Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Black Torment (1964, Robert Hartford -Davis )


Made during the height of Hammer Studios The Black Torment feels like a lost film from them, and it has some of the grace notes of Hammer films. One thing I enjoy about the 1960s is the number of period horror films, many of them well done and entertaining. The Black Torment has ghosts, a sword fight, class issues and some good creepy scenes. The main cast is full of people I did not recognize, yet I felt that added a degree of intrigue to the movie, since I would not be able to guess what happened next.

One of the film’s highlights is Sir Richard Fordyke (John Turner) riding after a ghost! Who then manages to chase after him, in eerie and suspenseful fashion. The movie’s gothic horror aspects are its strongest features, and overcome some weak melodrama early on in the film. Heather Sears as Lady Elizabeth is excellently cast as Richard’s wife, and she more than holds her own in the film.

Plus there is a staircase scene that reminded me of The Shining, which makes me wonder if Stanley Kubrick got the inspiration for one of his film’s most infamous moments from The Black Torment. Every Horrorfest I uncover a hidden old gem, and I eagerly recommend this film to everyone looking for solid entertainment.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Crimson Peak (2015, Guillermo del Toro)


Gorgeous and elegant, with a grand cast and a creepy score Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is another fine example of his ability to make a good horror film. This one happens to be in the tradition of classic gothic horror, with ghosts mostly accepted as being real or possible by many of the characters. Furthermore there is a great sense of dread prevailing through the entire movie, one that never lets up even after the credits roll.

Even though the plot is rather simple I did not mind figuring out what would happen later on. Del Toro channels many past horror films effectively while also bringing his own style to the picture. At times del Toro does not get enough credit for being a talented director, and I always look forward to whatever new project he is working on. This film benefits from his ability to paper over some of its flaws and to account for certain scenes that don’t work as well as others.

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Having a marvelous cast sure works in his favor-even Charlie Hunnam, the weak link, is good as the kindhearted and smart doctor Alan,  who has a crush on Mia Wasikowska’s young budding writer Edith. Unfortunately for him she falls under the spell of British aristocrat Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his eerie sister, Lucille (Jessica Chastain). Despite warnings from both Alan and her father, Edith decides to wed Thomas and move to his crumbling mansion overseas. Anyone who’s ever seen a horror film could guess where this is going.

Yet there are plenty of creepy moments as previously noted, and the house’s presence is so notably made that it’s as if it’s part of the cast itself. Also the third act did take me by surprise in a few regards and was very tense. Some think that “Peak” is not a horror film, yet I disagree. It’s a good addition to the “Don’t go in the house” genre.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: Night Creatures (1962, Peter Graham Scott)


The original title for this film is Captain Clegg and that sounds better yet in America they went with Night Creatures instead. Peter Cushing shows off his action hero abilities and with Oliver Reed and his loyal sidekick Mipps (played with gusto by Hammer Studios character actor Michael Ripper) he tricks the English while bootlegging to provide for the town he presides over as a seemingly humble priest. Of course Hammer Studios can’t resist putting in gothic horror elements yet Clegg is a famous hero and pirate in English fiction.

I really enjoyed this movie as it has plenty of thrills mystery and adventure. The night creatures are quite cool and it was fun to watch Cushing and his fellow outlaws outwit the English soldiers trying to arrest them. I do wish there had been more time spent on Clegg’s adventures-still this is a most wonderful movie. There is also a large amount of populism and wealth distribution in this film, as Clegg is responsible for the town not being bled dry by the overbearing English government’s taxes. The finale was also rather surprising and even a tad bittersweet, which is different from some of Hammmer Studios’ other movies.

It’s Hammer Time Presents: Frankenstein Created Woman (1967, Terence Fisher)


One of the best things about Peter Cushing is how no matter what the movie he appeared in he always gave his all to whatever role he played. The part of Baron Frankenstein suited him rather well, and in Frankenstein Created Woman the Baron is working with an older assistant named Dr Hertz, attempting to isolate the soul of a person. In doing so he will conquer death via a new means, so long as he is able to captain a person’s soul and essence. Finally the brilliant madman is able to achieve his goal without interference from others, yet human nature becomes his new problem.

Like many of the entries in this series there is a ghoulish and cruel opener. A man is the executed, and the repercussions of this action happen years later when his son is framed for murder by a trio of upper class thugs. His beloved, Christina (the lovely and talented Susan Denberg) kills herself in response after seeing her lover brutally executed, and Frankenstein realizes this his chance to prove his metaphysical theories. Of course this leads to that classic scene featuring strange machines at work, resulting in weird science happening.

Frankenstein Created Woman is a film with two halves: one a science fiction Gothic horror tale with tragedy, the other a slasher film. The Baron does create a monster that is beautiful and lovely, and yet due to having the soul of a vengeful man it proceeds to go on a rampage. Unfortunately for Baron Frankenstein and his assistant the authorities of the village come after him per the typical realization that he is responsible, and events come to a head. Particularly after the Baron and Dr Hertz realize what is actually happening.

Despite at times being cheesy and a little slow in the middle, Frankenstein Created Woman is one of the better sequels in the Frankenstein series. The conclusion is both sad and haunting, and this film is rather entertaining and intelligently made. I continue to enjoy viewing these movies, as its amusing to me how Frankenstein continues to survive and work despite everyone being against him.

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