Short Takes: E

The Earth Dies Screaming (1964)

Producers: Robert L Lippert and Jack Parsons
Director: Terence Fisher
Screenwriter: Harry Spalding (“Henry Cross”)

This is quite a good little science fiction thriller. And at just over an hour, it has no fat.

A test pilot comes back from a mission only to find most people dead. He and some other survivors join together and find out that space alien robots have taken over the world. And they are turning the dead into their zombie slaves.

Starring: Willard Parker (Tales of the Texas Rangers), Virginia Field (Atlantic Convoy), and Dennis Price (Kind Hearts and Coronets) as the bad guy.

The Earth Dies Screaming is copyrighted, but it isn’t hard to find online. If you want it on DVD, it is available with Choosen Survivors (1974). It is available on Blu-ray with an audio commentary by Richard Harland Smith.

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! (2006)

Producer: Trent Haaga
Director/Screenwriter: Chad Ferrin

A single mother of a boy with MRCP gets a boyfriend who moves in and tortures the teen when his mother is away. But someone in an Easter Bunny mask takes revenge.

I love this film! It’s a very effective horror film combined with a nice sense of family values. Many of the victims didn’t really deserve what they got, so it isn’t quite as good as Dolls. But I had a great time!

Starring Timothy Muskatell (Hell Asylum), Ricardo Gray, Charlotte Marie (Elevate), and Trent Haaga (Killer Biker Chicks).

Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill! is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with a short featurette and a director commentary.

22 March 2020

Eat Locals (2017)

Producers: Rod Smith & Jason Flemyng and Neil Jones & Jonathan Sothcott
Director: Jason Flemyng
Screenwriters: Danny King

The regional vampire heads of the United Kingdom have their twice a century meeting to get rid of one problem vampire and replace him with a new one. But things get dicey when an anti-vampire military unit shows up to eliminate them.

This is a clever and funny film with an exceptional cast. The plot gets kind of lost in the middle. But it’s a fun view throughout.

Starring Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who), Charlie Cox (Daredevil), Annette Crosbie (One Foot in the Grave), Tony Curran (Shuttle), Eve Myles (Keeping Faith), Robert Portal (Paintball Massacre), and Billy Cook.

Eat Locals is under copyright. It is available on DVD.

26 February 2021

Eaten Alive (1976)

Producer: Mardi Rustam
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriters: Alvin L Fast and Mardi Rustam (earlier screenplay: Kim Henkel)
Alternative titles: Starlight Slaughter, Death Trap, Horror Hotel

A number of people stay at the Starlight Hotel where the crazy owner is easily upset. He has a large crocodile that gives us the title of the film.

This film doesn’t get nearly the credit it deserves. In its way, it’s as effective as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Not surprisingly, it isn’t even appreciated by most critics today who, in usual form, find ways of claiming things that work well (like the lighting) are, in fact, fatal flaws. Tobe Hopper forgot how to make films, apparently. Watch it. By the end, you’ll see what I mean about its effectiveness.

Starring Neville Brand (Riot in Cell Block 11), Mel Ferrer (The World, The Flesh and The Devil), Carolyn Jones (The Addams Family), William Finley (Phantom of the Paradise), and Marilyn Burns (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre).

Eaten Alive is under copyright. It is available on a 2-disc DVD with a commentary with Mardi Rustam and many other extras. It is available on a 2K Blu-ray with most of the same extras and a few more.

25 September 2020

Edge of the Axe (1988)

Producer: José Frade
Director: José Ramón Larraz (as Joseph Braunstein)
Screenwriters: Joaquín Amichatis & Javier Elorrieta & José Frade
Alternative titles: Al Filo del Hacha

A young computer geek and the daughter of a local bar-owner try to uncover a serial killer who is menacing the area.

This is another 1980s slasher film with a “clever” plot. It’s a well-made film but hard to get too excited about.

It stars Barton Faulks and Christina Marie Lane.

Edge of the Axe is under copyright. Arrow has released a nice Blu-ray of the film.

20 March 2021

Effects (1980)

Producers: Pasquale Buba and John Harrison
Director: Dusty Nelson
Screenwriter: Dusty Nelson (novel: William H Mooney)
Alternative titles: The Manipulator

This film was made by various techs who worked for George Romero. A lot of the technical staff on this movie worked on Dawn of the Dead and Creepshow. And that includes the producers. It is not, however, true of first-time director Dusty Nelson. But it isn’t hard to connect him to the gang.

A couple of people working on a low-budget horror film don’t realize that the director is actually working on a snuff film with them as the stars. It’s a clever plot even if a bit hard to believe. The first half is a bit slow. The third act is fantastic!

Producer John Harrison (Screwdriver Zombie in Dawn of the Dead) plays the psychopathic film director. Starring Joseph Pilato (Day of the Dead) and Susan Chapek. Also featuring Bernard McKenna, Debra Gordon, Charles Hoyes, and Blay Bahnsen. Tom Savini plays one of the bad guys (in addition to doing special effects).

The film is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with various extras.

Elvira’s Haunted Hills (2001)

Producer: Mark Pierson
Director: Sam Irvin
Screenwriters: Cassandra Peterson & John Paragon
Our review: Elvira Movies

In the middle of the 19th century, Elvira is on her way to be an exotic dancer in Paris. But she gets sidetracked at a castle in Romania where much that is nefarious is going on.

This is an homage to the Corman Poe Cycle. It is by far the best thing in all the Elvira universe. The writing is crisp and funny, the acting exceptional, and the directing perfectly channeling Corman (but better).

Starring Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark). Featuring Richard O’Brien (The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Mary Scheer (MADtv), Scott Atkinson, Heather Hopper, and the hilarious Mary Jo Smith (Thank You for Smoking).

Elvira’s Haunted Hills is under copyright. It is available on DVD with a good set of extras. Sadly, no Blu-ray.

15 August 2020

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark (1988)

Producers: Eric Gardner and Mark Pierson
Director: James Signorelli
Screenwriters: Sam Egan, John Paragon, and Cassandra Peterson
Our review: Elvira Movies

Elvira learns of an inheritance from an aunt she didn’t know existed. She travels to a small town where she receives the aunt’s house and a “cookbook.” But it turns out she’s actually from a family of witches and her evil warlock uncle is determined to get his hands on the book.

This is pretty much the show turned into a film. Most of it is quite funny and filled with the boob jokes and wholesome family values we all expect from Elvira.

Starring Cassandra Peterson (Elvira’s Haunted Hills). Featuring Daniel Greene (Hands of Steel), Edie McClurg (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), and W Morgan Sheppard.

Elvira, Mistress of the Dark is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with basically no extras. It is available on an Arrow Video Blu-ray with a high-definition print along with a feature-length documentary, three commentary tracks, a featurette on the creation of the “pot monster,” and various small things.

15 August 2020

Enter the Devil (1972)

Producer: Michael F Cusack
Director: Frank Q Dobbs
Screenwriters: Frank Q Dobbs & David S Cass

In rural Texas, there is some odd religious group killing people. It is deliberately plotted, but you will stick around just to figure out what the hell is going on. (It has a great plot twist.) This is a little-seen gem — even for psychotronic fans. It features Joshua Bryant, Irene Kelly, and David S Cass.

The film is copyrighted. You can get it in excellent condition along with another Dobbs/Cass film The California Connection on Blu-ray. I can’t speak for the DVD.

Equinox (1970)

Producer: Jack H. Harris
Director: Jack Woods
Screenwriter: Jack Woods (story: Mark Thomas McGee)

A student and some friends go to the woods to meet his professor. Once there, they find his cabin destroyed. Then an odd man in a cave gives them an old book of magic. Asmodeus sends various mythical creatures to get the book back.

There’s not much to this film outside of the stop-motion animation, which is great. The whole thing started with a short film, The Equinox . . . A Journey into the Supernatural. It was made by iconic special effects artists Dennis Muren, Dave Allen, and Jim Danforth. Jack H Harris had a feature film built around it. If you like classic stop-motion effects, you will definitely want to check this one out.

Starring Edward Connell, Barbara Hewitt, Frank Bonner (WKRP in Cincinnati), and Robin Christopher.

Equinox may be copyrighted. The Criterion Collection has put out a great 2-disc release of this on DVD. It features a restored high-definition transfer. It also includes the original short film. And it has a load of extras including two commentary tracks. One is with the producer and director. The other is with Muren and Danforth. (Allen died several years before.)

24 August 2020

Escape From LA (1996)

Producers: Debra Hill and Kurt Russell
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: John Carpenter & Debra Hill & Kurt Russell

Sixteen years after the first film, America is a theocracy, there was an earthquake that made Los Angeles an island, and it is now a prison. The president’s daughter escapes to it with a special device to control satellites that can knock out all electronics in a particular area — or the whole world. Once again, Snake Plissken must save the day. But what does that mean?

This is a beat-for-beat sequel of Escape From New York that is gloriously aware of just how silly the whole conceit is. I actually like it more although the end goes on and on. But the basketball scene alone makes it all worthwhile.

Starring Kurt Russell (Stargate). Featuring Steve Buscemi (Living in Oblivion), Georges Corraface (Papadopoulos & Sons), Stacy Keach (Body Bags), Valeria Golino (The King’s Whore), Cliff Robertson (The Key To Rebecca), Pam Grier (Black Mama White Mama), and AJ Langer (The People Under the Stairs).

Escape From LA is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with no extras. SHOUT! Factory has released a Blu-ray with a 4K transfer from the original negative and two commentary tracks and a bunch of interviews.

26 May 2020

Escape From New York (1981)

Producers: Larry Franco & Debra Hill
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: John Carpenter and Nick Castle

The president’s plane is hijacked so he has to escape in a pod that lands in New York, which is now a prison. So they offer a pardon to war hero and criminal Snake Plissken if he rescues the president.

People love this film but I consider it one of Carpenter’s lesser works. There is no question that it is a fun film though. And in addition to all the great action, there’s one moment that is actually touching. Regardless, this is a film you must own!

Starring Kurt Russell (The Thing). Featuring Adrienne Barbeau (Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death), Lee Van Cleef (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man), Ernest Borgnine (The Wild Bunch), Isaac Hayes (Truck Turner), and Donald Pleasence (Prince of Darkness).

Escape From New York is copyrighted. It is available on a basic DVD and a SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray packed with features.

26 May 2020

Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971)

Producer: Arthur P Jacobs
Director: Don Taylor
Screenwriter: Paul Dehn (characters: Pierre Boulle)

Much of this installment of the series is quite funny — but always with a subtext that things are going to go very wrong. And they do.

Cornelius and Zira escape from their time right before Charlton Heston blows up the planet. They land on modern Earth and become a cause célèbre before the humans decide the apes will cause the end of humanity’s dominance. This, of course, leads to the end of humanity’s dominance in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).

The film is a lot of fun but taking the story to modern Earth gives it a distinct made-for-television feel. This is true for the remaining films.

It features Roddy McDowall (That Darn Cat!), Kim Hunter (“The Evil of Adelaide Winters”), Bradford Dillman (Sudden Impact), Natalie Trundy (Battle for the Planet of the Apes), William Windom (“They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar“), M Emmet Walsh (Blood Simple), Ricardo Montalbán (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan).

I don’t know of this film having been available on disc. But fans should get the whole thing, “Planet of the Apes: The Legacy Collection” as DVD or Blu-ray.

Event Horizon (1997)

Producers: Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin, and Jeremy Bolt
Director: Paul WS Anderson
Screenwriter: Philip Eisner

The Event Horizon was a spaceship designed to distort space in order to reach speeds above that of light. But on its maiden voyage, it disappears. Seven years later, it comes back. When the crew of the Lewis and Clark come to investigate, strange other-worldly things begin to happen.

This is a very effective film even if it doesn’t ultimately make a lot of sense. The CG doesn’t hold up particularly well but the acting does.

Starring Sam Neill (In the Mouth of Madness) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix). Featuring: Kathleen Quinlan (The Runner Stumbles), Joely Richardson (Anonymous), Richard T Jones (The Trigger Effect), and Jack Noseworthy (Barb Wire).

Event Horizon is well copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray.

The Evil (1978)

Producer: Ed Carlin
Director: Gus Trikonis
Screenwriter: Donald G Thompson

A doctor purchases an old mansion with a history to start a drug rehab clinic. Some of his students help him to fix the place up but after he unlocks a demon, they are all trapped inside and on the verge of letting the Devil himself into the world.

This is a good haunted house film with mostly practical effects including full-body burns by Buddy Joe Hooker who was injured doing them. The mansion is a great location and adds a lot to the creepy feel of the movie.

Starring Richard Crenna (Body Heat), Joanna Pettet (The Best House in London), Andrew Prine (Grizzly), and Victor Buono (The Strangler).

The Evil is under copyright. It is available on DVD with Twice Dead with a commentary by Trikonis, Thompson, and cinematographer Mario Di Leo.

Evil Clutch (1988)

Producer: Agnese Fontana
Director/Screenwriter: Andrea Marfori
Our review: Evil Clutch

A succubus-like creature is killing men and turning them into zombie-like creatures. She goes after a young couple camping. Things get… weird.

Despite the fact (Because?) it is a gleeful rip of Evil Dead II, I find this film irresistible. It’s actually a more interesting story than Raimi’s opus and the gore is glorious!

Starring Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni (Terror At The Opera), Elena Cantarone, Diego Ribon (Apnea), and Luciano Crovato (Family Scandal).

Evil Clutch is copyrighted. It is available on a Troma DVD. I don’t know anything about its quality or extras, however. It hasn’t really been reviewed. It’s not hard to find this film online, but much of it is dark and it’s hard to appreciate these with a bad copy.

25 March 2020

The Evil Dead (1981)

Producer: Robert Tapert
Director/Screenwriter: Sam Raimi

Five friends go on vacation to a cabin in Tennessee. There they find a Sumerian book and a tape recording of it. This unleashes the Evil Dead who kill them all with much madness in between like when one of the women is raped by some vines.

To a large extent, this film has been forgotten. It’s lumped in with Evil Dead II, which is a shame because The Evil Dead is a first-rate horror film. It’s by far my favorite of the trilogy.

Starring Bruce Campbell (Man with the Screaming Brain), Ellen Sandweiss (My Name Is Bruce), Richard DeManincor (Crimewave), Betsy Baker (Witches’ Night), and Theresa Tilly.

The Evil Dead is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. You can get it for the same price with Evil Dead II on DVD and Blu-ray.

Evil Dead II (1989)

Producer: Robert Tapert
Director: Sam Raimi
Screenwriter: Sam Raimi & Scott Spiegel

A young couple vacations at a remote cabin. They find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis and hear parts read on a tape recorder. Then the Evil Dead show up and things get weird.

This is a comedic remake of The Evil Dead. Most people prefer it but I think it spoils the mood. You know what I think about sawing limbs off. But make no mistake: it’s a hell of a good film.

Starring Bruce Campbell (Bubba Ho-Tep) and Kassie DePaiva (Days of Our Lives). With Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks (Darkman), and Ted Raimi (Eddie Presley).

Evil Dead II is copyrighted. You can get it on DVD and Blu-ray. Or get it with The Evil Dead on DVD and Blu-ray.

The Evil Eye (1963)

Producer: Massimo De Rita
Director: Mario Bava
Screenwriters: Ennio de Concini & Enzo Corbucci & Eliana de Sabata & Mino Guerrini & Franco Prosperi & Mario Bava
Alternative titles: La ragazza che sapeva troppo, The Girl Who Knew Too Much

A woman visits her aunt in Italy. The aunt soon dies and on her way to alert the doctor, she witnesses a murder. She’s thought to be crazy because the police can find no body. She soon becomes the target of a serial killer and things get very complicated.

This is said to be the first giallo. It’s an odd one because the tone changes so much. There are comedic sequences, even slapstick. But it still manages to be serious and romantic. And it is gorgeous. At very least, it’s worth checking out to compare to later giallo films like Don’t Torture a Duckling.

Starring Letícia Román (Charge of the Black Lancers), John Saxon (A Nightmare on Elm Street), Valentina Cortese (The House on Telegraph Hill), and Dante DiPaolo (Blood and Black Lace).

The Evil Eye is probably under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with both the US and European versions and a commentary by Bava biographer Tim Lucas.

18 December 2020

eXistenZ (1999)

Producers: Robert Lantos, Andras Hamori, David Cronenberg
Director/Screenwriter: David Cronenberg

Allegra Geller, the world’s greatest game developer, is demonstrating her latest game when an assassin almost kills her. She flees with a marketing intern and must go inside her game to unravel the conspiracy against her.

This is one of my favorite films and one of David Cronenberg’s best. It’s also one of his weirdest with a whole subplot about the manufacture of game systems built from amphibian organs. Must see!

Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh (Dolores Claiborne), Jude Law (The Talented Mr Ripley), Ian Holm (The Fifth Element), Willem Dafoe (To Live and Die in LA), and director Don McKellar (The Grand Seduction).

eXistenZ is copyrighted. It is available on DVD (no extras) and Blu-ray (some interviews).

The Exorcist III (1990)

Producer: Carter DeHaven
Director: William Peter Blatty
Screenwriter: William Peter Blatty (novel: William Peter Blatty)
Alternative titles: Legion, The Exorcist III: Legion

Fifteen years after the original film, Father Karras seems to be back, in a mental hospital and possessed by a serial killer who can possess others to do his killing for him.

Opinion is mixed about this film, but I think it’s excellent. Blatty simply makes my kinds of film. Sad that he only made two of them. But he was part of the irrationality trend in horror that I much appreciate.

Starring George C Scott (They Might Be Giants), Brad Dourif (Wise Blood), Ed Flanders (The Ninth Configuration), Scott Wilson (In Cold Blood), and Jason Miller (The Exorcist).

The Exorcist III is under copyright. You can get it on DVD. Better to get it on the SHOUT! Factory Blu-ray, which includes both the released version and the “director” cut as well as many extras. You can also get it as part of The Complete Anthology, which is great but there is only a teaser trailer in terms of extras for this film (the extras on the other film are good). There are other packagings.

20 February 2021

The Exotic Ones (1968)

Producers: Ron & June Ormond
Director/Screenwriter: Ron Ormond
Alternative titles: The Monster and the Stripper

A monster in the swamps is killing hunters. So a gangster club owner decides to capture it to improve business. Soon he is threatened by the monster as well as the police.

This is basically a nudie cutie with a Bigfoot in it. There are lots of strippers along with some musical acts. It has a surprisingly large cast and quite a good script. It also features a great moment when the monster tears off a hunter’s arm and then beats him to death with the arm.

Starring exotic dancer Georgette Dante (she is amazing), Peggy Ann Price, Tim Ormond, Ronald Drake, and Gordon Terry. The producers play the club owner and his oldest stripper/manager. Musician Sleepy LaBeef appears as the monster in his only screen role.

The Exotic Ones is under copyright. It is available on a DVD-R only consisting of the film (not even custom menus). But the print is really good. It is presented in 4:3 aspect ratio and I don’t know if it was shot that way. Given how the stage numbers are shot, I suspect so.

16 September 2020

The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

Producers: Jacob Wasserman, Schuyler Weiss, and Max Born
Director/Screenwriter: Nicolas Pesce

A young woman stands by as an intruder beats her mother to death. After her father comes home and restrains the murderer, the young woman removes the man’s eyes and vocal cords and keeps him as a kind of pet. After the father dies, she expands her endeavors.

This is a deeply disturbing film. It’s hard to know what to think of it. But it is incredibly engaging.

Starring Kika Magalhaes (818). With Paul Nazak, Diana Agostini, Will Brill, and Flora Diaz.

The Eyes of My Mother is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray. It is, of course, available on Netflix.

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