Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Mansion of the Doomed (1976, Michael Pataki)


Mansion of the Doomed is a low budget 1970s take on the much better classic Eyes Without a Face. I tried not to compare the two but Mansion felt a bit too similar. I did like Mansion, however I feel it’s not as good or half as interesting as Eyes is, which is too bad all things considered. Both are easily better than the still wonderfully campy/goofy Atom Age Vampire, which I reviewed years ago on paper. No idea if that review was ever posted or not, I would have to look.

This movie does have a good cast: Richard Basehart as the doctor willing to do evil for his daughter to see again, Gloria Grahame as his willing assistant, Lance Henriksen as one of the victims and Trish Stewart as the doctor’s daughter. The eyeless victims are pretty creepy, however the movie sometimes fails to use them for more, better effect in my opinion. I was hoping for a far scarier movie, still this one is decent/solid enough and has a satisfying conclusion. One you can maybe say you saw coming, ha ha….I’ll show myself out.

Horrorfest 2017 Presents: Jennifer’s Body (2009, Karyn Kusama)


“Hell is a teenage girl.”

Jennifer’s Body was another horror movie I viewed on Halloween night in 2017, and was also obtained at Best Buy. The Blu-ray copy I got is still in my possession and it had one of those specialty covers they threw on top to get someone like me to buy it. I’m a sucker for blind buys even if they end up disappointing me, and Karyn Kusama’s film is notably polarizing so of course I had to watch it and see for myself what the buzz was all about. I’m not sure it’s the masterpiece some proclaim it and I don’t think it sucks like many do. In fact I just really liked the movie, and I will probably revisit my copy at some point down the road just to refresh my memory about certain aspects. I’ve softened my stance on second viewings over the years and I find a lot of times they give me another perspective and let me know what I missed the first time. Oh and this movie’s script is both a blessing and a curse, with dialogue that made me laugh, cringe, and shake my head at times.

Say what you will about Megan Fox back then or now, she completely owns this movie. Amanda Seyfried is fantastic too and the pair of them have what could be described as a friendship that turns into bleak obsession and insanity later on. Funny enough Johnny Simmons has the normally written for a woman thankless role as the boyfriend, which is one of this movie’s strengths: it likes to turn some horror and dramatic clichés and flip them around. Despite some dodgy 2000s CGI the kill scenes are pretty freaky and the finale is pretty intense. I’m not a big fan of the movie’s opening narrative bit though just because it seems a little too banal and expected, things that a lot of the movie are not.

If you want to view Adam Brody and a bunch of rockers singing 867-5309 / Jenny before they mercilessly slaughter someone, this is your movie (and that scene is bleakly comedic in all the right and wrong ways). Kusama could have probably gone even farther in tackling the sexes, classism and a number of other issues that were perhaps a bit too much for a largely surface movie such as this one. Yet I really enjoyed Jennifer’s Body, and most of the movie will stick with me for a while. I’m actually glad this never got a sequel even though the end credits eagerly pushed for one.

Horrorfest 2020 Presents: The Pit & the Pendulum (1991, Stuart Gordon)


Look I didn’t hate Stuart Gordon’s take on the Edgar Allan Poe classic story, mostly because it is more close to the original tale than some of the other adaptations. My problem is that the 1960s version with Vincent Price is so cool this one feels unnecessary. Lance Henriksen hams it up so much that he manages to overshadow the rest of the cast. It was odd seeing Jeffrey Combs being the straight man in this flick, and I chuckled when he apologized to a witch for not having time to torture her properly. After all, no torture, no confession and then the Inquisition looks bad or something.

The other problem with this film is that the leads are really bland and I didn’t care about them at all. Oh and Oliver Reed pops up for a short cameo because he probably had nothing better to do. I gave this film a passing grade because the sword fights were neat and it does somewhat cover the horrors of the time period. Coming from a good director like Gordon it is disappointing yet I still have liked the other ones I’ve seen from him so far.

Horrorfest 2016 Presents: Stung (2015, Benjamin Diez)


Made in the fine tradition of killer insect movies, Benjamin Diez’s Stung is gross, shocking, outlandish and entertaining. Even if the main plot is kind of flimsy, the setting is great: two young people cater a party for an elderly rich woman at a creepy ancient mansion, and killer wasps show up. Well they are mutant wasps, of course, although the hilariously deadpan mayor played by the legendary Lance Henriksen doesn’t think it matters if they’re bees, wasps, whatever. Matt O’Leary as Paul and Jessica Cook as Julia happen to be the young folks trapped in a bad situation, and things just get worse from there. Because if you get stung or bit by one of those monstrous insects, you end up changing into one. And that is if they don’t eat you, first. I am reminded of several other, notable and more famous horror films, yet even I cannot overcome my disgust of bugs. Most people hate and fear insects, and often for good reason.

Despite Henriksen really being the only professional here, I did like both O’Leary and Paul, who had good chemistry together despite their characters ignoring it the entire movie. A good love story adds to the film, which is good since I was a tad disappointed at times, since the trailer builds it up to be way scarier. Also I think I am tired of horror films having an obvious “Supposed to be shocking” conclusion that pops up after the film should have ended. However, as modern horror goes this is still a fun popcorn flick, and I believe it is still available on Netflix.

Horrorfest 2013 Presents: Pumpkinhead (1988, Stan Winston)


Special effects wizard Stan Wizard unfortunately only directed a few films, chief among them being Pumpkinhead. Its dated as most 80s movies are, yet its also rather well made and rather creepy. The monster itself is beyond ugly and murders its victims in a horribly gruesome and violent manner, operating on the orders of people who have summoned it for revenge. However as real life and many films attest to, revenge is not a clean and easy matter. Usually it possesses people, turning them into primitive beasts hellbent on getting retribution at all costs. Lance Henriksen’s farmer, a simple man who makes his living off the land, witnessed the unholy creature Pumpkinhead at an early age, and after suffering a fate worse than death proceeds to go to an evil woman and force her to bring forth the beast to get him justice.

The problem is though that what happened was an accident, and only too late does Henriksen’s Ed Harley understand why others warned him against bringing to life an undead and foul monstrosity. Although the creature effects are old school 80s style, Pumpkinhead itself still looks fantastic and disgusting, inspiring fear and terror. Considering how the movie ended I’m surprised there were sequels, although it seems that the horror genre creates franchises out of just about everything. This is more like one of the darker 80s films instead of the usual entertaining horror ones, and it benefits from playing the material straight.

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