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


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) 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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2022


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 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.