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.
Everything about this movie from the title to the opening scene spelled out disaster. Well, in the way that a low-budget, straight-to-Netflix horror movie could. The thesaurus for classier negative descriptors was ready. I was contemplating the opening paragraph ripping I would bestow on this. But lo and behold, Be Afraid did not suck. Not a masterpiece by any means, but interesting and creepy enough to not only hold my attention, but draw me in. Continue reading “Halloween 2K17: A Review of “Be Afraid” (2017)”
There are some interesting choices present at the beginning of Dracula’s Daughter, which is the direct sequel to the classic Dracula. It picks up right where the previous film left off—literally within minutes. Count Dracula has just been killed by Van Helsing. The body is still warm. The police arrive to find the body of Dracula, and of course, not believing in vampires, arrest Van Helsing (Edward Van Sloan reprising his role) for murder. With the body at the morgue after the stake was driven through his heart, Dracula’s daughter (Gloria Holden) shows up wanting to see the body. She uses her captivating powers to get past the guard and steal her father’s body. But once she has it, does she try to resurrect him? Nope. In fact, she does the exact opposite.
I’ll make this short: read my review of The Awakening. It’s pretty much the same movie, since they were both based on Jewel of the Seven Stars by Bram Stoker. For the lazy, here’s the gist: an archaeologist (Andrew Keir) discovers a famous mummy, only the body never deteriorated. It is in perfect condition, kept in a state of “suspended animation”. His wife gave birth to his daughter (Valerie Leon) at the exact moment the tomb was opened (this is not depicted, unlike the other movie) and died in the process. The daughter grows up to look exactly like the mummy. The spirit of the mummy then takes possession of her, causing a series of murders, leading to an eventual attempt at a full resurrection of her body. It’s really not any more complicated than that. Continue reading “Halloween 2K17: A Review of “Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb” (1971)”
Surprising: this movie aired on Turner Classic Movies. Not surprising: the time slot was 3:45 a.m. I think you can guess how enthralled I was by a movie named Rattlers. This was one of many “nature’s revenge” horror movies from the 1970’s. It is as obscure as they come, and there are absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Yet I found myself not hating this movie. The acting couldn’t have been worse if they held the scripts in their hands on-camera and read the lines without any inflection. The special effects were mediocre. The ending was abrupt and lackluster. So why did I get a kick out of this one? Continue reading “Halloween 2K17: A Review of “Rattlers” (1976)”
Despite being almost unknown and nearly insignificant on the horror film circuit, The Awakening boasts a couple of famous firsts: it was the first (and only) horror movie for screen legend Charlton Heston, and also the first “mummy movie” actually filmed in Egypt (and with assistance from the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, no less). The location and sets practically overshadow Heston as the star of this film, but unfortunately, neither could deliver the production from mediocrity. Oh, what promise it showed early on before falling apart scene by scene!