Horrorfest 2017/It’s Hammer Time! Presents: The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1973, Alan Gibson)


Perhaps viewing a subpar copy on Tubi back in October 2017 negatively affected my viewing of The Satanic Rites of Dracula (woof what a title!) yet I don’t think so. I liked this movie, however it pales in comparison to some of the better entries in the series. I did prefer this over Taste The Blood of Dracula, however I even liked Dracula A.D. 1972 over this one and people usually hate that flick. In fact The Satanic Rites of Dracula felt as if it was cribbing a bit too much from that one, and the last act of this movie was more of a Doctor Who episode than a Hammer Studios film. Too bad since this was the last time Christopher Lee faced off against Peter Cushing, although I still enjoyed certain elements and I don’t feel that the movie is a complete waste. Dracula has decided to make more vampire brides and also unleash a plague upon England, which makes him more of a super villain this time so that’s neat, I guess.

Both Lee and Cushing elevate some fairly weak and flimsy material, and I honestly don’t even recall any of the younger actors in this movie which is a bad sign. I know I saw it back in 2017 yet I should at least remember what the other actors did. If it wasn’t for Wikipedia I wouldn’t even be able to name them, which is a bad sign. Honestly if you’re a completist such as myself, watch this movie and you might get something out of it like I did. If you’re looking for something better vampire movie wise, skip this and watch The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires instead, which followed this movie and is a much better and more satisfying conclusion to the Dracula series even if it only has Cushing.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents:  The Wicker Man (1973, Robin Hardy)


Due to it being a really old movie the twist near the end was unfortunately spoiled for me. However The Wicker Man still packs quite a punch and exists as a classic example of English folk horror that has stayed with me and others ever since. The casting sure helps, particularly as Christopher Lee gives one of his best performances in a long line of great ones, Edward Woodward as the policeman investigating a mystery, plus Britt Ekland and Ingrid Pitt in a smaller role. This movie fully embraces paganism and uses it as a horror movie device, similar to later horror films that this movie helped inspire. Considering how the film ends much of the movie has this eerie sense of foreboding, as if the audience and most of the characters know how it all ends save for one particular individual who is unaware of the dangers they face.

I don’t know Robin Hardy’s movie would be as effective if it was not made in the 1970s, as the movie fits in with the decade’s overall horror aesthetic. Woodward is both arrogant and yet likable as the police sergeant who thinks he knows what is going on but has no idea. Lee’s Lord Summerisle is both welcoming and clearly hiding many secrets. The Wicker Man seems to be a duel between religion and logic, although the island’s inhabitants would argue that both are intertwined and exist in the same sphere. I’m reminded that despite being a Christian I am fascinated by pagan beliefs, particularly ones concerning nature and the harvest.

Oh and Hardy makes the film into a bottle episode type movie of sorts, as all of the action takes place on the island and Howie (Woodward) is unable to leave in what is now a typical horror movie cliché. Never venture to an island without any backup, although I’m not sure it would have helped in this case. The Wicker Man also has one of the best uses of blasphemy ever in the “Oh Jesus Christ!” line, which is probably what the audience was thinking to at that part of the movie. The credits scene part which thanks the island’s residents for their cooperation was a nice touch, very cheeky indeed. Shudder has this movie as part of their folklore collection, and so a second viewing is in order. I believe I viewed this movie back in 2014 thanks to Netflix, when their horror movie collection was a lot better. What a picture.  

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The House That Dripped Blood (1971, Peter Duffell)


Even though this movie has a cool title, The House That Dripped Blood is a bit of a lie. Still that’s a title that will grab your attention and make you want to watch it, which is what I did. I liked all of the stories except for one, and while maybe only one or two were really great this is still a very enjoyable Amicus Productions movie from a studio famous for its anthology movies. Oh and of course both Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee show up in this one, although believe it or not they weren’t in every British horror movie. Just most of them.

Also Robert Bloch was responsible for all of the stories, which of course surround a giant old mansion that a local real estate agent insists is cursed and ruins people’s lives. The first story is Denholm Elliott thinking he is going insane, and has a wonderful twist that I actually did not see coming. The man supposedly haunting him looks wonderfully creepy. Even though I liked the second tale I expected a bit more from one featuring Peter Cushing, although it does stick the landing.

The Christopher Lee one has a cool title yet I was bored by that one. Easily the weakest of the bunch. Luckily the last tale starring Jon Pertwee and Ingrid Pitt is the best of the bunch, and feels wonderfully meta for an early 1970s horror movie. The wrap around tale is enjoyable and has someone breaking the fourth wall, a bit that is eye rolling these days but was fresh back then. Amicus has done better ones, yet The House That Dripped Blood is an enjoyable and solid effort from a fun studio during the heyday of British horror films.

Someone has to clean that up…

Horrorfest 2019 Presents: City of the Dead (1960, John Llewellyn Moxey)


Sure City of the Dead has other names, yet I really like that title. It fits the movie really well, and this flick is one of those hidden gems I always seem to find every time I binge horror movies in October. Christopher Lee is the major star in this film and he isn’t even one of the main characters. Perhaps he made City of the Dead inbetween Hammer Studios movies. Oh and Rob Zombie used this movie in one of his songs and it had to have influenced his modern day flick The Lords of Salem-a film I love a lot. Witches seem to pop up quite a bit in horror cinema, only in this case they operate as if fueled by urban legend.

Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson) under the guidence of her professor (Lee) decides to investigate a small New England town where witchcraft happened centuries ago. This mission ends up dragging in her boyfriend and her brother, and leads to one Mrs. Newless (Patricia Jessel in a fine performance). Despite being not very quickly paced at times, City of the Dead works as a good slow burn with some very wicked atmosphere and a good closing act.

If anything this film reminds me of Stephen King and I wonder if he saw it as well. The idea of small ancient towns hidding dreadful secrets appeals to me for some reason. I guess I have always wondered if some legends are true, and that maybe I am too afraid or smart to find out. Horror movies have taught me that it is best to leave the searching to others.

2017 Movie Viewing Log


Top 10 of the Year:

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1. The Iron Giant (1999, Bird)
2. The Castle In The Sky (1986, Miyazaki)
3. Delicatessen (1991, Jeunet, Caro)
4. Mother! (2017, Aronofsky)
5. Wind River (2017, Sheridan)
6. Arrival (2016, Villeneuve)
7. Get Out (2017, Peele)
8. Donnie Darko Directors Cut (2001, Kelly)
9. Baby Driver (2017, Wright)
10. Hell or High Water (2016, Mackenzie)

Well it’s that time again.

January:

1. Meek’s Cutoff (2010, Reichardt)-65, Netflix Instant Viewing
2. The Gunman (2015, Morel)-70, Netflix Instant Viewing
3. The Lobster (2015, Lanthimos)-92, Family Video
4. Hail, Caesar! (2016, Coen Brothers)-91, Family Video
5. Night Moves (2014, Reichardt)-88, Public Library
6. Room (2015, Abrahamson)-95, Family Video

Movie of the Month: Room (2015, Abrahamson)-95, Family Video

February:

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7. Dirty Grandpa (2016, Mazer)-78, Amazon Prime
8. Hell or High Water (2016, Mackenzie)-96, Family Video
9. Out of Sight (1998, Soderbergh)-90, Crackle
10. Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (1982, Reiner)-83, Family Video
11. Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010, Cosmatos)-81, Public Library
12. Ex Machina (2015, Alex Garland)-95, Family Video
13. Justice League: War (2014, Oliva)-70, Netflix Instant Viewing
14. Girl Asleep (2015, Myers)-93. Netflix Instant Viewing
15. Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013, Oliva)-81, Netflix Instant Viewing
16. Death Race 2050 (2017, Echternkamp)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
17. John Wick Chapter 2 (2017, Stahelski)-95, Theater Viewing
18. Manchester By The Sea [2016, Lonergan)-93, RedBox
19. Arrival (2016, Villeneuve)-97, RedBox
20. The Crippled Avengers (1978, Chang)-77, Netflix Instant Viewing
21. Finding Dory (2016, Stanton)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
22. Gnomeo and Juliet (2011, Asbury)-60, DVD
23. Zach and Miri Make A Porno (2008, Smith)-87, Netflix Instant Viewing

Movie of the Month: Arrival (2016, Villeneuve)-97, RedBox

March:

24. Man of Steel (2013, Snyder)-90, Family Video
25. Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016, Snyder)-71, Family Video
26. Get Out (2017, Peele)-97, Theater Viewing
27. Superman: The Movie (1978, Donner)-91, Netflix Instant Viewing
28. Night Owls (2015, Hood)-86, Netflix Instant Viewing
29. Kung Fury (2015, Sandberg)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
30. The Iron Giant (1999, Bird)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing
31. Logan (2017, Mangold)-94, Theater Viewing
32. Kong: Skull Island (2017, Vogt-Roberts)-90, Theater Viewing
33. Superman II (1980, Lester/Donner)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
34. Ms. 45 (1981, Ferrara)-93, YouTube
35. Superman III (1983, Lester)-34, Netflix Instant Viewing
36. Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987, Furie)-65, Netflix Instant Viewing
37. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016, Singer)-81, RedBox

Movie of the Month: The Iron Giant (1999, Bird)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing

April:

38. Looney Tunes: Back In Action (2003, Dante)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
39. HairBrained (2013, Kent)-76, Netflix Instant Viewing
40. Joe Vs The Volcano (1990, Shanley)-88, Family Video
41. In Like Flint (1967, Douglas)-88, Netflix Instant Viewing
42. Eyewitness (1981, Yates)-75, Netflix Instant Viewing
43. Micheal Bolton’s Big, Sexy Valentine’s Day Special (2017, Aukeman)-90, Netflix Instant Viewing
44. Reptilicus (1961, Pink)-40, Netflix Instant Viewing
45. Free Fire (2016, Wheatley)-93, Theater
46. High Rise (2016, Wheatley)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing
47. The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969, Franco)-7, Comet TV

Movie of the Month: High Rise (2016, Wheatley)-95, Netflix Instant Viewing

May:

48. Carnage Park (2015, Keating)-75, Netflix Instant Viewing
49. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017, Gunn)-93, Theater Viewing
50. Sausage Party (2016, Vernon and Tiernan)-80, Netflix Instant Viewing
51. Donnie Darko Directors Cut (2001, Kelly)-97, DVD
52. Eegah (1962, Hall Sr.)-15, Netflix Instant Viewing
53. Alien: Covenant (2017, Scott)-93, Theater Viewing
54. Catalina Caper (1967, Sholem)-5, Netflix Instant Viewing
55. Future War (1997, Doublin)-10, Netflix Instant Viewing
56. Twice-Told Tales (1963, Salkow)-80, Comet TV

Movie of the Month: Donnie Darko Directors Cut (2001, Kelly)-97, DVD

June:

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57. Wonder Woman (2017, Jenkins)-91, Theater Viewing
58. It Comes At Night (2017, Shults)-92, Theater Viewing
59. Hercules Against the Moon Men (1964, Gentilomo)-35, Netflix Instant Viewing
60. Horrors of Spider Island (1960, Böttger)-6, Netflix Instant Viewing
61. I Accuse My Parents (1944, Newfield)-40, Netflix Instant Viewing
62. Jack Frost (1964, Rou)-65, Netflix Instant Viewing
63. Fist Fight (2017, Keen)-80, Family Video
64. Laserblast (1978, Rae)-0, Netflix Instant Viewing
65. Merlin’s Shop of Mystical Wonders (1996, Berton)-50, Netflix Instant Viewing
66. Los Nuevos extraterrestres (1983, Simón)-15, Netflix Instant Viewing
67. Spy (2015, Feig)-88, Family Video
68. Ant-Man (2015, Reed)-88, Family Video
69. My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Miyazaki)-95, Theater Viewing
70. The Pocket Man (2016, Chubinidze)-92, Theater Viewing
71. Snack Attack (2012, Cadelago)-75, Theater Viewing

Movie of the Month: My Neighbor Totoro (1988, Miyazaki)-95, Theater Viewing

July:

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72. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964, Webster)-0, Netflix Instant Viewing
73. The Sidehackers (1969, Trikonis)-0, Netflix Instant Viewing
74. Baby Driver (2017, Wright)-97, Theater Viewing
75. Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017, Watts)-93, Theater Viewing
76. A Single Life (2014, Blaauw, Oprins, Roggeveen)-82, Theater Viewing
77. Game Over (2006, Pes)-85, Theater Viewing
78. Luminaris (2011, Zaramella)-91, Theater Viewing
79. Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989, Miyazaki)-91, Theater Viewing
80. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017, Besson)-55, Theater Viewing
81. Teenagers From Outer Space (1959, Graeff)-51, Netflix Instant Viewing
82. National Lampoon’s Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj (2006, Nathan)-56, Charge TV

Movie of the Month:  Baby Driver (2017, Wright)-97, Theater Viewing

August:

83. Dunkirk (2017, Nolan)-93, Theater Viewing
84. Night Monster (1942, Beebe)-56, MeTV
85. Bite (2015, Archibald)-60, Public Library
86. The Black Torment (1964, Hartford-Davis)-81, Public Library
87. Blair Witch (2015, Wingard)-69, Public Library
88. Atomic Blonde (2017, Leitch)-88, Theater Viewing
89. Johnny Express (2014, Woo)-93, Theater Viewing
90. The Castle In The Sky (1986, Miyazaki)-100, Theater Viewing

Repeats Seen On The Big Screen: Temple of Doom (1984, Spielberg)-90 and The Last Crusade (1989, Spielberg)-95.

Movie of the Month: The Castle In The Sky (1986, Miyazaki)-100, Theater Viewing

September:

91. Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002, Tezuka)-75, Comet TV
92. Deathstalker III: The Warriors from Hell (1988, Corona)-35, Comet TV
93. The Castle of Cagliostro (1979, Miyazaki)-92, Theater Viewing
94. Cave Dwellers (1984, D’Amato)-0, Comet TV
95. Wind River (2017, Sheridan)-98, Theater Viewing
96. Afternoon Class (2015, Oh)-90, Theater Viewing
97. The Centrifuge Brain Project (2012, Nowak)-90, Theater Viewing
98. Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984, Miyazaki)-92, Theater Viewing

Movie of the Month: Wind River (2017, Sheridan)-98, Theater Viewing

October:

99. Mother! (2017, Aronofsky)-98, Theater Viewing
100. Bride of Frankenstein (1935, Whale)-95, Public Library
101. Crawlspace (1986, Schmoeller)-90, Public Library
102. A Cure for Wellness (2017, Verbinski)-65, Public Library
103. Urban Legend (1998, Blanks)-80, Crackle
104. The Satanic Rites of Dracula (1974, Gibson)-70, Tubi TV
105. The Manster (1959, Crane, Breakston)-45, Tubi TV
106. Final Destination 2 (2003, Ellis)-82, Public Library
107. 20 Million Miles To Earth (1957, Juran)-80, Public Library
108. Blood For Dracula (1974, Morrissey)-70, Public Library
109. Raw (2017, Ducournau)-92, Netflix Instant Viewing
110. Legion (The Exorcist III DC, 1990, Blatty)-94, Public Library
111. The Curse of the Cat People (1944, Wise, Fritsch)-71, Public Library
112. It (2017, Muschietti)-94, Theater Viewing
113. Pieces (1982, Simon)-77, TubiTV
114. Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, Morrissey)-75, Public Library
115. Fright Night (2011, Gillespie)-84, Public Library
116. Alice, Sweet Alice (1976, Sole)-82, TubiTV
117. Jennifer’s Body (2009, Kusama)-90, Blu Ray
118. Salem’s Lot (1979, Hooper)-90, Blu Ray

Movie of the Month: Mother! (2017, Aronofsky)-98, Theater Viewing

November:

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119. Cutthroat Island (1995, Harlin)-45, Charge TV
120. Crossfire Trail (2001, Wincer)-77, Get TV
121. Delicatessen (1991, Jeunet, Caro)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing
122. Thor: Ragnarok (2017, Waititi)-91, Theater Viewing

Movie of the Month: Delicatessen (1991, Jeunet, Caro)-100, Netflix Instant Viewing

December:

Image result for paprika (2006)

123. Paprika (2006, Kon)-95, Public Library Blu Ray
124. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017, Johnson)-94, Theater Viewing
125. Scary Movie (2000, Wayans)-83, Netflix Instant Viewing
126. Justice League (2017, Snyder)-82, Theater Viewing

Movie of the Month: Paprika (2006, Kon)-95, Public Library Blu Ray

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959, Terence Fisher)


Operating as another one of the studios famous mad scientist movies, The Man Who Could Cheat Death has some of Terence Fisher’s usually strong visual style of film making that is the reason why he is the best out of the studios’ stable of directors at the height of its popularity. This film is well made and also is a tad creepy, as the title character turns out to be a monster as a result of his desire to live forever. Georges Bonnet is arrogant, intelligent, murderous and yet utterly charming. Without the parathyroid glands he takes from his victims Georges will finally die after living for over a 100 years. His mentor, Prof. Ludwig Weiss, refuses to help and therefore Georges has to force Pierre Gerard to perform the operation that will enable Georges to continue living forever. A scene that shows what happens to Georges’ victims is rather eerie, aimed at being terrifying and featuring plenty of green. Its almost as if Georges was an alien instead of just a man who thanks to science has found the secret of eternal life. This gift is of course not without a steep price.

Its a bit strange seeing Christopher Lee in a non-monster/evil person role, and he does a fine job here as Pierre, the doctor who unless he aids Georges will suffer the loss of the woman the two men love, Janine Dubois (played by the lovely and talented Hazel Court).  Anton Diffring is fantastic as Georges, giving life to a man who has become evil in his quest to never die. His fate becomes sealed by different forces, and the finale is rather violent and intense, as are most endings to Hammer Studios movies. This film is rather good also for its discussion on what long life, especially possibly living forever, can do to a person. In a key scene Ludwig and Georges argue about the surgery, with Ludwig mentioning that the years have changed Georges for the worse, not for the better. It almost reminds me of some newer Doctor Who episodes where the Doctor’s companions tell him to never travel alone, and how the Doctor often reflects that living so long has turned him into a different man completely.

Some argue that this movie is too heavy on dialogue, yet I like how Fisher sets up his more dramatic elements. Plus the killings are properly horrific and there is plenty of suspense in the final act. I do want to view the original version of this film, titled The Man In Half Moon Street and compare the two films. Hammer Studios was usually quite good at making remarkably entertaining remakes that either channeled the spirits of the originals or offered a new twist on previous material.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Terror of the Tongs (1961, Anthony Bushnell)


Previously I realized that having Peter Cushing was not enough to make a Hammer Studios Film good. This holds true in this case for Christopher Lee as well, although its not his fault as he gloriously overacts and plays a Chinese man in a role that is well….racist. The movie itself is racist and doesn’t care, reveling in a plot that involves a sea captain battling the local Tongs gang, which rules things. Lee is their evil leader who, afraid of a list falling into the wrong hands, decides to murder the daughter of the captain, named Jackson Sale (blandly played by Geoffery Toone). Naturally this causes Jackson to go seek revenge, and in the process he is manipulated by those who wish to destroy the Red Dragon Tongs in Hong Kong.

Terror has some of the typical Hammer Films grace notes, such as graphic violence and suspenseful moments. Even though this film is kind of one note and racist its still entertaining at times and there is a few truly great scenes. The part where Jackson has to deal with a drugged up assassin that refuses to die even he shoots him again and again (you would think that he would have tried to aim for the head). Even though its uneven and a bit dull at times The Terror of the Tongs still manages to be watchable at least, partly thanks to its action packed ending as well.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958, Terence Fisher)


I’m not quite sure how this film’s title makes any sense, although perhaps Frankenstein achieves revenge by living, I guess? Cleverly escaping being executed for his horrible crimes and for creating a monster that killed people in the first installment, the good Baron takes up a new practice in England. The local doctors are jealous of his talents, so Frankenstein must plan ahead and try to remain a step up above the usual people hounding him, and of course the authorities too. Hans, a long doctor (played by Francis Matthews) figures out who the Baron is and forces him to become his mentor. I actually like Peter Cushing best in this installment, as he expertly goes from being kind to his typical madman, a doctor who treats the poor but is also using them as parts for his experiments. What Frankenstein achieves this time is taking a hunchback, Karl-who helped Frankenstein escape-and transform him into a normal man by transplanting his brain. The experiment is a success, and yet the new Karl (Michael Gwynn) refuses to go along with the main plan, with disastrous consequences.

What surprised me is that this film is equal to the first installment, and that Fisher manages to equal his previous grand achievement, giving birth to a sequel that is one of the best sequels ever made in my opinion. Revenge is creepy, thrilling, and rather dark, as poor Karl becomes a tragic figure damned by man and by the Baron, cheated out of a happy life. In a way he is even more pitiful than the famous creature that Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff previously embodied, for he is a normal looking man and yet due to circumstances beyond his control his life is ruined. The Baron never looks back or shows remorse, and this is aptly showcased in The Revenge of Frankenstein.

How the film ends I will not reveal, but I will say that with this installment Frankenstein becomes something akin to a slasher villain: its not possible to defeat him, even with the authorities in hot pursuit. The final shot is rather chilling, and this film has all the grace marks of a good Fisher Hammer Studios movie. So far I have not viewed any other movies that come close to matching Revenge or Curse of Frankenstein, and I doubt I will. They have style and elegance, proper intelligence and excellent pacing.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959, Terence Fisher)


Look Peter Cushing is great as Sherlock Holmes and this adaptation is true to the book. Having Christopher Lee staring with him in a non Frankenstein or Dracula movie is a bit amusing and cool. Yet this film was too dry and not interesting enough, despite a good opener that sets up the film’s atmosphere. Also André Morell who plays Watson is rather dull, not properly serving as a foil to Sherlock. Considering that other actors have better embodied Watson its a bit disappointing, although I fault the writing in this film for not properly utilizing him. I suppose after the BBC Sherlock and the 1980s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes not to mention even the Guy Ritchie Holmes films I expect more from Watson. Then again though the original source material didn’t have him being this dull, either.

There is one thing I always like about Hammer Studios films though and that is how they often insert subtitle thoughts about class. Most of their films were set in the late 1800s, yet the fact that often it was lower or middle class people against rich upper class villains is an interesting contrast. Although I admit that many of the heroes were of high standing, too.

Still not all the movie is a complete waste, as its still entertaining and watchable despite its flaws. I liked the mine scene because its suspenseful and interesting. Too bad that Hounds is not more than an okay take on a classic novel. Especially with Fisher, Lee and Cushing involved; however this does not change the fact that Fisher was the most talented director out of all the ones who worked for Hammer Studios, and he was responsible for many of their best works. Also I will admit this is not really a horror movie at all, even though there are a number of scenes that come straight out of the best of Hammer Studios style Gothic horror.

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