Horrorfest Presents: Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965, Freddie Francis)

Both Amicus Productions and Freddie Francis have done better, yet I still thought Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors was pretty decent. Some of the stories could have been cut, others deserved to be turned into full length movies. Which is often how it goes, and the cast here elevates some of the weaker material.

A group of men are on a train with a mysterious doctor who tells them their futures. It’s Peter Cushing sporting a bad accent and a neat outfit, and all of his tales end in, well…I think you can figure that out. The first one, “Werewolf,” begins with Neil McCallum going back to his old family estate. I enjoyed the ending, and one clever moment, yet this story is kind of bland. Ursula Howells was really good in this one at least.

The second one features Bernard Lee who played M in the Bond movies, plus Alan Freeman and Ann Bell. “Creeping Vine” is decent enough yet has the feel of a bleaker Doctor Who episode. Still that one could have been fleshed out into a longer movie, and it would have worked better as such. The killer vine effects aren’t too bad for a low budget movie, either.

Dudes On a Train

I actually liked “Voodoo,” if only because it leans into being a cautionary tale about imperialism and stealing from other cultures. Roy Castle is a jazz musician who learns the hard way that one should not steal tunes from other people. The cool thing is his backing band is Tubby Hayes’ quintet, so they’re real actual jazz musicians. Kenny Lynch is his fellow jazz performer who spends the whole segment warning Castle not to be a fool. I wouldn’t mind someone remaking this one into a longer movie.

“Disembodied Hand” is pretty twisted, as art critic Christopher Lee and Michael Gough’s artist going at it which leads to disastrous results. Both really deserved what they got considering how they refused to put their egos aside. This was probably the best one of the bunch, and the hand itself looks really wicked.

“Vampire” features Donald Sutherland and Jennifer Jayne as happy newlyweds who move to a small village. Max Adrian is the local doctor who suspects the new bride is a vampire. While the ending is a bit obvious I still grinned anyways, and I rather enjoyed this one a lot. The movie’s finale is a bit clear to those like myself who’ve seen way too many of these anthologies, yet I didn’t mind. Viewed on Tubi, and worth a watch just because they don’t really make these types of movies anymore.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Poltergeist III (1988, Gary Sherman)

Even though I feel that Poltergeist III is similar in quality to the second one, I did agree with the movie trying to be more creepy and sinister in the same way the original movie operated. It doesn’t completely work, yet there are some good moments I enjoyed and the movie does have a pretty good cast. I’m not surprised that most of the original cast did not come back for the third one, and they explain this away by saying that the Freelings sent young Carol Anne to live with her relatives in Chicago. It’s very sad that Heather O’Rourke passed away shortly before the movie was released, and the movie was dedicated to her memory. This lead to people arguing the series was cursed, which I think is kind of silly. Bad things happen to people whether they make horror movies or not. Anyways Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen play her uncle and aunt, while Lara Flynn Boyle is their daughter in one of her earlier roles.

There is a neat pool scene that I liked, and the finale is pretty intense to me since I really dislike heights. Zelda Rubinstein pops up back again of course, and there is your typical doctor who thinks none of what is happening is real, and of course pays the price for his disbelief. That character could have been dumped and the movie would have operated just fine without him. The skyscraper setting is quite good, however unfortunately Sherman and company are unable to fully exploit that premise to create a better movie. Too bad since Sherman’s earlier movies are much better than this one. However as noted with the second movie, if you are willing to check out the series you could do worse or better with other franchises, and they’ll probably pop up back on Tubi again soon. I can admire a movie for trying I guess.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986, Brian Gibson)

Brian Gibson’s Poltergeist sequel is not as good as the first movie, yet in a half campy/humorous, half actually creepy way, it almost works as a good movie. It’s an okay movie at best, yet I still enjoyed certain elements which are really good. The best thing about this movie is the preacher Kane (Julian Beck in a terrifying and inspired creepy performance), who refuses to leave the poor Freelings’ family alone. He is the literal physical and spiritual representation of The Beast, who desires their daughter, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke), for reasons that only Zelda Rubinstein’s Tangina¬†and Will Simpson’s Taylor seem to understand or know. JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson play the parents, with Oliver Robins returning as their son. H. R. Giger was responsible for some of the creature designs, although he wasn’t satisfied with how they looked in the end. I thought they were good, but I’m not a legendary artist responsible for how the Xenomorph looked in the Alien movies. Funny enough this movie received an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, so go figure.

I’m tore because on one hand Taylor is a major part of the movie and that’s cool, but the flick could not resist the “Magical Indian” stereotype that Hollywood loves to use in movies. Will Sampson does a fine job with what he’s given I suppose. This movie probably didn’t need to exist, yet it does and it made money so of course we got another sequel and then later a remake. I watched the third one too because both of them were on Tubi at the time, which either speaks to me being a completist or in more likely because I’m doing the 31 Horror Movies in 31 Days challenge and they were readily available to me for free. Still neither movie is a complete waste of time, and I’m greatly amused at how the wonderful Zelda Rubinstein became the series’ official mascot.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: The Vampire Bat (1933, Frank R. Strayer)

The Vampire Bat is a fairly decent pre code horror drama with some mad scientist thrown in for good measure. Too bad the title is a lie, yet it’s effective and gets one to notice the movie. The cast is really good for this one, maybe even great: Dwight Frye, Lionel Atwill, Melvyn Douglas, and Fay Wray. Frye actually steals the movie, playing a main suspect in the local killings. He was also great in Dracula (1931), a movie people like more than I do.

There is an angry mob scene, a tense final act and some film noir elements that are worked into this movie just like some of the other flicks made during this era. I still was left mostly entertained although better pre code movies exist than The Vampire Bat. Seen via Tubi, which is fast becoming one of my favorite streaming services.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blades (1989, Thomas R. Rondinella)

Created as fairly obvious Jaws parody, Blades actually manages to be a goofy, fun, killer lawnmower horror comedy. It’s not really scary, there are some decent moments of gore, and oddly it’s a solid golf movie too. The leads are likable, the golf course owner a scumbag desperately ignoring deaths to make money, and the groundskeepers and caddys definitely underpaid. There’s even an old weird former groundskeeper/mechanic for the Quint role.

Does a person get run over and you witness their legs being chopped up? Absolutely. Is the audience shown a kid dying horribly just like in Jaws? Yep! Can one accuse this movie of being in bad taste while still admiring it’s willingness to show golf scenes? Sure! This is the type of oddball movie that only could have been made in the 1980s. Viewed thanks to Peacock but Blades is also on Tubi.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Blood Hook (1986, Jim Mallon)

Blood Hook tries to be a funny 1980s slasher movie, but it just reminds me of a bad joke I’ve heard told by different people over the years. It wasn’t funny the first time, and it won’t be funny years from now. I’ll give the movie some points for a few good kills, an amusing enough fisherman fight and for trying something new. That’s about it, though, cause the rest of this movie stinks.

It stinks worse than fish guts, really, and this is the first Troma movie that I didn’t like or care for at all. Too bad, and I think they should remake this one. Up the gore, lean into how people take fishing way too seriously, find some better actors and maybe offer a sly commentary on resort towns. It could work, maybe. Then again, maybe not.

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 2022 Presents: The Wizard of Gore (1970, Herschell Gordon Lewis)

Now this is more like it from Herschell Gordon Lewis, even if The Wizard of Gore doesn’t really have much of an ending now that I think about it. Still Lewis creates one of his more unique and fascinating horror movies, offering up a commentary on the nature of reality while still offering up plenty of horrific and violent murders. The blood of course flows a lot in this movie, and the gore effects straddle the line between disturbing and goofy, which can also describe pretty much every one of his movies that I’ve seen so far. Ray Sager is fantastic as Montag the Magnificent, who is either your garden variety trickster magician, actually gifted, or in fact a man killing people with his magic acts. All of them seem to apply here, as Sherry (Judy Cler) and her boyfriend Jack (Wayne Ratay) discover while they investigate Montag as the bodies pile up. This movie probably has the best acting out of all of his splatter movies, as both Cler and Ratay have good chemistry together and are very likable characters.

Still this movie would not work without Sager, who practically eats the scenery and has an odd menace about him while also managing to appear harmless. That’s a tough line to walk and Sager does it rather well in my opinion. Although not as good as some of his earlier works, The Wizard of Gore is still worth viewing and is even fun in some aspects. I suppose at this point I’m the exact audience for Lewis’ work, and people such as myself are why his cinema lives on years later, for good or for bad. I prefer to think it’s for good.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Meatcleaver Massacre (1977, Evan Lee)

Shudder must not have gotten the version of this movie that at least had Christopher Lee at the beginning, cause I didn’t see that part at all. Not that it matters since Meatcleaver Massacre is an exercise in insomnia, a mostly snooze inducing production that offers nothing new or interesting. If this hadn’t been made in the 1970s people would have forgotten it already and it wouldn’t have even been featured on Shudder or Tubi, which I believe also has this movie. I know that I shouldn’t be that guy but honestly I advise people to skip this flick and watch something way more interesting. Anything at all, really, and besides if you’re in the mood for a decent 1970s flick that are tons of giallos and better slasher movie offerings from the decade out there.

I didn’t care about any of the characters and this movie wastes a decent/solid premise: a college professor calls on this ancient demon to avenge his murdered family. Even the murders aren’t particularly notable, and I’m already forgetting them as I type this. The only decent thing I can recall is some neat dream sequence that feels as if it was ripped off from a much better movie. If you don’t think you can make a movie though, view Meatcleaver Massacre and realize whatever you have planned can’t be any worse than Evan Lee’s turkey. If it didn’t have violence and gore this would easily be featured by now on MST3K and honestly they’re on streaming so they could probably get away with an episode making fun of one of the worst movies from the 1970s.

Horrorfest 2022 Presents: Color Me Blood Red (1965, Herschell Gordon Lewis)

Even though A Bucket of Blood is the better artist kills people for art movie, I still found some merits in Color Me Blood Red. Also Herschell Gordon Lewis’ mad artist is different in that he’s not some struggling Bohemian despite for money. He has a house, he’s successfully sold art before, he’s just in a rut and can’t conjure up the right shade of red for his artwork no matter what he tries. Fate or the Devil intervenes in a horrible, evil way that leads him down the path of murder and destructive behavior. Unfortunately too much of the picture moves really slow, and Lewis has given us better, more interesting gory movies than this one. I was a bit disappointed here actually, having actually liked Blood Feast and Two Thousand Maniacs!.

Gordon Oas-Heim is pretty good in this movie as Adam, the titular maniac, and he helps keep the movie watchable. There is a great lake kill sequence that is one of the movie’s highlights, and the finale at least aims for suspenseful, yet there isn’t much to recommend here. I’m reminded that when it comes to randomly viewing movies on Tubi you’re bound to find some duds as well as some treasures. I guess I gave this movie what could be considered a passing grade, yet I’m left rather unsatisfied at the results.

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