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 2020/Its Hammer Time Presents: Let Me In (2010, Matt Reeves)


Chloë Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee have pretty good chemistry together in Let Me In, Matt Reeves’ quasi remake of Let The Right One In. I prefer the original but the remake is a good film, and has its own unique moments even if at times it felt like a copy of the Swedish film that was made two years before. Sometimes imitation is the best kind of flattery.

I rather like how the film was shot, with Abby and Owen’s relationship being as tender and complicated as the one in the original film. I like good remakes, and this was certainly one of them, although I am not sure it needed to exist. Still Reeves definitely has talent and is a good director, and I want to check out some of his other films. Especially since I really enjoyed Cloverfield. Oddly enough I prefer the pool scene in this film to the one in the original, mostly for a particular shot of Owen that is very remarkable and memorable.

2019 Horrorfest Presents: Thirst (1979, Rod Hardy)


Rod Hardy’s Thirst (not to be confused with the modern day vampire movie with the same title) is equal parts Soylent Green and Hammer Films vampire movies put together in one over the top, marvelous package. Chantal Contouri headlines a cast that also includes David Hemmings and Henry Silva as part of a cult that is obsessed with a woman that is descended from Elizabeth Báthory. They want to turn her into a vampire just like Báthory! What you have is rooms full of giant blood vats, an opening that is rather startling, and a conclusion that left me a tad confused. This movie also gave me some David Cronenberg vibes, and I wonder if it further influenced him as much as it was seemingly influenced by him (I was reminded of Rabid quite a bit-which not a bad thing). Anyone who knows me well can attest to my love of cult cinema and strange B-movie oddities, and this movie fits into both categories.

There was parts that did bore me at times, and the fact that Kate keeps trying to escape only to be recaptured became a bit overplayed. However I still liked how the movie never stopped trying to shock her or the audience. The blood shower scene would be at home in any horror movie, and the part where she witnesses the cult members feeding is creepy and very memorable. The cast really helps with some of the thinner material, particularly Hemmings and Silva. Contouri also gives an excellent performance, as she is the movie’s anchor-you sympathize with her while also thinking “Hey she might give into all this madness.” Conformity in society is a powerful thing, and in the hands of the wrong people it can be easily weaponized.

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.

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