Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Blood Diner (1987, Jackie Kong)


Blood Diner easily fits the definition of “Good trash.” I’m not sure it was a good movie, yet I was entertained and it has the weird charm element that seems to be a part of typical cult cinema. I’m still amused that I found this on Hulu of all places, yet Hulu decided to feature some horror movies this time around. Two brothers and their uncle’s brain decide to summor the goddess Sheetar, using the corpses of people they kill. If that sounds familiar, think of the cult flick Blood Feast.

Really Blood Diner feels like a natural sequel to that movie, only with two people instead of one offering up sacrifices to some ancient god. In this case it is a goddess, and she requires blood, people, and a virgin to be eaten later. Which makes the fact that the brothers run a vegetarian diner all the more amusing. Rick Burks and Carl Crew are both hilarious and creepy as the two brothers, tracked by cops LaNette LaFrance and Roger Dauer.

At some point there is a club scene with a Nazi band, and one of the brothers wrestles a Nazi in the ring. I’m not sure what the hell that was about, and neither aspects seem to fit in the movie. However the club scene escalates rather quickly, and this movie has plenty of guts, gore and body parts. They don’t make these quite like they used to anymore. Maybe that’s a good thing. “First they great you, then they eat you!”

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Waxwork (1988, Anthony Hickox)


Horror movies make me distrust David Warner, even though he was a good guy in The Omen. Well he’s quite evil in Waxwork, a goofy yet likable 1980s horror movie that features plenty of horror movie characters. It also has a group of college kids who end up finding themselves trapped in wax work displays. I wasn’t exactly clear on the specifics, yet most of the displays were horror movie related.

Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, and Michelle Johnson headline the young cast, with Galligan coming off as really spoiled. Still he is our hero, aided by Patrick Macnee who ends up doing battle from his wheelchair. Having seen Twin Peeks it was odd seeing Dana Ashbrook in a role before the show aired. For some reason the dialogue in this movie was odd, almost feeling dubbed at times.

Will I watch the sequel? Sure, why not? Besides I do love a good cheesy 1980s horror movie that knows how to have fun. Oh and I guess Warner was trying to bring on the end of the world. At least he aimed high. 8/10, Waxwork is free on Tubi, check it out.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Bell, Book and Candle (1958, Richard Quine)


I bent the roles and counted Bell Book and Candle as a horror movie. More of a romantic comedy flick, with witches, warlocks and spells. Naturally there is a cat, too, which Kim Novak’s Gillian uses to cast a love spell on her neighbor, Shepherd (Jimmy Stewart) because well, she can. Yet she makes the classic mistake of falling in love with him. I also like that Jack Lemon was in this, and Elsa Lanchester is also wonderful, too.

Ah romance, even if it is powered by a spell. This is a joyous movie created by nice people starring nice people that maybe could only have been made in the 1950s. Female power is on full display and both Stewart and Novak have the same chemistry they displayed together in Vertigo. I also loved the use of color in the film, which made it look all the more stunning and lovely.

I also enjoyed the subplot of Lemmon and Ernie Kovacs’ novelist teaming to write a book on witches. This movie like so many other good or great ones puts New York City front and center, relishing in the wide and awesome location. It was nice to take a break from all the violence and mayhem I had been viewing to sit through a delightful movie for a change. Oh well, back to the gore grind.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Don’t Breathe (2016, Fede Álvarez)


If you and two friends are breaking into a blind guy’s house, you might be in a horror movie. This is the plot of Don’t Breathe, which is an intense and suspenseful flick that is literally a bottle episode of a TV show turned into a full length feature movie. Stephen Lang is the blind man with some dark secrets, Jane Levy, Dylan Minnette, and Daniel Zovattop play the trio of house thieves. I’m reminded of the old adage about not messing with people because eventually you end up finding one who messes with you back. Surprise!

I liked how things go from bad to worse really quickly in this movie. Fede Álvarez does a fine job of creating a movie that makes you unsure of who to root for, which I thought was a risky choice that pays off. Even though this movie doesn’t go beyond its limitations, I still dig it a lot. I also liked his Evil Dead movie, although I prefer Don’t Breathe to that one. I hope that he keeps getting to make movies in the near future.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Baron Blood (1972, Mario Bava)


While I like Mario Bava’s films a good deal Baron Blood was disappointing. Joseph Cotton and company do their best to elevate really flimsy material that is way too dependent on gory torture scenes. The film also takes much too long to become interesting, and I felt a lot of the film is a drag. This might be the first one I’ve seen from Bava that I have no desire to revisit, which is a shame.

The movie is not a complete waste, as the sets were neat and I liked several well framed shots. The ending is brutal as well, which does help and there is a scene that is quite suspenseful. I just expected more from a movie with a plot this ridiculous. Oh well. I’ll still try and check out more from Bava anyways, despite not having many of his famous films left to watch.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The College Girl Murders (1967, Alfred Vohrer)


Sure The College Girl Murders is really goofy and seems to combine a giallo with a spy mystery movie, yet I still enjoyed it regardless. Someone is using acid spewing guns to kill women on a college campus, and a red hooded figure lurks in the background. Are the two connected? Watch and find out. The main villain’s scheme is actually clever, using a man in prison to carry out his assassinations.

Naturally two detectives are on the case, and they dig up a bunch of suspects. This being a slasher film of sorts plenty of people die, and the film has a rather high body count for being a 1960s movie. Some argue this is one of the earlier influences on later slasher films, and they may have a point. I overlooked some bad acting and simply went along for the ride, which includes some good set pieces and a cool ending.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: Scare Me (2020, Josh Ruben)


Oh hey look a 2020 horror movie that as far as I know didn’t hit theaters. It’s just not the same. Scare Me is mostly a comedy anyways, and the last act rips off several non horror movies that were dramatic thrillers. I really liked this movie when the two characters were telling scary stories, and they even let the pizza man in on the fun.

My issue is that both main characters come off as a bit insufferable. One wrote a successful book yet still is fine with taking ideas, the other is insecure and let’s their ego ruin what could have been something good. I don’t remember their names, I just enjoyed watching them tell scary stories. The film suffers from too much plot, a criticism that I believe came from Roger Ebert.

I wonder if he would write that in his review. Perhaps. Still this is a good film, and I liked it anyways. The acting is good, which helps. I think the story about the old man was my favorite one, and I do appreciate that Scare Me was trying to do its own twist on the anthology movie. Shudder presents modern original films all the time, and as with older horror movies I’m not bound to love all of them. Sometimes merely liking one is good enough.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Tomb of Ligeia (1965, Roger Corman)


Vincent Price goes goth steampunk in Roger Corman’s final Poe film, The Tomb of Ligeia. Choosing to go out with more of a slower film than the lavish Masque of the Red Death, Ligeia is still a fairly bleak flick, one that slowly builds up its horrors. Price plays a nobleman who remains under his late wife’s spell, as made very clear by the eerie opening. Other, far darker elements are only hinted at and revealed later on.

Verden, Price’s character, is a nobleman who lives in an old, crumbling abbey full of cool artifacts and his loyal manservant. He makes the mistake of falling in love with Rowena, who is then beset by a cat that may be the spirit of his dead wife. This movie takes “Just the cat!” to unhealthy levels, as that cat attacks everyone who comes near it. Eventually Verden has to face the cat, and the haunting spirit of his decreased beloved.

Elizabeth Shepherd is great in a double role, even though they had to use makeup and other tricks to make Price seem younger. I wonder how the film would have worked had they been able to get Richard Chamberlain in the part instead. Regardless, this is a well made movie that I liked a lot, and I wonder if we will ever see anyone adapt so many literary works from one author like Corman did.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Masque of the Red Death (1964, Roger Corman)


Throughout my years of horror watching, I have marveled at the fact that there are 1960s movies that can disturb and even scare me. You would think that movies way older than me wouldn’t have that effect, yet the decade gave us many a good chiller picture. Well The Masque of the Red Death is easily one that left me uneasy very much, and made my skin crawl. This is a film depicting evil of all kinds, and it almost seems to revel in the cruelty of mankind. I’m glad my dad didn’t let me watch this on AMC when I was a kid-it would have given me nightmares.

It doesn’t help that we are currently in a pandemic that has swept the land. Just like the red death that has taken over the land ruled over by devil worshiper Prince Prospero, played with evil relish by Vincent Price. This might be his best role, or at least his most unforgiving one. Price takes the part and dials it up to 100, resulting a role that is both memorizing and very creepy. Jane Asher is also great as Francesca, the ginger peasant girl he forces to be a part of his court.

This film also has Hazel Court, Nigel Green, and Patrick Magee, all playing different roles of good and evil. The cinematography is marvelous yet it is the film’s gorgeous set design that really caught my eye. The film uses colors like any good or great horror film, and this is easily going into my Top 100 Horror films list when I’m done with October. I don’t know if I have the stomach to view it again though, and I thank Shudder for gathering a nice batch of Vincent Price films to watch in time for Halloween.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Sadist (1963, James Landis)


In The Sadist Arch Hall Jr. is a crazed, snarling, psychotic beast of a man bent on destruction and chaos. He is evil personified, not carring who he hurts or murders in the process. This was the earliest take on the famous spree killings committed by Charles Starkweather that gripped the nation in the 1950s. Badlands, Gun Crazy, plus Bonnie and Clyde all come to mind. Yet even though those films were more intelligent than this one I rather liked The Sadist.

This is a movie that keeps things simple, and thus is rather intense for doing so. A trio of teachers make a grave error in stopping at a local scrap yard to fix their car. Immediately a pair of young killers pop up and drag the three into a day long nightmare that they will never forget. Hall commands the screen but I liked the rest of the cast as well, and the movie begs the question of what you would do if you were in that situation. Most likely many of us would die.

Helen Hovey makes for a good final girl, and there is a scene that I’m pretty sure inspired a good creepy part in Friday the 13th Part 2. This film helped to inspire multiple horror cliches, and James Landis manages to capture the terror felt by the teachers. Definitely check this one out.

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