Special Announcement!

Feel free to drop by my personal blog, "Life in the Corner", and find out what goes through the mind of a blogger/horror reviewer!

Also- follow my posts on Facebook, Twitter & Google+... or even send me an e-mail!

Facebook IconTwitter IconGoogle   IconE-mail Icon

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Immortal (1995)


Vampires have been a staple of the horror movie industry for decades.  As such they've changed over the years from being the purely evil blood sucking beasts of my childhood to the teenage, angsty, mopey tools of recent years.  Once in a while, something different comes along...

Dex is a musician who has a problem that is slowly tearing away at his band, his friendships, and his relationship with is girlfriend.  He's an addict... but not your average addict...


He's a vampire...

The premise is actually quite intellegent- examine the vampire mythos from the perspective of it being an addiction and how it would affect the vampire's dealings with those around him.  Too bad the execution failed to explore that premise to a satisfactory level.

"Immortal" is a very low budget production- we're talking camcorder low.  In some ways it's helped, but overall kept it from being a film with depth and coherency.  The film quality gave it a nice gritty look to the film, but at the same time, made it hard to see certain scenes properly.  There are some nice shots and angles in this film- with one scene in particular being lit and shot somewhat well.  The scene where Dex kills the record label scout wasn't bad.  The red lighting, the shadows, the shifting angles and cuts gave it an almost hallucinatory feel.  Beyond that scene, and a few rare instances, the camera work was rather bland and lacked energy.

The acting wasn't that great... not that the characters were given much screen time.  Andrew Taylor, as Dex the vampire, wasn't bad... though the character wasn't likeable enough to make me care about him or his problems.  The rest of the cast kinda struck me as simply being friends with the director who got together and decided to make a movie over a couple of beers.

There are some interesting elements to the story that intrigued me- but weren't developed to any real depth.  The story lacked coherent connections between most of the scenes.  None of them really set up any of the others, or added to them.  It was almost as if the crew knew the back story- and thought the audience could read their minds and get the full story from just a few fragments.  There were too many questions they didn't answer- giving the movie a jumbled together feeling.

I think part of the problem with the storyline involves the music.  Rather than simply having the music as a background element, it decided to have most of it done as part of the story.  I didn't mind that they did that- after all, since the main character is in a bad, it's to be expected.  The problem came with how much of the music was done as part of the story.  I got the feeling that the people shooting the movie used the band performance scenes as a way of showing off their band- and to act as "filler" to avoid actually focusing on the story.  The music wasn't bad though.  Not something I'd buy at the music store, but it wasn't bad.

"Immortal" starts out with a pretty good idea... but ends up losing focus and thought- which puts it in "The Ugly"

Monday, August 29, 2011

"Scare It Forward!" (Tale Two)- Chapters 5 & 6


Kicking the week of right is important in life- and you can't kick it off any better than by catching up on William Castle's second 2011 "Scare It Forward!" tale!

The story so far:


Rod "Hot Rod" McIntosh, is a guitarist with a taste for cocaine, liquor, and fast bikes.  During his band's performance one night, a mysterious woman gives him a note and a kiss.  Soon, Rod is faced with a growing horror as the woman stakes a claim on his soul.  Is this hellish nightmare a bad trip... or a fast trip to Hell?
A night of passion turns into a nightmarish vision of shadowy death and and an creepy mystery for Rod after he meets, "Mindy".  Kisses land like feathers, and blood flows like wine in the fog of his memories from that night.  Who IS this mysterious woman... and what does she want with him?
 Seeking answers to the fragmented questions about the strange night with "Mindy," Rod is on a journey to find her and discover the truth behind the secret hiding under her seductive allure.  He soon finds himself on the road to the Ranford Ranch... but is that road also the road to Hell?
Having reached the Ranford Ranch, Rod is greeted by the haunting beauty of "Mindy", and her... "friends".  They're having a party- and Rod is the star performer.  Rod quickly finds himself in the intoxicating grip of pain and pleasure- and then left to crave the terrifying rush of losing his soul to the music.
Like an addict, Rod is caught in the steel grip of a hungry need to feel the music inside him... a need so great that he'd willingly suffer the terror that "Mindy" and her friends inflict on him.  His need may bring him greater horrors now that he's met "Malina"... their queen...
 Dave C. Hayes wrote Chapter Five, while Burt Wardall brings us Chapter Six.  The story so far is flowing from one chapter to the next like a well written melody- each note more terrifying and seductive than the last.  I for one, am interested to see where the rest of the authors to come take Rod as they explore his dark world of drugs, sex, and Rock & Roll...

Check out the full story on William Castle's blog!  Also, I recommend reading the first of the 2011 "Scare It Forward!" tales- "Undertow", as well as the 2010 tale- "Angel Island"

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Uninvited (1993)


The wild west was full of ghost stories- often told around the camp fire in hushed tones lest the spirits in the shadows overhear you and bring their presence into your bedroll under the full moon.  Unfortunately, when it comes to movies, the wild west and horror don't seem to do as well as their oral storytelling predecessors.  Having said that, it's always interesting to see how a director works to mesh the two.

A group of settlers have sold a deed to a mountain- which is supposed to be hiding a wealth of good under its rocky surface.  From the very beginning, greed and suspicion threatens to tear the group apart.  After the murder of a native, the group soon discovers that they are threatened by more than just greed...

While this film certainly isn't a great film, there are some things I enjoyed.  It was a nice touch having Jack Elam do a cameo as Grady- the man who guides the group to the mountain.  I remember watching him in all sorts of westerns growing up- "Support Your Local Gunfighter," and "Support Your Local Sheriff".  Christopher Boyer- as Jackson, also was a pleasure to see.  Boyer brought a nice sense of cynicism to his role as a man who after having been part of the infamous Donner Party, lost his Faith in God and man.  Of the cast, Boyer was the best of the lot.  Ted Haler as The Priest wasn't bad, but didn't really do or say much.

In fact, most of the characters, beyond Jackson, are pretty much just mere sketches of people, lacking the sort of depth that makes you care about them.  As much as I didn't necessarily like Jackson, I did relate to him more than the others.  Their deaths didn't have the impact it should've.

The camera work wasn't bad, though it wasn't great either.  There are some really decent shots and angles though.

The story was kinda weak, but had potential for more if the characters had been fleshed out a bit more.  It moves slowly, and I found my mind wandering at times- which isn't good.

When I finished watching this movie, I was torn.  I enjoyed it because of Boyer's performance, but the rest of the film was pretty lackluster.  I want to give it a spot in "The Bad"... but I'm going to have to invite "Uninvited" to sit in "The Ugly"...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Misery (1991)


I'm always fascinated to see how certain books might be transcribed from the page onto the big screen- especially when it's a book by one of my favorite authors.  Usually, they aren't as good... but sometimes, they are just as good as- if not better than the book.

Paul Sheldon is an author who is well known for his "Misery Chastain" novels to point where he feels that he'll never be known for anything else.  After a car accident leaves him stranded in the middle of a blizzard, he finds himself being nursed to health by Annie- his "number one fan."  Soon though, he learns just how far some fans will go to keep him from killing off their beloved character Misery...

I absolutely loved the book by Stephen King and was hopeful the movie would retain the book's integrity and mood.  I wasn't disappointed.  Kathy Bates was just simply mind blowing as Annie- and deserved to win the 1990 Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role; 1990 Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture; and the 1990 CFCA Award for Best Actress.  It was a joy to watch her switch between a sweetly innocent woman to a raging cyclone to a cold blooded bitch.  Her acting added so much to the tension and mood of the film.  I also liked James Caan as Paul Sheldon.  It may not seem it, but it does take skill to act like a person who's legs are unable to be used.  You got a real sense of the fear and panic the character was experiencing from his acting.

The story itself is tightly woven together with only minor changes from the novel.  Usually those changes detract from the movie, but in this case, a couple of them actually ADDED to the movie.  One scene in particular stands out as being better than what I read in the book.  In the book, Annie takes an axe to Paul's feet- which is pretty messed up... but in the movie, she takes a sledgehammer to them instead.  Watching her do that was just cringe inducing.  As someone that watches horror movies where body parts fly off due to axes and chainsaws, this scene was far worse then the bloodiest hatchet scene.  The sight of the ankle bending unnaturally, the crunch and snapping sound... it stays with you and pops up for nights afterwards in your dreams.

It's not a gory movie- relying on suspense, mood, tension and the slow build-up to the scary parts.  I loved it. I often found myself leaning forward in my seat, caught up in what was happening to the characters.  You come to care about the characters... you even come to care a bit about the psychotic Annie.  She's not evil in the classic sense of the word.  She's not seeking to kill just to kill.  From her point of view, everything she's doing is just and right.  That sort of villain is rare to find in horror movies, and it added depth to the story.

I have always felt that "Misery" was one of the best adaptations of a Stephen King story, and firmly believe this deserves a spot in "The Good".

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Prime Evil (1988)


Over the years, the Church, Satan, and cults have played a big part in the horror genre.  Some- like "The Exorcist" had a huge impact on the genre, while others try, but fall a little short of the mark.

A Satanic group of monks have survived since the middle ages- sacrificing family members for longevity, wealth, and power.  In modern New York, the group has set their eyes on Alexandra Parkman as their next victim.  It's up to Detective Dann Carr to stop them before Satan takes her as his new bride...

I'll say right off the bat that the premise wasn't too bad:  A group of disillusioned monks form a Satanic cult, and must sacrifice blood relatives every 13 years to remain in Satan's favour.  It could provide some interesting scares and suspense even.

The execution wasn't as good, unfortunately.  To be honest, I felt that it was almost something that had been made in the 1970's, but released in the 1980's.  The sets, the costumes, the music, the acting- it was very much in the style of the 1970's.  For a film released in 1988, I would've expected at least some 1980's polish to it.  The opening scene was pretty good though.

The acting, despite it's 1970's feel, wasn't bad.  William Beckwith was fantastic as Thomas Seaton- the leader of the cult.  Max Jacobs was great as George Parkman, the member who wanted to take over the cult.  Christine Moore gave an okay performance as the leading lady- Alexandra Parkman... but I found myself cheering more for Seaton rather than her.  I felt sorry for Gary Warner, who played Detective Dann Carr.  His character was entertaining, but didn't really fit in with the rest of the movie... he was a bit too goofy a character.  Warner did a good job, but wasn't able to make me care about the detective.  Other than Beckwith, the only other stand out performer was Mavis Harris as Sister Angela- the nun who infiltrates the cult in order to disrupt its upcoming ritual.  Her character and performance were subdued, but strong.  Quite enjoyable.

The story does have some minor flaws to it- but nothing that would distract a viewer from what's happening... though the unrealistic contrast between the humour of the detectives and the more serious tones of the remaining characters might.

The blood is pretty well done- though I would've liked to have seen more throughout the film.  The only real disappointment was the demon at the end.  I didn't find it scary at all... just messy and almost unrecognisable as anything really.

The film was entertaining, it had a strong premise, and some great peformances, but it wasn't executed well enough in the final analysis... so I'm going to have to place, "Prime Evil" into "The Bad".

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Scare It Forward!" (Tale Two)- Chapters 3 & 4


Monday has rolled around again- and that means it's time for another chilling update on William Castle's 2011 "Scare It Forward!".  This week, I bring you a quick summary of Chapter Three and Chapter Four!

The story so far:
Rod "Hot Rod" McIntosh, is a guitarist with a taste for cocaine, liquor, and fast bikes.  During his band's performance one night, a mysterious woman gives him a note and a kiss.  Soon, Rod is faced with a growing horror as the woman stakes a claim on his soul.  Is this hellish nightmare a bad trip... or a fast trip to Hell?
A night of passion turns into a nightmarish vision of shadowy death and and an creepy mystery for Rod after he meets, "Mindy".  Kisses land like feathers, and blood flows like wine in the fog of his memories from that night.  Who IS this mysterious woman... and what does she want with him?
 Seek answers to the fragmented questions about the strange night with "Mindy," Rod is on a journey to find her and discover the truth behind the secret hiding under her seductive allure.  He soon finds himself on the road to the Ranford Ranch... but is that road also the road to Hell?
 Chapter Three is written by Samantha Grant, while Chapter Four is written by Brandis Biship.  Both of them have set things up nicely for the authors after them... and I'm definately eager to see what happens next.

To read the full story so far- check out William Castle's 2011 "Scare It Forward!" on his personal blog!  Also, make sure you read the first tale from this year: "Scare It Forward: Undertow"... and last year's tale of terror, "Scare It Forward: Angel Island"!   You won't be disappointed.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the Grave: The Prayer (William Castle)


Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a big fan of William Castle.  The man was a visionary that made horror films fun, entertaining, and more than just images on the screen.

Well, he's at it again- this time with a new book... the first book ever written by a ghost!

William Castle finds himself a ghost in the quiet tomb of Saint Sarah in France.  While learning to adjust to his new "life", he discovers that his fate is tied to the lives of four teens who are soon sent on a terrifying quest to uncover the the truth behind Castle's death... and keep those responsible from gaining the tool for taking over the world...

I have to admit, I was excited to read this book.  Seriously excited.  That last time I was THIS excited over a book was when I found a bunch of old "The Shadow" books at the book store I frequent.  And I was seriously geeking out at that time.

And as far as I'm concerned, that excitement was worth it.

The book, simply put is enjoyable.  I wish I could leave it at that, but since this a review, I'm obligated to justify my opinion.  So I will.

First off, the font is easy to read- which is a bonus since I tend to read without my glasses.  The prose itself is simple, yet has a flow to it that is easy on the ears and the thought process.  It's descriptive without being overly wordy.  I could almost imagine the voice of William Castle reading the story in my head, and think this book would be great as an audio book- especially if someone like Christopher Lee were to do the reading.  The tone is almost conversational- as if Castle was sitting there telling me what happened upon his return to this world.  The sentence structure and the general rythm of the story made it very easy to read without having to take several breaks to digest what you've read.  As soon as I opened the book, I pretty much didn't stop reading.

I also enjoyed the characters:  Mr. Castle, Aleck, Edgar, Sarah, and Luca were well crafted and consistant in their behaviour and personality.  I came to like and care about them- getting pulled into their story and wanting to see what came next.  Even the ghosts of Madame Chevalier and the lady Sermonde had depth to them, though still scary in their own right.  I have to wonder if the ghost of William Castle visits Sermonde in her quarry of crimson stone every now and then...

The story itself is geared towards young adults- as is the style, but I didn't find this a hinderence to my enjoyment of it.  The pacing was good, and varied according to the action taking place.  There is suspense, and eeriness aplenty- weaved through with the wit and humour that William Castle was well known for when he occupied a mortal body.  You start out thinking, the story is about one thing, then it evolves into something else without you really noticing at which point it does so... you're just simply enjoying the ride as only Mr. Castle can provide.  He even includes an "Audience Participatory Supplement" at the start in the form of an agreement that if you suffer from any nightmares, insomnia, or death... you won't sue him- with a line for you to sign on.  Seeing that made me smile.

Of course, even before I started reading the book, I knew that "From the Grave: The Prayer" would be a treasured part of my library because of the inscription in the front by Terry Castle- Mr. Castle's daughter:
"Dear Mike,
Thanks for your continued support of my father's work.  I understand this tale of terror is absolutely true!
Pleasant Dreams,
Terry Castle
In conclusion, I'm sitting here feeling satisfied with a good read- for young adults, or older fans of William Castle... and secure in the knowledge that "From the Grave: The Prayer" has rightfully earned its place in "The Good".

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Death Warmed Up (1984)


I enjoy foreign horror films since they tend to be, generally, more original and interesting than those produced by the North American studios.  But, sometimes the foreign attempts just suck.

After spending years in a mental institution due to his murdering his parents, Michael Tucker is finally released... and plans his revenge on the scientist responsible for taking over his mind...

"Death Warmed Up" was apparently New Zealand's first foray into the splatter gore region of the horror genre.  I'm kinda hoping they learned from their mistakes in this film.

I couldn't stand the main character- especially as he dragged his friends into a blood bath without any remorse at all.  Not only that, I kept getting distracted by how much he looked like Rutger Hauer in "Blade Runner".  Personally, I'm ashamed to mention such a great movie like "Blade Runner" in a review of an utter crap fest.  Not only was the main character detestable, but his friends weren't all that likable either.  They were bland, dull, and shallow etchings of people.  Nothing about them drew me into the story so that I cared about them dying.  And they're the good guys!

The villains weren't much better.  They were over the top, exaggerated and almost cartoon-like.  I swear, the scientist's laugh was something taken directly from a comic book.  I wasn't intimidated or even creeped out by them.  There was absolutely no real sense of menace or threat from them.

The story was thin and weak.  It was weakened further by a lack of any sort of real logic and backstory to draw us into the movie.  I can suspend my sense of disbelief when watching a film, but I couldn't with this one because there was no real structure to the unfolding of the events, nor any real logic to the actions of the characters.  Rather than simply shooting the main characters when they break in, the bad guys chase them on motorcycles until they get away.  You'd think an evil genius would figure out the best way to deal with trespassers was to shoot them on sight.  I'm not a genius and I even I know that.

The only saving grace to movie is the gore.  There is lots of it.  Some of it is well done- such as the opening shotgun murders, as is some of the make-up on the gooier experimental subjects. Some of the gore isn't as well done, but still plentiful and suitably messy.  My only real complaint about the gore is that most of it wasn't necessary to the story- and just kinda thrown in for the sake of gore.

Despite the fact that I did enjoy the gooey parts of "Death Warmed Up," I'm rather cold towards it, and have to place it in "The Ugly".

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The House by the Cemetery (1981)


I have found that usually, when it comes to haunted house stories, those from Europe tend be a bit better than those made in North America, and are often more envelope pushing in respect to gore.

Lucy and Norman- with their son Bob, are moving into a new house... despite a little girl in a photo warning Bob not to.  After moving in, strange noises can be heard as Norman begins to investigate the death of the previous owner- who happened to be a colleague of Norman's.  Soon, the family is involved in the fight of their life as the dark secret of the house comes to life and stalks them...

I often enjoy foreign horror films, and I definately enjoy haunted house movies. "The House by the Cemetery" is a pretty decent one, despite some of its flaws.

The acting was pretty good, though hampered by the dubbing.  The voice work was a little stilted at times.  While most of the characters seemed a little two dimensional, I still liked them.  The role of the young girl- Mae, was excellently filled by Silvia Collatina.  It was a shame that she didn't get more screen time in my opinion.  I certainly preferred her to the little boy, Bob- played by Giovanni Frezza.  I found him more annoying than likeable.  Giovanni De Nava was great as Dr. Jacob Freudstein- even though he too didn't get much screen time, or lines.

The setting was great.  The house was absolutely gorgeous- the type of place I'd probably enjoy living in myself.  The sets were enhanced by the earth tones used throughout the film to give it a moody sort of atmosphere.  The cellar was fantastic- creepy and eerie indeed.

The storyline does have some flaws however.  There are indications that the people in the town are aware of what's been going on in the house, but those tantalizing hints are never really followed up on.  Two scenes in particular that expressed this.  The first is one scene where the new babysitter, Ann, and Norman are exchanging looks- they're either supposed to be looks of physical attraction, as the actress Ania Pieroni, has the most stunningly beautiful eyes, or knowledge that people have disappeared in the house.  Another scene involves a nicely bloody death, and the the next morning, Ann is rather nonchalantly cleaning up the blood on the floor.  Since those "leads" weren't followed up, they seemed to be rather pointless.

Despite that, the premise was actually quite good, and set a nice framework in which to work in the scares and blood.  The blood and gore effect were quite effective, I felt.  Lots of blood.  The make up for Dr. Freudstein was impressive too.

If this movie had followed up a bit on some of the questions it raised, I would be comfortable putting "The House by the Cemetery" in "The Good".  However, since the kid was annoying, and there were too many pointless questions raised without any of them being answered, this movie felt a little incomplete... and thus must be placed in, "The Bad".

Monday, August 15, 2011

"Scare It Forward!" (Tale Two)- Chapters 1 &2


Last Monday, the first of three tales for William Castle's, 2011 "Scare It Forward!" ended, and today, I bring you the first two chapters of the second tale.

The story so far:
Rod "Hot Rod" McIntosh, is a guitarist with a taste for cocaine, liquor, and fast bikes.  During his band's performance one night, a mysterious woman gives him a note and a kiss.  Soon, Rod is faced with a growing horror as the woman stakes a claim on his soul.  Is this hellish nightmare a bad trip... or a fast trip to Hell?
 Chapter One is written by Dan Dillard- who also wrote Chapter Two of the first tale- as well as contributed to Chapter Six with William Castle and Will Newell of that story.  Chapter Two of THIS tale was written by Jason Chalmers.

I'm looking forward to seeing where this tale leads over the course of the next eleven chapters.

Check out the complete first tale- "Scare It Forward- Undertow", as well as last year's story, "Scare it Forward: Angel Island" both of which can be found on William Castle's blog!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Death Screams (1982)

The 1980's saw a surge of slasher films rising to prominence.  Some were effective, while others, though entertaining, were not so effective.

During the annual carnival in a small town, a couple are killed and dumped in the river.  As the Sheriff investigates, a group of teens decide to have a private party near the river... only to have the killer being to take them out one by one...

Some people will know, "Death Screams" under the titles, "House of Death" or "Night Screams".  Under any title, this film has some entertainment value- but some serious flaws as well.

The acting isn't too bad, and is entertaining.  There weren't any stand out performances, though Hanns Manship- who plays the child-like Casey, did give a good performance in his role.  The characters are a little stereotypical of the 1980's, but still likable.

The kills are decent, and fairly well done- though the one with the girl being shot with an arrow during broad daylight comes out of nowhere and felt rather random... as if it was thrown in just because.  There's also a seduction scene that really doesn't fit in or make much sense.

The storyline itself is a decent enough premise for a movie, but the flow is off.  Mostly because the teens are at the party, then the story jumps backwards a few hours, then jumps back to the party.  It could throw a viewer off- it confused me a bit.  I guess the biggest storyline flaw involves the killer.  There are no clues to whom the killer is- nor any indication as to WHY they're doing it.  Because of this, I wasn't as engaged in the story as much as I would normally be- and the revelation left me disappointed and indifferent.

Even though I was disappointed in this film, I would recommend fans of such film to give a viewing once.  I'm going to have to place, "Death Screams" in "The Ugly"...

Monday, August 8, 2011

"Scare It Forward!" Chapters 12 & 13

 

This week's update for William Castle's 2011 "Scare it Forward!" features the concluding two chapters for the first story.

The story so far:
Summer- a time for sunshine, bathing suits, swimming in the river... and death.  Grant and four of his friends are enjoying the summer sun by spending the night along the banks of a river.  After Grant sees what he thinks is a dead body, evil begins to stalk the teens one by one... 
Years ago, a simple Mexican peasant girl caught the eye of the Don's son.  He wanted her, and have he would.  But all was not what she expected.  Soon the rumors brought to her by the servants, and his growing attention towards their twin sons would pull the family apart... and her actions would haunt the landscape for years to come...

And one of those years is now.  Aaron- one of the teens camping by the side of the river is found the next morning... barely concious, and terrified.  Torn between taking their friend to the hospital, and staying to give him a chance to rest and recover, the teens try to deal with Aaron's pleas for them to leave before, "she" kills them all.  That night, the mysterious female apparition visits Aaron... with Death keeping her company...
Death most foul comes at the hands of a friend, ripping dreams and innocence away like a corpse's shroud as the teens are caught in the grip of a rage and an anger from the past.  Friend turns on friend as the past corrupts the present... changing the daydreams of the future into the nightmare of the past...
 There is no rest for the dead as Aaron falls under the spell of La Llorona- the ghost of a mexican peasant girl tortured and murdered for the death of her sons.  Memories float through her mind of how she survived her attempt at keeping them with her... and the days of pain and mutilation that followed at the hands of her husband.  Twisted through the years, La Llorona seeks to enlist Aaron and his friends to help her find her lost boys... even if it means their lives...
  La Llorona army of servants grows as the still night of death continues.  Another of the remaining teens becomes the target of the spirit's twisted and disturbed needs and sense of justice.  Love is betrayed, friendship usurped, and the soft whispers of hate float through the air... whispering in the ear of a sleeping form... kill... kill... or die...
Marlene and Grant are all that remain to be captured in the la Llorona's web of hate and vengence.  The world takes on a darkened hue as it twists and turns into a hellish warzone- with the two teens caught in the middle.  Their friends are against them and the world is ripping itself apart in a cannonade of brutality...  When will the nightmare end... or will it ever end?
With the world around them slipping into an insane reflection of the pain in la Llorona's soul , Marlene and Grant fight for their lives... and their souls.  Will la Llorona's need for their friends end the curse on the river- or will it only sow more evil and death?
Chapter Twelve  was written by Brian Lane, while the final chapter- Chapter Thirteen was written by Malcolm Orrall.

I highly recommend visiting the 2011 "Scare It Forward!" page on William Castle's blog to read the full story.- and check out the 2010 Scare It Foward!: Angel Island story as well!

Now that the first story is done... fans can eagerly await the beginning of the next tale taking place this year.  Stay tuned for updates on it!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Don't Answer the Phone! (1980)


As the 1980's opened up, so did the number of horror movies increase.  One common theme was the idea of the "home invader"- someone entering your home and doing nasty things to you.

Dr. Lindsay Gale has been receiving phone calls to her radio show from a person calling himself "Ramone", claiming to suffer from headaches, and having found the cure.  During one such call, "Ramone" treates Dr. Gayle to the sounds of his strangling a prostitute.  Soon, Dr. Gale and the two detectives assigned to investigate a string of stranglings are tracking the killer down, as he gets closer to his final victim... Dr. Gale...

"Don't Answer the Phone!" is a little misleading in its title- along with the tagline, "He'll Know You're Alone!" since the killer never once calls his victims- other than contacting Dr. Gale a couple of times.  I was a little disappointed and felt mislead myself.  I think the American title, "The Hollywood Strangler" would've been more appropriate- though dull.

Nicholas Worth put in a great performance as the killer.  Good enough to win the Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley.  His character was interesting, though a little over the top in some scenes.  Sgt. Hatcher- played by Ben Frank was enjoyable as well, and delivered his sarcastic and humourous lines wonderfully.  Even though I felt Lt. Chris McCabe (portrayed by James Westmoreland) was a bit of a dick, I still liked him.  Frank and Westmoreland together were a good team.  The weakest role, I felt went to Flo Lawrence, who played Dr. Lindsay Gale.  She really didn't seem to serve a real purpose in the movie other to be the eventual target of the killer.  I felt the character deserved more development.

There is some excellent camera work in this film- the still shot at the top of this article being from one of the best scenes in the movie.  The use of reflections, and the light and shadows was very artistic and did a great job of creating a tense mood.  There are a few scenes that are very well done like that one.  They are, however balanced out with rather mundane exterior scenes that are pretty basic and straight forward shots.

Since the killer is killing women, you can expect to see some T&A in "Don't Answer the Phone!".. and not necessarily done in a subtle fashion, either.

Overall, because of the good camera work during some scenes, the performances given, and the titillation factor, "Don't Answer the Phone!", though misleading in its title, is still worth a viewing- and sits in "The Bad".

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Curse of Bigfoot (1978)


I simply going to say that I have never been so disappointed in a horror movie in my life... ever.

A professor tells a High School class about and encounter with an inhuman creature 20 years prior while investigating an archeological site where a mummy had been found.  After finding the mummy, he and his students are forced to confront and destroy the beast before innocent people are killed...

"Curse of Bigfoot" starts out with what could've been a decent clip of a rather nasty faced creature in a black suit attacking a woman and her dog.  Too bad that was only a movie being shown a High School class to illustrate how Hollywood portrays monsters and mythical beasts.  He then bring up the topic of Sasquatch- or Bigfoot.  They then go into a flashback of two people encountering a Bigfoot.  A promising start, right?

It's a promise that they fail to deliver on.  After that initial Bigfoot scene, the rest of the movie has nothing to do with the title.  In fact, all they did was take the 1958 movie, "Teenagers Battle the Thing", colourize it, and add some new scenes at the beginning.

The acting in the recycled footage is laughable and deplorable at the same time.  The monster is just horrendous.  The face is seriously messed up, making you wonder how it could see, hear, or even growl.  The story is weak and slow.  There isn't even really all that many scares in it.  The one kill is short and doesn't even show much- just the monster's face coming at the camera.  Seriously, its face looks like someone took a baseball bat to it.

Usually, I can find something to like in a movie- regardless of how horrible it is... but for "Curse of Bigfoot," I can't.  Words escape me the way I wish I could've escaped watching this drivel.

I'm placing, "Curse of Bigfoot" into "The Ugly"... and leaving it buried there.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sisters of Death (1977)


Revenge is a common theme in horror films, and it can provide a basis for an interesting, and entertaining film... and sometimes a guilty pleasure...

Five members of a secret society for women are invited to a reunion at an isolated Mexican villa, with no clue as to who invited them.  Soon however, the five women are terrorized by a sinister figure seeking revenge for something that happened seven years before...

"Sisters of Death" is a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.  It's not a great film, but for some reason, it appeals to me... not really sure why though.

The story is pretty basic, though not without potential.  It's certainly strong enough to support the events in the film.  The first time I watched it, I was actually surprised by the ending, which is a good thing.  The rest of the events are a little disjointed and even a little illogical.

There are one or two decent pieces of camerawork, but the majority of it is rather plain and ordinary.

Despite the fact that there are five very lovely looking women cast in this movie, there is very little titillation beyond a side boob shot (via a peeping tom POV), bikinis, and a scene where a big spider walks across a bare belly.  The gore is pretty minimal too: a strangulation (though the bruising make-up was pretty decent), a knife in the back (not much blood), an electric fence electrocution (nice smoking from the burns though), a gunshot wound (not much splash given the size of the ammunition used), and a fall from a window (decent blood pattern on the cement).

Of the actors, the two that stood out most were Claudia Jennings as Judy, and Cheri Howell as Sylvia.  I especially thought Cheri was fantastic in her role as a emotionally distant ice-queen.  You got the feeling that she was the leader of the group, with Judy close behind as the more popular girl.  The whole movie highlights Howell's skill, while the climatic scene puts Jenning's abilities on display quite nicely.  The remaining cast gave rather standard performances for the era and genre.  They weren't bad per se, but not fantastic either.

The biggest flaw of the film is its PG rating.  This severely limited the film's ability to push some boundaries, and be scarier and more mature.

Despite the gaping flaws in "Sisters of Death," I still enjoyed myself for some reason.  But since I can't exactly articulate it properly, I'm going to have to put this movie in 'The Ugly".

Monday, August 1, 2011

"Scare It Forward!" Chapters 10 & 11


It's Monday again, and that means a new update on William Castle's 2011 "Scare It Forward!".  This week, Chapters Ten and Eleven take you onto a strange journey into the nightmare that is the La Llorona twisted heart.

The story so far:
Summer- a time for sunshine, bathing suits, swimming in the river... and death.  Grant and four of his friends are enjoying the summer sun by spending the night along the banks of a river.  After Grant sees what he thinks is a dead body, evil begins to stalk the teens one by one... 
Years ago, a simple Mexican peasant girl caught the eye of the Don's son.  He wanted her, and have he would.  But all was not what she expected.  Soon the rumors brought to her by the servants, and his growing attention towards their twin sons would pull the family apart... and her actions would haunt the landscape for years to come...

And one of those years is now.  Aaron- one of the teens camping by the side of the river is found the next morning... barely concious, and terrified.  Torn between taking their friend to the hospital, and staying to give him a chance to rest and recover, the teens try to deal with Aaron's pleas for them to leave before, "she" kills them all.  That night, the mysterious female apparition visits Aaron... with Death keeping her company...
Death most foul comes at the hands of a friend, ripping dreams and innocence away like a corpse's shroud as the teens are caught in the grip of a rage and an anger from the past.  Friend turns on friend as the past corrupts the present... changing the daydreams of the future into the nightmare of the past...
 There is no rest for the dead as Aaron falls under the spell of La Llorona- the ghost of a mexican peasant girl tortured and murdered for the death of her sons.  Memories float through her mind of how she survived her attempt at keeping them with her... and the days of pain and mutilation that followed at the hands of her husband.  Twisted through the years, La Llorona seeks to enlist Aaron and his friends to help her find her lost boys... even if it means their lives...
  La Llorona army of servants grows as the still night of death continues.  Another of the remaining teens becomes the target of the spirit's twisted and disturbed needs and sense of justice.  Love is betrayed, friendship usurped, and the soft whispers of hate float through the air... whispering in the ear of a sleeping form... kill... kill... or die...
Marlene and Grant are all that remain to be captured in the la Llorona's web of hate and vengence.  The world takes on a darkened hue as it twists and turns into a hellish warzone- with the two teens caught in the middle.  Their friends are against them and the world is ripping itself apart in a cannonade of brutality...  When will the nightmare end... or will it ever end?
This week, Chapter Ten was written by Liz Bird, while Chapter Eleven is brought to you by Cheryl Vatcher-Martin.  It'll be interesting to see what the last two chapters bring us, and how this story ends!

Don't forget to follow William Castle on Twitter, Facebook, and on his own blog!