Fade to Black (1980)
Producers: George G Braunstein & Ron Hamady
Director/Screenwriter: Vernon Zimmerman
A lonely film nerd gets stood up for a date and so goes on a killing spree reenacting great murders from the movies.
There is an unwarranted amount of hatred for this film. While it is true that the tone is all over the place, parts of this film work as well as anything in any movie ever. Also, it made me feel better about myself given I don’t obsess nearly as much as this kid. I had to look up who Cody Jarrett is!
14 October 2021
A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2012)
Producer: Geraldine Patten
Director: Crispian Mills
Screenwriter: Crispian Mills (novella: Bruce Robinson)
A writer’s recent work on Victorian serial killers has him paranoid, which is not helped by the fact that there is a serial killer in his neighborhood. He must meet with a movie producer. This requires going to a self-service laundry, which terrifies him because of a childhood trauma. But he faces his fear and ends up kidnapped by the serial killer.
I can see why people hate this film but it really is funny. It takes a while to get into it but the story is good and engaging and you will laugh if you let yourself care about the central character.
A Fantastic Fear of Everything is copyrighted. Shout Factory has released a Blu-ray/DVD combo with the star and director commentary, 17 minutes of deleted scenes, and a 14-minute making-of featurette.
2 June 2021
Fantasy Mission Force (1983)
Producer: Hsiao Yin Shen (as Shen Hsiao-Yin)
Director: Yen-Ping Chu (as Chu Yen Ping)
Screenwriter: Hsin Wei
During World War II, some generals are kidnapped by the Japanese military. After deciding that various heroes will not do (including Rocky Balboa), they send in Yu Wang (Master of the Flying Guillotine) who assembles a team of misfits including Brigitte Lin (Police Story) and Jackie Chan (Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow).
This bizarre action-comedy features a number of laugh-out-loud moments but its silliness is relentless. As usual for Word War II films, it includes a haunted house sequence with Chinese hopping vampires.
There is a free print of Fantasy Mission Force on Archive.org but it is cropped and of so-so quality (and I think it is copyrighted). No one has released this on disc with reasonable quality. But you can certainly get a better copy than the horrible ones online. Use your judgment.
Farewell, My Lovely (1975)
Producers: George Pappas and Jerry Bruckheimer
Director: Dick Richards
Screenwriter: David Zelag Goodman (novel: Raymond Chandler)
Philip Marlowe meets a bank robber fresh out of prison who wants him to find his old girlfriend. As he searches, the people involved keep dying.
This is exactly what you expect for film noir. It’s really good with a great cast. But it relies too much on narration for color (good though it is). Also, the kissing scenes are strangely cringe-inducing.
Starring Robert Mitchum (The Night of the Hunter). Featuring Sylvia Miles (The Funhouse), John Ireland (All the King’s Men), Charlotte Rampling (The Verdict), and Anthony Zerbe (The Omega Man). Sylvester Stallone (Rocky) and Harry Dean Stanton (Repo Man) have small roles.
19 April 2021
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Producer: Neal H Moritz
Director: Rob Cohen
Screenwriters: Gary Scott Thompson and Erik Bergquist and David Ayer (story: Gary Scott Thompson)
A cop goes undercover with a group of illegal street racers to find a crime ring. But he bonds with the group and must decide if he will turn on them or the police.
There’s a reason this film spawned countless sequels. It’s great to look at with strong action and a clear and compelling story. It’s also way more earnest than we normally see from films of the last several decades.
14 March 2021
Fast Company (1975)
Producer: Michael Lebowitz, Phil Savath, and Courtney Smith
Director: David Cronenberg
Screenwriter: Phil Savath & Courtney Smith and David Cronenberg (Story: Alan Treen)
A corrupt oil company supporter of drag racers tries to screw over racing legend.
This is the strangest film David Cronenberg every made in that it is a typical racing melodrama. Other than oil being poured on a woman’s bare breasts, there doesn’t seem to be any Cronenberg present — and even it is underwhelming. Still, it’s definitely psychotronic and must-viewing by Cronenberg fans.
Starring William Smith (The Frisco Kid) and Claudia Jennings (‘Gator Bait) shortly before her untimely death. Featuring John Saxon (Enter the Dragon), Nicholas Campbell (Naked Lunch), Don Francks (Johnny Mnemonic), Cedric Smith (Avonlea), Judy Foster, and George Buza.
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965)
Producers: Russ and Eve Meyer
Director: Russ Meyer
Screenwriter: Jack Moran (story: Russ Meyer)
Three chesty go-go dancers are out looking to cause trouble and steal a bunch of cash. The beta woman is kind of sympathetic owing to her obvious lesbianism and attraction to the alpha woman (who knows and uses it against her). Lots of fighting, scheming, racing, and murdering. It’s a psychotronic essential.
This is Russ Meyer’s masterpiece. It manages to combine most of Meyer’s kinky obsessions with a great script and a beautifully rendered film. You can’t help but love it.
The film features Tura Satana (The Astro-Zombies), Haji (Motorpsycho!), and Lori Williams as the go-go dancers. Susan Bernard plays Linda, the “good girl.” She would go on to pose in Playboy where she is thought to be the first Jewish Playmate of the Month in December 1966. It also features Paul Trinka (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea series) and Stuart Lancaster (Godmonster of Indian Flats).
The film is copyrighted. It is currently only available in one expensive DVD with virtually no digital extras (it has a booklet and a couple of other things).
Fatal Call (2012)
Producer: Srikant Chellappa
Director/Screenwriter: Jack Snyder
A guy starts a romantic relationship with a woman. He finds out she is married but she promises him she will file for divorce. When he comes to pick her up afterward, he finds her murdered husband and becomes the prime suspect.
As usual with Snyder, he picks a tired idea and manages to create an interesting story. This is the best of his work to this point although there are a few times when he pushes the suspense a bit longer than I think works. But this is minor.
Fatal Call is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
14 February 2022
Fatal Exam (1990)
Producer/Director/Writer: Jack Snyder
College students in a class about metaphysics are given the opportunity to use their skills by spending the weekend in a supposedly haunted house. They start seeing things and then individuals disappear.
This is an absolutely standard premise but the film is different than you expect. The plot is more layered — like it’s based on a novel (but it isn’t). It’s over-explained with way too much dialog. And it really should be cut down to 70 minutes. Still, it features a number of great moments and shows the potential that will be fulfilled in Snyder’s later work.
The vast majority of people in this film were only ever in it: Mike Coleman, Terry Comer, Carol Fitzgerald Carlberg (who later married Jack Snyder), Paul Steger, Gilio Gherardini, Joe Midyett, Maureen Lampert, Greg Rhodes, Teresa Nienhaus, and Mike Suzor.
Fatal Exam is under copyright. It is available on Blu-ray as part of Vinegar Syndrome’s Home Grown Horrors: Volume 1, which you should get because it comes with Winterbeast and Beyond Dreams Door — all with great extras and fairly good prints.
14 February 2022
The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)
Producer: Gene Gutowski
Director: Roman Polanski
Screenwriters: Roman Polanski and Gérard Brach
A very old vampire hunter and his assistant come to a town where the presence of garlic shows they are close. They find a whole community of vampires while searching for a kidnapped young woman.
This film is made very much in the style of Tom Jones. It’s clearly well-made but the comedy didn’t really work for me. I could see it was meant to be funny. And it was certainly silly. But it’s still worth watching. The acting is very good and the sets are marvelous. And you might think it’s hilarious!
Producer: Cinema Enterprises
Director/Screenwriter: Don Dohler
A mythological fiend takes over a dead body and must kill to maintain its youth. Also: provide music lessons for suburban Baltimore.
This is a highly effective, if campy, stalker film.
Starring Donald Leifert (The Alien Factor) with a particularly silly mustache. Featuring George Stover (Blood Massacre), Richard Nelson, and Elaine White.
The Fifth Element (1997)
Producer: Patrice Ledoux
Director: Luc Besson
Screenwriters: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen (story: Luc Besson)
Three hundred years in the future some ultimate evil is coming to destroy humanity. The fifth element literally falls into a taxicab. Its driver helps her interact with the four stones to destroy the evil.
This film is ludicrous. It’s silly without ever really managing to be funny. (That comes from watching it with a couple of live audiences who were silent throughout.) At the same time, the look of the film is so great that you really ought to see it at least once.
24 May 2021
Fighting With My Family (2019)
Producers: Kevin Misher and Dwayne Johnson & Dany Garcia and Stephen Merchant
Director: Stephen Merchant
Screenwriter: Stephen Merchant (book: Max Fisher)
The daughter of a British professional wrestling family gets a chance at the WWE. She struggles as does her older brother who did not get the nod. But everything works out in the end. This is the truish story of professional wrestler Paige.
The beginning of this film works really well — as does most everything that takes place in the UK. The stuff in the US is the standard melodrama of every sports movie you ever saw. This should appeal to people who hate professional wrestling because it’s “fake.” It’s a bit sentimental for actual fans.
Starring Florence Pugh (The Falling), Jack Lowden (England Is Mine), Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead), Lena Headey (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Vince Vaughn (Brawl in Cell Block 99). Dwayne Johnson (Central Intelligence) plays himself.
24 November 2020
The Final Girls (2015)
Producers: Michael London & Janice Williams
Director: Todd Strauss-Schulson
Screenwriters: MA Fortin & Joshua John Miller
A struggling actor who is most known for her early film “Camp Bloodbath” dies, leaving her daughter. The daughter reluctantly goes to a screening of the film. When a fire breaks out in the theater, she and her friends end up inside the slasher film trying to survive, escape, and, in the case of the daughter, find closure with her mother’s character.
This is a really good film. It isn’t scary although it does have a number of effective horror moments. It transcends its surface parody of teen slasher films with a well-written script and excellent characters.
Starring Taissa Farmiga (In a Valley of Violence), Malin Åkerman (Cottage Country), Alexander Ludwig (When the Game Stands Tall), Nina Dobrev (Never Cry Werewolf), Alia Shawkat (Arrested Development), and Thomas Middleditch (Joshy).
11 December 2020
Producers: Natalé Olsen and Nicholas Dieli and Juan Ortiz
Director/Screenwriter: Juan Ortiz
A woman is freaking out when confronted with her fears like that of short black men. Another of her fears becomes central when one of her coworkers comes to work missing one of his fingers. And then two. She tries to conquer her fears while the man deals with people coming to his house and cutting off his fingers.
This surreal and often funny film definitely has an audience. I found the first hour of it hard going but I loved the last part. It’s probably best for people who like quirky films. Don’t expect there to be any real explanations; the film exists in its own reality where people don’t go to the police to report strange men in clown masks cutting off their fingers. The material surrounding the Best Buy gift card made me laugh harder than I have in a while.
Fingers is under copyright. It is available on DVD.
12 January 2021
Producer: Syed Kechik
Director: Cirio H Santiago
Screenwriter: Ken Metcalfe & Cirio H Santiago
A martial arts expert comes to the Philippines looking for her missing sister. She finds that it has something to do with a drug-dealing group that puts on live martial arts contests. She infiltrates the group looking for revenge.
This is a remake of Santiago’s TNT Jackson (1974). It features fairly weak onscreen fighting but it still manages to be pretty fun. There is a strange sex scene where the couple cuts each other’s clothes off. And it features a great kill scene at the end.
Firecracker is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with TNT Jackson and Too Hot To Handle.
1 May 2021
A Fistful of Dynamite (1971)
Producer: Fulvio Morsella
Director: Sergio Leone
Screenwriter: Luciano Vincenzoni (story: Sergio Leone and Sergio Donati)
Alternate titles: Giù la Testa, Duck, You Sucker, Once Upon a Time… The Revolution
A bandit and an Irishman on the run get drawn into the Mexican revolution.
This film is as good or better than any of Leone’s other work. I’m not sure why it isn’t widely watched. Maybe Americans are discomfited by its explicit politics. But this is a great film. Must see!
2 March 2021
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Arch Oboler
The film surrounds five people who have survived the catastrophe of a new kind of nuclear weapon that wipes out most animal life on Earth. The five don’t get along well. The oldest dies and is replaced by a baby.
According to Michael Weldon, this was the first post-apocalyptic film. A very bleak vision of the future for 1951!
The film features a number of notables: William Edward Phipps (Invaders from Mars), Susan Douglas Rubes (Lost Boundaries), James Anderson (To Kill a Mockingbird), Charles Lampkin (Cornbread, Earl and Me), and Earl Lee (The Christmas Carol).
Five is under copyright. There is a DVD available, but I can’t speak to its quality.
Five Guns West (1955)
Producer/Director: Roger Corman
Screenwriter: R Wright Campbell
Five outlaws are pardoned y in exchange for joining the Confederacy. They go to a ghost town to kidnap a “traitor” and steal his gold. But a young woman who lives there causes conflict. Eventually, there are two groups at war with each other.
This is the first film that Corman directed. And it’s well-made. It has the main elements we came to know from him: solid acting, good sets, and just enough visual flair to keep you interested. I am, however, very tired with Hollywood’s apologetics for the Confederacy.
Starring John Lund (A Foreign Affair) and Dorothy Malone (The Big Sleep). With Mike Connors (Mannix), Robert Wright Campbell (Cell 2455, Death Row), Jonathan Haze (The Little Shop of Horrors), and Paul Birch (Day the World Ended).
Five Guns West is under copyright. It is available on an MGM DVD.
13 September 2020
Producers: Mark Williams & Michael Pierce
Director: Michael Radford
Screenwriter: Edward A. Anderson
An American woman is working at a diamond company in the UK as a manager in 1960. Even though she’s brilliant, the company passes her over for promotion because she is a woman. When she learns she is going to be fired, she works with a janitor to steal a clutch of diamonds.
This is a surprisingly good little heist film. The characters have excellent motivations for their actions and are really likable. It’s not exactly psychotronic but you will probably like it and it’s a good one to share with your less understanding friends.
2 March 2021
The Fly (1958)
Producer/Director: Kurt Neumann
Screenwriter: James Clavell (Story: George Langelaan)
A scientist builds a matter transporter. Unfortunately, a fly is trapped inside with him and he becomes half man and half fly. This is a classic despite or because of its silliness. David Cronenberg has said it annoyed him as a child that the fly head was as large as a man’s. I was always bothered by all the microscopic animals everywhere. Why wasn’t part of him a bacterium? Regardless, lots of fun! This film was parodied in Matinee (1993).
Featuring David Hedison (Son of Robin Hood), Patricia Owens (Sayonara), Vincent Price (House on Haunted Hill), Herbert Marshall (Foreign Correspondent), Kathleen Freeman (Hogan’s Heroes), Betty Lou Gerson (101 Dalmatians), Charles Herbert (13 Ghosts), and Torben Meyer (Casablanca).
The film is annoyingly under copyright. You can get it on DVD in a number of ways: alone on DVD or Blu-ray, with Return of the Fly (1959), and with The Fly (1986). It’s also available with lots of extras on DVD or Blu-ray along with The Fly (1986) and The Fly II (1989).
The Fly (1986)
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld
Director: David Cronenberg
Screenwriters: Charles Edward Pogue and David Cronenberg (Story: George Langelaan)
Cronenberg’s film has the same premise: transporter and fly. But that’s about where it ends. The rest is a richly rendered film with well-developed characters. It’s also very creepy body horror. If you haven’t seen it, you must.
The Fog (1980)
Producer: Debra Hill
Director: John Carpenter
Screenwriters: John Carpenter and Debra Hill
During a town’s 100 year anniversary, ghosts who were killed by the town’s founders come back for revenge. They come with the fog.
This is a solid film. I don’t consider it one of Carpenter’s best, but it’s still really effective and engaging. It also features some stand-out moments.
Starring Adrienne Barbeau (Escape from New York), Tom Atkins (Maniac Cop), Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween), Janet Leigh (Bye Bye Birdie), and Hal Holbrook (Mark Twain Tonight). John Houseman (The Paper Chase) has a small role.
15 April 2021
The Food of the Gods (1976)
Producer/Director/Screenwriter: Bert I Gordon
A farmer has found some goop that makes animals grow really big. We see a human-sized rooster, which doubtless tastes like chicken. The corporate world is excited. But other animals are eating it and now we have giant wasps and rats. A bunch of the people are trapped at the farm. Oh my God, what will they do!
When you go to see a BIG film, you should know what to expect. And it delivers. Many of the special effects are a lot better than you’d think. He does a lot of effective compositing and some excellent gore. Being a rat lover, I couldn’t help noticing that giant or not, these things just weren’t threatening. They contrast with their rabid puppet versions. But it’s all part of the fun.
10 November 2021
For Y’ur Height Only (1981)
Producer: Peter M Caballes
Director: Eddie Nicart
Screenwriter: Cora Caballes
Alternate titles: For Your Height Only
Martial arts expert and dwarf Weng Weng stars as Agent 00 in this Filipino James Bond knock-off or parody — depending upon how you look at it. This was the second Agent 00 film, the first being Agent 00 made 8 years earlier.
The film is incredibly silly but the action sequences are well-choreographed, featuring stunts particularly appropriate for a man less than 3 feet tall. If you like seeing men kicked in the groin, this is the film for you!
For Y’ur Height Only is copyrighted, but it isn’t hard to find cropped for TV versions online. It is available on DVD with Bruce Le’s (Not Bruce Lee’s) Challenge Of The Tiger in widescreen presentations of both films.
Forbidden World (1982)
Producer: Roger Corman
Director: Allan Holzman
Screenwriter: Tim Curnen
Alternate titles: Mutant
On a distant planet, some researchers have created an organism designed to cure hunger. But the thing went crazy and killed a bunch of lab animals. An investigator is sent to the lab but before they can destroy the organism, it escapes and starts killing the crew.
This is a lot of fun with some fabulous gore effects in the second half. I could do without the two sex scenes that seem kind of awkward and ultimately boring. But overall, this is one to see.
6 May 2021
Forest Primeval (2008)
Producers/Directors: Mark & John Polonia
Screenwriter: John Polonia
A demon is released from Skull Mountain during an earthquake. It begins killing people. A woman who has had premonitions of the demon is drawn to the area hoping to stop it. But things don’t get better.
This film has a number of effective moments but is on the slow side for my tastes. It’s a fairly typical “people running around in the wilderness” film. In this case there are lots of Evil Dead references. As usual, the Polonia Brothers produced a competent and effective film on pocket-change.
The acting in the film isn’t bad especially considering that none of the actors are professionals: David Fife, Shantee Proctor, and Kevin VanSant. John Polonia is also in it as the boyfriend. Bob Dennis plays the doctor but is not credited.
Forest Primeval is under copyright. It is available on DVD with an insightful commentary with the Polonias, 10 minutes of interviews with them, 5 minutes of deleted scenes (including some fart jokes and stop-motion animation), and a bunch of posters for other Polonia Brothers films.
24 May 2020
Four Lions (2010)
Producers: Mark Herbert and Derrin Schlesinger
Director: Chris Morris
Screenwriters: Chris Morris, Jesse Armstrong, and Sam Bain
Four British Muslims plot to carry out a terrorist attack despite mostly being clueless and not very religious.
This is an extremely dark comedy with laugh-out-loud moments. It grapples with tough questions like whether a suicide bomber who only kills a sheep will be rewarded in the afterlife.
Starring Riz Ahmed (Shifty) and Kayvan Novak (What We Do in the Shadows). Featuring Nigel Lindsay (Alan Partridge), Arsher Ali (The Ritual), Adeel Akhtar (Utopia), Preeya Kalidas (Bollywood Queen), and Julia Davis (Nighty Night).
Four of the Apocalypse (1975)
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriter: Ennio De Concini (stories: Bret Harte)
Alternate titles: I Quattro dell’Apocalisse
A gambler comes into town and is immediately arrested. That night, the sheriff allows a group of Upstanding Citizens to kill all the “low life” in town. The next morning, the gambler and three others are released in exchange for all the gambler’s money. The four must work together to survive the hostile world and their own conflicts.
This is one of Lucio Fulci’s best films — and one of the best westerns I’ve ever seen. It has the thematic richness of El Topo, but without any of that film’s intellectual pretensions. Some of it is incredibly brutal but the entire effect is one of tenderness.
Four of the Apocalypse is copyrighted. It is available on DVD in widescreen.
28 July 2021
Producer: Henry S Rosenthal (as Henry $ Rosenthal)
Director/Screenwriter: Jon Jost
An ex-con psychopath picks up a childlike waitress and they take a trip to the coast and Disneyland. But he’s robbing convenience stores along the way. Things go as you might expect.
Jost uses all kinds of techniques to tell this simple story in a very interesting way. There are a lot of scenes told only through accumulated collages. Mixed and split screens are also used. Most of all, the film makes great use of (really) long shots combined with voiceover in an intriguing way. It is also hilarious with great bits of dialog like, “It’s my favorite color, other than red.” But mostly, it’s just a unique film.
Starring Howard Swain and Nancy Carlin — both associated with American Conservatory Theater. Producer Rosenthal is the guy who gives the speech about losers.
Frameup is copyrighted. It has never been released on disc. It is on VHS (if you can find it) and, as I recall, it is letterboxed. Otherwise, you can sometimes find it floating around on streaming services.
8 April 2023
Producer: James Glickenhaus
Director: Frank Henenlotter
Screenwriters: Robert Martin and Frank Henenlotter
After his fiance is killed by a remote-controlled lawnmower, Jeffrey saves her head and builds a new body with parts from local hookers. Then, when he is killed, she builds him a new body. There’s just one problem.
Starring James Lorinz (Who Do I Gotta Kill?) and Penthouse Pet of the Month Patty Mullen (Doom Asylum). Also: Louise Lasser (Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman). Co-writer Robert Martin was the original editor of Fangoria.
Frankenhooker seems to be copyrighted even though there is a decent print on Archive.org. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with featurettes and commentary with the director and make-up effects designer.
Producer: Carl Laemmle Jr
Director: James Whale
Screenwriters: Garrett Fort and Francis Edward Faragoh (composition: John L Balderston; play: Peggy Webling; novel: Mary Shelley)
Dr Frankenstein puts a criminal brain into the creature he is building. His friends and family try to stop his project but he continues and succeeds. Then the creature starts killing people and the town comes after it and it’s very sad.
Although they didn’t leave much from the novel, this film retains the pathos of the creature and it is hard not to root for it. The iconography is brilliant, although it is so pervasive that it’s likely no one could find the film scary anymore.
Starring Boris Karloff (The Mummy), Colin Clive (Mad Love), and Dwight Frye (Dracula). With Mae Clarke (Waterloo Bridge), John Boles (The Life of Vergie Winters), and Edward Van Sloan (Dracula’s Daughter).
Frankenstein is available on DVD with an excellent commentary by Rudy Behlmer. It is also on Blu-ray with the same extras plus others including a commentary by Christopher Frayling. Better would be to get Frankenstein: Complete Legacy Collection, which includes 8 of the Universal films and a ton of extras on the first two films.
18 March 2020
Producer: Hugh Warren
Director/Screenwriter: Jed Mercurio
Dr Victoria Frankenstein is a stem cell scientist who is trying to create a new heart for her dying son. She manages to create life but loses interest after her son dies. Unbeknownst to her, a creature was created with her son’s genes and is now going around killing people.
This is a good take on Frankenstein although what it really reminds me of is It’s Alive. In this telling both monster and doctor are sympathetic. It’s the authorities that want to use them who are bad. The film is shot in a distinctly Paul Greengrass manner but telling a far more complicated story. It works pretty well.
Frankenstein is under copyright. It is available on DVD with no extras.
1 January 2021
Frankenstein 1970 (1958)
Producer: Aubrey Schenck
Director: Howard W Koch
Screenwriters: Richard Landau and George Worthing Yates (story: Aubrey Schenck and Charles A Moses)
The newest Baron von Frankenstein, having survived the Nazis, wants to get back to his work. But he doesn’t have the cash. So he allows a film crew to shoot at his castle (they’re shooting a Frankenstein film). With the money, he buys some nuclear contraption, creates a monster, and kills some people (in addition to the one he killed before).
This is an amusing film in the tradition of Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. But Karloff really is scary here. Overall, a pretty fun film.
27 June 2021
Frankenstein: The True Story (1973)
Producer: Hunt Stromberg Jr
Director: Norman Taurog
Screenwriters: Christopher Isherwood & Don Bachardy (novel: Mary Shelley)
This is a great rendering of the novel that manages to modernize the concepts without losing the essential nature of it. Unlike most filmed versions, it isn’t about a thuggish monster. The creature is intelligent as in the novel. But there is one problem: he’s alive but his flesh continues to rot and so he turns ugly and people hate him. The film even manages to include the creation of a female and the final death in the Arctic. I highly recommend this one!
The film has an amazing cast. Here are just a few: Michael Sarrazin (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?), Leonard Whiting (Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet), Jane Seymour (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman), James Mason (North by Northwest), and so many more.
Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974)
Producer: Roy Skeggs
Director: Terence Fisher
Screenwriter: Anthony Hinds (as John Elder)
A young doctor who is following in the footsteps of Dr Frankenstein is sent to a mental hospital where the actual Dr Frankenstein is practicing under an assumed name. They work together but the older doctor is a bit more committed.
This film is widely panned but I think it’s really interesting with a wonderful ending. It was the last of the Hammer Frankenstein pictures, which was probably for the best. But it’s hard to see this film today and not be impressed.
3 October 2021
Frankenstein Meets the Space Monster (1965)
Producer: Robert McCarty
Director: Robert Gaffney
Screenwriter: ? (story: George Garrett)
Mars has run out of women so they come to Earth to kidnap our hotties. Luckily, we have a robotic astronaut (“Frank”) to take them on. And a scientist and his girlfriend. Pleasant 60s pop songs fill in the gaps.
This is a weird one that doesn’t try to do much and manages to be a pleasant enough 75 minutes.
Starring James Karen (The Return of the Living Dead), Nancy Marshall, and Marilyn Hanold.
1 May 2020
Producers: George Edwards & Peter Thomas
Director: George McCowan
Screenwriters: Robert Hutchison & Robert Blees (story: Robert Hutchison)
An environmental photographer spends a couple of days with a rich family at a mansion in the swamp. But all is not well. The frogs are everywhere and they are growing big. Even worse: the family is horrible, especially the patrician. Mostly they get what they deserve.
I’m still trying to figure out why this film was named Frogs. Yes, there are a lot of frogs. But most of the threats and death come via large lizards, alligators, snakes, spiders, and other miscellaneous creatures. Also: I think most of the “frogs” were actually toads. Anyway, it’s an effective film with good acting. And parts of it really did scare me in the “Is something crawling on me?!” sense.
Starring Sam Elliott (Lifeguard) and Ray Milland (Dial M for Murder). With Joan Van Ark (Shakedown on the Sunset Strip), Adam Roarke (Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry), and Lynn Borden (Black Mama White Mama).
4 August 2020
Creator: John Griffin
Executive Producers: Rola Bauer & Lindsay Dunn and Michael Wright & Nancy Cotton and Anthony Russo & Joe Surro & Mike Larocca and Jack Bender and John Griffin and Jeff Pinkner & Josh Applebaum & André Nemec & Scott Rosenberg
Directors: Jack Bender (10), Brad Turner (4), Jennifer Liao (2), Jeff Renfroe (2), Alexandra La Roche
Screenwriters: John Griffin with Jeff Pinkner, Vivian Lee, Javier Grillo-Marxuach
A family on vacation must turn back when they find the road blocked by a fallen tree. But regardless of how far they drive, they always come to the same small town where everyone else is similarly trapped. At night, friendly-looking humans come out and torture and eat any of the inhabitants they can find.
This is a well-crafted horror-oriented series that owes much to Stephen King. There probably is not enough horror for readers of this site, but the horror and effects that are present are really good. It does seem a bit padded as is typical of series like this. But it is never too long a wait for something good.
The series features an outstanding international (but Canada-focused) cast including Harold Perrineau, Elizabeth Saunders, Catalina Sandino Moreno, Eion Bailey, and Shaun Majumder. Scott McCord tends to steal every scene he’s in.
From is under copyright. It isn’t currently available on disc. It is being produced exclusively for the streaming service MGM+. You can watch the first season on Amazon Prime.
25 June 2023
From Beyond (1986)
Producer: Brian Yuzna
Director: Stuart Gordon
Screenwriter: Dennis Paoli (story: Brian Yuzna & Dennis Paoli & Stuart Gordon; short story: HP Lovecraft)
A patient at a mental hospital is brought back to his dead scientist boss’ house by a doctor and cop. There they discover the Resonator, which brings an unseen and largely malevolent universe into their space. Things go wrong in a very gooey way and people die.
The production is roughly as good as Re-Animator, but the script isn’t quite as interesting. Still, a very successful and fun film.
8 January 2021
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Producers: Gianni Nunnari and Meir Teper
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino (story: Robert Kurtzman)
Bank robbers kidnap a family to help them get into Mexico. Once there, they stop at a bar run by vampires and must work together to survive.
The first of three films and the only one released in movie theaters, this one created the template. I prefer the other two because the tonal shift from crime to vampire film is too extreme. Just the same, it’s a hell of a film.
Starring George Clooney (Michael Clayton) and Harvey Keitel (Bad Lieutenant). Featuring Juliette Lewis (Natural Born Killers), Quentin Tarantino (Four Rooms), Cheech Marin (Born in East LA), Danny Trejo (Machete), Fred Williamson (Hammer), Salma Hayek (Desperado), and Michael Parks (The Evictors). Legendary make-up artist Tom Savini has a featured role. And John Hawkes (Deadwood) is hilarious as the store clerk.
From Dusk Till Dawn is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with loads of special features including a commentary by Rodriguez and Tarantino. It is also available on Blu-ray with no special features. You can also get all three films plus the documentary Full-Tilt Boogie on DVD with a number of extras.
From Dusk Till Dawn 2: Texas Blood Money (1999)
Producers: Gianni Nunnari, Meir Teper, and Michael Murphey
Director: Scott Spiegel
Screenwriters: Scott Spiegel & Duane Whitaker (store: Spiegel & Boaz Yakin)
Buck puts together a team of crooks to do a job in Mexico with his recently escaped con partner. But soon vampires show up and the job gets complicated.
In many ways, this is the best of the series because it fully embraces the silliness of its plot. Some might prefer the vampires to be a bit more menacing, especially during the final standoff.
Starring Robert Patrick (The Faculty). With Bo Hopkins (Midnight Express), Duane Whitaker (Eddie Presley), Muse Watson (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Brett Harrelson (The People vs Larry Flynt), and Raymond Cruz (Alien Resurrection).
From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman’s Daughter (2000)
Producers: Michael S Murphey, Gianni Nunnari, and Meir Teper
Director: PJ Pesce
Screenwriter: Álvaro Rodríguez (story: Álvaro Rodríguez & Robert Rodríguez)
Ambrose Bierce is making his way through Mexico to meet Pancho Villa. An unfortunate encounter with an escaped murderer leads to — Wait for it… — vampires! At least we know what happened to Bierce.
This is the most consistent of the three films carried through by winning performances from the lead and secondary actors.
Starring Michael Parks (Death Wish V: The Face of Death) and Marco Leonardi (Once Upon a Time in Mexico). Featuring Rebecca Gayheart (Urban Legend), Ara Celi, Jordana Spiro, and Sônia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman).
From Hell (2001)
Producers: Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher
Directors: The Hughes Brothers
Screenwriters: Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias (graphic novel: Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell)
Prince Albert married a prostitute who had a child. And since the prince is dying, the child is actually heir to the throne. So Jack the Ripper was really a royal-ish plot to kill all the women who knew about this child. But there is a brilliant investigator on the case who figures it all out without actually saving anyone.
This is an intriguing and stylish film with good acting. If you actually know much about Jack the Ripper, this conspiracy theory take on it will drive you a bit crazy. But it’s still pretty fun.
From Hell is under copyright. It is available on DVD with 1 disc (decent extras) and 2 discs (better extras). It is available on Blu-ray with the same extras as the single-disc DVD. There are many other releases.
12 March 2021
Frozen Sasquatch (2018)
Producer: David S Sterling
Director: Mark Polonia
Screenwriter: Billy D’Amato
When a research corporation loses contact with its facility in the Himalayas, it sends in three scientists to find out what’s going on. Once at the facility, they find all but one member of the staff dead. What’s more, they are tormented by what appears to be a Yeti. Further research unlocks many mysteries.
The mystery here is pretty good and the story unfolds well. And one practical effect made me laugh hard. Otherwise, I prefer Polonia’s sillier recent work.
Starring Natalie Hallead (Alien Surveillance), Titus Himmelberger (Deadly Playthings), and Noyes J Lawton (War Raiders). Featuring Jamie Morgan (Ghost of Camp Blood), Jeff Kirkendall (Jurassic Prey), and Steve Diasparra (Chainsaw Killer). Polonia also has a notable role.
Frozen Sasquatch is under copyright. It is only available on Amazon Prime.
25 July 2020
The Funeral Home (2020)
Producer: Néstor Sánchez Sotelo
Director/Screenwriter: Mauro Iván Ojeda
Alternate titles: La Funeraria, The Undertaker’s Home
A widowed mother with a teen daughter has married an undertaker. He’s nice enough but the funeral home is haunted and they can’t leave their rooms at night. There’s lots of conflict with the teen wanting to leave. But a demon comes and things get out of control.
This film is really well-made. Just the same, the script just kind of sits there. Much of it is like a family drama. The end is interesting with a totally bizarre (Redemptive?) dance sequence. I think the film will appeal more to critics than to audiences. It is produced by Del Toro Films in Argentina, which has nothing to do with Guillermo del Toro. It is in Spanish.
Starring Luis Machín (Red Bear), Celeste Gerez, Camila Vaccarini, and Susana Varela.
The Funeral Home is copyrighted. It doesn’t seem to have been released on disc yet. I saw it on Shudder and it is streaming various other places including Amazon Prime.
15 May 2021
The Funhouse (1981)
Producers: Derek Power and Steven Bernhardt
Director: Tobe Hooper
Screenwriter: Larry Block
The carnival is in town and some teens decide to stay in the funhouse all night. But it turns out that the funhouse is run by a man and his monstrously deformed son who kills a prostitute. And one of the teens steals their money. And then the funhouse people go hunting them.
This is a shockingly good film. The cinematography is beautiful — including inside the funhouse, which is quite dark. The characters are well developed and acted. And once the plot is all wound up, the third act winds down as a thrill-ride.
Starring Elizabeth Berridge (Amadeus), Cooper Huckabee (Getting Wasted), and Kevin Conway (Invincible). With Largo Woodruff (Bill) and Miles Chapin (Bless the Beasts and Children). The monster is played by Wayne Doba, a mime who gives an amazing performance. Before I found out who he was, I speculated that he was a ballet dancer. Amazing work!
4 June 2020
Future War (1997)
Producer: Dave Eddy
Director: Anthony Doublin
Screenwriter: Dom Magwili (story: David Hue & Dom Magwili)
Space aliens kidnap humans from a different time and use them as slaves on their planet. But one of the slaves has escaped back to earth with the aliens hot on his trail. And with them: trained dinosaurs. Will the ex-junkie nun-in-training be able to help him?
This is a strange film that seems to have been written as a comedy but directed as a drama. Some of the effects work pretty well. And the fight scenes are quite good. I also like the lighting and Doublin does a nice job with single-shot scenes.
The Fuzz (2014)
Producer: Matthew Achterberg
Director: Duncan Skiles
Screenwriters: Christopher Ford & Jon Watts (story: Ford, Skiles, Watts)
Puppets are an oppressed underclass in this world. Childhood puppet friends make different life choices. Herbie becomes a cop and Rainbow a crime boss. The future of P-Town hangs in the balance.
This was a 5-episode television series, edited into a feature film. Much of it is genuinely funny but the plot is a bit stale. It’s also a bit jarring for an audience used to big-budget productions where the puppets are not limited to the bottom of the screen. Still: worth a watch.
The Fuzz doesn’t look like it’s ever been released on disc. It is available on Amazon Prime.
12 February 2020