Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Watch Me When I Kill (1977, Antonio Bido)


Hurray for more Italian giallo, which is one of my favorite horror sub-genres. Watch Me When I Kill is a semi sleazy, pretty brutal, film directed by Antonio Bido that also works as an effective murder mystery. Which is of course all giallos, and that’s why they’re fun to watch. Trying to guess who the killer is while people are being horribly slaughtered is an old giallo pass time that never gets old to me.

The bathtub kill is rather nasty, as is the face into the stew murder that ends with the lady getting her throat cut. The conclusion wraps up everything quite nicely, and the film has multiple surprises that I didn’t expect. While not as good as some of the more famous or better made giallos, this is still worth a view. I saw it thanks to Shudder, which may be my favorite streaming service.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Lisa and the Devil (1973, Mario Bava)


Sure Mario Bava has done better, yet Lisa and the Devil is still a solid horror movie that in the tradition of Italian horror doesn’t quite make a lot of sense to me. That’s alright, it’s part of the film’s charm and the visuals are fantastic as usual when it comes to a Bava movie. One of my favorite scenes is a dinner party of the damned, all of the undead guests decked out in their finest. A demonic last supper if there ever was one!

Telly Savalas plays a man who is probably the Devil, yet acts the part of a man servant for a pair of rich people in one of those old mansions in the countryside. Elke Sommer, who embodies the title character, spends a lot of this movie running and screaming while dealing with being as confused by what is happening as the rest of the audience.

There is an airplane scene that is definitely partly inspired by the famous Carnival of Souls bus scene, and this movie has plenty of mayhem and gore. Even mid tier Bava is worth a watch, and yet I wonder if this movie wouldn’t benefit from a second viewing, as some of his films have from my experience. Also I have little interest in seeing the American recut version, which is just an Exorcist ripoff from the sound of things. Sometimes director’s cuts are highly unnecessary.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Vampyres (1975, José Ramón Larraz)


When I’m viewing a movie, it’s never a good thing if I start thinking about better movies I’ve seen before. Well that applies to Vampyres, a movie where not much of anything interesting happens until midway through. I wish I was kidding, alas I am not. So disappointing, especially since vampire lesbians has resulted in some good horror films. I’m reminded of when Roger Ebert said that if something of remarkable interest did not happen in a film in the first 20 minutes, it wasn’t worth seeing. He definitely had a point with this movie.

Also the vampires keep stabbing people with knives when they’re vampires. Even in low budget horror movies the vampires regularly bite people so this one choosing to not have much if any vampire moments is a head scratcher to me. I liked the scenery and the actors were fine, I was just left completely unimpressed by anything happening on screen except for some decent gory and bloody moments. Skip this, view any other 1970s vampire movie instead.

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: Day of the Animals (1977, William Girdler)


Unfortunately Day of the Animals is not as good as William Girdler’s other, more solid effort, Grizzly. However I still enjoyed certain aspects of this wonderfully dumb movie made at the height of the killer animal craze that all started with Jaws in 1975. One the main reasons to watch this hilariously bad film is to witness Leslie Nielsen hamming it up as the film’s racist, woman hating bad guy who ends up fighting a bear shirtless. Yes, you read that right: for some reason Leslie Nielsen loses his mind and decides that he is king of the forest, until a giant bear shows up and shows him who’s boss. However some of the animal kills are surprisingly good for a low budget horror film made in the 1970s.

Oh and Christopher and Lynda Day George are both likable main characters, so that helps. The reasons for nature being so angry are poorly explained, and I doubt in a year or so I will even recall watching this film. I did not hate Day of the Animals, but I didn’t like it, and so it exists in the collection of “Hey I saw that! I guess!” movies that I often see during the year.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Grizzly (1976, William Girdler)


Finally, a decent Jaws knockoff that manages to be fun, cheesy and actually thrilling. Grizzly may be unrealistic, yet I was still entertained by the travels of a gigantic bear that terrorizes a national forest. One of the scenes where the grizzly horribly murders two campers is gruesome and shocking, which I did not expect from this film at all. In fact despite being a low budget film this movie has a solid pace, and wisely uses the fear of the monster as well as showcasing its violent attacks. Even though I do not recognize any of the cast, I still liked all of them, primarily the film’s hero, Michael Kelly, played stoically by Christopher George. Much like Jaws the film centers around three men hunting the creature, the other two in this case being a helicopter pilot, Don, and a naturalist, Arthur. I also like that the film used an actual live bear for the attack scenes, which makes them less silly and more powerful.

That said, the film does engage in some silly moments, mainly the unintentionally hilarious part where the bear manages to bring down a fire lookout tower, killing the ranger hiding up above. Also the film’s ending involves, well, the use of something unexpected. With that in mind I still like William Girdler’s film, and it manages to be not a bad knockoff of a more famous and better horror film. Even though I am not particularly scare of grizzly bears, even though I wouldn’t want to encounter one in the wild. Especially one that is 15 feet tall and likes to maul people to death.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Coma (1978, Michael Crichton)


Okay for a merely very good and entertaining horror thiller from the 197os this movie has a pretty awesome cast. Tom Selleck, Ed Harris and Rip Torn all appear in this film and they aren’t even the stars or major characters. Heading the film are Michael Douglas, Geneviève Bujold, and legendary actor Richard Widmark. Famous Bond girl Lois Chiles also makes an appearance as a woman who suffers misfortune, because well it’s a 70s horror thriller set in a hospital. Nothing good ever happens there.

Susan Wheeler and Mark Bellows (Douglas, Bujold) have trouble in their relationship. They also have trouble at the hospital they work at, Boston Memorial, where normal healthy people are falling into comas for no reason. Susan has her suspicions while Mark is convinced it’s nothing. Desperate, she confides in Dr. George Harris (Widmark), who tries to keep her out of trouble. Things spiral from there of course, and there are many tense and crazy scenes that are well crafted. I particularly loved a freaky moment in a clinic that is straight out of a David Cronenberg movie. Funny considering this was made during his early period, and I have to wonder if it helped inspire Dead Ringers. 

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Furthermore the last act is a bit outlandish if not completely paranoid driven, and yet it works. The movie is largely an exercise in slow burn and the payoff is worth the film’s solid runtime. Douglas and Bujold have great chemistry together, and Crichton actually shows talent as a director. Maybe more writers should make movies, or perhaps just certain ones can direct. Also the film has some interesting commentary on sexual politics (Susan would probably be more easily believed if she was a man or not in the 1970s) and some thoughts on the medical profession.

Widmark’s monologue is fantastic and crazy, a sample of it being: “Our society faces momentous decisions. Decisions about the right to die. About abortion. About terminal illness, prolonged coma, transplantation. Decisions about life and death. But society isn’t deciding. Congress isn’t deciding. The courts aren’t deciding. Religion isn’t deciding. Why? Because society is leaving it up to us, the experts. The doctors.” I guess in all of the madness I forgot that this movie is very well written and has some quality dialogue. Nice.

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