Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Witch (2015)

Director: Robert Eggers

Writer: Robert Eggers

Composer: Mark Korven

Starring: Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, Lucas Dawson, Julian Richings, Bathsheba Garnett, Sarah Stephens, Daniel Chaudhry

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A New-England Folktale.

Plot: A family in 1630s New England is torn apart by the forces of witchcraft, black magic and possession.



My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again?  Yes.

Wow!  Congratulations to writer/director Robert Eggars on his impressive film debut.  I loved it.  The atmosphere is thick and dreary, much like how I suspect it would've been living like they did.  It's a story that I suspect will be enhanced with a second viewing.  And the music!  Wow!  Mark Korven's score perfectly compliments the dreariness and the mystery.  The only thing that bothered me were the couple of jump scares where a hand or something appeared out of nowhere with a loud bang in the music.  Other than that, it was one of the most creative scores I've heard in a long time.  The movie is only an hour and a half long but it feels longer and that's a good thing.  After the first few minutes I was captivated.  The story unfolds slowly but deliberately.   The last act gets justifiably frantic when the shit goes down and the ending is just fantastic.  It's so nice to see a small film like this that feels so fresh and takes its subject so seriously.  I watched some of the extras and there was a lot of care taken to make this film and it shows.  Highly recommended. 

The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975)

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Writer: Max Ehrlich

Composer: Jerry Goldsmith

Starring: Michael Sarrazin, Jennifer O'Neill, Margot Kidder, Cornelia Sharpe, Paul Hecht, Tony Stephano, Norman Burton, Anne Ives, Debralee Scott, Jon Richards, Steve Franken, Fred Stuthman

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Suppose you knew who you had been in your previous life. Where you had lived...whom you had loved and how you had died. What then?

Plot: When college professor Peter Proud begins to experience flashbacks from a previous incarnation, he is mysteriously drawn to a place he has never been before but which is troubling familiar. As if drawn to her by cosmic force, he soon finds himself unwittingly in the company of his previous incarnation's wife. This woman, Marcia Curtis, recognizes in Peter startling characteristics which he shares with her dead husband, Jeff.



My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

Good flick.  I'd like to have watched a nice widescreen print but you take what you can get.  You can watch the whole thing on YouTube at the moment (above).  There is an element of horror but it's mostly a drama mystery that doesn't play out like you think it might.  There's this weird thing going on when Peter (Sarrazin) falls for Ann (O'Neill) and he knows that his is her biological father's reincarnation.  So mentally he's falling in love (with benefits) with his daughter but physically he has no connection.  That's a strange thing to wrap your head around.  It's one of those 'how you you handle it' situations.  It's a well-made film with good performances, score and the like.  I like Goldsmith's score but I got the sense that John Barry would've played up the mystery and romance better.  This picture would've been a good fit for Barry.  The ending is great.  Avoid spoilers for this one.  Oh yeah, for you Margot Kidder fans. there's this...


The Sheriff's Strange Son (1982)

Original title: El Extrano Hijo del Sheriff

Director: Fernando Duran Rojas

Writers: Eric del Castillo, Barbara Gil

Composer: Rafael Carrion

Starring: Mario Almada, Eric del Castillo, Rosa Gloria Chagoyan, Alfredo Gutierrez, Luis Mario Quiroz, Roberto Carfiedo, Alicia Encinas

More info: IMDb
 
Plot: Set in the old west, the sheriff's wife gives birth to conjoined twins, she dies during labor and the ashamed sheriff decides to hide his children, years later he force the town doctor to surgically separate the kids but during the intervention one of them dies and his evil spirit possess his brother to take revenge.



My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again?  No.

SPOILERS ON THE DUSTY TRAIL!!!  YARRRRR!!!

Westerns and horror are two of my favorite genres and I'll watch just about anything when they mix the two.  This Mexican oddity is a must-see for that reason alone.  It's a revenge flick for the dead conjoined twin who didn't survive the separation and he's pissed!  The movie's less than an hour and a half and it takes most of that time to get to the good stuff like the dead kid using his supernatural powers to kill everyone that has any responsibility in his death including his father hanging by his neck!  He's just the first casualty.


As others die, it feels like it's going to continue until the doctor who performed the operation gets some extensive notes in the mail on how to perform an exorcism!  I know, right?  Sweet!  Now the movie is almost over.  He performs the exorcism attended by the surviving kid and the beautiful young woman who ran the orphanage.  The chanting is over and everything goes quiet.  Success!  Nope.  The kid is dead.  Shit!  Then the woman drops dead.  More silence.  The fuck?  Then she gets up and she's possessed by the first dead kid and she cycles through his voice, the other kid's voice and her own.  The end.  What the hell?  Keep going, damn it!  You can see this isn't any normal Western.  The first half (and more) suffers from the usual drama that's dragged out a little more than necessary but it's what you get in the last half hour once the dead kid shows up that gets thing rolling and moving fast. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Dead (2010)

Directors: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford

Writers: Howard J. Ford, Jonathan Ford

Composer: Imran Ahmad

Starring: Rob Freeman, Prince David Oseia, David Dontoh, Ben Crowe, Glenn Salvage, Dan Morgon

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The feeding begins.

Plot: An American mercenary, the sole survivor of a plane crash, has to run the gauntlet across Africa, battling with the living dead.



My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Maybe.

This British production filmed in Burkina Faso and Ghana (both in West Africa) is a breath of fresh air in the midst of a gazillion zombie movies.  It's great.  I loved it.  The music goes a long way in this picture.  It's more atmospheric than melodic and it works very, very well.  The cast is wonderful.  It's mostly just Freeman and Oseia (who work well together) but it's the small roles that shine in their performance and in their authenticity.  The locations are beautiful and unusual for the genre.  The zombie effects are well done, too, and from what I've read they're mostly practical effects.  It shows.  And one thing I enjoyed immensely is how quiet the zombies are.  They're shamblers and they don't make a sound.  No loud-ass gargling or vocal noises.  It's so nice to NOT HEAR them.  I find that more menacing and realistic (as long as we're suspending our disbelief that this is even possible).  Oh, and the story?  It boils down to two characters trying to survive long enough to reach their destination.  Nice ending, too.  Highly recommended.

Behind the Mask (1932)

Director: John Francis Dillon

Writer: Jo Swerling

Starring: Jack Holt, Constance Cummings, Boris Karloff, Claude King, Bertha Mann, Edward Van Sloan, Willard Robertson, Thomas E. Jackson

More info: IMDb

Tagline: A SLINKING FIEND - SKULKING TERROR - MAD MURDER!

Plot: A federal agent goes undercover to infiltrate a drug smuggling operation headed by a mysterious Mr. X, a criminal mastermind whose identity is unknown even to his henchmen. Mr. X is also running a bogus hospital where victims are killed on the operating table, and their coffins stuffed with narcotics. The drug-filled coffins are then buried in a cemetery.

My rating: 6.5/10

Will I watch it again?  Mabye.

I watched this hoping it was a horror movie like IMDb said.  It's got a horror element as far as the morbid tone of killing folks and stuffing their coffins with drugs and burying them in a graveyard.  Now, normally I'd say you know what you're going to get when the villain, who runs a big time drug ring, is called Mr. X but this picture is a little better than that.  For starters, you've got Edward Van Sloan (Van Helsing from DRACULA (1931) as well as being in FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and THE MUMMY (1932)) as the devious Mr. X.  And you've also got Boris Karloff as Mr. X's enforcer.  You actually get to see a little acting range from Karloff for a change.  Like a lot of pictures from this time, there's very little music which doesn't help.  Still, there are some nice moments of people dying and coming close to it.  Mr. X doesn't mess around and neither does Boris Karloff.  And that ending!  Nice!!!  I suspect this was a welcome picture for horror fans of the early 30s.  It can't compete with the likes of DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and the MUMMY but then it's not trying to and it succeeds on its own merit.




Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)

Director: Gene Fowler Jr.

Writers: Herman Cohen, Aben Kandel

Composer: Paul Dunlap

Starring: Michael Landon, Yvonne Lime, Whit Bissell, Charles Willcox, Dawn Richard, Barney Phillips, Ken Miller, Cynthia Chenault, Michael Rougas, Robert Griffin, Joseph Mell, Malcolm Atterbury, Eddie Marr, Vladimir Sokoloff, Louise Lewis, S. John Launer, Guy Williams, Dorothy Crehan

More info: IMDb

Tagline: The most amazing motion picture of our time!

Plot: A hypnotherapist uses a temperamental teenager as guinea pig for a serum which transforms him into a vicious werewolf.



My rating:

Will I watch it again?  No.

How about that hyperbolic tagline?  If this is true then we've got a serious teenage werewolf problem on our hands that's been festering in secrecy for 60 years.  This picture made a sweet bundle back then by capitalizing on the teenage market.  Now I'm sure this was a great picture to take your best gal to the drive-in because it's borderline boring enough to ensure she'd rather suck face and curl her bobbysox than to pay attention to what's on the screen.  It's a novelty to look back on this to see Landon in his first starring feature role.  It's a goofy picture but it doesn't lean enough on the culture of teenager or the things they dig, largely music.  It also doesn't have much that's fun in the way of werewolf horror.  It's OK but the filmmakers didn't try hard enough to make a good horror movie.  It's more of a picture that transforms the werewolf idea into some punk ass bitch with anger issues who recently went through puberty.  I didn't have any sympathy for anyone and I was hoping for more werewolf kills.  But then I should feel bad for not diggin' on the most amazing motion picture of our (or their) time.  If I suddenly stop updating this blog then you'll know it was werewolves that took my ass out.  Avenge me.


The Exotic Ones (1968)

Director: Ron Ormond

Writer: Ron Ormond

Starring: Georgette Dante, Sleepy LaBeef, Ron Ormond, June Russell, Diane Marshall, June Carr, Sam Tarpley, Harris Martin, Ed Livingston

More info: IMDb

Tagline: Bayou Bigfoot Does Bourbon Street

Plot: A trio of hunters in the Louisiana bayous capture a monster called the Swamp Thing. They take it to New Orleans where (naturally) they display it in a strip joint. When the monster's favorite stripper gets into a fight with another stripper, he breaks loose and starts killing.



My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again?  No.


Lets' see you do that.  Seriously, please send me videos
of you doing that with fiery tassels.

Say, kids, do ya like your 60s exploitation?  How about strippers that can actually dance and know how to use tassels?  Well, how about trapsin' around the French Quarter in New Orleans circa 1968?  Then what about capturing a swamp creature and making it part of the stripper variety show at a struggling titty bar?  No?  Then I reckon you're just going to miss out on some wild entertainment.  OK, so there's no nudity AT. ALL!  But there are a lot of good lookin' broads that are almost nekkid. 

video

The first half hour is a blast with girls auditioning their acts for hire at the local French Quarter titty bar.  Once the gangster B-plot and the monster C-plot get involved things start to drag a lot.  Then it all picks up in the last ten minutes with a great cat fight between a couple of strippers, the escape of The Swamp Thing going on a killing spree and then it just kind of ends with a Russ Meyer-ish voice over telling us about sleaze on Bourbon Street.  Cut out the middle nonsense and you've got yourself a great flick to toss on at a party.  If I had a time machine one thing I'd do is visit New Orleans strip joints in the 60s and 70s.  It looks like it'd be a blast.  Except for the crazy swamp monsters on the loose killin' strippers part.  Not cool.