It’s official…I’m almost positive I finally own every horror movie horror queen Barbara Steele has appeared in with the addition of the four films from the 1960s that I cover in this post. So let’s take a look at them.
THE HORRIBLE DR. HICHCOCK (1962)
Damn. I love seeing a movie from way back when that is absolutely perverse in theme even if it can’t be as disgusting as the same film would be if made today.
So what makes Dr. Hichcock so horrible? He loves to inject his wife with something that makes her seem dead and then fuck her.
Unfortunately, he shoots her up a little too much and she really does die. Which begs the question…now that he’s got her exactly as he wanted her, why does he go out and get a new bride?
The good news is that his new bride is Barbara Steele! And she’s about to go through some stuff in her new husband’s home.
Creepy thunderstorms, a black cat, screams, screams in the night, a creepy maid, sightings of a ghostly figure around the house, and the locked door her husband tells her she is to never open haunt her every waking moment.
And despite all this horror going on, the visually freakiest part of the whole film is a delusion.
Not to mention, the plot just absolutely falls apart for me at the very end as Barbara learns the hard way what’s really happening in her new home—which seems to negate the whole arc of the story in order to deliver a twist.
THE GHOST (1963)
It’s a horror tale as old as horror time. A woman and her very handsome lover kill her husband for his money and he comes back to terrorize them.
The cool twist here is that Barbara Steele’s husband, constrained to a wheelchair, just wants to die and keeps trying to kill himself. However, Barbara and her lover, who also happens to be her husband’s doctor, keep stopping him!
See, the two men have been working on an experimental drug to reignite dead limbs hoping it will allow the husband to walk again. But the injections keep failing.
However, Barbara becomes convinced it’s starting to work, and she doesn’t want that. She wants the bastard dead! So she convinces her lover to help her do the deed. WTF? Just let the dude kill himself!
The body is barely cold before some classic scary shit begins to happen around the house. It’s a deliciously done terror tale of a deceased husband returning to haunt the guilty party. While perhaps predictable at this point in time, there are several fun twists before all is said and done.
THE LONG HAIR OF DEATH (1965)
1960s horror had an obsession with women being accused of and burned as witches, and Barbara Steele was the perfect dark and mysterious woman for the job time and again.
In this film her mom gets burned as a witch in a maze of flaming branches. Wicked scene. Barbara knows exactly why the count targeted her mother…so he throws Barbara off a waterfall!
Somehow, the witch’s younger daughter ends up living with the count. His nephew has the hots for her so bad that he forces her to marry him. She’s totally resistant, but I can’t imagine why, because he’s a sexy young beast.
Anyway, through some sort of witchery, Barbara shows up alive at the home, the count drops dead out of terror, and no one else seems to realize that she is who she is, not even her own sister. Hm…
Barbara and the nephew have an affair and decide they need to kill the sister to get her out of the way. This whole thing just feels like a silly soap opera until the witch angle finally comes to the forefront in the final act. There’s one freaky witch corpse scene and a dark twist at the end. So basically the only parts I really liked were the witch burning maze at the beginning and the witch revenge at the end (because nothing witchy happens in between).
AN ANGEL FOR SATAN (1966)
Not particularly terrifying, this film is, however, deliciously sadistic. And by that I mean Barbara Steele plays a psycho bitch from hell! Yay!
A man comes to restore some art for a count before the arrival of his niece. One piece is a statue of a woman that was brought up from the lake and is believed by the people in town to be cursed. I’m with the people on this one…
The statue also happens to look just like the niece, played by Barbara. When she arrives, the sculptor asks her to pose for his restoration of the piece, and she soon begins acting very different.
Barbara basically becomes an evil nympho sex mistress who seduces men and women alike, pitting them against each other, beating them, turning them into rapists, and pushing them to suicide.
If there’s any flaw in this dastardly little film, it’s the ridiculous scene when a talking painting doesn’t shut up as it basically explains to the sculptor the whole backstory that made Barbara what she is.
Back to the decades when horror and films in general transitioned from black and white to color as I take on eight movies that I’ve recently added to my collection.
GORILLA AT LARGE (1954)
At long last I’ve found the name of a movie that was broadcast on television in 3D in the 80s and required you to purchase the glasses at a specific retail store. Not only did I find out the title, I unintentionally bought it because it was included on a double feature DVD with another movie I was intentionally purchasing.
There sure were a lot of murder/mystery/horror movies that took place in a carnival/circus arena back in the day. Fun thing about this one is that a big gorilla is one of the main suspects.
One of the other suspects is a young, handsome Cameron Mitchell. He and his girlfriend work at the carnival and discover one of the recently fired employees they’ve been clashing with dead in a cage. Anne Bancroft plays a trapeze artist who is sort of hot for Cameron and wants him to dress in a gorilla costume for a publicity stunt. There’s also a strange caretaker who watches out for the gorilla and believes it will do whatever he says.
Indeed, there are a lot of people making enemies at the carnival and a lot of people who could be looking to kill someone. But is the gorilla doing all the killing? Because it sure does break out of the cage a lot.
The detective on the case is the same detective from The Exorcist, seemingly perfecting his role for the horror classic 20 years ahead of time without realizing it.
My favorite part of Gorilla at Large is definitely when the big hairy beast sneaks into the mirror maze to terrorize one of the main ladies. Eek! Good scene.
NEVER TAKE CANDY FROM A STRANGER (1960)
It’s hard to believe that Hammer Films, best known for all their Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing movies, was responsible for a film this scandalous and groundbreaking—and still freakishly relevant in every aspect. The title alone tells you all you need to know. This isn’t a horror movie in the traditional sense, but it is devastating as it blatantly takes on the horrors of an issue that dare not be addressed publicly back then. And by the time the film is over, we even get a scene that is so masterfully crafted it delivers more terror than so many horror movies out there.
We see two girls playing in the woods. One girl convinces the other that there’s an old man in a mansion on the hill who will give them candy, so they skip their way up there…
The main girl is the daughter of the new principal in town. When she gets home, she tells her parents she and the other girl danced naked for the old man in exchange for candy. The mother is horrified and wants to go to the police. Shockingly—and realistically—the grandmother argues that the girl could be making it up and they shouldn’t blow it out of proportion, and even says seeing a town flasher in her childhood didn’t hurt her any and makes excuses for the man’s behavior by describing it as arrested development.
This begins a disturbing examination of the anti-female, anti-child, pro-privilege world we live in. When they go report the incident the police defend the old man, who is a member of a well-to-do family that makes huge contributions to the town, and the cop even says making the little girls strip is no big deal! The mother learns everyone in town knows the old man likes little girls and he was even in an asylum for a while. The son of the old man threatens to ruin the principal and his family. Gossiping women are heard placing the blame on the girls. A mother won’t let her little boy go swimming with the principal’s daughter for fear she’ll accuse him of something. The father of the other girl refuses to let her even speak of the incident let alone corroborate the story the principal’s daughter has told.
Then comes the court hearing. It’s immediately made clear the defendant’s family has an in with the judge. The jury is comprised entirely of older white men. The defense lawyer viciously grills the principal’s daughter and makes her look like a liar.
You can imagine how the case turns out.
But just when you think the movie is coming to a close, the girls meet on a desolate road…and the old man fucking pops up out of the woods! Holy fuck! This sequence and its camera angles are bone-chilling as he silently pursues the two terrified girls through the woods, to a rundown cabin in the woods, and even as they try to get away in a boat.
This movie is dark, and be warned—it doesn’t paint a pretty picture of the mentally ill.
STOP ME BEFORE I KILL! (1961)
Despite the horrible jazzy sixties music that accompanies it, the opener of this movie—a car with a “just married” sign on it smashed into a big truck on the road—immediately gets your attention. Unfortunately, the rest of the movie doesn’t do a good enough job of holding it.
The couple survives, and the guy who was driving the car is now recovering from a head injury that is causing him to have violent urges to kill his new wife!
When they go on vacation, they meet a psychiatrist who offers to help him work through his issues. But the psychiatrist has issues of his own…
In therapy, the psychiatrist forces him to confront his killer desires.
If only that meant there were going to be a load of murders. There aren’t. This is a psychological manipulation thriller, and it’s not that thrilling at all. Scratch that. This is kind of thrilling…
THESE ARE THE DAMNED (1962)
I guess this film is kind of haunting, but it’s more a science fiction film than horror and takes almost until the end to truly clarify its apocalyptic point.
A middle-aged dude on a trip gets tricked by a beautiful young girl into being beat up and mugged by her brother and his gang of thugs—brother played by Oliver Reed. And yet the next day when the girl visits the older man on his boat, he forgives her for dicking him over and tries to convince her to run away with him to escape her toxic brother.
And so they take off with the brother’s gang chasing them.
Meanwhile, there’s a group of young kids being held captive, controlled, manipulated, and lied to in an underground cave, where they communicate only with a man on a monitor who promises some day they will have all the answers they seek.
Eventually the runaway couple and the brother cross paths with the kids, who allow the trio to stay with them. But the trio begins to think these mysterious kids, who are all cold to the touch, are actually dead!
The truth is very of its time and concerns the military and the horrors of war. These children may be the damned, but they sure aren’t the Village of the Damned.
This is a fun little thriller that begins with an implied rape and implied revenge involving a blow torch. Eek!
Then a handsome drifter dude gets stranded in a bar. He falls for the girl working there, but her stepmom starts vying for his attention. Turns out the stepmother’s husband is the guy who killed the rapist at the beginning and is in a mental institution now.
The stepmother has a great idea. They should break the husband out of the institution and get him to flee the country for escaping so then they can be together.
In classic thriller fashion, there are unexpected twists, and nothing is as it really seems. And the final chase scene is a visually arresting sequence thanks to the unnerving location.
THE CURSE OF THE MUMMY’S TOMB (1964)
This one feels like Hammer Films decided to make a quick buck on a generic mummy movie rather than hire Christopher Lee or Peter Cushing…to star in yet another generic mummy movie.
There’s no denying these mummy movies are all the same. A mummy is discovered. The Egyptian government warns those who dug it up not to take it. They do.
On the boat ride back home, some psycho is on the loose killing people just so that there will be some murders before the mummy finally comes to life 53 fricking minutes into the movie. After the killer is caught, after the exhibit opens, and after the 53 minute mark, the mummy at last starts lurking around in the shadows to kill people.
It’s not particularly scary, not gory, and not very unique in terms of plot. But if you like mummies, there’s a mummy.
DIE! DIE! MY DARLING! (1965)
With this movie about one woman holding another woman captive and physically and psychologically torturing her, I actually feel like Hammer Films took the general premise of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? from a few years before and crafted a much darker and disturbing film not bogged down by the drama, scandal, and camp factor that has grown around Baby Jane over the decades due to its two stars.
The stars here are Tallulah Bankhead and Stefanie Powers, who deserve a hell of a lot more recognition in horror history for their phenomenal work together in this movie.
Stefanie is about to get married and decides to visit Tallulah, the mother of her previous boyfriend, who died in a car accident.
Tallulah is a fricking religious nut under the impression that Stefanie and her deceased son are meant to be together forever. She imprisons Stefanie in her home, keeps her at bay with a gun, and has the help of her faithful servants, one of them played by young Donald Sutherland. But veteran actor Peter Vaughan is the standout servant, coming across as truly psycho and sleazy as he plays by his own rules when it comes to handling Stefanie.
Shit (and Tallulah) gets really crazy by the final act, and the film is packed with plot devices that have since been used again and again in imprisonment horror movies and thrillers.
If you love Baby Jane and Misery and have never seen this one, definitely check it out.
This was Joan Crawford’s final film, and it perfectly follows all the rules of traditional sci-fi/horror/creature feature flicks.
Some scientists head into an underground cave and two cuties strip down to their shorts.
Within minutes we see TROG!
Trog is an ape man that never fully evolved. He kills one of the scientists, but Joan, another scientist, works to convince her colleagues that they should absolutely not kill Trog because there’s so much to learn from him.
So begins the clash between her and her peers as she attempts to domesticate him. Things go good, things go bad. Bible quotes are tossed around (by fricking scientists) to support both views on whether he should live or die. And Joan Crawford actually says the words “human sperm”. Awesome.
In an attempt to further prove Trog’s importance, Joan calls for brain surgery and a drug treatment that will allow them to see his thoughts. This leads to a substantial scene inside his brain featuring all different dinosaurs battling each other to the death.
And at last, in the final act, Trog escapes and wreaks some havoc as he is hunted down by authorities. Joan Crawford would have gotten a lot of heat for making this movie if she hadn’t died, but personally, I found it to be a fun little creature feature midnight movie.
Don’t know what possessed me, but I suddenly decided I needed to have every movie by Spanish actor/writer/director/horror hunk Paul Naschy in my movie collection. Considering I only had about four of them, that meant a whole lot more to track down. I succeeded in collecting most of them, and this post is going to cover just his long running series of films in which he plays a wolf man named Waldemar Daninsky. I’ll cover the rest of his films in a separate post (or two). For now, let’s get hairy as Paul whips out his werewolf for us again and again.
FRANKENSTEIN’S BLOODY TERROR (1968)
Of the numerous titles this film has been slapped with, somehow this is the one that seems to have stuck. Frankenstein’s Bloody Terror features two werewolves, including the first appearance of Paul’s werewolf character. It has a vampire couple. What it doesn’t have is Frankenstein or his monster. But it does have Paul’s pit, so who cares about Frankenstein.
After a high society party, a young couple sneaks into an infamous castle where they encounter Paul Naschy, who tells them a legend of a werewolf curse.
Gypsies end up at the castle next, and in their effort to grave rob, they unleash a werewolf.
Before long, Paul is bit by the werewolf, and the young couple offers to keep him locked up while they search for a way to cure him of the curse. They call in two doctors to help, and it is soooo obvious from the moment these two appear that they are vampires, but the couple doesn’t seem to see it. They must be blind, because I could see it from a mile away, even through the fog.
Let the horror silliness commence as two vampires, two werewolves, and a mortal couple all end up in one castle together.
Note that before this next film, Paul apparently made another werewolf film that was lost and never seen.
ASSIGNMENT TERROR (1970)
I can’t even fathom what they were thinking with this film, which is like Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein meets the Rankin/Bass classic Mad Monster Party, and I’m shocked Naschy even continued having a career in horror after making this movie.
What I’m saying is, this asinine flick rules.
Overlooking the horrible late 60s/early 70s muzak score that hits us right from the start–which does, admittedly, fit the goofy tone of this film–this is about…wait for it…aliens that want to take over the earth, sooooooo, they pose as scientists and begin unearthing all the classic movie monsters with plans of unleashing them on humans.
Instead, this turns mostly into a classic monsters circus in the aliens’ lab.
They resurrect Dracula, the werewolf, the mummy, and even Frankenstein. Naschy’s werewolf is the sympathetic monster, and a few characters, including a beautiful woman, team up with him to try to help him escape. For a change, Frankenstein is the one who’s a real dick.
THE WEREWOLF VERSUS THE VAMPIRE WOMAN
(aka: Werewolf Shadow) (1971)
Watching this film, I was thinking Naschy basically made the same exact movie again in 1981 with Night of the Werewolf (which I’ve blogged about here already). Turns out Naschy does consider that film a remake of this one, the only major difference being that the vampire woman in that film is Elizabeth Bathory.
This one begins with Naschy in the morgue with two silver bullets in his heart…until the coroner makes the huge mistake of taking them out, which brings the werewolf back to life. Not exactly fair, is it? What is the point of shooting a werewolf in the heart with not one but two silver bullets only to have reversing the kill being as simple as removing them?
Meanwhile, three girls go to find the tomb of a female vampire from the past. They meet Paul and stay with him. They find the tomb and make a huge mistake….
While I really like the Bathory as a vampire angle in the 81 flick, despite the female vamp here being a fictional character, the vampire action has a much creepier vibe thanks to classic scenes of slow motion vampire beauties as the resurrected vampire woman begins turning each of the main girls.
This Bathory/werewolf battle takes itself much more seriously than their battle in the 81 film. In other words, the 1981 Bathory battle blows this one away.
FURY OF THE WOLFMAN (1972)
The plots of these werewolf movies are quite repetitive, but it’s always fun watching Paul run around all hairy and pouncing on people.
Not to mention watching Paul shirtless.
In this one he is a professor who comes home to his wife after having been bitten in Tibet. He discovers she has been having an affair, and decides to seek vicious revenge.
Then he gets abducted by a mad scientist woman from his job (don’t we all have one at our place of employment?). She keeps him chained up, whips him, and gets sexual with him (okay, that last one was redundant).
As always, Paul makes some friends who try to help him escape…but not before he goes on a mad killing spree. Yay!
DR. JEKYLL VS. THE WEREWOLF (1972)
Good news right off the bat–no horrible 70s muzak. The score here is eerie and sets a horror tone from the start.
It’s the plot that is the usual Naschy werewolf crossover weirdness. Not saying that’s a bad thing because it actually brings something unique to the series. Dr. Jekyll and his woman make a pit stop while on the road, he gets jumped by some thieves, she almost gets raped by them, and Naschy shows up in the nick of time to save her.
The townsfolk want to kill Naschy because he’s a werewolf, Naschy asks Jekyll to help cure him, Jekyll injects him with the Hyde juice…and Naschy becomes a werewolf/Hyde hybrid! WTF?
As always, the characters end up in an underground lab, there’s a psycho female scientist, and there’s a woman chained up and tortured. But the best part of this installment is when the werewolf gets hairy at a dance club.
CURSE OF THE DEVIL (1973)
There is absolutely no continuity in the plot line of Naschy’s werewolf movies, so Elizabeth Bathory, who is a vampire in Night of the Werewolf (1981), is a witch in this one.
After her husband is killed during a sword fight between knights, she uses an occult ritual to get revenge, is then burned at the stake, and…vows revenge.
Flash forward in time, Paul is hunting a wolverine on his property, accidentally shoots a gypsy, and is then cursed by a bunch of gypsy witches as…revenge.
Cursed to be a werewolf, would you believe Paul then turns around to go hunting down gypsies as revenge?
He runs around killing people, and eventually the townsfolk hunt him down.
THE WEREWOLF AND THE YETI (Night of the Howling Beast) (1975)
Sure, Night of the Howling Beast has a much more ominous ring to it, but The Werewolf and the Yeti calls it as it is–the Wolf Man vs. the Abominable Snowman!
Sasquatch and Yeti sightings were all the rage in the 1970s, so Naschy used the popularity to his advantage by incorporating it into a story involving his wolf man.
After an opening Yeti attack scene, Paul joins a Yeti hunting expedition in the mountains but is eventually separated from the rest of the group. He takes shelter in a cave, where he happens upon two women…who are some sort of horny, supernatural creatures of the night. After having sex with them, Naschy takes a tour of their lair, sees them feasting on human flesh, fights them, gets bit by one of them, and turns into the werewolf!
Meanwhile, the rest of his group gets abducted and brutally tortured by a bunch of mountain pirates. Then a witch comes on the scene because she needs their living flesh for healing purposes.
This movie is pretty insane and there sure is a lot going on…and yet the werewolf doesn’t battle the Yeti until the final few minutes in a disappointingly dark lit scene.
Naschy’s werewolf goes epic, traveling all the way to Japan…for nearly two hours!
Seems like every movie tries to offer an origins story for the werewolf curse, and the story is always different. This time an emperor has Naschy, playing a fierce warrior, defeat his enemy in return for his daughter’s hand in marriage. The new bride gets pregnant and a witch comes along and curses her baby in the womb.
The baby grows up to be…Naschy, and he heads to Japan, where a man named Kian is believed to hold the key to ridding him of his werewolf curse.
Early on there are some fun werewolf attacks, and then Kian really clarifies things for us as he researches the werewolf curse. To be cured, the werewolf needs to be killed by a woman who loves him. If he is killed by hate, he can be resurrected, but he comes back worse.
Wouldn’t you know a hateful sorceress shows up to kill Naschy. A majority of this film is very slow (it didn’t need to be two hours long), but once she arrives it gets pretty zany. She makes the werewolf fight a tiger. She whips the werewolf. She has a battle with the werewolf.
Meanwhile, Kial basically steps into a video game boss battle, getting into a martial arts fight with tons of enemies before being forced to battle the werewolf he was trying to help.
Silly and fun, but again, it didn’t need to be two hours long.
HOWL OF THE DEVIL (1988)
Another film in the series I’ve already covered in this post.
LYCANTROPUS: THE MOONLIGHT MURDERS (1997)
This was Paul’s return to his werewolf series after a long hiatus, and it seems to get dumped on a lot for being a TV movie that cut out all the gore and nudity he wrote into his script.
To be honest, I had a lot of fun with it. It still manages to capture a classic Naschy horror feel, even if it doesn’t quite deliver enough Naschy wolfman.
After an opening in 1944 where we learn a pregnant gypsy woman is cursed because she’s been banging a Nazi soldier, we meet Naschy in the present day. He’s a writer with chest pains, nightmares, and an eye for his pretty young psychiatrist.
There are also murders occurring all around town.
Detectives are on the case, and the rookie is convinced it’s a wild animal. The local reverend is a miserable man who hates…everyone and everything. His son is a psych major who loves horror, loves crime, and has the hots for Naschy’s daughter.
There are a couple of fun werewolf attacks—the first delivers a good jump scare and a throat slice, and the second, 43 minutes into the film, shows full Monty Naschy wolfman. In between, there is detective work, Naschy being visited by gypsy ghosts, and his psychiatrist researching werewolves.
The final battle gives us just what we want—a Naschy transformation in blue light with green eyes and dark shadows, and the douche bag reverend getting what he deserves.
TOMB OF THE WEREWOLF (2004)
If you are familiar with director Fred Olen Ray and scream queen Michelle Bauer, the tone and style of this final film featuring Paul Naschy as the werewolf shouldn’t surprise you at all.
Apparently many Naschy fans are not familiar with either of the other two horror icons, because there is a lot of hate for this one online. Personally, it made me nostalgic for the direct-to-DVD years of the early 2000s, with lots of pretty people getting naked in between being torn apart by a monster. In this case, Paul’s werewolf, obviously. It kind of felt to me like a classic Paul werewolf film meets a late 90s Full Moon film.
Michelle Bauer plays yet another take on Elizabeth Bathory. She immediately feels up a half naked woman in the opening scene before summoning a handsome Devil. Seriously, she summons the Devil, and he’s handsome. He is the one who informs her that she must sacrifice young women and bathe in their blood to stay young…
In the modern day, a young producer and his crew are hired to film a guy looking for a special treasure supposedly hidden in a castle he inherited. What a perfect way to gather pretty people together to have sex.
Flashbacks in various forms give us another werewolf backstory, which is the part that feels very old skool Naschy. Finally, the werewolf is brought to life in the castle in the modern day thanks to Bathory, who happens to be posing as the maid. And so begins a fun and silly gorefest as the hairy beast that Naschy kept alive for five decades goes on one last killing spree.
I’ve barely had time to watch anything on streaming because I’m working on a big post involving new movie purchases, which is quickly turning into a two-part post. However, I took a break and checked out four newer flicks involving mommies and their offspring. So let’s see if they were worth interrupting my marathon of movies starring a horror hunk whose movies I’ve been neglecting for too long.
THE PARISH (2019)
Because I started blogging about low budget killer nun movies after The Conjuring franchise made them mainstream a few years back, I now automatically just add new ones to my watchlists when they appear on streaming services. Surprisingly, The Parishisn’t just another killer nun movie. However, that fact doesn’t save it from being just another ghost movie.
In this serious movie, a mother and her daughter move into a new home, and I was immediately thrown off by a first dinner at the new place eating Chinese food that turns into a fart humor scene. What?
Anyway, the father died in war, so the wife suffers from nightmares about him. The daughter goes to a new school where she keeps seeing a nun roaming the halls.
Soon the mom and the daughter are being haunted by a creepy janitor, the nun, and the father all bloody from his battle…
The mom eventually goes to a priest, played by horror king Bill Oberst Jr., and he helps her unravel the truth of what’s really going on.
If you like these types of supernatural films then yay, you have a new one to watch. If, on the other hand, you find them all redundant, uninspired, predictable, and not scary at all, well…this is redundant, uninspired, predictable, and not scary at all.
THE UNBORN (2020)
As the title suggests, this 70-minute movie (yay!) is about the unborn. I’m guessing the overall message here is that when it comes to pregnancy, birth, choice, and parenthood, it can be a very scary proposition for a woman in numerous ways.
A female security guard learns she is pregnant on her last shift working with her male partner at a building that is about to be demolished. So it’s not very comforting when her man makes a dickish, off the cuff comment about not wanting to be a father before leaving her alone for the night.
And then…her male security guard partner also basically leaves her alone for the night. Actually, she tells him to go ensure the place is secure because he didn’t handle his responsibilities and the building may have been compromised.
Odd things begin happening: children’s toys appear, scary children terrorize the guy, and the pair finds fetuses in jars! This discovery could have dire consequences on the plan to blow up the building. Abort mission!
There are some serious metaphors going on here. However, even with there being plenty of eerie atmosphere, much of this short film involves the guy roaming around and communicating with her on a walkie-talkie.
The best horror comes when he falls apart upon discovering there’s something growing inside of him that he wants removed, so she deserts him in the office and goes to handle the situation on her own. Like I said, there are some serious metaphors going on here.
THE NEST (2021)
I watched this one because Dee Wallace is in it, but I was surprised to discover it takes place at Christmas and the spirit of the season is darkly integrated into the tone of the film. Hence, it’s going on the holiday horror page.
The trouble begins with a couple and their daughter at a garage sale (doesn’t it always?). The daughter falls in love with a teddy bear and the creepy as fuck dude holding the garage sale lets her have it for free. What kind of mother a) gives her child a used plush toy? b) lets a weirdo give it to her child for free?
I guess a mother who is a recovering druggy like this mom. So it doesn’t bode well when mom begins having nightmarish episodes soon after the daughter acquires the bear. At the same time, the daughter begins having behavioral issues and becomes abnormally attached to the mother.
As the daughter acts more and more like the usual evil child and the mother more like the usual unhinged mother everyone thinks is crazy, the daughter’s teddy bear begins to do something to the people closest to them—the husband, the school therapist, and Dee Wallace, who is oddly cast as a family friend rather than just the grandmother—off screen.
The film is rather slow until 76 minutes in, when we find out exactly what the teddy bear has been doing to everyone. It’s actually a rather sad, tragic, and horrific scene that carries the film straight through to the end as it focuses on the love between a mother and her child. For me it rescues the film and elevates it to being more than just another forgettable horror flick.
Coming from the director of Abandoned Dead, this film is like a throwback to the supernatural specter horror flicks of the early 2000s. It makes sense that we’re seeing a resurgence of these as we enter the 20-year cycle.
A young woman driving at night with her baby in a car seat gets into an accident when a hooded man suddenly appears in the road.
After the accident, she is informed her baby did not survive, but she’s convinced that the man in the hoodie took the infant. She moves back home with her parents and her little sister, and the tropes of the supernatural specter subgenre abound, as do perhaps too many backstory details.
We learn she lost a military husband with PTSD to suicide. She suffered from depression. There were alcohol and drug issues. Her mother also lost a baby and also believed “the Hoodman” took it, so she goes to see the same therapist the mother used. She rekindles a friendship with the boy next door. Her BFF is into the paranormal so they hold a seance. She learns about another man who lost his kid to the Hoodman, so she searches for him.
And most importantly, she begins to see the Hoodman in her house and it seems to be after her little sister.
There are some creepy, effective moments, but this is all very cliché, and perhaps there were budget limitations, because the Hoodman is never fully realized beyond being a dark silhouette in the shadows. As a result, the final “battle” isn’t very thrilling.
From mysterious monsters in the pipes to yet another killer shark, I take on a variety of creature discomforts, starting with weird sounds coming from behind the walls.
This indie film really has the best of intentions on what is clearly a very limited budget, which is why the pretty cool horror opener makes the rest of the film a letdown.
The first scene establishes that a couple is renting a house simply to feed something that’s living in the pipes (it eats the tenant through the washing machine. Clean and delicious).
Then we meet a bunch of friends heading to a music festival—and staying at a rental place. Uh-oh.
The acting and dialogue are definitely not the best here, and a good chunk of this film drags as these kids just do a lot of talking and a lot of free advertising for red Solo cups.
Then one girl takes a bath, and we wait and wait for a monster to get her. In the meantime, another girl gets trapped in a room and everyone goes looking for her.
There are splashes of blood and puddles of blood, plenty of dark mood lighting and shadows, a creepy silhouette of a gnarly hand reaching for someone, a person getting dragged away by something—but that’s the extent of the thrills you’re going to get when there’s no budget to actually show a monster.
Instead the movie focuses more on the bad humans in the film rather than the bad monster. Blah.
If you love backwoods horror flicks with sleazy psycho hillbillies abducting kids that make a wrong turn to feed them to something living in a barn, no matter how formulaic it is, then you should definitely check out this nasty little flick.
To me it felt like the creators came up with an ending and decided their backwoods horror flick would be different than all the rest because of the ending…and so they made a film just like all the rest to tack their unexpected ending on.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, because as a pro-Wrong Turner, I was quite satisfied with the strong performances, the grit, the tension, the violence and gore, and the bleak ending. The only major disappointment for me was that the mutant in the barn is literally unleashed and seen for the first time with only two minutes left in the film.
What a shame, because it’s a face only a Wrong Turn family and backwoods horror movie camera could love.
JUNGLE RUN (2021)
Not only do I keep going back for more terrible nature strikes back flicks, but I subject the hubby to them when I do. I just put him through two in one weekend, and now I’ll put you through them in this post.
It’s not even ironic that Jungle Run, one of the selections I streamed, is the kind of movie SyFy should be playing on a weekend, while SyFy was once again showing the fucking Harry Potter movies. Ugh. It’s just not fair to Richard Grieco, who appears at the beginning and the end of this movie because he’s the “star”.
Meanwhile, the whole movie is carried by a brother and sister who come to the Amazon looking for their father, along with their guides, the majority of which are hunky and cute.
This group faces CGI frogs, piranha, alligators, giant spiders, anacondas, and even tribal natives (not CGI), and yet not one of them dies for the entire movie.
Only in the final act do some of the main characters suddenly become wild animal food. Oh…there’s also a goofy supernatural walking around for a few minutes.
It’s bad. It’s really bad.
GREAT WHITE (2021)
It’s getting harder and harder to be forgiving of the dumb fucking things the main characters do in the numerous shark movies that come out these days. Great White had me groaning basically from the first to the final decision.
The film stars Katrina Bowden, aka: Cerie from 30 Rock, who has built a substantial horror movie resume as well. She, her man, and their buddy give seaplane tours. A young rich couple hires them, they land on a deserted island, they find a dead body eaten by a shark…and Katrina’s man concludes they have to go search for the dead body’s boat because there might still be a woman on board based on a photo on the dead body’s phone.
This is the moment when we’re supposed to think the rich guy is a total douche bag that deserves to die because he insists they just get the hell out of there, but somehow, whoever wrote this film managed to make me totally side with him. Here’s why.
Katrina’s man calls the coastguard to inform them of the situation. Katrina’s man was hired for services by this rich guy. Katrina’s man has a responsibility to keep him and his lady safe. Katrina’s man should not take it upon himself to force them to go on a rescue mission for a woman that may or may not be alive in the middle of the ocean when he knows there was a shark attack and the coastguard is already on the way. I wanted everyone in the movie to die except the privileged rich guy considering he was RIGHT.
I also think the privileged rich guy is the only one who has seen Jaws 2, because he clearly knows exactly what’s going to happen after a series of very Jaws 2 events lands them in a very Jaws 2 predicament on a very Jaws 2 raft boat.
And then we hit the slow spot as they paddle and talk for a while…because chum deserves character development, too?
More stupid moves abound, like a man sitting by as his pregnant woman goes into the water to rescue an oar that has drifted away. Really, this movie annoyed the fuck out of me, and it just gets worse as it progresses.
On the bright side, the shark does just knock all the fuckers off the boat at the one-hour mark to finally get some action going for the last thirty minutes. Not to say that it’s not stupid as fuck action loaded with stupid as fuck and totally unrealistic decisions—including the man now letting his pregnant woman go deep dive shark hunting—but at least it’s action. Plus, Jaws 2 makes its presence known again near the end, as does Deep Blue Sea, maybe a little Jaws 3, maybe I’ve seen way too many shark movies…
For a variety of reasons, this foursome from between 1989 and 1998 has ended up in my movie collection, so let’s see how happy I am with my purchases.
LOBSTER MAN FROM MARS (1989)
If it came from the 80s and Deborah Foreman of Valley Girl and April Fool’s Day is in it, I simply must have it in my collection. And so, I bring you the 1950s sci-fi throwback movie-within-a-movie parody Lobster Man from Mars, which is only available on DVD as of this writing.
After a geek blasts a cover version of “Rock Lobster” in his room (apparently anything by The B-52s was too expensive to license the year “Love Shack” was a huge hit), he goes to pitch a movie he made to a film producer played by Tony Curtis. And so begins the parody film, with occasional clips interspersed of Curtis and the geek reacting as they watch. In other words, the main movie totally doesn’t need to be within this absolutely pointless segment.
With classic spooky sci-fi music of the 50s serving as the score, people begin getting shot by alien zappers and left as nothing but skeletons.
There are little “flying” aliens on very visible strings, and there are men in cheesy rubber lobster alien costumes. The puppets on strings are way more entertaining than the men in costumes.
Mars Attacks! this most definitely isn’t. It feels like a bad homemade film project even though it’s a spoof. Patrick Macnee having a Waxwork reunion with Deborah Foreman and an appearance by Bobby Pickett of “Monster Mash” fame can’t save this silly satire.
Even Deborah Foreman seems to have grown tired of being the 80s darling, because she doesn’t transmit any of her usual charm in this one.
ALLIGATOR II: THE MUTATION (1991)
If you need an example of how the perfection that was the 80s was ruined by the coming of the 90s, look no further than the disastrous 1991 sequel to the 1980 horror fan fave Alligator, which is an unforgettable classic thanks to moments like the pool scene and the part when the alligator bursts from the sewer.
It’s hard to believe how many horror veterans are in the sequel—and still can’t help it rise above it’s cheap made-for-cable/direct-to-video feel. Perhaps that’s why it still hasn’t gotten a good U.S. Blu-ray release or DVD release, so I had to score an all-region DVD.
Joseph Bologna is a detective who figures out in no time that there must be an alligator devouring homeless people near a lake.
Dee Wallace is his scientist wife.
Steve Railsback is a slimy business mogul throwing a major outdoor event regardless of the warnings about a killer alligator. Richard Lynch is an alligator hunter, and Kane Hodder is one of his pals.
But none of them steals the show. That honor goes to a homeless man who watches his friend get eaten in the sewer tunnels and then tells the detective, “He was using Otis as a toothpick. Otis didn’t deserve to be a toothpick.”
The unintentionally laughable camp of the film practically saves it. There’s a cheesy romance for the hot cop partner (Blair’s stripper boyfriend on The Facts of Life). The alligator hunters go on a laughable hunt for the beast. Victims roll around in the mouth of what is obviously a fake alligator head. The alligator’s tail goes on a hilarious murderous rampage at a carnival.
And finally the main detective blows the alligator to smithereens with a rocket launcher then links up with his wife for a hokey ending.
THE CHANNELER (1991)
This is a silly backwoods horror film that absolutely never takes itself seriously, which is definitely where it gets its charm.
It’s just a feel good early 90s VHS nostalgia trip that is included as a bonus on the Blu-ray release of The Teenage Exorcist because it’s from the same director.
A college professor brings a bunch of students to an old mine for an environmental excursion. Actor Jay Richardson, who plays her boyfriend and has appeared in a bunch of low budget horror flicks from the late 80s and early 90s, hogs and deserves the spotlight right from the start when he gets into a bar brawl with a bunch of rednecks. He even dares to challenge a dude flinging anti-gay slurs when he asks, “Make up your mind. I’m hitting on your woman or I’m a faggot?”
One dude who is ten years too late in his Olivia Newton-John “Physical” drag (complete with bandana around the head) happens to be a psychic. He starts having disturbing visions once they get to camp, and then some mysterious incidents occur.
They also meet up with Grizzly Adams himself, Dan Haggerty, who tells them stories of tragedy in the mines a century before.
Unfortunately, not much else happens until the final act. The psychic begins speaking as if possessed, a rubber monster hand appearance kicks off a chase montage set to a totally 80s new wave power pop track, the kids are abducted and held captive in a cave, and we finally see the goofy looking creatures that live in the cave….and also talk.
MODERN VAMPIRES (1998)
Just released on Blu-ray, this vampire comedy, which I’d never seen, is listed on IMDb as a made-for-TV movie, but I have no idea on what channel it originally aired. I do know that the Blu-ray video looks pretty crappy for HD. It really did feel like I was watching a made-for-TV movie on a standard definition tube TV in 1998. Ah, the nostalgia.
The film is directed by Richard Elfman, director of 1980 new wave sci-fi fantasy musical movie Forbidden Zone and 90s Full Moon horror film Shrunken Heads, who also happens to be the brother of Oingo Boingo frontman turned film score composer Danny Elfman.
The cast is absolutely awesome, but while this is supposed to be a comedy, the humorous moments are few and far between until the last half hour.
The film focuses on the coming together of a bunch of vampires in Hollywood, including Casper Van Dien right after Starship Troopers, Kim Cattrall right before Sex and the City, Craig Ferguson after The Drew Carey Show, the first kill girl from Urban Legend, Eldin the painter from Murphy Brown, and horror icon Udo Kier.
And hunting them down is film veteran Rod Steiger as Van Helsing, who hires a bunch of Black guys off the street to help him slay vamps.
A scene of the vamps hitting up a rave at a feeding club, where hunks in Speedos are chained up and in cages, gave me high hopes for the sexy sleazy suckfest with queer sensibilities this vampire could be.
Unfortunately, the film then focuses way too much on the drama between Casper and Urban Legend girl, who are no fun at all, leaving all the fun people totally underutilized. On the bright side, there’s a sex scene in which we get to see plenty of Casper booty.
There’s also a brief appearance by Berta of Two and a Half Men, and some funny scenes of Urban Legend girl snarling like a wildcat every time she attacks a victim, it just needed more of this kind of energy.
The movie suddenly and finally turns into the comedy it should have been all along in the last twenty minutes. Too bad the filmmakers never realized that the best part of their film was Rod Steiger and his hilarious crew of Black dudes, and that they should have been the focus of the film all along. Once they get involved, everyone becomes funnier and fun, including Kim Cattrall and even Casper and Urban Legend girl look like they’re having a blast during the final battle. It feels like an entirely different movie.
And best of all, the vampire slayers decide to gang bang Cattrall in full vampire form, showing off plenty of adorable booties in the process. They are most definitely the best way to end this post…
Time to look at four flicks from the 1970s that have found their way onto the horror movie shelves in my Dan cave. It’s a blend of vampires, zombies, and crazed killers. Yay!
LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (1971)
The last of the Hammer Films trilogy that also includes The Vampire Lovers and Twins of Evil, Lust for a Vampire focuses on a count (played by a virtual Christopher Lee impersonator) who does a satanic ritual to bring his daughter back to life.
But the count really isn’t the star here…the resurrected daughter is. Would you believe it’s a vampires in a finishing school horror film?
Women start turning up with holes in their necks and the headmaster is on to them. A dude researching for his occult books at the count’s castle falls for a new female student.
The authorities and a priest begin to think vampirism is running rampant at the school. They plan on hunting down the vampire to take care of her. The dude who fell in love with her plans to save her.
The most memorable thing about this film is the fairly scandalous sex scene.
VENGEANCE OF THE ZOMBIES (1973)
I don’t even know that I could recommend this sloppy movie, but it is such an early 1970s mess of Euro horror weirdness starring horror hunk Paul Naschy that I found it undeniably entertaining.
Paul is some sort of Hindu cult leader, and a young woman becomes enthralled by his teachings, so she goes to stay at his house. At the same time, there is a masked killer that is also resurrecting dead women. If you ask me, wouldn’t it just be easier to keep them alive to begin with?
I’m telling you, there is so much shit going on here you’ll have no idea what is going on. The zombie women—a trio of them—is a lot of silly fun. They always approach their victims in slow motion and get right up in the camera to add to the trippy feel of the film. At one point they even smile joyfully and it’s just odd. It feels more like an outtake in which they couldn’t get into character.
The main woman has surreal, nightmarish dreams of Paul in devilish attire (complete with horns), with his undead cult members performing sacrificial rituals…on her!
At the same time, she is drawn to Paul when she’s awake, considering he’s so mysterious and dangerous. Lucky her, because there are three different versions of Paul battling it out by the final satanic ritual of the film.
Meanwhile, the masked killer likes variety so doesn’t always wear the same mask, and also takes various approaches to killing victims, including wax voodoo dolls, an axe, draining blood in a slaughterhouse, and even leaving the dirty work up to the zombie women. The best is when the slow mo zombie women kill a guy with a soda can. As they walk away in slow mo, one of them tosses the soda can over her shoulder like she’s totally too cool for school. All this scene needed was a song by The Cars playing to set the mood.
Unfortunately, as with many Euro horror flicks of the 1970s, particularly Paul Naschy horror flicks, the creepiest scenes are hindered—I’d say virtually ruined—by the use of the most horrendous, tone deaf jazz music as the score.
BLUE EYES OF THE BROKEN DOLL (1974)
Another film starring Paul Naschy and featuring an awful score, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll is a provocative, weird and sexual murder mystery horror thriller that is considered a giallo, although it didn’t quite feel totally like one to me.
Paul is at his sexiest here, playing an ex-convict drifter who gets picked up by a woman with a prosthetic hand. She hires him as caretaker at her home where she lives with her two sisters, one a horny bitch that wants Paul’s bod, the other a woman in a wheelchair.
Paul shows off his sweaty bod as he chops wood, Paul makes the ladies drool, Paul bangs the horny sister, and Paul has visions of strangling women to death.
And someone is killing women and gouging out their eyes, so detectives on the case immediately suspect Paul.
The film is disjointed and meandering (okay, so maybe it is a giallo), and aside from Paul’s sexiness permeating the progress of the plot, most of the excitement is packed into the final act when the killer finally targets the sisters in the house.
THE DAY IT CAME TO EARTH (1977)
It’s astounding to me that this obscure flick doesn’t get more recognition for pioneering some major modern horror tropes—ironically all while appearing to be poking fun at sci-fi/horror flicks of the 1950s!
The plot is perfectly basic. After a shootout, gangsters dump a dead guy in a lake. A meteorite then crashes to earth and lands in the lake. As a result, the dead mobster comes back to life as a zombie and terrorizes a bunch of college kids. But only at night!
During the day he goes back to nap in the lake, making me wonder if he was the inspiration for Jason’s bottom of the lake dwelling in later Friday the 13th movies.
We get two funny college boys (who are shirtless quite a bit), and one of them does a pretty good gay impersonation.
They spy on girls from their window with binoculars. They play pranks on the girls.
When one of them parks in the woods at night with a girl, they get attacked by the monster, and he’s forced to do the penguin walk. They even work with a scientist when they suspect something fishy is going on in the water.
And eventually, the kids are chased by the monster at a sorority house after the guys sneak in to have some fun with the girls.
From cameos to starring roles, familiar horror faces made this foursome of films extra alluring for my latest marathon. Let’s see if they were all worth the watch.
JAKOB’S WIFE (2021)
The director of Girl On the Third Floor brings together two horror heavyweights to play a married couple in this vampire flick that is a blend of fresh and retro, horror and humor.
Larry Fessenden is a preacher, Barbara Crampton is his subservient wife. Barbara sneaks off to meet up with an old flame, played by 80s pretty boy Robert Rusler, and when she returns from their secret date, she’s…different.
Early “attack” scenes in this small town vampire film felt quite reminiscent of the tone of scenes from the original Tobe Hooper Salem’s Lot miniseries, so I was totally feeling it.
Barbara Crampton’s performance is especially captivating as she begins to transform into a lustful and…hungry vixen.
Highlights include her dancing to a cover of Concrete Blonde’s “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” by Tara Busch and having an erotic moment at her window as her new master stands outside in her yard.
And the film takes off in a new direction for the second half when Fessenden gets wind of what’s been bugging his wife, at which point we are treated to some good and bloody vampires action.
As I was watching Spell, I tweeted a few things to my friend about the film:
a) Omari Hardwick of the Starz show Power stars in this and he’s delicious.
b) I can’t believe what I’m watching. This movie is literally Misery with Black people and a voodoo angle.
c) That could be my entire blog post about this movie.
And so…I’m going with it. But I’ll add one more thing.
Dreamgirl Loretta Devine (aka: Reese from Urban Legend) is the equivalent of the Kathy Bates character, and the creepy voodoo shit really sets it apart from Misery, so I’d highly suggest checking it out.
MIDNIGHT DEVILS (2019)
This is one of those films that I root for so badly because there is sooooo much potential, but it just doesn’t find its footing or hold together enough to be the kick ass film it should have.
Going for a very 1970s grindhouse vibe, the film also appears to be a love letter to Evil Dead, but that aspect comes way too late in the game, which is the film’s major flaw.
The camerawork, the lighting, the fog machines, the atmosphere, the tone, the grindhouse filter, and the demon all hit the mark.
Unfortunately, the story, some of the performances, the pacing, and the structure of the film leave much to be desired. Horror icon Michael Berryman appears in a brief horror scene at the beginning with a little girl, and then we meet two tough girls that get into a car accident while on the run after stealing money. They plan to hide out in one girl’s abandoned childhood house in the woods (see where this is going?).
Turns out there’s a weird Native American dude in there holding a family captive. Also, the guys from a strip club the girls stole the money from show up and plan to bust in to get what they came for.
Little does everyone know there’s a demonic presence in the woods just waiting to go shaky cam on their asses and they’re all in danger.
If only it were as simple and straightforward as I just made it sound. The film meanders, with plodding, unnecessary scenes and dialogue before eventually getting to the point.
There’s even a sudden scene that’s so out of place in narrative and tone featuring one guy about to torture another guy that I was convinced it was accidentally slipped into the wrong movie (unless that was intentional and part of the whole grindhouse experience).
Having said all that, when the demon finally bursts in, creating some minions along the way, we get a brief and fun Evil Dead feel. Unfortunately, the movie is over just as it finally gets going. Bummer.
TEN MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (2020)
Ten Minutes to Midnight kicked into high gear within minutes and I was psyched, because it’s only about 70 minutes long.
It begins with horror veteran Caroline Williams arriving at work in her small radio station having just been bitten in the neck by something outside in the dark. She also learns from her boss that a young woman will sort of be interning and sitting in on her show that evening.
Caroline is no idiot and sees the writing on the wall for her long career. Considering all her coworkers are stabbing her in the back, her sudden thirst for blood couldn’t have come at a better time.
It would seem this is going to be a vampire outbreak film in a small radio station. But instead it’s an abstract exploration of the state of mind of an older woman as she copes with the fact that she is suddenly falling victim to sexism and ageism after years of dedication. Much of what happens to Caroline Williams is surreal horror—possibly in her mind, possibly nightmares, possibly real. But we never quite know.
It’s hard to follow this film, and while that’s a big downside, that’s really the only downside. The atmosphere is tight, the special effects are way cool, and the vampire effects are plain and simple fun. But it is hard not to wish they were used in a more traditional narrative, which could have been scary, funny, and gory all rolled into one. I found the more artistic approach this film takes a bit of a challenge to stick with. What most kept me watching was Caroline Williams.
Quite honestly, she’s one of those horror veterans who never particularly tickled my horror bone—never disliked her but I was never enthralled by her—however, this is the movie that made me say, “Damn, Caroline finally got her chance to shine.” I think her decades of experience really helped her give one of her best performances ever, and she is reason enough to check this one out.
I’ve just added four more from the 1980s to my horror movie collection. Two are from one of the Blu-ray collections of films by Spanish horror actor/director Paul Naschy, and two are a Euro giallo/slasher series double feature that was just released.
HUMAN BEASTS (The Beasts’ Carnival) (1980)
Paul Naschy directs and stars in this film that I didn’t find very enthralling as a horror movie. By the end I took it as a comment on gluttony, greed, and privilege, but that didn’t improve my opinion any.
Paul’s character works for a crime boss. Paul is also romancing the boss’s daughter. So what does the idiot do? He double crosses the crime boss!
All of a sudden they’re chasing Paul through the woods with guns—the daughter included. Paul is wounded but gets away and is cared for by a doctor and his two adult daughters in a house in the woods where they also raise pigs. So it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that there’s some psychotic sexual and horror shit going on in this place.
One daughter tries to force herself on Paul while he’s bed bound. The other daughter becomes romantically involved with Paul. In a fucked up sex scene, the doctor goes full master/servant with his Black maid as he whips her.
Meanwhile, Paul keeps having nightmares and catching glimpses of a woman portrayed in a painting in the house. There’s also someone occasionally killing off people who come to the house and feeding them to the pigs.
On top of all that, there’s some sort of costume party that includes some drag (I think), which leads to anti-gay slurs being tossed around the dinner table.
I really had no idea what was going on until it finally came down to the horror money shot in the last few minutes…which is a sort of zinger ending that would have packed more of a punch if this had been a tale in an anthology rather than a dragged out full-length film.
NIGHT OF THE WEREWOLF (1981)
It’s so sexist that this movie isn’t titled Bathory vs. the Werewolf. This movie is all about Elizabeth Bathory, dammit! But Paul Naschy directs, and Paul Naschy plays the werewolf, so Paul Naschy named the movie after the Paul Naschy character (which Paul Naschy plays in numerous Paul Naschy werewolf movies).
Anyway, back in the day, Elizabeth Bathory and a whole bunch of her minions are tortured and killed for their heinous crimes, but Elizabeth swears she will be resurrected and get her revenge.
In modern times, three college girls obsessed with Bathory decide they are going to be the ones to resurrect her. Meanwhile, some dudes are taking care of resurrecting the werewolf.
They all end up at the same gothic mansion or castle or whatever it is, where Paul is the host by day and—you know—a werewolf by night.
The cool aspect here is that Bathory is an actual vampire, and the modern day girls become her bitches.
This shit turns into a campy Bathory vs. The Wolf Man battle! Eat your heart out, Hammer Films.
NOTHING UNDERNEATH (1985)
I guess you can turn to this film if you’ve a) seen everything by Argento, b) want to see everything Donald Pleasence was in that also features a killer with a sharp object, and/or c) like stylish, sexy 80s killer thrillers.
I’d say Pleasence was cast as a detective just to lure in Halloween fans. Even so, he seems too exhausted to even investigate fictional murders for an acting job in this film.
The main guy is a cute blond park ranger in the U.S. who gets premonitions of his model twin sister in Italy being stalked by someone with a scissor. So he flies to Italy and delves into the modeling world as he investigates her disappearance—mostly without any help from Pleasence. Although they do lunch together.
There are some boobs, female bush, a man ass, and our leading man shirtless.
There’s also one very Argento sequence that teases us repeatedly before the kill finally happens—entirely off screen. WTF? All we see is a bloody scissor after!
Thankfully there is one quick and juicy stab murder, another one much later in a flashback, and the killer going after the main guy with a drill in the final scene. Not Body Double length drill, but still impressive.
Unfortunately, other than the great 80s vibe and some good nostalgia including songs like “I Am What I Am” and “One Night in Bangkok” during a modeling show, this film is rather bland. However, I do think it’s worth it for the rather cheesy, over-the-top final move by the killer.
TOO BEAUTIFUL TO DIE (1988)
Apparently a sequel to Nothing Underneath, this film is directed by Dario Piana, a man who has only made a few films over the decades, including more recent films The Deaths of Ian Stone and The Lost Boys: The Thirst. 2011 brought The Last Fashion Show, a second sequel from Carlo Vanzina (director of Nothing Underneath), but I’ve been unable to track it down to watch. And let’s face it. It’s not from the 80s, so what’s the point?
Too Beautiful To Die has a very late 80s feel and is much more of a slasher that also takes on the dangers of young people being preyed upon and drawn into the seedy side of the modeling world by powerful men.
It’s not surprising that this is like one big sleek and sexy music video—in this case a music video that is being shot for the Frankie Goes to Hollywood track “Warriors of the Wasteland” (No, they don’t make an appearance like they did in Body Double). There’s a sensual dance club montage set to KTP’s “Certain Things Are Likely” that really made me miss the 80s so damn much. There’s a daytime boating montage as the Huey Lewis hit “Perfect World” brightens the mood. And Toto’s “I Won’t Hold You Back” is the soundtrack to a sex scene.
In the meantime, pretty young people that were in a disturbing hot tub scene at the beginning of the movie are getting killed off by a cloaked figure using a multi-blade weapon that serves as a prop in the music video. Awesome.
There is satisfying violence, atmosphere, and chase scenes enough for slasher fans to appreciate. However, the film isn’t quite focused, so the characters aren’t there to be developed or liked. They’re just present to be killed off.
Time to take on four oldies that have landed on my horror movie shelves, and the only miss for me is one that I scored simply because it was on a double feature disc with another movie I wanted.
THE RETURN OF THE VAMPIRE (1943)
Bela Lugosi dons his Dracula costume again to…play a different vampire. Pretty sneaky way to make an unofficial sequel without getting Universal’s blessing. Not that a vampire would want a blessing anyway.
It all starts in a foggy cemetery with…the Wolf Man? No, not Lon Chaney Jr., just some werewolf responsible for protecting the vampire’s grave. He sucks as a guard dog because the vamp gets staked.
A quarter century later, the woman responsible for killing the vampire is back, and so is the vampire. And he wants revenge. Although not named Dracula, he is Bela Lugosi dressed as Dracula. He turns a guy into his werewolf bitch by staring at him with hypnotic eyes and then assigns his new pet the duty of fetching him a coffin.
The vampire targets the family of the woman who staked him. There’s classic swirling mist seeping through windows as he visits a pretty young woman, and loads of fog in the cemetery, where a good chunk of this film takes place. And to mix things up so it’s not just another Dracula movie, bombs are falling because it’s wartime.
It’s a basic little vampire film, but it’s really a must-own for fans of the classic movie monsters and the iconic actors forever linked to them.
This truly is a classic of the giant insect genre, despite some slowdown smack dab in the middle and way too much army involvement instead of ordinary everyday citizens as the heroes.
The film has two distinct focuses. The first is on law enforcement realizing there are giant ants in the desert. There’s nothing better than the first sign of trouble being a young girl they find lost and terrified digging up the nerve to scream just one word…”Them!”
Soon, scientists are battling giant ants! Even more awesome? It was the good old days when someone actually went to the trouble of building giant ants for the actors to interact with.
Once authorities think they’ve conquered the ants in the desert, they discover a couple of queens have flown off to the city (don’t we always?).
The second half of the film involves the military tracking the ants down in the underground sewers to kill the queens.
THE SNORKEL (1958)
Not what you usually think of when you think of Hammer Films, this is a contemporary suspense thriller, and it’s a goodie. It’s also a clear precursor to many teen vs. evil stepparent films that would come after it.
The plot is pretty wild. This dude kills his wife by gassing her in a locked room, and then hiding under the floor boards and using a snorkel to breathe until her body is found so it will look like she committed suicide.
But when his stepdaughter arrives, she immediately assumes he killed her mother because she believes he killed her father years before. Naturally no one believes a grieving kid.
And so begins a battle of wits as she tries to figure out how he did it while he attempts to kill her in a way that also looks like an accident. And he’s definitely a bastard, because when her adorable dog becomes obsessed with his snorkel, rather than just throw out the damn snorkel, well….
The two actors perfectly carry the film, and while the way in which the final act unfolds may seem predictable by today’s standards, that’s because early films like this came before all the modern films we’re familiar with.
The only catch is that if this film were remade today, it would end a few minutes earlier than it does. I was all gleeful when I thought there was a dastardly conclusion, but it being the 1950s and all, the film goes all Leave It To Beaver on us and takes the higher moral ground in one final scene. Blah.
CIRCUS OF HORRORS (1960)
Circus of Horrors starts of strong, with a look at the deformed face of a woman whose plastic surgery went wrong.
The doctor who botched the job goes on the run and meets Donald Pleasence, who runs a circus.
When Donald is killed by a guy in a bear suit…I mean, by a bear in his circus…the doctor takes over the circus.
Then performers keep dying in front of an audience, but no one seems to do anything about stopping the show from going on.
This film is like a boring version of the movie Berserk! with Joan Crawford, with the added twist of the doctor being obsessed with plastic surgery.