Short Takes: H

Hacker (2016)

Producer: Sanzhar Sultan and Akan Satayev
Director: Akan Satayev
Screenwriter: Sanzhar Sultan (co-writer: Timur Zhaksylykov)

A young immigrant boy needs money for college so he turns to hacking and steals a lot of money before he is arrested.

This is a well-made film but also kind of boring. Nothing is surprising and the film never explains anything. It’s entertaining enough, however.

Starring Callan McAuliffe (Robot Overlords), Daniel Eric Gold (Café), Lorraine Nicholson, and Clifton Collins Jr (Hellbenders).

Hacker is under copyright. It is available on a a DVD with almost 40 minutes of interviews.

2 January 2021

Hallucinations (1986)

Producers/Directors/Screenwriters: Mark Polonia & John Polonia & Todd Michael Smith

Three teen boys are home alone when they start having violent and gruesome hallucinations.

This is among the first films of the Polonia brothers. It’s kind of a trial run for Splatter Farm. Clearly, the boys are still getting their feet. But there’s much to like. A torture scene with Mark is particularly creative. It lacks for dramatic momentum but it holds the viewer’s attention.

Starring the three filmmakers only.

Hallucinations is under copyright. It is only available on Amazon Prime so far as I can tell.

22 July 2020

Hancock (2008)

Producers: Akiva Goldsman & Michael Mann and Will Smith & James Lassiter
Director: Peter Berg
Screenwriters: Vy Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan

A drunk and disreputable superhero saves a PR genius who works to rebrand the superhero. Complications arise when we learn that the PR genius’ wife is married to the superhero.

Although it turns into a fairly typical superhero film at the end, the first half of this is an excellent send-up of the genre.

Starring Jason Bateman (Identity Thief), Will Smith (I Am Legend), Charlize Theron (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Eddie Marsan (Abigail).

Hancock is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with so-so extras.

10 April 2021

Harper (1966)

Producers: Jerry Gershwin and Elliott Kastner
Director: Jack Smight
Screenwriter: William Goldman (novel: Ross Macdonald)

While dealing with his impending divorce, private detective Harper searches for a missing rich man and gets drawn into a world of drugs and human trafficking.

This is a great story well told. I cringe to think of how it would be made now with extended chase scenes and ridiculous fights. Not that this film doesn’t have its share of Hollywood cliches. But nothing goes on long enough to get boring. This is one worth owning!

Starring Paul Newman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), Robert Wagner (Hart to Hart), Janet Leigh (Psycho), Arthur Hill (A Little Romance), and many other notables.

Harper is copyrighted. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with a commentary track by screenwriter William Goldman.

18 April 2020

Hatred of a Minute (2002)

Producer: Bruce Campbell
Director: Michael Kallio
Screenwriter: Michael Kallio and Lisa Jesswein
See: First Look: Michael Kallio

A struggling screenwriter flips out when his mother dies. First, he kills his abusive step-father and then kills women in abusive relationships as acts of mercy. Meanwhile, his best friend is a cop who is on the case.

This is a great film with a complex story structure and wonderfully adventurous direction. Apart from that, you get to see Leatherface buried alive!

The film stars its director Michael Kallio (My Name Is Bruce). Also with Tracee Newberry, Tim Lovelace (Koreatown), Lisa Jesswein, and Michael Robert Brandon. Featuring Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) as the step-father.

Hatred of a Minute is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with two commentaries, a documentary, and the screenplay. I paid about three times what it’s going for now. According to Kallio, a Blu-ray is coming out soon, which may explain why the DVD is now so cheap.

The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

Producers: Paul Brooks & Andrew Trapani & Daniel Farrands & Wendy Rhoads
Director: Peter Cornwell
Screenwriters: Adam Simon & Tim Metcalfe

A family rents an old house so they can be near the hospital that is treating the cancer of their teen son. The house used to be a funeral home. The teen begins seeing things but it could be due to the cancer drugs he is on. But, of course, it isn’t.

This film has been unfairly criticized. It has some really effective moments. I suspect people don’t like the fact that the plot is not explained as much as is usual in films like this. But I think most films are over-explained. I don’t care what was really going on in the backstory here.

Starring Kyle Gallner (The Cleansing Hour), Virginia Madsen (Candyman), Elias Koteas (The Adjuster), Amanda Crew (Ferocious), and Martin Donovan (The Visitation).

The Haunting in Connecticut is copyrighted. It is available as a bare DVD (standard and widescreen). There is a much better Blu-ray with good extras.

10 April 2021

The Haunting of Julia (1977)

Producers: Peter Fetterman & Alfred Pariser
Director: Richard Loncraine
Screenwriter: Dave Humphries (adaptation: Harry Bromley Davenport; novel: Peter Straub)
Alternative titles: Full Circle

A woman whose daughter recently choked to death buys a house to deal with her loss. But it seems to be haunted by a girl who died there at roughly the same age 30 years earlier.

This is a very well-made film but it develops slowly. I was engaged throughout but others may not connect with it as well. Only one of the characters is all that likeable but he manages to live through most of the film.

Starring Mia Farrow (Rosemary’s Baby), Tom Conti (Reuben, Reuben), and Keir Dullea (Black Christmas).

The Haunting of Julia is under copyright. It is available on DVD and that seems to be it.

2 April 2021

Haunting of the Mary Celeste (2020)

Producers: Justin Ambrosino and Norman Dreyfuss & Brian Dreyfuss
Director: Shana Betz
Screenwriter: David Ross (story: David Ross & Jerome Oliver)

A group of scientists rent a boat to test the hypothesis that the missing people from the Mary Celeste moved through a rift into another reality. Over time, this seems to be the case.

I don’t know what it is about this film, but it’s kind of dull. It’s all well-made. But it doesn’t go anywhere. With a better script, this group could do great stuff.

Starring Emily Swallow and Richard Roundtree (Shaft). With Alice Hunter, Dominic DeVore, and Pierre Adele.

Haunting of the Mary Celeste is copyrighted. It is available on DVD.

2 April 2021

The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

Producers: Jennifer Hilton & Mickey Liddell
Director: Mickey Liddell
Screenwriters: John Travis and Rebecca Sonnenshine

A young woman hears voices and sees disturbing visions. She is afraid that she is going insane like her mother who is in an institution after she tried to kill the daughter. She also navigates a new school and eventually doesn’t know who to trust.

This film is well-made and interesting. It has an opening scene that doesn’t really relate to the main film except that what is happening to Molly has happened to other girls. And there is a tacked-on coda that fits better in Legally Blonde and weakens the film. But the center section works well enough.

Starring Haley Bennett (Swallow), Jake Weber (Dawn of the Dead), Chace Crawford (Undrafted), Shannon Woodward (The Shortcut), AnnaLynne McCord (Excision), Marin Hinkle (Commencement), and Nina Siemaszko (Wild Orchid II: Two Shades of Blue).

The Haunting of Molly Hartley is under copyright. It is available on DVD with a clutch of extremely short interviews and the trailer. It is also available on Blu-ray.

16 February 2021

He Never Died (2015)

Producers: Zach Hagen and Adrienne Stern
Director/Screenwriter: Jason Krawczyk

An older guy lives alone in his apartment and seems to be uninterested in the lives of those around him. He lives a quiet life and buys mysterious packages from a medical student. When two thugs show up to take him for a ride, he dispatches them with bored efficiency and goes on with his life.

What follows is a very funny and very bloody adventure. All is explained — a bit too explained for my taste. And that is the worst I can say of it. Otherwise, it’s a perfect film.

Starring Henry Rollins (Johnny Mnemonic) who really makes this film work. Featuring: Jordan Todosey (Live With Derek), Kate Greenhouse (The Dark Hours), David Richmond-Peck (Cruel & Unusual), Steven Ogg, and Booboo Stewart. That’s Don Francks (Johnny Mnemonic) as Satan or whatever.

He Never Died is under copyright. It is available on DVD, sadly with just the trailer.

26 Jun 2020

Producer: Rick Passmore
Director: Jon Bristol
Screenwriters: Jon Bristol and JR Calvo & Brian Woodman

Five young people camp in the woods where it is rumored a bunch of people was once killed. They meet an older reporter who tells them the stories are true. Then they start dying.

This is a very typical slasher film except that it is done entirely with puppets. Some of it is funny but mostly, it’s quite serious and effective. And the puppetry is quite good. It’s only an hour long and definitely worth a look.

Starring Manda Vasas, Nick Foreman, and Mike Finland.

Head is copyrighted. It is available on Amazon Prime.

26 December 2020

The Headless Eyes (1971)

Producer: Ron Sullivan
Director/Screenwriter: Kent Bateman

The directorial debut of Jason and Justine’s father. And it’s a wild one — far more bizarre and engaging than anything his kids ever did (not to take anything away from them). This film is highly recommended for those with psychotronic tastes.

The film begins brilliantly with the main character burglarizing an apartment to get money for rent. The woman sleeping there wakes up. Thinking that the man is trying to rape her, she grabs a spoon from her bedside table and carves out his eyeball. Some time later, the now one-eyed insane serial killer owns a shop that sells art made from the eyes of his victims. Yes, he removes the eyes with a spoon.

The film stars Bo Brundin (The Great Waldo Pepper). The credits include Gordon Ramon, Kelly Swartz, and Mary Jane Early. I assume Ramon is the cop, Swartz the art student, and Early the actor. But none of them have been in much else and the credits don’t provide any other information.

The Headless Eyes is copyrighted. It is available as a Full Moon Features DVD.

The Hearse (1980)

Producer: George Bowers
Director: Mark Tenser
Screenwriter: William Bleich

A psychologically fragile woman goes to spend the summer in a rural home she inherited from her aunt. Most people in the town hate her for some unstated reason having to do with the house. And she is soon confronted with unusual happenings there.

This is a modestly successful haunted house film with a handful of solid scares. The main problem is that the subplots don’t hang together well. Still, it’s a good party film and maybe even worth seeking out.

Starring Trish Van Devere (The Changeling), David Gautreaux, and Joseph Cotten (The Abominable Dr Phibes).

The Hearse is under copyright. There is a very expensive Rhino DVD with no real features. It’s also available as a DVD/Blu-ray combo with a 20-minute interview with Gautreaux. And strangely you can get it on DVD along with Blood of Dracula’s Castle. It comes with a 12-minute interview with screenwriter Bleich.

17 November 2020

Hell Asylum (2002)

Producer: Tammi Sutton
Director: Danny Draven
Screenwriter: Trent Haaga

A disgraced TV producer tries to stage a comeback with a reality show Chill Challenge. Five young hotties must spend the night in an old mental hospital that is supposedly haunted. The problem? It really is haunted by spectres that kill everyone in spectacular ways.

This was a co-production between Full Moon and Tempe. It’s notably better than most Troma but certainly not up to the best work from Full Moon or Tempe. The acting is first-rate and Trent Haaga’s dialog was distinctly better than on most super-low budget films.

Starring Timothy Muskatell (Easter Bunny, Kill! Kill!), Debra Mayer (Blood Dolls), Tanya Dempsey (Witchouse 3: Demon Fire), Sunny Lombardo, Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2: Young Warlocks), Olimpia Fernandez (Killjoy 2: Deliverance from Evil), and Joe Estevez (Axe Giant: The Wrath of Paul Bunyan). A mostly hidden Brinke Stevens (The Naked Monster) plays the head spectre and Trent Haaga (Dead & Rotting) plays the first victim.

Hell Asylum is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with a ton of extras.

21 March 2020

Hell Comes to Frogtown (1988)

Producers: Donald G Jackson and Randall Frakes
Directors: RJ Kizer and Donald G Jackson
Screenwriter: Randall Frakes (story: Donald G Jackson and Randall Frakes)

This is one of the silliest films ever made. If you don’t over-think it (or think at all) it’s quite fun and funny. Although a pubescent boy’s fantasy, the film is also somewhat feminist. A truly odd combination. Like I said: don’t think about it.

After a nuclear war, most humans are infertile. But serial impregnator Sam Hell is pressed into service by a group of women who seem now to control the military. With two of them, he goes off to save a bunch of fertile women who have been captured by the frog people.

Featuring Roddy Piper (They Live), Sandahl Bergman (She), Cec Verrell (Silk), William Smith (Invasion of the Bee Girls), Nicholas Worth (Don’t Answer the Phone!), and Rory Calhoun (Hotel Hell).

The film is copyrighted. It is available on DVD with trailer, production notes, and a commentary track with the two directors. The only Blu-ray I’ve been able to find is Region B/2 (Europe).

Hell House LLC (2015)

Producer: Joe Bandelli
Director/Screenwriter: Stephen Cognetti

A group of young people rent an abandoned hotel in a small town to produce a hunted house. On opening night mayhem occurs and people die. Footage from their preparations shows that odd things had been happening for a while.

This is a solid found-foot film but it also shows the limitation of the form with an uninspired ending. But despite thinking the opening was lame, I was quickly turned around and engaged throughout.

Starring Ryan Jennifer, Danny Bellini, Gore Abrams, Jared Hacker, Adam Schneider, and Lauren A Kennedy (The Ten Commandments: The Musical).

Hell House LLC is under copyright. It is available on DVD as a director’s cut with a bunch of extras.

16 December 2020

Hell of the Living Dead (1980)

Executive Producer: Servio Cortona
Director: Bruno Mattei (as Vincent Dawn)
Screenwriters: Claudio Fragasso and JM Cunillés
Alternative titles: Virus

Rats bring a zombie virus to a secret military installation. A military unit goes to kill a bunch of eco-terrorists who want the facility shut down. After they are all killed, the group and two reporters make their way to the facility through hoards of zombies.

There is much to dislike in this film — especially that it is often slow. Some may be bothered that it is a rip-off of Day of the Dead. But it has such great gore (Including ripping a woman’s tongue out of her mouth!) and effective moments that all is forgiven. (Plus: if artistic theft bothers you, why are you watching a Bruno Mattei film?!)

Starring Margit Evelyn Newton (The Bronx Executioner), Franco Garofalo (The Other Hell), Selan Karay, José Gras, and Gabriel Renom.

Hell of the Living Dead is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with minor features. You can also get it on DVD with Nightmare City. Better to get it with Rats.

1 June 2020

Hellboy (2004)

Producers: Lawrence Gordon & Mike Richardson & Lloyd Levin
Director: Guillermo del Toro
Screenwriters: Guillermo del Toro (story: Guillermo del Toro and Peter Briggs; comic: Mike Mignola)

During World War II, a special paranormal squad stops the Nazis from opening up another dimension and bringing in some badasses to help them win the war. Before they can close the portal, a baby, Hellboy, comes through who fights behind the scenes with an a fish-man for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

This film is really well made as we would expect from del Toro. But it keeps running into the fact that it’s a stupid superhero story with no nuance whatsoever. People love the film for obvious reasons. And I’m not saying they’re wrong. But I’ll always prefer The Devil’s Backbone.

Starring Ron Perlman (Alien Resurrection), Selma Blair (Cruel Intentions), Rupert Evans (The Canal), Jeffrey Tambor (The Larry Sanders Show), Karel Roden (A Prominent Patient), Kevin Trainor, and John Hurt (1984).

Hellboy is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with one disc and two discs. Or on Blu-ray or 4K. And, because it’s ultimately a superhero movie, it’s available in a dozen other forms. I think they all have a commentary with del Toro and Mike Mignola that is pretty good.

20 December 2020

The Hidden (1987)

Producers: Robert Shaye, Gerald T Olson, and Michael Meltzer
Director: Jack Sholder
Screenwriters: Bob Hunt

A space bug comes to Earth and takes over bodies. Then it makes them steal, murder, and play their boomboxes way too loud in restaurants. The police have difficulty finding it given that it jumps from body to body.

Films don’t get much more fun than this. And the fact that six different actors get to play this over-the-top villain is icing.

Starring Kyle MacLachlan (Blue Velvet) and Michael Nouri (Flashdance). Featuring Katherine Cannon and the six villains: Chris Mulkey (Any Day Now), William Boyett (Adam-12), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5), Clarence Felder, Ed O’Ross (Dick Tracy), and John McCann.

The Hidden is copyrighted. There is a full-screen DVD and a Blu-ray.

The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

Producer: Peter Locke
Director/Screenwriter: Wes Craven

A family’s car crashes in the desert on their way to their silver mine. Unknown to them, they are being watched by a cannibalistic family nearby who communicate via portable CB radios. As the two men go in opposite directions to find help, they all become targets of the family.

Apparently, Craven tried to move out of horror after The Last House on the Left but no one wanted to finance him doing anything else. This film is similar in many ways with a dash of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre thrown in. It’s quite good — and scary.

Starring Bad Manners director Robert Houston, Susan Lanier, Dee Wallace (ET The Extra-Terrestrial), John Steadman (The Longest Yard), James Whitworth (Planet of Dinosaurs), and Michael Berryman (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

The Hills Have Eyes should be under copyright but there is a good print of it on Archive.org. It is available on a 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray both with substantial extras. There are loads of other releases.

4 January 2021

The Hills Have Eyes Part II (1985)

Producer: Barry Cahn and Peter Locke
Director/Screenwriter: Wes Craven

A group of motorcycle racers go to an event in the desert where the original movie took place. With them is Ruby from the first film, now living a normal (non-cannibal) life. The group is late for the event so they take a shortcut and have to stop. And it all starts again.

This is a famous troubled production. The weird thing is that almost everything about it is fine. The problem is the one thing that shouldn’t have been affected: the script. It is filled with so many ridiculous coincidences that it’s laughable. This is one for obsessives and scholars only.

Starring Tamara Stafford, Janus Blythe (The Hills Have Eyes), Kevin Spirtas (Friday the 13th Part VII), John Bloom (Brain of Blood), and Michael Berryman. Robert Houston from the first film has a small part at the start of the film.

The Hills Have Eyes Part II should be under copyright but a decent copy is available on Archive. It is available on DVD with no real extras. It is also available on Blu-ray with a lot of extras. You can also get the first two films together on DVD.

10 January 2021

His House (2020)

Producers: Ed King & Martin Gentles & Roy Lee & Aidan Elliott and Arnon Milchan
Director: Remi Weekes
Screenwriter: Remi Weekes (story: Felicity Evans & Toby Venables)

A young couple flees violence in their home country, losing their daughter in the process. They ask for asylum in the UK. But the ghosts from their trip haunt them in their new home.

This is an amazing film that is both scary and poignant. It even has some good make-up effects and excellent acting. Not to be missed.

Starring Wunmi Mosaku (I Am Slave) and Sope Dirisu (The Halcyon).

His House is under copyright. It is currently only available on Netflix.

4 November 2020

The Hitch-Hiker (1953)

Producer: Collier Young
Director: Ida Lupino
Screenwriters: Collier Young and Ida Lupino (Adaptation: Robert Joseph; original screenplay: Daniel Mainwaring)

A murderous psychopath kidnaps two guys on a fishing trip. We follow them as the two men look for opportunities to escape. It all leads to a wonderfully compelling denouement.

The film is ultimately about how good people respond to evil. The psychopath even mocks the men for caring about each other. Ultimately, it is collective action that brings down the psychopath. I find it a much more compelling rendering of evil than No Country for Old Men.

It stars Frank Lovejoy (House of Wax), William Talman (Perry Mason), and Edmond O’Brien (DOA).

The Hitch-Hiker is in the public domain and available on Archive.org with a decent print. You can also get it on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s also been restored, but this version hasn’t been made available on disc yet.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (1988)

Producer/Director: Fred Olen Ray
Screenwriters: Fred Olen Ray & TL Lankford

A PI searching for a runaway finds himself trapped by chainsaw cultists. The cult dates back to ancient Egypt and the “Chainsaws of the Gods.” Other than The Master, everyone involved in the cult appears to be a prostitute. Also, it takes place in Hollywood. So you should understand the title now.

Ray had a bunch of nude women with chainsaws. He really didn’t need more. But this is a genuinely funny film with dialog straight from the Kentucky Fried Theatre.

Starring Linnea Quigley (Creepozoids) and John Henry Richardson. Featuring: Dawn Wildsmith (Surf Nazis Must Die), Michelle Bauer (Lady Avenger), Esther Elise (Vampire at Midnight), and Michael Sonye (Commando Squad). Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) gets top billing but it isn’t much of a part.

Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers is under copy. It is available on DVD. There is also a PAL DVD version. Better just to get the all-region Blu-ray.

Homicidal (1961)

Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Robb White

Starting with a spectacular murder, we follow Emily who ostensibly cares for an older woman but really torments her. The related family members slowly come to terms with the psychopath in their presence and the revelation of dark secrets.

I was deeply affected by this film when I was a kid and only happened upon it as an adult. It really is fantastic — probably my favorite William Castle film.

Starring Joan Marshall (Dead Man’s Shoes). Featuring Patricia Breslin (Go Man Go), Glenn Corbett (The Pirates of Blood River), and Eugenie Leontovich (The World in His Arms).

Homicidal is under copyright. You can get it on DVD with a 7-minute featurette. You can get it on Blu-ray with Mr Sardonicus. I recommend the William Castle Film Collection, which comes with 13 Firghtened Girls, 13 Ghosts, Mr Sardonicus, and The Old Dark House.

11 May 2020

Horror High (1974)

Producer: Jamieson Film Company
Director: Larry N Stouffer
Screenwriter: JD Feigelson (as Jake Fowler)
Other titles: Twisted Brain

This is a brilliant lost gem. It puts anything that Herschell Gordon Lewis ever did to shame. Made on a budget of just $16,000, the producers wring every bit of value out of their money. Basically, it is Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde but set in a modern high school as a revenge tragedy. The script, editing, and direction are all very strong. What’s more, even the worst acting is competent. It stars Pat Cardi in his last acting role as nerd-turned-monster Vernon. In the female lead is Rosie Holotik (Don’t Look in the Basement). And playing a very Columbo-like detective is Austin Stoker (Assault on Precinct 13).

Horror High is copyrighted but can usually be found on YouTube and similar sites. If you want it on DVD, you may already have it. It is on a lot of compilations. One example: Cult Terror Cinema.

Horrorvision (2001)

Producers: JR Bookwalter and Michael Catalano
Director: Danny Draven
Screenwriters: Scott Phillips (story: JR Bookwalter and Scott Phillips)

A website called horrorvision.com is killing people and creating digital version of them. Two techies join forces to fight it.

This is kind of like the internet version of Videodrome. There isn’t much of a plot. In fact, it seems kind of like the pilot to a TV series. But it’s filled with loads of creativity — much of it thanks to David Barton — that looks great (especially for the time). The acting is also quite good.

Starring Len Cordova (Captives), James Black (Ozone), and Maggie Rose Fleck (Broken). Brinke Stevens (The Naked Monster) and Ariauna Albright (Witchouse II: Blood Coven) have small parts.

Horrorvision is under copyright. It is available on DVD in various forms. Your best bet is probably the Special Edition.

8 November 2020

Horrors of Spider Island (1965)

Producers: Gaston Hakim & Wolf C Hartwig
Director/Screenwriter: Fritz Böttger (as Jaime Nolan)
Other titles: Ein Toter hing im Netz (1960); It’s Hot in Paradise (1962); Hot in Paradise; Girls of Spider Island; and Spider’s Web
Our Review: Horrors of Spider Island and the Sex-Horror Genre

Is it a monster movie? Or is it a girlie movie? Well, it’s both! This German cheapie was cut as a girl-fight movie in 1962 as It’s Hot in Paradise and then again as a monster movie in 1965 as Horrors of Spider Island. It’s the second film that is better known, probably because it was used for Mystery Science Theater 3000. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable film. A dance troupe on its way to Singapore crash lands and only eight sexy women and their manager (Alexander D’Arcy) survives. But he turns into a monster soon and there is more than enough time for the women to get into fights in their pajamas. The film features Rainer Brandt and Barbara Valentin. Helga Franck would probably have gone on to a good career but fell from a window to her death at the age of 30.

The film is not copyrighted and a decent copy is available at Archive.org. Something Weird has released it on DVD. It comes with no features to speak of (at least ones related to the film). But the print is beautifully restored and presented in its original 1.85 : 1 aspect ratio.

All of the credit information is based on hearsay. The posters provide no details and the prints only list Jaime Nolan as the director.

Horror of Dracula (1958)

Producer: Anthony Hinds
Director: Terence FisherScreenwriter: Jimmy Sangster (Novel: Bram Stoker)

The first of the 9 Hammer Dracula films, this is every bit as much a classic as Bela Lugosi’s Dracula (1931). And really, at this point, it’s quite a bit more fun. It’s as much action as horror and it works really well.

It has more or less the same plot as the 1931 version: Dracula is chased and a young woman is saved. But lots happens along the way. It’s much more briskly paced.

Peter Cushing (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires) gets billed above the title, but after 7 other appearances as Dracula, it’s Christopher Lee (The Wicker Man) who is the star. Featuring: Michael Gough (Batman), John Van Eyssen, Melissa Stribling, Janina Faye (Don’t Talk to Strange Men), and Carol Marsh. George Merritt (I, Monster) has a small role. There are many more that you’ll recognize.

Horror of Dracula is copyrighted. I don’t know of a good DVD release of it. So if you want it on DVD, you are best to get it along with the 4th, 5th, and 7th in the series. There are other collections like one combined with Frankenstein and another with eight films. But it is much better to get the film on the Warner Archives Blu-ray. There is supposedly a great UK release of the film with new color correction and loads of extras, but I haven’t seen it.

Hotel Noir (2012)

Producers: Steve Bing & Sebastian Gutierrez & Zach Schwartz
Director/Screenwriter: Sebastian Gutierrez
Alternative titles: City of Sin

A hardboiled cop falls in love with the wrong woman and steals a bunch of money. But the woman stands him up and now he’s waiting for the chips to fall.

This is a very funny and unusually structured noir parody. It’s told largely by characters explaining what has happened to other characters. All the characters are so engaging I find it irresistible. The film was originally released in B&W and then re-released in color in 2017 as City of Sin.

Starring Rufus Sewell (Dark City), Carla Gugino (Threshold), Rosario Dawson (Descent), Malin Åkerman (The Numbers Station), and Danny DeVito (LA Confidential).

Hotel Noir and City of Sin are under copyright. You can get Hotel Noir on DVD and Blu-ray. It’s cheaper to get City of Sin on DVD.

19 January 2021

House (1977)

Producers: Tomoyuki Tanaka, Yorihiko Yamada, Nobuhiko Ôbayashi ?!
Director: Nobuhiko Ôbayashi
Screenwriters: Chiho Katsura (screenplay) Chigumi Ôbayashi (story)
Alternate titles: Hausu

A teenage girl wants to get away from her new step-mother and so goes to visit her aunt with six of her friends. Once at her aunt’s house, they are attacked by supernatural forces.

This is what Sid and Marty Krofft would have produced if hired to make Dead Alive. Much of it is violent and even horrifying. But it’s all done in a charming way. When Melody is eaten and chopped up by the paino, she seems to be having a fine time. This is truly one of the most disturbing films ever made.

It features Kimiko Ikegami (The Geisha), singer Miki Jinbo, Kumiko Ohba, Ai Matsubara, Mieko Satô, Eriko Tanaka, and Masayo Miyako.

House is probably under copyright, although there is a copy on Archive.org. There is a Criterion Collection Blu-ray of the film.

The House by the Cemetery (1981)

Producer: Fabrizio De Angelis
Director: Lucio Fulci
Screenwriters: Dardano Sacchetti, Giorgio Mariuzzo, and Lucio Fulci (story: Elisa Livia Briganti)
Alternative titles: Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero
Our Review: The Gates of Hell Trilogy

A professor, his wife, and son move to an old house so he can continue the work of his colleague who just murdered his mistress and killed himself. The problem: there is an ancient madman in the basement killing people and using their body parts to prolong his life.

The last of the Gates of Hell trilogy, this one does not disappoint. It leaves a lot of unanswered questions but has a sweet ending — or at least as sweet as you can when everyone dies.

Starring Catriona MacColl (City of the Living Dead), Paolo Malco (The New York Ripper), Ania Pieroni (Inferno), and Giovanni Frezza (Warriors of the Wasteland).

The House by the Cemetery is under copyright. It is available on a number of releases but you are best to get the Blue Underground DVD or Blu-ray, both of which have a good selection of extras. Or just get the Anchor Bay DVD, which doesn’t come with much but is a good release and costs almost nothing.

House Hunting (2012)

Producers: Erica Arvold and Pat Cassidy
Director/Screenwriter: Eric Hurt
Other titles: The Wrong House

Two troubled families come to see a remote house for sale. Once there, they find a wounded young woman with her tongue cut out. Then they are trapped on the property with all roads leading back to the house. Over the course of a month on the property, relationships are strained and secrets revealed — including why they are trapped.

This is a very good ghost story with intriguing mysteries, cool visuals, and excellent acting. I have my problems with the ending but most people will like it.

Starring Marc Singer (The BeastMaster), Art LaFleur (The Sandlot), Hayley DuMond (Raptor Island), Janey Gioiosa, Paul McGill, Victoria Vance, and Rebekah Kennedy.

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

29 August 2020

House of 1000 Corpses (2003)

Producer: Andy Gould
Director/Screenwriter: Rob Zombie

Two couples on a road-trip through America to write a book about interesting places look for the source of a legend about a serial killer. They find him and are tortured and killed.

This film is everything you expect from a Rob Zombie film: visually gorgeous, plenty of gore, good performances, and a lame script. It’s very much like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but less believable. But regardless, the first five minutes of this film are fantastic. At least watch those!

Starring Sid Haig (Spider Baby), Bill Moseley (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2), Karen Black (Invaders from Mars), and Sheri Moon Zombie (The Lords of Salem). Michael J Pollard (Four of the Apocalypse) has a small part.

House of 1000 Corpses is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with commentary and some short featurettes.

6 April 2021

House of Ghosts (2012)

Producers: Christopher R Mihm and Stephanie Mihm
Director/Screenwriter: Christopher R Mihm

Hosts of a dinner party invite a medium to hold a seance. Nothing seems to happen so the medium is kicked out. But then ghosts appear. And eventually, zombies.

This is a parody of William Castle films. But it mostly isn’t played for laughs. Rather, it is an homage that works rather well. It has some very effective moments that are actually better than anything I remember in any of Castle’s films.

Starring Michael Cook (Terror from Beneath the Earth), Catherine Hansen, Sid Korpi, James Norgard (The Giant Spider), and Justen Overlander (The Monster of Phantom Lake).

House of Ghosts is under copyright. Like most Mihm films, this one is only available on Amazon Prime.

20 August 2020

The House of the Dead (1978)

Producer: William Jackson
Director: Sharron Miller
Screenwriter: David O’Malley
Other titles: Alien Zone

An adulterer on his way from his lover to his hotel to call his wife gets caught in the rain and takes shelter at a funeral home. The mortician shows him different caskets and tells him the stories of them. Thus we get four short horror stories.

This film is certainly not up to the level of the Amicus anthology films but it works pretty well. The main thing is that most of the stories are predictable. I’m not sure if that was true at the time of its release. But it’s directed well and is generally effective.

Featuring Ivor Francis (The Wackiest Wagon Train in the West), John Ericson (Pretty Boy Floyd), Judith Novgrod (Nightwing), Burr DeBenning (The Incredible Melting Man), Charles Aidman (Countdown), Bernard Fox (Bewitched), and Richard Gates.

The House of the Dead should be under copyright but there is an absolutely terrible copy on Archive.org. You can get it in great condition with extended interviews with the screenwriter and director in a DVD/Blu-ray combo. Beware other versions!

The House of the Devil (2009)

Producers: Roger Kass & Josh Braun & Larry Fessenden & Peter Phok
Director/Screenwriter: Ti West

A college student takes a “baby” sitting job but supposedly for the grandmother. The couple who hire her is a bit odd. But after she is alone, she notices some odd things in the house like a photo of a different family in front of the same car the couple just drove away in.

Overall, this is a very effective film. With one notable exception, almost nothing happens in the first hour but the suspense is almost overwhelming. The last 20 minutes are intense. The acting is great. I really don’t like the coda but that may just be because I watch way too many horror films.

Starring Jocelin Donahue (Summer Camp), Tom Noonan (Synecdoche, New York), Mary Woronov (Night of the Comet), AJ Bowen (Creepshow 3), and Greta Gerwig (The Dish & the Spoon). Dee Wallace (ET the Extra-Terrestrial) has a small role at the start.

The House of the Devil is under copyright. It is available on DVD and Blu-ray with commentary, deleted scenes, and some short featurettes.

29 January 2021

House of the Long Shadows (1983)

Producers: Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus
Director: Pete Walker
Screenwriter: Michael Armstrong

A writer makes a bet that he can finish a novel in 24 hours inside a spooky old house. But a family is already there for a family reunion of sorts. And other people show up. As befits a Gothic novel, there is a homicidal brother who has been locked in a bedroom for decades. But he’s gone and people start dying.

This is a fun little movie that looks great. Unfortunately, the ending is silly until it turns boring. But it doesn’t much matter because it is the only time the four horror icons ever worked together on film.

It stars Desi Arnaz Jr (Red Sky at Morning). Then there are the four icons in supporting roles: Vincent Price (Theatre of Blood), Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein), Christopher Lee (Dracula), and John Carradine (The Astro-Zombies). Featuring Julie Peasgood (The Snarling), Sheila Keith (The Confessional), Louise English, and Richard Hunter.

House of the Long Shadows is under copyright. It is on DVD but you are better off getting the Blu-ray, which features an excellent transfer and two great commentary tracks.

27 May 2020

House on Haunted Hill (1959)

Producer/Director: William Castle
Screenwriter: Robb White

This film really scared me when I was a kid. Price was so menacing. And there was the vat of acid. But I wasn’t completely wrong. It is creepy. And some of the scenes are very effective like the blood dripping from the ceiling and the rope entering from the window. Even though it ultimately makes no sense and is silly besides, it is rightly a classic.

Starring Vincent Price (House of Wax), Carol Ohmart (Spider Baby), Elisha Cook Jr (The Big Sleep), Richard Long (Nanny and the Professor), Carolyn Craig (Portland Expose), Alan Marshal (The White Cliffs of Dover), and Julie Mitchum. Comedy singer Leona Anderson plays the maid.

House on Haunted Hill is in the public domain and Archive.org has a good copy of it. Legend Films has released a colorized version on DVD. The colorization is some of the best I’ve seen. But more important, the black and white print is fantastic. There are two problems with the disc, however. First, it is rendered at 1.34:1 instead of the original 1.85:1 ratio. Second, it has a very unfunny “commentary” track by Mike Nelson. Who thought that was a good idea?!

Better would be to buy Shout! Factory’s The Vincent Price Collection 2. It contains a widescreen print along with a commentary by Steve Haberman, someone who actually likes the film. The collection also comes with: The Raven, The Comedy of Terrors, The Tomb of Ligeia, The Last Man on Earth, Dr Phibes Rises Again, and The Return of the Fly.

Housebound (2003)

Producer: Ron Bonk
Director/Screenwriter: John Bowker

A guy brings a Christmas tree to his agoraphobic lady friend so she can enjoy Christmas in July. Unfortunately, there is a space alien parasite in the tree. It gets out and kills a bunch of people more or less causing them to melt.

The melting effect is pretty cool and based on the documentary that comes with the disc, it was done with nacho cheese. The plot is scattered in order to include a bunch of deaths. But it’s still enjoyable enough.

Starring Kylene Wetherell (Abomination: The Evilmaker II), Erin Arbogast (Bloodsucking Redneck Vampires), and Alan Winston. Shannon Barksdale gets the best death.

Housebound is under copyright. It is available on DVD. Better to get it along with The Seekers for a lot less money. It comes with a decent documentary and commentary with director and DP.

30 June 2020

The Howling (1981)

Producers: Michael Finnell and Jack Conrad
Director: Joe Dante
Screenwriters: John Sayles and Terence H Winkless (novel: Gary Brandner)

A reporter goes to a colony run by her therapist. But it turns out they are all a bunch of werewolves trying to live in society. And there is conflict.

This is one of the best werewolf films I’ve seen. Parts of it really are scary. And I like the social aspects of werewolf culture, which makes a lot more sense than for vampires.

Starring Dee Wallace (Cujo), Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), director Dennis Dugan, Christopher Stone (Spencer’s Pilots), Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), Slim Pickens (Dr Strangelove), and John Carradine (The Unearthly).

The Howling is copyrighted. It is available on SHOUT! Factory DVD and Blu-ray releases.

15 April 2021

Humanoids From Atlantis (1992)

Producer/Director: JR Bookwalter
Screenwriter:Lloyd Turner (story: JR Bookwalter)

JR Bookwalter’s films can be roughly divided into two categories. There are films that he took some time with, which are excellent. This even includes microbudget films like Kingdom of the Vampire (1991). And then there are the films he shot and edited over a weekend. Somehow, these films always have an irresistible charm despite often being, well, rough.

Bookwalter seems genuinely confused as to why people like Humanoids From Atlantis. And I suspect it wouldn’t have much of a cult following if it weren’t for his other films of this type. But the ending of this film acts as a kind of coda for them all. It feels right even if it was just a hack to end a failed production.

A young filmmaker gets a contract to make an environmental film about the local lake. In the process, he discovers that some monster from Atlantis is living there. How did it get from the Atlantic Ocean to a small lake in Ohio? If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.

The film stars James L Edwards (Galaxy of the Dinosaurs), Christine Morrison (Chickboxer), and Sandra Wurzer. They are all ghastly. But that isn’t their faults. They’ve been fine in other films. Bookwalter was clearly rushing through this one. The film succeeds despite this.

Humanoids From Atlantis is copyrighted. I recommend getting it on DVD as part of Bad Movie Police: Crimewave! That comes with all the “Let’s put on a show!” films that Bookwalter made from 1991 through 1992.

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