Short Takes: B

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?!

Starring Essie Davis (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries), Noah Wiseman, Hayley McElhinney (Hearts and Bones), Daniel Henshall (These Final Hours), and Barbara West.

The Babadook is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a handful of short featurettes and an hour of interviews.

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.

Starring Anjanette Comer (The Night of a Thousand Cats), Ruth Roman (Tomorrow Is Another Day), Marianna Hill (High Plains Drifter), Susanne Zenor (The Girl Most Likely To…), and David Mooney at Baby.

The Baby is under copyright. It is available on DVD or Blu-ray with a couple of extras. Or get it on the Arrow Blu-ray with both the widescreen and TV versions and a bunch of extras.

12 January 2021

Baby Doll (1956)

Producer/Director: Elia Kazan
Screenwriter: Tennessee Williams

A young woman lives with her mean and bigoted drunk of a husband. He is looking forward to her upcoming 20th birthday so they can finally consummate the marriage. But things are going badly for his business and so he burns down his competitor’s cotton gin. The owner comes the next day looking for answers. He finds them. And more.

This is a very funny and sexy film. But it’s the acting that really sells it all. It is probably the best of the films from Williams.

Starring Carroll Baker (Something Wild), Karl Malden (One-Eyed Jacks), and Eli Wallach (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) in his first feature film. Lonny Chapman (The Birds) has a notable role. A very young Rip Torn (The Larry Sanders Show) plays the dentist.

Baby Dolls is under copyright. There is a cropped DVD. But pay a few dollars more for the widescreen Blu-ray.

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 has 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 makeup 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.

Starring Michael Paré (Eddie and the Cruisers), Mariel Hemingway (Manhattan), and Mason Gamble (Dennis the Menace).

Bad Moon is available on DVD and Blu-ray with director commentary and a lot more. It is also available on Shout Factory TV.

1 May 2020

The Bad News Bears (1976)

Producer: Stanley R Jaffe
Director: Michael Ritchie
Screenwriter: Bill Lancaster

A washed-up baseball player who is now a drunk pool cleaner is hired to coach the loser kids in a competitive little league. At first, he’s only in it for the money but eventually comes to like the kids and tries to help them win.

I don’t know if it was the first, but every kid sports film since this has had the same plot. I love all of those movies! And this one is as good today as it ever was. It was successfully remade with Billy Bob Thornton three decades later.

Starring Walter Matthau (The Odd Couple), Tatum O’Neal (Paper Moon), Vic Morrow (A Step Out Of Line), and Jackie Earle Haley (Dollman). George Wyner (My Favorite Year) has a small uncredited role.

The Bad News Bears is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is also on Blu-ray with some interesting but short interviews.

17 November 2021

Bad News Bears (2005)

Producers: J Geyer Kosinski & Richard Linklater
Director: Richard Linklater
Screenwriters: Bill Lancaster and Glenn Ficarra & John Requa (story: Bill Lancaster)

A washed-up baseball player who is now a drunk exterminator is hired to coach the loser kids in a competitive little league. At first, he’s only in it for the money but eventually comes to like the kids and tries to help them win.

Even though Bill Lancaster was long dead when this film came out, he rightly gets top screenwriting credit. This film sticks very closely to the original. At the same time, it is updated brilliantly with some wonderfully sly moments.

Starring Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan), Greg Kinnear (Little Miss Sunshine), Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing), and Sammi Kane Kraft.

Bad News Bears is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

21 November 2021

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).

Bad Teacher is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. They both come with a smattering of extras and an “unrated” version that is 5 minutes longer.

24 August 2021

Bandits (2001)

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 creating a love triangle.

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.

Starring Bruce Willis (Die Hard), Billy Bob Thornton (A Simple Plan), and Cate Blanchett (Notes on a Scandal).

Bandits is under copyright. You can get it on DVD and Blu-ray with modest extras.

5 April 2020

Barracuda (1978)

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 sheriff 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 children, they were medically separated. But now 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 film stars people you only know from other Henenlotter films: Kevin Van Hentenryck (Basket Case 2), Terri Susan Smith, Beverly Bonner (Brain Damage), and Robert Vogel.

Basket Case is copyrighted. You can get the Something Weird DVD or Blu-ray. There is a more recent Arrow Blu-ray with even more extras.

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 interesting enough.

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 appears to be in the public domain.

Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)

Producer: Ed Carlin
Director: Jimmy T Murakami
Screenwriter: 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.

Starring Richard Thomas (The Waltons), Darlanne Fluegel (Freeway), George Peppard (The Carpetbaggers), John Saxon (Black Christmas), and Robert Vaughn (The Man from UNCLE).

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)
Alternate 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).

A Bay of Blood is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both also including the Italian version and a commentary with film writer Tim Lucas. It’s also on Bava collections.

2 April 2021

Beaks: The Movie (1987)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: René Cardona Jr
Alternate 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.

Starring Michelle Johnson (Blood Ties) and Christopher Atkins (The Blue Lagoon).

Beaks: The Movie is under copyright. You can watch it on Amazon Prime or VHS.

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.

Featuring Michael Forest (“Who Mourns for Adonais?”), Sheila Noonan, and Frank Wolff (God Forgives… I Don’t!). has a copy of Beast From Haunted Cave that appears to be in the public domain. It is on DVD.

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 with 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.

Starring Marc Singer (Go Tell the Spartans), John Amos (Good Times), and Tanya Roberts (Sheena).

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

Beginning of the End (1957)

Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Director: Tim Burton
Screenwriters: Fred Freiberger and Lester Gorn

The USDA is funding a program to use radioactivity to grow really big vegetables. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s also made the grasshoppers really big. Now it’s up to a plucky big-city reporter and a scientist to stop the plague and save the world!

This film doesn’t work as well as most of the other Gordon films of this period because of the effects. But the stars help a lot.

Starring Peggie Castle (Invasion, USA) and Peter Graves (Airplane).

Beginning of the End may be in the public domain; there is a good copy on Archive. It is available on DVD and as a special edition but it isn’t clear how good these are. They are also quite expensive.

7 September 2022

Beetlejuice (1988)

Producers: Michael Bender & Larry Wilson & 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 utterly charming.

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).

Beetlejuice is under copyright. It is available in many forms including the 20th anniversary DVD and Blu-ray. Despite the title, however, they include almost no extras.

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 as Lewis. Well, not really; they play themselves since they actually were nightclub performers and Petrillo was a Jerry Lewis impersonator. Also featuring: Charlita 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).

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is copyrighted. I recommend buying “Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection” on DVD or Blu-ray.

Benny Loves You (2019)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Karl Holt

A 35-year-old toy designer tries to get his life together. He throws out his favorite childhood toy, a little red bear named Benny. This causes Benny to come to life. He’s very protective but also jealous and the bodies really pile up.

Sometimes you see a film that seems like it was made especially for you. This is one such film for me. Puppets and gore are kind of my things. But it isn’t just my interests. This is a work of genius. Too many horror-comedies can’t manage to be funny or scary. This one is very funny and it even manages to be scary now and then, which is notable given how cute Benny is and how deserving his early victims are. It is also, ultimately, sweet. Definitely find this film!

None of the principal actors are that experienced in feature films: Karl Holt, Claire Cartwright, George Collie, and James Parsons. But I can’t imagine that will be so much longer. They are all excellent. Anthony Styles and Darren Benedict were delightful as the two cops. Lydia Hourihan is surprisingly sympathetic as the unimpressed date.

Benny Loves You is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with a featurette, deleted scenes, and commentary.

10 October 2021

Better Watch Out (2016)

Producers: Brett Thornquest & Brion Hambel & Sidonie Abbene & Paul Jensen
Director: Chris Peckover
Screenwriters: Zack Kahn and Chris Peckover (story: Zack Kahn)

A psychopathic 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.

Starring Olivia DeJonge (The Visit) and Levi Miller (Jasper Jones). Featuring Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes), Dacre Montgomery (Stranger Things), and Aleks Mikic.

Better Watch Out is copyrighted. It’s available on DVD and Blu-ray with a good making-of documentary.

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
Alternate 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 on to 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.

Starring Catriona MacColl (The House by the Cemetery) and David Warbeck (The Hunters of the Golden Cobra). Featuring Cinzia Monreale (Beyond the Darkness) and Antoine Saint-John (Duck, You Sucker).

The Beyond is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

Producers: 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.

Starring Jeffrey Combs (The Phantom Empire), Jason Barry (MirrorMask), Elsa Pataky (Di Di Hollywood), and Simón Andreu (Death Walks on High Heels).

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)
Alternate 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.

Starring Juliet Mills (Avanti!), Gabriele Lavia (Revenge of the Dead), and Richard Johnson (Zombie).

Beyond the Door is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is also available on 2K Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

6 January 2021

The Big Bet (1987)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Bert I Gordon

A high school boy places a bet that he can bed the new girl within a week. But he grows to love her even as he obsesses over his sexy neighbor.

At this point in his career, Gordon can make a teen sex comedy that is as good as anyone’s in the business. Unfortunately, they are also every bit as tedious to anyone outside their very limited demographic appeal. The film is still funny at times and features better dialog than you might expect.

Starring Lance Sloane who would go on to a notable production career. It features Playboy Playmate Kim Evenson and Sylvia Kristel (Emmanuelle).

The Big Bet is under copyright. There doesn’t seem to be a US release on disc.

22 September 2022

The Big Boss (1971)

Producer: Raymond Chow
Director/Screenwriter: Lo Wei
Alternate titles: 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, 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?!

Starring Kurt Russell (Escape from New York), Dennis Dun (Year of the Dragon), Kim Cattrall (Mannequin), James Hong (Balls of Fury), and Victor Wong (Prince of Darkness).

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)

Executive producer: Rob Hauschild
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.

Starring Danielle Donahue (Jurassic Prey), Dave Fife (Chainsaw Killer), and Jeff Kirkendall (The Amityville Exorcism).

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.

Starring Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia) and Bruce Payne (Passenger 57). Featuring Alun Armstrong, Richard Ridings (Fierce Creatures), Don Henderson (No Escape), and Louise Gold (The Muppet Show).

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.

Billy the Kid vs Dracula may be in the public domain. There is a so-so copy on You can get an excellent version from KL Studio Classics on DVD or Blu-ray.

31 March 2020

Biohazard (1985)

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

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (1970)

Producer: Salvatore Argento
Director/Screenwriter: Dario Argento
Alternate titles: L’Uccello Dalle Piume di Cristallo

A guy sees a man attacking a woman but the guy can’t identify the attacker. The police coerce the guy into investigating the attack, which they think is part of a series of murders. Just as his interest is cooling, the attacker (Or is it two attackers?!) starts menacing him with phone calls. Then he and his girlfriend are in danger.

This is one of the seminal Giallo films. It’s really good but I do think it could use more blood. The plot is clever and works as a good whodunit. Must viewing if you are a fan of Giallos.

Starring Tony Musante (The Mercenary), Suzy Kendall (Spasmo), Enrico Maria Salerno (The Oldest Profession), and Eva Renzi (Funeral in Berlin).

The Bird with the Crystal Plumage is under copyright. It is available on DVD with some extras. It is also available on a Blue Underground Blu-ray and Arrow 4K Blu-ray both with good extras.

11 October 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.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is copyrighted. You can get it streaming or on DVD and Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

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.

The Birds is under copyright. You can get it on DVD. It’s also on Blu-ray with a bunch of extras. Finally, you can get it on DVD with Psycho.

20 June 2020

Bite (2015)

Producers: Cody Calahan & Chad Archibald & 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.

Bite is under copyright. It is available from Shout Factory on DVD and Blu-ray with a commentary track and five featurettes.

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).

Also starring Boris Karloff (The Comedy of Terrors). With David Manners (The Mummy), Julie Bishop (Clancy of the Mounted), and Lucille Lund.

The film appears to be in the public domain and a good print is available on 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.

Starring Patrick Magee (A Clockwork Orange). With Mimsy Farmer (Riot on Sunset Strip), David Warbeck (The Beyond), and Dagmar Lassander (Hatchet for the Honeymoon).

The Black Cat is under copyright. Arrow video has excellent DVD and Blu-ray releases.

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.

Starring Olivia Hussey (Romeo & Juliet), Keir Dullea (2001: A Space Odyssey), Margot Kidder (Superman), and John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street). Andrea Martin (Cannibal Girls) has a small role.

Black Christmas is copyrighted. You can get it on DVD with a few extras and Blu-ray with a ton. It is also available on Shout Factory TV for free if you watch it on a computer.

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.

Starring Rod Perry (The Black Godfather) and Charlie Robinson (Night Court). That’s Phil Hoover (Policewomen) who gets castrated.

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 grows 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.

Starring Orson Welles (Mr Arkadin), Akim Tamiroff (The General Died at Dawn), Nancy Guild (The Brasher Doubloon), Valentina Cortese (Day for Night), and Frank Latimore (Zorro the Avenger).

Black Magic should be copyrighted but Archive has a decent copy of it. There is an expensive DVD available. There is also an all-region import Blu-ray/DVD combo.

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.

Black Sabbath is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is also available on Blu-ray with a commentary by film scholar Tim Lucas.

29 July 2020

Black Sunday (1960)

Producer: Massimo De Rita
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriters: Ennio De Concini & Mario Serandrei (story: Nikolay Gogol)
Alternate 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.

Starring Barbara Steele (Nightmare Castle), John Richardson (One Million Years BC), Andrea Checchi (The Thousand Eyes of Dr Mabuse), Ivo Garrani (Hercules), Arturo Dominici, and Antonio Pierfederici.

Black Sunday is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. There is also a Blu-ray with an informative commentary by Bava biographer Tim Lucas.

17 June 2021

Blackenstein (1973)

Producer/Screenwriter: Frank R Saletri
Director: William A Levey
Alternate 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 seen 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.

Blackenstein is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. It is on Blu-ray with two versions and what looks like some interesting extras.

5 May 2021

Blacula (1972)

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.

Do yourself a favor and get the Blacula / Scream, Blacula, Scream Double Feature or even better the Blu-ray. The single Blackula contains less, costs more, and is in no way better.

Blade (1998)

Producers: Peter Frankfurt & Wesley Snipes & Robert Engelman
Director: Stephen Norrington
Screenwriter: David S Goyer (comic: Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan)

Blade is a half-vampire who hunts vampires — out for vengeance over his mother who died giving birth. Meanwhile, an upstart, Frost, takes over the council of vampires and captures Blade because his blood is needed to bring back some badass vampire that will destroy all of humanity.

This is a wonderful film relative to other Marvel films. It’s got a fair amount of style and a reasonably interesting plot. It also features some cool effects.

Starring Wesley Snipes (US Marshals), Stephen Dorff (Space Truckers), Kris Kristofferson (Silver City), and N’Bushe Wright (Dead Presidents). Udo Kier has a small role.

Blade is under copyright. It is available on Blu-ray. It’s also available in various other packages. It’s cheaper on the trilogy Blu-ray.

27 January 2022

Blade II (2002)

Producers: Peter Frankfurt & Wesley Snipes & Robert Engelman
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenwriter: David S Goyer (comic: Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan)

A new kind of vampire is on the streets: reaper. They are immune to most of the anti-vampire attacks. The regular vampires propose a collaboration with Blade to defeat the reapers but of course they can’t be trusted.

More stylish and gory than the first one. I feel like the second half drags a bit but it still works well.

Starring Wesley Snipes (Passenger 57), Kris Kristofferson (Stagecoach), Leonor Varela (Cleopatra), and Ron Perlman (The Name of the Rose).

Blade II is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray and many other ways.

27 January 2022

Blade: Trinity (2004)

Producers: Peter Frankfurt & Wesley Snipes & David S Goyer & Lynn Harris
Director: David S Goyer
Screenwriter: David S Goyer (comic: Marv Wolfman & Gene Colan)

Whistler is killed again so Blade hooks up with a new group of vampire hunters including Whistler’s daughter. Meanwhile, the vampires reanimate Dracula and run a “blood farm” comprised of homeless people being kept in comas and drained of blood. There’s a big fight between Blade and Dracula.

As film art goes, probably the weakest of the series. But strangely, it’s also the most entertaining. The new characters here are more interesting and Blade does more than look tough.

Starring Wesley Snipes (Rising Sun), Jessica Biel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre), Ryan Reynolds (The Proposal), Dominic Purcell (Prison Break), Parker Posey (The Oh in Ohio), and Kris Kristofferson (Trouble in Mind).

Blade: Trinity is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray and in collections.

29 January 2022

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.

Starring Heather Donahue (Seven and a Match), Michael C Williams, and Joshua Leonard (Unsane).

The Blair Witch Project is copyrighted. It’s available in many formats. The Artisan Special Edition DVD includes good extras. The Lions Gate Blu-ray has pretty much the same features.

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.

Starring Barry Robins and Bill Mumy (Lost in Space). With Miles Chapin (The Funhouse), Ken Swofford (Black Roses), and Jesse White (Harvey).

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 (They Live).

Blind Fury is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. No extras to speak of. You can get it on DVD along with Omega Doom for the same price.

Blithe Spirit (1945)

Producers: Noël Coward and Anthony Havelock-Allan
Director: David Lean
Screenwriter: David Lean & Ronald Neame & Anthony Havelock-Allan (Play: Noël Coward)

A seance gone right brings back the wild deceased wife of a writer. It causes many problems with his current wife.

This is pretty much a play on film but the snappy dialog makes for an enjoyable viewing experience. The second half is a bit padded. Regardless, it is far better than the 2020 remake.

Starring Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond, and stealer of every scene, Margaret Rutherford.

Blithe Spirit is under copyright. It is available on DVD from Image Entertainment.

13 January 2024

Blithe Spirit (2020)

Producers: James Spring & Meg Leonard & Nick Moorcrof and Peter Snell & Toni Pinnolis & Adrian Politowski & Martin Metz & Hilary Bevan Jones
Director: Edward Hall
Screenwriters: Nick Moorcroft & Meg Leonard & Piers Ashworth (Play: Noël Coward)

A successful novelist is having a hard time writing the screenplay for one of his books. For some reason he needs a whole new story. He invites disgraced Madame Arcati to do a seance, which somehow works and brings his deceased wife back as a ghost. She solves some problems and causes others.

This is a lovely production is great acting and very compelling production design. The directing under-plays the comedy of the script. But the only really great things in the script are directly taken from the play. The story is made over-complicated with an ending that causes the rest of the story to make even less sense. Stay with the 1945 version — or even better, the 1956 TV version from the Ford Star Jubilee, which stars Noël Coward, Claudette Colbert, Lauren Bacall, and Mildred Natwick.

Starring Dan Stevens, Leslie Mann, Isla Fisher, and Judi Dench.

Blithe Spirit is under copyright. It is on DVD and Blu-ray. These are from Shout Factory but they don’t seem to have any extras.

13 January 2024

Blood and Black Lace (1964)

Producers: Massimo Patrizi and Alfredo Mirabile
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriter: Marcello Fondato
Alternate 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 suspect 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.

Starring Cameron Mitchell (The Toolbox Murders) and Eva Bartok (Operation Amsterdam). Featuring Thomas Reiner, Dante DiPaolo (Atlas in the Land of Cyclops), and Mary Arden.

Blood and Black Lace is under copyright. It is available with an extra-packed 2K 3-disc Blu-ray. It’s also available on a 2-disk DVD.

The Blood Beast Terror (1968)

Producer: Arnold L Miller
Director: Vernon Sewell
Screenwriter: Peter Bryan
Alternate titles: The Vampire-Beast Craves Blood

People are showing up dead with their blood drained. It seems to be some flying creature. Could it be an eagle? No, it’s a moth! And there’s a mad scientist because giant blood-craving moths don’t just happen.

This film is actually a lot of fun — and even sweet at times. It suffers from a small budget for special effects and the day-for-night is annoying at times. But it’s an interesting story with a fairly sympathetic mad scientist.

Starring Peter Cushing (The Revenge of Frankenstein), Wanda Ventham (Invasion: UFO), Glynn Edwards (Zulu), Robert Flemyng (Funny Face), and Vanessa Howard (Girly).

The Blood Beast Terror is probably under copyright but you can find copies on Archive that are part of hosted shows. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

4 September 2022

Blood Beat (1983)

Producers: Helen A Boley & Henri Zaphiratos
Director/Screenwriter: Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos
Alternate 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 starts 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 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!

Stand-out performances by William Kerwin (Barracuda) as Detective Pete Thornton and Mal Arnold (Scum of the Earth!) as Fuad Ramses. 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)
Alternate 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.

Blood of Dracula is under copyright. There is an excellent copy at Shout Factory TV. It is available on DVD along with How to Make a Monster.

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.

The film stars Udo Kier (Johnny Mnemonic) as the whiniest Dracula ever. Featuring Joe Dallesandro (The Limey), Arno Jürging (Flesh for Frankenstein), and Italian Realist director Vittorio De Sica.

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.

Starring Donald Wolfit (Dr Crippen), Vincent Ball (Dead Lucky), Barbara Shelley (Dracula: Prince of Darkness), and Victor Maddern (The Cockleshell Heroes).

Blood of the Vampire is under copyright. It is available alone on DVD and also with The Hellfire Club on DVD. You can watch it for free on Shout Factory TV.

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
Alternate 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 & 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 Rites is copyrighted. It is available on an all-region DVD. You can also get it through Amazon Prime.

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 and 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).

Blood Ties is under copyright. It is available on DVD and for free on Shout Factory TV.

1 May 2020

Bloodletting (1997)

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 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.

Starring Natassia Malthe (Vikingdom), Michael Paré (Seed), Brendan Fletcher (Rampage), and Clint Howard (Eat My Dust!).

BloodRayne: The Third Reich is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with writer and director commentary track and some interviews.

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.

Starring Fran Kranz (You Might Be the Killer), Pedro Pascal (Prospect), Joey Kern (A Beginner’s Guide to Snuff), Joel Murray (God Bless America), and Emma Fitzpatrick (The Collection).

Bloodsucking Bastards is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with behind-the-scenes documentary and commentary track.

25 September 2020

Bloody Mallory (2002)

Producers: Olivier Delbosc & Eric Jehelmann & 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.

Blubberella (2011)

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 anachronistic 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.

Starring Lindsay Hollister (Postal), Brendan Fletcher (Rampage), Willam Belli (Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives), Michael Paré (Seed), and Clint Howard (Eat My Dust!).

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)
Alternate 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.

Starring David Argue (Road Kill), John Ley (The Last Outlaw), Nicole Kidman (The Others), Angelo D’Angelo, James Lugton (Hacksaw Ridge), and Bryan Marshall (The Long Good Friday).

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.

The Boogie Man Will Get You (1942)

Producer: Colbert Clark
Director: Lew Landers
Screenwriter: Edwin Blum (Adaption: Paul Gangelin; Story: Hal Fimberg & Robert B Hunt)

Boris Karloff is a mad scientist trying to reanimate the dead for the war effort. But he’s down on his luck and sells his home to a woman who wants to turn it into a hotel. Karloff teams up with part-time sheriff and full-time conman, Peter Lorre. Eventually, an Italian spy shows up and they must save the free world.

This is a low-energy farce. It’s pretty much a single-location shoot and not much was spent on the production. But it features an excellent cast who work very hard to get as much out of this material as is possible. And Karloff and Lorre together are constantly fun.

Besides Karloff and Lorre, the film features Maude Eburne, George McKay, Jeff Donnell, Larry Parks, and Maxie Rosenbloom.

The Boogie Man Will Get You may be under copyright but there is a good print on Archive. It is available on DVD. There is also a nice UK-released Blu-ray. But mostly, you will find it on collections like Karloff at Columbia.

8 October 2023

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!

Starring Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice), Erica Leerhsen (Wrong Turn 2: Dead End), Stephen Barker Turner, Kim Director, Tristine Skyler, and Lanny Flaherty (The Ballad of the Sad Cafe).

Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 is under copyright. It is available on DVD (with a CD on the second side). It is also available on a single DVD with the original film.

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.

Starring Terence Hill (They Call Me Trinity), Woody Strode (Tarzan’s Three Challenges), and Bud Spencer (Watch Out, We’re Mad). Victor Buono (The Evil) has a small role.

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).

Born in Flames seems to be copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with almost no extras.

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.

There is a good DVD version with a director’s commentary. But you are better with the Shout Factory’s Blu-ray/DVD version. Also, Shout Factory TV has the film and the film with commentary for free!

The Boy and the Pirates (1960)

Producer/Director: Bert I Gordon
Screenwriters: Lillie Hayward and Jerry Sackheim (story: Bert I Gordon)

A little boy obsessed with pirates finds a bottle with a genie in it. He wishes to be on a pirate ship. But when he learns he must replace the genie in the bottle if he doesn’t return the bottle to where he found it, he must figure out how to get back home.

This is a charming kids’ film with the kind of visual effects you expect from Gordon.

Starring Charles Herbert (13 Ghosts), Susan Gordon (Tormented), Murvyn Vye (Road to Bali), Paul Guilfoyle (The Saint in Palm Springs), and Joe Turkel (Blade Runner).

The Boy and the Pirates is probably under copyright. It is available in a two-DVD package with Crystalstone.

18 September 2022

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.

Starring Jack Rowan (Benjamin), Nigel O’Neill (Bad Day for the Cut), Louisa Harland, Michael Hough, and John Lynch (The Hybrid).

Boys from County Hell is copyrighted. It hasn’t been released on disc, but is streaming on Shudder.

23 April 2021

Braid (2018)

Producers: Arielle Elwes & Logan Steinhardt
Director/Screenwriter: Mitzi Peirone
Alternate titles: Dying to Play, Obsessed

Two young women narrowly escaping a drug bust need to find money to pay for the fronted drugs they lost. They return to their now crazy but rich childhood friend to play a game hoping to find her safe and get the money they need.

I could do without the Kubrick-inspired shots and excessive camera movements. But this is a wonderful film that tells an intricate and fascinating story. It makes great use of blood to imply gore. This is one you might want to watch a few times despite it being deeply disturbing.

Starring Imogen Waterhouse (The Outpost), Sarah Hay (Flesh and Bone), Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale), and Scott Cohen (The Circle).

Braid is under copyright. It is available on DVD but you can also find it on numerous streaming sites.

17 November 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.

Starring Bill Pullman (Revelations), Bill Paxton (Aliens), Bud Cort (Harold and Maude), Patricia Charbonneau (Desert Hearts), and Nicholas Pryor (The Last Song).

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. 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
Alternate 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.

Starring Jack Palance (Shane), Simon Ward (Hitler: The Last Ten Days), Nigel Davenport (Phase IV), and Fiona Lewis (Dr Phibes Rises Again).

Bram Stoker’s Dracula is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with minor extras.

22 June 2021

Brannigan (1975)

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.

With Richard Attenborough (Jurassic Park), Judy Geeson (To Sir, With Love), Mel Ferrer (Lili), and John Vernon (Charley Varrick).

Brannigan is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is available on Blu-ray with a commentary track.

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.

Starring Boris Karloff (The Mummy) and Colin Clive (Mad Love). With Ernest Thesiger (The Old Dark House), Valerie Hobson (Werewolf of London), and Elsa Lanchester (Murder by Death).

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!

Starring Jeffrey Combs (The Phantom Empire), Bruce Abbott (Bad Dreams), Fabiana Udenio, Kathleen Kinmont (CIA Code Name: Alexa), Claude Earl Jones, and David Gale (Savage Weekend).

Bride of Re-Animator is copyrighted. It is available on DVD. Or you can get it with Re-Animator on DVD. It is also available with Beyond Re-Animator on Blu-ray with a bunch of extras.

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.

It is in the public domain. You can get it along with Bride of the Monster but I don’t recommend it.

Bride of the Monster (1955)

Producer/Director: Ed Wood
Screenwriters: Ed Wood and Alex Gordon

Plucky reporter 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 there is a good copy on 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.)

Starring Mel Heflin (Don’t Drink the Milk) and Jade Michael LaFont (Indestructible). With Tony Brown, Anna Tomic, and Yolie Canales (Deadly Plaything).

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.

Starring Keith Nobbs and Kip Pardue (Driven). With Vincent Pastore (Revolver), Daniel Stewart Sherman, Nashawn Kearse (You’re Nobody ’til Somebody Kills You), and Josh Alexander.

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.

Starring Bruce Campbell (The Evil Dead) and Ossie Davis (I’m Not Rappaport). Featuring: Ella Joyce (Roc), Reggie Bannister (Phantasm), Heidi Marnhout (Phantasm IV: Oblivion), and Bob Ivy.

Bubba Ho-Tep is under copyright. It is available on DVD and a new Blu-ray with even more features.

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.

Starring Dick Miller (The Little Shop of Horrors), with Barboura Morris (Atlas), Antony Carbone (The Pit and the Pendulum), Julian Burton, Ed Nelson, and Bert Convy (The Cannonball Run).

A Bucket of Blood is available on The DVD is probably not worth buying as it only includes the trailer. The Blu-ray is packed with extras and comes as a high-definition transfer.

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 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).

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Bullet Head (2017)

Producers: David Gardner & Raphael Swann & Victor Shapiro
Director/Screenwriter: Paul Solet

After a failed heist, three criminals take shelter in a warehouse, which is the location of illegal dog fights. One killer dog is there and the criminals must survive it while they wait out the police.

This is an interesting take on the genre. But it gets pretty stale and by the end is just Aesop’s Androcles. But it’s well-produced and features fine acting.

Starring Adrien Brody, John Malkovich (Con Air), Rory Culkin (Signs), and Antonio Banderas (Once Upon a Time in Mexico).

Bullet Head is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with extras.

18 February 2024

Bullet to the Head (2012)

Producers: Alexandra Milchan & Alfred Gough & Miles Millar & Kevin King-Templeton
Director: Walter Hill
Screenwriters: Alessandro Camon (Graphic Novel: Matz)

A hitman’s partner is murdered so he hooks up with a cop in his attempt to get revenge.

This is as stylish an action film as you would expect from Walter Hill. But the plot is absurd. It’s fun to watch but you need to turn your brain off.

Starring Sylvester Stallone (Demolition Man), Sung Kang, Jason Momoa, Sarah Shahi, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, and Christian Slater (The Name of the Rose).

Bullet to the Head is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

2 March 2024

The Bunker Game (2022)

Producers: Jad Ben Ammar & Leo Maidenberg
Director: Roberto Zazzara
Screenwriters: Davide Orsini & Roberto Zazzara and Francesca Forristal & Kt Roberts (story: Manuela Cacciamani & Davide Orsini & Roberto Zazzara)

A group of live-action role-players is staging an alternative Nazi reality event in some WWII bunkers. But it all seems to be haunted. When the leader of the group disappears, it appears he is playing a different game.

The narrative plays with the audience about whether this is a true ghost story or a slasher. Suprise: it’s both! The beginning and ending of the film aren’t much to speak of but the center section is quite effective. The entire production outside of the weak script is first-rate.

Starring Gaia Weiss (Meander), Mark Ryder (Borgia), and Lorenzo Richelmy (Breackneck).

The Bunker Game is under copyright. It is currently streaming on Shudder and hasn’t been released on disc.

21 March 2022

Burn, Witch, Burn! (1962)

Producer: Albert Fennell
Director: Sidney Hayers
Screenwriters: Richard Matheson & Charles Beaumont (novel: Fritz Leiber)
Alternate 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.

Starring Peter Wyngarde (The Innocents), Janet Blair (Once Upon a Time), and Margaret Johnston (The Psychopath).

Burn, Witch, Burn! should be under copyright but there is a good copy on Archive. There is a DVD version. The Blu-ray has an interview with Wyngarde and an audio commentary with Matheson.

2 June 2021

Burned at the Stake (1982)

Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Bert I Gordon
Alternate titles: The Coming

A father whose young daughter is about to be burned at the stake in Salem goes 300 years into the future to talk to her accuser’s reincarnate. Meanwhile, the reincarnate suffers from a kind of possession similar to The Exorcist.

This film features a fairly complicated plot. I suspect it would be really engaging if we could find a good print of it.

Starring Susan Swift (Audrey Rose), Tisha Sterling (Coogan’s Bluff), Beverly Ross, Albert Salmi (Dragonslayer), and Guy Stockwell (Santa Sangre).

Burned at the Stake should be under copyright but there is a terrible print at Otherwise, it doesn’t seem to be available.

22 September 2022

The Burning (1981)

Producer: 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)
Alternate titles: Night Warning

A teenage boy lives with his slightly creepy over-protective 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.

Starring Susan Tyrrell (Forbidden Zone) and Jimmy McNichol (Smokey Bites the Dust). With Bo Svenson (Walking Tall Part 2), Julia Duffy (Newhart), Britt Leach, and Steve Eastin (A Man Apart).

Butcher, Baker, Nightmare Maker is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. They are both very expensive. There is a more reasonably-priced Spanish import on Blu-ray.

9 March 2021

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