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Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Witches Mountain (1972)


Most movies TRY to make sense, while others come nowhere CLOSE to it...

After breaking up with his girlfriend, Mario is sent on an assignment to take nature pictures in a remote mountain range.  When he meets the lovely Delia, the two find themselves entangled in a web of strange occurances, mysterious figures, and terrifying secrets centered around an old abandoned village...

This week, there were TWO winners during the "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  "The Witches Mountain" is the first of two movies that I watched, and will be reviewing.

"The Witches Mountain" is a Spanish horror movie- originally titled, "El Monte de las Brujas," that starts out interestingly enough... but quickly becomes confused and annoying.

The premise isn't bad: an abandoned village house a coven of witches is discovered by a couple traveling.  The way the story is told, however, is rather disjointed and dull.  There isn't much logic from one scene to the next, and it's rather repetitive.  Characters would be doing one thing- running through the woods one moment, then laying in a dungeon next to some guy chained to the way the next... then sitting in the jeep a second later.  Or, the characters would go witness something, run away... then go back again.  The best- and interesting part was at the beginning where Carla (Mario's ex-girlfriend) finds her cat dead, and sets a little girl on fire after it says it's supposed to take her to "The Others" (not the movie).  That scene made me sit up and and think that I might be getting a quickly paced, tense movie.  The rest of the movie can be summed up in two words: Epic Fail!

There were only two characters that I actually found intriguing in this movie.  I thought the Old Village Woman was interesting, and I liked Delia as well.  I had a hard time liking Mario though.  I found him... sleazy- almost a stereotype of a 1970's bachelor.  True, this movie was made in 1972, but I still found him less than charming.  I really found the Inn-Keeper to be more annoying than likable- mostly because of the amount of time that was eaten up with characters saying everything they said to him twice as the character was hard of hearing.  Carla wasn't in the story much, but I was interested in her since she was the one that set the girl on fire before the opening credits... I really wanted to know what the heck her deal was.

The best performance in this movie was given by the woman who played the Old Village Woman.  She was natural, and believable in the role.  Victor Israel as the Inn-Keep was just... well annoying due to the repetitiveness of the hard of hearing gag- though he did have some good lines.  Cihangir Gaffari as Mario (credited as John Gaffari) wasn't bad, but not great.  He kinda had one or two facial expressions throughout the film, and that was it... not to mention his mullet-like hair, porn mustashe, and thick chest carpet.  I felt that Monica Randall did a decent job of portraying Carla.  Even though she wasn't in the movie much, she managed to get across that her character wasn't just a bitch... but a psychotic one too.  While I felt that Patty Shepard was beautiful to look at in the role of Delia, I found her performance to lack expression for the most part.

Since the story itself was so disjointed and jumped from one thing to another, I'm inclined to think that it affected the editing of the movie.  Despite the rather jerky and odd editing style, there are some wonderful sequences.  The opening scene for instance where Carla sets the girl on the fire was great.  Another scene that stands out for me is when Mario is taking photos around the village.  The way that the shots of him taking photos is cut with shots of black and white photos showing stuff that's not there was really well done.  There are some scenes where it was hard to see what was going on due to how dark it was- but I'm willing to chalk that up to the quality of film and the lighting used at the time.

While, I did enjoy certain aspects of "The Witches Mountain," the extremely choppy editing, poor story cohesion, and bland characters earn this movie a place in "The Ugly."

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again on 27 June 2012.  Also, make sure to read my review of "Demonic Toys" tomorrow!

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "The Witches Mountain":

Monday, June 18, 2012

Horror Rises From the Tomb (1973)

Cheesy exploitation horror films can be fun when done right.  Unfortunately, not every cheesy exploitation horror film is done right...

Centuries after a Warlock and his wife are beheaded, a group of friends finds the Warlock's head... and people start dying...

"Horror Rises From the Tomb" is a Spanish horror film that lacks a lot of sense... and is more laughable than scary.

The premise of a warlock coming back to life is an interesting one, but the actual storyline is lackluster, and full of holes.  I was often left scratching my head at some of the illogical events that occur in the movie.  One of the biggest holes in the film's logic is that the Warlock's head is buried on the same property as his body... which itself is buried in a marked tomb next to his wife.  This despite the fact that he was executed for witchcraft, and the executioners supposedly didn't want to make it easy to find his body.  Epic fail on the part of the executioners in my opinion.  I just had a hard time buying into the plot because of the thinly connected strings of logic.

The characters aren't exactly all that engaging either.  I found them to be rather ugh, and wondered about their own logic.  After a couple of people have been found dead, two of the characters have a heavy nookie session.  All of the characters seemed to mostly be there to either wear flimsy lingere, no lingere, or die.  Just rather flat and dull character to me.

The acting wasn't too bad.  Paul Naschy plays three characters in the film, and does a decent job- despite the glaring flaws in the script and characters.  Watching him as a head in a box was great.  Helga Line as Mabille De Lancre was beautiful- though she doesn't really appear much, and served no real purpose other than to flash some boobage at the start of the film.  The rest of the women were beautiful as well... but other than Emma Cohen as Elvira, they served no other role than sexy fodder for the Warlock's zombie minions.  The guys?  Not the most skillful acting... but when your character is essentially there to become a zombie minion, you don't need great acting talent, right?

There are some decent pieces of camera work in, "Horror Rises From the Tomb"- mostly during the scenes where someone gets killed.  The kill in the kitchen stood out for me.  Beyond that, the style was rather static and dull.  I liked some of the gore, and the scenes of the Warlock as a head in the box were fun to watch.

This movie is bad enough that I wouldn't even recommend it for a cheesy movie night, though.  I'm putting, "Horror Rises From the Tomb" in "The Ugly".

Friday, June 15, 2012

Grave Questions: Brooke Lewis


When you're in the "business" of reviewing movies, you come across people in the industry that cover a wide spectrum of roles- from script writers, to producers, to directors, and performers.  Such was the case when my friend's over at "We Came From the Basement" interviewed a lovely lady by the name of Brooke Lewis several months ago.  While tweeting for their radio show that featured the interview, I got to talk a bit with Brooke via Twitter.

As the photo at the top of this article shows quite nicely, Brooke is a beautiful woman- but she is much more than just a pretty face.  In addition to acting, she is also a producer (through her company Philly Chick Pictures), writer, and director in her own right.  She has also released at least one dance hit, has won numerous Scream Queen awards, and stars in her own web series as Ms. Vampy.

Now, why would such a talented woman agree to answer my "Grave Questions"?  Because she's a brave person as well!


TCoT:  What inspired you to get into film- and horror especially?
Brooke:  I was born a ham!  :) I was such an emotional and sensitive child that I was destined to do this! I was performing in musical theater at a very young age. I loved TV and movies as a little girl and used to talk to the TV and characters and pretend I was on the show with them and improv! I acted in one no budget horror flick when I got to LA and the fan mail started to come. Then, I executive produced and starred in a horror thriller a few years later and the fan mail poured in! It really is all about the fans in horror. They are the most loyal and supportive fans in the world!

TCoT:  You've been called the most recent of the Scream Queens- what do you consider to be the key elements of a Scream Queen?
Brooke:  Mike, thanks for saying that! It is my honor to have had the title “Scream Queen” bestowed upon me several years ago. My definition of a Scream Queen is “A strong, sexy, powerful actress working in the horror genre.” And, since I won the B Movie Golden Cob Awards 2010 for Best Scream Queen Of  2009, I love being a Scream Queen even more!

TCoT:  How have you seen Scream Queens evolving over the ages?
Brooke:  In my opinion, any true horror fan will recognize that the greatest roles for Scream Queens or women in horror history were not necessarily the roles in which women were victimized or objectified, but the roles in which women were the heroine (Jamie Lee Curtis in "Halloween" or "Prom Night"), or the strength behind the man (Margot Kidder in "The Amityville Horror") or the killer (Sissy Spacek in "Carrie"). Sadly, I feel that with the internet and digital film making craze, came a new breed of Scream Queen, in which any young, sexy chick who called herself an actress, got naked and had blood splashed on her became a “Scream Queen". I do feel that this has started to change back a bit with smart horror flicks like "Insidious" and "The Last Exorcism". I think there are now sub-genres of horror and we will continue to see Scream Queens of various types.

TCoT:  What famous Scream Queen (alive or dead) would you love to have met?
Brooke:  Having a level of success in the horror genre has blessed me with many opportunities to meet the Scream Queens I admired and aspired to be like when I was young. I have hosted events with the stunning, timeless Elvira, who is one of my inspirations for Ms. Vampy! I have appeared at horror conventions with some of my idols like Tippi Hedren, Adrienne Barbeau, Dee Wallace, Leslie Easterbrook, Margot Kidder and Danielle Harris. I am also lucky to call many of the younger Scream Queens “friend”!!! I think the only two I missed out on meeting are Fay Wray and Maila Nurmi…now that would have been horrifically incredible!!!

TCoT:  If you were to star in a remake, what movie would it be?
Brooke:  Come on…I can’t choose one! "Cleopatra"; "The Taming of the Shrew"; "My Cousin Vinny"; "The Lost Boys"; "The Hunger"; "Love at First Bite" (LOL!!!).

Thank you to Mike and The Corner Of Terror readers!

 I want to give Brooke a huge "Thank You" for being June's "Grave Questions" victim!  If you want to keep up to date on what Brooke is up to- you can find her at the following locations across the internet:




Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Embalmer (1965)


Sometimes, imported horror films are great... other times, not so great.

Andrea is an Italian reporter investigating the disappearances of several girls in the city of Venice.  While trying to convince the police that the incidents are connected, Andrea soon finds himself in a race to save his new girlfriend, Maureen...

"The Embalmer" is a low budget Italian horror film (originally titled "Il Monstro di Venezia"), and it really shows.

The premise is interesting and has the potential to support some real tense and creep moments, but this movie fails to come anywhere near fulfilling that potential.  The story is rather slow, with an all too easy to see solution, answered questions that could have made the story solid, and a rather depressing ending.  There are no real surprises or scares in the story.  The scenes of tourists sightseeing, and the scene with the Italian Elvis impersonator only helped to bog the movie down rather than movie it forward.

The characters aren't all that much better.  They're rather cliched.  You have;
  • The handsome young reporter;
  • The beautiful tourist woman he meets;
  • The gruff newspaper editor;
  • The friendly cop who doesn't believe the reporter;
  • The scholar who dies when he gets too close to find out what's going on;
  • Two slightly drunk bickering friends who wind up helping the reporter solve the case; and
  • The killer who dresses as a monk.
There WERE some things I did like about the characters- mostly the fact that the killer used a scuba suit to travel through the canals of Venice to stalk his prey.  Beyond that, the characters were rather flat and shallow.

I really wasn't much for the acting, either.  I just found it hard to get emotionally engaged by the characters and the events going on around them.  Everything was just too... blah.  Even the embalming scenes- which could have given us some decent moments were bland and lifeless.

In short, I have to say, I had more fun tweeting to this "What Movie Wednesday" feature, than I did actually watching it.  I'm going to have to put "The Embalmer" in "The Ugly".

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature.  I'll be doing it again June 20th.

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "The Embalmer":

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Crucible of Horror (1970)


I enjoy psychological thrillers as they can be more suspenseful and creepier than most slasher films.

Edith and Jane Eastwood are tired of their mistreatment at the hands of the abusive patriarch of the family, Walter.  The two concoct a plan to murder him and make it look like an accident.  Too bad something goes wrong when the body disappears...

The premise is one that's been done in many thrillers... and even in real life.  It's not wholly original, but there is potential for some great psychological unease.  Unfortunately, it doesn't really fulfill that potential, despite a couple of really nice twists.  I would have to say the biggest flaw is the pace.  The build up is really slow before you get to the actual murder- at which point, there really isn't enough time to give us the creeps properly.  Shortly after the body disappears, I was able to figure out how it was going to end after two shots clued me in.  This, unfortunately, took away from the ending's impact.

Another flaw was the characters.  I could sympathize with the wife and daughter, but I didn't necessarily like them either.  I liked the mother more than the daughter though.  The daughter struck me as being almost as twisted and potentially sadistic as the father.  The father was a right bastard- which he was supposed to be.  The son was unlikeable too... and didn't really serve any purpose from what I could tell.  Although he was a cruel person, the father was the most interesting of the bunch.

The acting was average- though Michael Gough as Walter was really quite good.  He portrayed his character beautifully.  Really expressed the strictness, cruelty, domineering nature of the father excellently while also bringing that typical British public appearance of self control and dignity to the character.  Yvonne Mitchell was also good as the wife, Edith.  You could tell that the character had reached the end of her emotional tether.  Very expressive with her face.  I'm ambivalent about Sharon Gurney's performance as Jane, the daughter.  I liked the aura of creepy dementedness she brought to the character, but wasn't sure it was really right for the character, either.  I really can't say much about Simon Gough's performance, since he wasn't on screen much.

There is some decent camera work in this movie- though the majority of it is average.  Some nice angles.  The editing felt a little sloppy in some parts, unfortunately.

As much as I enjoy watching Michael Gough on film, I really couldn't get into this one.  While the ending was interesting, and a nice twist- I saw it coming fairly early.  Because of this, I'm going to have to put "Crucible of Horror" in "The Bad"

Friday, June 1, 2012

Oops!

I made a bit of a mistake in my post yesterday when I reviewed "The Legend of Lucy Keyes".  It's an error I'd like to take this opportunity to correct.

Normally, at the bottom of my "What Movie Wednesday" feature reviews, I include a Shout Out to the people that voted for the featured movie.  Unfortunately, this week, I forgot to do so.

So, better late than never, here are my Shout Outs to those that voted for "The Legend of Lucy Keyes"!

Special Shoutout:

I want to thank everyone that participated in my "What Movie Wednesday" feature

Big thank you to the following people who voted for "The Legend of Lucy Keyes":
  • Redfeather Freeman;
  • Jenny Deol;
  • Shawn (from "We Came From the Basement");
  • Ricky Russel;
  • Zoey Emily Onyx;
  • Jason Wiggins;
  • Tony Goodner;
  • Maria Esparza;
  • Loralee Judge
  • Elgene Mang-Gyver Tiamzon; and
  • @GeorgeTurner15
I also want to take this opportunity to announce that "What Movie Wednesday" won't be occurring on June 6th due to some family celebrations taking place that evening (my niece is graduating High School).  Don't worry though, it'll be back on the 13th!