited sister Alana (Kathleen Beller) by his side. Cromwell captures Mikah, whereupon Alana entreats Talon (now played by Lee Horsley) to take up his three-bladed sword against their mutual longtime enemy and rescue her imprisoned sibling.

Saturday, March 12, 2022

MY DEAR KILLER (1972) Blu-ray Review



My Dear Killer (1972) d. Tonino Valerii (Italy/Spain) (100 min)

While investigating an unsolved kidnapping, an insurance agent is killed in most dramatic fashion, lifted up and then decapitated by a small steam shovel engaged to dredge a small pond. When the lethal heavy machinery operator is found hanging dead in a country barn, it appears to be an open-and-shut case of murder/suicide… until the clever and handsome Inspector Luca Peretti (George Hilton) demonstrates that the driver could not have killed himself. Thus begins Peretti’s descent into the infamous and newly-reopened “Maroni case,” complete with a tangled and ever-increasing web of suspects and victims, with the hopes that he can eventually get home in time to make love to his sexy doctor girlfriend (Marilù Tolo).

Monday, March 7, 2022

SILENT NIGHT (2021) Blu-ray 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?"

Friday, February 25, 2022

EYEBALL (1975) Blu-ray Review



Eyeball (1975) d. Umberto Lenzi (Italy/Spain) (100 min)

A group of American tourists seeing the sight of Barcelona are targeted by a red-gloved killer with a penchant for slashing and dashing and tarrying only long enough to puncture the victim’s left eye as a calling card. With a literal busload of suspects and a cranky veteran cop (retiring in a week) on the case, this is an admirably energetic and playful entry in the giallo sweepstakes, one of the last entries of the Italian heyday and Lenzi’s final effort in the subgenre.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

THE QUATERMASS XPERIMENT (1955) Blu-ray Review



The Quatermass Xperiment (aka The Creeping Unknown) (1955) d. Val Guest (UK) (82 min)

After Professor Quatermass’ (Brian Donlevy) experimental Q1 rocket crashes in a field in the English countryside, it is discovered that two of the crew have vanished and the third, Victor Carroon (Richard Wordsworth), is catatonic and undergoing inexplicable metabolic changes (or “meTABolic,” as Donlevy pronounces it). Dismissing all other concerns, Quatermass searches for answers to uncover the scientific truths, while Dr. Gordon Briscoe (David King-Wood) and Carroon’s wife Judith (Margia Dean) attempt to help her mutating husband.

Monday, February 14, 2022

DON'T GO IN THE HOUSE (1980) Blu-ray Review



Don’t Go in the House (1980) d. Joseph Ellison (USA) (92 min)

Lonely misfit city worker Donny Kohler (Dan Grimaldi) suffers the one-two punch of witnessing a co-worker engulfed in flame after an aerosol can explodes in the incinerator and then coming home to discover his overbearing mother has kicked the bucket sitting in her easy chair. This pair of traumatizing events apparently fry the last circuit in Donny’s brain, because he immediately starts hearing disembodied voices, instructing him to remedy the “evil” in the world, which he interprets as “build a steel-plated furnace room in the basement, purchase an asbestos fire suit and flamethrower, and start luring unsuspecting females into your new DIY BBQ palace.”

Sunday, January 30, 2022

CAMERON'S CLOSET (1988) Movie Review



Cameron’s Closet (1988) d. Armand Mastroianni (USA) (86 min)

Cameron (Scott Curtis), a young lad with psychic abilities, is put through the paces by his scientist father (Tab Hunter), but the attempts to amplify his powers have the unfortunate side effect of awakening a demon intent on crossing the veil over into our world using Cameron’s body as host. Meanwhile, a police detective with the rolls-off-the-tongue name of Sam Talliaferro (Cotter Smith) has been ordered to visit the local psychiatrist, Dr. Haley (Mel Harris), to address his poor sleeping habits due to bad dreams. When the demon starts bumping off Cameron’s inner circle, Talliaferro and Haley are mutually assigned to the case, unwittingly bringing them into the danger zone.

Saturday, January 29, 2022

TORSO (1973) Blu-ray review



Torso (1973) d. Sergio Martino (Italy) (93 min)

The female populace of an international Italian university is slowly being picked off by a ski-masked killer, beginning with two of the three subjects of a nude photo shoot, Flo (Patrizia Adiutori) and Carol (Cristina Airoldi). When fragments of a red-and-black scarf are found under the fingernails of one of the victims, their classmate Daniela (Tina Aumont) recalls that she recently saw someone wearing just such a scarf… but who was it? Was it Franz (John Richardson) the art professor? Stefano (Roberto Bisacco), the love-starved co-ed? The handsome local doctor Roberto (Luc Merenda), the creepy scarf vendor Gianni (Ernesto Colli), and the half-witted delivery boy (Enrico DiMarco) are equally likely candidates, as is Daniela’s overly friendly uncle Nino (Carlo Alighiero), who offers up his secluded villa as a place for his niece and her three friends to get away for the weekend after the killer calls and tells the frightened student that she’d better keep her mouth shut. Sure enough, as soon as the quartet settles in, the battle of wits begins, with the wily sex murderer seeking to have all loose women, er, ends silenced forever.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

THE LAST DAYS ON MARS (2013) Movie Review



The Last Days on Mars (2013) d. Ruairi Robinson (UK/Ireland) (98 min)

Astronaut Vincent Campbell (Liev Schreiber) and his international crew are in the final hours of their exploratory mission on the Red Planet and are just getting ready to head for home when one of their number goes out to check one final outpost reading which seems to have revealed a bacterial presence. In other words, Life. Unfortunately, the bacteria has a field day with the human biosystem and basically transforms anyone it encounters into a raving background player from 28 Days Later.

Monday, January 24, 2022

DISCOVER THE HORROR... THE PODCAST!



Hey there!

Any of you out there who have been paying attention over the last 17 years know that I happen to hold a certain gentleman named Jon Kitley in high regard. When it comes to “horror mentors,” it would be hard to imagine a more positive role model. The guy has forgotten more bits of trivia than I’ll ever learn in my life, and he’s a walking IMDb page with regard to actors, directors, producers, writers, and make-up artists who have worked in and outside of the genre. Plus, he's a pretty swell human being.

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."

Tuesday, January 11, 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. (*)

Monday, January 10, 2022

CLIMAX (2020) Movie Review



Climax (2020) d. Ram Gopal Varma (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.

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.