Horror movies with historical backdrops are incredibly rare. Those that do exist almost always fail bombastically. This is for several reasons. First and foremost, sets and costuming for any historical drama can cost money, and the budgets for such horror movies usually relegate the participants to looking like the props department did their shopping at a Party City. The second reason is that the characters are often way too modern—as if people like us were given a change of clothes and then dropped into the time period in question. The way we spoke, the way we looked, the way we did everything was radically different between then and now. Continue reading “Halloween 2K18: A Review of “The Witch” (2015)”
Having just called Annabelle (2014) a stain upon the Conjuring franchise for ignoring the real story of the Annabelle doll and choosing to go with something truly fantastical, here I am ready to rave about its prequel made three years later, Annabelle: Creation. This film too chooses to ignore most of the Warrens’ story regarding the possessed doll, but at least through a few twists, turns, and nods, it manages to feel right at home in the Conjuring universe. Actually, it was so good, this should have been the first Annabelle movie. It was so good that it renders its sequel pointless and useless.
I really wanted to hate this movie. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed the two Conjuring films, this latest installment of Annabelle, was not even going to pretend to have any basis in reality whatsoever. The whole “Based on a True Story” label is pretty much useless when it comes to horror movies anyway. As a paranormal investigator myself, little do what we ever encounter bears any resemblance to what is seen in the movies. The Warrens were ahead of their time in many ways: 1) they were investigating the paranormal before it became commonplace in our popular culture and 2) they knew how to sell a story. Little of what the Warrens ever investigated, I am sure, is true. I’m not going to get into that in this movie review, but I will take this moment to say I can still think they are charlatans and enjoy the movies in the Conjuring series. The first two were extremely well-done and told in an almost-documentary fashion. It led one to believe they might actually be true. Annabelle is entertaining and doesn’t suck, but the previous point is where it falters.
Somehow in my 27 years on this earth and nearly 400 horror movies seen, I managed to avoid Killer Klowns from Outer Space. Even with all the garbage I have willingly and enthusiastically watched and reviewed for my followers on this blog, I was always put off by the title. I thought to myself, “There is no way a movie like that can be worth watching.” However, by the end of it, I was thinking nearly the opposite: “How can anyone not like this movie?”
A shortened version of this will appear in the September issue of the Navesink Journal. Keep an eye out for it!
On October 26, 1926, an exhibition baseball game was held at a ballfield in Atlantic Highlands off of Valley Drive. The home team was the Highlanders. The opposition was a visiting team of major league stars, retirees, and hopefuls, which would “barnstorm” around the country in their off-season. While crowds were sure to gather at any display of America’s national past time involving stars, this occasion was different. The pitcher for the opposition tossed three innings, allowing three runs. There was nothing standout about that, but in the batter’s box, he went four for five with two homeruns. The crowd went wild as he circled the basepaths. And why not? For that man was none other than Babe Ruth.
Christopher Lee once remarked, “The only thing wrong with The Gorgon is the Gorgon”. He could not have been more right. This is a film so full of atmosphere, expertly paced and entertaining, yet marred by some horrific makeup and special effects. To make a long story short, there is an ancient creature terrorizing a small German village, called a Gorgon. Every month at the full moon, someone is killed. When they stumble on the Gorgon, if they look at her face, they turn to stone immediately. If they are lucky enough to just catch a glimpse, they begin to age rapidly. They believe the spirit of this being resides in one of their townspeople but are not totally sure.
I think Plague of the Zombies is to Hammer Studios what Tomb of Ligeia is to American International Pictures. It was a temporary relief from the dark, dreary, claustrophobic castles and mansions that so many of their wonderful Gothic horror stories demanded. Both films make use of the outside, opening the gates to more sunlight and the countryside. Even the cemetery scenes are in daylight. It’s refreshing. What’s also refreshing is that this is a zombie movie not situated in the Caribbean or bayous of southern America, but in a cozy Cornish village in England.
I had a hard time getting through The Vampire Lovers. It two me about two weeks of stopping and resuming. 15 or 20 minutes before I would get bored and move on to something else. This came as a surprise to me because it was directed by Roy Ward Baker, the helmsman of A Night to Remember (1958), one of my all-time favorite movies and what I consider to be the definitive Titanic story. Nevertheless, this one plods along endlessly. Continue reading “Halloween 2K17: A Review of “The Vampire Lovers” (1970)”
What a difference three years makes! When the similarly constructed, Vincent Price-led Witchfinder General came out in 1968, audiences were aghast. The violence, sexual assault, torture, and good ol’ fashioned witch burnings were too much for people to handle. Maybe it was not the violence, but the enjoyment of such actions. The film was heavily cut, including the removal of an infamous scene where a suspected witch is slowly lowered into a fire. It has since been restored, and now that we can see the full version, realize it would have earned a hard PG-13 rating if it came out today. Back then, people fainted. Fast-forward three years to 1971 and the release of Twins of Evil. The story is similar, as is the brutality. There is no torture, but killings a’plenty, one burning after another, and loads of implied sexual debauchery. However, there was no outrage. No bannings or cuttings. The film was released to the usual fanfare fitting of a Hammer production. It’s amazing how much the general public can evolve in just a short time.
This was the third installment in the Dracula franchise. Unlike the second, Dracula’s Daughter, there is not much striving to be unique. The bloodthirsty count had already been killed off, and done in such a way that he could not return. That was the admirable decision I blogged about in the last review. However, the filmmakers realized they needed to bring him back. So what do they do? Come up with a Son of Dracula, played here by Lon Chaney Jr. The result is a similar story to the original, only it is set in the bayous of the deep south as the count attempts to control a woman he falls in love with.