Short Takes: C

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.

Starring Shannon Tweed (Gene Simmons Family Jewels) and Bill Maher (Real Time). Featuring Karen Waldron (Return of the Killer Tomatoes) and Adrienne Barbeau (The Fog).

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.

Starring Horst Janson (Deadly Jaws), John Cater (Dr Phibes Rises Again), Caroline Munro (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad), and John Carson (The Plague of the Zombies).

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.

Starring Kurt Russell (The Thing), Martin Short (Three Amigos), and Mary Kay Place (The Big Chill). Paul Anka has a small role.

Captain Ron is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

6 March 2021

CarousHELL (2016)

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).

Cat-Women of the Moon seems to be in the public domain; there is a good print on Archive.org. There is an expensive DVD available of unknown quality.

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.

Starring Daniel Sjerven (Terror from Beneath the Earth), Brooke Lemke, Rachel Grubb (Queen of Snakes), and Josh Craig (The Monster of Phantom Lake).

Cave Women on Mars is under copyright. It is available on Amazon Prime.

23 August 2020

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.

Chariots of the Gods may have slipped into the public domain; there is a good copy on Archive. It is available on DVD. But it makes more sense to simply watch Stargate.

28 February 2021

Chickboxer (1992)

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.

Starring Julie Suscinski, Shawna Baer, James L Edwards (Her Name Was Christa), Bogdan Pecic (The Dead Next Door), and James Black (Ozone).

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.

Starring Catherine Hicks (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home), Alex Vincent (Child’s Play 2), Chris Sarandon (The Princess Bride), and Brad Dourif (Deadwood).

Child’s Play is copyrighted. You can get it on DVD and Blu-ray with good extras. If you like it, go with Chucky: Complete 7-Movie Collection on DVD or Blu-ray.

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

Chop (2011)

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).

Chop is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with outtakes and deleted scenes that don’t add much.

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.

The film is in the public domain. Archive.org has an acceptable print. It is also available on DVD, but I can’t speak for the quality. I would assume the worst.

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).

Chopping Mall is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a director’s commentary and a featurette. It is also available on Shout! Factory TV.

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.

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.

Starring Christopher George (The Rat Patrol), Catriona MacColl (The Beyond), Carlo De Mejo, and Janet Ågren (Eaten Alive).

City of the Living Dead is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a handful of extras. If you can play PAL (?) discs, Arrow Video has released a fantastic Blu-ray. Get it!

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).

Clash of the Titans is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray, each with an interview with Harryhausen. You can also get it with the 2010 remake on Blu-ray.

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.

Starring Perry King (The Possession of Joel Delaney), Tim Van Patten, Merrie Lynn Ross, and Roddy McDowall (Planet of the Apes). Michael J Fox (Teen Wolf) has a small role.

Class of 1984 is under copyright. It is available on DVD but the Australian release is cheaper. There is a good SHOUT Factory Blu-ray with a ton of interviews and a commentary with the director.

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.

Starring Kyle Gallner (The Haunting in Connecticut), Ryan Guzman (Step Up Revolution), and Alix Angelis (Love’s Last Resort).

The Cleansing Hour is under copyright. It is available on DVD with director commentary, featurette, and the original short film.

30 December 2020

Clownado (2019)

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

Clue (1985)

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.

Clue is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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?

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.

In addition to Wayne, the film stars Susan Hayward (I Want to Live!), Pedro Armendáriz (Fort Apache), and Agnes Moorehead (Bewitched).

The Conqueror is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

27 March 2020

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).

Just get “Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection” on DVD or Blu-ray.

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.

Malin Åkerman (The Numbers Station) and Tyler Labine (Tucker & Dale vs Evil). With Dan Petronijevic (Todd and the Book of Pure Evil), Lucy Punch (Hot Fuzz), and Benjamin Ayres (Canadian Strain).

Cottage Country is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and an all-region Blu-ray.

30 November 2020

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.

Starring Robert Donat (The 39 Steps) and Elissa Landi (Corregidor).

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).

The Count of Monte Cristo is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Amazon Prime. You can also usually find it on YouTube and other sites.

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.

Starring Jim Caviezel (The Thin Red Line), Richard Harris (This Sporting Life), Guy Pearce (Memento), Dagmara Domińczyk (They), and Luis Guzmán (The Limey).

The Count of Monte Cristo is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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

Crash (1996)

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.

Crash and Burn is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a short featurette and bloopers reel. You can also get it on DVD with Robot Wars.

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.

Starring Lane Carroll (Motorpsycho!), Will MacMillan (Salvador), Lloyd Hollar, and Harold Wayne Jones.

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?

Starring Richard Carlson (It Came from Outer Space), Julie Adams (Six Bridges to Cross), and Richard Denning (The Black Scorpion).

Creature from the Black Lagoon is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray both with some nice extras. The Blu-ray comes with a 3-D version.

18 April 2020

Creep (2014)

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

Creepozoids (1987)

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.

Starring Richard Hawkins, Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead), Ashlyn Gere (Willard), Ken Abraham (Ministry of Vengeance), and Michael Aranda (Barrio Wars).

Creepozoids is copyrighted. It is available on a Full Moon Grindhouse DVD with a couple of minor features. And it is on Blu-ray with a director’s commentary track.

12 December 2020

Crocodile (2000)

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.

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.

Starring Ramón Gay (The Robot vs the Aztec Mummy), Rosa Arenas (The Aztec Mummy), Crox Alvarado (The Miracle Roses), and Luis Aceves Castañeda.

The Curse of the Aztec Mummy seems to be in the public domain; Archive.org has a decent print. You can get it with the other two films on the expensive Aztec Mummy Collection.

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.

Starring Mark Eden and Virginia Wetherell (Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde). Featuring Christopher Lee (Horror of Dracula), Boris Karloff (The Mummy), and Barbara Steele (Black Sunday).

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.

2 replies on “Short Takes: C”

  1. Maritana says:

    The 1934, 1975 and 2002 films come with the idea that Edmond still loved Mercédès.
    But he had only affection and friendship for her, as he did for Maximilian.
    For Mercédès he saves Albert’s life, for Maximilian he saves Valentine’s life.
    In the Soviet film in the book, The Prisoner of Château d’If (Russian: Узник замка Иф), the film’s director Georgi Yungvald-Khilkevich was married when he met Nadira Mirzayeva who played Haydèe Tabelin.
    Nadira becomes her lover and he divorces his wife in order to marry her. This idea that Edmond Dantès’ feelings still remains the same and his feelings for Mercédès unchanged, this is just a cliché to please the common public.
    The truth is, feelings change.

    • Frank Moraes says:

      My main problem in the 1975 version is that he runs back to Mercedes at the end. Earlier in the film, he told Haydee that he does not love her. I was looking at the mini-series with Gerard Depardieu and that one ends in a manner similar to the 2002 film. That surprised me. Given it was 6+ hours long and French, I figured they would stay close to the book. I agree about feelings changing. It seems absurd to me that after 20 years with so much more experience of the world he would feel the same. But films normally go for a 13-year-old’s level of emotional sophistication.

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