Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Entity

The Entity is a 1981 (released in 1983) horror film, supposedly based on true events, about a woman terrorized and repeatedly sexually assaulted by a poltergeist. Barbara Hershey stars.

trailer:



Moria says, "The Entity becomes an absorbing film, in large part due to Frank De Felitta’s strong script.... There is a fine performance from Barbara Hershey, who reacts to the situation with a high degree of conviction." Empire Online gives it 3 out of 5 stars and calls it "A lengthy, sometimes painful film that manages to find a few shocks left unplucked by The Exorcist, turning the special effects from the usually-tame invisibility sub-genre to it's own nefarious ends."

Time Out says it "doesn't emerge quite as one-dimensionally nasty as its synopsis suggests." Horror News says, "The Entity remains a highly entertaining bit of widescreen eighties hokum that delivers some genuine jolts, an over-earnest performance from Barbara Hershey, and a premise that’s so outrageously unbelievable it must be true!"

Bloody Good Horror closes with this: "Even at the ripe age of 29 “The Entity” has few equals in anxiety and creep factor." Rotten Tomatoes has an audience score of 60% but no critics rating.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Frankenstein Movies, Worst to Best

Total Film has a list of Frankenstein films, ranked from worst to best, and explains the badness and/or greatness of each on the list:
Dracula Vs Frankenstein (1971)
Blackenstein (1973)
Monster Mash: The Movie (1995)
I Was A Teenage Frankenstein (1957)
The Horror Of Frankenstein (1970)
House Of Dracula (1945)
Van Helsing (2004)
Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein (1974)
The Ghost Of Frankenstein (1942)
House Of Frankenstein (1944)
Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994)
The Revenge Of Frankenstein (1958)
Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)
Frankenweenie (2012)
The Curse Of Frankenstein (1957)
Son Of Frankenstein (1939)
The Monster Squad (1987)
Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Bride Of Frankenstein (1935)
Young Frankenstein (1974)
Frankenstein (1931)
I've seen the ones in bold print and will look for the others next October.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fledgling


Fledgling is a 2005 vampire novel by Octavia E. Butler. This was her last novel. She died in 2006 at the age of 58, having had a stroke which caused a fall resulting in fatal head injuries.

from the back of the book:
Shori is a mystery. Found alone in the woods, she appears to be a little black girl with traumatic amnesia and near-fatal wounds. But Shori is a fifty-three-year-old vampire with a ravenous hunger for blood, the lost child of an ancient species of near-immortals who live in dark symbiosis with humanity. Genetically modified to be able to walk in daylight, Shori now becomes the target of a vast plot to destroy her and her kind. And in the final apocalyptic battle, her survival will depend on whether all humans are bigots -or all bigots are human...
I'm troubled by the idea that sex with a child is ok under certain circumstances. In this case the body is a child's but the child is an older vampire. So we have a scene early in the book that unfolds like this, told from the child's point of view:
I sat on the bed. He started to pull the t-shirt over my head.

"No," I said, and he stopped and stood looking at me, waiting. "Let me see you." I pulled at his shirt and unbuttoned one of his buttons. "You've seen me."

He nodded, finished unbuttoning his shirt, and pulled his undershirt over his head.

His broad chest was covered with a mat of brown hair so thick that it was almost like fur, and I stroked it and felt him shiver.

He kicked off his shoes and stripped off his pants and underwear. There was a great deal more fur on him everywhere, and he was already erect and eager.

I had seen a man this way before. I could not remember who he had been, could not recall the specific face or body, but all of this was familiar and good to me. And I felt my own eagerness and growing excitement. I pulled the t-shirt over my head and let him push me back onto the bed, let him touch me while I petted and played with his fur and explored his body until, gasping, he caught my hands and held them. He covered me with his huge furry blanket of a body. He was so tall that he took care to hold himself up on his elbows so that my face was not crushed into his chest.

He was very careful at first, afraid of hurting me, still afraid that I might be too young for this, too small. Then, when it was clear that I was not being hurt at all, when I had wrapped my arms and legs around him, he forgot his fears, forgot everything. I forgot myself, too. I bit him again, just beneath his left nipple, and took a little more blood. He shouted and squeezed the breath from me. Then he collapsed on me. Empty, spent.[p. 22]
This is a man in his mid-20s, and the girl has been described as looking about ten or eleven and having no body hair at all. It turns out that she's actually 53 years old, but still a child in vampire years as she won't be of child-bearing age until she's 70. So, she's a child in every meaningful sense of the word. A little girl.

That the man is white, the child is black, and the child initiates the sexual activity does turn the power dynamic on its head, but still... I'm uncomfortable with anything that normalizes adults having sexual relationships with children. I'm sure this book makes for great discussion in groups exploring feminist issues, power structures, and racism; but I had to get past what I felt was a definite ick factor to move through it.

Strange Horizons explores some flaws but concludes, "it's a fine example of Butler's work, full of thoughtful studies of different social structures, human dynamics, and our own biases and expectations." Infinity Plus says, "As a stand-alone novel, it would be a good introduction to her other work for those who have not read her already."

BoingBoing says, "Butler's novels earned her the MacArthur "genius" award, and it was well-deserved. Few writers in our field are so good at blending potato-chip page-turners with nutritious philosophical questions so seamlessly." Kirkus Reviews closes by calling it "A finely crafted character study, a parable about race and an exciting family saga. Exquisitely moving fiction."

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Living Dead in Dallas


Living Dead in Dallas is #2 (of 13) in the Sookie Stackhouse vampire/mystery series by Charlaine Harris, who was born in Tunica, MS, which is not far south of Memphis. I read the first one a while back, and I have several others on my TBR shelf. This is a quick, easy, fun read. I'd say you could read this one without having read the first in the series but that the first one provides details on the characters' backgrounds that aren't belabored here. I like the series even better now that I've finished this entry, and I'll look forward to more.

FWIW, there's plenty of enthusiastically described sex in these books.

Read chapter 1 online here.

from the back of the book:
Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse is on a streak of bad luck. First, her coworker is murdered and no one seems to care. Then she's face-to-face with a beastly creature that gives her a painful and poisonous lashing. Enter the vampires, who graciously suck the poison from her veins (like they didn't enjoy it).

Point is, they saved her life. So when one of the bloodsuckers asks for a favor, she complies. And soon, Sookie's in Dallas using her telepathic skills to search for a missing vampire. She's supposed to interview certain humans involved. There's just one condition: The vampires must promise to behave -and let the humans go unharmed. Easier said than done. All it takes is one delicious blonde and one small mistake for things to turn deadly....
SF Site says, "This is the kind of book you read all day and night because you are unable to put it down." Infinity Plus closes with this: "I had a lot of fun with the first two Sookie Stackhouse novels, and I'm sure I'll return for Club Dead before too long. Highly recommended."

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Lower Depths (1936)

screenshot from Hulu

"A little tea in a family setting now and then is just the thing."

The Lower Depths is a 1936 award-winning Jean Renoir film, the 2nd of many adaptations of the Gorky play. This stars Jean Gabin, an actor I love. The film explores class differences, with Gabin as a thief who lives in a flophouse. In the scene above, the landlords (at far left and far right) are using the wife's innocent sister as a bribe to get the inspector to call off a search that will expose their operation as a fence for stolen goods. The inspector is smitten by the young woman and hopes to build a happy home life with her as wife. Tea eases business transactions at times, but the sister is none too happy at being used this way. She has dreams for the future, but what hope is there that her life will be anything but drudgery at these lower depths.

I watched it via Hulu (with commercials) when it was one of their free offerings. At this point you need a paid subscription to watch it there. I can't even find a trailer or a clip online now.

Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 88%. TCM links to some reviews.

Please check out the other T Tuesday offerings over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's weekly gathering. Our host is celebrating Halloween early with treats.


Monday, October 26, 2015

Ginger Snaps

Ginger Snaps is a 2000 werewolf/coming-of-age movie. This is a powerful film, whether or not you look at it from a feminist perspective, if you can get past the violence and gore. And that's a big "if". Plenty of gore to be had here.

via Youtube:



Moria gives it 3 1/2 out of 5 stars and says, "Ginger Snaps is a film that brims with ideas, good characterisation and perverse humour..." 1000 Misspent Hours gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "through it all, Ginger Snaps is also the best damn werewolf movie since I don’t know when."

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars and calls it "One of the great teenage horror films". Empire Online concludes, "A monster movie with real guts, this may be an educationally uneasy watch for the teenage boy genre fanbase. Grrls, however, will love it." HorrorNews.net calls it "a “must see” horror film with plenty of Gothic overtones and werewolf flash."

DVD Talk calls it "One of only a small handful of good werewolf horror films" and the "rare werewolf horror film that actually works" and praises the lead actors. Weird Wild Realm says, "Nothing about the theme of Ginger Snaps (Teenage Girl Werewolf) promised a great movie, yet somehow this works far, far better than the subject matter could ever have lead one to expect" and concludes, "Anyone who overlooked this one because thematically it was just too, too Buffy -you should risk it after all; it won't be a disappointment."

Rotten Tomatoes gives it a critics score of 89%.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Hands of Orlac (1924)

The Hands of Orlac is a 1924 silent Austrian horror film. Or it's known as a horror film, but actually it's a murder mystery with some horror trappings. I think this is well done, and I like it much better than the 1935 re-make Mad Love, even though Mad Love stars Peter Lorre and Colin Clive. I haven't seen the 1960 remake, which stars Christopher Lee. The Hands of Orlac is directed by Robert Wiene (better known for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) and stars Conrad Veidt.

via Youtube:



Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "Veidt makes the part sing with his utmost". 1000 Misspent Hours has a positive review. Slant Magazine gives it 3 out of 4 stars and says, "it lingers as a unique waking nightmare both in the viewer's mind and in film history".

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Letter from an Unknown Woman

Letter from an Unknown Woman is a 1948 Max Ophüls film starring Joan Fontaine and Louis Jourdan. It is told in a single extended flashback as the titular letter is read. I have little sympathy with women who pine away, devoting their lives to men who don't know they exist, so I find this plot annoying. Watching Louis Jourdan and Joan Fontaine, though, that's worth the simpering plot. But "All I wanted was to throw myself at your feet"? It's a bit much.

via Youtube:



Senses of Cinema closes with this: "The power of melodrama, and certainly of this melodrama, resides precisely in luring us to these realisations through the banal, the sugar-coated, and perhaps the even laughable desire of a certain unknown woman." Slant Magazine calls it "a melodramatic perfect storm." Time Out gives it 5 out of 5 stars and calls it a "grand, heartbreaking masterpiece".

FilmReference.com calls it "an icon of cinema scholarship" and "an exceptionally fine film". Empire Online says it, "Does the job of the perfect melodrama and moves the audience to tears." DVD Talk says it is "A genuine classic's classic, and a 'women's film' that completely transcends that pigeonhole category".

The New Yorker compares this director to Wes Anderson. This film is listed in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has an overview. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 100%.

Friday, October 23, 2015

ABE

ABE is a science fiction/horror short film written and directed by Rob McLellan.


Somebody needs to have a word with that robot about what love is.

MGM will reportedly turn the story into a feature length film.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Green Man


The Green Man is a 1969 novel by Kingsley Amis. It's a ghost story/comic novel that was adapted in 1990 as a BBC 3-part series starring Albert Finney.

from Wikipedia:
The novel is set in and around The Green Man, an inn between London and Cambridge owned by Maurice Allington, a 53-year-old man with a second wife, a teenage daughter and an 80-year-old father living with him in the inn's upstairs apartment. The inn and its name date back to the 14th century, and the inn's charm is further embellished by a history of haunting related to a 17th-century owner, Thomas Underhill, a Cambridge scholar who dabbled in the occult. Underhill was associated with two unsolved murders, including that of his wife, which could not be traced back to him.

As the novel unfolds, Allington is beset by a number of difficulties
New York Review Books says, "The Green Man is a ghost story that hits a live nerve, a very black comedy with an uncannily happy ending: in other words, Kingsley Amis at his best." LA Review of Books closes their review with this: "A ghost story about the incapacity of realism or modernism to address death, The Green Man deploys the resources of science fiction to disclose, however fleetingly, the precariousness and destructibility of existence. Now that’s a ghost story."

Strange Horizons says, "This is a masterpiece of speculative fiction at the highest level, with little in the English ghost story canon to to rival it, at least at novel length, until the appearance of Nicola Barker's Darkmans (2007) almost forty years later."

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Prometheus

Prometheus is the 2012 prequel to Alien. I'm not the biggest fan of the Alien franchise, but that's because I saw the 1st one in the theater when it was released, in a period of my life before I had any appreciation for horror films, thinking it was a science fiction movie. It took me a while to get over that experience, and it still holds bad memories for me. This movie is more science fiction in my opinion than the original Alien was. This is not a direct prequel, but does fill in some of the history nicely. It is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, Logan Marshall-Green, and Charlize Theron.

trailer:


Moria says, "There are a good many aspects to it –great production design, top drawer effects, fine casting," but they ended up disappointed. 1,000 Misspent Hours says, "... about all I can say in defense of Prometheus is that it mostly looks nice, and that the cast would have been terrific if they’d had anything worthwhile to work with."

Roger Ebert has a positive review that opens with this:
Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" is a magnificent science-fiction film, all the more intriguing because it raises questions about the origin of human life and doesn't have the answers. It's in the classic tradition of golden age sci-fi, ... it's a seamless blend of story, special effects and pitch-perfect casting, filmed in sane, effective 3-D that doesn't distract.
Slant Magazine and Slate complain that it doesn't answer the questions it raises. Rotten Tomatoes has a 73% critics score.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Everything Stops for Tea

Everything Stops for Tea:



by Jack Buchanan, who died on this date in 1957. He's perhaps best known from the 1953 movie The Band Wagon. Wikipedia says, "He was known for three decades as the embodiment of the debonair man-about-town". "Everything stops for tea" does sound like a very civilized attitude.

Lyrics excerpt:
It's a very good English custom
And a stimulant for the brain
When you feel a little weary, a cup'll make you cheery
And it's cheaper than champagne

Now I know just why Franz Schubert
Didn't finish his unfinished symphony
He might have written more but the clock struck four
And everything stops for tea
Please join the T Party over at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog where we share our drink-related fun.

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Woman in Black (1989)

The Woman in Black is a 1983 book written by Susan Hill that has been adapted for the screen twice. The second, starring Daniel Radcliffe, is from 2012 and is better known. This is the first, the 1989 British adaptation directed by Herbert Wise with a screenplay by Nigel Kneale. It stars Adrian Rawlins (who played James Potter in the Harry Potter films); David Daker (who was in some of the 70s-era Doctor Who shows, and in Time Bandits); and Pauline Moran (who played Miss Lemon in the David Suchet Poirot series) as the woman in black. This is a wonderful movie -good character development and plotting, evocative atmosphere. If you ask me, this is a better effort than the Radcliffe movie, though I liked that one, too. This one just seems to have more, somehow. This version is reported to be more faithful to the novel, but -not having read it- I'll have to take others' word for that.

trailer:



BFI Screen Online gives it a positive review and says Pauline Moran "proves utterly mesmerising as the grimacing and malevolent ghost" Ferdy on Film calls it "one of the few truly successful examples of pure mood-piece horror made in the past quarter century, all the more admirable for being a telemovie, made with the no-nonsense sense of functional craft that distinguished British television for so many years" and says it's "genuinely chilling". Horrorpedia says, "It is deliberately subtle and aims to be creepy rather than terrifying and explicit" and "anyone who enjoyed the newer film –or admires the novel– would certainly find worth their while."

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Messiah of Evil

Messiah of Evil is a 1973 horror film. Also known as Dead People, it's a surreal experience with not much in the way of hero/heroine or plot development and no clear idea of exactly what's happened once it's over. A woman goes to a small town on the beach looking for her artist Father. She cannot find him. The town is plagued with zombie-type vampire creatures who are waiting for the return of the dark stranger at the time of the blood red moon. The dark stranger last appeared as a member of the Donner Party. If you like atmosphere, you'll find it here.

It stars Marianna Hill (from Star Trek: The Original Series), Royal Dano (The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao) and Elisha Cook, Jr. (Star Trek: TOS)

via Youtube:


DVD Talk recommends it saying, "With its odd approach Messiah of Evil collects a gallery of creepy moments. It's simply more interesting than most genre efforts of the early 70's, when Hammer films had lost their way and Hollywood horrors were wasting our time with two-headed transplants and campy vampire tales." Weird Wild Realm isn't as fond of it but does call it "almost stylish in its awfulness rather than merely awful."

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Gilda

Gilda is a 1946 Charles Vido film noir starring Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford. It's a fine example of the genre.

trailer:



Here's the Put the Blame on Mame scene with the guitar:



The Telegraph begins its review with this: "Examples of film noir don’t come much headier or more perverse than Charles Vidor’s sultry little number". The Guardian calls it "a wonderfully perverse noir classic that comes over as a cross between Casablanca (an intentional influence) and Hitchcock's Notorious (which appeared just weeks after Gilda)." DVD Talk says, "Gilda is an established classic that should find a welcome home in the collection of any film fan."

It's in the book 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die. TCM has some information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 96%.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Masters of Horror: Homecoming

Masters of Horror was a TV series from 2005-2007. Homecoming was an episode from the first season. It was directed by Joe Dante and has a role played by Robert Picardo (who was the holographic doctor on the Enterprise in Star Trek: Voyager).

The story here is simple: The president says he wishes the war dead would come back to life so they could tell us how important the current war is. They come back, all right, but they want to vote so they can vote for anybody who'll end the war.

You can watch it at Hulu's channel at Daily Motion.

trailer:



Slate says,
Homecoming is on another level of guilty pleasures, a junk-food adrenaline rush that debunks the myth of glorious war, presenting every ugly wound in gory latex detail, while having nothing but compassion for the lonely, lurching, living-dead soldiers.
Dread Central says it's less horror and more political satire. DVD Talk says it "carries a very strong political message about the current state of affairs in the United States and abroad. It's a message about military action, war, and foreign policy."

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Mrs. God


Mrs. God is a 1990 horror novel by Peter Straub. This is an expanded version of an earlier novella by the same name. There isn't much to this, and I wonder if I wouldn't have liked it better as a novella -or even a short story. It was a short, easy read, but that's all the good I can find to say.

from the back of the book:
Esswood House. Home and estate of the Seneschal family, aristocratic patrons of the literary arts for well over a hundred years. D. H. Lawrence, T. S. Eliot, Ford Madox Ford, and Henry James were privileged to call themselves guests and Esswood Fellows. Even minor poets such as Isobel Standish found Esswood’s refined atmosphere an inspiration for her work. There was always talk of a hidden secret in Esswood’s past, and the Seneschal children were often so pale and sickly, but don’t all English manor houses have a few ghost stories to call their own?

When Professor William Standish receives the rare honor of an Esswood Fellowship, and the chance to study Isobel’s private manuscripts at close hand, he is thrilled beyond his wildest ambitions. But upon arriving, something seems slightly strange at Esswood House. He hears faint laughter in the halls, the pitter-pattering of small feet in the night; strange faces appear in the windows of the library, and of course, there are those giant dollhouses in the basement...
favorite quote:
Nothing is known once only, nothing is known the first time. A thing must be told over and over to be really told.
Slant Magazine says, "Mrs. God is a tedious, hackneyed novel by a writer who's capable of impressing within his chosen genre. It's horrific, but not in the way Straub intended." Kirkus Reviews calls it "An intriguing artifact for hardcore fans but an unremarkable entry point for new readers." Publishers Weekly seems to like it. The Examiner says, "Straub is a better writer than he is a storyteller and that is apparent in this book." Fright compares it favorably to the original novella but says, "it’s far from perfect"

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter is a 1945 film directed by David Lean. It stars Celia Johnson (also in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie); Trevor Howard (an actor from 1934-1988 and who was in a wide variety of films including Superman and Gandhi); Stanley Holloway (an actor from 1910- 1980); Joyce Carey (active from the age of 18 until into her 90s); Alfie Bass (who was in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and who played Mr. Goldberg in the TV series Are You Being Served?); and Irene Handl (who was also in Spellbound and who authored 2 novels).

A man and a woman happily married to other people meet by chance at a railway station, and then they meet again.

via Daily Motion:



The Guardian calls it "the best romantic film of all time" and says, "it is so well made, because Laura's voiceover narration is truly anguished and dreamy, because the music suckers all of us, and because Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard are perfect." FilmReference.com calls it "the most characteristic and perfect British film of all time" and says, "Life is not simple and the greatness of the film lies in its awareness of this complexity".

The reviewer at Roger Ebert's site says, "It's refreshing to find a classic romance without meet-cutes and pathetic attempts to be clever". TCM has information. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 88%.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

One Wonderful Sunday


One Wonderful Sunday is a 1947 Akira Kurosawa film. I always enjoy Kurosawa's movies, and this one is no exception. This story is of one day in the lives of a young engaged couple in post-war Japan. They have one day each week to spend together. He lives in a room in the apartment of a friend, and she lives with her sister and her extended family. They cannot afford to marry. Their dream is to someday open a coffee shop, which they plan to name the Hyacinth Cafe, and serve good coffee and pastries at reasonable prices. Theirs is a beautiful, if sometimes sad, story. I enjoyed sharing their day.

The picture at the top of the post is of our young couple in shock over how they have been over-charged at this cafe.

I liked the use of Schubert's Unfinished Symphony throughout the film. It comes into the plot several times, and brings a lot to the emotional impact the movie has.

I guarantee if you watch this film you will genuinely care about this young couple. You will cry with them in their despair at ever having the resources to marry, and you will feel their joy as they share their hopes and dreams for their future. I did.

Here's a short clip with subtitles:



The New York Times calls it "an essential work in a great career." Forgotten Classics of Yesteryear says it "stands as a testament of hope for those who must bear the full brunt of the transition. The times may be harsh, but the flowers and music will always be there for those who try and look." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 86%.

Please join in the weekly gathering at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog where we share drink-related posts and vist with each other.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Graceland, the song

Graceland:



by Paul Simon, posted in celebration of his 74th birthday tomorrow.

lyrics excerpt:
The Mississippi Delta was shining
Like a national guitar.
I am following the river
Down the highway
Through the cradle of the Civil War.
I'm going to Graceland, Graceland
In Memphis, Tennessee.
I'm going to Graceland.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bad Taste

Bad Taste is Peter Jackson's first feature film. A 1987 low-budget splatter/horror/scifi/comedy, it got a decent reception at its release and is a cult classic now. The plot involves aliens who want our brains for fast food. I found this one truly disgusting.

trailer:



Moria gives it 4 out of 5 stars and says, "It is certainly hard to believe from watching such a gungy, seat of the pants splatter film like Bad Taste that you were watching the work of someone who would later rank in the lists of the most powerful directors in Hollywood." HorrorNews.net says, "If you’ve ever watched a film and thought “What this needs is more exploding sheep” then this is the film for you." Horror Express closes its review with this: "It's a splatter comedy with random grab-bags of other genre elements (sci-fi, slasher, Arnie movie), topped off with Antipodean cool. Bad Taste should theoretically be utter shite, but in fact it's unmissable." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 68%.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Damned

The Damned (aka These Are the Damned) is a horror film about a secret government plot to prepare for the inevitable nuclear holocaust. It stars Macdonald Carey, Shirley Anne Field, Oliver Reed, Alexander Knox, and Viveca Lindfors. A Hammer film directed by Joseph Losey, it was produced in 1961; but the British release didn't come until 1963 and the American cut had to wait 'til 1965. The production controversy was, in part, because of an incest subplot. The music is great fun.



1000 Misspent Hours gives it 4 stars and a positive review. Moria has a 4-star review and says, "The Damned is a realistic character-driven drama much more than any other Hammer film." DVD Talk calls it "one of the best and most profound science fiction films ever made."

Friday, October 09, 2015

Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan

Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan is a 1959 Japanese horror/revenge film about a ruthless ronin and what fruit his lifestyle bears. I like Japanese films in general, and I was glad to come across this one. It's a riveting story and well done.

I watched itat Hulu with commercials, where it is available without subscription.



TCM has some information. Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score but has an audience rating of 71%.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The Hellbound Heart


The Hellbound Heart is a Clive Barker horror novella, originally published in 1986. It is the basis for the 1987 Hellraiser movie, and the movie is a faithful adaptation. This is a remarkable book, a quick read, and an extraordinary exploration of pain and pleasure and despair.

from the back of the book:
Frank Cotton's insatiable appetite for the dark pleasures of pain led him to the puzzle of Lemarchand's box, and from there, to a death only a sick-minded soul could invent. But his brother's love-crazed wife, Julia, has discovered a way to bring Frank back -though the price will be bloody and terrible ... and there will certainly be hell to pay.
The beginning of the 3rd chapter:
The seasons long for each other, like men and women, in order that may be cured of their excesses.

Spring, if it lingers more than a week beyond its span, starts to hunger for summer to end the days of perpetual promise. Summer in its turn soon begins to sweat for something to quench its heat, and the mellowest of autumns will tire of gentility at last, and ache for a quick sharp frost to kill its fruitfulness.

Even Winter -the hardest season, the most implacable- dreams, as February creeps on, of the flame that will presently melt it away. Everything tires with time, and starts to seek some opposition, to save it from itself.

So August gave way to September and there were few complaints.
The Hellraiser Wiki has a spoiler-filled plot summary. Fantasy Book Review calls is "simple yet elegant" and says, "the concepts explored and the manner they are portrayed make for a captivating read". Horror Novel Reviews closes its review with this:
The Hellbound Heart is among the greatest literary achievements of Clive Barker’s career. It is a reminder of why he is a true master of horror. Read as a stand-alone or as a compendium to the Hellraiser films, The Hellbound Heart is essential literature for all fans of the genre.
The Examiner calls it "engaging" and says, "If you enjoyed the original Hellraiser film, you will not be displeased with the novella." Scream says, "The Hellbound Heart for horror fans is not a million miles away from being the perfect read, the concept of access to another plain of existence is a well-used one and Clive Barker handles it with vivid poise. ... Characters are well rounded and there’s enough horror to disturb most."

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Godzilla (2014)

Godzilla is the 2014 remake (reboot?) of the original. If you like monster movies (and I do), you'll like this.

trailer:



Roger Ebert's site gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and says,
"Godzilla" represents some sort of high water mark (pun intended) in Hollywood's nearly forty year crusade to turn once-disreputable genre films into pop art that demands our contemplation, if only because of the wit and skill that its army of technicians lavished on each frame.
Empire Online says, "Edwards’ film boasts great filmmaking, noble intentions and cracking monster action." EW has a round up of mostly positive reviews. Rotten Tomatoes has a critics score of 74%.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Tea Hour

Tea Hour:


is a 1908 painting by Hans von Bartels, a German painter, who was born on Christmas Day in 1856 and died on October 5, 1913. He was part of the Düsseldorf school of painting He painted in both oil and water color and is mainly known for his pictures of fishing life. I find this a homey scene, a cozy family gathering at a sunny window. I'm sure the life was hard, but they seem to appreciate their blessings.

Please join the T for Tuesday party that happens every week at Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog. She's got a cheering photo of the fire in her chiminea.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Opening Statement

Opening Statement (1960):



by the Booker Little quartet. Booker Little was a Memphis-born trumpeter, who died on this date in 1961 at 23 years of age from complications from a blood disorder.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul

At Midnight I'll Take Your Soul is a 1964 Brazilian horror film -Brazil's first- directed by and starring José Mojica Marins in the first of several Coffin Joe movies. Broadly played, and seems more like a moral tale than horror to me.

Via Youtube:


Moria gives it 3 out of 5 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "What we see here is very nearly a reinvention of the horror film, almost totally independent of what had gone on elsewhere in the world during the preceding 60 years." Gore Girl's Dungeon calls it "wicked fun". Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 60% and an audience score of 68%.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Cure (1997)

Cure is a 1997 Japanese horror/thriller directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa (who also directed Pulse). A series of identical murders are committed, each by a different person who is found nearby afterwards remembering killing and mutilating the victim but not why. The chief investigator has a wife who is mentally unstable, and he (in concert with a psychologist) uses what he has learned about mental illness to try to figure out the murders. The most interesting part takes place after he figures it out and a subject of interest is committed to a psychiatric hospital for observation. This one sneaks up on you.

trailer:



Images Journal calls it a "minor masterpiece" and says,
Much of the film's subtle power and resonance is predicated on its serpentine narrative ambiguities, unanswerable character motivations, and dramatic incidents. This would be understandably maddening in lesser hands, but Kurosawa's direction is always assured and the film's deviousness is always sufficiently grounded by its purposeful storyline and magnificent performances. Although the film will nevertheless drive viewers bonkers who demand straight lines where they don't exist, Cure will be a welcome reward for those adventurous souls who like their lines on the squiggly side.
Moria finds it confusing. HorrorNews.net says it " manages to be equal parts detective story, horror film and psychological thriller with an evenhandedness rarely seen." Combustible Celluloid gives it 3 1/2 out of 4 stars and calls it "a mesmerizing film." Rotten Tomatoes has a critics rating of 91%.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Vampire and the Ballerina

The Vampire and the Ballerina is a 1960 horror film. With dancin' girls. It's really not bad, considering, and there's something to be said for a vampire movie that's a bit different.

trailer:



Online reviews are scarce. TCM has an overview.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Horla

The Horla is a supernatural/horror short story by Guy de Maupassassant. Horror author H.P. Lovecraft said this of it: "this tense narrative is perhaps without peer in its particular department", and it's considered an influence on Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories.

You can read it here, or you can have it read to you:



The story was written in 1887. About 4 years later the author was committed to a private asylum after a suicide attempt. He died there the following year at age 42.