Sunday, 24 June 2012

5 Terror Filled TV Horror Films!

Oh, TV horror movie with your PG rating.  When I was young, you had no cursing, no real violence and no gore whatsoever but when you were on, we were glued to you hoping some sort of depravity would slip by the censors and push those staunch boundaries.  It's amusing to think about what is on the air now compared to what was on while I was growing up in the 80's.  Television was much more sanitized with the boundaries being check all the time but with the growth of more networks, stations and the internet offering more titles and options, I think the boundaries have certainly expanded if not exploded.

The TV horror movie from back then may seem to pale in comparison to what can be shown today even the big 3 networks but what they lack violence and debauchery, these films had in suspense, imagination and sometimes down right terror.

With that said, here are 5 Terror Filled TV Horror Films!

5. Bad Ronald (1974) - Ronald Wilby is kind of a nerdy teen, who likes writing fantasy and wants to be a doctor.  He lives with his over protective mother, who has been taking care of him since his father ditched out on them when he was a baby.  It's Ronald's birthday, he's got his cake, a tool set and some markers to draw his wizards; the only thing he needs now is a date with local hottie Laurie Matthews.  His mother advises against it and Ronald heads over to her house.  When he gets there he is totally dissed by Laurie and her friends and is clowned out of her backyard pool.  On way home, he is again dissed by a 12 year girl about being lame and he demands an apology.  Unfortunately, while roughing up the 12 year old he accidentally kills her.  Ronald returns home, tells his mother what happened and tells her that he buried the body.  The mother says it doesn't look like an accident if he buries the body, they have a cry, talk about how he'll never go to medical school and then come up with the worst plan ever to save Ronald.  Instead, of just denying it or turning Ronald in, they decide to wall up their downstairs bathroom and Ronald can hide in it until the MURDER blows over.  Great plan until the mom dies in a gallbladder surgery, the following week and a new family buys the house a week after that.  Now, Ronald has to live in the walls, trying not to get caught by Dabney Coleman, his wife and three teen daughters as he descends into madness.  Bad Ronald isn't too bad once you get past the worst plan ever bit.  You feel bad for him at first because he and his mother, played by Kim Hunter (Zira from Planet of the Apes) are so stupid and shitty things keep happening to them but near the end when Ronald goes after the people it's pretty intense.  It's only 74 minutes, funny at times and it's worth watching.

4. Someone's Watching Me (1978) - Lauren Hutton plays Leigh Michaels, a woman who has just moved to the city, because of bad breakup or something (they don't say) and is looking for a fresh start.  She moves into an expensive high rise, gets a job as a TV Director and already has a stalker. What a lucky gal!  She tries to tell the police but they don't believe her and only her lesbian script girl, Sophie and her new boyfriend Paul (whoa that was fast) can help her in this cat and mouse game of stalking and harassing phone calls.  This was John Carpenter's project after Halloween and also where he met Adrienne Barbeau who plays Sophie, which he married a year later.  It's a pretty good story and you can appreciate call display a little more after watching this.  There are some heavy scenes with Hutton and there are some chilling moments but it does drag a little.  I expected something a little more dark, especially coming after Halloween and reading that it was nominated for an award for best miniseries.  Anyhoo, still enjoyable and worth checking out if your a Carpenter fan.

3. The Night Stalker (1972) - Carl Kolchak is an abrasive reporter working for a rag newspaper in Las Vegas after being bumped from 4 different major papers.  He's investigating a case of a serial killer, who seems to have supernatural strength and is drinking women dry of their blood.  He thinks the killer could be a vampire, but he has to convince his boss, the police, the D.A and even himself.  Darren McGavin is brilliant as Kolchak, spinning this unpublishable novel into 2 TV movies and a short lived series on ABC. The story is solid and superb casting, including Claude Akins as the Las Vegas Sheriff who is trying to suppress Kolchak's writing along with the other members of the city council. It's realistic, raw as it can get for TV movie and I really enjoyed the twist at the end. I couldn't find a real trailer, but if you look on youtube...

2. The Night Of The Scarecrow (1981) - Postman Otis P. Hazelrigg for some reason does not like people who are mentally handicapped.  He doesn't trust them, so when he sees Bubba Ritter playing with the Williams little girl, Marylee, that just gets his ire up.  Unfortunately for Bubba, on the way home from playing, Marylee breaks into someone's yard and gets attack by a dog.  Bubba rushes her home and runs away, with the whole town including old Otis P. Hazelrigg thinking that Bubba was the one who attacked her.  Otis rounds up a three man posse and goes to the Ritter farm aiming for some lynchin.  Bubba's mom, Mrs Ritter tells them he ain't there and to get off their land.  The mob of four, led by dogs head into the corn field and find themselves in front of a scarecrow. They realize it's Bubba hiding there and execute him, only to find out minutes later that the Williams girl was attacked by dogs and Bubba had saved her.  After lying and being set free from the law, Mrs. Ritter lets them know there are other ways of justice and being douche bags, Otis and friends laugh at her.  Shortly, after lynch mob member, Harliss finds a scarecrow on his property, freaks outs, and confronts Skeeter and Philby, the other 2 members of the mob about playing a bad prank on him.  They deny it and the three of them head over to Otis's boarding house to let him know about the scarecrow.  Otis tells them, to keep it together and it's probably the D.A trying to rile them up.  They all go home and Harliss is dead the next morning! dun dun dunnnn! Now, they're scared, don't know if it's the living or the dead trying to get their revenge and who will be next!  They used to play this every Halloween when I was a kid and the shots of the scarecrow always creeped me out.  Larry Drake is excellent playing the mentally Handicapped Bubba character and went on to play Benny on L.A Law.  Also Charles Durning does a eerie job of playing the sadistic Hazelrigg and after watching again the character (not Durning) has some awful overtones towards the Marylee in the film.  Great ghost revenge plot, scary scenes and a lot of camp stuff that never gets old.  One of my favourites and a must see.

1. IT (1990) - After the gruesome death of a little girl, librarian, Mike Hanlon finds a picture of his friend's departed little brother at the scene of the crime.  He puts 2 and 2 together and realizes that the evil clown Pennywise has resurfaced and he must contact his friends, who helped him defeat the evil clown when they were young.  As he calls each friend, they have flashbacks of how they all came together, their own personal experience with Pennywise and how they fought and thought that they defeated this evil monster. Now, that they know that Pennywise has come back, they must ban together as adults again and destroy this monster once and for all.  This was a fantastic mini series and one of the better reworkings of a Stephen King novel in the 90's.  Tim Curry brings the evil Pennywise to life and creates the scariest clown ever.  Bringing with him, some of the most memorable lines, like "Everything floats down here" and "Beep Beep Richie".  John Ritter (RIP), Harry Anderson, Tim Reid, Seth Green and number of talanted actors put this TV Movie together in an unforgettable way.  The ending may be up in the air for some people, but it's an all around creepy film that I'm able to watch again and again.


It's nice to look back and see television horror of a simpler time.  Where the monster was the enemy and there wasn't so many shades of grey.  There were dozens of films that i waited for the weekend to see and would hope to come back.  Now with studios putting out everything on disc or file, I don't have to wait any longer than the time it takes to go to the store or to download.

Monday, 18 June 2012

5 Vampire Movies That Don't Suck!

Disappointed by Burton's Dark Shadows, terrified for the wrong reasons about Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Twilight isn't really my thing. (I'm not judging, but if I want vampire melodrama, I'll watch True Blood and even then...)  So where does it leave someone like me, who wants some real heavy duty vampire films, where the heart is in the chest and not on their sleeves.  I guess, I'll have to go back to the crypt, crowbar open a casket and resurrect some titles of the past until this night passes.

Here are 5 Vampire Movies that Don't Suck:

5. Dracula (1931) Renfield is sent to Transylvania to finalize the ownership of Carfax Abbey in London with Count Dracula.  Once inside the castle, Renfield falls prey to Dracula and becomes his obedient slave.  They travel back to London by ship and Renfield seems to be the only survivor on board, but is believed to be insane, so he is sent to the Seward Sanitarium.  A few nights later, Count Dracula meets Dr. Seward, his daughter Mina, Lucy Weston and John Harker at a theater.  Lucy finds Dracula fascinating and a few nights later ends up dead.  During the autopsy, Dr. Van Helsing notices two puncture holes around the neck area, which are similar to those of other victims that have been brought in lately.  He calls a meeting of prominent doctors and decide it must be a vampire and Van Helsing must find and stop him! Bela Lugosi is brilliant as Dracula and this is what he will be forever known for. Director Tod Browning does a brilliant job and creates the look a feel of the vampire that we've all come to know.  There is no scenes of blood shed but shadow shots and cuts to black that alludes to the violence going on, which is fine, because the real horror is the menacing stares from Lugosi or the scenes of maddening fits with Dwigth Frye playing Renfield.  A must see for all horror fans!

4. The Horror of Dracula (1958) - Jonathan Harker goes to Dracula's castle under the guise of becoming his Librarian.  Once inside he attacks Dracula and his wife and is killed, fortunately he had the good sense to leave his notebook outside hidden and sent a letter to the inn girl he met once to go retrieve it, if anything happened to him. Van Helsing arrives in town looking for his Harker and the inn girl gives him the notebook that he had hidden and sent..., you know.  So, Van Helsing runs to the castle and is passed by a carriage carrying a coffin.  When he gets to the castle he only finds Harker vampirized and waiting for a stake, which Van Helsing sadly provides.  Van Helsing returns home to inform Harker's fiance and her family of his untimely demise, only to find out that Lucy has fallen ill.  After Lucy passes away and Van Helsing discover she too has become a victim of the horrors of Dracula (see what I did  there) he promises her family that he will stop at nothing until Dracula is destroyed!  Director Terence Fisher brought gothic horror to a new level with this film at that time.  With sexual overtones and the violence, which might seem mild now was unheard of back then.  Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing are brilliant as Van Helsing and Dracula and really bring the characters to life in this film.  The story deviates nicely from the original, which gives it a fresh look at the characters.  Not a lot of blood shed but the tension that Fisher brings is palpable.  If you want to see why Hammer Horror is so revered this is a great place to look.

3. Blacula (1972) - While in Transylvania seeking help from Count Dracula (bad move dude) to stop the slave trade, African Prince Mamuwalde is turned into a vampire and locked away in Dracula's coffin, never to see his beautiful wife again.  Fast forward, 200 years later and two interior decorators are buying up all the antiques from Dracula's estate including the coffin with Mamuwalde in it and having shipped to LA.  The decorators unlock the coffin while going through their inventory and become the first victims of Blacula!  While checking at the funeral home on his new minion, he see a woman, Tina that resembles his late wife and scares the bejeezus out of her on her way home.  She tells her friends, Michelle and Dr. Gordon Thomas about it.  Coincidentally,  it just so happens that Dr. Gordon is working with the police on some cases of mysterious deaths and decides to start looking into this caped Mumuwalde cat to see what he's all about.  William Marshall plays an excellent Dracula.  He is very aristocratic, well spoken and any one that can tell a lady he is not only 200 years old and he's a vampire and she sticks around is pretty smooth.  When Blacula attacks, it's similar to Christopher Lee style in the Hammer films.  The editing is hilarious in the club scene and there are some plot points that could really be questioned but why?  It's a fun vampire flick, that you should check out if you get a chance.

2. Lost Boys (1987) - Micheal, Sam and their mom move out to their grandfather's house in the small coastal town of Santa Carla, California.  Their they're quirky taxidermist enthusiastic grandfather lets them know that they moved to the murder capital of the country.  Shaken but not scared Michael and Sam head out to the boardwalk to check out the local scene.  Right away, Michael falls in love with a girl and starts following her (creepy) and Sam heads over to the comic book store, where he meets the Frog brothers (creepy), who warn him about the truth about Santa Carlo, which is that it is filled with Vampires! dun dun duuuuuun!  Anyhoo, Sam heads back to find Michael, who has finished stalking the girl because she is leaving with a creepy white haired guy, David and his bike gang.  Oh and their mom, Lucy got a job at a video store and fell in like with some guy.  Eventually, Michael joins David and his gang and is turned into a vampire 1st class.  He has some vampire power and hates the sun but he's not real vampire until he feeds and probably pays a membership fee.  Later on, David and the gang bring him to all you can eat buffet of California transients, but Michael decides not to feast and creates a shit storm for him and his family. Now Michael and Sam, with the help of the Frog brothers must stop this viscous gang of vamps!  I love this movie, probably my favourite of the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman films.  Keifer Sutherland is perfect as the villain, delivering some of the lines in his career.  And you have to hand it to Joel Schumacher for changing the script from being children to being teenagers because a lot of people would have left the theatre.  What can I sat,  this is an awesome movie!

1. From Dusk Til Dawn (1996) - Seth and Richard Gecko are on the lam after a bank robbery gets bloody and goes wrong.  They notice an RV in the motel parking lot and figure that it could get them through to Mexico, so they kidnap the owner, Pastor Jacob Fuller and his two children Kate and Scott and force them to get them past the border.  Once past the border, they head down to the Titty Twister, a bar where Seth and Richard are suppose to meet their contact Carlos.  Seth tells Jacob that once Carlos arrives they can leave and go back to their normal lives.  Unfortunately, the Titty Twister is a vampire bar and they and a few other patrons have to fight their way through the night to survive.  Written by Tarantino and directed by Rodriguez, this film is an awesome mixture of Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and El Mariachi. The cast is super cool, with Clooney, Keitel, Trejo, Juliette Lewis, Fred Williamson and even Tom Savini pops with a gun on his cock.  This movie is one of my favourites and instead of having to defeat one vampire, they have to stop an unrelenting wave of bloodsucking terror.  Fantastic film, spawned 2 forgettable sequals, but this is the one to see!

There are tons of great Vampire movies out there and these just scratch the surface.  So before you watch these films, hang up some garlic and wolfsbane, sit back and think about who you've invited into your house. And remember if you have a cross, that you got to believe Charlie, you got to believe.

Monday, 11 June 2012

5 Classic Haunted House Movies!

Like every kid, at one time or another I thought my house was haunted.  I would never wanted to go down into the basement and I hated going upstairs in the dark at night by myself.  It was an old house and like many haunted houses in the movies, it came with a lot of creaking floors, cold spots and even my bedroom closet door would creak open in the middle of the night, so really any kid with a healthy (or unhealthy) imagination would find my house supernaturally creepy.  Also, watching scary movies didn't help.

Most Haunted House movies before 1944 were either comedies, with silly ghosts running about or the end of the film ended up as people playing a practical joke on their friend or a crime flick with the house was part of some elaborate crime operation, that was trying to keep people away from the criminals base of operations. Then Paramount produced one of the first films, "The Uninvited" which portrayed the haunting as being a supernatural event.  From there, we've seen dozens of films, some good and some not so good, take that premise and run with it.

Here are 5 Classic Haunted House Movies!

5. House (1986) - Roger Cobb has some problems.  He is successful horror author, who is trying to write about his experience in Vietnam war.  Also, he is divorced from his celebrity wife and he lost his son in the house his aunt lives in.  So, when he finds out that his aunt has hung herself, he moves right in to finish his book.  After he moves in, he notices strange things happening around the house and that there is a creature or creatures that live in a closet upstairs.  This doesn't stop him from babysitting other people children or inviting George Wendt up for a beer.  You always invite George Wendt for a beer! Always!  Eventually, he realizes the place is haunted and he has to put a stop to it.  Steve Miner, who previously directed Friday the 13th Part 3, dishes out this acceptable horror comedy.  I remember loving this movie as a kid but unlike Poltergeist, it doesn't hold up as well.  Still enjoyable enough, seeing Richard Moll and George Wendt ham it up and the house monsters are done up nicely.  However, there seems to be an issue with time of day because there seems to be shots where it's night, but there is some heavy duty sunlight coming through the windows.  It's quirky, and has a few laughs, worth a watch.

4. Hausu (1977) - Gorgeous is excited to spend her vacation with her dad, however when she finds out her dad is bringing his girlfriend, she decides she doesn't want to go.  She asks her six friends if they want to go to her aunt's house during the summer.  They say sure and head out to the country.  Little do they know that the house is haunted and plans to devour them.  This Japanese film is a fun mess.  Apparently, no director wanted to touch the script after it was green lit and then after 2 years,  the producer, Nobuhiko Obayashi ended up taking the director's chair.  The film has some interesting editing effects and there is no lack of poor green screening here.  The story seems to be held together by a shoe string plot and when the ending arrives, you're scratching your head.  However, with that said, I really did love it!  The scenes where the house comes alive and start attacking the girls, is fun and silly.  There is also copious amounts of blood and at one point they are literally swimming in it.  If you like crazy Japanese horrors than you should definitely give this a spin.

3. 13 Ghosts (1960) - The Zorba family inherit a haunted house from their reclusive uncle Dr. Plato Zorba.  The ghosts can only be seen using the special glasses that Dr. Zorba invented and if that wasn't enough, there is a hidden treasure that is lost in the house somewhere and someone else is willing to kill for it.  This is another great William Castle classic, with gimmick glasses to boot.  Using the Illusion-O glasses you could opt to be "brave" and see the blue tinted ghosts, even though you could see the ghosts with or without the glasses, allowing it to be played on television for years.  Fun film, very silly and great watch.

2. The Haunting (1963) - After learning the creepy past of Hill House, Dr. Markway puts together a team to investigate the house to see if it's haunted.  He is allowed to investigate the house as long as the future inheritor, Luke Sanderson, can come along to make sure everything is on the up and up.  Unfortunately for Dr. Markway only two members of the team decided they were brave enough to show up; Theodora, a bitchy, psychic with some lady leanings and Eleanor, who had been taking care of her invalid mother until her recent passing.  Eleanor takes a liking to Hill House right away and starts believing that she has found a new home.  Can this team endure the bumps and bangings in the night and prove there are ghosts before madness overcomes them in Hill House.  Director Eric Wise (The Day the Earth Stood Still, Sound of Music) does a brilliant job in creating a classic haunted house picture.  The exteriors of the house were shot in infra-red to make it look more like a monster house.  Julie Harris is superb playing Eleandor, as she descends in madness or is the house really eating away at her.  There is no bloody scenes nor is there a body count, but it isn't really necessary.  The house is creepy and will leave a chill in your bones.

1. Poltergeist (1982) - Steve and Diane Freeling live with their three children in a wonderful planned community or so they thought until their daughter Carol Anne started talking to the snow on the television.  Shortly after that, there were weird rumblings in the house and furniture moving by itself.  Then one night the tree outside attacks their son, Robbie in his bedroom and as Steve and Diane run out to save him, the house abducts Carol Ann.  The family is devastated and turn to a group of paranormal investigators to help them get their daughter back from this evil house.  One of my all time favourite films, Poltergeist is a film that truly stands the test of time.  Written by Steven Spielberg and directed (questioningly) by Tobe Hooper, this film is the best haunted house films ever made.  Excellent special effects, some really gory scenes and the use of real skeletons, because they were less expensive, really brings this movie together.  Craig T. Nelson and Jo Beth Williams are on the top of their games as the distraught parents of Carol Ann, giving some of the most heart wrenching dialogue ever,  that as a parent, it made me teary eyed.  If you haven't seen this, than you should.  This is text book horror and a film that really scares, even by today's standards.

I love the idea that restless spirits come back from the grave and use the house as a conduit to torment the people.  So the next evening you're at home and a chill cuts through you like a knife, or you can hear banging in the middle of the night, don't be so sure it's the house settling because it may be settling on you.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

5 Films Where Nuns Go Wild

I grew up in a Roman Catholic environment.  We went to church every Sunday, my parents were catholic school teachers and at one point, I was even an alter boy.  So, when I found out there was a specific genre called Nunsploitation, I was all over that like a priest all over a..., um, never mind.  Apparently, this subgenre of film peaked in Europe during the 1970's, along with women's prison movies and Nazisploitation.  The films looked into the religious oppression and the hypocrisy of the church.  Usually set in the middle ages, they would show the sexual suppression of the women, lecherous priests and the brutal punishment of the church.  Most have scenes of secret love affairs between nuns, violent whippings and other torture scenes that I was really surprised to see.

I tried to keep the films in a horror genre because there are a ton of dramas within this sub genre, so...

 Here are 5 films where Nuns Go Wild:

5. Flavia, The Heretic (1974) - A young nun, Flavia is forced into a convent by her father.  There she must except the rigid lifestyle these nuns have been forced to accept.  She witnesses a nobleman raping a peasant girl in a near by village and the killing of her friend from the convent as a punishment for disobeying the lord,  which leads her into questioning her faith and trying to escape.  After her escape had been thwarted and being whipped, she hooks up with Muslims and attacks the convent to get revenge. This was an interesting movie and apparently based around real events in Italy during the 1400's. The pacing for the film is rather slow and I didn't find Flavia a very sympathetic character.  There is a lot of man bashing, questioning of regilious authority and it really is more dramatic than what I was expecting it to be.  There is some good battle scenes when the Muslims arrive and there are some crazy as shit scenes, like Flavia hanging out in a cow carcass in a dream sequence or the punishment at the end.  Unfortunately, it doesn't really work as a horror, even though there are horrific scenes, but if you're looking for an exploratory feminist type film with a lot of gory scenes of castration, rape and other weird shit, this may be for you.

4. Nude Nuns with Big Guns (2010) -After a drug deal goes bad, Sister Sarah is drugged and sent to work at a whorehouse.  After she escapes, she arms herself and goes out to get her revenge on the church and Chavo, the leader of the biker gang, who does the dirty work of the church.  This film was a lot more fun than I thought it was going to be.  After you get through, the Kill Bill style of names and places popping up every 10 seconds and the use of every different colour treatments on every scene, there is actually a good story underneath all that shit.  There is lots of blood, guts and gore and this rolls as a Tarantino-esque action film.  I was hoping to see Danny Trejo, but I guess he was busy working on every other film like this.   Fun flick, totally recommend it.

3. Satanico Pandemonium (La Sexorcista) (1975) - Satan finds Sister Maria walking through the forest on a sunny day.  She runs away but you know the devil, he will stop at nothing!  Throughout the film, he torments Sister Maria into breaking her vows of celibacy, acts of lesbianism and even murder!  This film was fun, pacing again slow but there are some silly thing that will make you chuckle. There aren't really to many gory scenes, but its cool to watch the way the devil torments the nun into his submission and how easy it seems to be.  Nice twist at the end of the film and the name of the film is super cool. Couldn't find a trailer, so here's a clip.

2. School of the Holy Beast (aka Seiju gakuen) (1974) - After growing up an orphan, Maya Takigawa returns to the Sacred Heart Convent to find out what happened to her mother.  Once there she discovers a lesbian Mother Superior, a lecherous priest and a coven of cackling nuns with a lust for tormenting one another.  It's unbelievable how many crazy scenes there are in this film and all the bizarre twist it takes.  Like any good Japanese gore film, it is all about revenge(!) and punishment is handed down like rain.  Half naked women whipping each other with rose thorn vines, self flagellation and anything else you'd expect from a good sploitation film.  Story is a little hard to follow at first but it catches up near the end.  Totally worth seeing.

1. Alucarda, La Hija de La Tinieblas (1977) - After the death of her parents, Justine is brought to the local convent to live.  She makes a new best friend, Alucarda and they go off frolicking in the fields.  One day, while frolicking they run into a gypsy, who wants to give them candy or something, anyway they follow him back to his trailer, have they're fortunes read and then go home to the convent.  That night, Alucarda thinks it would awesome if they became blood BFF's, a storm brews outside and surprise the gypsy was Satan!  Now Alucarda and Justine are under Satan's spell and must cause evil where ever they go.  The nuns at the school and a random doctor must help them and remove them from Satan's foul hand! I was a bit apprehensive when this film when it started but as it continued on, it snowballed into one bizarre tale and ended up being my favourite of the bunch.  The girl who played Alucarda is so creepy and really drives the film.  In the end sequence there is tons of gore and the set dec for this film is crazy, with crucified men hanging in the background.  The dialogue is awful, if you had to take a drink ever someone said "I'm frightened" or "I'm scared", you be drunk in the first 20 minutes. This is one of the nuttiest exorcism films I have ever seen and should totally be on your list.

Although these days, I'm on a different end of the spectrum from when I was growing up, I can still appreciate the idea of this eternal fight of God versus the Devil or even the noble idea of sacrificing your body and soul for the ideals of the church but I couldn't see myself in that position and that's probably why these films are so tasty and sacrallious.