Sunday, 25 November 2012

5 Edgar Allan Poe Inspired Movies

 I love Edgar Allan Poe and I'm not afraid to say it.  Not the John Cusack, Edgar Allan Poe that the film The Raven the depicts but the author, who's macabre tales have become to be so embedded into our lives through television and film.  Who could forget the Corman Classics that vaulted Vincent Price to fame or even the Treehouse of Terror, when Homer Simpson is chasing a Raven, squawking nevermore. These nightmare tales of long ago are the cornerstones of today's horror films.

Here are 5 Edgar Allan Poe Inspired Movies

5. The House of Usher (2006) - Masseuse and lonely hearts club member, Jill Michaelson receives a phone call that her former besty, Maddy Usher is dead.  She cancels her appointments and heads out to the house of Usher for the funeral, where she fears meeting up with former flame and twin brother of the deceased, Roderick Usher.  When she arrives, she is greeted coldly by the caretaker/nurse Mrs. Thatcher and meets up with Roderick.  After the funeral, Roderick explains that he has a rare disease that has been with his family for years and that is why he broke up with her in the first place.  He tells her that he has found a way to control it and wants to rekindle the love that they once had but she demands that no more secrets be kept between them.  He agrees and she spends the weekend, unfortunately, she keeps thinking that she sees her dead friend Maddy on the grounds.  When she mentions it to Mrs. Thatcher, she gets another lecture about how she is not welcome in the house.  Also, she discovers that Roderick has been keeping secrets and he has a Sensory Deprivation chamber, which he uses to regenerate himself, when he feels low from the disease.  That bastard!  And she still is seeing Maddy around?  What's going on, is Jill losing her mind? I hope so because at least that would be interesting.  This movie is sooooo dull.  The movie runs for an hour and 21 minutes and the last 15 are really the best.  Austin Nichols, who plays Roderick Usher, is so stiff and lifeless that they should have used a cardboard cut out of him.  The only saving grace to Izabella's Miko's performance is that her nipples are showing through her skimpy skirts in every scene.  Maybe she was to cold to act, I don't know.  Beth Grant who played Thatcher,  is creepy and I though she was good, until the end when her character starts doing things that are confusing and don't make sense.  I read that this won an award for cinematography in Boston, I would have hated to see the other competitors films.  There's a little blood letting near the end, when people start doing stuff but it doesn't make up for the dullness of the whole film. 

4. Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971) - Madeleine Charron is having nightmares about a masked man wielding an ax and chasing her through a house.  She seems to have these nightmares everywhere, including at work where she is an actress on stage being attacked by a gorilla.  Although she is sleeping through her part, the play goes off with out a hitch and everyone is happy until... they realize the man in the gorilla costume wasn't the right guy because that guy is dead in a closet from acid in the face. Dun Dun Dun!  Cesar, the troupe's lead actor, owner and aged husband to the young Madeline, is distraught over the death of his colleague, gorilla man, and after speaking to the police, he goes to speak with his old friend at the whorehouse.  Apparently, she was part of Cesar's troupe and remembers how Madeline's mother, who was also an actress in his troupe, was supposedly killed by her husband, Rene Marot, another actor, after he had been splash in the face with acid during a show, completely disfiguring him and driving him into madness, MADNESS!  Then he was killed and they both remember being at his funeral, so it couldn't be him because he's dead.  So they make out and then Cesar leaves, only moments later a masked man in a cape comes looking for the same lady.  As she gets ready for more sexy time, but he pours acid on her face and bang, now she's dead.  The police are baffled, Madeline can't sleep because of her dreams and Cesar is worried that his former friend and alleged ax murder, Rene Marot is on the loose!  Can Cesar and Madeline find out the truth, stop the terrifying dreams and put Rene Marot to rest?  This movie is kind of all over the place and has a man in a gorilla suit, which from my experience, never bodes well for a movie.  The dream sequences show up a lot and I wished that the film focused more on the Madeline character searching out the truth instead of the Cesar character played Jason Robards looking for the killer.  I think Herbert Lom, who plays Rene Marot is terrific and makes a great villain but some of his lines are kind of hokey.  A lot of Acid gets thrown around to kill people, eventually there are some good ax killings.  Very loosely based on Poe's story of the same name, but it worth checking out.

3. Tell Tale (2009) - Terry is a lonely young dad who has recently had a heart transplant. His daughter, Angela has a rare disease and hot doctor lady, Elizabeth Clemson,taking care of her, so he needs to visit the hospital all the time.  On one of the occasions at the hospital, Terry passes an EMT and his heart goes ballistic, what's going on! Is it a stroke, a heart attack, is Terry in love? Terry talks with his doctor and the doctor reassures Terry that everything is fine.  When the doctor leaves his office, Terry has a sneak peek at his file and learns his donors name was Jean Vieillard.  With more research, he learns that Jean Vieillard and his wife were murdered in a botched break & enter.  Later at the hospital, he passes the same EMT and heart starts pounding, he recognizes the EMT's name from his file and goes outside to speak with him.  When Terry mentions the name Vieillard, the EMT freaks out and mentions the name, Acherton and then Terry shanks him with some glass.  Terry gets home and can't believe what has happened! So he goes to bed.  The next day, he contacts the detective who work the Vieillard case and drops the name Acherton to see if the detective has heard it before.  He hadn't but is interested why Terry is so interested in the case and Terry lies and says he knew Vieillard.  That night, while at the hospital with his daughter, he passes an orderly and his heart goes berserk.  He notices that his name is Acherton!  He waits til Acherton leaves and follows him to the train.  Then without asking any questions, pushes Acherton into the on coming train.  Terry realizes that his heart is finding the people who killed his donor and the wife of the donor and it's the only way to stop the pounding of his hideous heart!  The movie's okay and it's an interesting take on the story, but the Terry character doesn't ask enough questions when he finds these people who killed Vieillard.  If he did, then the movie would be over in half the time.  The daughter, seems to be a place holder character to bring Dr. Clemson and Terry together, because she disappears when not needed and no one seems babysit when Terry goes out to kill, even though she seems to need constant attention.  The killing scenes are fine, nothing to really gory, but it's what you would expect from a television director.  The ending twist is visible miles away and leaves you humdrum and wishing it could have been placed a little earlier just to get it out of the way.  All round, not the best Poe telling but not the worst.

2. The Black Cat (1934) - Peter & Joan Allison are enjoying their honeymoon traveling by train across Hungary when they end up sharing their car with Dr. Vitus Werdegast.  When they arrive at the station, they share a bus and Werdegast explains that he is visiting his friend, Hjalmar Poelzig.  On the way there they run into a terrible storm and while the bus driver is giving everybody horrific tidbits of information about the area, he crashes the bus.  Joan is injured but luckily, Hjalmar only lives a little ways away.  They arrive and are graciously received by Hjalmar. Dr. Werdegast tends to Joan and everything seems to be alright.  However, Dr. Werdegast has secretly come to exact revenge on Hjalmar for betraying him and his country man during the war and for stealing his wife while Dr. Werdegast was in prison.  Hjalmar doesn't seem to care and tells Werdegast that his wife and daughter, Karen are dead.  While they're talking a black cat comes into the room and Dr. Werdegast flips out and shoots the cat.  Apparently, he really doesn't like cats.  Well, there's been enough excitement for one day, so everyone goes to bed, except Hjalmar, who goes down his secret hallway of women enclosed in class to sleep with Karen, who he is now married to. um eww.  The next morning, Peter and Joan want to get the hell out of there, but there is no phone, car, bicycle or even balloon that can take them into town.  Did I mention that Hjalmar was a Satanist? Well, he is and all his cult friends are swinging by tonight to sacrifice Joan.  Can Dr. Werdegast save Peter and Joan by making a bet on a chess game? Watch and find out! Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff star in this very loosely based Poe yarn.  Lugosi as Dr. Werdegast does play a good misunderstood hero to Karloff's evil Hjalmar Poelzig.  This is the first of 8 pairing for this duo which was the biggest box office draw for Universal the year it came out.  The film is good and it's fun because they make Karloff's character more evil as the film goes on.  Nothing gory with the exception of a flaying scene, which is done in shadow, but there are some tense scenes.  The film has very little to do with the story "The Black Cat" but it's just an hour and but and worth checking out.

1. The Masque of the Red Death (1964) - Douchebag and landowner, Prince Prospero has come to one of his villages.  While there, Gino, local farmer/big mouth gives Prince Prospero a piece of his mind and gets thrown into chains.  Gino's girlfriend, Francesca and her father beg for his Prince Prospero forgiveness and to free Gino.  So Prospero has them all chained to teach them a lesson. Before they leave, a guard informs him there is an old woman there with the Red Death plague! Prince Prospero commands them to burn the village and they head out, leaving the village in flames.  Gino and Francesca's father are locked up in the dungeon, while the Prince comes up with a suitable death for the both of them and decides to find a way to turn Francesca's soul over to Satan, his master.  Prince Prospero is a Satanist and believes that he is the Devil's right hand man on Earth and his girlfriend, Julianna wants to marry Satan, so they think they are safe from the Red Death.  So to celebrate being locked up in the his castle away from the Red Death, Prince Prospero is going to have a Masquerade party.  How will Francesca keep her soul from Satan, rescue her father and the love of her life, Gino! Will Evil finally triumph over good and will Prospero's terrible deeds go unvanquished?  I really enjoy Corman's films.  Vincent Price is awesome as the villain, Prince Prospero and really sells the evil the way only Vincent Price can.  The sets are gorgeous and Roger Corman does a fantastic adding other nuances of Poe tales into the story.  The story is way over the top and has little similarity to the actual story but it still does a great job in being scary.  Not a lot of blood, but a huge body count! This is one to really watch if you like classic horror.

Most of these films use Poe's tales as a launching board and some hit the pool and other didn't notice that the pool was drained.  There are dozens of anthologies of his stories and I highly recommend reading them, if you enjoying tales of terror.  Who knows, you may need a fiendish idea at some time, so why not take one from the best.

P.S - This 5 could have been really easy and I could have just watched all the Roger Corman movies but I've seen that there are more recent telling of these tales and I think it's fun to find movies.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

5 Killer Phone Movies

Telephones sure have come a long way.  Watching most of these films, it's funny to see how low tech this technology really was 30 years ago.  No caller ID, no answering machines, and no last number called.  What a perfect device to include in a horror story! Menacing calls from the unknown and people not knowing who was lurking on the line.  Untraceable tormentors that could keep their victims hanging on, until the right moment to pounce!  Add in a super natural element or a scientific anomaly and you have the making of not only a great film but an urban legend as well.

So with that in mind, here are 5 Killer Phone Movies:

5. 976-Evil (1988) - Spike returns to his Aunt's home after a terrible night of card playing.  He lost the pink slip to his motorcycle and needs to find some cash to cover it or he loses it forever. While going through his pockets, he finds a 976-EVIL Horroscope flyer and for a hoot, gives it a call.  The evil voice says something menacing and he just laughs it off.  So he goes down to his Aunt's kitchen and takes money that is hidden away.  His Aunt catches him and we learn that Spike is an orphan and that he has a fund put away for him by his deceased parents, but his evil Aunt uses the money to take care of him and his cousin Hoax.  Hoax shows up and he is a wimpy nerdy kid.  They all go outside and it rains fish.  Aunt Lucy is big into God, so she thinks this is a positive sign.  The next day, Spike goes to the bathroom at high school to pay the money he owes.  There he finds Hoax being bullied, so after paying the leader Marcus the money he owed, he saves Hoax, by beating Marcus and his gang up.  In another part of the movie, a reporter, Marty from a bible magazine visits the Aunt to write a story about the raining fish.  Tired of being bullied, Hoax finds the 976-EVIL flyer and it (eventually) offers him power to stop being such a wuss but it ends up the demon just possesses him at starts killing his enemies.  After a few dead bodies show up, Spike and Marty, who somehow meet, have to find way to stop the demon who has taken over Hoax!  Robert England directs this mess, which is a real shame.  The first 30 - 40 minutes are confusing, but when Hoax, played by Stephen Geoffreys (Firght Night), finally becomes possessed then the story starts to go somewhere.  Geoffreys is excellent as the nerdy wimpy kid and you really feel for the character.  There are obvious green screen scenes and it's just so badly put together that it really more painful to watch than fun.  There are some good kill scenes but with the confusion and what not, I'd try and miss this call.

4. Murder by Phone (aka Bells) (1982) - A girl on the subway platform answers a public phone and it kills her with a electrical shock.  The police call it a heart attack, but the father asks her former teacher and electrical expert, Nat Bridger to look into it, when he goes into town for the conference.  While there Nat Bridger goes to the police but Lt. Meara says that case is closed, it was a heart attack and the phone company won't let Nat Bridger look at the confidential files to find the truth.  Damn you phone company!  Meanwhile, a series of electrical exploding phones have been killing people in the phone company and other random people.  Nat Bridger must piece this together with help from, Ridley Taylor or RT,  an artist he just met, who also works for the phone company as a muralist and his best friend, Stanely Markowitz, who is the environmental liaison for the phone company.  They all must discover what the phone company is trying to cover up and stop the phone killer once and for all! This Canadian horror film was surprisingly enjoyable to watch.  The phone calls create some excellent bloody scenes and are very impressive. Richard Chamberlain doesn't phone it in, when playing Nat Bridger and does a good job.  Recognizable talent from Canada are in this and you even see a young Luba Goy.  The story is well done and can be really creepy at times.  Good movie and worth watching.

3. When A Stranger Calls (1979) - Jill Johnson is going to babysit for the Mandrakis's for the first time.  She is greeted by the family and already she is in trouble because she can't pronounce their last name. "Lol, that's okay" says Mr. Mandrakis and lets her know the kids are sleeping up stairs.  They head out and now Jill sits on the couch and waits for them to come home.  While Jill is doing her homework, the phone rings and when she answers, the person hangs up.  This happens a few times, then the caller asks if she has checked on the children?  Jill is now creeped out and calls the police, they tell her not to worry about it, happens all the time.  Blow a whistle in his receiver and they'll never call again, so Jill hangs up and turns out the light.  The phone calls persist and she calls the police again, they tell her to keep the creep on the line and they'll trace the call.  Luckily, the next call, the guy feels more chatty and they talk until Jill mentions that she has talked to the police and the guy hangs up.  The phone rings and it's the police, they utter one of the best lines in horror movie history, "The call is coming from inside the house".  Jill panics, sees a door open upstairs and she bolts to the front door, where Detective John Clifford as arrived with his squad.  Ends up that Jill not only can't pronounce people's last names but she can't hear when homicidal maniacs sneak into the house and viciously murder children either.  The police take killer, Curt Duncan and lock him up in a mental ward.  However, 7 years later, Curt Duncan escapes and the Mr. Mandrakis hires former Detective John Clifford to find him!  Clifford searches the shelters and seedy bars to find Duncan but eventually it leads him back to Jill Johnson, terrible babysitter and now excellent mom.  Clifford must stop Duncan before he ruins her life... again!  Carol Kane, who plays Jill Johnson, is fantastic in this and I wish they used more of her in it.  She's in the beginning and she's tack on at the end as well.  It's a terrific movie but the middle part where Charles Durning, playing the John Clifford role, searches for the Curt Duncan character, drags on and on and on.  There is a very low body count in the film and turns into more of a thriller rather than a horror film, with Charles Durning chasing (literally) the escape mental patient.  It's worth a watch, just for Carol Kane and to here the line.  It'll send chills down your spine.

2. Chakushin Ari (aka One Missed Call) (2003) - Nakamura Yumi & Okazaki Yoko are out for dinner when Okazaki Yoko gets a mysterious call on her cell phone from her own cell phone! They listen to the message, which is dated for two days in the future and it's Yoko talking, then screaming in terror.  They laugh it off and think someone is playing a prank on them.  Unfortunately 2 days later, Yumi is  talking to Yoko on her cell phone and Yoko is thrown in front of a speeding train and dies.  Yumi is totally freaked out and tries to talk to her friend, Kenji but he gets a call too!  It's dated for the next couple minutes, they listen to the message and he thinks it a prank too.  That is until he gets sucked down an elevator shaft and dies.  People are now freaking, Yumi's new best friend, Natsumi gets the next call and to try to stop whatever will happen, they cancel their phone subscritions and throw away their phones.  The local news wants Natsumito to have an live exorcism and to be safe, she agrees.  Yumi meets Yamashita, who's sister died from a similar fate and wants to stop the evil force that is killing everybody.  Yumi and Yamashita team up to find out what the problem is with this ghost before it kills Natsunito and everyone else on it's phone list! This is the tamest Takashi Miike film, I ever seen.  The gore level has been turned down and there are no sick twists in the film that I've come to expect.  With that said, this movie is still a fantastic ghost story that will scare the shit out of you.  I jumped a few times and I hardly jump any more at movies.  I like the way the ghosts look in this movie too and it's not that stop/start stuff from Ringu, which is very popular these days with the kids.  Good use of using the new technology and integrating with old Japanese ghost characters.  The ending was weird but what do you expect?  Great Film, a definite must see!

1. Scream (1996) - Sidney Prescott goes to school and learns that her two classmates, Casey and Steve have been murder!  Still coming to terms with her own mother's rape and murder, from last year, Sidney decides to go home and asks her friend Tatum to call her.  While at home, she gets a disturbing phone call from the killer and is attacked in her home.  She barricades the door, uses her computer to contact the police, but the killer has left and her undersexed boyfriend, Billy shows up at the same time and drops his cellular phone.  The police arrest Billy and he pleads with Sidney that it wasn't him.  That night, Sidney stays at Tatum's house because Sidney's dad is away and she gets a call from the killer! Billy's in jail, who could it be?  The next day, they go to school and people are scaring each other with the costume of the killer.  The principal has had it and sends everyone home until further notice and the police put a curfew into effect.  Tatum's boyfriend, Stu thinks this is the best time to have a party, so he throws one that night at his parents house.  Everyone goes to the party and that's when the killer starts knocking them off like flies.  Sidney needs to escape and try to save as many friends as she can, for the sequel!  This film is what rebooted Wes Craven's career and may have revived the horror genre from it's withering demise.  Kevin Williamson's brilliant script not only told a very complex horror story but broke down the 4th wall.  Allowing audiences in and discussing the tricks of horror movies that we had all become accustomed too. Fantastic casting, bringing in a bevy of young talent and even killing off a star, Drew Barrymore, right at the top of the film.  Also, working in new technology, like home computers, cellular phones was very interesting to see at that time. Great references, smart writing and good killing.  The first Scream is still as enjoyable to watch and one of the Wes Cravens best. 

 So next time you answer your phone, make sure you take a look to see who's calling because you don't want to end up as a dead tone.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

5 Films of Full of Undead Nazis

What's more scary than Nazis? Undead Nazis!  These films give people a chance to kill everyone's favourite villains again and again or at least until they're shot in the head or set on fire or...they just go back to their lake?  Anyhoo, Since 1959, the idea that the Nazi party was linked to the occult has become so popular that it has generated a number of books and has found it's way into comic books and many films.

Here are 5 Films of Full of Undead Nazis

5. Zombie Lake (1981) - A small town in France is plagued by zombies who attack swimmers in the lake and sometimes come to attack the village.  A reporter comes to the town to get a story about the lake and the mayor tells her that at the end of the war, when the Nazi's who occupied the town were leaving, some of the villagers killed a group of them and threw them in a lake.  Including one Nazi, who fell in love with a girl in town and she had a baby on the same day they left.  She died giving birth.  Later on in the film, we find out the lake is cursed or it has black magic or something and that is why the zombies come out of the lake to kill people, sometimes.  The mayor and village have tried nothing to stop this evil horde and they've run out of ideas!  How can this town stop this horrible problem?  This movie is a must see for any lover of bad cinema, it is soooo insane!  I have no idea where Director Jean Rollin was going with this one.  I have never seen zombies like these! A heartfelt re-union between zombie Nazi and daughter, zombies fighting each other for pack supremacy and zombies not attacking people! WTF! Characters being introduced and then disappearing, nude girls just showing up, not complaining but totally unnecessary and a town full of idiots. The script is Terrible and the dialogue is Horrible but if you watch it, you'll laugh your ass off and try and to convince all your friends to watch it with you the next day. 

4. Oasis of the Zombie (aka La Tumba de los Muertos Vivientes or The Treasure of the Living Dead) (1982) -After hearing that his father died, Robert receives a telegram at school and returns home with his friends.  He reads his father's Special Moments diary and learns that his father, while fighting in the Africa Korps against the Nazi's, ambushed a convoy of Nazi Gold! Unfortunately, his platoon was massacred along with the Germans and he was the only survivor.  He was taken into the home of a wealthy sheik and recovered there.  While recovering, he fell in love with the sheik's daughter and had got some wartime relief, if you know what I sayin, and then skipped town.  He came back to later to find the sheik's daughter, but she had passed away during child birth and guess we're put to speed.  Nazi Gold! Everyone screams and Robert says he has a map to it and everything, so off they go the Africa to collect it.  Unfortunately, the man who killed Robert's father, the evil Kurt and his unsuspecting of how evil Kurt is, wife are already there searching for the gold.  When they arrive, they are attack by Nazi zombies!  Can Robert and his friends get through this monotonous film, collect the treasure and avoid getting killed by the undead 3rd Reich? You'll have to see! This film was directed by Jesus Franco, who coincidentally had a hand in writing Zombie Lake, so you can only guess how awesome this movie is.  Unlike Zombie Lake, the film drags and there isn't really anything truly outrageous happening that make you laugh.  The script is confusing and the ending is the worst that I've ever seen.  I was like WTF? Cuz the endings of bad films, for me are the real jewels of the bad cinema experience.  Most of the time, all the other nonsense can be disregarded as long as the ending is killer and it makes sense.  This one failed.  The zombies are okay and there are a couple of good gory scenes but Franco spends way to much time developing the Robert character, which no one gives a shit about.  More zombies please, more zombies killing.  Check it out if you want, it still has a few moments but it's not the best treasure in the desert.

3. Revenge of the Zombie (1943) - After the death of his sister Lila, Scott Warrington and his hired goon, Larry Adams head back to the family home to speak with his strange brother in law, Dr. Max Heinrich von Alterman.  He's from Wisconsin. When they get into town they meet up with local busy body, Dr. Keating, invite him along to the funeral and devise a plan to trick Dr. von Alterman into thinking Scott is Larry and Larry is Scott.  Nothing like funeral fun.  As they're about to leave Scott's driver Jeff sees a creepy dude in the bushes and freaks out.  He tells Scott, but by the time they reach the bush, the mysterious stranger has left and so the gang just head over to the mansion.  At the mansion, Dr. von Alterman is finishing up his experiment to bring Lila back to life from the dead, as a demonstration to his Nazi cohorts that he can create an army of undead super soldiers that will help them take over the world! hahhahahahahahah! And then his brother in law Scott shows up with his buddies to pay their condolences.  He greets them and is introduced by Dr. Keating as the Larry/Scott switcheroo plan and they meet his lovely assistant, Jennifer.  Dr. von Alterman lets them go to see the body on their own, but when they get there it's gone!  They start searching the house and when they find Dr. von Alterman, they return to the parlor and the body is there again.  They reveal their stupid switcheroo plan to Dr. von Alterman and the plot moves on.  Larry thinks there is something funny happening at the house and Jeff keeps seeing dead things all over the house!  Can they stop Dr. von Alterman from creating Nazi Super Soldiers and help save the world in only 61 minutes? This is a confusing movie at times because of the Jeff character, played by Mantan Moreland.  Assuming he is the comic relief, his scenes take away for the central zombie situation.  It seems like there are 2 movies in this film and it's sad that they had to keep the Jeff character so separate from the rest of the movie until the end.  With that aside, the John Carradine is an excellent villain as Dr. von Alterman and Gale Storms has an awesome name.  Still if you enjoy old school zombies, who lumber about it's still a good watch.  As a side note, Dr. von Alterman turns his wife into a zombie so she'll listen to him and obey his commands.  I don't see that happening alive or dead.

2. Shock Waves (1977) -A boatload of vacationers are out on the ocean when there is a weird disturbance in the sky and everything turns orange.  No one can explain it, so they all go for dinner.  That night, a large boat almost crashes into them but thanks to Keith, the captain's right hand man, averts the crisis and everyone can sleep safely.  The next morning though, the captain is nowhere to be found and there's a problem with the boat.  Luckily, there's a creepy island pretty close by, so Keith starts bringing them over to the island in the dingy.  On the last trip over to the island, the dingy only seats 2, Keith finds the captain dead in the water. Keith and one of the vacationers, Chuck drag the captains body ashore and like the rest of the audience want to know how he got out there?  Somebody spots a house on the other side of the forest/jungle and they head on over to get some help.  When the reach the mansion, it seems abandon but there are fish in the aquarium and power in the house.  Then they hear music and wander like sheep toward the music.  When they arrive at the foyer, a booming voice asks them what the want in a Wizard of Oz kinda way.  Keith tells the great and powerful voice their tales of woe and asks the voice for help?  The voice says no.  The voice asks them about the ship that almost hit them and Keith says it's been sand barred and isn't moving.  This freaks the voice out and he takes off.  The voice, now in old man form, runs down to the beach and sees the ship, then has a dramatic sit down at the edge of the beach. The next morning, Keith asks the ship's cook, Dobbs to run over to the boat and grab some grub for everybody.  Dobbs complains but heads out to pick up the food and on the way back he is attack by under water nazi's.  That's right more under water nazi's bitches!  While Keith is fluffing pillows in the creepy mansion, he sees the voice, in old man form, return and goes to speak with him.  The voice in old man form, tells him, it's really a bad time for his visit and that Keith and his friends need to get off the island.  He tells him there is a small boat and a civilized island 2 days from here.  Keith thanks him and we cut to vacationer, Rose enjoying a relaxing swim, when she discovers the floating corpse of Dobbs.  Worst vacation ever! They haul his carcass out of the water and Keith gives them the run down on how to get off the island.  While trying to get to the boat they're attack by, can you guess, under water Nazi zombies!  Can this group of vacationers get off this island of the damned or have they traded Club Med for Club Dead?  For a PG film made in 70's, it's actually pretty good.  John Carradine plays the crotchety old sea captain and although the character isn't around for very long, it's still a good performance.   Same with Peter Cushing, who plays the voice.  He plays the character to a tee with what the director gave him.  The zombies look creepy and it's PG, so there isn't a lot of blood shed but there are some good drowning scenes.  The ending is excellent and the whole film is worth watching, if your looking for a good B-movie.

1. Outpost (2008) - Scientist & shady third party lap dog, Hunt hires a team of mercenaries under the command of a guy named DC.  Hunt tells DC, that it's a 48 hour job to collect some mineral samples and needs a team to protect him in the dangerous out skirts of a Eastern European war torn village.  They head out the next day and find an underground bunker where the samples should be located.  DC leaves 2 men on top  while the rest go inside.  When they go into the bunker, they find more than just samples, they find a group of dead bodies in a room with one person still alive.  The person doesn't speak but can move and the put him in a room with a guard. The 2 men above start getting fired upon and a short lived gun melee ensues. A man is shot with a bullet that shot be in a museum and team feels that this may be just the beginning of a bad outing.  DC discovers that Hunt was lying and they weren't there for mineral samples (waaaah?) but for a crazy science machine that shifts reality and can re-animate the dead.  DC soon realizes that his team up is up against some crazy undead Nazi shit and he will have to get his team out alive somehow! Director Steve Barker puts together a delightful and gruesome thriller that will have you chanting for more. (there is a sequel)  The story is basic horror but evolves and adds some really nice sci-fi elements to the plot.  Does the science work, who knows and who cares!  Is there a lot of blood and killing scenes, you betcha!  Good cast, good script and an ending that will make you smile.  Check it out if you get a chance! 

So, if you are looking for some historically accurate films about the war, you are in the wrong place but if you want to watch some Nazi zombies have the shit blown out of them, then these are the films to watch. 

P.S - Dead Snow is a fantastic film.  However, I wrote about it in the Easter blog and there are so many movies out there that I still don't think it's necessary to write about them twice, no matter how perfect it is for this blog in every way.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

5 Fiendish Frankenstein Films!

When Mary Shelley created the Frankenstein novel, I wonder if she knew what kind of monster she was creating.  I haven't read the book for years, but the monster is one of my favourite characters of all time.  The idea that a scientist can create a living being, out of the dead people must have been an incredibly chilling thought at that time.  Today, with transplants being so common, the thought of using donor's parts is less chilling and more of a miracle of technology.

Over the years, Frankenstein's monster has become a part of society and is even used to describe a combination of things that are terrifying like Frankenstorm, Frankenfood Al Franken, (Just kidding, I love Al Franken)  but my favourite combination though is the classic story and film.

Here are 5 Fiendish Frankenstein Films!

5. Frankenstein 80 (1972) - Reporter Karl Schein's sister needs a new liver or she's going to die!  Luckily, one has just arrived at the hospital and Dr. Schwartz can put it in to fix her up right away.  He is going to use his new Schwartz formula that allows any transplant to work out just fine.  Use the Schwartz! However, someone has stolen the only jar of Schwartz and the Dr. Schwartz can't make any more for some reason, so Karl Schein's sister dies.  While looking directly at Dr. Schwartz, Karl vows to find his sister's killer, the man who stole the schwartz!  Luckily, the audience finds out that it's one of Dr. Schwartz's co-workers, Dr. Frankenstein.  Who happens to have a secret laboratory in his office at the hospital behind a bookcase, where he works on build his monster, Mosaic!  Moasic has been on a rampage lately, sneaking out and killing women, so using the Schwartz, Dr. Frankenstein gives him a new liver and a testicle implant.  Just what every monster needs. Karl speaks with the police, who are the dumbest police squad ever and he eventually finds his way to Dr. Frankensteins house.  He meets Dr. Frankenstein's ward, Sonia, who tells him Dr. Frankenstein is not home, so he leaves.  Done and Done. With a brand new testicle, Moasiac heads out for a night on the town and picks up a hooker.  Dr. Frankenstein finds them but it's too late, Moasic has already raped and killed her.  Now they have to get out of there before the police find them.  Can Karl find out who stole the Schwartz and help the police stop Moasic killing women? Who knows?  Cinematographer & one time director Mario Mancini puts together this bizarre mess of a film.  It's such a simple formula, Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster, it kills people, the police try and find out whodunnit, this should be a slam dunk for the giallo style but Mancini didn't even show up to the court.  The script is so confusing and ridiculous, that I had no idea what was happening for like the first ten minutes.  When Dr. Schwartz and his nurse go missing, the police end up searching for the nurse, and when Karl has a taped confession of Dr. Frankenstein for killing Dr. Schwartz, he ignores it and focuses on a birthmark clue! aaaaah, he just said he killed Dr. Schwartz!  There are definitely some gruesome and disturbing scenes but it takes so long to get to them and some don't even make sense.  With that said, it is worth a watch, if you enjoy reaaaallly bad movies because the true monster is the production.

4. Blackenstein (1973) - Dr. Winifred Walker visits her old professor Dr. Stein to see if he can help her fiance Eddie.  Eddie is a Vietnam vet, who lost his arms and legs on a land mine and Dr. Stein has been working on a formula to attach limbs back to the body.  Dr. Stein brings Winifred around the house to his other two patients to see the positive effects of the drug, he's created.  One lady is 90 and she looks I don't know 60 and an old man has had a leg replaced.  Winifred is excited that the formula works and how well the other patients are being taken care of, so she and Dr. Stein talk to Eddie and convince him to try out the experimental formula.  He agrees and they decide to move him over the next day.  Unfortunately, Dr. Stein's assistant Malcomb has fallen in love with Winifred and professes his love for her.  She lets him know nicely that she loves Eddie and gently tells him that she and Eddie are going to get married, when this is all through. Malcomb is angry and says some cryptic shit to her and leaves pissed. The next day, when they bring Eddie over and replace his arms and legs, Malcomb replaces the formula with something else that turns Eddie, eventually, into a Frankenstein monster!  They also discover this after, he goes out and kills a few times and he turns violent in the basement in his room/cage(?).  The police are hunting for the killer and Winifred still loves Eddie, what is a poor girl to do?  This film was made the following year after Blacula and they were hoping it would be just as successful but it wasn't.  The Blackenstein monster doesn't really have the same charm that William Marshall brought to Blacula but it still fun to watch.  The pacing is slow and the script can be confusing at times.  The ending is good and if you like blaxploitation film, then this should be up your alley.

3. May (2002) - May has a lazy eye and as a child she wore an eye patch to correct it.   This made her a outsider from the other kids at school, so her mom gave her a doll to be her best friend.  She couldn't play with the doll because it was special, so her only friend stayed in a box.  Fast forward and May works at the worst veterinary hospital, with an awful vet and a flaky receptionist named Polly, who seems to be in love with her at times.  Her only friend is still her doll but she has fallen in love with a guy named Adam, who she tries to meet.  She finally meets Adam and goes on some dates with her but since she is socially inept and has a rather dark sense of humour.  This makes her seem more creepy and weird to Adam and he breaks it off with her. She finds solace with Polly but finds out that she was no more than another trist, so she decides that if she can't have friends then she'll make one on her own, literally.  I found this be a pretty charming horror comedy.  Angela Bettis is awesome as May and really brings the quirky qualities of May to life. Jeremy Sisto and Anna Farris are also excellent in this film.  I love the awkward humour that this film brings and it's fun to watch as May slowly deteriorate into a psychopath at the end.  Great movie and one you should check out!

2. The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) - Jailed and waiting for a reprieve from the gallows, Dr. Victor Frankenstein recounts his tale to a clergy man.  He tells him that after his father's death, he took over the Frankenstein estate and needed a tutor to complete his education.  After choosing Paul Krempe, as a tutor his fascination with science, grew and by the time he was grown, their experiments had gone into a realm that was groundbreaking.  They first brought a cat back to life, but Victor wanted to push it further and create a man.  Paul didn't want to be any part of Victor's ghoulish plan and stayed living in the mansion, only to protect Victor's fiance/cousin, Elizabeth.  eww.  Victor collected body parts, built his monster and needed only a brain to finish his creation.  He invites a leading professor to his home for dinner and murders him, while showing him the house.  Unfortunately, Paul showed up during dinner and figured out Victor's plan.  He catches Victor at the mausoleum removing the professor's brain and tries to stop him, only damaging the brain and tearing their friendship apart even further.  Victor, salvages the brain and kicks Paul to the curb, then continues his experiments and brings his monster to life!  However, like most attempts we've seen with bringing the dead back to life it goes wrong and now Dr. Frankenstein has a monster of a problem on his hands.  Can he make up with his bestee, Paul and find his way back from a spiraling demise? Watch and see! This was director, Terence Fisher first kick at the gothic horror for Hammer and was quite successful, leading to Dracula the following year and The Mummy the next and really establishing Hammer films as a the premiere horror studio of the time.  Peter Cushing is brilliant as Dr. Frankenstein and although silent, Christopher Lee gives a performance as the monster, that is only matched by Karloff's.  The look of the monster is different as well.  Unlike Karloff's smooth face and square head, they have Lee rough and scared, giving it a more fearsome and grotesque look.  Incredible sets and probably one of the finest Hammer films available, this one is for any classic horror fan.

1. Frankenstein (1931) Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are collecting body parts for a project that Henry is doing.  Henry wants to create a person in his windmill castle and all he needs now is a brain.  So he sends Fritz to go get one from the university.  Luckily, Dr. Waldman is doing a talk on good and evil brains and he's brought of an example of each.  After class, Fritz sneaks in and grabs the good brain but gets spooked and drops it. Damn it, evil brain it is then! Fritz grabs it and skedaddles back to the windmill castle.  During this time Henry's fiance, Elizabeth is getting worried about him and so is his best friend Victor, so they go and talk to Dr. Waldman.  He decides they show go on a field trip and see what Hank is doing and bring him home.  That night, Henry & Fritz are about to bring there monster to life with the best electrical storm ever, when who shows up at the door but Dr. Waldman, Elizabeth and Victor. Bummer, Fritz tries to get rid of them but Hank let's them in and tells them not to get in the way.  He sets his machines in motion,  triumphantly brings the monster to life and screams out "It's Alive!" A few weeks go by and Victor, Elizabeth and Baron Frankenstein are complaining that they are not seeing Henry enough, although he just accomplished the greatest scientific breakthrough ever, and think he needs to be more concerned about his wedding.  So they march off to the windmill castle.  Things are not going well for Herr Frankenstien, the monster is not what he expected and kills Fritz.  He and Dr. Waldman sedate the Monster and decide they must kill it, when guess who shows up, Baron Frankenstein, Elizabeth and Victor asking him to come get married.  Seeing that his work has failed, he leaves Dr. Waldman there to kill the monster.  Thanks buddy.  However, the monster wakes up and kills Dr. Waldman!  The monster leaves the windmill and goes on a killing spree in search of Dr. Frankenstein!  Can Hank stop the monster in time for his wedding or will the monster wreck his wedding day?   Director James Whale puts together one hell of a monster movie here.  Karloff does an amazing job, giving the monster character the emotional layers it needs to become a misunderstood, somewhat anti-hero.  Colin Clive and Dwight Fyre are unforgettable has the grave robbing duo that bring the monster to life and the talents of Jack Pierce's groundbreaking make up effects shine through the whole picture.  This is a great film and should be watched by not only horror lovers but anyone who appreciates good cinema. 

So when you're watching these films and eating a frankenweenie, remember that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor not the monster.