The Babadook (2014)
Producers: Kristina Ceyton and Kristian Moliere
Director/Screenwriter: Jennifer Kent
Six years after her husband died driving her to the hospital to give birth, a woman finds herself along with a son who is convinced he is being threatened by an evil creature, The Babadook. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that the creature exists and it threatens both their lives.
This is a fabulous film — very scary. It’s a little too on the nose in terms of its metaphor but if you avoid thinking about it, it’s a perfect horror film. The use of shadow and sound editing are some of the best that I’ve ever seen. Why does so much great work come out of Australia and New Zealand?!
4 July 2021
The Baby (1973)
Producers: Milton Polsky & Abe Polsky
Director: Ted Post
Screenwriter: Abe Polsky
An older mother and two adult daughters care for their adult son, Baby — a twenty-something man who is supposedly developmentally disabled and wears diapers and sleeps in a crib. A new social worker is assigned to the family who thinks that Baby is not disabled and is really being abused by the family.
This is such a twisted film. Pretty much every kind of depraved take you can imagine is here, even if it isn’t explicit. Check out the trailer. It seems bizarre but it’s rendered very seriously and somehow works.
12 January 2021
The Babysitter (1980)
Producer: David Garcia
Director: Peter Medak
Screenwriter: Jennifer Miller
A couple hires a local housekeeper and nanny for their 12-year-old daughter. But the young woman has a history and starts destroying the family eventually going on a killing spree.
This made-for-television film is about as good as any of these kinds of films. The story is well-constructed and the acting is good. I’m no less likely to watch it again than I am The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, even though it have a higher level of creepiness and violence.
Starring Stephanie Zimbalist (Remington Steele), Patty Duke (Valley of the Dolls), William Shatner (Star Trek), and John Houseman (The Paper Chase). Quinn Cummings (The Goodbye Girl) plays the daughter.
The Babysitter is under copyright. You can find it around on what looks like a DVD-R, but I won’t link to any because I don’t know if these outlets are trustworthy. You can get it on VHS, although I’m not sure why you would.
30 May 2020
Bad Moon (1996)
Producer: James G Robinson
Director/Screenwriter: Eric Red
A photojournalist is in Nepal with his girlfriend when they are attacked by a werewolf. She is killed and he is wounded. On return to the US, he slowly realizes that he is now a werewolf. While living near his sister, he tries to control his problem but predictably fails.
This is a solid werewolf film. The practical effects are great and the make up and gore are quite satisfying. What the film lacks is a visual mood. It is all too well lit to give me that creepy feeling I so like. But that doesn’t make it less effective; in fact, in many ways, it makes it more so. And it has one awesome jump-scare.
1 May 2020
Bad Teacher (2011)
Producers: Jimmy Miller & David Householter
Director: Jake Kasdan
Screenwriters: Gene Stupnitsky & Lee Eisenberg
A gold-digging drunk who somehow managed to get her teaching credential has to go back to teaching when her fiancé dumps her for being a gold-digging drunk. At school, she decides she needs a boob job to attract a rich substitute teacher and uses all her evil ways to get the money.
That summary sounds pretty good. Unfortunately, the film plays this all as a redemption story. Of course, there is no redemption. There’s also not really any humor. The one good thing about this film is that it displaced Blackenstein as the worst professional film I’ve ever seen. Good job!
Starring Cameron Diaz (Being John Malkovich), Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz), Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Justin Timberlake (In Time), Phyllis Smith (The Office), and John Michael Higgins (A Mighty Wind).
24 August 2021
Producers: Michael Birnbaum & Michele Berk and Barry Levinson & Paula Weinstein
Director: Barry Levinson
Screenwriter: Harley Peyton
Two bank robbers escape prison and invent a new way to rob banks. Everything is going well until a woman shows up who both find attractive.
This is a funny little crime drama with a fulfilling, if unbelievable ending. I’m really shocked this film didn’t do well at the box office.
5 April 2020
Producer: Wayne Crawford
Director: Harry Kerwin
Screenwriters: Wayne Crawford and Harry Kerwin
The shady government is doing shady things and the “deep state” is a rabbit hole of unknown depth. A marine biologist discovers something going on in the water. The sherrif is sent to arrest him but ultimately, they team up to fight the power.
This is an obvious Jaws rip-off. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good. In fact, the barracuda attacks are really effective. Whereas Jaws depended on the viewer mostly imagining the attacks, those in Barracuda are visceral. It’s quite a gripping little film, even if it tries to do too much. It would have been better to focus on the barracuda.
Barracuda features a number of notables from the independent film world. It stars Wayne Crawford, who also co-wrote, co-produced, and directed the underwater sequences of this film. He is probably best known as the co-writer and co-producer of Valley Girl.
Although William Kerwin (2000 Maniacs) is listed low on the credits, he probably gets more screen time than Crawford. As usual, he’s great. Jason Evers, just as he did in The Brain That Wouldn’t Die, plays an insane doctor. The film also features Cliff Emmich (Payday) and Roberta Leighton.
Barracuda is copyrighted although you can often find it around the internet. It is available as Drive-in Double Feature along with Island Fury (An unfinished Texas Chainsaw Massacre knock-off with new footage bookmarking it). The film has not been released in accordance with its quality.
Basket Case (1982)
Producer: Edgar Ievins
Director/Screenwriter: Frank Henenlotter
The film focuses on conjoined twins consisting of a regular boy and a head-blob attached to the side of his chest. As adults, the two kill the doctors who performed the surgery. Also: there is much tension between the twins given that one can lead a normal life.
Filled with pathos and humor, the film doesn’t disappoint in terms of gore. It’s also filled with a lot of stop-motion animation. The whole thing is irresistible.
The Bat (1959)
Producer: CJ Tevlin
Director: Crane Wilbur
Screenwriter: Crane Wilbur (play: Mary Roberts Rinehart and Avery Hopwood — based upon Rinehart’s novel The Circular Staircase)
Agnes Moorehead rents a house that contains a bunch of money. Vincent Price wants it. But more important, so does The Bat — a serial killer considerably less silly than Batman.
This is mostly just a play on film. It’s a bit spooky but that’s it. Still, it’s well made. The plot is a bit too complex. And the ending is random. But it’s a fun one.
Our Gang cutie Darla Hood has a supporting role. The original novel was shot two times before: The Circular Staircase (1915) and The Bat (1926). Not to be mistaken for The Spiral Staircase (1946).
It is in the public domain.
Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
Producer: Ed Carlin
Director: Jimmy T Murakami
Screenwriters: John Sayles (story: John Sayles & Anne Dyer)
Sador comes to a peaceful planet and tells them he is going to colonize them in a couple of days and there is nothing they can do because he has some badass guns. The people of the planet send out a young man to hire warriors to protect them. During his travels, he collects seven warriors and they fight back against Sador.
This is a space version of Seven Samurai but where Toshiro Mifune has really big boobs. It’s a whole lot of fun and looks great. It also features quite a cast. James Cameron did some of the special effects.
Battle Beyond the Stars is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both including commentaries with Sayles/Corman and production manager Gale Anne Hurd (later producer of Cameron films), an interview with Thomas, and a half-hour making-of documentary.
25 April 2021
Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
Producer: Arthur P Jacobs
Director: Lee Thompson
Screenwriters: John William Corrington & Joyce William Corrington (story: Paul Dehn)
This is the last of the original Planet of the Apes series. And it’s a solid outing. Caesar tries to form a utopia while Aldo acts as a demagogue to undermine him. It all depends upon Caesar being such an engaging character: he’s the early 1970s idealist heading for a reckoning with reality. It’s sad but ultimately heartening.
The film stars Roddy McDowall, the star of all the Apes films other than my favorite, Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Also featuring: Claude Akins (The Night Strangler), Austin Stoker (Horror High), Paul Williams (Phantom of the Paradise), Natalie Trundy (Escape From the Planet of the Apes), Severn Darden, and Lew Ayres (All Quiet on the Western Front).
The film will be under copyrighted until 2068 because corporations wouldn’t make any films at all if they couldn’t continue getting revenue for a century. Anyway, you can get the film on DVD and Blu-ray. Better is to get Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection. It has some extras and is generally cheaper than the single-film discs.
A Bay of Blood (1971)
Producer: Giuseppe Zaccariello
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriters: Mario Bava & Giuseppe Zaccariello (as Joseph McLee) & Filippo Ottoni (story: Dardano Sacchetti and Franco Barberi)
Alternative titles: Carnage, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Blood Bath, Ecologia del Delitto
A real estate agent wants to develop a lake but the owner won’t allow it. So he convinces her husband to murder her. Then the husband is murdered. And a group of young people. Eventually, everyone ends up dead — mostly because they are all a bunch of greedy bastards.
It’s kind of hard to figure out what’s happening the first time through this film. But it’s still a fun watch. You just may want to watch it a few more times.
Starring Claudine Auger (Lovers and Liars), Claudio Camaso (Vengeance), Luigi Pistilli (Your Vice Is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key), Laura Betti (Teorema), and Leopoldo Trieste (The White Sheik).
2 April 2021
Beaks: The Movie (1987)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: René Cardona Jr
Alternative titles: El Ataque de los Pájaros
A TV news reporter and her cameraman follow a number of stories of birds attacking people. Eventually, they and others are attacked.
This is more or less The Birds except with less of a story and more of a series of frankly pretty cool and gory attacks. It all ends with a ridiculous environmental plea because this is a Very Serious Movie. I don’t think this is one to seek out but it’s fun enough if you happen upon it. At least Suzanne Pleshette doesn’t die.
19 June 2021
Beast From Haunted Cave (1959)
Producer: Gene Corman
Director: Monte Hellman
Screenwriter: Charles B Griffith
During a gold heist, a group of criminals disturbs a tentacled beast that pursues them to their hideout. There’s the usual criminals bickering, unhappy kept-woman, and unsuspecting civilian.
The fact that the film takes place in the snow is compelling given how many of these kinds of films were made in southern California. I also rather like the monster here.
1 May 2020
The Beast Must Die (1974)
Producers: Max Rosenberg and Milton Subotsky
Director: Paul Annett
Screenwriter: Paul Annett (story: James Blish)
A rich big-game hunter brings a bunch of acquaintances to his estate because he is convinced that one of them is a werewolf who he plans to hunt.
That synopsis makes the film seem a lot better than it is. Despite a fine cast and good idea, this film just meanders with over-lit sets and a score that seems right out of Baretta. It has its moments but it isn’t close to the stuff Amicus usually produced.
Starring Calvin Lockhart (Let’s Do It Again), Peter Cushing (And Now the Screaming Starts!), Charles Gray (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Michael Gambon (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), and others.
The Beast Must Die is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with some nice extras. But it’s better as The Amicus Collection, which comes along with And Now the Screaming Starts! and Asylum, all with commentaries and a featurette thrown in on one of them.
The Beastmaster (1982)
Producers: Paul Pepperman and Sylvio Tabet
Director: Don Coscarelli
Screenwriters: Don Coscarelli & Paul Pepperman
The king’s baby son is kidnapped by the evil Maax, but lands in kind hands. He turns out to be able to communicate and control animals. After his adopted father is murdered, he seeks vengeance against Maxx who just so happens to have also dethroned his biological father (who also turns out to be kind of a dick).
I’m not a huge fan of this genre and the film suffers a bit due to budget constraints. But it’s quite enjoyable. Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show) seems a bit ill-cast. The part was supposed to go to Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God), who would have been perfect.
The Beastmaster is available on DVD as a Special Edition with a ton of interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and a commentary track with Coscarelli and Pepperman. There are also much cheaper versions but it isn’t clear what they include. There are no Region A/1 Blu-rays that I could find.
8 July 2020
Producers: Michael Bender and Larry Wilson and Richard Hashimoto
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriters: Michael McDowell and Warren Skaaren (story: Michael McDowell & Larry Wilson)
A recently deceased country couple must deal with the new urban couple that has moved into their house. They must also deal with the urban couple’s Goth daughter and the crude bio-exorcist Betelgeuse.
This is a good film to gently introduce the fearful to horror. It’s an utterly charming film.
Starring Alec Baldwin (Talk Radio), Geena Davis (The Long Kiss Goodnight), Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands), Michael Keaton (Batman), Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and Catherine O’Hara (Schitt’s Creek). It has a great supporting case including Sylvia Sidney (Mars Attacks!) and Glenn Shadix (Demolition Man).
24 August 2021
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla (1952)
Producer: Maurice Duke
Director: William Beaudine
Screenwriter: Tim Ryan
Most people have heard of this film but few have seen it. And that’s a shame because it’s really good. Basically, “Martin and Lewis” accidentally parachute onto a tropical island on their way to entertain the troops in Guam. On the island is a mad scientist who looks a whole lot like Bela Lugosi. Out of jealousy for the affections of the jungle queen, he turns “Martin” into a gorilla.
Although Martin and Lewis aren’t real, Bela Lugosi is — even if he’s a little low-energy in the role. The film features Duke Mitchell as Martin and Sammy Petrillo (Shangri-La) as Lewis. Well, not really; they play themselves since they actually were nightclub performers and Petrillo was a Jerry Lewis impersonator. Also featuring: Charlita (Let’s Go Navy!) and Muriel Landers (Doctor Dolittle).
Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla is available on DVD.
Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
Producer: Arthur P Jacobs
Director: Ted Post
Screenwriter: Paul Dehn (story: Paul Dehn and Mort Abrahams; characters: Pierre Boulle)
The story takes up right where the first film ends. But very quickly Taylor disappears (literally) and James Franciscus lands and takes over. There is a full underground New York City and mutant humans worshipping the bomb. And Taylor gets to fulfill his cynical destiny at the end.
This film set the standard for the sequels, perhaps even besting the original. It’s the only sequel that seems like it was written for the big screen (no offense to the others).
Charlton Heston, Kim Hunter, and Linda Harrison reprise their roles. This is the only one of the films that doesn’t star Roddy McDowall (who was directing Tam-Lin, which is way better than most claim).
Featuring: James Franciscus (Jonathan Livingston Seagull), James Gregory (Barney Miller), David Watson, Maurice Evans, Paul Richards, Victor Buono (Batman), and Natalie Trundy (Escape From the Planet of the Apes).
Better Watch Out (2016)
Producers: Brett Thornquest, Brion Hambel, Sidonie Abbene, and Paul Jensen
Director: Chris Peckover
Screenwriters: Zack Kahn and Chris Peckover (story: Zack Kahn)
A psychotic kid tortures his babysitter in what is effectively Bad Home Alone.
This is a comedy so black that I can’t even find the humor in it. But lots of people love it. And it’s well made! Kind of light on cool practical effects, though.
The Beyond (1981)
Producer: Fabrizio De Angelis
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Lucio Fulci (story: Dardano Sacchetti)
Our Review: The Gates of Hell Trilogy
Alternative titles: E Tu Vivrai nel Terrore! L’aldilà, 7 Doors of Death
A woman inherits a house in Louisiana that is built on top of one of the seven gates of hell. People die horribly, ghostly stuff happens, and eventually, the whole film collapses onto itself in a wonderful ending.
This film has some of the best horror scenes I’ve ever seen. In particular, the spider scene is amazing. This is the second of Fulci’s Gates of Hell trilogy.
Beyond Re-Animator (2003)
Producer: Brian Yuzna and Julio Fernández
Director: Brian Yuzna
Screenwriter: José Manuel Gómez (story: Miguel Tejada-Flores)
Thirteen years ago, Dr Herbert West was put in prison because one of his reanimated corpses killed a young woman. Her brother has become the prison doctor so that he can work with West. And things go the way they always do when West takes charge except that he gets a happy ending this time.
I really like this one. The prison setting adds a lot of atmosphere. And the gore effects are as good as ever. This was a Spanish production so it features a lot of people I haven’t seen before.
Beyond Re-Animator is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. It is also on Blu-ray with decent extras. You can get it with Bride of Re-Animator on Blu-ray. Arrow has released a Region-B Blu-ray in 1080p with a ton of extras.
5 June 2021
Beyond the Door (1974)
Producer: Enzo Doria
Directors: Ovidio G Assonitis (as O Hellman) and Robert Barrett
Screenwriters: Ovidio G Assonitis (as O Hellman) and Antonio Troiso and Robert Barrett (story: Ovidio G Assonitis and Antonio Troiso)
Alternative titles: The Devil Within Her, Chi Sei?
A woman gets impregnated with a demon baby. It happens quickly and she behaves oddly. She seems to be dying but a strange man shows up saying he can save her.
This is clearly meant to be a low-budget version of The Exorcist. It doesn’t work nearly as well. But don’t let anyone tell you isn’t good. It’s so creative and bizarre, you really need to see it.
6 January 2021
The Big Boss (1971)
Producer: Raymond Chow
Director/Screenwriter: Lo Wei
Alternative Title: Fists of Fury
Bruce Lee comes to town to work in an ice factory with a promise to his mother that he never fight. But it turns out the ice factory is just a front for a drug distributor. And when his family is murdered, he goes looking for justice.
This was Lee’s break-out film. It was originally released as Fists of Fury. But this got confusing the following year with the release of Fist of Fury (1972). This tiny one-letter distinction is important to some fans.
In addition to Lee, the film features James Tien (The Hand of Death), Maria Yi (Slash: Blade of Death), and many others.
The Big Boss is under copyright. You can get it on DVD but I recommend getting it on the Shout Factory Blu-ray (as Fists of Fury) with lots of extras. If you are really into this kind of stuff, Shout Factory has released Bruce Lee Legacy Collection along with Fist Of Fury, Way Of The Dragon, and Game Of Death along with a ton of extras.
26 February 2020
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Producer: Larry J Franco
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: Gary Goldman & David Z Weinstein (adaptation: WD Richter)
A young grocer is waiting for his fiancée at the airport when she is kidnapped by an evil magician. He and his truck-driver friend pursue them through San Francisco Chinatown where they encounter martial arts masters and magic.
This is a thoroughly entertaining film with over-the-top characters that are pitch-perfect. Apparently, when it first came out, the critics didn’t like it. This is more evidence that the biggest problem with film critics is that they just don’t like fun. What’s not to like here?!
Big Trouble in Little China is under copyright. It was originally released on DVD and Blu-ray with Carpenter-Russell commentary, deleted scenes, and other stuff. SHOUT! Factory later released it on Blu-ray with those extras and two more commentaries (production and SFX) and a bonus disc with a ton of interviews with cast and crew.
19 December 2020
Bigfoot vs DB Cooper (2014)
Producers: David DeCoteau and Kathy Logan
Director: David DeCoteau
Screenwriter: Harvey Shaiman (story: David DeCoteau and Harvey Shaiman)
A bunch of shirtless boys are renting a house in the forest to hunt turkeys. Little do they know that Bigfoot is hunting them or that DB Cooper will be parachuting in.
I have no problem with David DeCoteau’s love letters to male beauty. But why did he have to waste this great film idea on what is 90% video footage of chiseled young men without shirts? Seriously, this could have been so much fun but the whole DB Cooper aspect of it seems tacked on.
Starring Terence J Rotolo, Jordan Rodriguez, and other very attractive young men. Eric Roberts (A Talking Cat?!?) does the narration.
Bigfoot vs DB Cooper is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
4 April 2020
Bigfoot vs Zombies (2016)
Producer: Rob Hauschild (executive)
Director/Screenwriter: Mark Polonia
A lab is creating a chemical to make corpses decay faster. But instead, it is reanimating them. Luckily, Bigfoot is around and it is both friendly to the living and ferocious to the dead.
This film seems to have a decidedly bigger budget than a normal Polonia film. It’s nice to see. Overall, the film looks great and the zombies are fairly cool. As usual, not much in terms of effects other than some cheap digital stuff. But I quite enjoyed it. I wonder if this isn’t a response to David DeCoteau’s disappointing Bigfoot vs DB Cooper.
Bigfoot vs Zombies is copyrighted. It is available on DVD.
17 July 2020
Bikini Frankenstein (2010)
Producer: Dan Golden (as Sam Silver)
Director: Fred Olen Ray (as Nicholas Medina)
Screenwriter: Fred Olen Ray (as Sherman Scott) (novel: Mary Shelley — yeah, right)
Professor Frankenstein loses his job when he is caught screwing the dean’s daughter. So he goes to Transylvania and reanimates a beautiful woman. Then it’s back to the US to impress the people who scorned him before.
Well over half of this film is softcore sex. The rest is the thinnest of plots and some comedy that isn’t terrible. The women look good but the lead male is about 5 years past his sell-by date. If this is what you want, it works. I think Lady Frankenstein is way sexier.
Starring Frankie Cullen (Bikini Jones and the Temple of Eros), Brandin Rackley (Twilight Vamps), Alexis Texas (Bloodlust Zombies), Jayden Cole (Bikini Royale 2), and Christine Nguyen (Bikini Girls from the Lost Planet).
Bikini Frankenstein is under copyright. It is available on Blu-ray with Twilight Vamps with a double-sided trading card and the trailers as extras.
25 January 2021
Bikini Traffic School (1998)
Producer: Robyn Scott
Director: Gary Graver
Screenwriter: Kim Read
A Los Vegas stripper inherits a driving school so she takes two of her friends with her to Los Angeles to take over the business. Unfortunately, a mob boss wants the property and the three are forced to put on a show.
Gary Graver was the cinematographer on the last three Orson Welles features. To make ends mean, he directed “adult” films. This one is softcore porn. But it’s surprisingly funny.
Starring Shari Eckert, Shayna Ryan, Maureen Flaherty, Gregory O’Rourke, Steve Scionti, and Kevin Masterson. Screenwriter Kim Read plays the secretary.
Bikini Traffic School seems once to have been available on DVD. It’s available on Amazon Prime. I don’t expect to see a Blu-ray anytime soon.
Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire (1987)
Producer: Simon Mallin
Director: Alan Clarke
Screenwriter: Trevor Preston
Billy the Kid is a young snooker player who gets dragged into a potentially career-ending match with reigning champ the Green Baize Vampire. So they have a match. And one of them wins.
This is an odd one. It’s very stylish. And it’s a musical. I enjoyed it a lot. The songs are very good. But there isn’t much to the plot. If it weren’t for the songs, it’d be about 30 minutes long.
Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire is under copyright, but it isn’t hard to find online. It’s available on DVD.
Billy the Kid vs Dracula (1966)
Producer: Carroll Case
Director: William Beaudine
Screenwriter: Carl K Hittleman
Billy the Kid has gone straight. Unfortunately, Dracula shows up and wants to make his girlfriend into a vampire queen. But what can Billy do against a man who is unharmed by bullets?
The high point of this film is John Carradine’s excessively expressive Dracula. But overall, it’s a pretty interesting story. The romantic element to it works really well.
Starring John Carradine (Stagecoach), Chuck Courtney, and Melinda Plowman.
31 March 2020
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Fred Olen Ray
A scientist for the military brings a creature to our world from another dimension. It escapes, of course. The psychic keeps telling us that it is afraid. But it sure looks like it’s just an asshole that wants to kill as many people as possible.
No one makes “running around southern California” films like Fred Olen Ray. As usual, this film wants for anyone else to rewrite the dialog. But the film admirably recreates a number of kills from Alien. And it’s overall pretty fun — at least after we get through all the exposition inside the very constrained sets of the lab. Kenneth J Hall created the alien suit, which looks good. And the make-up effects are effective.
Starring William Fair, Angelique Pettyjohn (Mad Doctor of Blood Island but you probably know her from “The Gamesters of Triskelion”), and David O’Hara. Aldo Ray (The Day They Robbed the Bank of England) and Carroll Borland (Mark of the Vampire) have small roles.
Biohazard is under copyright. There is an old DVD release of it. Better to get it on the Retromedia Blu-ray with a 2K print, lively commentary with Ray and David DeCoteau, about 40 minutes of interviews, and 5 minutes of the unfinished film “Beyond Fear.”
9 September 2021
Birdemic: Shock and Terror (2010)
Executive Producer/Director/Screenwriter: James Nguyen
As two young people fall in love, the world around them is destroyed. Global warming is causing some birds to die and others to attack and apparently defecate acid.
This film is not as bad as many people claim. It’s certainly better than The Room. But it’s frustrating. A lot of good work went into this film. Some of the acting is great, the music adds enormously to the scenes where it’s used, the cinematography is mostly interesting with good drone-heavy camera work, and at times the special effects work really well. But all this gets swamped.
Rather than cut the film to the special effects available, ridiculous static shots are used. The dialog is edited incompetently and the sound editing is poor when it’s even finished. And the script is filled with long dialog scenes to push Nguyen’s beliefs that were made no less annoying for my largely agreeing with them. The film had more than enough money. What it lacked was time and care. See my live Twitter thread.
Whitney Moore is the stand-out in the cast. Despite having to spout some of the most actor-destroying dialog I’ve heard in a while, she seems constantly believable. I haven’t seen her elsewhere, but she seems to be working a fair amount. I felt bad for the male lead, Alan Bagh, who really takes the brunt of the awkward dialog. It looks like he is finishing his first feature film as co-writer and director. It’s called The Diamond Collector, and I’m keen to see it if I get the chance.
31 March 2020
The Birds (1963)
Producer/Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Screenwriter: Ed McBain (story: Daphne du Maurier)
A woman goes searching for an attractive man in a seaside town. She finds him. She also meets his mother and sister and ex-girlfriend. It’s all going well but then the birds start attacking everyone.
This is a solid thriller with a couple of stand-out scenes like the one in the playground that gives me chills. Otherwise, it’s a standard Hitchcock outing for both good and ill.
Starring Tippi Hedren (Marnie), Rod Taylor (The Time Machine), Suzanne Pleshette (The Bob Newhart Show), Jessica Tandy (Fried Green Tomatoes), and a very young Veronica Cartwright (Alien). Ethel Griffies has a small but notable role.
20 June 2020
Producers: Cody Calahan, Chad Archibald, and Christopher Giroux
Director: Chad Archibald
Screenwriter: Jayme Laforest (story: Chad Archibald)
A bride-to-be and her two friends visit Costa Rica. While there, she is bit by a bug. Various things happen on the trip that complicate the marriage but the biggest one turns out to be her becoming some kind of bug creature.
This film combines exceptional body horror with a revenge narrative that has a delicious payoff. If you don’t find this film fun, you’re dead inside. Either that or you don’t like body horror. And be prepared: this is way more gooey than anything Cronenberg ever did! Also: nice allusion to The Fly.
Starring Elma Begovic, Annette Wozniak (Secret Santa), Denise Yuen, Jordan Gray, and Lawrene Denkers.
24 September 2020
The Black Cat (1934)
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr
Director: Edgar G Ulmer
Screenwriter: Peter Ruric (story: Edgar G Ulmer and Peter Ruric)
Dr Werdegast is on his way to visit his “friend” Hjalmar Poelzig. But he brings along a young couple after a bus accident. It turns out that Poelzig is a Satanist and has his eye on the young woman.
This film has absolutely nothing to do with the Poe short story. And the plot is over-complicated. But the young couple isn’t too annoying. And Bela Lugosi (White Zombie) is particularly impressive as a good guy (despite killing black cats at ten paces).
The film appears to be in the public domain and a good print is available on Archive.org. It has been released as a single DVD without features. Better to get Universal Horror Collection: Vol 1, which comes with The Raven (1935), The Invisible Ray (1936), and Black Friday (1940). It’s packed with extras.
The Black Cat (1981)
Producer: Giulio Sbarigia
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Biagio Proietti and Lucio Fulci (story: Biagio Proietti; short story: Edgar Allan Poe)
A black cat wanders around town killing people — apparently channeling the animosity of its owner. But even they don’t get along especially after the owner kills the cat.
This film does a good job of fleshing out Poe’s short story. There is no scene of the owner cutting out the cat’s eye. This is strange given Fulci’s well established fascination with eye torture.
29 August 2020
Black Christmas (1974)
Producer/Director: Bob Clark
Screenwriter: A Roy Moore
Someone makes obscene phone calls to a sorority house during Christmas break. Then young women begin disappearing. Are they related? Is it the boyfriend?
This is a really thoughtful slasher picture with the major advantage that it doesn’t feature some ridiculous backstory. Thanks Friday the 13th! It’s amazing that this film was made the same year as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
The Black Gestapo (1975)
Producer: Wes Bishop
Director: Lee Frost
Screenwriters: Lee Frost and Wes Bishop (story: Ronald K Goldman and Wes Bishop)
A community in Watts is dedicated to the ideals of Black Power — wanting to make their own way in the world. But a white criminal gang is pushing drugs, prostitution, and gambling on them and generally brutalizing their people. To fight back, their leader, General Ahmed, reluctantly agrees to give one of his officers, Colonel Kojah, the ability to protect the community. But soon, that officer starts acting like the white thugs.
This film has some of the best revenge sequences I’ve seen. The thugs are so gloriously horrible, you can’t help but cheer when revenge comes — especially in the castration scene. It features lots of white people using the n-word and plenty of breasts, both white and black. No gore to speak of.
The Black Gestapo is under copyright. It’s available on a number of blaxploitation collections like Soul Team Six. I’ve never seen a good copy of it.
Black Magic (1949)
Producer/Director: Gregory Ratoff
Screenwriter: Charles Bennett (novel: Alexandre Dumas)
A gypsy boy’s parents are hanged because of the racism of the local people. He goes up to be a great hypnotist who can cure the sick. One day, it occurs to him that he could settle a few scores!
Although the ending is kind of weak, the rest of the film is fun and moves along at a good clip. It is widely reported that Welles directed much of this film, I’m skeptical; people say that about every film he ever acted in. And what’s done on set is not the alpha and omega of directing.
5 May 2021
Black Roses (1988)
Producers: John Fasano and Ray Van Doorn
Director: John Fasano
Screenwriter: Cindy Sorrell
A Satanic rock band comes to a small town and takes control of the teens through their concerts. Luckily, an English teacher is able to stop them but apparently not stop the band from moving on to another town.
A lot of people like this film. Maybe it’s the music, which is good. But the thing just meanders its way through the plot with almost no dramatic momentum. And the climax is lame. As a 30-minute short, it would be awesome. As it is, it features some good acting.
Starring John Martin, Ken Swofford (Bless the Beasts & Children), Frank Dietz (The Lost Skeleton Returns Again), Carla Ferrigno, Julie Adams (Creature from the Black Lagoon), and Sal Viviano (The Jitters).
Black Roses is copyrighted. It is available on DVD.
9 June 2021
Black Sabbath (1963)
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriter: Marcello Fondato
A cheeky host introduces three horror shorts: a nurse steals a ring off a dead woman and comes to regret it; a prostitute receives phone calls from her dead pimp who she ratted on; and a vampire must prey on his own family.
This is a great Gothic horror film with the kind of visual style that we know from Bava and his many followers.
Starring Boris Karloff (Frankenstein), Mark Damon (The Fall of the House of Usher), Michèle Mercier (Angélique), Susy Andersen (Thor and the Amazon Women), Glauco Onorato (W Django!), and Jacqueline Pierreux.
29 July 2020
Black Sunday (1960)
Producer: Massimo De Rita
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriters: Ennio De Concini & Mario Serandrei (story: Nikolay Gogol)
Alternative titles: La Maschera del Demonio, The Mask of the Demon
Two doctors accidentally awaken a long-dead witch who gets to take revenge on the family who originally executed her.
This very atmospheric film features some very chilling sequences. This is one of Bava’s best.
17 June 2021
Producer/Screenwriter: Frank R Saletri
Director: William A Levey
Alternative titles: Black Frankenstein
A young doctor comes and visits her former teacher who is now doing Nobel Prize medical work fixing bodies. She wants him to help her boyfriend who lost his arms and legs in Vietnam. All is going well until an assistant messes up the treatment because he’s in love with her. Then the monster goes on rampages but somehow comes back to his room each night.
There are some interesting moments in this film like when he rips a man’s arm off. But the script is dialog-heavy and plot-light. It’s cut really slowly (and I’ve only see the short cut). The creature make-up is ridiculous. I watched it because the Blacula films were so good. But this one is not. It’s best avoided.
Starring Ivory Stone, Joe De Sue, John Hart (Jack Armstrong), and Roosevelt Jackson.
5 May 2021
Producer: Joseph T Naar
Director: William Crain
Screenwriters: Joan Torres and Raymond Koenig
I know what you think: a black Dracula. Yet it is so different — more a metaphysical romance than a horror film. While Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song said “Fuck you!” to the white world, Blackula said, “We are noble; you are savages.” It’s a remarkable and compelling film.
William Marshall in the title role is irresistible. Vonetta McGee adds an unusual strength to the “girl in peril” trope. The sweetest, most edifying horror film ever made.
The Blair Witch Project (1999)
Producers: Gregg Hale and Robin Cowie
Directors/Screenwriters: Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez
Three college students head out into the woods to make a documentary about a folktale about the Blaire Witch. They get lost and apparently stalked by unseen forces.
Most people don’t remember just how shocking this film was. People had arguments as to whether it was real or not. But take all that away and you have an incredibly engaging film that works as well today as ever.
Bless the Beasts and Children (1971)
Producer/Director: Stanley Kramer
Screenwriter: Mac Benoff (novel: Glendon Swarthout)
A group of troubled teens all get put in the same cabin at camp. So they run away from camp and take a road trip to free the buffalo that are being killed for meat.
Although it’s kind of dark, everyone I knew as a kid identified with the “losers” in this film. It’s a celebration of being weird and wounded.
Bless the Beasts and the Children is under copyright. It’s on DVD cropped at 1.33:1 with no features to speak of.
Blind Fury (1989)
Producers: Daniel Grodnik and Tim Matheson
Director: Phillip Noyce
Screenwriter: Charles Robert Carner
Nick is blinded in an attack during the Vietnam War. Saved by a friendly Vietnamese village, he is taught to be a badass with a sword despite his lack of vision. When he returns home 20 years later, he must protect the son of his army buddy who is now being forced to make designer drugs for bad guys.
The film is based on Zatoichi, the blind masseur and badass swordsman of dozens of Japanese films and television episodes. But other than it being about a blind swordsman, there isn’t much in common. But they share the same fun unbelievability.
It stars Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner) as Nick. Also with Brandon Call (Step by Step), Lisa Blount (Prince of Darkness), Terry O’Quinn (The Stepfather), Noble Willingham (Good Morning, Vietnam), Randall “Tex” Cobb (Raising Arizona), and Meg Foster (The Live).
Blood and Black Lace (1964)
Producers: Massimo Patrizi and Alfredo Mirabile
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriter: Marcello Fondato
Other titles: Sei Donne per l’Assassino
Beautiful women at a fashion business start being murdered by someone in a mask. The police finally arrest all the chief subject but the murders go on.
This is a wonderfully stylish and gruesome film. Not surprisingly, everyone now loves it but it was panned when it first came out. It was an Italian-German production with English dubbing. If you like Suspiria (1977), you should like this as well.
Blood Beat (1983)
Producers: Helen A Boley & Henri Zaphiratos
Director/Screenwriter: Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos
Alternative titles: Bloodbeat
A young woman goes with her boyfriend to visit his parents in Wisconsin. She finds a box filled with the armor and sword of a samurai. She cuts herself with it and some kind of samurai ghost begins going around killing people. Eventually, it takes her over completely.
This is a remarkable film. It’s pure horror. The plot doesn’t make a lot of sense but it’s always interesting. I love it but most people will prefer something more normal.
Starring Helen Benton, Terry Brown, Dana Day, James Fitzgibbons, and Claudia Peyton. Peter Spelson (The Psychotronic Man) has a small role.
Blood Beat is probably under copyright, but Archive.org has a fair print. It is available in a very nice 2K Blu-ray/DVD combo featuring director commentary (in French with English subtitles) and interviews with the director (in French) and cinematographer. Multiple reviews indicate the director’s commentary and interview are as incomprehensible as the film itself.
24 February 2021
Blood Feast (1963)
Producer: David F Friedman
Director: Herschell Gordon Lewis
Screenwriter: Allison Louise Downe
Our Review: Blood Feast
A crazy Egyptian man is killing young women to create a blood feast for Ishtar. But the police don’t know what to do other than wait around for more murders.
Generally considered the first splatter film, it’s downright charming despite all the blood. There is virtually no onscreen violence. The gore is as good as anything today. The combination of a campy production with realistic gore is irresistible. A must see!
Archive.org has a lovely copy available for free. This would seem to indicate it is in the public domain. Regardless, I recommend getting Something Weird’s Blood Trilogy Blu-Ray, which also includes Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red. Or you could get Arrow Video’s Blood Feast on Blu-Ray and DVD, which includes a nice print of Scum of the Earth!
Blood of Dracula (1957)
Producer: Herman Cohen
Director: Herbert L Strock
Screenwriter: Ralph Thornton (Aben Kandel)
Alternative titles: I Was A Teenage Vampire
An angry young woman is shipped off to a boarding school where her chemistry teacher turns her into a vampire to convince mankind to live in peace and harmony.
This is a surprisingly good teen horror film from the producer of I Was a Teenage Frankenstein and I Was A Teenage Werewolf. Blood of Dracula is almost the exact same plot as the latter — except with a female cast and a bloodsucker.
Starring Sandra Harrison and Louise Lewis. Featuring Gail Ganley, Jerry Blaine, Heather Ames, and Mary Adams.
27 February 2020
Blood of Dracula (1974)
Producer: Andrew Braunsberg
Director/Screenwriter: Paul Morrissey
Alternate titles: Andy Warhol’s Dracula
Dracula has run out of virgins! Since the young women in Romania are having too much sex too early he goes to Italy where he expects to find chaste Catholics. (Remember, this is before Samuel L Bronkowitz’s “Catholic High School Girls in Trouble.”)
It’s not clear if this film is meant to be funny but I find it so. There’s something very self-aware about it that just isn’t in most Dracula films. Also: lots of naked women.
Blood of Dracula is copyrighted. You can usually find it online. It is available on an expensive DVD with a few extras including commentary with Morrissey and Kier. There is an even more expensive Blu-ray.
Blood of the Vampire (1958)
Producers: Robert S Baker and Monty Berman
Director: Henry Cass
Screenwriter: Jimmy Sangster
A doctor is convicted of murder after he tries to give a patient a blood transfusion. He’s taken to a “hospital” for the criminally insane where he must assist the evil doctor there to do his horrible experiments.
This Artistes Alliance production is pretty typical of British horror films at the time: relatively low budgets that work well because of the excellent acting. Although the film takes place in Transylvania, there’s no vampire. It’s basically a mad-scientist story with its very own Dr Vornoff and Lobo.
18 October 2020
The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)
Producers: Peter L Andrews and Malcolm B Heyworth
Director: Piers Haggard
Screenwriter: Robert Wynne-Simmons
Alternative titles: Satan’s Skin
In the early 18th century, a farmer digs up the remains of Satan. Soon half the kids in town are possessed and growing fur for its new body. (I know, it sounds strange, but it all makes sense.) People are murdered and otherwise abused while a local judge takes a hands-off approach to the problem, “Even while people die, only thus can the whole evil be destroyed.”
This is really good! It’s the opposite of Witchfinder General in that there really are witches and the horror isn’t ignorant and corrupt authorities. And the rape-murder scene is very effective.
Starring Barry Andrews (Dracula Has Risen from the Grave), Linda Hayden (Taste the Blood of Dracula), Patrick Wymark (The Skull), Simon Williams (Upstairs, Downstairs), and Michele Dotrice (And Soon the Darkness).
The Blood on Satan’s Claw is under copyright. It is available as a really expensive Blu-ray import. Otherwise, you are limited to PAL DVDs, including the appealing Tigon Collection with Witchfinder General, The Body Stealers, The Haunted House of Horror, The Beast in the Cellar, and Virgin Witch.
8 August 2020
Blood Rites (2012)
Producers: Chad Haufschild, Dorothy Booraem, Andrew Johnson, and Greg Kubitschek
Director: Dorothy Booraem
Screenwriters: Chad Haufschild & Dorothy Booraem
A drug deal gone bad. Ritual sex ending in murder. And somehow, it’s all connected. Beautifully shot and well-acted, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.
The film stars Karis Yanike who had a small part in The Legacy of Boggy Creek (2011). Featuring: Mark Dews, Shaun Vetick, Chirstopher Michael O’Neil, Jeanne Kern, Allison Scott II, and Colby Coash. The acting in this film is first-rate. I figure the actors have a lot of theater and industrial experience.
Blood Ties (1991)
Producer: Gene Corman
Director: Jim McBride
Screenwriter: Richard Shapiro
In southern California, a group of Carpathian immigrants are, well, vampires. And there are a bunch of hicks who have come to kill them. But they’re kind of impotent. More important is that there is a conflict between the vampires who want to integrate those who want to keep their heritage.
This film isn’t so interesting now as it was at the time because showing vampires as the sympathetic ones has been overdone. Still, the conflict works and carries the film through to the end.
Starring Harley Venton (Sleeping with the Enemy) who is really great; it’s surprising that he never broke through — at least as the low-rent Gabriel Byrne. Featuring: Patrick Bauchau (The Gray Man), Kim Johnston Ulrich (Rumpelstiltskin), Jason London (Dazed and Confused), and Michelle Johnson (Blame It on Rio).
1 May 2020
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Matthew Jason Walsh
A serial killer’s surviving victim gets murder lessons from the serial killer. They kill together but complications ensue.
A surprisingly effective no-budget gore-fest by Kingdom of the Vampire writer and star Matthew Jason Walsh.
The film stars familiar faces from the JR Bookwalter universe: Ariauna Albright (Witchouse II: Blood Coven) and James L Edwards (Humanoids from Atlantis). Compelling performances from Sasha Graham ( Polymorph), Randy Rupp (Zombie Cult Massacre), and Tina Krause (Cross the Line).
Bloodletting is available on DVD with commentary by the Walsh, Albright, and Edwards, a half-hour making-of documentary, deleted scenes, and the original short film “I’ve Killed Before.”
BloodRayne: The Third Reich (2011)
Producers: Daniel Clarke and Uwe Boll
Director: Uwe Boll
Screenwriter: Michael C Nachoff
Rayne is half human and half vampire who fights evil. In this film, she works with the French Resistance to fight the Nazis. But she accidentally makes a Nazi officer immortal. And the Nazis want to do the same to Hitler.
This isn’t really a horror film but it works just the same. More interesting, however, is that Boll shot Blubberella at the same time as an instant parody. The two would make a good double-feature.
21 June 2020
Bloodsucking Bastards (2015)
Producers: Justin Ware & Colleen Hard and Brandon Evans and Brett Forbes & Patrick Rizzotti
Director: Brian James O’Connell
Screenwriters: Dr God and Ryan Mitts
A new sales manager comes into a company and shakes things up by turning most of the staff into vampires. Former slackers turn into ideal corporate employees. But a small group fights back.
This is a very funny movie with tons of blood. It’s a lot like The Last Lovecraft: Relic of Cthulhu, but it hangs together better. I’m not that likely to watch it again but I had a lot of fun the first time through.
25 September 2020
Bloody Mallory (2002)
Producers: Olivier Delbosc, Eric Jehelmann, and Marc Missonnier
Director: Julien Magnat
Screenwriters: Stéphane Kazandjian and Julien Magnat
Our Review: Bloody Mallory
Mallory is the leader of an odd group of demon hunters. They are hired by the French government when the Pope (who Mallory hates) is kidnapped.
I love this film! It’s so Catholic at the same time that it’s anti-Catholic. And it’s religious at the same time that it’s anti-religious. And it’s a whole lot of fun with lots of violence and some pretty sexy bits.
Starring Olivia Bonamy (Them). With Adrià Collado (Kilometer 31), Jeffrey Ribier, Valentina Vargas (The Name of the Rose), Laurent Spielvogel (Ronin), and Julien Boisselier (Des fleurs pour Algernon).
Bloody Mallory is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a 17-minute documentary on the making of the film. It has a poor English dubbed track too.
Producers: Daniel Clarke and Uwe Boll
Director: Uwe Boll
Screenwriter: Michael C Nachoff
This film follows the actions of plus-size superhero, half-vampire and half-human, Blubberella as she fights the Nazis in a highly anachronist 1940. Also: love is in the air as she and a gay French Resistance member fight for the affections of another member.
This is a parody of BloodRayne: The Third Reich. It was shot with the same actors and sets. It is very offensive in a multitude of ways. But it’s also very funny. And it is nice seeing a large woman kick major Nazi ass.
Blubberella is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no extras.
21 June 2020
BMX Bandits (1983)
Producers: Tom Broadbridge and Paul F Davies
Director: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Screenwriter: Russell Hagg (earlier script: Patrick Edgeworth)
Alternative titles: Short Waves
Three teens foil a major robbery with the use of their BMX bikes and the hilarious incompetence of the adult police officers and robbers.
This is an extremely well-shot action/adventure film for kids. It should appeal to adults with nostalgia for the late 1970s and early 1980s.
BMX Bandits is under copyright. You can get it on DVD in full-frame format. It’s also available in widescreen format on Blu-ray with commentary, featurette, and an early (short) interview with Kidman.
16 May 2020
Body Bags (1993)
Producer: Sandy King
Directors: John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper
Screenwriters: Billy Brown & Dan Angel
This Tales from the Crypt style anthology film features co-director John Carpenter as the coroner who introduces the shorts. Two of them are directed by Carpenter and one by Tobe Hooper. The first is a Halloween-like story about a woman working the graveyard shift at a gas station. The second is about a balding man who goes to extreme lengths for hair. The last one (directed by Hooper) features a minor league contender who loses an eye and has it replaced with one from a serial killer.
The film has quite a cast: Robert Carradine (Revenge of the Nerds), Alex Datcher (Passenger 57), Peter Jason (They Live), David Naughton (An American Werewolf in London), Stacy Keach (The New Mike Hammer), David Warner (In the Mouth of Madness), Deborah Harry (Videodrome), Mark Hamill (Star Wars), Twiggy (The Doctor and the Devils), John Agar (Tarantula!), and Tom Arnold (True Lies).
There are small roles by Wes Craven (creepy old man), Sam Raimi (dead young man), Roger Corman (himself in a lab coat), and Tobe Hooper (more hair than skin). Maybe I just missed Cronenberg and Romero.
The film is copyrighted. It is available on a very expensive DVD but Shout! Factory released a Blu-ray/DVD with lots of extras for less money.
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)
Producer: Bill Carraro
Director: Joe Berlinger
Screenwriters: Dick Beebe and Joe Berlinger
Five fans of The Blair Witch Project go out to the woods and camp at an abandoned house that was featured in the film. The next morning, they wake up to find their campsite destroyed. Also, one of the women has a miscarriage. They relocate to one of their homes where it seems that witchcraft is being used against them.
This is a solid “teen” horror film that plays homage to the original film without repeating it. I believe it is widely hated because people were embarrassed by how much they liked the first film. Obviously, this isn’t a film for haters or pretenders. Otherwise, see it!
9 August 2020
Boot Hill (1969)
Producers: Enzo D’Ambrosio and Giuseppe Colizzi
Director/Screenwriter: Giuseppe Colizzi
An injured gunfighter escapes town with a traveling circus. He hooks up with one of the performers and his old (but cantankerous) friend to get revenge and help a group of miners.
This one is typical of Colizzi’s films: over-complicated plot with a lot of fun action and conflict. It is the final of the Pretty Face and Jackass trilogy.
Boot Hill is probably under copyright. It is available on DVD. Be careful of a bunch of 4:3 versions for sale.
9 February 2021
Born in Flames (1983)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Lizzie Borden
It’s been ten years since the socialists took over the US government and judging from the television, everything is great. But for women, especially those who are gay or non-white, things are the same as they’ve always been. Women group together to form the Women’s Army and conduct “terrorism” against the mainstream media and their happy talk.
This film has a radical feminist agenda but if you think feminists have no sense of humor, think again. Although dark, much of the humor is laugh-out-loud funny, including a brilliant bit involving a penis, a condom, and a chicken processing plant.
Starring Honey (?) and musician and director Adele Bertei (Secrets of a Chambermaid). Featuring Jean Satterfield, Flo Kennedy, screenwriter Becky Johnston (Seven Years in Tibet), director Pat Murphy (Nora), and director Kathryn Bigelow (Point Break).
23 March 2020
Born to Win (1971)
Producer: Philip Langner
Director: Ivan Passer
Screenwriters: David Scott Milton & Ivan Passer (story: David Scott Milton)
A junkie meets an interesting woman and plans to get out of town and stop using. But things never quite work out.
This is a fairly accurate rendering of junkie life in the early 1970s. The lead actors are surprisingly good together and in the world they live in. It’s also pretty funny.
Starring George Segal (King Rat) and Karen Black (Trilogy of Terror). Featuring Héctor Elizondo (Necessary Roughness), Jay Fletcher, and Ed Madsen. Paula Prentiss (The Stepford Wives) got top billing despite hardly being in the film. Robert De Niro (Taxi Driver) has a small overwrought role.
Born to Win ought to be under copyright but may not be. Archive has a so-so cropped copy of it. It has been released many times on disc — most often with De Niro’s face on the cover. It seems always to be cropped to 4:3. You can get it with Winner Take All on DVD. I can’t speak to its quality.
6 April 2021
A Boy and His Dog (1975)
Producer: Alvy Moore
Director: LQ Jones
Screenwriter: LQ Jones (novel: Harlan Ellison)
In the year 2024, a boy and his psychic dog wander around a desolate post-nuclear world. Apparently, humans have changed because men don’t bond with women; they just find them and rape them. But other than this, it’s a jaunty film. The dialog between boy and dog is wonderful. Thankfully, a different kind of woman shows up and things get weird. If you like black comedies, you should like this one.
The boy is played by a young Don Johnson of Miami Vice fame. It also stars Susanne Benton (That Cold Day in the Park), Jason Robards (Once Upon a Time in the West), and Tim McIntire (American Hot Wax) as the voice of Blood, the dog.
Boys from County Hell (2020)
Producers: Brendan Mullin & Yvonne Donohoe
Director: Chris Baugh
Screenwriter: Chris Baugh (story: Chris Baugh & Brendan Mullin)
An Irish father and son are set to build a road through what is claimed to be the burial place of a badass Irish vampire. A late-night drunken fight causes blood to be spilled on the grave. And what do you know, the vampire is released. And then they must deal with the consequences.
Although the plot doesn’t make a lot of sense, this is a very effective and funny film. It also features some amazing bleeding effects. You might want to turn on the subtitles because the characters talk very fast.
Boys from County Hell is copyrighted. It hasn’t been released on disc, but is streaming on Shudder.
23 April 2021
Brain Dead (1990)
Producer: Julie Corman
Director: Adam Simon
Screenwriters: Charles Beaumont and Adam Simon (story: Charles Beaumont)
A neurosurgeon studies brains in jars. One day, he is asked to see if he can extract important information from a brilliant mathematician who went insane and killed his family. But soon, people are claiming that the neurosurgeon is the mathematician.
This is an excellent brain-twister with some notably effective horror elements. It lays the path for Charlie Kaufman’s later work and demonstrates again that Charles Beaumont was a genius.
Brain Dead is under copyright. It is available cut down to 4:3 on DVD. Better to get the SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray that offers a 2K widescreen print, commentary track with Adam Simon and Rodman Flender, and deleted scenes.
2 November 2020
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)
Producer: Rex Carlton
Director: Joseph Green
Screenwriter: Joseph Green (story: Rex Carlton and Joseph Green)
This is a classic. Everyone knows the image of the decapitated head of Virginia Leith (On the Threshold of Space). After his fiancee (Leith) is decapitated in an auto accident, Dr Bill Cortner keeps the head alive while he searches for a proper body (at a strip club and a girlie photo shoot) to attach it to. Far from being grateful, his fiancee mocks and berates him for his efforts. A surprisingly effective outing on an Ed Wood budget!
Featuring Jason Evers (Barracuda) as Dr Bill Cortner. Anthony La Penna plays Cortner’s assistant. He was a very successful voice actor from the 1950s through the 1970s. He even voiced the English version of the priest in Rashomon. Adele Lamont plays the victim. Eddie Carmel (50,000 BC (Before Clothing)), “The Jewish Giant,” played the monster.
The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is in the public domain. Archive.org has a great copy of it. It is high definition and in the original aspect ration of 1.66:1 and original 82-minute length. Shout! Factory has an excellent Blu-ray version with a high-quality print and plenty of extras.
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1973)
Producer/Director: Dan Curtis
Screenwriter: Richard Matheson
Alternative titles: Dracula, Dan Curtis’ Dracula
A lawyer goes to Transylvania to meet with Dracula. Then Dracula comes to England. He finds a woman who he thinks is the reincarnation of his wife. He turns her into a vampire. But when she is killed, he’s pissed and seeks revenge.
With Curtis and Matheson working together, you really can’t go wrong — especially at this point in their careers. They take a very well-known story and breathe life into it. And the title character casting is inspired.
22 June 2021
Producers: Arthur Gardner and Jules Levy
Director: Douglas Hickox
Screenwriters: Christopher Trumbo & Michael Butler and William P McGivern & William Norton (story: Christopher Trumbo & Michael Butler)
Chicago police officer Jim Brannigan must go to London to extradite a mafia boss. But when he gets there, he finds that the guy has been kidnapped and that an assassin is trying to kill him.
This is a good action film from the director of one of my favorites, Theatre of Blood. The script is solid and the acting great. The main problem is star John Wayne swaggering through the film constantly on the verge of laughing. It should appeal to Wayne fans.
20 August 2020
Breaking In (1989)
Producer: Harry Gittes
Director: Bill Forsyth
Screenwriter: John Sayles
A kid who enjoys breaking into houses for fun runs into a professional who becomes his teacher and father-figure.
Bill Forsyth somehow makes the sweetest films without making me want to retch. And with a script by John Sayles, this one is more grounded in emotional reality than usual. It’s a widely ignored classic.
Starring Burt Reynolds (Smokey and the Bandit) and Casey Siemaszko. Featuring: Sheila Kelley and Lorraine Toussaint. There are also small roles by character actor giants Maury Chaykin (Mystery, Alaska) and Stephen Tobolowsky (Mississippi Burning).
Breaking In is copyrighted. You can get it on DVD.
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr
Director: James Whale
Screenwriter: William Hurlbut (adapted: William Hurlbut and John Balderston; novel: Mary Shelley)
It turns out the monster is still alive (it becomes a habit). He hooks up with a crazy scientist who creates miniature humans and they force Dr Frankenstein to create a bride for the monster.
This is the one — the one Universal Frankenstein movie that you must see. When I was 8-years-old, it scared me so much I threw up. Now, it seems like the sweetest movie there is. It’s better than the first one, which is also great.
Bride of Frankenstein is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a few extras. Or you could get Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection, which includes the Universal films and the same extras on Bride of Frankenstein.
18 March 2020
Bride of Re-Animator (1990)
Producer/Director: Brian Yuzna
Screenwriters: Woody Keith & Rick Fry (story: HP Lovecraft)
Having learned that the soul exists in all parts of the body, Herbert West drags his friend along on a quest to assemble a human with dead body parts including the surviving heart of Megan from the first film.
Although not as good as Re-Animator, it’s very funny and very gory and an all-around good time!
28 May 2021
Bride of the Gorilla (1951)
Producers: Jack Broder (Realart Pictures Inc) and Edward Leven
Director/Screenwriter: Curt Siodmak
Raymond Burr kills his boss in order to steal his wife. Unfortunately, a local witch puts a curse on him that causes him to become… Well, you know.
Barbara Payton had a scandalous love life. Warner Bros apparently punished her by making her star in this B picture. Her career never recovered; she made 5 more films and quit. From there she fell into drugs and even got arrested for prostitution. She died at 39. And she does not look happy in the film.
On the other hand, Lon Chaney Jr makes any film happier — he shines here. Siodmak was a major writer of the 20th century — especially in science fiction. He directed a handful of films — competently. This is an enjoyable, if bizarre, film.
Bride of the Monster (1955)
Producer/Director: Ed Wood
Screenwriters: Ed Wood and Alex Gordon
Plucky report Janet tries to solve the mystery of the disappearance of a number of people near the marsh. It turns out that mad scientist Eric Vornoff is creating atomic super-people to conquer the world. And now he has Janet!
This is likely my least favorite of Ed Wood’s films. It certainly has it’s moments but it’s a muddled mess and the octopus is absolutely silly.
Starring Bela Lugosi (White Zombie), Tor Johnson (Plan 9 From Outer Space), and Loretta King. With Harvey B Dunn (The Sinister Urge), Paul Marco (Night of the Ghouls), Bud Osborne, and Dolores Fuller (Glen or Glenda) in her last Ed Wood film.
Bride of the Monster is in the public domain and on Archive.org. You can get it on DVD alone or along with Bride of the Gorilla. Neither release is recommended; you are better off with the free version.
Bride of the Werewolf (2019)
Producer: David S Sterling
Director: Mark Polonia
Screenwriter: Lester Thord (Mark Polonia?)
Two young women are attacked by three criminals but saved by a nice local man who is also a werewolf. One of the women falls in love with him and takes him to her scientist-uncle who tries to cure him but also reanimate a mummy. You know how that goes.
I like the romance here and I’d like to see more of the two leads. But the rest of the film is all over the place although it does have its moments and the ending is cute. (It’s a bit like The Werewolf of Washington, which is probably my favorite werewolf movie.)
Bride of the Werewolf is under copyright. It doesn’t seem to have been released on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.
26 July 2020
The Briefcase (2011)
Producers: Seth William Meier and Zach Hagen
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Krawczyk
A hitman is hired for a job by a group of low-rent gangsters. Flash forward two days and the hitman is hand-cuffed to another man running through the forest from the very same gangsters. Bouncing around in time, the two events come together.
Jason Krawczyk’s first feature film is a smart, darkly funny action story filled with oddball characters that are somehow all sympathetic.
The Briefcase is copyrighted. It is available on DVD.
Bringing Out the Dead (1999)
Producers: Scott Rudin and Barbara De Fina
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Paul Schrader (novel: Joe Connelly)
An EMT has gone a long time since saving a life and is losing his mind. He’s haunted by the people he failed to save. He hooks up with the ex-junkie daughter of a man he “saved” and the two of them attempt to get a handle on their lives.
This is my favorite Scorsese film. It’s a horror-comedy that looks great, has a brilliant screenplay, and is perfectly cast. I wish more Scorsese fans had seen it!
Starring Nicolas Cage (Leaving Las Vegas) and Patricia Arquette (True Romance). With John Goodman (Matinee), Ving Rhames (A Day Late and a Dollar Short), Tom Sizemore (Secrets of Deception), and Cliff Curtis (The Dark Horse).
Bringing Out the Dead is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a short featurette.
15 April 2021
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Producers: Jason R Savage and Don Coscarelli
Director: Don Coscarelli
Screenwriter: Don Coscarelli (story: Joe R Lansdale)
Our Review: Bubba Ho-Tep
Elvis did not die on a toilet in Tennessee. He died fighting a mummy that was stealing the souls of the people at his rest home. You see, Elvis got tired of being Elvis so he switched places with an impersonator and that was who really died in Graceland. Also: black President Kennedy!
A lot of people think this is Coscarelli’s masterpiece. I like his work far too much to play favorites. But this film is a litmus test of sorts. If you don’t like it, I don’t even know why you’re here.
A Bucket of Blood (1959)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Charles B Griffith
When Beat cafe waiter Walter tries to free a cat from inside a wall, he accidentally kills it. In order to hide it, he covers the cat in clay. Soon, everyone loves his “sculpture.” When a cop tries to arrest him, he kills the cop and produces his second work. And so on.
This is one of Roger Corman’s best films. It’s funny and gruesome and kind of sweet.
Buffalo Rider (1978)
Producer: Dick Robinson
Directors: Dick Robinson and John Fabian
Screenwriter: Mollie Gregory
Our Review: Buffalo Rider
This is a remarkable film in the tradition of The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams. Part revenge comedy and part nature documentary, it was the basis for the “Guy on a Buffalo” videos.
Buffalo Rider is available on Archive.org with a so-so quality copy. It isn’t available on disc.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992)
Producers: Kaz Kuzui and Howard Rosenman
Director: Fran Rubel Kuzui
Screenwriter: Joss Whedon
A vampire slayer is reincarnated over and over again so that she can battle the head vampire, Lothos. This time, that vampire slayer is a shallow and narcissistic high school senior who just wants to “go to Europe, marry Christian Slater, and die.”
This is a fun film with a lot of fine performances. It seems to lack coverage, however; most of the time there isn’t much of a sense where things are. But it works all the same.
Starring Kristy Swanson (Deadly Friend), Donald Sutherland (Klute), and Luke Perry (Beverly Hills, 90210). With Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), Stephen Root (Newsradio), and Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee’s Playhouse).
Burn, Witch, Burn! (1962)
Producer: Albert Fennell
Director: Sidney Hayers
Screenwriters: Richard Matheson & Charles Beaumont (novel: Fritz Leiber)
Alternative titles: Night of the Eagle
A psychology professor learns his wife is doing voodoo to help him in his career and life. He thinks it’s hooey so he makes her burn all her stuff. Then his life falls apart because someone else is doing voodoo against him!
This is more thriller than horror but effective regardless with a script and story by three icons of 20th century horror and science fiction.
2 June 2021
The Burning (1981)
Producers: Harvey Weinstein
Director: Tony Maylam
Screenwriters: Peter Lawrence and Bob Weinstein (story: Harvey Weinstein & Tony Maylam & Brad Grey)
Five boys at camp prank the drunk caretaker but it goes horribly wrong and the caretaker ends up badly burned. Five years later, he is released from the hospital, returns to the camp, and kills a bunch of people.
This film doesn’t make much sense. It isn’t really a revenge story because only one of the original boys is later at the camp. And the murders are pretty random. Also: the gore isn’t great despite it being done by Tom Savini. The music is by Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman. The acting is solid.
Starring Brian Matthews and Leah Ayres (Bloodsport). It features some interesting actors: Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), Brian Backer (Moving Violations), Ned Eisenberg (Last Man Standing), and Fisher Stevens (Short Circuit). Holly Hunter (Raising Arizona) is an extra.
The Burning is under copyright. It is available on DVD with a good director commentary and an interview with Savini. The SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray/DVD combo has that plus a commentary with actors Shelley Bruce and Bonnie Deroski as well as some other featurettes.
1 March 2021
Bury Me an Angel (1971)
Producer: Paul Nobert
Director/Screenwriter: Barbara Peeters
A young biker is murdered so his sister and two male friends hit the road to get revenge. But it soon becomes clear that there is more troubling the sister than the death of her brother.
This is an odd one: part biker film, part Keystone Cops, part revenge drama, with a dark, art film, core. When it all comes together, it makes you rethink what you watched.
Starring Dixie Peabody (Night Call Nurses). Featuring Terry Mace (Strawberries Need Rain) and Clyde Ventura (‘Gator Bait). Also Dan Haggerty (The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams), Beach Dickerson (Shell Shock), and director Stephen Whittaker.
Bury Me an Angel has received little distribution. It was released on VHS with its usual problems. It is on DVD via Presenting Roger Corman’s … Best of the B*s Collection 1: Hot Bikes, Cool Cars & Bad Babes. But the quality of the transfers is bad. You can find it online but there are lots of prints that cut out important elements.
13 March 2020
Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker (1981)
Producer: Stephen Breimer
Director: William Asher
Screenwriters: Stephen Breimer and Alan Jay Glueckman & Boon Collins (story: Alan Jay Glueckman & Boon Collins)
Alternative titles: Night Warning
A teenage boy lives with his slightly creepy over-protected aunt. But as he prepares to go away to college, she becomes increasingly bizarre. Soon she’s killing people and drugging him.
This is a really good film with an outstanding lead performance. It also features an awesome car crash at the beginning.
9 March 2021