Call Girl of Cthulhu (2014)
Producers/Directors: Jimmy George & Chris LaMartina
Director: Chris LaMartina
The cult is looking for the woman who will birth Cthulhu’s child. A young painter is in love with her. Can he save her? No, but at least he doesn’t die a virgin.
This is a shockingly good film. It has a very 1970s exploitation look with excellent characters rendered well by a good young cast. Find this one!
Starring David Phillip Carollo, Nicolette le Faye (The Serpent’s Tongue), Melissa LaMartina, and Sabrina Taylor-Smith.
Call Girl of Cthulhu is under copyright. It is not currently available on disc but you can find it around the internet.
20 March 2021
Canadian Bacon (1995)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Michael Moore
The American president tries to improve his favorability rating by going to war with Canada. So: a pretty realistic premise.
Don’t listen to the haters; this is a great comedy — a searing satire of American politics in the 1990s. What’s sad (or great) is that it is as relevant 25 years later as it was then.
The film has a great cast: John Candy (Uncle Buck), Alan Alda (Sweet Liberty), Rip Torn (Payday), Kevin Pollak (The Whole Nine Yards), Rhea Perlman (Cheers), Kevin J O’Connor (Lord of Illusions), Bill Nunn (Do the Right Thing), GD Spradlin (Ed Wood), and many more.
The film is under copyright. You can get it on DVD without any extras. It doesn’t appear to be available on Blu-ray.
Cannibal Holocaust (1980)
Producers: Franco Di Nunzio and Franco Palaggi
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Screenwriter: Gianfranco Clerici
Additional titles: Jungle Holocaust
A documentary film crew disappears in the Amazon jungle. An anthropologist goes on a rescue mission only to find that they brought the holocaust to the jungle and got what they deserved.
Everything they say about this film is true. There is senseless killing of animals. And there are a couple of acts of clear animal cruelty. It’s hard to say that any of it (maybe the turtle scene) was necessary to the narrative. Apart from that, this is a wonderfully made film with unsurpassed gore that is quite funny. It also has serious things to say other than the obvious stuff that’s as subtle as a sledgehammer to the head.
Starring Robert Kerman (Debbie Does Dallas). With Carl Gabriel Yorke (Jack the Bear) and Francesca Ciardi. That’s director Paolo Paoloni as the TV executive who gets up first after the screening and walks out.
Cannibal Holocaust is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with a commentary (Deodato/Kerman) and an hour-long making-of documentary. Better: get it on Blu-ray with an extras Blu-ray and the soundtrack CD (which is worth having for a change). From my perspective, something from a film historian would have been nice, but with almost 5 hours of interviews and two commentary tracks (Deodato/Kerman and Yorke/Ciardi) I cannot complain.
15 August 2020
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death (1989)
Producer: Gary W Goldstein
Director/Screenwriter: JF Lawton
More: The Comedies of JF Lawton
A group of radical feminist cannibals, the Piranha Women, are interfering with harvesting in the Avocado Jungle (in southeastern California). The government fears this will lead to an “avocado gap” with the Soviet Union. So they send Feminist Studies professor, Dr Margo Hunt, to go after Dr Kurtz who is believed to have been abducted by the Piranha Women.
This is the silliest take on Heart of Darkness since Apocalypse Now. The feminist jokes may be a bit dated. I’m old enough to think it’s hysterical that the government is using Cosmo subscriptions to defang the Piranha Women.
Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death is under copyright. Sadly, the US releases on DVD and Blu-ray are both cropped. There is a proper print for Region 2 but I can’t speak to its quality otherwise.
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)
Producers: Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director/Screenwriter: Brian Clemens
In this world, there are different kinds of vampires. And in a village, there is a vampire around who is sucking the years away from little girls. Luckily, the vampire hunter and his vampire expert hunchback friend have arrived to set things right.
This is a seriously great film. Watching the girls transform into old women is brilliant. And the vampire hunters are awesome. It’s amazing that this film is not more widely admired.
Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter is under copyright. It is available in widescreen on DVD (I don’t know more). There’s also a SHOUT! Factor Blu-ray with a couple of commentary tracks, a featurette, and a few other minor things.
28 May 2020
Captain Ron (1992)
Producer: David Permut
Director: Thom Eberhardt
Screenwriters: John Dwyer and Thom Eberhardt (story: John Dwyer)
A family inherits a boat that they need to pick up on a Caribbean island. They hire the colorful Captain Ron to help them. He seems very good at his job at the same time that he’s flakey. He helps the family through various situations and they all learn positive life lessons.
This is a very funny film that doesn’t tax the viewer much in terms of a complicated plot. It’s great light entertainment.
Captain Ron is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
6 March 2021
Carnival of Souls (1962)
Producer/Director: Herk Harvey
Screenwriter: John Clifford
Three young women apparently die when their car crashes off a bridge and into the river. But one of them shows up on the shore a couple of hours later. All is not well with her however. She is haunted by ghoulish figures who seem to want to do her harm.
This is one of the best horror films ever made. It was highlighted by Charles Beesley as “Required viewing” in The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film, but until its re-release in 1989, most people had never seen it. You’ll be on the edge of your seat from the start. The denouement isn’t especially surprising but it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the journey!
Starring Candace Hilligoss (The Curse of the Living Corpse). With Art Ellison, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger, and Stan Levitt. Herk Harvey plays the lead ghoul.
Carnival of Souls is in the public domain. There are good prints of the 83-minute and 78-minute versions on Archive.org. Criterion has released the film on Blu-ray with a 4K transfer and as good a collection of extras as you could hope for.
5 May 2021
Producer: Rob Steinbock
Director: Steve Rudzinski
Screenwriters: Aleen Isley & Steve Rudzinski
A carousel unicorn escapes from its ride. After an altercation with a clown, it finds that killing feels right. So it goes on a violent spree with its ultimate target being a little boy who rubbed snot on it.
There are a lot of cheeky murderous toy films (eg, Killer Piñata), but this is probably the funniest that I’ve seen. It also has some remarkably good gore effects. Rudzinski’s made a number of other films that we will have to find.
Starring Sé Marie, Teague Shaw, Steve Rudzinski, Chris Proud, and Haley Madison (In Memory Of).
CarousHELL is under copyright. It is available on DVD with commentary, interviews, deleted scenes, and other minor things.
3 February 2021
Castle of Blood (1964)
Producers: Franco Belotti & Walter Zarghetta
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Screenwriters: Giovanni Grimaldi and Sergio Corbucci — claims to be “From Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Dance Macabre'” but it doesn’t exist
Additional titles: Danza Macabra
A fine little “haunted house” film where a writer, Alan Foster (Georges Rivière), makes a bet with Lord Blackwood that the writer will survive a night in the lord’s castle in Providence. There he meets a beautiful but dead Barbara Steele (The Pit and the Pendulum) and eventually what seems like the entire beau monde of the spirit world. But everything is not as it seems. Well, except that it’s a horror film and he loses his bet — in a most gruesome manner.
This film is not available on Archive.org but you can usually find it on YouTube or DailyMotion. You’re better of getting the anamorphic DVD that includes an extra 5 minutes that wasn’t suitable for fragile American eyes. But note, those 5 minutes are in French with English subtitles. (That bit of lunacy alone probably makes it worth getting!)
Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)
Producer: Gale Anne Hurd
Director: Martin Campbell
Screenwriter: Joseph Dougherty
A Raymond Chandler styled private detective is hired to track down a stolen Necronomicon in a world filled with magic. In his quest, he must manage demons, gangsters, old-fashioned zombies, his ex, Old Ones, and the virgin unicorn-hunter daughter of his client.
This is a shockingly good noir fantasy. It’s pleasant, cool, and generally engaging — filled with interesting characters. It should appeal to noir as well as alternative reality fans.
Starring Fred Ward (Tremors), David Warner (Time After Time), and Julianne Moore (Hannibal). Featuring Alexandra Powers (Last Man Standing), Arnetia Walker (Love Crimes), Clancy Brown (Highlander), Raymond O’Connor, Peter Allas, and Lee Tergesen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning).
Cast a Deadly Spell is copyrighted. It isn’t available on disc — at least in the US. It is available on Amazon Prime (at least for now).
Cat-Women of the Moon (1953)
Producers: Al Zimbalist & Jack Rabin
Director: Arthur Hilton
Screenwriter: Roy Hamilton
A human spaceship lands on the Moon. There they find caves with a civilization of telepathic women. They want to steal the spaceship and fly it back to Earth to escape their dying atmosphere.
This is one of the best silly 1950s science fiction films. It’s hard not to root for the cat-women given they are more interesting. And it has a fabulous off-screen denouement. It might get tedious after a while but at less than 64 minutes, it’s golden. Zimbalist co-produced Robot Monster the same year.
Starring Sonny Tufts (Serpent Island), Victor Jory (The Green Archer), Marie Windsor (Salem’s Lot), William Phipps (Five), Douglas Fowley (Mighty Joe Young), and Carol Brewster (The Barkleys of Broadway).
17 February 2021
Cat People (1942)
Producer: Val Lewton
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenwriter: DeWitt Bodeen (short story: Val Lewton)
A sexy allegory of the dangers of sex, Cat People represented a new kind of horror film. It’s so beautifully rendered that it is easy to dismiss it as an old art film. Don’t! It’s very suspenseful and scary.
It features Simone Simon (Girls’ Dormitory), Kent Smith (The Spiral Staircase), Tom Conway (I Walked with a Zombie), Jane Randolph (The Falcon’s Brother), Alan Napier (Batman), and Oliver Reed (ha ha).
Cat People is still not in the public domain. (Only 20 more years! Maybe.) It is available on various disc collections. There is a Criterion Collection version with a number of nice extras like an old interview with director Jacques Tourneur and a commentary track with historian Gregory Mank.
Cave Women on Mars (2008)
Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Josh Craig
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm
Two men from Earth land on Mars and discover primitive warrior humans where women are dominant. One of the men is kidnapped by the good tribe of women and learns he has been prophesied to bring the tribes together. But he may not survive to make it come true.
This film goes for more straight comedy than other Mihm films. The plot is kind of padded with the main group just wandering around the forest for no particular reason. But they are such a nice group to hang out with that it’s fine. The film also features some cool retro special effects.
Cave Women on Mars is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.
23 August 2020
Cellar Dweller (1987)
Producer: Bob Wynn
Director: John Carl Buechler
Screenwriter: Don Mancini (as Kit Du Bois)
A cartoonist at an art colony creates a creature that comes alive and does what she draws. Then it just kills people and the cartoons show up.
This is a silly and fun film with lots of gore. It is most notable for the great artwork by Frank Brunner.
Starring Debrah Farentino (Three Blind Mice), Miranda Wilson, Pamela Bellwood (Baby Sister), and Yvonne De Carlo (The Munsters). Head of Paramount Pictures Brian Robbins plays the male lead. Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator) has a small role as the original cartoonist.
Cellar Dweller is under copyright. It is part of Scream Factory: All Night Horror Marathon – Volume 2. It is also available on Blu-ray with Catacombs.
21 September 2021
Chained for Life (1952)
Producer: George Moskov
Director: Harry L Fraser
Screenwriter: Nat Tanchuck
This is an odd one. Basically, it is a vehicle for Daisy and Violet Hilton, conjoined twins. The story isn’t much to speak of — a murder trial that answers the burning question, “What do you do if one conjoined twin murders someone?” Answer: nothing. But the Hilton’s are exceptional musicians and the film is padded with a number of great vaudeville acts.
The film is in the public domain although the print on Archive.org is not very good. You can often find better prints on YouTube and similar sites. There is a DVD version of it, but I haven’t seen it. I wouldn’t expect much.
Chariots of the Gods (1970)
Director: Dr Harald Reinl
Screenwriters: Ll (novels: Erich von Däniken)
This documentary that speculates endlessly about space aliens coming to Earth in ancient times is based on Erich von Dänike’s first two books (referred to as “novels” in the credits), which endlessly speculate about space aliens coming to Earth in ancient times.
The film is surprisingly undated owing to the fact that Ancient Alien shows are so common today. And none of the tricks have changed. Established scientists are quoted about uncontroversial stuff while implying they agree with the film’s evidence-free claims. And phrases like “Is it possible that…” are repeated ad nauseam.
28 February 2021
Producer: JR Bookwalter
Director: Scott P Plummer
Screenwriters: Lloyd Taylor (JR Bookwalter) & Eric Black (Matthew Jason Walsh) (story: Budd Palmer (Scott P Plummer) & Ellen Cabot (David DeCoteau))
A fan of the TV show “Chickboxer” decides to train to become a badass. She hooks up with a disgraced former cop to fight the local crime syndicate.
Oh, how I have tried to love this film! And I do like the star. But this film really makes you appreciate the excellent fight sequences in Brett Kelly’s Avenging Force: The Scarab. Still, it has a cheesy charm to it and much of it is genuinely funny. At only one-hour in length, it’s worth at least one look.
Chickboxer is copyrighted despite the fact that JR Bookwalter recorded over the original videotapes. You can get it on Bad Movie Police Case #2 with all the usual extras. Or you can get it on Crimewave! with all the other Bad Movie Police movies.
24 November 2020
Child’s Play (1988)
Producer: David Kirschner
Director: Tom Holland
Screenwriters: Don Mancini and John Lafia and Tom Holland (story: Don Mancini)
A serial killer is cornered and dying in a toy store. So he uses Voodoo to transfer his soul into a a doll. A little boy is given the doll as a present and seeks revenge on enemies. But the boy is blamed.
It’s shocking how good this film is, which is not to say that it is shockingly good. The premise and the doll are ridiculous. The the film takes it all quite seriously and manages to make a really entertaining film.
1 December 2020
Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear (2013)
Producers: Andrew Gernhard & Zach O’Brien and Colin Theys & Irina Popov
Directors/Screenwriters: Nick Everhart, Miko Hughes, Emily Hagins, Eric England, and Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton
Five short films each related to one of the five senses. At the beginning, a man has his eyes, mouth, nose, and ears sewn shut and this introduces the idea. Otherwise, the shorts are not closely related although there seem to be characters (at least two) that are in more than one short.
All these films offer excellent gore without using much in the way of fake blood. They also have an irreverent tone to them — all except for Touch by Emily Hagins, which is the standout here. She’s one to watch for going forward.
Starring Corey Scott Rutledge, Hilary Greer (Stalked by My Doctor: The Return), Ted Yudain, Lowell Byers (in two roles), Caleb Barwick, Doug Roland, Symba Smith, Lance Kramer, Joseph Varca, and Ellen Clifford.
Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear is under copyright. It is available (unusually for SHOUT! Factory) with almost no extras on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s also available to stream with commercials on SHOUT! Factory TV.
30 October 2020
Producers: Jeff Hamilton, Chad Ferrin, and Trent Haaga
Director: Trent Haaga
Screenwriter: Adam Minarovich
Lance’s car breaks down so he flags down a ride from a Stranger who kidnaps Lance and then puts him through various tortures for a grave wrong he once did to the Stranger.
This is largely a parody of Saw but much, much better. For one thing, this film is very funny and as a result, more believable. I’ve long been tired of The Omniscient Antagonist. Here, it doesn’t matter because it isn’t taken seriously. How did he kill the cops? Who cares?! Everyone who worked on this film is in top form. I love it!
Starring Will Keenan (Tromeo and Juliet) and Timothy Muskatell (The Ghouls). Featuring Tanishaa Mukerji (Neal ‘N’ Nikki), Jeffrey Sisson, Mark Irvingsen (When a Killer Calls), and Elina Madison (Deadly Culture).
24 May 2020
Chopper Chicks in Zombietown (1989)
Producer: Maria Snyder
Director/Screenwriter: Dan Hoskins
“Life’s a bitch and then you die. Usually.” When the female biker gang the Cycle Sluts come into town, the locals aren’t too pleased. But when an evil scientist loses control of his zombies, the bikers come to the rescue.
This is a very funny film with a strong feminist streak. Or at least the women rock and the men mostly suck. And zombies like to have sex!
Starring Jamie Rose (Falcon Crest), Catherine Carlen, Lycia Naff, and Gretchen Palmer. Featuring Ed Gale (Howard the Duck) and Don Calfa in a role similar to the one he played in The Return of the Living Dead. Billy Bob Thornton has a small part was Jamie Rose’s ex.
Chopper Chicks In Zombietown is under copyright. It is available as an expensive DVD. It isn’t available on Blu-ray.
The Choppers (1961)
Producer/Screenwriter: Arch Hall Sr
Director: Leigh Jason
An Early Arch Hall Sr (Eegah) film about a gang of car choppers. It works surprisingly well. It even has nice reversals for modern viewers. The smartest character is the secretary, Liz (Marianne Gaba). A fair amount of the humor works. And there is no “good” kid who manages to escape accountability.
Chopping Mall (1986)
Producer: Julie Corman
Director: Jim Wynorski
Screenwriters: Jim Wynorski & Steve Mitchell
Other titles: Killbots
Four young couples party in the shopping mall after hours but when the newly installed robotic security guards go haywire and start killing people, the youths must find a way to escape.
The moral of the story: it’s better to watch Attack of the Crab Monsters than to have sex. But the film’s target audience already knows this. It’s filled with movie references and cliches. And it is laugh-out-loud funny through most of the film.
Starring Kelli Maroney (Night of the Comet), Tony O’Dell (The Karate Kid), and the robots by Robert Short Productions. With Russell Todd, Karrie Emerson, Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator), Nick Segal, John Terlesky (Deathstalker II), and Suzee Slater (Mind Twister). Notable parts by Paul Bartel (Eating Raoul), Mary Woronov (Warlock), and Dick Miller (Matinee).
Christmas Evil (1980)
Producers: Burt Kleiner and Pete Kameron
Director/Screenwriter: Lewis Jackson
Other titles: You Better Watch Out
Fascinating story of a man obsessed with Christmas who decides to become Santa Claus. And to settle a few scores. See: Santa steal toys for good girls and boys!
Watch: Santa cut a man’s throat with a Christmas star! Experience: Santa’s dexterity as he uses a toy soldier to gouge out an annoying man’s eye! Regardless what you are thinking, you’re wrong. You must experience this film! This was Lewis Jackson’s last film. I’d love to see more!
Brandon Maggart puts in an energetic and strangely believable performance. It is supposedly John Waters favorite Christmas film, but he evidences very little knowledge of it on the commentary he does with Jackson. However, he did understand the importance of fetish to it — something that Jackson seemed quite ignorant to.
Film is under copyright and you should buy it because Lewis Jackson should be rewarded. Get the Vinegar Syndrome version.
Circus of Horrors (1960)
Producers: Julian Wintle & Leslie Parkyn
Director: Sidney Hayers
Screenwriter: George Baxt
A botched surgery causes a doctor to flee the country. He fixes the face of the daughter of the owner of a struggling circus. When the owner dies, the doctor takes over the circus and hires prostitutes whose faces he fixes. But when they get tired of the circus and him, he kills them.
This is a nice fusion of circus and horror. The story unfolds quickly. And making the bad guy German in the wake of World War II works especially well.
Starring Anton Diffring (The Man Who Could Cheat Death), Jane Hylton (The Manster), Kenneth Griffith (The House in Nightmare Park), Yvonne Monlaur (The Brides of Dracula), and Donald Pleasence (Halloween).
8 June 2021
City of the Living Dead (1980)
Producer: Mino Loy
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Lucio Fulci and Dardano Sacchetti
Our Review: The Gates of Hell Trilogy
Alternative titles: Paura Nella Città dei Morti Viventi, The Gates of Hell
A psychic sees that one of the seven gates of hell has been opened and this is why zombies are roaming around killing people in spectacular ways. Two couples are drawn to the location of the gate and attempt to shut it.
This is the first of Felci’s Gates of Hell trilogy and it is spectacular with a large supporting cast of maggots. The ending is odd, apparently due to some destroyed footage. But otherwise, this is a gore-lovers delight with a story that is genuinely scary.
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Producers: Charles H Schneer and Ray Harryhausen
Director: Desmond Davis
Screenwriter: Beverley Cross
Zeus has impregnated a young woman. Her father is angry about this and so abandons her and her baby at sea. Zeus is not happy about this and unleashes the Kraken and a flood to destroy the father’s city. Twenty years later, when the baby is grown, he sets out to do Greek Hero stuff to reclaim his rightful kingdom.
This film is fine. It’s what you expect from Ray Harryhausen. I don’t like it as much as other Harryhausen films. The plot is just kind of dull. But if you like these films, you’ll probably like it. As I said: it’s fine.
Starring Harry Hamlin (Movie Movie). With Burgess Meredith (Rocky), Laurence Olivier (Rebecca), Judi Bowker (Brother Sun, Sister Moon), Maggie Smith (A Private Function), Siân Phillips (I, Claudius), Claire Bloom (The Haunting), and Ursula Andress (Dr No).
Class of 1984 (1982)
Producer: Arthur Kent
Director: Mark Lester
Screenwriters: Mark Lester, John Saxton, and Tom Holland (story: Tom Holland)
A new teacher at an inner city high school is outraged at a gang that is making the lives of students and teaches horrible. They run a prostitution ring and sell drugs, which is odd give they seem to just take money from any students they want. The teacher tries to counter them without luck until they go too far and gang-rape his wife.
The last 15 minutes of this film is a lot of fun. The rest of it seems like the filmmakers really thought they are telling us about a troubling problem despite the fact that the gang is silly and over-the-top evil. And we have to sit through a lot to get to the good part. Still: well-made picture. Alice Cooper sings the theme song.
24 September 2020
The Cleansing Hour (2019)
Producers: Shirit Bradley and Dan Clifton and Natalie LeVeck & Damien LeVeck
Director: Damien LeVeck
Screenwriters: Damien LeVeck & Aaron Horwitz (story: Aaron Horwitz)
Producers of a fake reality show where they exorcise demons on a schedule end up with a real demon they must somehow exorcise for real.
The basic idea of this film is so tired I probably wouldn’t have watched it if I had known. But it is so well done in every way that you should really watch it. I think they fumbled the ending a bit. More and more I just want a simple resolution. Multiple third acts are unnecessary and usually muddle the ending as here. But I really enjoyed this film — especially the middle hour of it.
The Cleansing Hour is under copyright. It is available on DVD with director commentary, featurette, and the original short film.
30 December 2020
Producers: Amanda Payton & Todd Sheets and Mem Ferda
DirectorScreenwriter: Todd Sheets
The girlfriend of an evil clown who runs a circus brutalizes her and kills her lover. To get back at him, she has the circus witch cast a spell which backfires — causing the clowns to go on a killing spree. It also causes tornados. Everyone in town must deal with the fallout.
This film is half action and half gore. The action works well enough. The gore is disgusting without being exactly realistic. But it does love showing stab wounds and gushing blood. The gunshots are done with CGI and more funny than anything.
The cast is made up of what looks like the Todd Sheets’ army: John O’Hara, Rachel Lagen, Bobby Westrick, Antwoine Steele, Dilynn Fawn Harvey, Sierra Stodden, Jeremy Todd, and Millie Milan. Linnea Quigley (Creepozoids), Eileen Dietz (The Exorcist), Joel D Wynkoop (Killing Spree), and Jeanne Silver have small roles.
Clownado is available on DVD with director’s commentary and some other things.
21 February 2020
Producers: Jeff Miller & Tom Nagel & Brian Nagel & Christopher Lawrence Chapman
Director: Tom Nagel
Screenwriter: Jeff Miller
Two young couples take get stranded in a small town on a trip to a concert. There they are terrorized by a group of clowns.
This is a pretty generic horror film. But it’s well-made and does what it sets out to do. Listening to some of the commentary, I get the impression that the filmmakers think their audience is pretty slow.
Starring Brian Nagel, Lauren Elise (Attack of the Killer Donuts), Andrew Staton, Katie Keene (Last Girl), and Jeff Denton (King of the Lost World). Two stand-out performances by Maryanne Nagel and Greg Violand (The Toy Box).
ClownTown is copyrighted. It is available on DVD featuring a commentary with the director, writer, and two cast members.
27 May 2021
Producer: Debra Hill
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Screenwriter: Jonathan Lynn (story: John Landis and Jonathan Lynn)
Six people, all being blackmailed, are brought to a spooky mansion where various people get murdered.
This film is based on the game, even including two possible endings before we get the real one. It doesn’t matter. There is a repeated joke about the plot making no sense. It’s pretty good but if you are looking for something like this, Murder by Death is probably more entertaining.
Starring Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Eileen Brennan (The Cheap Detective), Madeline Kahn (Paper Moon), Martin Mull (Serial), Lesley Ann Warren (Cop), Christopher Lloyd (I Am Not a Serial Killer), and Michael McKean (This Is Spinal Tap). Howard Hesseman (WKRP in Cincinnati) has a small, uncredited role.
28 January 2021
Color Me Blood Red (1965)
Producer: David F Friedman
DirectorScreenwriter: Herschell Gordon Lewis
This is the third of the Friedman/Lewis “Blood Trilogy.” It tends to be pushed to the side in discussions. Blood Feast was the first, Two Thousand Manics was the best, and Color Me Blood Red was also produced. I don’t see it that way. I think Color holds up the best.
It’s the story of a painter (Gordon Oas-Heim) who is criticized for his dull colors. He finds that blood provides the perfect red he’s been looking for. But after a while, he finds he needs more blood than he can provide, so… Critics stop complaining about his colors.
There is a scene that is one for the ages. The artist goes to one of his stored bodies and replenishes his red paint by squeezing the intestines. You can go your whole life without seeing anything that great.
I recommend getting Something Weird’s Blood Trilogy Blu-Ray, which also includes Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs. It is usually roughly the price of any of the films singularly. Something Weird offers it as a single DVD, but as I write this, it is only 22¢ cheaper than the whole trilogy. If you haven’t already, maybe it’s time to buy a Blu-ray player?
Color Me Dead (1969)
Producer/Director: Eddie Davis
Screenwriter: Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene
Alternative titles: DOA II
A man goes on vacation and is poisoned. He tries to figure out who killed him before he actually dies.
This is almost a scene-for-scene remake of DOA (1950) that uses 90 percent of the dialog. It’s in color with some interesting art direction. And the acting is good. It even makes some effective changes to the plot. But the lack of the framing device of the original and an inconsistent tone drags it down. But it’s not nearly as bad as people say.
Color Me Dead is copyrighted. I don’t know of it being released on disc. You can find it floating around the internet.
30 April 2021
The Comedy of Terrors (1963)
Producer: Anthony Carras
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Screenwriter: Richard Matheson
This is one of the best AIP films. It’s more comedy than horror. But how can you go wrong with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, and Boris Karloff? You can’t. Price pays a drunkard who is an undertaker who decides to kill people in order to get clients. Lorre is his unwilling accomplice. I never get tired of it!
The film has an amazing supporting cast: Joyce Jameson (Tales of Terror), Basil Rathbone (The Hound of the Baskervilles), Joe E Brown (Some Like It Hot), and Orangey the Cat (Breakfast at Tiffany’s).
The Comedy of Terrors is copyrighted. But other than requiring that people pay for it, the owners have not been kind to the film. Currently, it is only available as a very expensive DVD combined with The Raven (1963) — not a bad double feature but not a great DVD, even if it were cheap. Generally, you can find it online if you look.
The Conqueror (1956)
Producer/Director: Dick Powell
Screenwriter: Oscar Millard
Genghis Khan takes on other warlords and tries to tame a beautiful woman who he kidnapped. There are lots of battles between armies and the couple.
This is a pretty standard CinemaScope epic. But John Wayne was cast as Genghis Khan and it’s bizarre. I don’t think anyone ever thought he could act. But this is just ridiculous.
The Conqueror is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
27 March 2020
Producer: Giovanni Di Clemente
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Gino Capone & José Antonio de la Loma Sr & Carlos Vasallo (story: Giovanni Di Clemente)
A young man goes on a quest to a land where they have never seen a bow and arrow. An older warrior befriends him and the two get revenge for the terrible things done by the naked mask lady and the bear/wolf people.
The producer had a great idea here: “Let’s make Conan but with a good director!” And it works. It has some amazing gore and the whole thing holds your attention. It’s still a silly sword and sandals film. But it’s fun.
28 June 2021
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
Producer: Arthur P Jacobs
Director: J Lee Thompson
Screenwriter: Paul Dehn (characters: Pierre Boulle)
With Cornelius dead, Roddy McDowall is back as his son, Caesar. Ricardo Montalbán is also back as Armando, the kindly circus owner who saved Caesar in Escape From the Planet of the Apes.
When Armando is taken into police custody, Caesar is forced to become an ape slave. But seeing all the injustice committed against apes, he organizes them into a rebellion. This was my favorite of the series when I was a kid.
The film features Don Murray (Bus Stop), Natalie Trundy, Hari Rhodes (Shock Corridor), and Severn Darden (Battle of the Planet of the Apes).
Producer: Sandro Infascelli
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Ettore Sanzò (as Ettore Sanzó) & Gianni De Chiara & Lucio Fulci & Giorgio Mariuzzo
Alternative titles: Luca il Contrabbandiere, Luca the Smuggler
A mafia figure finds himself in the middle of a mob war when his brother is assassinated. Soon his wife is kidnapped and he must save her.
A standard action and revenge film with some impressive Fulci bits to break up the bordom. And it has a cool sequence at the end where all the old mafia bosses come out for one final job.
3 July 2021
Cool World (1992)
Producer: Frank Mancuso Jr
Director: Ralph Bakshi
Screenwriters: Michael Grais & Mark Victor
A soldier just back from World War II gets pulled into an alternate reality of cartoon characters called Cool World. Fifty years later, he is a cop in Cool World trying to keep the cartoons and humans from having sex and causing the two realities to interact. Sexy cartoon Holli Would pulls in a cartoonist fresh out of prison who would definitely like to have sex with her.
This is a lot of fun with more gags than plot. But there is a story, even if it’s bizarre. I’m not quite clear on why this wasn’t a hit. Maybe it’s just that the audience for these kinds of films was always limited and this was a failure mostly because the budget was too big. Regardless, it’s definitely worth finding.
Cool World is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no real extras.
4 September 2021
Cottage Country (2013)
Producer: Frank Siracusa
Director: Peter Wellington
Screenwriters: Jeremy Boxen
A couple on the verge of marriage goes to his parents cottage only to be interrupted by his loser brother. Tensions run high and a fight ensues leading to a spectacular death of the brother. But the woman isn’t going to let a little thing like murder get in the way of her dreams of marriage and family!
The first hour of this film is very stressful because you know exactly what is going to happen and it takes its time doing it. But the last 15 minutes are wonderful. And the acting is great. It reminds me a lot of Very Bad Things, but somehow far darker.
30 November 2020
Count Dracula (1970)
Producer: Harry Alan Towers
Director: Jesús Franco
Screenwriter: Jesús Franco (story: Erich Kröhnke)
Dracula wants to buy some property in England so a lawyer comes to visit him. He’s attacked but somehow ends up back home. There, Dracula is doing his thing and the lawyer and companions set out to destroy the vampire.
In many ways, this is a standard telling the story. It’s cool that Dracula gets younger the more blood he drinks. And Renfield in a mental hospital is pretty good. But with so many other Dracula films to watch, it’s hard to recommend this. But it is well made.
Starring Fred Williams (The Devil Came from Akasava), Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man), Herbert Lom (The Pink Panther Strikes Again), Soledad Miranda (Vampyros Lesbos), Maria Rohm (Marquis de Sade: Justine), and Klaus Kinski (Aguirre, the Wrath of God).
19 June 2021
The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)
Producer: Edward Small
Director: Rowland V Lee
Screenwriters: Philip Dunne, Dan Totheroh, and Rowland V Lee
Three people conspire against Edmond and get him thrown in prison. There he befriends an abbot who, on dying, gives him a map to untold treasure. After escaping and locating the treasure, Edmond gets revenge on the conspirators.
This filmed version is pretty good. Despite its primitive cinematic technique, it’s kind of hard not to be pulled into the story.
The Count of Monte Cristo is (shockingly) still under copyright. It is available on DVD with no real extras. There are other ways to get it.
3 January 2021
The Count of Monte Cristo (1975)
Producer: Norman Rosemont
Director: David Greene
Screenwriter: Sidney Carroll
The usual story: Edmond is thrown in jail, escapes, gets a bunch of money, and destroys the people who wronged him.
This is probably my favorite filmed version of the story. For one thing, it is the closest to the book. But also, it’s very efficient. And it has a hell of a cast.
Starring Richard Chamberlain (King Solomon’s Mines), Trevor Howard (Brief Encounter), Louis Jourdan (Letter From an Unknown Woman), Kate Nelligan (The Prince of Tides), Donald Pleasence (Prince of Darkness), and Tony Curtis (The Great Race).
3 January 2021
The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)
Producers: Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, and Jonathan Glickman
Director: Kevin Reynolds
Screenwriter: Jay Wolpert
Edmond is unjustly put in prison, he escapes, finds treasure, and goes badass all over his enemies. You know: the usual thing.
This is an excellent version of the book. It’s a far more romantic take, however. There’s a very happy ending (as in the 1934 version but less abrupt). I like it a lot but prefer the 1975 version.
3 January 2021
Countess Dracula (1971)
Producer: Alexander Paal
Director: Peter Sasdy
Screenwriters: Jeremy Paul
A truly awful noblewoman finds that the blood of virgins causes her to regain her youth. She pretends to be her daughter and pursues a relationship with a young man. But this effect only lasts a couple of days and then she becomes even old than she was before. So she needs a constant supply of virgins. This leads to problems.
Based on the story of Hungarian noblewoman and mass-murderer Elizabeth Báthory, this film is very compelling. It has the usual great production values of Hammer Films of this period. Strangely, the main character actor’s voice was dubbed.
Starring Ingrid Pitt (The Vampire Lovers), Nigel Green (Zulu), and Sandor Elès (The Evil of Frankenstein). Featuring Maurice Denham (The Lotus Eaters), Patience Collier (Perfect Friday), and Lesley-Anne Down (The First Great Train Robbery).
Countess Dracula is under copyright. You can get it on DVD and as a DVD/Blu-ray combo with a featurette, interview with Pitt, and commentary with cast and crew. It is also available in collections like on DVD with The Vampire Lovers.
15 May 2020
The Convent (2018)
Producers: Marcia Do Vales & Michael Riley
Director: Paul Hyett
Screenwriter: Paul Hyett & Conal Palmer (original screenplay: Gregory Blair)
A young woman in the 16th century convicted of being a witch is spared from death and goes to a convent instead. But things may be even worse there because the Reverend Mother has a special way of saving souls that may run right through hell.
I really like this film. It’s got tons of atmosphere. And the scares are well-done. I was very involved with all the characters. Ultimately, this is just an arty zombie film. But you should check it out.
The film has a large and excellent cast. Of special note are Hannah Arterton (Amorous), Clare Higgins (Hellraiser), Ania Marson (Nicholas and Alexandra), and Ciarán McMenamin (Jericho). Michael Ironside (Turbo Kid) has a small part at the beginning.
The Convent is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no extras.
1 January 2021
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: David Cronenberg (story: JG Ballard)
Alternative titles: “The Good Crash“
A guy is in an auto accident and gets sexual pleasure from it. He finds a group of similarly-minded people. He and his wife get further into this group and practice.
This film is so self-assured that afterward, you need to remind yourself that there aren’t actually groups of people attempting to get sexual satisfaction via car crashes. Part of that may be because there does seem to be a kind of link between sex and death. Regardless, the film is both sexy and sterile. It is easily one of Cronenberg’s best.
Starring James Spader (Sex, Lies, and Videotape), Deborah Kara Unger (Ecstasy), Holly Hunter (Broadcast News), Elias Koteas (The Haunting in Connecticut), and Rosanna Arquette (Desperately Seeking Susan).
Crash is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with no extras. You can find a Cronenberg commentary online and listen to it while watching the film, however.
15 April 2021
Crash and Burn (1990)
Producers: David DeCoteau & John Schouweiler
Director: Charles Band
Screenwriter: JS Cardone
Alternative titles: Robot Jox 2: Crash and Burn
In a future where corporations have taken over the world, robots and computers are outlawed. A small group of people are at a TV station when its manager is killed. It soon becomes clear that one of the people is a corporate robot.
I really like this film. It’s a lot like Creepozoids, but I find the characters more compelling. Maybe it’s the influence of The Thing. It features some good stop-motion work by David Allen. Check it out!
Starring Paul Ganus (The Silencer), Megan Ward (Arcade), Eva LaRue (CSI: Miami), Bill Moseley (The Devil’s Rejects), and Jack McGee (The Fighter). Ralph Waite (On the Nickel) has a small role as the station manager.
2 April 2021
The Crazies (1973)
Producer: AC Croft
Director: George Romero
Screenwriter: George Romero (earlier script: Paul McCollough)
Alternative titles: Code Name: Trixie
In a small town in Pennsylvania, random people go crazy and kill others. The military comes in to contain the situation by quarantining the town. But many fight back and try to escape. It doesn’t go well. For anyone.
It’s not hard to see why this is considered a lesser Romero film: the story is scattered in a lot of different subplots. But there are amazing moments here. I’m particularly taken with a scene when a father (losing his mind) believes his daughter is his dead wife and starts to rape her. It’s simultaneously horrific and poignant.
The Crazies is under copyright. It is available on DVD. It is cheaper to get the Arrow Blu-ray with a 4K restored transfer. It includes a commentary track from film writer Travis Crawford and much else.
25 August 2020
Crazy Mama (1975)
Producer: Julie Corman
Director: Jonathan Demme
Screenwriters: Robert Thom (screenplay) and Frances Doel (story)
This is an early wacky comedy by the director of Melvin and Howard and Something Wild. Melba runs a hair salon with her mother. But when her landlord clears her out for being three months behind on her rent, she goes on a cross-country crime spree. Also along is her pregnant daughter.
The film stars Cloris Leachman (Phyllis). It features Ann Sothern (Private Secretary), Stuart Whitman (Night of the Lepus), Linda Purl (Visiting Hours), Donny Most (Happy Days), and Jim Backus (Gilligan’s Island).
The film is copyrighted. You can find it on sharing sites. It is available as a DVD along with The Lady in Red (1979). (This is called “Roger Corman’s Cult Classics,” which annoys me. There are too many collections with his name where the films included have virtually nothing to do with him.)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
Producer: William Alland
Director: Jack Arnold
Screenwriters: Harry Essex and Arthur A Ross
The discovery of the fossil of a large amphibious creature brings a team of scientists to study it, not realizing that the creature still lives and apparently has the hots for the one female member of the team.
I hated this film when I was a kid because it seemed to be always playing on television. But now I can see why. It’s a great film even if the creature doesn’t act rationally. And what do you expect from amphibians anyway?
18 April 2020
Creature From the Haunted Sea (1961)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: Charles B Griffith
During the Cuban revolution, anti-Castro forces try to remove a bunch of gold to fund an counterrevolutionary movement. But they hire a criminal who plans to kill them all, steal the gold, and blame in on a sea monster. There is an American spy on board. And wouldn’t you know it: there is an actual sea monster!
This is a very funny film that Griffith supposedly wrote in three days. The original film was 63 minutes long. Another 12 minutes were added by Monte Hellman to make a TV version. The new material involves the spy’s communication with another spy (played by Hellman’s wife) and a song. Both versions are fine.
Creatures From the Haunted Sea seems to be in the public domain. There is a good print on Archive. It is available alone and in many collections but as always: be extremely skeptical of public domain films sold commercially unless they explicitly state they have been remastered or otherwise feature good prints.
2 May 2021
Producers: Mark Duplass and Jason Blum
Director: Patrick Brice
Screenwriters: Mark Duplass and Patrick Brice
A videographer gets a gig to film a dying man’s video from his unborn son. But the man doesn’t seem to be dying and he plays increasingly disturbing mind games with the videographer. Eventually, things turn violent.
This is a really well-made film. The title has multiple meanings. It’s brilliant in many ways with extremely effective moments. It’s also a lot like watching a cat toy with a mouse for 80 minutes. I can’t say I enjoyed it but I admired it.
Starring Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed) and Patrick Brice.
Creep is under copyright. It is available on DVD with Brice and Duplass commentary, deleted scene, alternative endings, and Joseph’s video.
6 November 2020
Producers: David DeCoteau & John Schouweiler
Director: David DeCoteau
Screenwriters: Buford Hauser &David DeCoteau
In an apocalyptic future with constant acid rain, five army deserters find shelter in an abandoned research facility. They find dead bodies inside but only slowly realize there is a creature inside with them that is responsible.
This is a take on Alien, including something similar to the John Hurt chest-bursting scene. There’s a sexy shower scene and some excellent make-up effects. It’s also under 70 minutes if you don’t count credits.
12 December 2020
Creepshow 2 (1987)
Producer: David Ball
Director: Michael Gornick
Screenwriter: George A Romero (stories: Stephen King)
Three stories stitched together with some EC horror animated sections. In the first some nice shopkeepers are killed and then revenged; the second is about an evil oil slick; and the last sees a hit-and-run driver haunted by her victim.
This works reasonably well but the stories aren’t as strong as most other anthologies of this period. Mostly though, the direction seems to be off. But this could just be that they didn’t have enough money.
21 September 2021
Producers: Boaz Davidson & Frank Demartini & Danny Lerner
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriters: Michael D Weiss and Adam Gierasch & Jade Anderson (story: Boaz Davidson)
A group of college students spends Spring break on a boat in a lake in California where a really big crocodile was released long ago. Two drunk fishermen destroy some of its eggs and get killed by it. The next morning, the students do the same with similar results.
This is one of the better teen monster movies. The horror starts just 10 minutes after the credits and before the teen intrigue gets too annoying. The attacks are realistic in that they are sudden and quick. The main problem is that when we see the crocodile in all its glory at the end, the computer animation is pretty bad.
Starring Caitlin Martin, Mark McLachlan, Chris Solari, and Harrison Young (Reptile 2001). Co-writer Gierasch also has a small role where he feeds chickens to the crocodile and gets eaten for reward.
Crocodile is copyrighted. It is available on DVD in widescreen with 5.1 Dolby and a featurette, “The Making of Crocodile.”
5 December 2020
Cruise Into Terror (1978)
Producers: Aaron Spelling and Douglas S Cramer
Director: Bruce Kessler
Screenwriter: Michael Braverman
This TV movie is part The Love Boat (1977 – 1986), part The Sentinel (1977), and part The Exorcist (1973). It actually has a clever plot that builds nicely towards its denouement. Can you count the Deadly Sins? It would make a good drinking game. And in the end it blowed up real good.
Cruise Into Terror has a fantastic cast: Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica), John Forsythe (The Trouble With Harry), Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie), Frank Converse (Movin’ On), Lynda Day George (Mission: Impossible), Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder), Christopher George (The Rat Patrol), Jo Ann Harris (Rape Squad), Stella Stevens (The Nutty Professor), and Hugh O’Brian (Rocketship X-M). Every one of them guest starred on The Love Boat. So did about half the remaining cast.
The film is probably under copyright. You can find versions online. It has been released on DVD but doesn’t seem to be in print.
Producers: Daniel H Blatt and Robert Singer
Director: Lewis Teague
Screenwriters: Don Carlos Dunaway and Barbara Turner (as Lauren Currier) (story: Stephen King)
A St Bernard gets bitten by a bat and becomes rabid. After killing a couple of people, it traps a mother and son in their car.
This is a really good film with some notable scares. I first saw it at the drive-in, which is probably where you should watch it — especially if you go in a Ford Pinto.
Cujo is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a director’s commentary and a good making-of documentary. There is also the Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray that also has a bunch of interviews.
30 May 2021
The Curse of the Aztec Mummy (1957)
Producer: Guillermo Calderon
Director: Rafael Portillo
Screenwriter: Alfredo Salazar (story: Guillermo Calderon and Alfredo Salazar)
Alternative titles: La Maldición de la Momia Azteca
The Bat escape from custody with the help of his henchmen. He then kidnaps Flor to help him find the Aztec tomb. And there is a superhero who looks like he escaped from a regional professional wrestling group.
This one isn’t quite as good as the first, but it is still enjoyable — and substantially more loopy.
23 February 2021
Curse of the Crimson Altar (1968)
Producer: Louis M Heyward
Director: Vernon Sewell
Screenwriters: Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln (story: Jerry Sohl)
An antique dealer goes searching for his missing brother and is led to a house with an outrageous party filled with young people and a sinister uncle. He begins having very realistic dreams and you know what that means…
This film is a lot of fun, thanks in part to a great lead actor who is instantly likable. The transition effects haven’t aged well, but otherwise, this is a winner.
Curse of the Crimson Altar is probably under copyright but there is a so-so copy on Archive.org. It is available on DVD without extras and Blu-ray with a commentary track featuring Barbara Steele and some interviews.
Curse of the Fly (1965)
Producers: Robert L Lippert and Jack Parsons
Director: Don Sharp
Screenwriter: Harry Spalding (story: George Langelaan)
A father and son are working to perfect their grandfather’s transporter device with mixed results. Things get messed up when the son marries a woman he just met. Now father and son must hide the results of their past mistakes including the son’s badly deformed first wife.
This is arguably the best of The Fly films. It is also arguably not really a sequel. The character names have been changed just enough to drive me crazy. It’s best to think of this film all by itself. As such, it’s a solid mad scientist feature.
Starring George Baker (Johnny and the Dead), Brian Donlevy (Dangerous Assignment), Carole Gray (Island of Terror), Yvette Rees (Witchcraft), Burt Kwouk (The Pink Panther Strikes Again), Charles Carson (The Dam Busters), Jeremy Wilkin (Revenge of the Cybermen).
Curse of the Fly is under copyright. It is available on DVD. You can get it with all three of the films on DVD. Or you can get all three films and then the two remakes on Blu-ray with a ridiculous collection of extras.
24 August 2021
Producer/Director: Fred Olen Ray
Screenwriter: William C Martell
Alternative titles: Droid Gunner
Four “pleasure bots” have been stolen and smuggled onto Earth. A bounty hunter goes looking for them along with a beautiful android engineer and eventually the original smuggler.
This is an above average Fred Olen Ray film with the usual meh humor and plenty of film references including a badly rendered reference to For a Few Dollars More. But mostly, it’s a low-budget Blade Runner. It’s a lot fun all things considered.
Starring Marc Singer (The Beastmaster), Rochelle Swanson (Secret Games 3), and Matthias Hues (Black Rose). Robert Quarry (The Return of Count Yorga) and Brinke Stevens (Bitten: Victoria’s Shadow) have small roles. Ray has a cameo as a helpful co-worker.
Cyberzone is copyrighted. It’s been released in a few forms but now is only available on an expensive DVD.
19 April 2021