Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Blood For Dracula (1974, Paul Morrissey)


Udo Kier hams it up as Dracula in Paul Morrissey’s outlandish and very gory camp filled cult flick Blood For Dracula, which is definitely a unique take on the old legend. This wasn’t a particularly good movie yet I still oddly liked it anyways and I enjoyed the movie’s wilder aspects. I mean how can one not laugh at Dracula puking up blood simply because he can’t get virgin blood. That part is both grotesque, campy and fits the movie all too well.

Plus Morrissey even throws in a neat commentary about Dracula being the aristocracy verus the Marxist manservant Mario (Joe Dallesandro). The final act is utterly frantic and properly gory for a vampire movie. Parts of this movie felt like a softcore porno flick, the rest is Euro style horror trash that is passable enough entertainment. Definitely not like the other vampire movies from this era, that’s for sure.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: The Convent (2000, Mike Mendez)


Despite being a low budget horror movie that didn’t even make it to theaters, The Convent is a fun early 2000s horror movie that I really enjoyed. Also it has some good freaky moments and seems to be both a mix of different horror movies and it’s own, unique take on the demonic nun genre. Plus you sort of care about the characters in this one, and the movie handles it’s business and quits while it’s ahead, which is smart.

Adrienne Barbeau headlines a cast of people I’ve never heard of, plus Coolio and Bill Moseley in smaller roles. The kills in this flick are pretty gnarly, and there is even some funny moments that sometimes work. Despite being fairly cheesy, this movie is wonderfully goofy in a that good cult movie way. I don’t think they could really make a movie like this now, especially since parts of the film reminded me more of 1980s and 1990s horror. 1990s horror really hasn’t inspired too many imitators, although perhaps it just doesn’t have the nostalgia factor of previous decades. Give it time though I’m sure it will happen.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks (1974, Dick Randall)


First off no one is sure who directed Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks in the first place. Secondly, this movie is a weird mess that doesn’t work as a movie or a Frankenstein flick, which is too bad since the Hammer Studios Peter Cushing one ended that same year in 1974. This movie coasts on nudity, violence and goofy moments that don’t really work. Then the movie actually tries in the last act yet even manages to botch that to a certain degree.

Maybe I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to watch this, or perhaps I’ve seen better takes on the material and I couldn’t help but compare Frankenstein’s Castle of Freaks to those. Either way, I don’t regret watching this flick even if it wasn’t a good movie, if only to continue my quest to view every Frankenstein movie ever made. I can’t help myself sometimes.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Vamp (1986, Richard Wenk)


Richard Wenk’s Vamp begins as a cheesy 1980s college comedy and ends with college comedy horror comedy. I gotta admire a man devoted to achieving his goals, I suppose. The young cast is likable enough however one views this movie for Grace Jones, who’s definitely more talented than everyone else involved. This is a major flaw of the movie that never gets corrected.

Plus for a film titled “Vamp” the vampires take quite a while to finally show up. If vampires in a strip club sounds familiar then like myself and others you recognize that From Dusk Till Dawn took that bit from this movie. Yet that’s a much better film than this one, although one can attribute that to the high level of talent involved. I enjoyed Vamp-Chris Makepeace and Dedee Pfeiffer do have some nice chemistry together. Robert Rusler as the friend who drags both Makepeace and literal horror movie stereotype Gedde Watanabe into this whole mess probably should have been the main character instead, though. He’s way cooler.

Sure Billy Drago is in this and yet he’s not a vampire which is a wasted opportunity. The man is great at playing sinister menacing characters yet gets stuck as a random gang member. Lame. The finale does have some quality practical special effects moments and it was clear that Wenk in some ways planned for a sequel which never happened. Either you’ll find this goofy movie very charming or think it is very dumb. As for me, I thought it was merely decent or ok at best which is enough.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Hellmaster (1992, Douglas Shulze)


Poor John Saxon really needed a quick paycheck and this appeared in Hellmaster, a prime argument for those who dislike 1990s horror movies. I’ve often defended the decade, yet this flick is just awful in a hilariously inept way that must be viewed for one to believe. The characters in this flick not only fully embrace terrible decision making, they also have dialogue so bland even I couldn’t ignore it. I can envision someone finding Hellmaster at the local video store back then, renting it and wanting their money back soon afterwards.

This movie even has a halfway ok plot, yet the movie never fully realizes that potential. There are some good creepy moments, yet they are lost in the film’s inability to not swerve from scary to camp, often in the same scene. Pick a lane, movie. I already don’t recall the final woman, or why she takes the superman drug yet is perfectly fine while others mutate. There’s no logic in this movie, even by horror movie standards. I could see Netflix remaking Hellmaster and creating their own terrible mess in the process.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Messiah of Evil (1973, Gloria Katz, Willard Huyck)


Equal parts slow burn, nightmare fuel and zombie film, Messiah of Evil is one one those 1970s cult gems that people talk about years later. There are two scenes that echo in my mind: one is a grocery store one that is super freaky, the other takes place in a movie theater which calls to mind Carnival of Souls. Both are highly effective and add to the film’s overall high eerie factor that works very much in it’s favor.

Arletty (Marianna Hill) goes to a small California town in search of her father, played by Royal Dano. Running into an old man (Elisha Cook, Jr.) who tells her about a dark prophecy straight out of a Lovecraft story. She ends up joining a rich guy (Michael Greer) and his two female pals (Joy Bang and Anitra Ford) who hang around despite all of them, Arletty included, reading her father’s spooky diary.

In fact much of this movie has the look and feel of a Lovecraft adaption, with some solid nods to George A. Romero, of course. The final act is your quality 1970s finale that has no qualms about being gloomy. I liked this movie a lot and I might watch it again if Shudder still keeps the rights or Tubi has it. This kind of movie is why I love 1970s horror so much: it has guts, literally.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Def By Temptation (1990, James Bond III)


Despite being a low budget 1990s horror film, Def By Temptation was very well made and maybe even great at times. I liked this one a lot, and I think it would pair very well with something like Candyman or perhaps something late 1980s such as The Serpent and the Rainbow. The only thing is the film’s villain reminded me of a vampire than a succubus, although perhaps my knowledge of them is based off the fun show Lost Girl.

Joel, haunted by his dead father (Samuel L. Jackson in a cameo role) decides to visit his old friend K (Kadeem Hardison). Normally having the director play the main role might result in a mixed bag performance, yet James Bond III is actually great as Joel. He seems sympathetic and determined to succeed as a minister, to grow as a person. Too bad he runs into Cynthia Bond’s unamed demon.

The demonic kill scenes are both freaky and quite bloody, and Cynthia Bond is terrifying and captivating as the main villain. Any movie that has Bill Nunn is usually worth seeing, and I enjoyed his character and K teaming up to take down the succubus. My favorite part had to be the bar scene where the woman gets a holy water bloody Mary. Boy did that cause literal sparks to fly!

While the final act seems to feel a tad rushed, this movie works as a waking nightmare, literally in the scene where Joel runs through the streets in terror. I do want to see this movie again, and I think one could easily write more about it and how it fits into modern horror cinema’s take on black culture. Even if the title is a bit goofy, which I still don’t mind because it works.

Horrorfest 2021 Presents: Night Tide (1961, Curtis Harrington)


Night Tide may be more of a psychological horror thriller than a supernatural one, and yet it operates as both quite well. This is a tightly paced film that still has wonderfully lyrical and also eerie moments, often within minutes of each other. Dennis Hopper is a lonely sailor desperate for love and companionship, this settling on a woman that may be a mermaid. Or thinks she’s a mermaid. Well she plays one at the local carnival, anyways.

Linda Lawson is the alluring and mysterious woman Mora, who may or may not have killed her previous lovers. Hopper’s Johnny learns of this, yet in typical horror movie fashion he doesn’t believe it and he continues to see her. Love sure is blind. There is a dream sequence that looks even more fantastic in the movie’s black and white cinematography, and that sequence leads into an ocean scene that is pure 1950s melodrama.

While the movie probably could have been longer, oddly enough, Harrington was limited by his budget and he smartly wraps up the picture under 90 minutes. Parts of Night Tide definitely had to have been an influence on The Lighthouse, and I’ll be thinking about this one for quite a while even if I didn’t give the movie a perfect score. Harrington’s early 1960s movie, much like Cat Peope and Carnival of Souls, offers up people haunted by a past that endangers their future. I would love to see the ocean at night, as long as I don’t stare too hard into those black, deep waves…

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: The House on Sorority Row (1983, Mark Rosman)


Having viewed numerous 1980s slasher films it was only a matter of time before I saw one that, despite receiving praise from others, is a film I did not enjoy. The House On Sorority Row has some good moments and does not lack in tension, however I found the characters to be mostly bland and the movie’s kills to not be particularly memorable. In fact I had to revisit the film’s synopsis just so I could review it months later, something that I rarely have to do when covering movies I like. I viewed this film on Hulu with sizable expectations based on the quality trailer and good word of month, so perhaps that affected my viewing a little. That said, despite not caring for “Sorority Row” I did note that the film created and embellished upon several notable cliches of the slasher genre.

Most famous being a group of people covering up a deadly accident with awful repercussions that they never could have imagined. These college girls end up being the target of an unseen and unknown killer, all while being more worried about whether or not their secret will be revealed. In fact they seem to be in denial about themselves being in danger until its too late. I wanted to really like this film considering its solid mostly female cast and myself enjoying some of the film’s murderous scenes. Yet I was left unsatisfied by the film’s conclusion, which is now a horror film cliche in itself (but relatively fresh by 1983 standards), and the film lacking enough suspense for my liking. It tries too hard to be a mystery film instead of a slasher movie, and I think the movie would have benefited from having an established veteran in the group.

Horrorfest 2015 Presents: Critteriffic


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Sure this was supposed to be part of my viewing from last year. Doesn’t matter because I do what I want anyways. Critters 3 and 4 came as a double bill part of a four pack that I found at my local library. Neither are particularly good, yet I actually dug one a little bit. I like to finish franchises anyways, for better or for worse. The series isn’t Oscar worthy but it is fun to watch. For some reason the 80s and 90s had a lot of franchise horror, although that seemed to be the norm for Hollywood, period.

Critters 3 is not a good movie. It’s easy the worst of the series and is mostly notable for featuring a young Leonardo DiCaprio in one of the main roles. As the son of a douche bag who wants to drive off his tenants so he can build a shopping mall or something. After having the Critters take over a farmhouse and a small town an apartment building is a huge step down. Imagine if this had been a big budget film where the Crites invade a whole city. Too bad that never happened.

Still this film does have its moments and the cast isn’t bad for a poor showing. They make this crappy movie watchable and I did like some of the kills. Also for some reason (SPOILER) The film ends on a cliffhanger. I like that Terrence Mann and Don Keth Opper appear in all of the series. That’s welcomed consistency.

Now oddly enough Critters 4 was a step up and works okay as an ending to the series. Well at least it was supposed to be, since nothing ever seems to end in Hollywood. Opper and Mann return along with new additions Brad Dourif and Angela Bassett as members of a crew that finds Charlie in space. I overlooked the obvious Alien/Aliens ripoff moments and sat back and enjoyed the fact that for the first time ever the Crites were actually in space. And that this movie has a few surprises, including one I did not see coming.

Even though like the rest of the series the low budget feel is quite apparent, I still enjoyed the fourth movie. The first two entries in the series are the best, however I still recommend even seeing the last two, just to see how things shake out. Also I am a fan of even bad sci-fi, especially since we don’t get too much of the actual stuff these days. Comic book movies don’t count.

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