Movie A Day! 290-299 – “Love, death. Hate, living”

I got in a bunch more films through out the week, so let’s recap them! Some pleasant surprises, and some stinkers. It’s wouldn’t be a scary movie challenge without the stinkers.

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290 10-13 Motel Hell (1980) 3/5
This cult classic horror comedy could have been a campy mess. They thankfully play it pretty straight, so it ends up working pretty good as both a satire and horror. Farmer Vincent is planting people in his secret garden before turning them into his famous smoked meat. It could have been incredibly dark, but they keep the tone perfect so it’s fun. I’m surprised this one hasn’t gotten the remake treatment.

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291 10-13 The Horror Show (1989) 3/5
This one is about a cop, played by the always excellent Lance Henrikson, who is haunted by a serial killer that killed his partner. When the killer is executed via electric chair, it ends up that he’s not dead, but still able to attack Lances family. I figured this one was a Sean S. Cunningham’s (Friday the 13th) response to Wes Cravens (Nightmare on Elm Street) similarly themed SHOCKER, but they actually came out the same year. I liked Shocker, but I haven’t seen it in ages and I think this one is the better film. Some really great effects by KNB and Jason himself, Kane Hodder does a bunch of stunts. Not a bad blind buy at anyrate, the Scream Factory blu-ray is well done.

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292 10-13 Carrie (2013) 3/5
Right out of the gate, it’s a step down from the De Palma film. This is to be expected. It hits all the plot points, tries to add it’s own thing for the 2013 crowd and mostly succeeds. The reason, and the only reason, as to why this one is worth checking out is Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz. Moore has always been a fantastic actor, and she is perfect as the religious nutzo mum of Carrie. Moretz is just as good in the lead. I don;t know how old she is now, but if she keeps on going the way she is, she is easily going to become a legendary, all time great actor. She’s pretty good as mousy Carrie White, but when the shit goes down, and shit does go down in a great fashion she is fantastic in using body language to emphasize the TK force. IT’s cool as hell, and worth the price of admission.

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293 10-13 Die, Monster, Die! (1965) 2.5/5
I really wanted to like this one more. AIP were obviously channeling Corman’s Poe pictures with this colour extravaganza. It looks amazing, with surreal bright colours actually enhancing the gothic suspense. It’s got Boris Karloff being all Karloff and great, a neat plot with Karloff experimenting with a weird material that is causing mutations. It’s just flat all around and never really gets going. Which is a shame since production value wise, it’s a gorgeous film looking great on the Scream Factory blu-ray.

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294 10-14 The Bride Of Frankenstein (1935) 5/5
This one is arguably the greatest of the first wave of Universal Monster movies. I’ve always preferred the first Frankenstein, but that might of changed with this revisit. It really is a perfect movie. There’s genuine humour, genuine scares and every campy moment, and with James Whale you will get some campy moments, there is an incredibly poignant and emotional moment. The monster moves from the newborn terror of the first film to miss-understood youth in this one, and Karloff is absolutely brilliant in the way he acts out humanity and emotion through the make-up. Plus, it made me tear up a bit again. So really, watch the first two Frankenstein films already!

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295 10-14 The Nesting (1981) 2.5/5
This one is about an agoraphobic woman author who rents an isolated house in order to get some writing done. The house is spooky. The problem with this one is that by 1981 the slasher film was king as far as horror goes, so this one feels really dated. It’s also awkward since there’s a bit of business in it that only seems to be there so that it has a slasher type kill. Anyway, enough said of this one. It’s not the worst thing you’ll see, but the pacing problems means it will feel longer than it is.

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296 10-15 Werewolf of London (1935) 4/5
This one isn’t up to the standards of the true classics of Universal Horror, but I’ve always enjoyed it. A scientist looking for a rare flower in Tibet gets attacked by a werewolf. Ends up that the flower is the only potential cure, so he brings all his troubles back to England. The only real problem holding this one back is it’s got an awkward tone where it’s aping the humour and suspense of a James Whale picture, but fails at it. That said, the minimalistic wolfman makeup is pretty great, and Henry Hull does a pretty good job as the title wolf.

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297 10-15 Bad Dreams (1988) 2.5/5
A hippie commune sacrifices itself with fire, and a little girl survives but is in a coma. She wakes up 15 years later and is haunted in her dreams by the old cult leader. So it’s pretty much a rip-off of Nightmare on Elm Street. There’s nothing wrong with it, the story is neat, there’s some okay twists and turns. It’s just not Nightmare on Elm Street and never really gets good or exceptional enough to stand up on it’s own.

Mardi Gras Massacre Movie Poster

298 10-16 Mardi Gras Massacre (1978) 2.5/5
Another notorious film from the dreaded “Video Nasties” list that is more bad than good. At least it’s fun bad. A cultist is killing “evil” hookers during Mardi Gras. It’s laughably bad, he basically goes to strip clubs and asks to see the most evil girl, then takes them back to his place to sacrifice. the sacrifices are corny, but incredibly over the top in a cheap gore way which is why it made the nasties list. The tough cop who falls for a hooker is the icing on the “so bad it’s good” cake. Sleazy grindhouse fare at it’s finest, though really cheap at it’s seams, even for exploitation.

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299 10-16 The Raven (1935) 4/5
Much like THE BLACK CAT, this one stars Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff, and is named after an Edgar Allan Poe story/poem without really having anything to do with the source material. Lugosi plays a prized surgeon obsessed with Poe, to the point that he has recreated many of the torture devices found on Poe’s stories in his home. After falling for a society girl who’s life he has saved, Lugosi manipulates criminal Karloff into doing his bidding after the girls father forbids Lugosi from pursuing her. Writing all this makes me realize just how convoluted this fucking movie is! Jesus! I won’t go on since I don’t want to spoil plot points, I will just say this one was really good and Lugosi is a total bastard in it, which means it’s quite a lot of fun. Special points to Lester Mathews for playing the boyfriend who is easily the biggest pussy and waste of space to be found in a Universal Horror film. He makes the always annoying David Manners look like Clint Eastwood in comparison.

There it is! Another week down. I’ll probably watch another ton of movies over the weekend since I currently have no real plans to speak of. I ask you at this time, dear readers, to please subscribe to the blog, or add it to your readers. After this one I will no longer be pushing it out on social media so if you’re getting cues to read it from Facebook or Twitter, that wont be happening anymore.

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Movie A Day!: 273-281 – “One Blow! The Deathblow!”

Phew, got in a bunch more movies this week. Being as there is a long weekend in Canada this weekend, I figured I’d update today so as not to get this list to out of hand. All types of scary for all types of people in this one!

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273 10-06 Prom Night (1980) 3.5/5
274 10-06 The Horrors of Hamilton High: The Making of Prom Night (2014) 3/5
Sat down to the recent blu-ray from Synapse films. I don’t think I’ve seen this one since the VHS days, and I remember not thinking much of it. I really enjoyed this revisit. It takes a while to really get going, but it still works just fine. And it’s a Canadian disco classic. I’m wondering if I’m getting more out of these movies now that they are being restored and presented properly? It’s easy to write them off as crap when they look like hell on some murky, cropped VHS compared to seeing them presented properly like they are now. Anyway, I’ve written enough to say it’s not the worst slasher you’ll ever see, and much better than the remake from a few years back. Plus it has Jamie Lee Curtis, the unlikely horror icon, disco dancing so there you go.

I watched the making of and other special features so I’m counting them too. They’re all good.

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275 10-06 The Old Dark House (1932) 4.5/5
During a terrible storm, travelers take shelter in a creepy old house whose inhabitants may be worse that the weather. Karloff returns as a new kind of mute monster with James Whale (Frankenstein) directing and it’s a real joy. It has to be one of the first horror comedies, and Whale is in complete command of the show, balancing genuine suspense with a campy humour that is pretty irresistible. Plus you get Charles Laughton being a scouser instead of the usual posh aristocrat he usually plays. I just wish we could get a proper restoration of this one on home video since the Kino DVD uses a print that is in terrible shape. The film deserves better.

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276 10-07 The Final Terror (1983) 3.5/5
Let’s get it out of the way; this one is flat out a total rip-off of FRIDAY THE 13TH. That said, it’s a good one. Better than most of the actual FRIDAY THE 13th series. Instead of going full gore slasher, it goes the more thriller route and manages to mostly work. It’s a shame most of the original materials for this is lost since parts of the Scream Factory blu-ray look really good, and it the overall look of the film is a step up from what you usually see. On top of that, it’s pretty great seeing future stars Daryl Hannah and Joe Pantoliano in getting their start. Joe in particular steals the show. Not only that, it had the guy who played the mean dad in Twisted Sisters video “We’re Not Gonna Take It” which will forever be burned in my brain from my misspent youth! So I should probably give it four stars just for that, but I wont.

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277 10-08 Final Exam (1981) 3/5
This one I found odd. It’s such a mundane, unimaginative, run of the mill slasher that it actually becomes it’s own thing instead of being terrible like it should be. Aside from the opening, the first half plays more like a teen comedy that was so popular for the era. The killer is completely motiveless and as dull as everything else, which makes him kind of cool? I have no idea why I didn’t find this one boring since nothing in it elevates it. Weird.

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278 10-08 The Mummy (1932) 5/5
Another Universal Horror classic. Some might be put off by it’s slow, deliberate pace but I’ve always loved this one. Karloff is great, and the film is just so weird and perfectly directed that I never tire of it. Karl Freund was a genius, who would end up shooting the original I LOVE LUCY shows!

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279 10-09 Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) 3/5
Another free download from the Vinegar Syndrome site. This one features cult icon Mary Woronov and B-Movie legend John Carradine. Basic story is a family house that had been used as a mental asylum has been empty for twenty years, and now that the current owner is interested in selling it, murders are taking place. The title on the print from the VS site is “Deathhouse”, so that should give you some idea. It has some pacing problems, but director Theodore Gershuny manages to mostly pull it off. The most striking thing is an incredibly graphic murder scene that sort of came out of nowhere, especially since you kind of expect it to be a bit cheap an inept. Anyway, not the worse thing you’ll see, but Gersuny’s next film “Sugar Cookies” also available from VS, is a much better picture, and Woronov is much better in it.

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280 10-09 Raw Force (1982) 4/5
Like near constant nude girls? Zombies? Kung Fu fights? Zombie Ninjas? Over the top cheap gore? Vic Diaz? This ones for you! A Hitler look alike is trading kidnapped girls to the monks of Warrior Island in exchange for Jade, and a pleasure cruise featuring a bunch of martial artists get mixed up with them. I’m giving it 4 out of 5 because it’s exactly as awesome as it sounds, which means that if the above sounds terrible to you, you probably won’t like this one. In a perfect world, the blu-ray by Vinegar Syndrome would win Best Release of 2014 since films like this don’t usually come with the love and care VS put into it.

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281 10-09 The Invisible Man (1933) 5/5
Another classic and iconic Universal Monsters film that holds up just fine. Claude Rains is fantastic in the lead. The effects still are impressive as hell. James Whale keeps everything moving at a good pace that perfectly balances humour and horror and you get Una O’Connor wailing her head off. I have no idea how many times I have seen this one, and I’m still not tired of it.

In case you can’t tell, I love those old Universal Horror movies! Look how beautiful the poster art is! Why is poster art so shit now? Is it photoshop or laziness? Anyway, watch all the Universal Horror you can.

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Movie A Day! 258-265 – The Scary Movie Challenge Begins!

It’s Monday, and boy is it a “Monday” around the old P-Bunker. Work continues to prove that a lot of the humans we have to deal with are just the worst.

Here it is, the first batch of watched films for this years scary movie challenge! The rules are broad, I’m not getting into them here, just know these all count and oddly, don’t look much different than my usual lists. I guess I like sleazy, violent movies! I began with a slasher, because you should always begin horror marathons with a slasher.

258 10-01 Graduation Day (1981) 3/5

Started my scary movie challenge with a first time viewing of this one. You can tell by the title that this is another slasher knockoff of HALLOWEEN, and it’s certainly the ugly stepchild to HALLOWEEN and FRIDAY THE 13th. Maybe it was because I hadn’t seen it, but I really enjoyed it. Sure, it’s basically a killer attacking high school kids, but it actually has a bit of a plot to try to give it some mystery as to who the killer is. The gore effects are cheap and pretty crap compared to what Tom Savini was doing in FRIDAY THE 13th, but the overall look and editing of this one is really good and helps elevate it. I watched this via the new blu-ray from Vinegar Syndrome, and it’s looking and sounding great. If you’re a fan of the film, this bluray is for you. A word of warning though, once you Gangster Rock, you will never not Gangster Rock.

259 10-02 Guru, the Mad Monk (1970) 2/5
I’m probably being generous with the 2 out of 5 since this is not a good movie. Written and Directed by cult legend Andy Milligan, it stars Neil Flanagan in the lead role of the crazy monk who has a vampire mistress for an old lady and deformed hunchback serving him, trying to keep control of his church posting in 15th century Europe. The best thing I can say is Flanagan is pretty good and keep the film together. I had previously seen him as the mincing transvestite hooker in Milligan’s “Fleshpot on 42nd Street”, and he’s still a bit camp in this. Otherwise, the film is that type of delightfully terrible that is just plain fun to watch. You get 1970’s New York, complete with cardboard garbage and mini scooter in the exteriors subbing in for a European Island, mannequin hands and ping pong balls being severed with a blood that makes a Herschel Gordon Lewis film from the same period look like a Tom Savini film and a plot so bonkers it’s not worth repeating. At 56 minutes or so, it doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. So if you’re into this kind of psychotronic trash, you can download it for free (among other goodies) from Vinegar Syndrome!

260 10-02 The Jekyll & Hyde Portfolio (1971) 2.5/5
What do you get when you combine the Hyde mythos with seventies astrology, sexploitation and gore? This! It’s an odd mish mash of sexploitation horror that is more ridiculous than it should be. A killer is killing girls in a nursing school, that seems to be turn of the century but it’s hard to tell since it’s another cheap-o horror so they don’t really have the budget to pull it off. It’s light years ahead of that GURU: THE MAD MONK though as far as production design goes. Anyway, it’s pretty much by the numbers, the main draw being the HGL type gore and ample nudity, some of it supplied by cult legend Rene Bond. I’m knocking it a bit for having a bit too much of a preoccupation with dissected frogs (complete with fake blood). Don’t worry though, it’s not CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST type animal cruelty, I just like frogs and critters. 😛 I watched via the limited edition Vinegar Syndrome blu-ray and while the print is in rough shape, I can’t imagine it ever looking better since I don’t think it ever found it’s way on home video before this. It is available in a DVD version, and is backed with another film from the company, A CLOCKWORK BLUE which has nothing to do with Kubrick’s film, and everything to do with being a crappy Russ Meyer’s type comedy knock off without the comedy.

Screamy!

261 10-02 Dracula (1931) 5/5
Not much to say other than I love this movie. Sure, its got some pacing problems. Bela Lugosi makes up for it. You can’t even read his name without your brain doing that Lugosi accent. That’s how amazing he was in this, and the picture holds up even though David Manners is a terrible Harker. Worse than Keanu Reeves. I said it and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, if you haven’t watched this than get on it already!

262 10-03 The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959) 3/5
Ages ago I picked up one of those cheap discs that Shout Factory put out via “Timeless Media” that has four movies on one disc. I fired that sucker up, and this was the first movie. Now, when you pay $10 for four movies, you have low expectations. So when I say this one is pretty great, you might not believe me, but you would be wrong. It was fucking great! Basic plot is a couple of older brothers are trying to figure out why their family is cursed. When the men hit 60 years old, they die of heart attacks and their heads go missing. What the hell right? The curse is corny as hell with shrunken heads, but man, they really go for it and works. Surprisingly graphic for the day, some neat ideas, and a set of fingerprints with skulls in the patterns mean this is a hell of a movie. I still have 3 movies on this disc and it’s already $10 well spent!

263 10-03 Frankenstein (1931) 5/5
Not much to say about this one other than it’s one of my all time favourite movies, Karloff is perfect as the monster, the rest of the cast are perfect in their roles and while it manages to be pretty brutal and intense, it’s also sad. I love this movie and the blu-ray is beautiful.

264 10-03 Necromania: A Tale of Weird Love (1971) 2/5
This is a lost Ed Wood Jr. porn film, and I’m learning quickly that the thought of watching a “lost” Ed Wood Jr. skin flick is more fun that actually watching one. I’m a big fan of Wood’s classics since while they are “bad”, they are delightfully goofy bad that are fun to watch since you can tell he’s trying really hard but just doesn’t have the talent. This one though you can tell he’s not trying. Basic plot is a couple seek guidance for their love making problems by signing up to see a Necromancer. There are some Wood tropes, mainly in the goofy witch plot and setting, but it’s mostly a run of the mill, patience testing skin flick. I watched the “cool” version recently put out by Alpha Blue Archives, and while it looked pretty good, it’s hard to recommend. The disc included the XXX inserts as a “bonus” (along with 3 other shorts that all look terrible), I don’t see the film improving by being the “hot” version. It’s a shame, plot wise it sounds like it could have been good, and I think this is the last film he directed. It’s based on a book he wrote, I can’t imaging that book. I might have to track it down since there is barely any plot in this movie.

265 10-04 Runaway Nightmare (1982) 2.5/5
I wanted to like this one more since I bought it blind via the limited edition blu-ray that Vinegar Syndrome had on offer, but I just didn’t. The plot sounds amazing; two worm farmers in Death Valley see some men bury a box in the desert. They dig it up to find a woman inside, and are quickly kidnapped by a female cult who force the two into helping them steal back some platinum that the mob took from them. Pretty great right? The positive for this one is the look. Considering how cheap it was, it looks great and I’m not just talking about the transfer. Shots are set up in such a way, and with the pacing, it really does have a dreamlike quality. Add in the strangeness, shots of a vampire woman, other oddness, and it should of been great. The problem sadly is everything else. It’s acted in a deadpan style, and the two worm farmers are basically presenting the film like an Abbott & Costello meet The Monsters update, and it completely falls flat. The deadpan just feels inept and awkward, which added to the slow pace, just makes the film crawl for eternity with little to no payoff. There’s not even any boobs since this is the directors cut, they included boob inserts from the VHS release that were added in later as a bonus.

I’m going to be going through a bunch of Universal Horror films. If you’ve never seen FRANKENSTEIN, DRACULA, THE WOLFMAN, etc, you really owe it to yourself to get watching them.

That’s it for now, there may be a blog tomorrow before the Doctor Who one on Wednesday, you lucky ducks!

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