Sunday, October 31, 2021

Scream Blacula Scream 1973

This is a ridiculous suit but a great scene!

The tricks and treats are still flowing here at the Cheeks Debelly mansion as Halloween is still going strong.  Next up is a sequel to a film I did earlier in the month.  Scream Blacula Scream also stars William H. Marshall as the title character.  The film also stars Pam Grier, a mainstay of many blaxploitation films and features Richard Lawson in the first credited movie of his career.  The basis of the film is that as a Voodoo Priestess dies she appoints Lisa (Grier) as her successor.  This of course does not sit well with her son Willis (Lawson) who is her true heir.  


Willis gets the bones of Blacula (apparently there is a voodoo ebay that has this kind of stuff) and revives the vampire.  Of course the joke is on Willis as the newly alive again Prince Mamuwalde is not having any of Willis "You must do my bidding!" crap.  In fact it is Willis who is first turned into a vampire and then forced to do Blacula's bidding.  Before long Blacula has created his own army of blood thirsty vampires.  Murders start piling up in no time.   


 Also starring is Don Mitchell as an ex-cop that knows a lot about African heritage and Janee Michelle as Lisa's friend Gloria.  The director this time is Bob Kelijan of Count Yorga fame.  The film is as cool as the first one but I don't recall the original having as many lulls in it.  This one feels a little slower and at times it's nearly boring.  About half a star less than the original so I give this a strong two and a half voodoo dolls out of five.


Count Dracula’s Great Love 1973


One of Madrid's greatest exports to the horror genre is Paul Naschy.  Often considered the Spanish Lon Chaney due to the fact that he has portrayed practically every character in horror movies.  From The Wolfman to Frankenstein's Monster and from a mummy to Fu Manchu, Naschy has played them all.  Here he tries his hand at playing Count Dracula himself.  The film is also sometimes called Cemetery Girls or Dracula's Great LoveFirst thing that struck me was the opening credits which features a delivery man repeatedly falling down the same flight of stairs after taking an axe to the face.   


After the credits we go to a stagecoach filled with four young women and some young guy.  While traveling through the Carpathian mountains their carriage looses a wheel.  This will tell you how dumb the young man is; after the wheel falls off he climbs out of the coach and angrily asks "Why did we stop?".  The group finds refuge from a coming storm in a nearby sanitarium because of course they did.  The sanitarium is owned by Dr. Marlowe who is really Dracula.  The rest of the story plays out about how you would expect.  Now, not only does Naschy star, he also wrote the screenplay.  The film is big on scenery and atmosphere plus lots of female nudity.  As is the case with most of Naschy's films this one is dubbed in English.  


Usually Paul Naschy films fall into the same area of goodness.  I haven't seen any that were horrible.  This one is.......... holy crap is that dagger through her neck?  Wow!  Anyway, where was I?  Right, the women in the film all do what they are supposed to do in my opinion and that's be eye candy.  Naschy does a decent job as Dracula but it's nothing to write home about.  This movie is right in the middle where it should be.  It's a very average film that earns a weak three dead coachmen out of five.  As always is the case, but I feel it's more needed to be pointed out here:  Your Mileage May Vary.  

The Sadist 1963

Next up is a 1963 exploitation film featuring Arch Hall Jr. as Charlie Tibbs and Marilyn Manning as his girlfriend Judy.  Both of them were fresh off of costarring in the film Eegah the year before.  The film is loosely based on the real killing spree of Charles Starkweather that occurred in January of 1958.  This was the first film based on the murders but it wouldn't be the last.  Badlands from 1973 stars Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek as the demented killers.  In 1994 Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis would take a turn playing them in Natural Born Killers.  As I have seen both of them previously I will be able to figure out which version of the story I prefer and can recommend.


The film also features Richard Alden, Helen Hovey, and Don Russell (none of which have many other acting credits, in fact this is Hovey's only film credit) play three unlucky teachers.  While on their way to a Dodgers game in L.A., their car breaks down.  When they pull into the first gas station they see they cross paths with the two fugitives.  That, of course, is what they get for going to a Dodgers game in the first place.  


The film was made on a shoestring budget which for some reason translated into using real guns and real ammunition in the film.  Sounds kinda risky even by today's standards.  Unfortunately you could ask Alec Baldwin what he thinks of that idea.  Sad.  Tragic.  Aside from the five main characters, Arch Hall Sr. can be heard as the voice on the radio announcing.  So where does this one fall into the trio of films based on the real life crimes of Charles Starkweather?  Badlands is my favorite of the three with Natural Born Killers a close second.  This would fall in third place and just squeeze out three broken gas pumps out of five.  




Young Frankenstein 1974


We seem to be on a roll today with another film that the Horror Honey counts as one of her favorites (I'm a big fan as well) and a Mel Brooks classic.  This one is no doubt a comedy however it pays great respect to the classic horror movie Frankenstein from 1931 as well as it's "sequels".  It's loaded with comedy legends like Gene Wilder (who co-wrote the screenplay with Brooks), Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, and Madeline Kahn.  And this isn't counting the many small bit parts put in by other stars as well.


The film is remarkable in that the props used for the laboratory scenes in the original 1931 Frankenstein are also used in this film.  The film did not go unnoticed by the public or the critics.  It was a box office success as well as critically acclaimed; earning two Oscar nominations.  The film not only was filmed in black and white to give it an old time feeling, Brooks also used filming techniques originally used in the 1930's.  Even Mel Brooks himself considers the film his best work.     

Now, with everyone I've mentioned that is in this film there is still one other person I want to mention.  Gene Hackman is in this for all of about ten minutes as the blind hermit.  But what a ten minutes it is.  One scene and the guy nearly steals the damn film.  It's also one of Peter Boyle's strongest scenes as well.  It also reminds me of just how loyal to the original film it is while being a completely different film.  So, is this a perfect film?  Pretty damn close!  If there was no such thing as The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley or the 1931 film this would get five out of five. It's not fully original so I take off only a half a star and I give this four and a half Abby Normal brains out of five.  If you have never seen this before you need to fix that immediately if not sooner.  You really are doing yourself an injustice.  


Saturday, October 30, 2021

Day the Earth Stood Still 1951


Michael Rennie was ill the day the earth stood still but he told us where we stand.  Here we are, we have finally arrived at the countdowns official zero hour.  Halloween is finally here and since it is a Sunday we will be watching films and typing blog posts as much as we can.  We will be posting all day long and we are  starting with this classic.  The cold war had begun and Americans were suspicious of everything.  This movie exploits all of those fears that were occurring at the time.  Could still be true today in fact.



Michael Rennie plays Klaatu an alien from outer-space who lands on Earth.  His mission is to warn all of us that other alien leaders are concerned with Earth's place in the universe now that we have atomic power.  Patricia Neal plays the widowed mother of Bobby, portrayed by Billy Gray, who is a young boy Klaatu befriends.  Hugh Marlow plays the jealous boyfriend Tom while Sam Jaffe is the kind scientists, Professor Barnhardt, who tries to help Klaatu.  There's even the small role of Mrs. Bailey, the kindly older woman who owns the boarding house, played by Frances Bavier.  We know her better as Aunt Bea from the Andy Griffith Show. 



 This is just one of those movies that always puts me on the edge of my seat.  No gore, not really much in the way of special effects just a great script loaded with suspense.  Originally it was a short science fiction story written by Harry Bates titled Farewell to the Master .    The film was brought to the big screen by Edmund H. North who wrote the screenplay and Robert Wise who directed.  Not only is this one loved by yours truly it is also a favorite of Denise, the Horror Honey.  Do yourself a favor though, don't see the remake with Keanu Reeves; it's nowhere near as good as this.   "Klaatu barada nikto."   Which roughly translated to "I give this four Gorts out of five.". 

The Outing 1987


So here's the thing, a couple weeks ago my good doodily doo, Cerpts, over here at The Land of Cerpts and Honey  on blogger did a review of this film.  At first my reaction was of disappointment in that he reviewed it before I could and here I had it in my queue of films to review for The Countdown to Halloween.  So I thought about taking it out and putting something else in it's place like Ernest Scared Stupid or something.  Then I decided not to take my ball and go home but to go ahead and do a review.  After all variety is the spice of life.  it also would allow me to see if Cerpts really knew what he was talking about in his review of The Outing


Or is it called The Lamp?  Some people call it The Lamp but I guess that's a little too on the nose because the movie is about a freakin' lamp after all.  But I digest.  The film is directed by Tom Daley and nothing else to tell you about him since this is all he has done.  Moving on.  Now let's look at all these stars and their bodies of work.  Oh crap, nothing.  Never heard of any of them and none of them have done much else.  Neither of these are good signs.  But let's see, this one might surprise me and I've never let any of these things stop me before.  OK, so the first thing I'll say is the opening prologue of the story is a little stiff and lifeless.  no pun intended. 



But it quickly transitions to out main story.  We have a fight in the locker room of a college or high school, I dunno which they all seem way too old to still be in high school but whatever.  We immediately see who we will be rooting for in the movie and who the douchey guys are.  Think sleeveless dress shirt with a tie.  Yep, douche, and we will be eagerly awaiting his as well as his friends death for.  I have to add here I love 80's slasher films and this one does scream 80's slasher so it has that in it's favor!  It also brings a nice twist on the slasher genre so I'm not mad at it.  OK, there was one thing I did get pissed off about and in the grand scheme of things this is a drop of water in the Pacific Ocean.  Still, I have to mention it, when we see the bunch of friends all having a midnight snack in the museum, the goddamn bag of ruffles potato chips are opened upside down.  I mean c'mon who does that in a movie let alone in real life?  Whoever is responsible I hope the evil genie gets 'em good because they deserve what they get.  So ya know what, I think Cerpts gave this three stars out of five and I have to agree with him.  Three sounds and feels about right.  Only it's not three stars out of five that I give it but rather three singing museum security guards out of five.  A nice surprise!       

Friday, October 29, 2021

Hack-O-Lantern 1988


Sometimes my movie viewing is well planned out ahead of time then sometimes, as is the case here, I just pull a title out of the proverbial hat.  What came out was this low budget slasher that absolutely screams late 80's.   Little Tommy has a weird Grandpa who is really into devil worshiping.  Tommy's father doesn't like his Grandpa being around Tommy and on Halloween night he goes to tell him just that.  After Grandpa kills his father, Tommy grows up and grows weird.  It's time for Tommy to take his place in the cult with his Grandpa.



Grandpa is played by Hy Pyke, Gregory Scott Cummins is Tommy, and Katina Garner is Tommy's mother Amanda.  Most of the acting is stiff and the story is fairly run of the mill.  Directed by Jag Mundhra there are so many different things going on here that I can't follow it all but I wanted to mention a few things.  First is the less than subtle hints at incest between Grandpa and his daughter Amanda.  Then we have Grandpa's awkward hand movements in fact to the point that above all the incest scenes, there's a weird handshake scene between Tommy and Grandpa that's even more odd. 


Now, on top of all that we have this guy dressed very similar to the people in Grandpa's group going around killing people that are close to Tommy.  Mundhra was into exploitation films back in the 80's before moving on to Indian films.  There's porn stars making legit attempts at acting, good amount of nudity, some bloody kills, and it even manages to throw in a twist ending.  Even so, this film is less 90 minutes long and it feels ohhh so much longer.  I give this two pickup trucks full of pumpkins out or five.  Buyer (or in this case viewer) beware!  

"The power is in the blood!" ~ Grandpa   

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Ginger Snaps 2000


Today we have a film directed and co-written by John Fawcett who I first discovered in 2013 when he created the BBC America sci fi thriller Orphan Black.  The film stars Emily Perkins and Katharine Isabelle as sisters Bridgitte and Ginger Fitzgerald.  Ginger, who is 16 gets her first period and is attacked by what the town calls the Beast of Bailey Downs.  Turns out it's a werewolf.



Ginger's younger sister "B" who is 15 but in the same grade because she skipped a grade, tries to find a cure for her sister. "B" also fears she will be getting the same "curse" within the next year and refuses to become like her sister.  Kris Lemche and Jesse Moss play the girls sort of boyfriends Sam and Jason.  Mimi Rogers plays the girls mother.  Danielle Hampton plays the popular girl Trina, who bullies the sisters, rounds out the cast.



This horror/werewolf version of a girls coming of age story soon turns into a tale of sibling rivalry.  Or is that a "tail" of sibling rivalry?  I heard a lot of good things about this for years and just now got around to seeing it.  I've seen worse werewolf films so this wasn't bad just not as good as all the hype so maybe my expectations were a bit too high going in.  Still I recommend this one and I give it three bunches of wolf's-bane out of five.   

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

The Halloween Tree 1993


Sometime around 1980 I read a book by Ray Bradbury titled The Halloween Tree.  I loved it but due to the fact that I was only about 10 years old give or take a year or two, I didn't fully appreciate it for what it was.  Flash forward to the early 90's and with the impending release of The Halloween Tree animated short movie I wanted to read it again to get reacquainted with the story.  It was like I had never read it before as I found more meaning in the story than the first time I had read it.  It's basically a history of Halloween and why we celebrate it.  Even more so it tells us why we celebrate it the way we do.  


In 1993 The Halloween Tree animated short film was released by Hannah Barbara productions and premiered on the ABC network.  While not one hundred percent faithful to the source material it is very close.  It features Ray Bradbury himself narrating the story and Leonard Nimoy voicing the role of Moundshroud.  The group of preteens' host or tour guide through the history of Halloween.  While the four friends learn about Halloween and the roots of it's customs, they are also fighting for the life of their fifth friend Pip.  Pip, who is not with them this year due to him needing his appendix removed, is also in danger of having his soul or spirit taken away from him by Moundshroud.  



Every child must learn the true meaning of their costumes before the end of Halloween or Pip's soul will belong to Moundshround.  The story is an informative one as it gives children the real roots of some of the customs observed on or around Halloween.  Ray Bradbury was very good friends with Walt Disney and in 2007,  Disneyland, in California, celebrated their first year with their very own Halloween Tree.  It has been used every year since to celebrate the fall season.  In this, the time of Covid, Disneyland did not install the Halloween Tree and as of now it doesn't look like it will be back this year.  The film is good but the book, as is usually the case, is much better but I am still able to give this three and a half sugar candy skulls out of five.     

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Slumber Party Massacre 2021


I gotta say I'm a little embarrassed that I have never seen the original Slumber Party Massacre from 1982.  I mean I love most Roger Corman films and the original was produced by him.  I have nothing to compare this to but it won't stop me from giving a fair grade and review, in fact it might make it easier for me.  The new SPM is a Shout! Factory production and I would imagine that there will be many more Corman originals being remade as they have bought the rights to over 250 Corman films.  This one starts with a short prologue featuring a group of teen girls being killed by a power drill wielding maniac at a remote lake house.  The "final girl" sends the killer off a bridge/boat dock into the lake.  



Then we flash forward about thirty years.  We discover that a new group of teenage girls are planning a trip only to have their car break down near the same lake that the original took place.  There are a few twists and turns here, like for instance one of the girls Dana (Hannah Gonera) is the daughter of the original final girl from the beginning of the film.  The girls soon discover they are not the only ones at the lake.  The original murderer dubbed "The Driller Killer" (hey didn't I just review that one? actually there's no relation) is alive and well and is after this new group of young girls.



Directed by Danishka Esterhazy who also directed The Banana Splits movie which was only OK does a much better job here.  Comedian Rob Van Vuuren plays The Driller Killer in such an offbeat way that he almost doesn't seem threatening but he certainly is.  Mila Rayne, Alex McGregor, Frances Sholto-Douglas, and Reze-Tiana Wessels portray the rest of the girls.  I don't know if I'm still pissed about Halloween Kills being so bad or what but I gotta say this one was a fun time.  A nice tight run time of less than 90 minutes made for not a boring moment to be found here.  So here we go getting rid of that bad taste in our mouth as I give this one three and a half pillow fights out of 5.  I was pleasantly surprised!


Monday, October 25, 2021

Halloween Kills (2021)


So there's few things in this world that I get offended by.   Honestly it takes a lot for me to "go off" as the youngens would say.  So let me tell you I was upset that this was delayed a year due to the C-word but it is what it is and I understand these movies are made to make money and when you're in the deep end of the pool that's not the time to take chances.  Now here we are a year later and Halloween Kills not only is finally released but it's streaming on Peacock network which I actually have and get to watch it for free in the comfort of my living room.  



So let's talk about what is good in this installment first.  It pays huge homage to the Halloween films that came before it.  It brings back Tommy Doyle, Lindsey Wallace, Lonnie Elam, and Sheriff Leigh Brackett.  Except for Anthony Michael Hall playing Tommy, the rest are played by their original actors.  It reference the masks from Halloween III as the picture above shows.  Nick Castle, who played the original Shape from the first film also returns to play Michael Myers in one scene.  Although I'm not sure which scene it was.  This makes Castle the record holder for the longest period of playing a character in a film series with 41 years.  The record was previously held by Harrison Ford and Mark Hamill.  I also want to mention the kills in this one.  My weren't they aggressive and violent.  Michael Myers must have had a Monster Energy drink! 


Now let's discuss what I didn't like about the film.  EVERYTHING ELSE!  This film offended my intelligence and took me, as a fan of the original film, (remember in this trilogy only the original Halloween film ever happened) for granted.  A lousy screenplay (Danny McBride should be ashamed!), terrible directing, just about every scene feels like there is a better way to capture it.  Thinking about it maybe that falls on to the cinematographer, who, ah the hell with it, let's say does a horrible job as well.  At this point I feel bad for Jamie Lee Curtis who is underused in this installment.  Her and Michael have zero scenes together in this.  ZERO!  So congratulations Halloween Kills, you have done something that few films have done before and that's piss me off!  I'll give this two fire scarred William Shatner masks out of five and one middle finger from both of my hands.  Can a film be a douche bag because I feel like this is the douche bag of horror films. 

Scream Blacula Scream 1973

This is a ridiculous suit but a great scene!     The tricks and treats are still flowing here at the Cheeks Debelly mansion as Halloween is ...