Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Tingler

The Tingler is a 1959 Vincent Price horror film directed by William Castle. The story is that a few seats in some theaters were rigged to give a little "tingle" to the person sitting in it during the film. Special effects, up close and personal. The film begins with this warning by Castle:
I am William Castle, the director of the motion picture you are about to see. I feel obligated to warn you that some of the sensations —some of the physical reactions which the actors on the screen will feel— will also be experienced, for the first time in motion picture history, by certain members of this audience. I say 'certain members' because some people are more sensitive to these mysterious electronic impulses than others. These unfortunate, sensitive people will at times feel a strange, tingling sensation; others will feel it less strongly. But don't be alarmed; you can protect yourself. At any time you are conscious of a tingling sensation, you may obtain immediate relief by screaming. Don't be embarrassed about opening your mouth and letting rip with all you've got, because the person in the seat right next to you will probably be screaming, too. And remember this —a scream at the right time may save your life.
I always enjoy Vincent Price, and this movie is no exception. It's perfect for the Halloween horror movie season. "Scream! Scream for your lives! The Tingler is loose in this theater!" You can watch it online via youtube:



Moria calls this "William Castle’s greatest moment of triumph" and says the movie is a cult classic. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "this is the movie for which producer/director William Castle is best remembered" and that it "is Castle’s magnum opus, marking the pinnacle of his career, both as a director and as a huckster". Stomp Tokyo says it's genuinely scary and original and says, "the movie is well enough made and the cast talented enough to provide a pleasurable experience". Classic-Horror.com closes with this:
Nowadays, despite being stripped of the interactive elements of the viewing experience, watching The Tingler is still great fun, thanks to the kooky plot, great cast, some wonderfully bitchy dialogue, and a gleeful streak of ghoulishness that I think perfectly reflects the character of the film's director.
It gets a score of 71% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Monsieur Pamplemousse Hits the Headlines

Monsieur Pamplemousse Hits the Headlines is one in a comic mystery series by Michael Bond, who is better known for his Paddington Bear books. Though he may be better known for those children's books, don't let the younger set loose with these. Bond loves racy details and sex-related sub-plots, and -though not graphic- this series is aimed at adults. I've read several of them, and I pick them up whenever I come across them. This one turned up on the sale shelf at my local used book store and is a library discard from the City of London library system.

from the back of the book:
During his time as an inspector with the Paris Surete, Monsieur Pamplemousse had been "in at the death" on more than one occasion, but even he had to admit that the phrase took on an entirely new meaning when he was present at the spectacular ending to Cuisine de Chavignol, France's premier television cookery programme. Seated in the front row of an invited studio audience, he watched in silent horror as the eponymous host, having downed an oyster in close-up, uttered a strangled cry and slowly but surely sank from view behind a kitchen worktop. Pommes Frites, sniffer dog extraordinaire, has his own views on the matter. Claude Chavignol was a bad egg if ever he'd seen one. Subsequent events prove him right as usual, and soon he and his master find themselves caught up in a bizarre world of unrequited lust, murder and blackmail in high places. Colourful, comical and deliciously entertaining, it is no wonder that in this new adventure Monsieur Pamplemousse Hits the Headlines

Horror Movie Month

Somewhere along the way we started watching a lot of horror movies in October. It started with shows that were suitable for adding some fun to The Kids' preparations for Hallowe'en, and the tradition grew through the years. Now I try to see a few I've never seen before. This is the list we have so far. I'm trying to update code for films where the embed code I used no longer works. I'm surprised at how often public domain films disappear from one place and have to be relocated somewhere else. If I've written a blog post about a particular film, that post is linked below:

pre-1920:
Le Manoir du Diable (1896 short)
A Terrible Night (Une Nuit Terrible) (1896 short)
The Haunted Castle (1897 short)
The Man with the Rubber Head (1902 short)
The Infernal Cakewalk (1903 short)
The Infernal Cauldron (1903 short)
The Monster (1903 short)
Le Diable Noir (1905 short)
The Sealed Room (1909 short)
Frankenstein (1910 short)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912 short)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913 short)
The Student of Prague (1913)
The Avenging Conscience (1914 short)
The Eyes of the Mummy (1918)

1920's:
The Golem (1920)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Destiny (1921)
The Phantom Chariot (1921)
Danse Macabre (1922 short)
Haxan (1922)
Nosferatu (1922)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923)
Shadows: A Nocturnal Hallucination (aka Warning Shadows) (1923)
Hands of Orlac (1924)
Waxworks (1924)
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Wolf Blood (1925)
The Bat (1926)
Faust (1926)
The Student of Prague (1926)
The Cat and the Canary (1927)
The Lodger (1927)
London After Midnight (1927)
The Unknown (1927)
Alraune (1928)
The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 silent short)
The Fall of the House of Usher (1928 French)
Hangman's House (1928)
The Man Who Laughs (1928)
The Great Gabbo (1929)
Haunted House (1929 cartoon short)
The Skeleton Dance (1929 cartoon short)

1930's:
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)
Dracula (1931)
Frankenstein (1931)
M (1931)
Betty Boop: Minnie the Moocher (1932 cartoon short)
Freaks (1932)
Island of Lost Souls (1932)
Kongo (1932)
The Monster Walks (1932)
The Most Dangerous Game (1932)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932)
The Old Dark House (1932)
Vampyr (1932)
White Zombie (1932)
Betty Boop Halloween Party (1933 cartoon short)
The Ghoul (1933)
The Invisible Man (1933)
King Kong (1933)
Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933)
A Shriek in the Night (1933)
The Vampire Bat (1933)
The Black Cat (1934)
The Ghost Walks (1934)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Mad Love (1935)
Mark of the Vampire (1935)
Werewolf of London (1935)
The Devil-Doll (1936)
Revolt of the Zombies (1936)
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (1936)
The Walking Dead (1936)
The Old Mill (1937 cartoon short)
Topper (1937)
The Gorilla (1939)
The Man They Could Not Hang (1939)
The Phantom Creeps (1939)
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

1940's:
The Devil Bat (1940)
Dr. Cyclops (1940)
The Invisible Man Returns (1940)
The Mummy's Hand (1940)
Spook Sport (1940 short)
The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941)
Invisible Ghost (1941)
King of the Zombies (1941)
Man Made Monster (1941)
Spooks Run Wild (1941)
The Wolf Man (1941)
The Corpse Vanishes (1942)
The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942)
The Mad Monster (1942)
The Mummy's Tomb (1942)
The Ape Man (1943)
Dead Men Walk (1943)
Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943)
I Walked With a Zombie (1943)
The Seventh Victim (1943)
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
Bluebeard (1944)
House of Frankenstein (1944)
The Lodger (1944)
The Monster Maker (1944)
The Mummy's Curse (1944)
The Mummy's Ghost (1944)
The Uninvited (1944)
The Body Snatcher (1945)
Dead of Night (1945)
Fog Island (1945)
House of Dracula (1945)
Sherlock Holmes and the Woman in Green (1945)
The Spiral Staircase (1945)
The Woman Who Came Back (1945)
Bedlam (1946)
Dragonwyck (1946)
Shock (1946)
Scared to Death (1947)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Casper the Friendly Ghost in "There's Good Boos Tonight" (1948 cartoon short)
Who Killed Doc Robbin (1948)
Blood of the Beasts (1949)
The Queen of Spades (1949)

1950's:
Bride of the Gorilla (1951)
The Thing from Another World (1951)
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
The Tell-Tale Heart (1953 animated short)
Ugetsu (1953 Japanese ghost story)
The War of the Worlds (1953)
Creature From the Black Lagoon (1954)
Gojira (1954)
Killers from Space (1954)
Mad Magician (1954)
Popeye: Fright to the Finish (1954 cartoon short)
Target Earth (1954)
Them! (1954)
Creature with the Atomic Brain (1955)
Cult of the Cobra (1955)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1955)
It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955)
Les Diaboliques (1955)
The Phantom From 10.000 Leagues (1955)
Tarantula (1955)
The Beast of Hollow Mountain (1956)
Bride of the Monster (1956)
Broom-Stick Bunny (1956 animated short)
Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)
Godzilla: King of the Monsters! (1956)
Indestructible Man (1956)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
The Mole People (1956)
The Black Scorpion (1957)
Curse of the Demon (1957)
Curse of Frankenstein (1957)
The Cyclops (1957)
The Deadly Mantis (1957)
I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957)
The Land Unknown (1957)
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958)
The Blob (1958)
The Crawling Eye (1958)
Curse of the Faceless Man (1958)
The Fly (1958)
Horror of Dracula (1958 Hammer Studio)
I Bury the Living (1958)
It! The Terror from Beyond Space (1958)
The Screaming Skull (1958)
Tales of Frankenstein (1958 TV pilot)
Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959)
Beast from Haunted Cave (1959)
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (1959)
First Man Into Space (1959)
The Giant Gila Monster (1959)
The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Killer Shrews (1959)
The Mummy (1959)
Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959)
Teenage Zombies (1959)
Terror is a Man (1959)
Terror in the Midnight Sun (1959)
The Tingler (1959)

1960's:
The Amazing Transparent Man (1960)
Black Sunday (1960)
The Brides of Dracula (1960)
The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)
Horror Hotel (1960)
Horrors of Spider Island (1960)
House of Usher (1960)
Jigoku (1960)
The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)
One Step Beyond: The Lovers (1960 tv series episode)
Psycho (1960)
Tormented (1960)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Virgin Spring (1960)
The Wasp Woman (1960)
Anatomy of a Psycho (1961)
The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)
Bloodlust (1961)
Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)
The Devil's Messenger (1961)
The Innocents (1961)
Mr. Sardonicus (1961)
The Brain That Wouldn't Die (1962)
Carnival of Souls (1962)
The Day of the Triffids (1962)
Hands of a Stranger (1962)
Night Creatures (1962)
Samson vs. the Vampire Women (1962)
Tower of London (1962)
Whatever Happened to Baby Jane (1962)
Atom Age Vampire (1963)
The Birds (1963)
Black Sabbath (1963)
Blood Feast (1963)
Dementia 13 (1963)
The Haunting (1963)
Matango (1963)
The Raven (1963)
The Terror (1963)
Transylvania 6-5000 (1963 animated short)
The Atomic Brain (1964)
Castle of Blood (1964)
The Gorgon (1964)
Kwaidan anthology film (1964)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The Masque of the Red Death (1964)
Onibaba (1964)
Pyro (1964)
Sound of Horror (1964)
Spider Baby (1964)
Blood of the Man Devil (1965)
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)
Incubus (1965)
The Nanny (1965)
Nightmare Castle (1965)
Orgy of the Dead (1965)
Repulsion (1965)
The Diabolical Dr. Z (1966)
Island of Terror (1966)
It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (1966)
The She Beast (1966)
The Sorcerers (1967)
Yongary, Monster From the Deep (1967)
Ghosts of Hanley House (1968)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Astro-Zombies (1969)
Blood of Dracula's Castle (1969)
The Cremator (1969)
Mad Monster Party (1969)
The Oblong Box (1969)

1970's:
The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)
Count Dracula (1970)
Cry of the Banshee (1970)
The Fury of the Wolfman (1970)
The House that Dripped Blood (1970)
How Awful About Allan (1970)
The Revenge of Dr. X (1970)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Daughters of Darkness (1971)
Duel (1971)
I, Monster (1971)
Let's Scare Jessica to Death (1971)
The Omega Man (1971)
Blacula (1972)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Images (1972)
The Last House on the Left (1972)
Moon of the Wolf (1972)
Night of the Lepus (1972)
The Night Stalker (1972)
The Other (1972)
The Stone Tape (1972)
Crypt of the Living Dead (1973)
The Exorcist (1973)
High Plains Drifter (1973) (yes, it's a Western. But it's also Horror.)
Horror Express (1973)
The Legend of Hell House (1973)
The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973)
Theatre of Blood (1973)
The Wicker Man (1973)
The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974)
Let Sleeping Corpses Lie (1974)
Madhouse (1974)
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
The Ash Tree (1975 BBC TV)
The Black Widow (1975 music video)
Deep Red (1975)
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Footprints on the Moon (1975)
Jaws (1975)
Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975)
Race With the Devil (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
Shivers (1975)
The Stepford Wives (1975)
Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
Trilogy of Terror (1975)
Carrie (1976)
Embryo (1976)
The Omen (1976)
Count Dracula (1977 BBC)
Demon Seed (1977)
The Hills Have Eyes (1977)
House (1977)
Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)
The Last Wave (1977)
Shock (1977)
Shock Waves (1977)
Suspiria (1977)
Dawn of the Dead (1978)
Halloween (1978)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
The Manitou (1978)
Within the Woods (1978)
Alien (1979)
The Brood (1979)
Nosfeartu the Vampyre (1979)
Phantasm (1979)
Salem's Lot (1979)
When a Stranger Calls (1979)

1980's:
The Changeling (1980)
The Fog (1980)
The Shining (1980)
An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The Beyond (1981)
Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981)
The Evil Dead (1981)
Ghost Story (1981)
The Howling (1981)
Oasis of the Zombies (1981)
Blood Tide (1982)
Cat People (1982)
Creepshow (1982)
Poltergeist (1982)
The Thing (1982)
Eyes of Fire (1983)
The Hunger (1983)
House of Long Shadows (1983)
Videodrome (1983)
Frankenweenie (1984)
Ghostbusters (1984)
Gremlins (1984)
A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)
The Terminator (1984)
Eternal Evil (1985)
Fright Night (1985)
Nightcrawlers (1985 Twilight Zone TV)
Re-Animator (1985)
From Beyond (1986)
The Hitcher (1986)
House (1986)
Trick or Treat (1986)
Bad Taste (1987)
A Chinese Ghost Story (1987)
Hellraiser (1987)
I Was a Teenage Zombie (1987)
Near Dark (1987)
Predator (1987)
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
The Lady in White (1988)
The Vanishing (1988)
The Woman in Black (1989)

1990's:
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Jekyll and Hyde (1990)
The Witches (1990)
Begotten (1991)
The Sandman (1991 animated short)
Braindead (1992)
Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: the movie (1992)
Society (1992)
The Halloween Tree (1993 animated tv special)
Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
Cemetery Man (1994)
The Crow (1994)
Dark Waters (1994)
Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Riget (1994)
Shrunken Heads (1994)
Boo to You Too! Winnie the Pooh (1996)
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Queen of Blood (1996)
Ringu (1998)
Audition (1999)
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Fear, Itself (1999 Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv episode)
Nang Nak (1999)
The Sixth Sense (1999)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Wolf Man (1999 animated short)

2000's:
Shadow of the Vampire (2000)
The Devil's Backbone (2001)
Session 9 (2001)
Below (2002)
Bloody Mallory (2002)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
The Ring (2002)
28 Days Later (2002)
The Haunted Mansion (2003)
A Tale of Two Sisters (2003)
Underworld (2003)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
Shaun of the Dead (2004)
The Amityville Horror (2005)
The Call of Cthulhu (2005 silent)
Corpse Bride (2005)
The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)
King Kong (2005)
Land of the Dead (2005)
Naina (2005)
Still Life (2005 short)
Voice (2005)
Witches of Mass Destruction (2005 Boston Legal tv episode)
American Witch by Rob Zombie (2006 music video)
Death Note (2006)
Ghostboat (2006)
The Life and Death of a Pumpkin (2006 short)
Pulse (2006)
Slither (2006)
Snakes on a Plane (2006)
The Snow Witch (2006 short)
30 Days of Night (2007)
Animorph (2007)
A Hard Day's Night of the Living Dead (2007 music video)
House of 1000 Muppets (2007 mash-up trailer)
The Mist (2007)
Modern Witches Flying (2007 short)
Planet Terror (2007)
[REC] (2007)
The Signal (2007)
Wanna Buy a Ghost? (2007 short)
The Burrowers (2008)
Cloverfield (2008)
The Coffin (2008)
It's a Wonderful Life: The Reckoning (2008 parody short)
Let the Right One In (2008)
Outpost (2008)
Alma (2009 animated short)
A Candy Affair (2009 animated short)

2010+
The Dead (2010)
Legion (2010)
The Wolfman (2010)
Priest (2011)
Outpost: Black Sun (2012)
Spiders (2013)

Friday, September 28, 2012

Viy

Viy is a 1967 Russian-language horror film based on a Gogol short story. Though Gogol claimed a folkloric source, no such source has been found. The story concerns a seminary student engaged in a 3-day vigil over the body of a witch. Some of the special effects are interesting, but I probably won't watch this one again. There's just not all that much to it.

Watching movies via youtube is iffy and isn't a substitute for seeing them on DVD. I spend time waiting while the video buffers, or I have to re-start a video which doesn't recover from an episode of freezing up. It's great for pre-viewing films, though. I've found some real gems this way.

The MosFilm channel at Youtube has the movie online, but embedding is disabled. I can't find a trailer, but the first 15 minutes is embedded below:



This film has a spot in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. That author calls it "a coloful, entertaining, and genuinely frightening film of demons and witchcraft that boasts some remarkable special effects work".

The Yellow Sign


The Yellow Sign, by Robert W. Chambers, was published in 1895 in a book of short stories called The King in Yellow. Wikipedia notes its influence and describes the book this way:
The stories could be categorized as early horror fiction or Victorian Gothic fiction, but the work also touches on mythology, fantasy, mystery, science fiction and romance.
This particular story can be read online here. It opens with this:
Let the red dawn surmise
What we shall do,
When this blue starlight dies
And all is through.
It's a macabre piece.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shock (1977)

Also known as Beyond the Door 2, Shock is -according to Wikipedia- Mario Bava's final film. He died of a heart attack in 1980. The film has plots, murder, insanity and a possessed child. What more can you ask of a horror film? I like this type of film much better than gore-filled slashers.



1000 Misspent Hours says it "displays a hell of a lot more imagination than most of its contemporaries, and gets tremendous mileage out of many surprisingly simple tricks" but doesn't advise it as an introduction to Bava. ClassicHorror.com says,
Is it a psychological horror film about the maddening effects of guilt, or is it a supernatural thriller filled with shocks and otherworldly ghouls? Unfortunately, since it can't make up its mind, Shock is neither.
Images Journal says,
Shock pales in comparison to Bava's best movies, but it's an effective thriller with an oppressive atmosphere that reeks of decay and death. It may well be his best movie of the '70s.

Neighborhood Character


I see this man sitting in a chair up on his roof almost every day. It makes me smile. It looks like a fine place to catch the late afternoon breeze and take in a changing street view. I wish I could've gotten a clearer photo, and maybe I will sometime, but I didn't want to intrude on his peace.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Devil Doll

The Devil Doll is a 1936 Todd Browning horror film starring Lionel Barrymore and Maureen O'Sullivan. The miniaturizing special effects are fun. There's more melodrama than horror here, and I can't recommend this one unless -as is pointed out below- you want to see Barrymore overact in drag.

You can watch it online via youtube:



1000 Misspent Hours says,
you have not witnessed the man’s full scenery-chewing might until you have seen The Devil Doll, and taken in the awesome spectacle of Lionel Barrymore acting in drag!
and closes with this:
On the whole, I’d say the bad counterbalances the good almost exactly, and someone considering watching The Devil Doll should probably base their decision on how much female impersonation from a middle-aged ham they think they can take.
Moria says, "Outside of Lionel Barrymore though, the story of The Devil-Doll is slight and melodramatic". Rotten Tomatoes gives it 100%. 100%? Wow!

Tales of the Dying Earth


Tales of the Dying Earth is an omnibus edition containing all 4 of the Dying Earth books by Jack Vance. The books included:
The Dying Earth (1950)
The Eyes of the Overworld (1966)
Cugel's Saga (1983)
Rhialto the Marvellous (1984)
I enjoyed the language and style and enjoyed the eccentric characters, but it certainly didn't lend itself to a quick read. The plotlines are fairly simple but work themselves out over many chapters.

from the back of the book:
"A dim place, ancient beyond knowledge. Once it was a tall world of cloudy mountains and bright rivers, and the sun was a white blazing ball. Ages of rain and wind have beaten and rounded the granite, and the sun is feeble and red. The continents have sunk and risen. A million cities have lifted towers, have fallen to dust. In place of the old peoples a few thousand strange souls live. There is evil on Earth, evil distilled by time.... Earth is dying...." -From The Dying Earth

Travel into the future: to an earth with a dwindling red sun that meekly fills a dark blue sky; an earth that is on the brink of dying out; an earth where science and magic mean the same thing; an earth populated with vibrant, interesting people and creatures that are unaware of the fate their planet has in store for them.

Jack Vance is one of the most remarkable talents to ever grace the world of science fiction. His unique, stylish voice has been beloved by generations of readers. Some of his enduring classics are his 1950 novel The Dying Earth and its sequels, The Eyes of the Overworld, Cugel's Saga, and Rialto the Magnificent.
SF Site says, "Vance true fans will welcome this chance to replace their crumbling paperbacks" but doesn't recommend it as a starting point. SlashDot concludes, "This compleat Tales of the Dying Earth is the essence of reading for pleasure." Green Man Review says, "From the vantage of an adult for whom the quality of writing is of major importance, I can say quite confidently that there are no complaints here."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Cries and Whispers

Cries and Whispers is a 1972 Ingmar Bergman film. It stars Harriet Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson and Anders Ek. I know Bergman isn't everybody's cuppa tea, but I keep watching and enjoying the experience. This one is quite disturbing, so I don't guess I can honestly say I enjoyed the experience, but I'm glad I've seen it. It hits some personal notes with me, such as the character with the long-term lung disease (as The Grandmother has) and the sisters' troubled and painful relationships (as my sister and I have always had). This film is filled with hurt, pain, hate and fear.

If you've never seen a Bergman film before, go watch another one of his works. Don't start with this one.

Otherwise, you can see it embedded below from youtube:



Senses of Cinema says,
This is a visually stunning film deeply concerned with the emotional and physical pain of its protagonists. Even more, Cries and Whispers is a highly praised and much admired film, which could possibly be the most accomplished cinematographical work of Bergman’s multi-faceted career.
Spirituality and Practice says it
was the most emotionally affecting film of 1972 and ought to be experienced by everyone who cherishes the tissue of hope that links life and love.
  Roger Ebert opens his review by saying,
"Cries and Whispers" is like no movie I've seen before, and like no movie Ingmar Bergman has made before; although we are all likely to see many films in our lives, there will be few like this one. It is hypnotic, disturbing, frightening.
1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die calls it "One of Ingmar Bergman's most exquisitely executed achievements" and says, "it's clear we are we are witnessing a filmmaker at the peak of his artistry". DVD Talk calls it "a prime example of Bergman at the height of his artistic prowess." DVD Verdict has a mixed review, which is unsurprising since this was that reviewer's first Bergman film. Time Out says, "Bergman's hour remains resolutely that of the wolf." Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 89%.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Queen Of Blood

Queen Of Blood is a 1966 horror/science fiction film also known as Planet of Vampires (not to be confused with Bava's 1965 Italian horror film Planet of the Vampires, see comments below). It stars John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Dennis Hopper and Forrest J. Ackerman. You can never go wrong with John Saxon, but you can certainly not go wrong if you add the rest of that cast!

The background art for the opening credits is a strking display of period artwork. The credits say the titles are from the paintings of John Cline, and there's an example of the work at the bottom of this post. It sounds like there's a theremin in the score, which adds to my joy.

watch it online:



Moria explains:
In the 1960s, American International Pictures and producer Roger Corman gave us the practice of buying up Russian science-fiction films and writing new films around the special effects footage from them (the Soviet films of the era often having special effects far superior to those in most American films). Roger Corman pioneered the process with the Francis Ford Coppola-directed Battle Beyond the Sun (1963), which took its footage from the same source as this... 
Queen of Blood is the best out of these re-edited Russian films. This probably due to the fact that, more than the other films, it largely creates its own film and uses the Russian film footage for only occasional special effects shots in the background.
DVD Talk says
With some talented actors including Basil Rathbone, John Saxon, and a very young Dennis Hopper, the film overcomes its low-budget origins and ends up being an entertaining film.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 20%, which just proves they don't know anything.


(the picture above is from the Monster Movie Music blog)

The film begins with the dreaded voice-over:
"The year: 1990. The problem of traveling to the moon has been solved for many years. Space stations have been built there, and authorized personnel come and go as they wish. But the moon is a dead world. And the great question about space still remains: Does life exist on another planet? To seek an answer to this question the major powers of the world have been actively preparing at the international institute of space technology to explore the planets Venus and Mars.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Harumafuji Wins Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament

Harumafuji has won the Autumn tournament 15-0, winning his final bout against Hakuho. The Asashi Shinbun Asia & Japan Watch opens their article with this:
In the best final-day showdown in years, Mongolia's Harumafuji outlasted arch-rival Hakuho to win his second straight tournament with a perfect 15-0 record and assure himself of promotion to sumo's highest rank--ending Hakuho's two-and-a-half year run as the sport's only yokozuna.
The Japan Times quotes the victor:
"Today I squeezed out every drop of strength I have and I am glad I could respond to the expectations people had in me," Harumafuji said. "I want to continue and wrestle in a way that moves peoples and provides them with courage and hope."
You can watch videos of the tournament via this JasonsInJapan Youtube channel, including this clear and understandable coverage of the final bout by a huge fan of the winner:

 

 The photo at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

[REC]

[REC] is a 2007 Spanish found-footage zombie horror film. It traces a tv host who is filming a fire station's activities and who goes along for the ride when the fire fighters get a call. She and the cameraman find themselves locked down in the building with residents and first responders, and the zombie population grows among them. I found this one kept my attention throughout but wasn't so gory it was difficult to watch. The shaky camera style of this-is-really-happening isn't my favorite type of film, though.

Youtube has this online (or did on 9/21 when I watched it):



Moria says,
... the scenes that take [Rec] into the genuinely harrowing are the last few minutes ... The final shot has a genuine nightmare grimness.
1000 Misspent Hours likes it and begins their review with this:
Seriously— who the hell ever guessed that the Spaniards would be the ones to show us all the correct way to make a faux-verite horror film?
Rotten Tomatoes gives it 96%.

The White People


The White People is a horror short story written in the late 1890s by Arthur Machen. It was first published in 1904 and can be read online.

The Wikipedia article linked above says, "scholars and devotees of supernatural fiction often cite it as a classic of the genre" and offers quotes in support of the claim. The Literary Gothic says,
In the opinion of a number of critics, including yours truly, this is Machen's best work, a powerful and disturbing tale of the Celtic and primal "Little People"
Gothic.net lists the book this novella headlines as one of the "Top Ten Most Depressing Horror Books of All Time".

The photo of the author at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Vampyr

Vampyr is a 1932 foreign film listed in the book 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.  It is available online via youtube:



This version has English inter-titles and some subtitles.  It is an interesting take on the vampire legend. The Husband picked up the Criterion edition of this film earlier this year and we watched it today. This restoration is much brighter and not nearly as shadowy as the version I had seen before. He appreciated this version of a vampire tale.

1001 Flicks has a review of the older version.  Moria says, "It has received high praised in a number of critical circles, with some even considering it one of the greatest horror films ever made."  1000 Misspent Hours calls it "one of the most eerily disorienting movies I’ve seen in my many years as an avid fan of fright films." DVD Talk says,
Criterion's revelatory 2-disc DVD set is based on a 1998 restoration by Martin Koerber and the Cineteca di Bologna. What was once a confusing puzzle can now be seen as a new direction for the horror film, a slow moving hallucination filled with bizarre visuals. Vampyr locates the uncanny not in the dark but in pale, powdery whiteness signifying the absence of life-giving blood.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 100%.

The Witches

The Witches is a 1990 film based on a book by Roald Dahl. It's a comedy/horror movie with Anjelica Huston, but, despite her presence, we found it tedious and impossible to watch. It was not the least bit scary or amusing. Maybe if we had kids of a suitable age who might appreciate it? Maybe... I can't find a bad review online, and the movie was nominated for multiple awards and won some of them. I can't imagine what folks saw in it.

trailer:



Moria says it "genuinely takes one aback with its gleeful malice". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 100%. Roger Ebert says it
is an intriguing movie, ambitious and inventive, and almost worth seeing just for Anjelica Huston's obvious delight in playing a completely uncompromised villainess.
EW gives it an "A" and closes with this:
What emerged from the combination of these divergent gifts is utterly magical: a film that appeals to both young and old without condescending to either. The wit is highly sophisticated, but there's also action, suspense, adventure — to say nothing of the spectacular visual effects produced by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. Don't miss Anjelica Huston's deliciously vile transformation from beauty to beast. And don't miss this film.

Ringu

Ringu, or The Ring, is a 1998 Japanese horror film. There's a 2002 American remake. Wikipedia claims "The film is the highest grossing horror film in Japan ... and is also considered the most frightening horror film in Japan". This is one of those horror movies where I want to yell at the screen: "DON'T DO THAT!"

you can watch it via youtube:



Moria says, "There is a good and original idea at the heart of Ring... However, the idea disappointingly tails off into a routine paranormal murder mystery." 1000 Misspent Hours praises it. Stomp Tokyo says,
Ringu is a stylish movie that exists to build tension. It starts with the great hook of a videotape that can kill you.... Ringu has a palpably frightening presence that is practically unknown in Hollywood flicks. Frankly, it's the creepiest film we've seen since Audition, which shares Ringu's dimly lit, surrealistic visual language.
It has a score of 97% at Rotten Tomatoes.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone is a 2001 horror film directed by Guillermo del Toro. It's a Spanish-Mexican work filmed in Spain. A ghost story featuring children and an orphanage in war time, there's plenty of tragic drama here. I was in tears by the end, but The Younger Son sees it as a hopeful movie.
"What is a ghost? A tragedy doomed to repeat itself time and again? An instant of pain, perhaps. Something dead which still seems to be alive. An emotion suspended in time. Like a blurred photograph. Like an insect trapped in amber."
It's on youtube, but really you should own this one for re-watching:



Moria calls it "good but never fully satisfying". Slant Magazine gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says it "works both as art-house spooker and political allegory." Roger Ebert calls it "mournful and beautiful". BBC says it's "a superior ghost story/murder mystery which confirms del Toro as a name to watch". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 91% score.

Jack Tucker Alley


Yes, some alleys actually have names. Jack Tucker Alley is named after a local architect who, according to Joe Spake's blog, "was a major player in the re-birth of Downtown living, before the development of Mud Island and the South Bluff, Tucker was a force for for urban living and urban design". When he died in 2009, the Commercial Appeal story said, "If Jack Tucker hadn't come along when he did, Downtown Memphis might not be the Downtown we know today." Smart City Memphis said, "The thread through all that he did was preservation, whether it was the built environment, the natural environment or the civic environment."

We came across it on our recent walk around downtown when we were looking at how low the River was.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Castro Street

Castro Street is an experimental film, a 10 minute short documentary directed by Bruce Baillie in 1966. It has been selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.



This has no spoken word component. It's a view of the sights and sounds of the street.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Alma

I know I've seen this before, but I can't find where I wrote it up. Alma is a 2009 animated short film directed by Rodrigo Blaas. A little girl is in for a surprise: there's a doll in the shop that looks just like her.

There are reports that it's being made into a feature-length film.

It's available online:

Alma - Season's Greetings from MonkeyBusiness on Vimeo.


found at FilmsShort.com

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I Was a Teenage Zombie

I Was a Teenage Zombie is a 1987 cult film. It's not currently in print. I took advantage of Hulu's free offering [no longer available free at Hulu as of 9/28/2012]. Here's a short clip from TCM:



DVD Talk closes with this:
Final thought: Most everyone involved with the flick NEVER worked in movies EVER again. But, still, it has some pretty inspired gross-out scenes. Recommended.
Rotten Tomatoes gives it a score of 20%.

The Ash-Tree

The Ash-Tree is a 1904 ghost story by M.R. James. It can be read online.

StrangeAmusements.com says,
What makes this story work so well is the fact that so much of the horror is simply implied and left for you to wonder about as you keep turning the pages, the mystery and the suspense intensifying as you go.
It was adapted in 1975 by the BBC for its series A Ghost Story for Christmas. The adaptation starred Edward Petherbridge (whom we loved as Lord Peter Wimsey in the BBC series) and Preston Lockwood. You can watch it online via youtube:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Anthony Adverse

Anthony Adverse is a 1936 drama directed by Mervyn LeRoy and starring Fredric March, Olivia de Havilland, Claude Rains, Edmund Gwenn, Fritz Leiber and Akim Tamiroff. Erich Wolfgang Korngold wrote the music. It won several Academy Awards and was nominated for others.

With Claude Rains in it you know it's worth watching. Or maybe it's just that he's worth watching no matter how tedious and overlong the film might be.



Time Out says it "proved popular at the time but hasn't improved with age". Rotten Tomatoes gives it a pitiful score of 14%.

Akim Tamiroff


Today is the anniversary of the death in 1972 of actor Akim Tamiroff. He's one of those actors who appeared in film after film but who seems to be no longer remembered. He appeared in films from 1932- 1969, using his distinctive voice and Russian accent in a variety of roles.

Films I've seen him in are listed below:

Queen Christina (1933) (uncredited)
The Black Tulip (1963)
Alphaville (1965)

I'll add more to this list as time goes on.

The Black Tulip

The Black Tulip is a 1963 French/Italian/Spanish film, one of several based on the novel with the same name by Dumas. This version stars Alain Delon, Virna Lisi, Dawn Addams and George Rigaud. Akim Tamiroff, who died on this date in 1972 at the age of 72, also stars. The movie has a Robin Hood/Zorro type of plot, with Delon playing hero twins. It takes place in France soon before the French Revolution.

You can watch it at youtube here with English subtitles, but embedding has been disabled. The version embedded below has been dubbed in English:



TCM has some information.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Dove

The Dove is a 1968 short film parody of Ingmar Bergman's work, in particular Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. It was Madeline Kahn's first film. You can watch this spot-on 10-minute film here:



It has English subtitles, made hilarious by the fact that the spoken dialogue is in a nonsense English-made-to-sound-Swedish language.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beowulf (2007)

Beowulf is a perfectly good story just as it is. It's lasted through the ages just fine with the exception of the intrusion of Christian references fairly early on. It's a hero tale, and I would think it would translate well to the big screen. Why, then, do they always insist on changing it to make Grendel a sympathetic figure or to make Beowulf not so much of a Hero or to make the King responsible somehow for the evil the monster brings upon the land? Why?

This version is the 2007 motion capture film. It casts Anthony Hopkins as the King who bring's the monster's curse on himself. Ray Winstone is Beowulf, who starts off heroic enough but has a tragic fall from grace and carries the curse himself through the remainder of his days.

trailer:



It just irritates me so, that we can't just have a traditional tale of good defeating evil. We have to have all this angst and tortured struggle.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Theatre Memphis Sculpture Garden

Medea

Theatre Memphis has a wonderfully theatrical sculpture garden. I remember when they were installed in the 70's, and I loved them. They are unusual. The group is titled Dramatis Personae and the pieces were created by sculptor -and then head of the Rhodes College Art Department- Lawrence (Lon) Anthony.


I remember when The Kids were little and I would take them to plays at Theatre Memphis, we always spent time out in front of the building looking at these huge figures.

Punchinello

There are some great photos and explanations at this site.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Voice in the Night


The Voice in the Night is a 1907 horror short story by William Hope Hodgson. It can be read online. Anybody who has watched kudzu grow and overtake everything in its path knows this horror. Only this story is more personal.

The story was adapted for an episode of the TV series Suspicion in 1958. I'd love to see it, since it stars James Coburn, but can't find it.

The photo of the author at the top of the post is from Wikipedia.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Lady of Musashino

The Lady of Musashino is a 1951 film directed by Kenji Mizoguchi. Film Sufi describes the plot. The Lady of the title is married to a philanderer who does not love her, while she has feelings for a younger cousin but thinks it dishonorable to act on them. The story takes place in Japan immediately after the end of World War II.

You can watch it online via youtube:


DVD Bearer has a lot of screen shots and says,
An atmospheric evocation of post war Japan exploring the climate of social and economic change, The Lady Of Musashino tells the story of Michiko (Kinuyo Tanaka), a disillusioned young wife, trapped in a loveless marriage to her translator husband (Masayuki Mori).
Time Out calls it "fascinating".

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Swamp Women

Yes, Swamp Women. One of Roger Corman's earliest efforts, it is typical of his work. "Flaming Passions! Weird Adventure!" Escaped female prisoners in the swamp looking for diamonds and fighting over the man. I didn't finish it.

watch it online:



1000 Misspent Hours says,
A plodding, directionless, and generally hopeless early entry in the female crime subgenre to which Corman would frequently return over the course of his career, Swamp Women is heavily freighted with potential for derisive mirth, but it is so stultifyingly dismal that it can take a real effort of will to get through it all.
DVD Talk says,
Chock full of stock footage to pad out the run time and catfights, tough talking dialogue and unintentional (?) lesbian overtones, Swamp Women isn't very good but it is interesting in a goofy sort of way. The acting isn't much to write home about but Garland is great as Vera and the tension that arises between Matthews' Lee and Connors' Bob works well in what semblance of a plot there is. The story is really no great shakes at all, there's not much of a plot to think about or much in the way of deeper meaning or symbolism but for a fast, cheap, schlocky exploitation picture this one does alright.
Rotten Tomatoes doesn't have a score from the critics, but the audience rating is 14%.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Young Avenue Deli


We recently went to Young Avenue Deli for lunch. The Daughter had to work, but the rest of us could go. We sat inside instead of on the patio. In fact, we got the last table available after the couple ahead of us sat at the bar.

We weren't close to a window and it's not well-lit inside, so I didn't try to take a picture of the food. The service was friendly and prompt enough, and we never lacked for drink refills. The food was good. The menu is online. We ordered chicken tenders as an appetizer, but they came out with the rest of the food. I got a chicken salad sandwich on wheat bread with their award-winning fries. "What award?" you ask? Who knows? Who cares? They won our award for great fries, and that's enough for us. The chicken salad was good, well-seasoned and a generous portion with big chunks of chicken. Tasty. The Husband ordered the Sam I am. The Elder Son got the hot roast beef and enjoyed the heat. The Younger Son got his usual burger, adding pepperjack cheese and bacon. It met his high standards. He had been there before and knew what to expect. In fact, I was the only one of us who hadn't been there before. I should get out more!

If you're curious, the fries won this award. The burger gets a great review at the Best Memphis Burger blog. The Memphis Foodie blog praises the attitudes of the servers but, alas, not their skill, but loves the food and ambiance. The Burn My Mouth blog is enthusiastic in their recommendation.

Eating the fries is #40 on the I Love Memphis blog list of 365 things to do in Memphis.

9/13/2012: A Girl, A Fork and A spoon speaks highly of the Sam I Am.