Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Attack of the Giant Leeches (1959, Bernard L. Kowalski)


At some point I’ll view the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode making fun of Attack of the Giant Leeches. Having seen this on Crackle sans commentary, the folks behind the cult classic show were right to mock this flick. It’s mostly bad and moves way too slow with the creature effects being hilariously cheesy. It does have it’s moments however those are far and few in-between and yet I can admire the goofy effort put into this movie. If Bernard L. Kowalski can make a movie, you can make a movie, I guess haha.

The leeches actually would be at home in a cheesy episode of old school Doctor Who, and the characters in this one are so paper thin you could cut them with kid’s scissors. However I’m sure folks have some wistful nostalgia for this era of drive in movies and low budget horror cinema, and I’m not sure I blame them because I’m sure it was fun to go out on a Friday or Saturday night and see a flick like this one on the big screen. Even if it was terrible, hehe. Viewed on Crackle so at least it was free.

Love The Show. The Fanbase….Not So Much


Turn Toxic Fandom Into Profit And Notoriety On YouTube
Hey I liked that episode…

Someone on Twitter one day made a good point about how Doctor Who fans keep saying that the current show runner is killing the show. Rick and Morty has fans who idolize Rick even though he’s the last person anyone should admire. Watchmen has fans that think Rorschach is a role model (bloody yikes even if it is a movie although there is a show), and Breaking Bad has the same thing with people thinking Walter White is not a villain (super yikes). Also Community suffered from people who loved Jeff too much even though he sucked as a human being for most of the show. This is a trend that makes me wonder if people actually pay attention to what they watch, or if people love to complain.

I’m well aware I’m complaining about their complaining, and every fanbase does have their share of crazy or misguided people. Anytime a show changes things or dares to attempt something different, people freak out. I think humans like that their shows don’t change, even though sometimes that change works out or is good for the show. I remember a lot of fans being mad that The X-Files had new main characters, even though the previous lead actors didn’t want to do the show as much or at all anymore. So to keep things going new people who were perfectly fine were introduced. At least I didn’t mind the change although I’ll admit I had to warm up to both of them.

Anyways I would prefer my favorite shows be allowed to last long enough to achieve their goals. I’m reminded of Timeless and Firefly, two great TV shows that were sniffed out before they were allowed to last long enough to make a proper impact. If your favorite show makes some changes it is probably trying to survive in a hostile and increasingly shrinking TV market carved up by streaming and people having shorter attention spans. Take what you can get. Or just find another show, there’s a million of them out there.

Horrorfest 2018 Presents: Contamination (1980, Luigi Cozzi)


Even though the 1980 cult horror sci-fi movie Contamination has been called a rip off of Alien, I found it to be more of a lost, more gorier episode of Doctor Who. Particularly since the main enemy had been possessed by an alien species, and that aspect usually formed the basis of many a Doctor Who episode. Even though it’s low budget qualities are obvious, I rather enjoyed Contamination. The Italians and the Germans in the 1970s and 1980s made films that were destined to be grind house style classics beloved by those who journeyed to rundown cinemas to view the latest splatter fest. Now a days they are the kind of movie watched by horror fanatics (myself included) online (in this case, Shudder) or via physical media supplied by companies such as Arrow Bay or Shout! Factory.

Once again Ian McCulloch pops up as the sturdy hero, although in this movie he is more a haunted burnt out astronaut recruited by others to stop the invasion of earth by exploding eggs. Louise Monroe and Martin Mase fill out the rest of the cast, and provide the film with a weak love triangle that it jettisons the moment the film needs more violence. Naturally this movie ended up as a video nasty, which embellished its reputation and caused more people to want to see it, not less. Honestly Contamination is nothing more than a fun movie, although perhaps that is enough in this case, and due to changes in cinema and budgets a film like this wouldn’t be made today. The B-movie is dead, long live the B-movie.

Horrorfest 2014 Presents: Amicus Double Bill-Tales From The Crypt (1972, Freddie Francis) and The Vault of Horror (1973, Roy Ward Baker)


In the 1970s the Amicus Studio emerged as a rival to Hammer Studios, although they featured more anthology movies than Hammer Studios ever did. Thanks to my public library I was able to view two films from them in a double bill package, as these films were the result of EC Comics, although Tales From The Crypt (1972) only had two stories from those comics. Both films are quite good and really entertaining, although I prefer Tales From The Crypt over Vault Of Horror (1973), even though Vault has the better cast. Each film has ghoulish tales that focus on wicked people paying for their sins in horrible ways, all powered by the supernatural or at least suggested as being the work of some evil power. Tales From The Crypt was directed by Freddie Francis, while Vault of Horror was directed by Roy Ward Barker. Both men also did work for Hammer Studios, and Francis also famously worked on the horror classic The Innocents (1961).

Just like many anthology movies Tales From The Crypt opens with a group of people brought to a certain place by a mysterious person for reasons unclear until the end of the film. The Crypt Keeper is such a person in this case, and he tells each of the people in the group how they died. The first tale is .”..And All Through The House,” which was later featured in the Tales From The Crypt TV series and is one of the best segments in the film. The killer Santa is really creepy, and this tale is well crafted and very freaky. Easily the stuff of nightmares, and starring famous actress Joan Collins as a woman trapped by her crime and deserving of her awful punishment. “Reflections of Death” on the other hand is a tad dull, even though the twist is a good payoff. Still after following the first great segment this episode left a little to be desired.

Now “Poetic Justice” on the other hand is the top episode, and is also my favorite as well, especially since it stars legendary horror actor Peter Cushing as a nice sad old man who is ruined by a pair of horrible rich neighbors. What occurs in the end is chilling and rather gory, and a reminder that revenge is a dish best served cold. And being dead is rather cold indeed. This episode and “Reflection of Death” were both taken from the EC Tales From The Crypt comics, while “…And All Through The House” was from The Vault of Horror, another EC Comics release.

Now “Wish You Were Here” is nice and proper creepy, taking from the classic story of The Monkey’s Paw and featuring a gruesome and nasty conclusion. I rather enjoyed this one as well as “Blind Alleys,” each which featured horrible endings. “Blind Alleys” covers the cruel major who runs a home for the blind and discovers what happens when you anger the blind by cutting off their resources and driving them to seek retribution. How they manage to construct a maze of razor blade lined corridors, which reminded me of a trap from the Saw series is a tad curious, yet I suppose when one drives people to rage and anger they are capable of anything. And that a starving dog has no true master….

Overall Tales From The Crypt is a nice addition to the collection of anthologies, and makes me want to view more such films. As does The Vault of Horror, which I also liked and which I will now discuss. Unlike Freddie Francis I am currently unfamiliar with Roy Ward Baker’s work, although I imagine that its more workmanlike and less interesting than Francis’ movies. Still The Vault of Horror is another fun and well made anthology movie, although this one as noted earlier has a much better cast, particularly Tom Baker, who famously portrayed The Forth Doctor on the classic TV series Doctor Who. Also present is Curd Jurgens, who was a Bond villain in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

Unlike Tales, Vault takes place in an sub basement that five strangers have been forced to go down to, even though none of them choose it. There is no way out, and so the men drink and mention strange dreams each one has been having. Instead of a figure that brings them together these men end up in the same place all by themselves. Most of the film’s tales are from the Tales From The Crypt EC comic save for the second story, “The Neat Job”. None of the stories here are as good as the top two in Tales, although a few come rather close and overall Vault is more consistent in tone and style.

Opening with “Midnight Mess,” Vault begins as strongly as Tales did with an unsettling and eerie story. Harold tracks down his sister over an inheritance, only to discover too late that there is a reason the people do not go out at night in a quiet yet weird little town. This story has some bite to it, if you know what I mean. Followed up by the semi-weak yet still humorous “The Neat Job,” where Terry-Thomas marries a young woman and proceeds to find out that marriage is not all its really cracked up to be. Unfortunately for him, this realization happens only after he’s driven his poor wife beyond mad.

“This Trick’ll Kill You” is a bloody tale of why one does not mess with things they do not understand, as Sebastian (Curd Jurgens) and his wife played by Dawn Addams only figure out to their own horror. The morality of these tales and how people who pay the price for their misdeeds is a strong element of the EC Comics, and is present in every episode. Particularly also in “Bargain In Death,” where Michael Craig’s Maitland’s supposedly foolproof scheme results in treachery, death, and more death. Sometimes money is not worth losing one’s life, or one’s head for that matter.

 

Closing out the film is “Drawn and Quartered,” which stars Mr. Baker as Moore, a painter that is forced to seek revenge on three men who wronged him, one of them being played by Indiana Jones actor Denholm Elliot. Although he achieves what he set out to do, Moore forgets that there in the world of voodoo magic you must be careful that it doesn’t come back to harm you in the process. Something that the painter forgets to his detriment. The Vault of Horror is another good anthology film, and since Amicus created other anthology horror films I’m looking forward to seeing others that they have to offer. Hopefully they are as good as the two I viewed back in August.

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.

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