Saturday, October 31, 2009

Zombie Brains

Science Friday talks with a researcher who has studied (harrumph, harrumph) the zombie brain. Listen to the story or read the transcript at that link.

The picture above can be found here and is not connected in any way to the NPR story.

Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)

Bloodletting (from the album with the same name) by Concrete Blonde:

HT: Newscoma

Friday, October 30, 2009

Shaun of the Dead

The Younger Son and I wanted to watch a horror movie we hadn't already seen but needed something The Husband (who eschews violent movies) could sit through. We were at Target buying Halloween candy and saw Shaun of the Dead, a 2004 comedy/horror film starring Simon Pegg, and thought it might do. The Husband did manage to sit through it, but he had to hide his face during parts of it. We could tell he didn't at all understand why we kept laughing, but we did think this film was funny.


Moria says, "The entire exercise is made with a good deal of good-natured humour." Roger Ebert says the movie "has its pleasures, which are mild but real." The Ny Times has a review.

Shock Waves

Shock Waves is a 1977 horror movie starring Peter Cushing and John Carradine with music by Richard Einhorn. Oooo... Nazi Zombies! It begins with a voice-over narration and a photograph of WW2 troops:
Shortly before the start of World War 2, the German high command began a secret investigation into the powers of the supernatural. Ancient legend told of a race of warriors who used neither weapons nor shields and whose super-human power came from within the Earth itself. As Germany prepared for war, the SS secretly enlisted a group of scientists to create an invincible soldier. It is known that the bodies of soldiers killed in battle were returned to a secret laboratory near Koblenz, where they were used in a variety of scientific experiments. It was rumored that, toward the end of the war, Allied forces met German squads that fought without weapons, killing only with their bare hands. No one knows who they were or what became of them, but one thing is certain. Of all the SS units, there was only one that the Allies never captured a single member of.
The opening credits begin at this point. It's interesting how many horror films feature Nazi Zombies.


Moria calls it "an impressive little low budget film" and says the zombies are "vivid screen monsters". 1000 Misspent Hours says it's "an extremely good film, in ways you'd never dare expect on the basis of its subject matter."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Dragonwyck is a 1946 film directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and starring Gene Tierney, Vincent Price, Walter Huston, Spring Byington, Anne Revere, Harry Morgan and Jessica Tandy. It's more gothic romance than horror, but it shows up in some of the horror film lists I've seen.

via Youtube:

The New York Times gives it a negative review and closes by saying, "The settings and costumes are intriguing. Not as much can be said for "Dragonwyck."" Variety describes it as a "lucid, often-compelling" film version of the book on which it's based. DVDTalk reviews it as part of a 4-film set. TCM has an overview.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Daughters of Darkness

Daughters of Darkness is a 1971 horror film based on the 1872 short novel Carmilla by Le Fanu. The story can be read online here.

via DailyMotion:

Moria says, "Daughters of Darkness is a considered classic" and "the most elegantly sophisticated of these [lesbian vampire films] and has become a cult classic." 1000 Misspent Hours closes with this:
I wouldn’t go as far as the overheated blurbs on the cover of the old VEC videotape (“One of the most elegant horror pictures ever made,” my ass!), but Daughters of Darkness undoubtedly is worthy of more measured praise.

The New York Times praises it, calling it "a fascinating vampire movie" and "Subtle, stately, stunningly colored and exquisitely directed". Images Journal describes it as "a stylish, cold, and sinister meditation on sex, compliancy, and vampirism."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Sci Fi As We Knew It": Dead?

The Book View Cafe Blog knows what killed it:
... bad voice – bad, bad, bad, bad, bad voice. There’s a peculiar sort of tonedeaf sci fi voice sung with chalkboard scratch “wrong” notes, and then there’s a separate, cheap tonedeaf knockoff of noir film narration that I think got its start during the “cyberpunk” years. That one won’t die, and I think over time, it has been a very big nail in adult-oriented written science fiction with that label on it.
the people who were charged with buying and offering the material to the public ... promoted “the voice” as good, gave awards to it, and through the combination of low pay, poor treatment and social cooties-by-association drove off anybody with any sense of storytelling, talent or gift.

and concludes that "there is no appreciable new adult sci fi right now"

So far, there are 3 comments offering examples of current science fiction without the "bad voice".

10/28/2009: The Crotchety Old Fan has a take on the subject. The Book View Cafe Blog post author takes his post personally and calls him names in his comment thread.

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires

The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974) is a Hammer/Shaw production and stars Peter Cushing, which surely must be enough to make it worth watching, right? A kung fu vampire movie with a Chinese Dracula. I learn something new every day.

Moria gives it 2 stars and says,
The plot never settles into being much more than its collection of influences – the various players are brought together, there is a journey, some martial arts battles, Dracula appears at the end and that is about all there is to the film.
Images Journal calls it "one of Hammer's most underrated movies, with several truly macabre sequences."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Moon of the Wolf

Moon of the Wolf is a 1972 horror movie. It was made for tv and stars David Janssen and Barbara Rush.

Reviews are scarce, but AMC has an overview. io9 describes the movie as "a lovely slice of Southern Gothic".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Vincent Price

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1993 of Vincent Price. has an overview of his career and a list of resources. He has a Facebook fan page. He is a particular favorite of The Daughter.

I have blog posts on the following of his films, many of which can be viewed online:

Shock (1946)
Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)
Mad Magician (1954)
The Fly (1958)
House on Haunted Hill (1959)
The Raven (1963)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
Witchfinder General (1968)
The Oblong Box (1969)
The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)
Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972)
Theatre of Blood (1973)
Edward Scissorhands (1990)

I've seen Laura, The Keys of the Kingdom, The Ten Commandments and The Song of Bernadette, but apparently not since I started this blog.


This is a 10-minute short post-apocalyptic film:

Sepsis from Esteve Boix on Vimeo.

HT: Quiet Earth

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Astro-Zombies

The Astro-Zombies is a 1969 mad scientist monster movie, with a sort of Frankenstein idea to it. John Carradine is in the film.

1000 Misspent Hours says, "It is almost totally incoherent and frequently dull" and goes on to say,
The real trouble with The Astro-Zombies is that Mikels’s inattentive, scattershot approach to storytelling robs the movie of most of its interest by fixing it so that we never have any idea what we’re seeing until well after it’s already happened. Characters are routinely introduced after they’ve been killed. Motives and agendas remain shrouded in mystery until after the schemes predicated upon them have failed. Whole subplots are simply forgotten about without ever reaching any sort of fruition. And through it all, the movie drags and drags and drags.
Stomp Tokyo describes it as "landfill".

Friday, October 23, 2009

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster

Caltiki, The Immortal Monster is a 1959 horror film I chose having been inspired by the Italian Horror Blogathon.

1000 Misspent Hours describes it as "a tacky, stereotypically 50’s monster movie, compete with half-baked science, stuff that gives off ionizing radiation for absolutely no reason, and a running time not much in excess of 75 minutes" and gives it negative 3 stars. DVDTalk says it
is a taut, 73-minute thriller, and looks nothing like the visually flat, so-called semi-documentary style look of most American sci-fi films of the period. Rather, visually it's more of a bridge between film noir in the (cinematographer) John Alton mode, and the limitless imagination and ingenuity Bava would soon be applying to his own, "official" movies.


Bedlam is a 1946 Val Lewton production directed by Mark Robson and starring Boris Karloff.

You can watch it online here. Here is a trailer:

Moria says, "With a complex blend of literary metaphors and historical analysis, this is arguably one of the finest written and most overlooked of the Lewton films." 1000 Misspent Hours closes its negative review by saying, "All in all, Bedlam is a well-made but gutless film, and it’s hardly surprising that it marked the end of the road for RKO horror in the 40’s." The New York Times says it is "several cuts above the average run of so-called horror films."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bloody Pit of Horror

Bloody Pit of Horror is a 1965 horror film chosen because of the Italian Horror Blogathon.

1000 Misspent Hours says, "This is one of those movies that will have you staring into your glass looking for the residue of an acid blotter." Images Journal says it "isn't one of the better Italian horror films, but it's certainly one of the strangest."

Horrors of Spider Island

Horrors of Spider Island (1960) has a checkered past, which the linked Wikipedia article sums up.

1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 3 1/2 stars and says that "nothing else he [the director] made can match Horrors of Spider Island and its companion-piece, The Head, for sheer weirdness."

The Chronicles of Corum

The Chronicles of Corum, the 1970's epic fantasy by Michael Moorcock, is the trilogy sequel to the original (book 1, book 2, book 3). This trilogy continues the story of Corum along the same lines as the first. This isn't the kind of book that I favor, but it was a fun enough read. I picked it up because The Younger Son was reading Moorcock's Elric books.

from the back of the book:
A great winter fell across the Earth. Corum of the Silver Hand had slain the gods so that Man might rule: the last of the Vadhagh, he had saved the race that had betrayed his own, and he had earned his rest. But it was not to be ... for new gods, and fiercer ones, strode the land. Corum took up the moon-coloured sword with sorrow. For to him fell the task of defeating the Fhoi Myore, the Cold Gods - who yearned for death but could not be slain!

A tale of exceptional and mythic power, The Chronicles of Corum follows The Swords Trilogy and completes the saga of Corum Jhaelen Irsei, who was not a god and yet was not a man.

The Cremator

The Cremator is a 1969 horror/black comedy from Czechoslovakia.

Youtube has this one in pieces which should autoplay from here:

Senses of Cinema reports that the director "has described The Cremator as an “expressionistic” horror film, which echoes The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari ... in its subjective visualising of the mind of a madman." DVDTalk says, "The Cremator sustains its eccentric, difficult-to-describe mood: an Eastern European fear of helplessness against self-assured authority figures in an unequal power situation."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Black Sunday

Black Sunday is a 1960 horror film directed by Mario Bava in his feature directorial debut as a credited director. It stars Barbara Steele in her first major role and John Richardson.

Moria declares it "a genre classic". The New York Times closes its review by saying, "As a setting for unadulterated horror, it will leave its audiences yearning for that quiet, sunny little motel in "Psycho."" Images Journal discusses how this film shows the "expressive power of [Bava's] directoral style". 1000 Misspent Hours says,
Whatever you think of Bava’s work as a whole (and he’s one of those directors whom people seem either to love or to hate), I just can’t imagine anyone finding much to complain about in this movie.
Senses of Cinema says,
Beginning in the late 1960s, Bava's The Mask of Satan/Black Sunday has often been cited by film critics and historians as an example of an influential and effective horror film of lasting artistic value.
10/31/2009: Barbara Steele's scream in this film is examined by Arbogast on film.

The Bear Wit Project

The Muppets remake Blair Witch:


Witchfinder General

Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General (The Conqueror Worm in its U.S. release) is the last film completed by director Michael Reeves before his accidental death at the age of 25. The 1968 horror film stars Vincent Price.

part 1:

part 2:

Moria says "it has been called Price’s greatest performance and probably is." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "What we have here is one of the first of the late 60’s/early 70’s witch-burning movies, and a strong contender for the arguably dubious honor of being the best of the bunch," noting "a clearly thought-out, complex, involving story, making good but sparing use of convincing historical background" and calls it "a superior evening’s entertainment". It gets an 83% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Beyond

The Beyond is a 1981 horror movie I chose because of the Italian Horror Blogathon. It's directed by Lucio Fulci. First released in a cut version as Seven Doors of Death, an uncut version containing all the gore is currently available on DVD.


1001 Misspent Hours calls it "a compositional masterpiece". DVDTalk says,
The gore is completely over the top and as arresting as an auto smashup. ... If the aesthetic of slasher horror is to investigate the ways a human body can be outrageously violated, The Beyond may be the front-runner.

White House Briefing on Vampires

So, now we know...

Kill Bill, vol. 2

The Younger Son and I watched Kill Bill, vol. 2, in which we actually get to see David Carradine's titular Bill, last night while The Husband and The Daughter were at church and The Elder Son was at work. There was much more narrative and much less action in this one. Directed by Quentin Tarentino, it stars David Carradine and Uma Thurman.


The New York Times calls it "the most voluptuous comic-book movie ever made" and adds that "Mr. Carradine is up to the demands of the monologues -- originally written for Warren Beatty -- and he soars with cunningly self-serving sagacity." Roger Ebert likes it better than the first one and gives it 4 stars. Variety has a thorough and completely positive review.

The Sorcerers

The Sorcerers is a 1967 horror film directed by Michael Reeves and starring Boris Karloff. It's good to see Karloff in the 1960's. This is an interesting film. Catherine Lacey plays Karloff's wife and is fascinating in the role. She does a great evil.


DVDTalk praises it, but reviews are hard to come by.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Italian Horror Blogathon

Hugo Stiglitz Makes Movies is hosting an Italian Horror Movie Blogathon, and I am looking forward to discovering lots of opportunities to broaden my horizons. (Some of their blogathon submissions are being posted at this link.) (It looks now like they're archiving the participating blog posts here. There are lots of films mentioned that I will be looking into in the future.) I'm slowly but surely raising my horror movie awareness, especially during October of each year, and I'm sure this blogathon will be an education for me.

These are the horror films (most of which are viewable online) I have blog posts on that seem to suit the theme:

Caltiki, the Immortal Monster (1959)
Black Sunday (1960)
Atom Age Vampire (1963)
Black Sabbath (1963)
Bloody Pit of Horror (1965)
Nightmare Castle (1965)
Planet of the Vampires (1965)
The She Beast (1966)
The Beyond (1981)

Images Journal offers an overview of the "golden age" of Italian gothic horror cinema. Wikipedia has a list. There is a Facebook page devoted to the subject. has a history.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Oldest known puffin is 34

The BBC news site reports a puffin has been found that was tagged back in 1975:
The experts who were on a bird-ringing expedition in the Shiant Isles in the Hebrides said they have discovered a puffin first ringed over 34 years ago.

The Galaxy Invader

The Galaxy Invader is a 1985 science fiction film directed by Don Dohler. The beginning credits are interminable. Well, not literally interminable, but it feels that way with 2 1/2 minutes of printed names against a black background. When the movie does start it's a slow one. I didn't watch all of it. I do have a few other things to do, and life is short.

Watch it online via GoogleVideo:

or from the Internet Archive.

Weird Wild Realm gives a thorough plot overview and then says, "Obviously this is simply an awful, awful movie."

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Shock is a 1946 horror film -because it stars Vincent Price, I guess. It might be better described as a thriller.

via Youtube:

At the time of its release, the New York Times worried about the medical consequences:
It is not that the picture is cheaply sensational, artistically: that is a standard condition which one might overlook. It is rather that, in telling a fraudulent and unhealthy tale, it tends to excite apprehension against the treatment of nervous disorders.

MSN has an overview.

Alberta Hunter

Today is the anniversary of the death in 1984 of Alberta Hunter. Although I never saw her in person, I remember discovering her in the 1970's during her re-emergence on the music scene.

"Handy Man" (1981):

10 minute excerpt from a video overviewing her life and career:

She was born in Memphis in 1895. She moved to Chicago in her teens to become a professional singer. She retired in 1956, became a nurse and worked in nursing until her forced retirement from that field in 1977. After that, she began a 2nd career in music, performing until soon before her death.

Werewolves of London

Warren Zevon sings Werewolves of London:

Race with the Devil

Race with the Devil is a 1975 horror film starring Peter Fonda, Loretta Swit and Lara Parker (Tennessee native and Angelique in Dark Shadows). I'm not finishing this one. It starts off slow and hasn't gone anywhere yet.


Moria says that it "mounts to disappointingly little" and that
The film is really something more akin to the climactic tanker chase in Mad Max 2 (1981) extended to a feature-length film and with hooded Devil worshippers instead of mohawked wasteland crazies.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Blood of Dracula's Castle

Blood of Dracula's Castle is a 1969 horror film with John Carradine. Dracula and his wife now live in the Arizona desert. John Carradine is their loyal butler in charge of providing fresh blood. There's also a werewolf. The music is downright annoying. The whole film -what I saw of it, anyway- is downright annoying. Is it supposed to be a comedy? Hard to tell.

Reviews are scarce.

Kermit the Frog bites Vincent Price

Now who's the monster:


Repulsion is a 1965 horror film, directed by Roman Polanski, who has been much in the news lately. It stars Catherine Deneuve. has a page of resources and describes the film as "one of cinema's finest and most uncompromising treatments of madness." An article at The Huffington Post calls it "one of his greatest pictures, a brilliant portrait of female sadness, alienation, sexual neurosis turned to psychosis. A movie all women should watch -- his masterpiece..." Senses of Cinema has an article discussing the theme of confinement. Slant Magazine has a review. The New York Times opens with this:
An absolute knockout of a movie in the psychological horror line has been accomplished by Roman Polanski in his first English-language film.
Moria gives this a top 5-star rating and says,
Repulsion is a film where Polanski rather disturbingly makes no distinction between where the real world leaves off and where hallucination begins. Watching the film we are entirely sitting inside the mind of a mad person.
11/23/2009: Horror Movie a Day has a review, focusing on the Criterion release.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

30 Days of Night

The Elder Son and I were the only ones home tonight, and he suggested watching a horror movie. He presented 5 possibilities, I narrowed it down to 2, and he picked 30 Days of Night, a 2007 vampire movie. David Slade is the director, and Josh Hartnett and Melissa George star. I liked this, though it's not the vision that comes to mind when I hear the word "vampire". These vampires are so messy and wasteful with their food. I'd like to read the graphic novel on which this film is based.

As of 9/12/2019 Sony Crackle has it available free online at this link. Here's a trailer:

Roger Ebert says, "If you are a horror fan, you will love it". The New York Times says, "But the performers have little to do besides spill and drink blood in this tedious, inconsequential B picture. The sun doesn’t rise nearly fast enough." Moria has a mixed review. 1000 Misspent Hours says,
Especially in comparison to the current crop of vampire movies, 30 Days of Night is a great deal more aggressive than the majority of what we’ve seen lately,
It is as unashamedly gruesome and violent as any post-Dawn of the Dead zombie movie, and treats its heroes just as harshly.
It also could justly have been promoted with the tagline, “Vampires— they’re not just for goth girls anymore!” These vampires are animalistic monsters in the finest antique tradition
They’re not pretty, not sexy, not tragic or romantic or sensitive or any of those other annoying things that vampires have tended to be since people unaccountably decided it was a good idea to emulate Anne Rice...

Dr. Phibes Rises Again!

Dr. Phibes Rises Again! is the 1972 sequel to The Abominable Dr. Phibes. It has Vincent Price again, along with some of the other actors from the first one. John Gale does the music.

Moria says it's not as good as the original. 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "inferior" and unnecessary".

The Abominable Dr. Phibes

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is a 1971 Vincent Price film. Also starring are Joseph Cotton, Peter Jeffrey, Terry-Thomas and Hugh Griffith. Basil Kirchin does the music.

Moria says,
The Abominable Dr Phibes is like a Rolls-Royce among horror films. It has an ornate wit that seems to be an epitome the tail-end of the Anglo-Horror cycle was heading towards. And it features what is possibly the best performance that Vincent Price ever gave. Dr Phibes is a camp masterpiece of sublime elegance
1000 Misspent Hours ends with this: "You won’t be disappointed. It’s much better than any of the Bond films whose overall tone it rips off."

Picnic at Hanging Rock

Picnic at Hanging Rock is a 1975 Peter Weir film based on the novel by Joan Lindsay. It's a beautiful film. Criterion has released this one.

Online via GoogleVideo:

Moria gives it a top 5-star rating and says it's "an incredible and haunting film". Roger Ebert includes it on his list of "great movies" and calls it "a film of haunting mystery and buried sexual hysteria". buys the myth that the story is based on fact. Images Journal reviews a video release. The New York Times describes it as "a kind of Australian horror-romance that recalls Nathaniel Hawthorne's preoccupation with the spiritual and moral heritage of his own New England landscape."

12/5/2009: Parallax View has an article.

1/10/2010: Ferdy on Films has a lengthy treatment.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Broom-Stick Bunny

Broom-Stick Bunny is a 1956 Bugs Bunny cartoon:

HT: Need Coffee

A Candy Affair

A Candy Affair is a sweet little Halloween short from Oddbot studio, directed by Crystal Stromer:

HT: Cartoon Brew

The Unknown

The Unknown is a 1927 Tod Browning horror film starring Lon Chaney, Sr. and Joan Crawford. This is a grim little tale.

Moria says, "What is so startling about The Unknown is its perverse freakishness." 1000 Misspent Hours says,
Every time I watch one of Chaney’s silent movies, I find myself flabbergasted at the extent to which his talent towers above that of virtually anyone on the Hollywood scene in the early decades of the sound era.

The New York Times opens with this:
Although it has strength and undoubtedly sustains the interest, "The Unknown," the latest screen contribution from Tod Browning and Lon Chaney, is anything but a pleasant story. It is gruesome and at times shocking, and the principal character deteriorates from a more or less sympathetic individual to an arch-fiend.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Kill Bill: vol. 1

The Younger Son and I were on our own tonight, so we decided to watch a movie while we ate some drive-through burgers. He picked Kill Bill: vol. 1 (2003), which we were pretty sure would not be watchable for The Husband. I had bought both movies soon after the sad death of David Carradine, who plays the titular "Bill". Uma Thurman plays the woman out to kill Bill. Quentin Tarantino directs.


Variety says, "the picture displays the confidence, nerve and wild imagination that marked the filmmaker's earlier work, along with increased visual savvy." The Guardian describes it as "Brutally bloody and thrillingly callous from first to last". Rolling Stone calls it "damn near as good as Tarantino thinks it is."

The Devil's Rain

The Devil's Rain is a 1975 horror film with William Shatner, John Travolta, Ernest Borgnine, Eddie Albert, Tom Skerritt, Ida Lupino, Keenan Wynn and Anton LaVey. Now, there's a varied cast list! Slow movie. Very, very slow. Even the running is slow.


The New York Times has nothing good to say: ""The Devil's Rain" is ostensibly a horror film, but it barely manages to be a horror." Roger Ebert calls it "painfully dull". 1000 Misspent Hours gives it negative 3 stars and closes by saying,
Though most elements of this film are things which a longtime horror fan will have seen many times before, they have been combined here in such a cockeyed, counterintuitive manner that The Devil’s Rain comes across as being far more original than it actually is. It’s a case of the familiar made very, very strange.
Moria gives it 1 star, describing it as "one of the more lunatic and dire among the films jumping on the mid-70s occult bandwagon inspired by the successes of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (1973)" and says,
The Devil's Rain is usually referred to in Golden Turkey terms. It gives the impression of being written and directed with a haphazard indifference. It doesn’t make any particular sense on a narrative level.
DVDTalk has kind words:
How did so many talented tendencies get accused of being one of the worst movies ever made? Perhaps, the truth is a little more telling. ...what we have here is actually an ambitious miscalculation that functions just fine after three decades removed from its unremarkable debut.

Theatre of Blood

Theatre of Blood is a 1973 Vincent Price horror film. Diana Rigg also stars. Several recognizable names are here... Vincent Price gets to do Shakespeare, reciting famous pieces from several plays. Fun.

It gets a 95% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. Moria has a review. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "it was the most perfect imaginable premise for a Vincent Price movie, and it’s no wonder that Price himself reportedly regarded it as his favorite among the films in which he appeared."

The Other

The Other is a 1972 horror film based on the book by Thomas Tryon. I have seen the movie and read the book, and I much prefer the book. I almost always do.


Roger Ebert gives it 3 stars. Moria says,
The Other is a film that was in its time regarded as a minor genre classic. It’s eminence has faded somewhat three decades later but it is still a strong and interesting work.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I remember having seen Blacula (1972) at some point, and I'm not re-watching it this month.


Moria calls it "only a cheap B-movie with no greater pretensions other than exploitation." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "There are, as we shall see, some really groan-worthy moments in this film, but on the whole, it is a well-executed, imaginative, and intelligent movie." The New York Times offers a few comments but not a coherent review.


Duel is a 1971 film, the first directed by Steven Spielberg. It stars Dennis Weaver. This was a made-for-tv movie that was padded for later theater release. I saw it on TV and have never seen the longer version.

Moria opens a positive review with this: "This remarkable little film heralded the arrival on the scene of a tenderfoot new director". 1000 Misspent Hours says,
There’s a good chance that Duel is the best horror movie ever made for American TV. The sheer efficiency of it is breathtaking; barely a second is wasted anywhere, and there isn’t a single scene or minor secondary character that isn’t somehow necessary to maintaining the mood of escalating panic or keeping the story in motion.

The New York Times praises Spielberg. It has an 86% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes.

Les Diaboliques

Les Diaboliques is a 1955 French suspense/horror film.

Moria says it "has deservedly become a classic of the genre" and that it "is exceptional, a model that has never been surpassed by any of its imitators or remakes." 1000 Misspent Hours says, "This is the way a suspense movie is supposed to be." calls it "exhilarating at first viewing".

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 science fiction film directed by Francois Truffaut and starring Julie Christie. It's based on the book by Ray Bradbury.

The Cinemated Man offers the film on Blip.TV:

The film itself starts about 5 1/2 minutes into the video.

Moria has a review, giving the film 4 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours says, "Unfortunately, a lot more went wrong with Fahrenheit 451 than went right, and a lot of what went wrong is absolutely inexplicable." The New York Times calls it "pretentious and pedantic" and "dull" and "bloodless and pompous". Variety says it's "thoughtfully directed". Senses of Cinema has an article.

Father Damien to be declared a saint

Today the pope will officially recognize Father Damien as a saint. The Maui News has information and links to resources. from the Honolulu Star Bulletin: "Hundreds of Hawaii residents are expected to be in St. Peter's Square in Rome on Oct. 11 when Father Damien De Veuster is finally named a saint." describes a bit of the process. President Obama says,
Father Damien challenged the stigmatizing effects of disease, giving voice to the voiceless and ultimately sacrificing his own life to bring dignity to so many.


Catholic News Agency
Catholic News Service

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Fly (1958)

The Fly is a 1958 horror movie starring Vincent Price. David Cronenberg remade this in the 1980's with Jeff Goldblum.

Here's a trailer:

Moria describes it as "one of the most memorable of all fifties sf/horror crossovers. ... a classic and a rather fine monster movie." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "one of the most famous sci-fi/horror movies of the 1950’s" and says, "The importance of this movie from a B-horror fan’s perspective ought to be fairly obvious. But The Fly is also significant for the development of cinematic science fiction as a whole." The New York Times says it "happens to be one of the better, more restrained entries of the "shock" school."

House of Dracula

House of Dracula is a 1945 horror film starring John Carradine as Dracula, Lon Chaney, Jr. as the Wolf Man and Glenn Strange as Frankenstein's Monster.

Moria says it "starts out quite well" but that "the latter half of the film fumbles an interesting beginning." 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "a halfway decent flick."

The Uninvited (1944)

The Uninvited is a 1944 ghost story starring Ray Milland.

part 1:

part 2:

1000 Misspent Hours likes it, saying, "So far as I’ve seen, nobody but RKO was making horror movies as serious and mature as The Uninvited as a matter of course during the 1940’s, and to watch The Uninvited is to wonder why the hell not." Moria describes it as "Hollywood’s first serious attempt to conduct a ghost story." The New York Times warns:
Proceed at your own risk, we warn you, if you are at all afraid of the dark. For this fiction about two young people who buy an old seaside house in England, only to discover that a couple of banshees have taken up residence first, is as solemnly intent on raising gooseflesh as any ghost-story weirdly told to a group of shivering youngsters around a campfire on a dark and windy night.

MSN and TCM have overviews.

Friday, October 09, 2009

The Innocents (1961)

I remember the first time I saw The Innocents. It was a dark and story night, and I had been sick and was sitting up in my bed late at night. At a particularly tense moment in the film there was a huge flash of lightening and an almost immediate clap of thunder, and our electricity went out. It was years later before I saw the movie all the way through, and it's always felt creepier to me than other people seem to find it. The film is a 1961 horror movie starring Deborah Kerr and Michael Redgrave. It's based on The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. The book can be read online here.

Moria describes it as "one of the most cerebral and subtle of ghost stories," and says it "remains without any question the best adaptation of the tale." Bright Lights Film Journal says, "Jack Clayton's film still manages to have its way with us, ravishing the viewer to a degree many films of its genre never dreamed possible." The Guardian calls it "An impressively creepy adaptation". Variety starts out saying it "catches an eerie, spine-chilling mood right at the start and never lets up on its grim, evil theme." The New York Times says,
Mr. Clayton and Miss Kerr have neglected to interpret the tale and character with sufficient incisiveness and candor to give us a first-rate horror or psychological film. But they've given us one that still has interest and sends some formidable chills down the spine.

Mad Love

Mad Love is a 1935 horror movie directed by Karl Freund and starring Peter Lorre, Colin Clive and Ted Healy. I always enjoy Peter Lorre.

Dr. Gogol, played by Peter Lorre, quotes Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
The face of all the world is changed, I think,
Since first I heard the footsteps of thy soul...
“Guess now who holds thee!” — “Death,” I said. But, there,
The silver answer rang — “Not Death, but Love.”
Lorre is perfect as the obsessed, rejected madman.


The New York Times calls it "an entertaining essay in the macabre". Moria likes it. 1000 Misspent Hours says,
it is highly entertaining, and by watching it, you’ll get to see Peter Lorre in the role that would haunt him for the rest of his career. This is honestly one of his best performances (no actor I’ve seen has ever captured the emotional state of Lunatic Dejection better than Lorre does here), and whoever it was who came up with the character’s look made absolutely optimum use of Lorre’s physical appearance, but this is still the role that Lorre never lived down, in much the same way that Bela Lugosi never lived down Count Dracula.
10/11/2009: Bowen's Cinematic has a review.
10/14/2009: NeedCoffee has this as the "Halloween Movie Night No. 14" tonight.

Bad Taste

Bad Taste is a 1987 SFF/comedy/horror film, the first feature film directed by Peter Jackson. I find this so incredibly boring.

Internet Archive has it online:

Ferdy on Film calls it "a doggedly admirable film in that it’s obviously the work of an original, dedicated, and prodigiously talented creator." Moria describes it as "a Roadrunner cartoon in live-action." BBC says it's "an unforgettable - and occasionally unwatchable - comic gem."

Internet Archive also has a 10-minute documentary on the film:

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Top 50 Animated Films

/film has the top 20 from a Time Out London list of the "Top 50 Animated Movies of All Time Curated by Terry Gilliam":
1. My Neighbour Totoro (1988) Hayao Miyazaki
2. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) David Hand
3. The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie (1979) Chuck Jones and Phil Monroe
4. Fantasia (1940)
5. Toy Story (1995) John Lasseter
6. Spirited Away (2001) Hayao Miyazaki
7. Yellow Submarine (1968) George Dunning
8. Belleville Rendez-vouz (2003) Sylvain Chomet
9. South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut (1999) Trey Parker
10. Robin Hood (1973) Wolfgang Reitherman
11. Bambi (1942) David Hand
12. Grave of the Fireflies (1988) Isao Takahata
13. Dumbo (1941) Ben Sharpsteen
14. Gandahar (1988) René Laloux
15. The Iron Giant (1999) Brad Bird
16. Akira (1988) Katsuhiro Ôtomo
17. The Brave Little Toaster (1987) Jerry Rees
18. The Jungle Book (1967) Wolfgang Reitherman
19. When the Wind Blows (1988) Jimmy T Murakami
20. Pinocchio (1940) Hamilton Luske & Ben Sharpsteen

The rest of the list from the Time Out London page, where there are annotations, commentary by Gilliam and links to Time Out's reviews:
21. Whisper of the Heart (1995)
22. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) & Coraline (2009)
23. Perfect Blue (1997)
24. The Incredibles (2004)
25. Watership Down (1978)
26. Princess Mononoke (1997)
27. 'Antz' v 'A Bug's Life' (both 1998)
28. Persepolis
29. The Secret of NIMH (1982)
30. Porco Rosso (1992)
31. WALL-E (2008)
32. Kirikou and the Sorceress
33. Aladdin (1992)
34. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
35. Beavis and Butt-head Do America (1996)
36. The Lord of the Rings (1978)
37. A Soldier’s Tale (1984)
38. Ratatouille (2007)
39. Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film For Theatres
40. Animal Farm (1954)
41. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)
42. Fritz the Cat (1972)
43. Happy Feet (2006)
44. Waking Life (2001) / A Scanner Darkly (2006)
45. Transformers – The Movie (1986)
46. Paprika
47. Sleeping Beauty (1959)
48. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001)
49. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009)
50. Heavy Metal (1981)

Ones I've seen are in bold print, and I've linked to my blog posts if I've written one. There are some on this list that I've never heard of. Of the top 20, for example, I'm unfamiliar with Gandahar and When the Wind Blows. I can see I have some homework to do. I have plans to watch Grave of the Fireflies, Persepolis, A Scanner Darkly and Ratatouille.

Black Sabbath (1963)

Black Sabbath is a 1963 Mario Bava anthology horror film starring Boris Karloff. There were 2 releases of this film, and the American version differs markedly from the Italian, completely changing the plot of one of the 3 episodes (the middle one in the version below) to make it more suitable for American teen audiences. Boris Karloff plays host, introducing each segment, and he appears in the 3rd story. I'm not a fan of anthology films, and this one does nothing to convert me, but the 3rd is my favorite of the 3.

Moria says it's second only to Black Sunday of Bava's gothic horror films. 1000 Misspent Hours says it "remains a solid example of both its peculiar subgenre and work of its director." Images Journal has a review.

The Lodger (1944)

The Lodger is a 1944 horror film, the story of Jack the Ripper, starring Merle Oberon, Laird Cregar, George Sanders, Cedric Hardwicke and Sara Allgood. I always enjoy George Sanders, and I like this movie.

via Youtube:

Moria describes it as "a classic psycho-thriller from the 1940s" and calls it "quite entertaining". Variety says, "It is Laird Cregar's picture. As 'The Ripper' he gives an impressive performance." The New York Times has this snipey comment:
If "The Lodger" was designed to chill the spine—as indeed it must have been, considering all the mayhem Mr. Cregar is called upon to commit as the mysterious, psychopathic pathologist of the title—then something is wrong with the picture. But, if it was intended as a sly travesty on the melodramatic technique of ponderously piling suspicion upon suspicion (and wrapping the whole in a cloak of brooding photographic effects), then "The Lodger" is eminently successful.

Greatest Fright Fiction

The Vault of Horror offers a top-30 list:
1. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818)
3. "The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe (1845)
4. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975)
5. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft (1931)
6. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stephenson (1886)
7. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)
8. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (1962)
9. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971)
10. "The Dunwich Horror" by H.P. Lovecraft (1928)
11. It by Stephen King (1986)
12. The Shining by Stephen King (1977)
13. "The Tell-Tale Heart" by Edgar Allan Poe (1849)
14. "The Black Cat" by Edgar Allan Poe (1843)
15. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (1954)
16. Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1979)
17. Books of Blood by Clive Barker (1984-85)
18. "The Monkey’s Paw" by W.W. Jacobs (1902)
19. "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (1846)
20. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898)
21. The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (1764)
22. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983)
23. "The Colour Out of Space" by H.P. Lovecraft (1927)
24. The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (1986)
25. Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. (1938)
26. "The Call of Cthulhu" by H.P. Lovecraft (1928)
27. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" by Edgar Allan Poe (1841)
28. Psycho by Robert Bloch (1959)
29. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1890)
30. Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu (1872)

I've read the ones in bold print.

House Of Frankenstein

House Of Frankenstein is a 1944 monster movie starring Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Jr., John Carradine, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Sig Ruman. Glenn Strange is the monster.


1000 Misspent Hours says,
in the mad rush to squeeze in the maximum possible number of monsters, the folks in charge of the project forgot to include one thing— anything even remotely resembling a coherent, unified story.
Moria doesn't like it and has a how-the-mighty-have-fallen take on the film.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Count Dracula (1970)

Count Dracula is a 1970 horror film directed by Jesus Franco and starring Christopher Lee and Klaus Kinski.

Moria says this is one of Franco's better works but that "Count Dracula is in the end a noble endeavour that has sadly befallen a cheap producer and a hack director."

The Seventh Victim

The Seventh Victim is a 1943 Val Lewton horror film starring Tom Conway, Kim Hunter (in her first film), Hugh Beaumont and Isabel Jewell. I like this one.

opening quote:
I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday (Jonne Donne)

part 1 of 2:

part 2 of 2:

Moria says,
The Seventh Victim is one Lewton film that has been acclaimed whenever it has been seen. And it was influential – its effect on Rosemary’s Baby (1968) is unmistakeable. Its relative obscurity can perhaps be attributed to its taking up an audacious topic like Satanism during a time of strong censorship.

1000 Misspent Hours says,
The greatness of this movie lies mainly in that it manages to make the Satanists seem threatening without making them demonstratively evil or putting any obviously legitimate infernal power into their hands. It’s a difficult trick, and the filmmakers execute it beautifully.

Weird Wild Realm calls it "a marvelous horror noir".

I Walked With a Zombie

I Walked With a Zombie is a 1943 Val Lewton horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur. It's inspired by the Bronte novel Jane Eyre. I like this one. It's creepy and eerie without all the gore and shock that some horror movies aim for.


Variety says it "fails to measure up to the horrific title." The New York Times takes a swipe at the Hays Office:
If the Hays office feels it has a duty to protect the morals of movie-goers by protesting the use of such expressions as "hell" and "damn" in purposeful dramas like "In Which We Serve" and "We Are the Marines," then how much more important is its duty to safeguard the youth of the land from the sort of stuff and nonsense that their minds will absorb from viewing "I Walked With a Zombie"? ? ?

Moria gives it 4 stars, reports that "Many consider I Walked With a Zombie the best of Val Lewton’s films" and says, "As with all of Val Lewton’s films, I Walked with a Zombie hovers on the deliberate edge of ambiguity between whether the explanation for events is mundane or supernatural." 1000 Misspent Hours offers a different opinion:
A lot of people consider I Walked with a Zombie second only to Cat People among RKO’s Lewton-produced thrillers from the early-to-mid 1940’s. The main basis for all this praise seems to be the “poetry” of the film, with its juxtaposition of family dysfunction and black magic against the scenic beauty of the idyllic West Indies setting. Call me boor and a knuckle-dragger, but I frankly couldn’t care less about such things. This is a voodoo movie, damn it! If I want poetry, I’ll watch Swedish art films,

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Virgin Spring

The Younger Son and I watched The Virgin Spring tonight, since there was no one else around to object to a foreign film with subtitles. It's a 1960 Ingmar Bergman film starring Max von Sydow. It won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Why it has shown up on some of the lists of horror films I've seen is a wonder to me. It is based on a medieval ballad and seems to me to be a fairly straightforward story of rape, murder and revenge. It is said to have been hugely influential in Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left....

We have the Criterion edition. It has a few special features, but we didn't watch any of them.


Moria gives it 4 stars. Slant Magazine has a review. The New York Times says,
It might be termed a morality play, so direct and uncomplicated is it. But for all its directness and simplicity—its barrenness of plot and perplexities—it is far from an easy picture to watch...
Senses of Cinema says,
Bergman's film stands almost as an archetypal film version of this “story”, and shows us how so-called ordinary, civilised people can be reduced to carrying out acts of barbarism similar to those of the criminals who committed terrible acts against them.
10/12/2009: has a review.

The Raven (1963)

The Raven is a 1963 Roger Corman film starring Vincent Price, Peter Lorre and Boris Karloff. Jack Nicholson is also in this. It is based, loosely, on the Poe poem. Lots of comedy, not much horror.

You can watch it online at this link. Here's a trailer:

Moria gives it 3 stars. 1000 Misspent Hours calls it "on the whole, a success." Variety likes it.