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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Orphan (2009)


One of the surest way to get give people the heebie jeebies is to have a creepy kid in the movie.  "The Grudge" did it, "The Ring" did it... even Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" did it.  One of the movies I watched during "Terrorpolooza 2012" did it as well...

The Colemans have adopted a young girl named Esther, who promises to bring some happiness back into the torn family.  Soon however, that happiness turns to fear as "accidents" begin to happen to those around them... with Esther at the center of the malestrom...

The premise reminds me a bit of "The Good Son " (1993), though there is an interesting, if slightly far fetched twist at the climax.

Other than the children Maxine and Daniel, there is very little to LIKE about most of the characters.  The husband and the shrink are idiots, and easily manipulated.  While you can understand the trauma and emotional problems the mother has, I found it hard to root for her.  In fact, I wanted Esther to win.  Esther was actually quite an interesting character- disturbing... but still interesting.

The majority of the acting was average, with only Isabelle Fuhrman as Esther rising up to give an above average performance.  She did rather good job of switching between sweet and psychotic.  The look on her face during one of the black light scenes was just unsettling.  She definately makes my list of creepiest kids in a movie.

The camera work is also somewhat average, with only the black light scenes standing out as being creative and interesting- though the scene of her screaming and the camera vibrating was a nice shot too.

Overall, this movie is worth a single viewing- but only because of Fuhrman's performance, which puts "Orphan" in The Bad.

Mary Shelly's Frankentein (1994)


I enjoy classical horror literature.  I've read Poe, "Dracula", and even reviewed "Frankenstein; or a Modern Prometheus" here on the blog.  I also enjoy seeing how Hollywood adapts these classics to the big screen.  I watched one such adaptation during "Terrorpolooza 2012"...

Victor Frankenstein becomes obsessed with defeating death after his mother dies during childbirth.  He soon begins to experiment with dead flesh, and discovers the means by which he can create a living, breathing, being.  Soon however, the consequences of his actions return to destroy all that he holds dear...

Those that I know said that "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein" was a less than spectacular movie.  I try to remain open minded when I hear comments about movies, since there is always the possibility that I'd enjoy it.  The difference of opinion my friend Jay (from "We Came From the Basement") and I have over the Kevin Costner movie, "The Postman" is a good example.  I liked "The Postman."

There wasn't a problem with the story in this movie.  The premise, and plot is strong and provides lots of opportunity for character, action, tension, suspense, and even a bit of grue.

There wasn't a problem with the characters either.  They were as interesting and engaging as they original source material- well crafted, and able to keep me wanting to see what happened next.

There wasn't even any serious problems with the acting.  Robert De Niro turned in an excellent performance as the Creation, bringing intellegence, dignity, and pathos to the character that is very much like the original literary version.  Kenneth Branagh, while not the greatest actor, still did a decent job of portraying Victor Frankenstein's rather manic mood swings and obsession.  I loved seeing John Cleese in the role of Professor Waldman- the man who puts Frankenstein on the path to his discovery.  A really solid job on his part, I thought.  I can't really say much about Sir Ian Holm's performance, since he go very little screen time, though I did feel he wasn't altogether in the mood for the role as Frankenstein's father.  Helena Bonham Carter brought her usual quirky approach to the character of Elizabeth- Frankenstein's fiancee.  I will admit though, that I seriously wished she'd appear in a movie with a less frizzy and wild hair do.

I didn't even have any serious problems with the visuals.  The make-up De Niro wore as the Creation was great and credible.  I want a hooded duster like the one he wore, myself- looked pretty cool.  The scenic views were wonderful, and really set the tone.  I liked Frankenstein's lab, but hated the staircase in the main household.  The scene where Elizabeth is killed by the Creation was well done as well- a decent amount of blood to it.  Her make-up later on is almost as credible as that used on De Niro, and helped create sympathy for the character's final fate.

No, what brings this movie down is the fact that it tries to be an epic like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992), but fails.  I felt that it needed to be small in scope, more personal and up close in nature.  Because of that, I have to place it in The Bad.

Meridian: Kiss of the Beast (1990)


Sometimes, a director/producer will surprise you- such was the case during "Terrorpolooza 2012" when I watched Charles Band's "Meridian: Kiss of the Beast"

Catherine Bomarzini has come home after her father's death.  Needing company, she asks Gina to stay with her.  Soon, the two meet a wondering troupe of performers that Catherine invites to dinner at her castle. Catherine find herself pulled into a love triangle and an ancient curse that only she can break.

After watching movies like "Evil Bong", and "Demonic Toys", I really wasn't expecting too much from this Charles Band movie- but I was pleasantly surprised by it.

The story is actually quite interesting with lots of potential for eerie scenes, and character development.  It's a nice twist on the classic "Beauty and the Beast" story.  It's a bit slower than most of Band's other works, but moves smoothly and draws you with it.

I have to admit that the Beast, and his brother are actually more interesting than the main character Catherine.  This isn't to say she's not interesting, because she does have depth and was engaging.  I just found myself more curious about the two brothers and their history than Catherine breaking their curse.  I also really liked the housekeeper, Martha (there's a nice twist with her character that pleased me), but I found the character of Gina to be somewhat superfulous and without any real purpose to the story.  She's just kinda that- which is sad, since Charlie Spradling is a gorgeous woman.

For a Charles Band movie, the acting in this one was also quite surprising.  I was quite impressed by it.  Malcolm Jamieson did a remarkable job as Lawrence and Oliver- the brothers.  He balanced out Lawrences darkness with Oliver's lightness quite well.  He brought a lot of depth to his performance, and really made me want to know more about the characters.  Just a wonderful job.  Sherilyn Fenn not only looked great, but turned in another good performance as Catherine, though as I said before, I found myself more interested in the brothers' story than hers.  The performance given by Hilary Mason as Martha was great as well- despite not having a lot of screen time.  The only disappointment was Charlie Spradling as Gina.  It's not that her acting was bad, because it wasn't.  The problem was that her character wasn't really necessary.  I got the feeling that the character (and the actress) was simply there because they needed a really nice set of boobs (other than Fenn's nice ones) for the nude scene.  I'm not complaining about her boobs, just that she deserved a slightly more important role in the story itself.

I found this movie to be quite pleasing visually too.  Band is known for interesting visuals, but he really manages to use the visuals to create a dream-like mood, and tell the story.  Just a beautiful piece of work in my opinion.  At times, you're not sure if you're watching a dream sequence, or not.  The look of Oliver as the Beast was also quite a surprise given what I've seen in his other films.  While many of the costumes in Band's movies are quite cheesy and silly, the Beast's design was quite good.  The facial make-up did a great job of allowing the actor to still express emotion while remaining beastial.

In the final analysis, I'm going to say that "Meridian: Kiss of the Beast" is a movie I think everyone should watch and that I'm hoping Charles Band will provide me with more pleasant surprises like this one.  I'm placing it in The Good.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)


I felt that it wouldn't have been a proper "Terrorpolooza 2012" if I didn't watch a classic 1980's horror movie- which is why I pulled up "A Nightmare on Elm Street"...

Teenagers in a small American town are starting to dream of a disfigured man with a clawed glove.  When her friends start to die from their dreams, Nancy decides it's up to her to confront the supernatural killer and end his nightmarish reign of terror...

I'm pretty sure you, the reader, can figure out where I'm going to go with this particular review.

Yep- you guessed it.  I really enjoy this movie.

The premise is simple, but terrifying, since you're at your most vulnerable when sleeping, and we've all had those dreams that are just "too real" for comfort.  The story is well paced, with a great mixture of suspense, and plain old in your face scares.  No event is trivial, and the flow is smooth.  Just a masterpiece of writing.

The characters may seem a bit trite at times- but mostly on the part of the first couple of victims, but you come to like Nancy as the story comes to focus on her, echoing how Krueger starts to focus on her as his prey.  She grows from a mild teenager, into a strong female character.  Krueger is a well crafted character in his own right.  You come to realize that he ENJOYS the torment he's putting the teenagers through as he plays with them before the kill.

Heather Langenkamp does a wonderful job as Nancy, and is balanced out by the excellent performance of Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger.  I remember watching Englund as Willie in the TV Series, "V", and was amazed by how well he fit the role of Krueger.  I also thought that John Saxon and Ronne Blakley in the roles of Nancy's parents were great.  Johnny Depp fans will enjoy seeing his first movie role as Nancy's boyfriend, Glen.

There are some marvelous pieces of camera work that have become iconic images from the movie.  The shot of Freddy pushing through the wall above Nancy's bed, and the glove coming out of the bath water being just two of them.  Wes Craven uses shadow, light, and colour to create a wonderful sense of unreality and tension to the nightmare scenes.  And for grue fans, there's lots of blood to be had in this movie.  Tina's death and the "bed geyser" supplying more of the crimson than most horror movies alone.

So, as you can gather, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is what I would call a "horror classic" that I would recommend to any horror fan, and would sit down in a heartbeat to rewatch.  It's assured a spot in The Good.

It Happened at Nightmare Inn (1973)


"Terrorpolooza 2012" brought me in contact with a couple of films made across the pond, some a bit better than others...

Women have been disappearing at a small Spanish inn, and soon the sister of one of the victims begins to investigate.  Will she uncover the dark secret of their disappearance... or will she join her sister?

This is a hard movie to say much about.  It's far from great, but for some reason still worth watching at least once.  The story is fairly simple, but offers enough of a skeleton to hang meat on and flesh out.  Having said that, "It Happened at Nightmare Inn" falls slightly short of a full bodied piece of work.

The characters of the two sisters running the inn are interesting, but the remaining cast seems to get introduced in order to simply die.  The heroine plays an unimportant part until near the end.

At least the girls looked good, even if their acting wasn't the greatest.

There isn't much in the way of blood or serious scares in this movie, either.

Having said all that I still would recommend this for a single viewing.  I'm just not altogether sure WHY I would.  I'm putting "It Happened at Nightmare Inn" into The Bad.

The Oval Portrait (1972)


I'm a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, so it was a pleasant surprise that one of the movies I watched during "Terrorpolooza 2012" was an adaptation of one of his stories...

Genevieve has come home to claim ownership of her deceased uncle's  house.  Soon, however, she discovers the tragic details behind her cousin's death- details that could cost her mind... and her soul...

"The Oval Portrait" isn't a perfect film, but I still found it enjoyable.  The story is simple, but is strengthened by the backstory of the cousin's death.  The pacing isn't too bad, though fans of horror movies that get right into the scares might be put off by the slower pacing and build up.  The story itself isn't so much frightening as macabre and disturbing... which is to be expected of a Poe story, actually.

While Genevieve is a little flat, the characters of her cousin and the Confederate soldier she loved help to make up for that.  The uncle was interesting as well, and I liked how the character of the housekeeper tied the past and the present together.

The acting reminded me of some of the lesser quality Hammer horror films with their somewhat exaggerated, theatrical tone. Although it would probably detract from most viewers' enjoyment these days, I enjoyed it

The look  of "The Oval Portrait" is also very similar to some of the Hammer horror films too.  There's nothing fancy in terms of camera work, but the subdued colours does give it a nice sense of morbid mood that I liked.  Althought I wasn't impressed with the scene of the flying objects, I did find the final dance scene to be quite disturbing- a nice touch that made up for the silliness of the previous scene.

I would certainly recommend this for a viewing to others, and mostly sit down to watch it again myself.  "The Oval Portrait" is going into The Good.

Guru, the Mad Monk (1970)


Moving forward with my "Terrorpolooza 2012" reviews, I come to a film that made me cringe... and not in a pleasantly horrified way...

Guru, the priest in charge of a prison, needs to do what he can to keep money coming into his pockets... and fresh "prey" for his mistress.  Unfortunately, his plan to use a female prisoner to coerce a simple minded fellow into doing his will backfires...

As I sit here, I'm trying to think of positive things to say about "Guru, the Mad Monk".  Unfortunately, I can't think of a single thing.

Actually, I can think of one thing.  The premise had potential.

Too bad the rest of the film reeked of awful poo poo.

I didn't care one iota about ANY of the characters.  None.  Complete apathy.  And that goes for the rather attractive female prisoner Najia.  I guess it didn't help that the hunchback's name was Igor.  Yes, one of the most original names for a hunchback in movie history.  Real quality thinking on that score.

The acting was quite simply abyssmal.  Add into the mix horrible costumes and wigs and you've got a real piece of cinematic garbage.  I've seen much better stuff on YouTube.

Camera work?  Just ugh- as are the "special" effects.  For a movie with hands being lopped off, and eyes being gouged, there is a surprising lack of blood spraying around the set- a serious lack of blood.  This is only worsened by the fact that you don't even SEE the actually lopping and gouging.

Don't ever ask me to watch this movie again, because I will make sure there is blood when I gouge out my own eyes.  Seriously.  This movie goes beyond The Ugly.

Nightmare Castle (1965)


One of the movies I watched during "Terrorpolooza 2012" was an Italian gothic horror.  When it comes to gothic horror, Europeans tend to surpass North American in quality.

A scientist catches his wife and her lover together, and shows them the extent of his wrath. Soon, his new wife starts to experience hints to the fate of her sister- the scientist's previous wife.
Sometimes, as is the case with "Nightmare Castle," the simplest of plots is the best.  Murder and revenge are all that were needed to create the circumstances for the events in this story.  It moves along smoothly and fairly quickly, with the creepiness and scares spread throughout evenly.  If this were a book, I would have very little problem with sitting down by flickering candlelight, reading it, and enjoying the chills run up my spine.

The characters, while somewhat simplistic in nature are still interesting enough to keep me wondering what was going to happen next.  I really liked the mix of ghosts, mad scientist, and vampire.

While the characters themselves may have been a little two dimensional at times, the acting was superb.  Barbara Steele as BOTH Muriel and Jenny was simply beatiful (both with dark or blonde hair) and marvelous.  She was able to make both characters different from each other, while still making them compliment each other.  I thought Paul Muller did a fantastic job portraying the sadistic Dr. Arrowsmith.  I also quite enjoyed Helga Liné in the role of Solange (the Dr's mistress).  In her younger form, she's also quite beautiful.

"Nightmare Castle" is one of those movies that modern horror film makers should watch to learn about using light, shadow and how to to create mood, suspense, and errieness.  The camera work may not be super creative, but it's still highly effective in bringing a sense of growing doom to the viewer.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend "Nightmare Castle" to my friends- nor would I hesitate to agree to sit down and rewatch this wonderful piece of Italian horror.  I'm placing this movie in The Good.

The Manster (1959)


Next on my list of "Terrorpolooza 2012" reviews is an American/Japanese horror movie that I felt combined the best parts of American and Japanese film making into a smooth whole.

Larry Stanford befriends a scientist whom he interviews for his newspaper.  As Dr. Suzuki introduces him to the finer parts of Japanese culture, he finds himself falling for the scientist's beautiful assistant.  His personality starts to change... and soon his body follows...

If there is ONE thing that Japan is known for, it's great monster ideas.  If there is ONE thing the US is known for- especially back in the 1950's, it was for great camera work.  The two are used to wonderful effect in "The Manster".

The story is a simple Mad Scientist plot, but if fully capable of carrying the weight of the characters, and the things that happen to them.  There is very little in the way of frivolous subplots in this movie, each element of the story helps to move it forward, and add depth to the characters.  I could easily imagine this movie being an old 1950's style pulp novel.

The characters are great as well.  Even though you'd like to smack him, you still like and feel for Larry as he undergoes the bizarre changes that occur.  You also come to like the cool, beautiful, and slightly aloof assistant, Tara as well as her boss, Dr. Suzuki.  These three are given depth, and grow as the movie progresses.  They could've been presented as stereotypes in the genre, but are given to us as complex people with emotions of their own- which is what I look for in movie characters.

The acting on the part of these three actors: Peter Dyneley (as Larry), Terri Zimmern (as Tara), and Tetsu Nakamura (as Dr. Suzuki) was just a pleasure for me.  They engaged me, drew me in, and pulled me along with them as the events of the story unfolded.  They made me care about what was happening on the screen.

And then there is the Manster itself, and a couple of other "monstrosities".  The costuming of the monster at the start of the movie was pretty good.  It gave me a hint of what was to come, and made me want to see it.  Then came the make-up for the female "failed experiment".  It tore at my heart to see what the experiments had done to her- and the story behind it only made it all the more poignant to the scientist's personality.  After that came one of the best visual effects scene I've ever seen in a movie from the period- the eyeball in the shoulder shot.  My jaw actually dropped when I saw it, I was so impressed by it.  Unfortunately, the next stage of the transformation with the two heads wasn't as smoothly done as the eyeball stage.  Given what they had to work with though back then, they did the best they could, and it was still effective.

There is also some wonderful camera work in "The Manster" as well.  The open attack scene with the blood splashed on the screen was a fantastic shot.  The use of light and shadows was just remarkable as well, and really helped to create the mood and atmoshphere that fit the story perfectly.  Modern movie makers could take a few lessons away from black and white movies like this one, I think.

Ultimately, I have to say that "The Manster" is one of those films that illustrates monster movie making at it's best, even with it's low budget.  I would have very little problem with re-watching this movie again.  It's going into The Good.

Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)

I'm back after a small hiatus due to being sick with the third of my "Terrorpolooza 2012" movie reviews.  One thing I learned is that while horror and comedy often work together, sometimes, it doesn't work as well as it could've.

A group of gangsters have helped a South American dictator to escape a revolution with a strong box full of gold.  They hope to gain possession of it by using a legend of a local sea monster to scare off the dictator and his guards.  All goes according to plan until an American spy... and the real sea monster take an interest in the group.

"Creature From the Haunted Sea" is a Roger Corman horror comedy that- as was typical of Corman films, shot in about five days.  To be perfectly honest, you can tell that it was a rushed production.

The story is certainly enough to provide a decent amount of comedic fodder to go with the horror, though the humour far outweighs the horror.  Unfortunately, due to a few of the characters, and unnecessary subplots, the story felt rather disjointed and unfocused.  I found myself wanting the characters to stay on track with the main plot, rather than go off on their silly tangents.  The "romantic" subplots of two of the characters finding "love" with two island dwellers were especially irritating to me.  Now, there ARE some decent moments of humour that had me chuckling, but they were brought about by only two characters in the movie, and the Creature itself.

Other than the character of Renzo Capetto and the Creature, I found myself either indifferent or annoyed with the characters.  Mary-Belle wasn't bad to look at, but not very interesting, and Sparks was a little irritating.  The most annoying character- and the one that served the least purpose to boot was Pete Peterson, Jr- who communicates soley with ANIMAL noises.  Yeah, you heard me- "animal noises".  You can probably guess why I got annoyed with the character rather quickly.  I liked the dictator because he was serious in a humorous fashion, and provided a nice bit of political satire to the movie.

Of the actors, the best were Antony Carbone as Renzo, and Betsy Jones-Moreland as Mary-Belle.  Edmundo Rivera Álvarez was enjoyable as well as the dictator.  The remaining cast was what I would consider between subpar (in the case of Beach Dickerson who played the animal noise making Pete) to average.  Of course, the five day shooting schedule could be a factor, so I'm willing to be a little more forgiving... though not to the animal guy.

When I saw the Creature, I wondered if Christopher Mihm (see my review of "The Monster of Phantom Lake") had seen this movie when he designed the Monster in his own movie.  There are some serious similarities between them- especially the ping pong eyes, and the moss covering.  I couldn't help but laugh and enjoy the look and antics of the Creature as it wittled the cast down.  The final scene of the movie with the Creature was what I would consider the punchline to the whole joke of a movie that preceeded.

When all is said and done, "Creature From the Haunted Sea" is a silly movie that drags in a couple of parts, but has some moments of fun and laughs.  Students of Roger Corman films would probably enjoy it, but I won't be watching it again.  I'm placing it in The Bad.

Friday, November 9, 2012

The Screaming Skull (1958)


I'm back today with the second of my "Terrorpolooza 2012" reviews.  This time, it's "The Screaming Skull" .

Jenni and Eric are a happy couple who have recently gotten married.  Upon moving into Eric's mansion, Jenni learns of the tragic death of Eric's first wife.  Soon, Jenni will question her own sanity as strange sounds and skulls begin to haunt her.  Is it the ghost of Eric's first wife... or something more sinister?

I quite enjoyed this movie.  The premise is solid, as are the events that occur.  There are one or two small holes in the plot, but they're pretty minor and don't take away from the overall story.  I did feel though that the opening "disclaimer" was unnecessary, though it did make me smile as I remembered some of the William Castle movies I'd seen.

The characters, while they could be seen as somewhat stereotypical, are still interesting and engaging- especially the characters Jenni, and Mickey the Gardener.  I didn't mind the Reverend and his wife, but felt they were kinda just there as plot points, and Eric was a decently crafted character as well.

The acting is about what can be expected for a low budget film from the 1950's.  Some of it is a little cheesy, some of it right over the top, and some of it quite good.  It was cheesy for the most part, with the final chase scene being rather over the top on the part of John Hudson as Eric.  His facial expressions and movements are more giggle inducing than scary.  I will say that I thought Alex Nicol (who also directed this movie) did a pretty good job as the child-like Mickey.  I actually came to care quite abit for that character.

The camera offers the average fare to the viewer, with very little in the way of interesting or creative camera angles or movements.  There are some decent shots, and the use of shadows was good.  I really liked the way it looked when the ghost chases Jenni, but was disappointed by how they did the final chase scene with Eric.  It was a visual drop in quality from the chase scene with Jenni, I felt.

While I'd have very little problem with re-watching "The Screaming Skull" as part of a B-Movie Night with friends, I doubt that I would pull of the shelf and put it in the machine otherwise.  I'm putting it in "The Bad".

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Grave of the Vampire (1972)


This week, the "What Movie Wednesday" was a close competition between the three choices.  If it hadn't been for one vote near the end, it would've been a TRIPLE feature night.  Luckily, I was able to get some sleep because that one vote made "Grave of the Vampire" the winner.

James is hunting down a centuries old vampire who has risen from his slumber to hunt again.  The vampire is also his own father...

The basic premise is interesting and could provide for quite a good story, too bad this movie fails to come anywhere close to fulfilling that potential.  The story starts out interesting enough.  A vampire rises from the grave, rapes and impregnates a woman after killing her boyfriend.  The detective assigned to the case suspects that a vampire is involved, and begins to hunt it.  At that point, the story goes downhill as the detective gets killed, and we jump ahead several years to when the woman's baby is a full grown man hunting down his father (with a voice over thrown in for good measure).  There are so many plot holes, and illogical events that through most of the movie, I wore this sort of expression on my face:


Seriously.  A prime example is at the seance.  James' love interest is possessed by the spirit of her dead room mate, and identifies the vampire.  She faints, and James takes her upstairs- leaving the vampire alone in a room full of living appetizers.  Not only that, but while the vampire prepares to do some nomming, James prepares to have a tender moment with the girl.

There's only ONE interesting character in the whole movie- the detective who gets killed near the start of the movie.  I couldn't stand the James, and I felt indifferent to Anne and her room mate Anita.  The vampire left me feeling blah, and James' mother was just messed in the head.  If the movie had been about the detective hunting down the vampire, I probably would've enjoyed it more.

The acting was pretty horrid.  The detective's partner was cheesy, and Michael Pataki as the vampire tried to be like Christopher Lee's Dracula- but failed miserably.  Just not enjoyable watching them.

The camera work didn't help.  Plain, dull, and not very exciting or suspenseful.  To make it worse, you don't even get to SEE the actual kills or ANY serious blood.  A bit of blood around the mouth and on a victim's neck and that's it.  Seriously lacking in the grue department, let me tell you.

I couldn't even get through my usual two bags of microwave popcorn, because of how idiotic this movie was... and I love my popcorn.

This movie should've stayed in its grave.  I'm buring "Grave of the Vampire" in The Ugly.

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Grave of the Vampire":

Ron Morgan
Jason Wiggins
Zoey Emily Onyx
Jenny Deol

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will be 14 November 2012!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Bluebeard (1944)


Many horror films delve into legends about infamous people for the kernel of an idea for their stories.  Cannibals, monsters, and serial killers are peppered throughout the history of horror cinema...

Gaston is a puppeteer in Paris during a rash of murders by a psychotic madman named "Bluebeard".  When Gaston meets Lucille, he believes that he's found happiness... but soon matters take a dark turn, and Gaston's happines could turn to murder...

This 1944 black and white suspense thriller has a lot going for it.  The story, is straightforward, and strong enough to keep you interested- even though you know who the killer is from the start.  It's still engaging to watch the events unfold.

The acting isn't bad- not great, but still enjoyable.  John Carradine does a great job in the role of the troubled Gaston, while Jean Parker was great as Lucille.  Carradine brings a nice touch of pathos to the character, while maintaining the feeling that there is something seriously wrong with the Gaston.  He also provides a couple of excellent examples of "crazy eyes" just before commiting a murder.  I also quite enjoyed Emmet Lynn as the old soldier that assists Gaston with his puppet shows.  Ludwig Stossel did a good job of portraying the art dealer Lamarte, while I found that I didn't enjoy Nils Asther as Inspector Lefevre.  For a film taking place in Paris, there is a distinct lack of French accents.

The character of Gaston was crazy, but was portrayed as being generally likable- with the added virtue of not wanting to kill, and tries to fight that compulsion throughout the movie.  He was complex, well formed, and believable.   Lucille is also likable, but not as well formed, or interesting as Gaston.  In fact, none of the characters are as deep as Gaston, and at times they feel as if they are just added to the story to slowly push Gaston to murder again.  The only character I found annoying though was Inspector Lefevre.  I just found him a little insincere.

There is some really good examples of camera work in this film.  The director uses light and dark beautifully in many of the shots to create a great mood to the scene.  One shot- of puppet shadows cast on the way was just a great shot in my opinion.  While there is nothing super creative on display in regards to camera movement, the angles, framing, and editing is still quite effective to tell the story.  I thought the puppet opera at the start of "Bluebeard" was a wonderful scene, even if it didn't necessarily have any serious impact on the story.  I also really liked how it felt like there were some silent movie elements and techniques used throughout the movie.  They were a great touch.

Personally, I think "Bluebeard" was a great way to kick off "Terrorpolooza 2012", and is a movie I would re-watch on a dark night, and recommend to fans of older suspense/thrillers.  I'm placing this movie in "The Good".

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Halloween Recap


This past Halloween, I held a 24 hour "Terrorpolooza 2012" horror movie tweet along.  From 1:00 am Halloween morning, to 1:00 am the next morning, I did nothing but watch horror movies and tweet along to them.  In total, I watched 13 movies- a number that seems rather fitting for day when superstitions and legends come alive, in my opinion.

Anyways, I would've posted my thoughts on the movies I watched on Thursday (or Friday even), but I was pretty much in a coma trying to catch up on my sleep.  The only time I woke up over the past two days was to do the tweeting for my "We Came From the Basement" as their show aired on CFBX 92.5 FM (www.thex.ca).  Other than that, I slept.  Just slept.

Which is why, today, I'm going to post a quick list of the movies I watched, and my thoughts on them.  Over the next couple of weeks or so, I'll be posting full length reviews of these movies as well.

1.  "Bluebeard" (1944)- A moody, black and white film starring John Carradine about a painter compelled to murder the women he paints.  Beautiful use of shadows, but for a movie set in Paris, there's a rather distinct lack of French accents.  Rating- The Good.

2.  "The Screaming Skull" (1958)- A low budget film about a woman who's convinced that she's seeing the ghost of her husband's previous wife... who's accidental death may not have been so accidental.  The scenes of the ghost chasing the heroine were great, but the skull scenes could've been done a bit better.  Rating- The Bad.

3.  "Creature From the Haunted Sea" (1961)- A Roger Corman horror comedy about some gangsters hoping to use the belief in a local sea monster to gain a strong box of gold... until the actual monster shows up.  There is some decent humour in this movie- but also some rather annoying characters.  Rating- The Bad.

4.  "The Manster" (1962)- A Japanese/United States joint venture about a man who unwittingly becomes part of an experiment in evolution... and must deal with the changes that overcome him.  Some decent visual effects.  The eye in the shoulder was remarkably well done.  Some nice Japanese monster movie goodness mixed with American filming styles.  Rating- The Good.

5.  "Nightmare Castle" (1965)- An atmospheric black and white film about a scientist who catches his wife and her lover together.  Soon, his new wife starts to experience hints to the fate of her sister- the scientist's previous wife.  The torture scene is short, but effective.  Colour would've added a nice touch to the slightly goreier visuals.  Barbara Steele is simply beautiful in dual roles.  Rating- The Good.

6.  "Guru, The Mad Monk" (1970)- A period piece about a monk who runs a prison with his vampiric lover.  Bad wigs, bad costumes, badly done gore, a hunchback named "Igor," and an idiotic hero.  Rating- The Ugly.

7.  "The Oval Portrait" (1971)- Another period piece adapts an Edgar Allen Poe story about a woman who must fight off the spirit dwelling within an oval portrait.  A decent piece that showcases the macabre touches that Poe brought to his stories.  The dance scene at the end is especially disturbing.  Rating- The Good.

8.  "It Happened at Nighmare Inn"- A Spanish film about two older sisters who run a family hotel... and have ways of dealing with the loose moral of some of their guests.  The sisters aren't bad looking for their age.  The heroine was cute, but rather unimportant until the climax.  Rating- The Bad.

9.  "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984)  The children on Elm Street are being butchered one by one in their sleep.  One of the classics of the 1980's- and still stands up in my opinion.  The remake/reboot didn't need to be made.  Rating- The Good.

10.  "Meridian: Kiss of the Beast" (1990)- A Charles Band film about a woman claiming her inheritance, and discovering that there's a curse that only she can dispel.  A nice surprise from Charles Band.  A great transformation scene, and some well done, trippy visuals.  Rating- The Good.

11.  "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein" (1994)- Victor Frankenstein seeks to create Life, and must deal with the consequences of doing so.  Tries hard to be an epic like "Bram Stoker's Dracula" (1992).  De Niro's great as The Creature.  Needed to be smaller in scope.  Rating- The Bad.

12.  "Orphan" (2009)- A family adopts a young girl named Esther, whose past is shrouded in some mystery.  Soon, accidents start to happen to those close to them.  Isabelle Fuhrman was great as Esther.  The shrink and the husband are idiots.  The black light scenes are well done and disturbing.  Reminded me at times of "The Good Son" (1993).  Rating- The Bad.

13.  "Trick 'r Treat" (2007)- The Halloween celebrations of various people are weaved together while the mysterious child, Sam does what needs to be done to remind people of Halloween is REALLY about.  Just plain fun.  Dark humour, with some decent chilly moments.  A classic in the spirit of "Creepyshow" (1982).  Rating- The Good.

Well, there is a quick look at my thoughts on the movies I watched Halloween.  Look for full length reviews to come.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Terrorpolooza 2012 Playlist


Well, in about another eight to nine hours (it's just after 4:00 pm PST here), Halloween will be here... and Terrorpolooza 2012 will begin: 24 hours of non-stop horror movie watching and tweeting.  Giving roughly, two hours per movie, I should be able to watch a total of twelve horror movies- if time allows, I'll spontaneously add a 13th!

Here are the movies I'll be watching and tweeting along to during the entire event (in order of viewing):

Bluebeard (1944)
The Screaming Skull (1958)
Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)
The Manster (1962)
Nightmare Castle (1965)
Guru, The Mad Monk (1970)
The Oval Portrait (1971)
It Happened at Nightmare Inn (1973)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
Meridian: Kiss of the Beast (1990)
Mary Shelly's Frankenstein (1994)
Orphan (2009)

I hope you join me on Twitter during the event.  Now, I'm going to crawl into my sarcophagus and get some sleep before the big event.  Spook you then!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Evil Brain From Outer Space (1958)


The 1950's is known for cheesy monsters, hokey action, and mad science.  It was a time when the B-movie reigned supreme, and Japan was not immune to the fun...

Interstellar hero Starman comes to Earth seeking the brain of Balazar, who is planning to invade the planet with mutants specially created by his evil scientists...

This movie is actually a re-edited collection of three one hour films that were part of the Japanese series, "Super Giant".  The original series was filmed and released in 1958, while the re-edited film was released in the United States in 1964.  The "Super Giant" series, consisted of nine short films, with the last three comprising the material used in "Evil Brain From Outer Space".  Since the three original films weren't really connected to each other outside of the presense of Starman, the American they had to be pieced together to tell a single story- result ing what was called "a non-ending cavalcade of characters, chases, captures, rescues and fight scenes".

Personally, I found it quite charming and fun to watch.

The story is thin and rather cliched, but provides enough of a skeleton for the action.  It's not deep, or mentally engaging, relying on the flow of the chases and fights to distract you from Reality.  The story knows what it is- cheesy popcorn fodder, and doesn't try to be anything more than that.  Of course, the frantic pace is probably partly due to the slightly chaotic way that three seperate plots had to be cut and edited into a single one.  Watching this movie, I felt like I was watching an old movie serial that had been collected together.

The characters- as can be expected from a project that takes three films and re-edits them into one, aren't very deep, or interesting.  I kinda felt like they were just stock characters- which they probably were.  Even Starman seemed like a cliche.  Surprisingly though, this didn't stop me from being pulled into the fun.  I really couldn't help but want to see what was going to happen next.

The acting is very much in keeping with movie serials and B-movies from that era: outlandish gestures during the fight scenes, and exaggerated facial expressions.  The dubbing felt like it was simply read into the microphone, and was equally silly.  Having said that though, I have to confess that it didn't detract from the simple fact that it moved the story along, and was fun in a campy sort of way.  I will say, however, that I did find the performance of the woman playing the Kabuki Faced Mutant was rather creepy during the close-ups.

Since, one of the original three films was filmed in 4:3 ratio, while the other two were originally filmed in widescreen, the editing resulted in a bit of a mixed bag as they tried to match up the formats the best they could.  Because of this, I can't blame the editors too much for the quality of editing- which felt a bit patchwork at times.  I actually quite liked the way the fight scenes were edited.  Even though the actions of the performers were silly, the pace and flow was fairly quick, smooth, and enjoyable.

I couldn't help but smile at the costumes for the two mutants.  Even though I could tell that the Bat Mutant was obviously a man in a costume, it was still fun to watch the actor jump and run around in silly tights.  As mentioned before, the Kabuki Faced Mutant was actually a little creepy when shown in close-ups.  At a distance, and during her fight scene with Starman, the look was a little more ridiculous... but fun.

Would I re-watch "Evil Brain From Outer Space"?  Maybe, if it was part of a Japanese Monster Movie Night, or a B-movie Night with friends, yeah.  Would I recommend it for at least one fun, diverting viewing?  Certainly.  I'm going to place this "What Movie Wednesday" winner into "The Good".

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Death in the Shadows":
Redfeather Freeman
Jason Hewlet (from "We Came From the Basement")
Maria Esparza
Ron Morgan
Jason Wiggins
Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel")
"What Movie Wednesday" will be postponed as I conduct my "Terrorpolooza 2012" horror movie marathon on the Oct 31.  "What Movie Wednesday" will return Nov 07!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Black Castle (Les Daniels)

Vampires and witches are often a good basis for a horror novel.  Through in the Spanish Inquisition, and odds are you'll get a pretty good story.

In 1496, while the Spanish Inquisition is in full motion, Diego  de Villanueva is seeking a way to rise through the ranks of the Inquistion.  He will do anything he needs to... even use his brother's darkest secrets and knowledge to bring fear and hatred to the world...

"The Black Castle" caught my  eye while shopping at "The Book Place".  I was intrigued by the idea of it taking place during the Spanish Inquisition.  While I did enjoy reading this book, I was also a little disappointed.

The style is very fitting to the story- it has an almost old world charm and rythm to it that I found pleasing to the ear.  It's also easy to read, and flows at a nice pace.  While, it's not "fancy", the images it creates are fairly good and atmospheric.

The story itself is a really interesting idea.  My only real complaint with it is that it doesn't have that many scares in it.  It's more dramatic than scarey.  Having said that, there is some really good moments of suspense and tension building up that it kept me interested.

The characters while interesting, even if not deeply explored.  I liked how they were all different, and believable. I wanted to know more about Diego's brother Sebastian, and Diego's young assistant- Miguel.  The brief "cameo" by Christopher Columbus was nice.

"The Black Castle" may not have scares galore in it, but it does a nice, rich texture to it that I very much enjoyed while reading.  Unfortunately, it's not a book I would pick off the shelf at home randomly and re-read.  Because of that, I'm putting it in "The Bad".

Friday, October 19, 2012

Incident at Exeter (John G Fuller)

Aliens are sometimes used in the world of horror to scare us- tales of abductions and experiments, invasions, and even using us a big game.  Sometimes, however, the truth is just simple bafflement and mystery...

In 1965, the town of Exeter, New Hampshire, a series of unidentified flying objects started to be reported.  John G Fuller investigates this mysterious case of possible alien visitation.

"Incident at Exeter" is an interesting look at the UFO phenomena.  Through the use of interviews with witnesses, transcripts of reports to authorities, and even visits to the locations of sightings, Fuller takes you on a personal trip in order to make sense of what was seen.

The writing style is very straight forward and easy to follow.  Rather than being dry as many books about UFO's can be, this book has touches of humour and insight as Fuller expresses the various thoughts and theories he runs through in order to figure out the truth.  The rythm and flow is quick enough that a person can read through it in pretty much one sitting without feeling like they read an entire book

If you're interested in UFO's, then "Incident at Exeter" is worth reading, and I'm going to put it in "The Good".

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Death in the Shadows (1985)


Quite often, foreign horror films can bring something new to a horror fan's life... and sometimes not...

Valerie lived a quiet life with her mother in a small town near Amsterdam.  After her mother is killed, Valerie begins to uncover secrets about her mother's past... secrets that someone doesn't want revealed...

"Death in the Shadows" is a Dutch film originally titled "De Prooi," and was the "What Movie Wednesday" winner this week.

The story is actually pretty solid in its premise.  It offers ample opportunity for suspense and scares.  While there are some decent moments of suspense, the scares themselves are a little off.  I did like the fact that there were some attempts at a red herring here and there.  It's nice when a suspense/thriller does what it can to keep the viewer guessing.  Too bad, they didn't balance that out by giving actual clues to the identity of the real killer

Most of the characters felt like fillers, with one of them being the red herring.  Other than Valerie, and the police detective, I really didn't care much about the other characters. I didn't even feel much when the real killer is revealed.  I was indifferent to pretty much everyone in the film.

The acting wasn't bad... but rather standard and unexceptional.

The same can be said about the camera work.  There wasn't anything all that impressive, creative, or interesting in the set-up of the shots, etc.  Standard camera angles, and movements.  Despite this, there were a couple of decent moments of suspense created by editing, but they were only momentary glimmers of potential.

There were a fair number of shadows for death to come from... but not much death coming from them.  I was rather disappointed by that.  There are boobs however.  Not great boobs... but boobs nonetheless.

I will say though, that I found the music during the end credits to be catchy- I found myself whistling along to it.

Even though the premise of "Death in the Shadows" was good, this movie feel short of the mark, and lands in "The Ugly"

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Death in the Shadows":

Redfeather Freeman
Jenny Deol
Tony Goodner
Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel")

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will be October 24th!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Terrorpolooza 2012


Well, folks- Halloween is once again approaching, and horror movies become the main thing to watch.  In honour of Halloween this year, I've decided to do something special.

During the summer, when asked to housesit for my best friend Jay (from "We Came From the Basement"), I would conduct a 24 hour horror movie marathon, where I would tweet along to horror movies all day.

I've decided to do the same for Halloween this year.  So starting at 1:00 am (PST), I will start watching horror movies and tweeting along to them for 24 hours.  I cordially invite you to follow along and add your comments on what I tweet!

But that's not all!  Starting in November 2012, I'm going to post a monthly poll on this blog listing three movies.  Each month, you'll get the chance to decide which of the three movies listed I'll watch and tweet to as part of "Terrorpolooza 2013"!

So, join me Halloween on Twitter for "Terrorpolooza 2012" and have some fun in between kids askig for tastey candy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mark of the Werewolf (Jeffrey Sackett)

 
I've been looking for a decent werewolf novel to help balance all the vampire ones that are currenty proliferating the bookcases.  While cruising my favorite store, I found one that promised to be interesting.
 
Janos is a man who can not remember his past- he's not even sure Janos is his real name.  All he knows is that he's a werewolf... and wants to die.  Soon however, he'll learn that he's more than just a werewolf.  He's going to discover that he's part of a neo-facist plan to bring about the domination of the world...
 
I was really hoping that "The Mark of the Werewolf" was going to be a really intense, and suspenseful book about a werewolf as he eludes capture and wreaks ferocious revenge upon those that wish to do him wrong.  What I got was an interesting look at what it might be like to be immortal, with a dash of theology in the mix.
 
The story isn't bad, but not great.  It kinda reads like a werewolf version of "Forrest Gump" in that Janos seems to somehow be involved in so many important moments in history.  The style is simple and easy to follow with very little in the way of mood enhancing ornaments.  I didn't really feel that much suspense or tension while reading this book.  Some of the concepts and ideas put forth are interesting to ponder, but aren't really intregal to the plot.  In fact, the main plot is more or less a framing device for the historical vignettes that Janos takes part in.  I DID however, like the scene where Janos is talking to the vampire Vlad Tepes.  There was some nice humour in that scene on the part of Tepes.  The epilogue though, I found to be a little cliched, and unnecessary.
 
The characters lacked depth, and I could see early on in the story what would happen to them.  While they were believable, I found it hard to like or care about ANY of them- including Janos.
 
To be honest, "Mark of the Werewolf" felt incomplete and shallow... as if the writer was missing the cues by just a hair's breath.  This book had potential, but fell far short of being a piece of fiction that could seriously engage my imagination and emotions.  I'm going to have to put it in "The Bad".


Monday, October 15, 2012

Dead Island (2011)


With the advent of  shows like "The Walking Dead", and movies like "Shaun of the Dead", and "Zombieland", and games like "Left 4 Dead", zombies have become quite popular... possibly helping us forget all about vampires that sparkle...

You are one of the many people on the resort island of Banoi when people start to attack and each other.  After learning you're immune to whatever is causing the carnage, you and three others band together to help a small group of survivors to find a way off the dead island...

"Dead Island" is a really enjoyable game to play.  The storyline is well thought out and interesting, and while there is a progression to it, it's not a strictly linear story either.  The openess of the story, with the main quests and the side quests helps to create a bit of variety, and allows the player to move the story forward at their own pace.  I also enjoy this openess because it's actually more realistic- Life doesn't move in a straight series of events.  There are detours, which make the whole of the story more engaging for me.  The premise is simple, but fleshed out beautifully.

You get to choose to play any of the four main characters- each with different abilities and focus for skills.  I chose Xian Mei for her proficiency with bladed weapons.  The four characters are different from each other and have interesting back stories that are slowly revealed throughout the game.  You come to be emotionally invested in your character's survival

The graphics are just amazing in this game.  When I first saw the in-game graphics, my jaw dropped.  It's just beautiful.  The beach scenes are so peaceful looking and inviting that it lulls you into a state of relaxness that contrasts nicely with the sudden burst of zombie killing and grue.  The hotel halways and the jungle are equally great- creating a real moody atmosphere and anticipation to those areas.

I also really liked the zombies- not only did they LOOK great, there was a nice blend of zombies types.  The "boss" zombies can be frustrating at the start until you figure out a good strategy for dealing with them.  But once you do, they're still a challenge, but not insurmountable.  The two most common zombies are "Infected", and "Walkers".  "Infected" are the faster zombies as seen in the "Dawn of the Dead" remake, and the "Walkers" are the classic shambling dead.  The faster zombies are also a little smarter than the slower ones- able to figure out that going up stairs is better than just endlessly bumping against the side of the pool.  I will say though that standing on the edge of a pool and kicking the zombie repeatedly in the head is good for some chuckles.

In "Dead Island" you don't just deal with zombies though.  There are some human "baddies" you need to get rid of as well.  I found the human enemies more annoying than the undead ones, for one reason:
  • The humans can shoot at you.
It's a pain because not only do they seem to have unlimited ammo (while you have to hoard yours), their aim is almost perfect as well.  I found the group in the jungle to be the most annoying because it was hard to see them, and hard to get close enough to ensure as clean a kill as possible.  Trying to do it while conserving ammo is close to impossible.  That was my only complaint with the enemies, though.

The game mechanics are pretty easy to figure out as well- and you don't have to remember a whole bunch of button presses to perform special moves, etc.  For someone with less than ideal coordination, I found it to be quite user friendly.

One of the things I really enjoyed was the ability to customize, repair, and upgrade your weapons- or create them.  One of my favorite weapons was an electrified Katana I created.  With every hit, I had a chance to electrify my target- causing them to dance and jiggle like jello as I went in for the kill.  I also like the deodorant bomb, and others.  This feature really helped to expand the options you could use according to the character you were playing.

You also had the ability to upgrade your characters skills as well, in order to improve your health, lock picking skills, aim, strength, special moves, etc.  As with the weapons, it really allows a player to experiment with things to find something that really workks for them.

I can forget the grue.  There's lots of it.  From the pasty, decaying zombies shambling around, to the gnawed on corpses laying around, and the blood flying around as you hack and slash your way through a clamboring collection of the undead, there is a good amount of blood and grue to satisfy a horror gamer.  Throw into that, zombies that explode leaving bits and pieces, and you're in for a circus of bloodshed.

Considering that I only had one serious complaint with this game, I'm going to have to put "Dead Island" into "The Good"

Friday, October 12, 2012

Crooked Tree (Robert C. Wilson)


Across the cultures, there abound tales of people transforming into animals and stalking the wood.  Such tales have been used to illustrate the duality of humanity... and simply to make you feel uneasy walking in the woods...

Campers have been found mutilated in the woods near an Indian Reservation.  Legends about a spirit that transforms people into bloody thirsty bears are being whispered... and one man races to save the soul of the woman he loves from an ancient evil...

"Crooked Tree" isn't that bad of a book.  It's not great, but is a decently diverting read.  The story has a good flow to it, and follows a fairly simple and logical progression of events, while still having a nice building of suspense throughout it.  The characters are interesting, relatable, and actually have roles other than gore fodder.  The characters aren't wasted, and used quiet well.

I loved the idea of using an old legend of the First Nations as the premise for the story.  It added a nice depth and texture to the story.

While I may not necessarily re-read this book, I would certainly recommend it for at least one reading.  I'm going to put "Crooked Tree" in "The Bad"

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Thirsty Dead (1974)


Sometimes, you run across a movie where the title is really quite interesting... and misleading...  This week's "What Movie Wednesday" winner was very misleading...

Women have been disappearing from the streets of Manila in the Philippines.  One night, Laura is kidnapped as well.  What she discovers is a horrible cult... a cult that thirsts for blood...

When you hear the title, "The Thirsty Dead," you probably first thought that it was about vampires.  Unfortunately, you would be wrong.  This movie is actually about a cult that drinks blood to maintain their immortality... but aren't dead.

The premise is interesting enough, though the execution of it in this movie is not so interesting.  The story makes sense throughout- and is quite logically put together.  Too bad the acting, costumes, etc detract from making it a suspenseful, creepy story.  Rather, it all comes across as being kinda silly.

While watching it, I couldn't escape the feeling of seeing something with elements of the original "Star Trek" series, and "Barbarella: Queen of the Universe".  This might have been due to the thought that Bill Theiss- who designed many of the costumes (especially those for female guest stars) may have designed the costumes for this movie as well.  Also, the cavern sets reminded me alot of how rocks and such looked in the original "Star Trek" series- as did some of the musical cues.  The look of Laura (played by Jennifer Billingsley), and the costumes also evoked memories of Jane Fonda's "Barbarella: Queen of the Universe").  Research has revealed that one of the script writers (Charles Dennis) has appeared in episodes of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" and "Star Trek: Enterprise".

The characters aren't very complex or developed in this movie.  The characters of Laura and Baru (played by John Considine- who had the same sort of hair as Tom Jones) are the focus of the movie... and even then, they aren't really developed all that much.  I simply didn't care enough about the characters to feel any investmen in their survival.

I'll have to admit that the acting didn't help endear me to the characters.  Billingsley's delivery of her lines were rather choppy and made you wonder if she learned speech from Captain Kirk.  Considine's best scene was near the end when he confronts the goons of the High Priestess. Tani Guthrie wasn't too bad as the High Priestess Ranu- she got to exhibit a really mad face that I liked.  The only other decent actress in the crew was Judith McConnell as Claire- the cage dancer.  She played the jaded, cynical character quite well.

The camera work also gave the movie the feeling of a long "Star Trek" episode in addition to the stuff I've already mentioned.

The biggest failing of "The Thirsty Dead" had to do with the fact that it wasn't scary... at all.  There's a dribbling of blood during the blood letting scene- but just a dribble.  There's no real suspense, or shocks, or anything of the sort.  I was hoping for dead people rising from graves and sufficient amounts of blood to sastify any ghoul's thirst... but was denied that.

All in all, "The Thirsty Dead" left me with a bad taste in my mouth, and a thirst for a gorey movie.  I'm placing into "The Ugly"...

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "The Thirsty Dead":

Justine's Halloween
Zoey Emily Onyx
John Chance
Matthew Little (from "The Wayward Tarheel"

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will be October 17th!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Nathaniel (John Saul)

One of the staples of horror stories is that often, the past returns to haunt and torment the characters involved.  One such story of the past reaching into the present for revenge is "Nathaniel" by John Saul...

After the death of his father under mysterious circumstances, Michael Hall and his mother move to Prairie Bend to spend time with his grandparents.  Soon, a voice starts to whisper to him from the shadowy ruins of a barn- propelling him to discover why the town is so fearful of births... and who Nathaniel is...

John Saul, in my opinion is on the same level as Stephen King when it comes to writing horror fiction- though his stories are a bit more subtle, and build at a slower pace.  I really quite enjoyed "Nathaniel".

First off, the style is very atmospheric and moody, without exagerating the details.  Saul doesn't paint every errie detail, but allows the reader to let their imagination creep along the dimly lit hallway to the door where the monster is waiting.  Each step is well thought out, and emotionally charged.

It helps that the characters are believable and sympathetic- even when they aren't necessarily nice people.  They're well fleshed out, and engaging enough to draw you into the story and evoke the emotions that are the mark of a good horror story.

I wouldn't call it a "deep" novel, with a moralistic theme, because it's not.  It's simply an enjoyable story.  While authors usually use their stories of terror to examine human nature in a different light, Saul focuses on just telling an errie tale that entertains you.

I'm going to put "Nathaniel" in "The Good"

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Devil in Connecticut (Gerald Brittle)


In addition to horror fiction, I enjoy reading non-fiction works about the paranormal.  One such book is "The Devil in Connecticut" by Gerald Brittle.

David Glatzel was an average, American boy... until the first day of July 1980.  Soon after, strange sounds can be heard, then sinister shapes are seen.  Shortly it would seem that Hell itself had been unleashed in the small Glatzel household in Connecticut...

This book covers a case of demonic possession that famed demonologist Ed and Lorraine Warren investigated in the 1980's- a case that would ultimate finish in what came to be called "The Demon Murder Trial". It details the events that occur as the case evolves through the generally accepted phases of demonic activity, weaving the details into an engaging story.

The style of writing is fairly easy to follow, and straight forward.  There is some artistic license used to portray the mood and atmosphere of the events taking place, but it's not overly dramatic or in your face.  The narrative flows nicely, and has a solid rythm to it.

Althought it's non-fiction, this books IS geared towards more entertainment than educational.

There has been some recent controversy, surrounding the book and events that are depicted, with some of the family involved saying it was a hoax created by Ed and Lorraine Warren, and others (especially those directly affected by the climatic trial) maintain that the possession and paranormal activity did occur.  Whether you believe in demons or not, this book is still worth a read.  I'm going to place "The Devil in Connecticut" in "The Bad."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Blood Sabbath (1972)


October 3rd saw the return of "What Movie Wednesday."  I offered up three movies choices, and people voted on which one I would watch, tweet along to, and ultimately review.  The people voted for a movie, whose title sounded interesting and potentially grue filled...

They voted for "Blood Bath"

Having returned home from serving in Vietnam, David seeks to live quietly in the mountains of Mexico- only to have his life turned upside down by the appearance of a beautiful water nymph.  David soon finds himself involved in events that will cost him his soul...

It's not often that I find a movie that, quite frankly, makes me want to nap until the end.  I don't mind movies with a slow pace so long as there is some excitement spread throughout it.  "Blood Sabbath" lacked that excitement, and much more.

The story is a little ridiculous, and put together incoherently.  It really doesn't make much sense- probably because it isn't even really all that well developed while it's being told. From the start to the end, it kinda just mumbles and rambles along as if just putting out random images.  There wasn't much in the way of tension or suspense or chills in this movie either.  Alotta, the witch queen hints at a bargain between her and the Padre, but that hint isn't developed further.  Neither is Alotta's relationship with Lonzo, nor is the relationship between Yyalah and Lonzo.  There was so much that could've been used as material to create an interesting, engaging story... but tossed to the side as if it was irrelevant.

The characters were dull and uninteresting.  David- played by Anthony Geary was weak, and passive, and lifeless.  Lonzo- the hermit, played by Sam Gilman wasn't bad- but wasn't great.  Of the characters, he was the most interesting... which isn't really saying much, to be honest.  The water nymph, Yyalah (Susan Damante in a truly horrible wig) was rather one dimensional as a character and didn't have any REAL importance in the story. I did find the Padre as portrayed by Steve Gravers to be interesting as well- almost as interesting as Lonzo, actually... but felt his character was simply introduced to be fodder to the villians.  Once again, he didn't really have any significant impact on the story.  I'm torn by Alotta- the witch queen played by Dyanne Thorne.  The character could've been interesting, but wound up being a bit of a emotional stereotype of what an evil witch is.  The characters were mostly victims of an underdeveloped story.

Of the acting, it was apparently the most of the women weren't hired for their acting skills.  Thorne, and the other witches spent most of their screen time topless, or fully naked- though I'll admit that Thorne's dancing scene wasn't too bad.  Geary must've taken lessons from Charlton Heston or William Shatner due to his rather exaggerated acting in the role of David.  Damante was beautiful as the water nymph- but needed to lose the really ugly wig they had her wear.  Seriously- it rivals Donald Trump's hair at times.  I felt that Gilman's acting in the role of Lonzo wasn't too bad- by far the best of the lot.  Gravers came in a close second in quality as the Padre.

The less said about the camera work, the better, really.  It wasn't all that creative, or moody, or skillful.  Just bland and blah.

The biggest problem has to do with the grue.  If a movie has "blood" in the title, I'm going to expect some decent bloodshed.  "Blood Sabbath" is a big cheat on the blood.  There's some blood in a couple of flashbacks, and some trickling into a cup after a sacrifice's throat is slit... but that's about it.  There's a beheading, but you DON'T SEE IT HAPPEN!  They cut right before it.  And when they show the head, it doesn't look much like the person it's supposed to.  Just downright disappointing in the grue department.

In the final analysis, I have no problem in giving "Blood Sabbath" a big kick into "The Ugly"

Special Shout Out:

I want to thank everyone that took part in "What Movie Wednesday"- especially the following who voted for "Blood Sabbath":

Jenny Deol
Justine's Halloween
Shawn (from "We Came From the Basement")
Zoey Emily Onyx
Count Matt
Monty Deschanel
John Chance
Simon Franken Stein

The next "What Movie Wednesday" will be October 10th!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#365Logo


The image above was created by Brandon Bryant, who asked me on Twitter to submit two words as part of his #365Logo project.  The idea behind the project was to creat 365 logos during the year using just words that were submitted by people like myself.

Since my username on Twitter is TerrorCorner, I figured, "Heck- why not?" and submitted those two words.  The result was the image you see at the top.

I rather like it, myself- especially the claw reaching up.  Very B-movieish- which suits me perfectly.  Most of the logos he's produced (like this one) are very much what you would see on many old school movie posters- which is something I also like about them.

I'm hoping he does this project again- or a similar project in the future.  I'm quite interested in seeing what else he comes up.

In the meantime- check out his website for more of the #365Logo images, and other work by Brandon.  He's got some really impressive work.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Dare You to Read It!


A couple of days ago, I received a tweet from JT Schaad, asking what five horror books I would recommend reading during the Halloween season- so today, I'm going to briefly discuss five of them.

"Misery" by Stephen King- Let's face it, this is one of his greatest pieces of work in my opinion.  It's right up there with "The Shining", "Pet Cemetery", and "Christine".  The characters are relatable (even the psycho-fan Annie Wilkes), and well defined.  The plot is tight and suspensful- with a nice flow to the building tension and the shock moment.  The writing style has a great feel to it, and pulls you into the story.

"The Servants of Twilight" by Dean Koontz- One of Koontz's earlier works, and one of the few of his that I've really enjoyed.  The characters are intersting, and the action flows and builds until a rather satisfying climax.  Not AS good as Stephen King, but still quite enjoyable.

"Audrey Rose" by Frank De Felitta- If you need to hear WHY I'd suggest this one, just read my review of it. LOL

"Bag of Bones" by Stephen King- Another King book that I really enjoyed.  It's not your typical ghost story, but one that will still give you a few good decent chills.  I liked the characters, and came to care about them, and was satisfied by how the story unfolded.

"The Devil in Connecticut" by Gerald Brittle- A non-fiction book about a case of demonic possession that Ed & Lorraine Warren in the early 1980's.  While not as intentionally scary as the above books, this one does have some events that will stick in your mind, and is still a informative and interesting read.  Gives you insight into how such cases are investigated, and how the "authorities" sometimes treat those suffering from such things.

Well, there you have it- a quick list of five horror books to read during the Halloween month!  I'll be reviewing a couple of these over the course of the month as well- so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I've Been Plotting and Planning...


During my recent hiatus from the site, I have been adjusting some of my plans in regards to the blog.  A few things have been delayed, others will continue forward with only minor disruption, and a couple of brand new ideas have sprung to mind.

I was hoping to launch my "Radio TCoT" project this October, but I will have to delay that until the end of May.  Until then, I'll use the time to learn and tinker with my sound editing software so that when I DO launch the podcast, I can present you with a decent product.

With the new computer, I can once again resume work on "Project Terror Wear"- which is what I've named the ongoing development of hoodie and t-shirt designs for the site.  I have a couple of designs already created, and am working on getting them actually produced for sale.  I'll be posting sneek peaks of these designs over time, and will keep you all updated on this project.

The first new "episode" of "What Movie Wednesday" will take place October 3rd- and I'm excited about it.  I've really missed having people vote on the movies I watch and tweet to.  Also, keep your eyes open at the end of May for a "Special Announcement" regarding this feature!

One new project is my new blog, "Life in the Corner."  With this blog, I'll be gving everyone a look at the life of a blogger and reviewer.  You'll get a glimpse at the behind the scenes of what I do here at "The Corner of Terror," as well as away from the desk.  I'm hoping that it'll be as interesting and entertaining as what I do here.  My first entry there will be on October 8th!

Okay, so there's a quick update on the things I've got on the go right now.  I hope you're all as excited about the days, weeks, months ahead as I am!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Gremlins and the Deluge...


It has been a long 2 1/2 months since my last blog post here.  For that, I am sincerely sorry.

July 15, which saw my last blog post, also saw us get flooded.  A valve on the hot water tank broke, and the water spread throughout the basement.  The damage amounted to the following items:
  • The bathroom lino had to be replaced;
  • The sink cabinet had to be replaced;
  • The kitchen lino had to be replaced;
  • The kitchen cabinets had to be replaced;
  • The carpet outside the bathroom had to be replaced;
  • The carpet by the laundry room had to be replaced;
  • The living room carpet had to be replaced;
  • The carpet in the two bedrooms had to be replaced; and
  • A good chunk of the wall in my bedroom had to be replaced.
That wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't been plagued by computer problems as well.  Those included:
  • Hard drives not being detected;
  • Read disk errors with the hard drive;
  • Blue screens of death;
  • Computer freezing up;
  • Sound card problems (including one instance of the "Scooby Doo Theme" suddenly being converted into dubstep); and
  • Boot disk errors.
Since it would've been unfair to you to put you through constant postponments of "What Movie Wednesday" (I had to do that two weeks in a row if I remember correctly), and potentially sporadic postings, I felt it was best to put "The Corner of Terror" on hold until these problems could be resolved.

Well, as of this post, the bulk of the situation has been fixed.  I have a new computer, so I can actually start doing my reviews and "What Movie Wednesday" feature again at least.  Soon- we're hoping by the 28th or so, my room will be finished- which means I can then move back into it (rather than sleeping in the downstairs living room surrounded by boxes, etc) and can then begin work again on a few other projects as well- which I'll discuss a bit more in my next post.

For now however, let me say that it's great to be back.  I've really missed posting here, and I'm looking forward to getting fully into the swing of it again!