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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Terror Creatures From the Grave (1965)

In my travels through the realm of horror movies old and new, foreign and domestic, I come across one that really engages my interest, and manages to entertain me from the first shot to the last.  Such was the case during this week's "What Movie Wednesday" feature...

Albert Kovac has been sent by his boss to the Hauff villa to discuss the owner's will with him.  Upon his arrival, the owner's beautiful wife reveals that he's been dead for a year.  Soon, Kovac and the owner's daughter, Corinne, are trapped in a net of horror as forces from the grave seek their vengence...

"Terror Creatures From the Grave" is a really interesting Italian horror film- originally titled, "5 Tombe Per Un Medium", and was inspired by the writings of Edgar Allan Poe.  Once production was completed, Director Massimo Pupillo was dissatisfied, and decided that Producer Ralph Zucker should take credit... even though Zucker did no directing whatsoever in the film.

Personally, I was quite pleased with the results.  The story itself is interesting, atmospheric, and has a couple of neat little twists to it that I really liked.  Watching it, you can feel the influence and inspiration that Poe had on it.  With the introduction of Albert Kovac, you're presented with a mystery- and a certain expectation of where the story was going.  As the story progresses, you're then presented with a new direction, but it's done smoothly enough that you're surprised and interested in where the story was going to go from there.  Then further into it, your presented with another new direction that builds on the first two.  At the climax, you're once again, offered yet another new element.  It kept me interested and thinking about what might be next.  It was well paced, and smooth in its transitions from one development to the next.

The story was so strong, that it was able to cover the lack of any real character development.  This isn't to say that the characters aren't interesting or even likable- because they are.  It's just that the characters don't really evolve much over the span of the story.  The one character that does get the most development is the silent servant, Kurt.  His growth of character in terms of importance was actually quite interesting and powerful- and helped to provide some of the story extra strength.

The acting was pretty good too.  Of note are Mirella Maravidi as Corinne Hauff, Barbara Steele as Cleo Hauff, and Luciano Pigozzi as Kurt.  Maravidi was simply gorgeous- her blonde hair contrasting beautifully with the raven dark hair of Steele.  She also brought a nice sweetness and purity to the character of Corinne.  Barbara Steele is well known to horror fans, and her performance in "Terror Creatures From the Grave" was quite enjoyable.  Not only was she beautiful in a dark, dangerous way, but she did a great job at portraying a distant, almost disapproving person who, when the lights are off, can be the most passionate people in the world.  The contrast between her physically attractive appearance, and her cold demeanor brought a nice feel to the character.  Pigozzi is a silent presence for most of the film, but ultimately proves to be very important to the story.  The scene of him appearing at the bottom of the stairs when he's introduced was really nice and moody.  He really shines, though, at the climax- when he breaks his silence, and reveals the final twist.  A nice, strong performance in my opinion, that really helped to solidify his role in the story.

Most of the camera work could be considered average and "standard" for the period it was filmed.  Having said this, however, there are some really good shots and sequences in "Terror Creatures From the Grave."  One of the best shots involves the approach of one of the Terror Creatures on it's prey.  Great POV shot as it closes in on the victim.  The use of shadows was excellent, and really helped to create the sort of mood that an Edgar Allan Poe story would have.  The scene where the Terror Creature hand appears out of nowhere made me jump.  The editing is good, and helped to pace the story well- switching smoothly from the calmer, character scenes to the tenser horror sequences.

I was also quite pleased with the grue in this movie.  It was very well done.  Even the weakest one involving gooey innards leaking out was nicely done.  The ones that really impressed me was a nicely gooey face shot, at the start, and the plague effects on Kurt at the climax.  The fact that it was black and white, only added to them, as the director was able to play with shadows to make them even creepier.  Loved it.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained by "Terror Creatures From the Grave."  I would certainly recommend watching this movie to my friends.  I'm placing it in "The Good".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again May 30th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "Terror Creatures From the Grave":

2 comments:

  1. Cool! Sounds like I voted for a winner. :) I should try to find this movie, although it might be kind of rare. Sometimes, as I read through your weekly movie choices, I find some I'd like to watch too. I haven't watched many Italian scary movies, so this might be one to try!

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    1. There are some good ones... and some bad ones. LOL If you want this particular movie, look for the "Undead: The Vampire Collection" box set released by Mill Creek Entertainment.

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