Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Manster (1959, George P. Breakston, Kenneth G. Crane)


The Manster is a weird late 1950s movie that seems to be a later, more modernized take on the kind of mad scientist monster movies that Universal Studios popularized in the 1930s and 1940s, and which Hammer Studios built off of around the 1950s. This one isn’t as good as any of those although certain aspects of the movie are entertaining. I mean the finale literally involves a man fighting himself, or a monster version of himself, and the experiments scenes are quite freaky for a 1950s movie. The Japan setting is also really neat and used to good effect, as the scientist responsible for transforming a journalist into an ugly beast is also Japanese. The movie only has a limited number of killings due to being an older movie, plus due to the limited budget, of course.

Larry (Peter Dyneley) is an American journalist who ends up interviewing Dr. Robert Suzuki (Tetsu Nakamura), who’s laboratory is located on top of a volcano, which is very Bond villain to say the least. The doctor and his assistant, Tara (Terri Zimmern) use this opportunity to experiment upon poor Larry and turn him into a creature with two heads! Things get out of hand quickly in this goofy and pretty dumb movie that at least has a decent conclusion. This is another horror movie that if they remade it no one would mind, and one would be best to skip this and watch a Hammer Studios movie instead. I also don’t remember if I watched this on a streaming service or not.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Flesh For Frankenstein (1973, Paul Morrissey)


Udo Kier also played Frankenstein in Paul Morrissey’s other campy cult horror flick, Flesh For Frankenstein. I think I like this one a bit more than his Dracula one, and it has plenty of nasty and bloody moments. Joe Dallesandro also pops up in this one, and the movie even has a weird yet fitting commentary on eugenics that never made its way into any of the Hammer Studios Frankenstein movies for whatever reason.

The last act is insanely gruesome and pretty shocking even for a Frankenstein movie. Kier hams it up in this one, too, yet I liked his performance better in this flick than in Dracula. This one also has tons of sex to go along with the mayhem, which seemed to be a major aspect of 1970s Euro horror flicks. I think this is a fairly decent addition to the rest of the Frankenstein movies that Hollywood has been making since the dawn of cinema.

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 2017 Presents: Urban Legend (1998, Jamie Blanks)


Yeah I know its almost time for Horrorfest 2021. Go figure. Anyways I am glad that Urban Legend popped up on Crackle last year, as it is a fun, mostly sharp, killer targets college kids slasher film that the 1990s featured a lot. Despite getting plenty of hate I actually like this movie quite a bit, particularly since it dives into one of my favorite subjects: urban legends and how they get spread. In this case however the group of young people better know their stuff, considering a murderer is on the loose and is using those famous legends to kill people. Off the top of my head the ones featured include the girl hiding in the car as the boyfriend gets murdered, the dead roommate (“Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?” Spooky), the dog in the microwave, pop rocks and soda being mixed together, and others that are only mentioned, not shown. What a great list. Oh and this film has a cast that fits the material well, for better or for worse. Really its so weird seeing Jared Leto play a seemingly normal guy, although he really pairs up well with the film’s Final Girl, Alicia Witt.

Plus the movie features Danelle Harris and Robert Englund in neat small parts, as well as Tara Reid, Loretta Devine and Michael Rosenbaum in good, notable parts. Despite the film being a bit too flashy at times and certain aspects not working as well as I would have liked, I rather enjoyed Urban Legend. Maybe it’s largely due to how much I like such tales, and in this case who the killer turns out to be is a great twist. One that I will actually admit I did not see coming, although perhaps I should have due to having viewed so many slasher movies over the years. Although back when I saw Urban Legend I still was not as familiar with the genre as I am now. Hurray for reviewing a movie four years later!

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: A Cure For Wellness (2016, Gore Verbinski )


Maybe I would have liked this movie better if a different lead actor had been chosen, seeing as this is the second movie where I have found Dane DeHaan to be incredibly dull (the other film being the insanely mediocre Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets from 2017). Or if the film had not featured Jason Isaacs sporting a really awful German accent-at least I think it was German. I don’t really care.

However this movie has some gorgeous visuals, rather nice creepy moments, and Mia Goth was really good as Hannah, the mysterious girl that DeHaan’s Lockhart keeps running into. Sadly one of the major twists was revealed in one of the film’s trailers, so thanks Hollywood, and I kind of guessed one of the other twists, so perhaps giving this film points for its mysterious elements is a bad exercise.

Despite being frustrated with some of its aspects, I do not find A Cure For Wellness to be a poor film, just one that could have been more properly executed. Unfortunately my Horrorfests always have that one movie, or multiple movies, that are a mixed bag. I could not resist a trick or treat pun in here somewhere.

I will say the castle spa treatment facility was really awesome, and I think that Verbinski was going for a Mario Bava, surrealistic type of film that maybe would have worked better decades ago. Verbinski has talent, yet he is often prone to abusing the willingness of Hollywood executives to give him free reign, not to mention sizable budgets. Sometimes, in the case of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, it works. Other times, such as A Cure For Wellness, not so much. Oh well. I do hope that Goth receives more acting opportunities, and perhaps some day I will enjoy a DeHaan performance, although I sincerely doubt that will happen anytime soon.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: The Bride of Frankenstein (1935, James Whale)


Everyone knows about The Bride of Frankenstein, widely mentioned as that rare sequel to equal or be superior to the original film, and its a shame I have taken so long to finally watch it. Luckily for me my local library had a blu ray copy, and it had not been too long ago that I had seen the first film, which is also a classic in its own right. There are certain things about the sequel that I prefer to the original, most notably the addition of a key member: Dr. Pretorius (a wonderfully flamboyant Ernest Thesiger). The good doctor is the driving force that makes Dr. Frankenstein (Colin Clive) proceed to create a new monster, one to be a mate for the Monster (the legendary Boris Karloff), who of course survived the mob attack depicted in the previous installment.

This film begins the trend of horror sequels depicting previous events so new viewers would not be left behind, and it is also more brutal than the original film. Karloff starts off by murdering a poor couple who had the misfortune to investigate if he was dead or not, and yet in this film he begins to discover his own humanity. The Monster even learns how to speak, and it is this film where the poor blind man (hilariously parodied in Young Frankenstein) befriends the creature, only for others to drive the poor beast away. I also am amused that the titular creature is hardly even in the film, saved away for a wonderfully dramatic and intense moment near the film’s end. This movie also has a surprisingly amount of comedy, which Whale perhaps inserted to dull some of its more harsh edges.

While I am not sure if this is better than the first film, I still love it just as much, seeing as Universal wisely brought back the original cast and crew that made the first film so great. Too bad the rest of the sequels did not involve James Whale, although I still want to seek them out as well. I have an odd fascination with horror film series, and Universal deserves both praise and disdain for giving birth to them in the first place.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)


There are many other horror films that Mother reminds me of, Black Swan and The Shining being two of them. Darren Aronofsky has engaged in psychological matters before, and he goes even further with his latest. Metaphorically, this is a trip into the outrageous, and I refuse to go looking for online answers. Its more satisfying to figure out what a movie is trying to say, even if you end up being wrong.

Also its nice to see Jennifer Lawrence being a part of a non blockbuster film again. I remember discovering her in Winter’s Bone, and she once again displays a naturalistic charisma that makes Veronica one of her best performances. Javier Bardem rivals her, embodying Him as a sort of wonderful grizzly bear of a man. The two are perfectly matched up together, and the struggles that result between them are both captivating, and later on, insane. My patience was rewarded with a last act which I cannot further elaborate on.

Oh and there is a cameo from the last person you would expect to be in this madhouse of a film. I love that Domhnall Gleeson is bent on being in every movie he can possibly appear in, plus Michelle Pfeiffer and Ed Harris might as well be an older version of the main duo. I saw this in an empty theater, and was enthralled by almost every moment. This might be Aronofsky’s masterwork, a film that cares only about what he is trying to accomplish. No wonder audiences hated Mother!

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Blair Witch (2016, Adam Wingard)


You would think people would stop wandering around in the woods after countless horror movies, but no…someone goes blundering in. At least in both the original The Blair Witch Project and the newer one, Blair Witch, offer a reason why people head into the forest. In the first, it was three people hunting a legend. Now its a group of friends led by man hunting for his lost sister.

However both films suffer from characters that I did not relate to, and the newest flick takes way too long to become interesting. Once things spiral out of control I was creeped out, and I liked how I was unsure of what would happen next. I much prefer the orginal, yet the latest entry is still decent. I have not viewed Book of Shadows, and I have no plans to do so.

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 2017 Presents: Bite (2015, Chad Archibald)


Do not watch Bite while eating, as the film roughly 40 minutes in becomes gross. I have viewed a lot of body horror film and yet I still find this movie disgusting. Which is clearly what those who made it had in mind, while channeling other films. Modern horror does that a lot, and unfortunately too much familiar territory is covered as a result.

The cast mostly helps this film, although Jordan Gray is bland as Casey’s boyfriend.  Elma Begovic is rather sympathetic as Casey, despite turning into a monster. Denise Yuen and Annette Wozniak play her friends: one who cares about her, the other does not. Things get out of hand quickly 40 minutes in, and the body horror elements were the film’s strongest.

I did not care for the found footage style opening, and the movie took a bit too long to really get moving. Still Bite is not all bad, and it was not a complete waste of time. Oh and bugs creep me out, just like everyone else. Yet they can also be oddly fascinating. From a distance, behind glass.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑