Monday, 31 January 2011

Fang Tastic Mexican Blood Fiend ...

El Vampiro

A once magnificent Mexican hacienda stands almost lifeless, bereft of its former glory, cursed by a one hundred year old folklore of its former occupier, the vampire Count Karol De Lavud. The surrounding town is in similar decline, and its people fear to leave their own homes after dark. There has been a recent spate of local deaths, and all of the unfortunate victims have two puncture marks on their necks. It is believed that one of Count De Lavud’s descendant’s has come to resurrect the long since entombed vampire, near to the time of a century passed. The count’s remains are buried in the ancestral sepulchre of the hacienda. One hundred years has all but past, and the hacienda has an interested party in making its purchase his priority. The mysterious European Mr. Duval cannot wait to sink his teeth into its life blood !.

Attractive young woman Marta Gonzalez is contacted by her uncle, the current owner of the hacienda, to come quickly as his wife, her aunty, is seriously unwell. Marta’s arrival at the small towns railway station sets the scene for a gothic garnish of what is to follow. She is assisted by a lone man, and lost looking fellow visitor to the region, as they wait together for onward transportation. It is dusk, and the fearful locals dare note venture out anywhere after dark !. A heavily set man arrives upon horse driven open cart, his purpose to collect an elongated wooden crate, apparently containing specially shipped in soil from Bulgaria !. His master is the well to do mysterious European, Mr. Duval. The stranger speaks with the man and manages to get him to give Marta a ride to her destination. He decides to travel with her, to assist with her luggage and due to the night time closing in. The gruff servant to Mr. Duval drops the two just short of Marta’s final destination, as he breaks off for his own journeys end.

The walk to the hacienda by Marta and her altruistic companion is a visual treat, as the composition of the hauntingly mesmerising scenery, and the hollow sounds of evening broken up by the blowing of the wind and indigenous wildlife, is perfectly creepy. Their arrival at the hacienda setting off the moment, with its distinctive grandeur of eeriness personified.

Marta’s uncle greets her with news of her aunts recent death. She is as distraught at the news as with the appearance of her second aunt, who despite not having seen for many years, looks as though she has not aged one extra day !. The remainder staff of a loyal maid, and a handy man, whisper tales of vampires, and remain steadfast to the former lady of the house, keeping an astounding secret at her written behest, which later on reveals its integral purpose to proceedings !.

The remarkably well preserved aunt seems to have an aversion to mirrors, and her interest in the arrival of Marta is more evident in her nieces inheritance to one third of the hacienda. The uncle does not wish to sell, but if Marta decides to cast her vote in with her aunt then the majority will be against him, and the highly interested Mr. Duval will secure the purchase as desired.

Sub plots and creepy occurrences play out as the movie unravels its secrets. The man who aided Marta to the homestead in fact is a doctor, secretly called upon by the uncle to help his troubled wife. Doctor Enrique (Abel Salazar) proves to be the heroic lead, as the link between the living resident aunt, and Mr. Duval (Germán Robles), becomes clearer, and the superstitions about vampires are proven absolute !.

Marta is singled out by the vampiric Mr. Duval, and like her aunt before her she is mesmerised under his hypnotic spell. The first sampling of her blood has her readied for an eternity at his side, just one further feasting from turning her into a vampire. Doctor Enrique and the house servants to the rescue, along with a surprise return from the lower depths of the haciendas ancestral crypt !.

Seeking to resurrect the long dormant Count Karol De Lavud, and turn Marta into one of his un-dead brides, Duval strikes out with all his vampire might. Just before dawn brings the light of a new day Duval steals away Marta to the seclusion of his own abode, where his coffin awaits its masters return. Doctor Enrique, with assistance, battles against the nefarious vampire, the immortalised aunt, and a couple of man servant daylight hours guards, to save Marta and bring an end to the curse of the vampires.

A sterling effort built upon the classic traditions of the old Universal Studios horror pictures, and infused with the popular rebirth of the genre by Hammer Films, El Vampiro stands tall in itself in setting a high standard for Mexican horror movies. The stature of the film sets are all enhanced with the visualisation through the use of black and white film stock, and the slow building tension builds perfectly to the exciting climax. A great treat for fans of old school horror, black and white motion pictures, and good old fashioned story telling.

El Vampiro Short Movie Clip

Movie Info IMDB

Friday, 28 January 2011

Stay Out Of The Water, Beware ...

The Flesh Eaters

A tabloid infamous actress depends upon her personal assistant to keep her even more dependant companion of alcohol, and her lack of sobriety, hidden whilst off set. A full time job for Jan Letterman, and in order to whisk her employer Laura Winters to her next assignment she pays three times the going rate to charter a small sea plane. Pilot Grant Murdoch takes the fare, but he and his two passengers encounter engine trouble out at sea, and a storm is on the horizon. Murdoch is forced to seek a safe place to land to run a diagnostic on the plane, and to take shelter from the approaching bad weather. A small, uninhabited island provides sanctuary. Upon landing, however, they are startled by a lone man, himself equally surprised to meet with other people. He introduces himself as Professor Peter Bartell, a marine biologist. There is something very guarded about his purpose for being on the remote island, something that later reveals itself with ghastly consequences in, The Flesh Eaters !.

Martin Kosleck’s portrayal of the German professor, with Nazi connections in his ongoing research and experimentation with micro organisms, is more than convincing. If anyone were to rein act his life on screen the closest comparison would undoubtedly be Udo Keir. As Professor Bartell, Kosleck is obsessed with creating a new life form. One that is a literal living organism capable of complete and utter devastation of living flesh. An entity derived from the Nazi tests on human life and one contrived to feast upon living tissue. A microscopic form of piranha, in their billions of billions !.

Pilot Murdoch is suspicious of the professor from the outset and his reserved, yet clear sense of self importance rubs both of the women up the wrong way. Peter Bartell is a misogynistic megalomaniac, intent upon harnessing the virulent micro miscreants and selling their all but insidious malignancy to the highest paying world war mongers.
The secluded island setting is perfect for this low budget early shocker, with gore ahead of its time, to convey the isolation and futility of the small casts situation. When the protagonists become fully aware of what Professor Bartell has been up to, during his self imposed segregation from society upon the non indigenous island, the true horror of the implications of their arrival unravels. The sea water surrounding them on the isle is populated with the flesh eating organisms. When amassed together a silvery glow glistens within the water, and resonates from the picked to the bone carcass of dead fish upon the beachfront, and the skeleton of a human !.

In true mad scientist manner Professor Bartell is feeding up his progeny, and the infusion of great electrical charges into the water have an affect akin to super advancing their natural evolution. The resultant monstrosity that rises up from out of the sea is a creation of pure Sixties styled Sci-fi / Horror that is worth the price of admission to behold.

The Flesh Eaters is an overlooked horror mini masterwork, ahead of its time and with some quite startling images that still shock today. Gun shots to the face, pernicious organisms eating into the flesh of humans, and the resultant expulsion in bloody fashion from unwittingly ingesting the micro beings through an intentionally spiked drink !.

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the film is the more than implied Nazi experimentations surrounding the discovery of the original fairly inert organisms. Director Jack Curtis shot a back story segment, detailing Nazi experimentation in their laboratories during the second world war, showing Nazi scientists using helpless human beings as guinea pigs to witness the external, and internal devastation that the Flesh Eaters would bring about. This entire portion of film is included with the movies release on DVD as a supplemental extra. The directors decision upon initially releasing the film was that the film played better without the interjection of this material. Upon watching the main feature it is evident where the segment is intended to be, and although it is arguable that the film benefits from its director preferred presentation, due to sustained suspense leading to the films conclusion, the scenes themselves are perhaps the most shocking of all. The controversy of having audiences at the time witness such stark barbarianism, still resonating from a period not so very long prior in history that was factual in human experimentation, may well be the more resounding reason for excising from the movie !.

A debateable curiosity of controversy, and equal measure of daring diversity in the field of horror, made well before the boundaries of shock and gore truly came into force later in the decade, and beyond. The starkness of the piece from its setting, and the minimal use of cast, works extremely well, and the black and white movie stock accentuates both the horror, and moments of blood and gore, to an extreme that the use of colour would undoubtedly have diluted.

The Flesh Eaters Trailer

Movie Details IMDB

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Stakes Are Great For ...

Count Yorga, Vampire

A contemporary tale of vampirism in Nineteen Seventies set California, America. A Bulgarian count has taken up residence in a secluded hillside stately mansion. Just the count, his disfigured man servant, and a bevy of blood lusting brides !.

Robert Quarry stars as the intense vampire, transported from his homeland of Bulgaria by boat, all the whilst tightly sealed in a sturdy wooden coffin. His formidable servant Brudah watching over his master, particularly during the hours of daylight. Count Yorga soon ingratiates himself with a middle aged woman, who mysteriously dies just a few weeks later. Her daughter Donna is stricken at the loss of her mother, and seeks consoling beyond the grave. Along with her friends Erica, Mike and Paul, she seeks to make contact by means of a séance. The Clairvoyant conducting the séance is none other than Count Yorga !.

Donna and her friends soon become inextricably drawn into the dark domain inhabited by Count Yorga, as he preys upon their mortality and feasts upon their blood !. This group of friends only hope of escaping the clutches of this centuries old vampire lays in the conviction of their love for each other, and the unbridled comprehension to their seemingly fantastical predicament by their scientific friend Doctor James (Jim) Hayes.

Jim’s expertise in the field of haematology is essential in ascertaining what it is that his friends are up against. When Erica falls critically unwell, due to apparent loss of blood and the appearance of two puncture marks in her neck, Jim performs an emergency blood transfusion upon her. Erica has fallen under the hypnotic spell of Count Yorga, who now visits her under cover of night to both feed and transform her into one of his un-dead brides. When Erica begins her first meal of the day feasting upon her freshly killed kitten, in one of several well done shock moments during the movie, her lover Paul, along with her close friends, strongly sign up to Doctor Jim Hayes supposition that they are indeed dealing with a vampire !.

Count Yorga’s hold over Erica soon thereafter becomes dominant, and his dominion extends to that over Donna. When she is drawn to the count’s mansion, through the lure of his overpowering hypnotic suggestion, her lover Paul goes after her alone !. When neither return, and Erica is also missing, it is down to Jim and Mike to out Count Yorga for what he really is. Armed with crucifix and makeshift stakes, the two men attempt to slip into the count’s manor to rescue their friends, and if possible dispatch of the vampire forever.

Given the High Definition treatment, and showing in a very presentable print on the MGM HD Channel, interestingly under the movies original release title in the USA of The Loves Of Count Iorga, Vampire, the film looks terrific and stands up extremely well considering its thirty plus years of age. The contemporary setting in Los Angeles 1970 translates extremely well, and its serious tone sets it above the more camp horror movies of the same era. There really is no moment of light relief within the entire running time, and the chill factor is accentuated by the long periods of natural sounds only, as the musical accompaniment is completely vacant. The application of several sudden out of nowhere, directly running into camera moments of vampiric assaults work very effectively also.

Robery Quarry is perfectly cast as Count Yorga, playing the part with an evident intensity, that conveys the vampires intellect and sinister fortitude with great confidence. Judy Lang in the role of Erica is also very much worthy of mention, as she conveys conviction in her sub ordinance under the spell of Count Yorga, and her natural beauty draws you into her plight, as you feel very much so that her character is genuine.

A more modern take on the vampire legend and a very favourable one indeed. American International Pictures delivered a horror franchise winner in Count Yorga Vampire. An official sequel The Return Of Count Yorga (1971), along with a further pseudo sequel, Deathmaster (1972) followed in fairly quick succession.

Count Yorga, Vampire Trailer

Movie Details IMDB

Monday, 24 January 2011

Mexican Mini Me Monstrosities ...

Curse Of The Doll People

Creepy animated life like dolls are created by a voodoo priest in order to kill !. Midget like hand sculpted manifestations, breathed life into in order to take the lives of four blasphemous usurpers, for their transgression against a Haitian sect. The theft from a temple of an ancient idol, by conceited American archaeologists, invokes a curse upon them and their families !.

Some months after returning home from their explorations the four men dismiss the curse placed upon them out of hand. Just before midnight, at a small family gathering of the lead man of the four responsible for stealing the artefact, the designated time of the curse coming to be is just a couple of minutes away. Tragedy befalls the man prominently responsible for taking the Haitian idol. During a black out, due to a sudden storm, the man seems to stumble atop the home stairwell, falling to his death below. The hour strikes midnight. Was this an unfortunate accident, or indeed the curse coming to be !?.

In relatively quick succession the remaining men and members of their direct families begin to have similar tragic incidents befall them, leading to death as predicted by the Haitian priest. Two prominent doctors, and close friends of the explorers, become embroiled in the situation. Dr. Armando Valdés and his physician wife Karina suspect foul play. Karina has experience, and a personal interest with some knowledge into the voodoo rituals and Haitian cults.

Mysterious packages begin to arrive at the households of the cursed families. Accepted as gifts these hold an innocent looking doll that proves to be anything but !. Under the hypnotic musical notes from an insidious flute playing the purpose made, lifelike dolls, come to life !. Their purpose for being, to kill !.

The appearance, and eerily mesmerising purposefulness of these midget machinations, is still somewhat effective in its invocation of devilment even by today’s cinematic standards. Slowly creeping up upon their intended victims, to puncture their throat or chest cavity to the heart with an extremely slender, yet defined precision needle, is the stuff of nightmares for younger viewers.

Karina, played by the highly attractive Elvira Quintana, who sadly had an all too short time lighting up the big screen with her voluptuous beauty, due to her untimely death at the age of just thirty two, sets about investigating the alarming frequency of the deaths. Her suspicions about the invocation of voodoo rites proves to be correct, much to her own detriment. Her stoic character and inquisitive nature leads her to the door of an oddly misplaced old structure, book ended by relatively standard houses, a place where an indomitable Haitian priest resides, and is harnessing his abilities to exact the curse that has been put into force !.

With the assistance of Armando and a police chief, Karina rallies herself to square up to the seemingly invincible priest. His powers of hypnosis are all incumbent and overwhelm all attempts to overpower him. Assisted in his vengeful caprice by his loyal un-dead servant, a hulking man beast Zombie, with the features of a weathered prune akin to an over indulgent longevity in bath water, the priest is resolute in his purpose !. Effectively played by Quintín Bulnes, the role is superlatively cast for him to over indulge in wonderfully.

A very simplistic tale embellished well in its evocative preamble of greed, culminating in unlawful retribution. The climatic conclusion playing out a classic showdown of good versus evil. Quintín Bulnes’ portrayal of the voodoo priest, along with his animated dolls, and even the plodding Zombie, takes viewing Curse Of The Doll People up a few notches from an otherwise mishmash venture. The best way to enjoy today is perhaps in catching unexpectedly on a late night television channel. Its creaky and creepy charm will then best reveal itself with the room lights off, and a branch tapping on your window from outside, as a wind swept night weathers its way into your perhaps not then so secure domicile !.
Movie Details IMDB

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Beware As You Enter ...

The Black Pit Of Dr. M

Plunged into a perilous pit of unfathomable consequence, beyond this mortal coil, Doctor Mazali dares to open the door between life and death. A portal through which once stepped the path back can never be the same again !.

An astonishing tale of terror, ahead of its time and crafting a cautionary parable to not tamper with what lays behind the veil of earthly existence. An existential allegory of mans arrogance in the face of God. Such investment in ones own egotism is more often than not repaid in abject humility. Doctor Mazali’s transgression of the laws of life prove to be fatally flawed, and the consequence is cataclysmic !.

At the death bed of a professional colleague, Dr. Mazali recounts to the dying Dr. Aldama a pact made that whomever should pass away first would endeavour to make contact from beyond the grave, divulging a means to return to the living after entering the realm of death !. Immediately upon the passing of Dr. Aldama a séance is held and Dr. Mazali receives a positive yet perplexing message from the spirit of his deceased colleague. A prophetic quatrain, with specific date and time for Dr. Mazali to attain what he strives for, but with a tone of caution upon following through.

Over the course of the next few months, leading up to the designated date implied by the spirit of Dr. Aldama, a procession of curious events conjoin in bringing Dr. Mazali ever closer to his designated date with destiny. Dr. Aldama’s daughter Patricia, a young woman who has never met her father, is contacted by a mysterious man who informs her that she should contact Dr. Mazali. She is also directed to a hidden key that is to be given to the doctor. A part of the puzzle to unlock the mysteries of the afterlife.

Upon meeting Dr. Mazali, Patricia is offered a position as an in training psychiatric nurse within his insane asylum. An appropriate place perhaps to be once it is divulged to her that the mysterious man that visited her was her father, even though he had earlier died before calling upon her !.

The Black Pit Of Dr. M paints an almost hallucinogenic veneer to its pin sharp monochrome canvass, drawing its audience into a world of intrigue and uncertainty. A powerful potion of haunting themes and foreboding. An unyielding resonance prickling the hair at the nape of the neck of all whom sit in abject unease at what is unfolding before their very eyes. A stark shocker that still stands tall in the horror alumni even to this day.

Caught up in a cacophony of clandestine design from an existence beyond his own, Dr. Mazali follows his chosen destiny. It in turn envelops those around him, and in particular that of an asylum intern who is horribly disfigured in an assault by a violent female patient. A crime of vengeance is committed, and the lives of the two men converse in a spiralling decent into darkness. The journey back is startling, but even more so is the shocking revelation from the entwining events.

Another mesmerising book mark in Mexican horror cinema. A ghoulish, gothic, archetypal standard bearer for much that followed, and an essential remnant of all that is memorable in experiencing cinema at its very best.

View The Trailer For The Black Pit Of Dr. M

Movie Details IMDB

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Classic Mexican Horror ...

The Curse Of The Crying Woman

A creepy classic that like a fine wine has matured into an invested pleasure, The Curse Of The Crying Woman is a rare find, unearthed for a modern audience onto the digital format, and looking pin sharp from the Casa Negra label.

Meticulously moulded from the same creepy cast that Italian movie making legend Mario Bava became synonymous with, but this Mexican movie monolith engraves its own identity sublimely into your psyche. A powerful concoction of malevolence unfolding like a poisoned rose, beautiful in design yet ever more potent as it unravels its intentions. Truly a cumulative chiller that delivers on so many levels.

Amelia is a young woman who is invited by her aunt back to the home that she knew well as a child. It is the eve of Amelia’s twenty fifth birthday, the significance of which is known only too well to her aunt Selma. She and Amelia are descendants of a family heritage that harkens back to a time of heresy and witchcraft. The superstitions linked to the centuries old home keeps the locals distanced from its doors, still mindful of their ancestors tortured and killed by an evil heretic, and labelled witch known as The Crying Woman. Her reign of terror then brutally halted by the local populace as they in turn tortured and killed her, but her dominion with the occult bequeathed upon her immortality !. Before the moment of her death her final words were to defiantly spite the local community and their direct descendants. Her corpse left to rot for all time within the confines of the dungeon room of the mansion, a spear piercing her body, and her immortal being trapped in a lifeless limbo. Through the female blood line of her own line her evil has remained, for this is The Curse Of The Crying Woman !.

The movie opens on a startling horror high, with impressive visuals of the possessed Selma holding the leash to three mighty mastiff hounds, baying for her command to attack. Her loyal hunchbacked servant Juan also obedient to his masters instruction. They await under the cover of darkness, lit only by the light of the moon, for unsuspecting travellers upon the through road. It is not long before a horse drawn carriage comes along and the three occupants, along with the driver, are brutally attacked and killed. The scene is then set for the terror to unfold as the arrival of Amelia is the catalyst to resurrect The Crying Woman.

The foreboding air of dark intent is ever prevalent and sensed by Amelia upon her arrival to the old mansion with her newly wedded husband. As if turning up at the doorstep of a mist enshrouded ancient old structure, with the design of The Alamo that’s enough to have Jim Bowie himself arming up with extra knives for protection, doesn’t unnerve the couple, the sparse reality of their welcoming environment causes immediate concern !. The stately home, replete with bell tower, is evidently residence to just Aunt Selma and the one servant, Juan. That’d be just the ‘Juan’ servant then !.
All of the mirrors are mysteriously covered, and it is only upon unveiling that the reasons become apparent !?.

Just what has Amelia come back to ?, why is access to the upper level of the mansion padlocked ?, and what is the source of the wailing cries that seem to emanate through the pours of the structure itself ?. Bats in the belfry, club footed, hunchbacked henchman, flesh hungry hounds, devilish deviancy, and a witch who casts no reflection in a mirror. All this and a sustained eeriness manifesting itself through a witches cauldron of pot boiling brilliance as the film unravels deliciously to its climactic chimes to midnight, and Amelia’s coming of age. Will she succumb to the over whelming compulsion to inherit the calling of her birth blood line or can the love of her husband overcome The Curse Of The Crying Woman !?.

If ever the stark brilliance of the sharp monochrome film stock were perfectly adjoined to script, director, cast and settings, then this is one of those such films it most definitely applies. Fabulously re-mastered from original newly restored vault elements Casa Negra are to be applauded for their diligence in acquiring the rights to distribute this to a modern audience. Fans of both old school Universal Studios Horror pictures, and Sixties Euro cinema will be enthralled to discover the magnificence of Mexican horror through the Casa Negra label, and The Curse Of The Crying Woman is a superlative jumping on point. Any true fan of great genre cinema must not turn down the opportunity to rediscover the exquisite rapture that this Mexican horror classic encapsulates.

View The Curse Of The Crying Woman Trailer

Movie Details IMDB

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Enter With Universal Horror Delight ...

House Of The Wolf Man

In the great traditions of the Universal Studios horror pictures from the nineteen thirties and forties, comes a return to that great era. A time when the Universal Pictures monsters thrilled and chilled people in theatres around the globe, and then discovered a new generation of horror fans when syndicated on late night television. Classic horror never dies, and in homage to that fact comes a modern re-imaging of the Universal Studios horror icons. Styled and dressed with respectful relish in the same old school fashion, and delightfully bringing back together once more the monster horror legends of old, in a manner that is most welcomed. Prepare yourselves then to enter the ... House Of The Wolf Man !.

Featuring Ron Chaney, grandson of horror legend Lon Chaney Jr., as Bela Reinhardt, the patriarch of an infamous and troubled heritage who's true family name is Frankenstein !. He invites five apparent strangers to his remote castle in order to bequeath his estate to the one he deems most worthy. The inheritance comes at a horrifying price upon the cycle of the full moon !.

Shot entirely in black and white in full frame, and in a manner that does its very best to give that old stock film look to it, in keeping with the period it is emulating. For the majority of the film this is achieved extremely well and manages to overcome any tendencies to slip into unintentional silliness. The texture of the interior set is commendable, and the sparing use of exteriors works advantageously in delivering a real sense of remoteness and archaic charm. Wonderfully realised as one of the guests Archibald Whitlock, a big game hunter, along with his three African man servants pick up the tracks of an unidentifiable beast !.

The level of detail applied to the costumes, and particularly to rendering believable recreations of the Universal monsters make up, is to be applauded. It is most particular in this department that you feel transported back to the bygone age of horror greatness. That is how it should be, the classic monsters stealing the show. Indeed come the eagerly anticipated climax to the movie it is the coming together of The Wolf Man, Frankenstein's Monster and Dracula that rightfully steals the show, and brings the house down !.

Ron Chaney gives a staid but quirky steady performance, and the supporting cast of castle guests all have their own quirks, working well enough to keep interest in all. Any 'House Of' film would not be complete without a mad scientists butler and here we have Barlow, a behemoth of a man servant. He never once utters a solitary word, but his actions and restraint speak volumes. It is the brilliance of actress Saba Moor-Doucette that is deserving of scene stealing actor award. Her portrayal as the disabled, wheel chair bound Vadoma, kept out of sight up in the upper regions of the castle by her son  Bela, is quite superbly realised. A play on the old gypsy woman, synonymous with the classic wolf man pictures, and her appearance in the dimly lit recess of a tiny room by candle light is excellently done. Her very aged and lined face, with blind eye and stump for an arm is classic old style horror characterisation. The discovery of her existence by inquisitive guest Elmira Cray is a pivotal one, as Vadoma relays to her young explorer that they are actually related, and that the host Bela Reinhardt is not at all who he purports to be !.

Creaky corridors, sparse floorboards and spartan decor are resplendent throughout the castle. It has that Frankenstein Gothic facade of stolid ghoulishness, silently crying out in empathic pain to its masters tortured occupancy.

The scene is then set, and the players are all in place. Time for all to sit together around the stately dinning table, dinner is about to be served, and what is on the menu is most appealing to the host in ... House Of The Wolf Man.

Wonderfully well done for fans of the old Universal Studios monster movies, and creaky enough to find new fans who may very well appropriately enough end up discovering this little gem on late night television for themselves. How can any old school horror aficionado not have fun with a Universal horror homage doff of the hat !?.

Sit back, enjoy and thrill to the cumulative monster clash of terror titans as Frankenstein's Monster squares up to The Wolf Man, and Count Dracula crashes the party with his fang flashing vampire brides. Enjoy the moment and you may almost believe that Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney Jr. are up there on the screen once more, as if it was yesteryear all over again at Universal Horror.

House Of The Wolf Man Trailer

Movie Details IMDB

Friday, 14 January 2011

Hammer Horror Takes A Bite With ...

The Reptile

Something is taking a bite out of the local community of a small Cornish village. When army officer Harry Spalding's brother Charles dies suddenly he and his new bride take up residence in the quaint hamlet, having been left the cottage in Charles' will. Upon discovering that his brother in fact died under mysterious circumstances Harry sticks his neck out to uncover the horrifying truth !.

Classic sixties produced old school horror from Hammer Studios in conjunction with Seven Arts, actually shooting on reused sets from the earlier made The Plague Of The Zombies (1966). It has the look and the feel of a speedily turned around production in the manner of a finely delivered Roger Corman endeavour. It is not without its own charm and panache however, still very much in keeping with the fine traditions of Hammer Horror.

Doctor Franklyn lives a fairly seclude life with his daughter Anna up in the hamlets manor house. The doctor comes across as being a stern and unapproachable man with an overbearing nature towards his beautiful daughter. Anna is a vibrant young woman who seeks to befriend the newly arrived  Spalding couple. Her excursions beyond the perimeter of the manor house are always soon curtailed by her father, or his mysterious Malayan man servant.

When others fall victim to what the villagers dub the black plague, it is up to the local inn keeper Tom Bailey (The instantly recognisable but difficult to name place Michael Ripper. A regular support actor and no stranger to the Hammer film family) to beseech Harry Spalding to assist him in uncovering the truth. Together they do a Burke and Hare grave robbing turn that uncovers a fate more incisive than any disease !.

The startling truth behind the relationship of Doctor Franklyn and his daughter Anna unravels, as shockingly as the unbelievable one that beholds them both to the mysterious Malay. A shocking revelation from Doctor Franklyn's past as a brash adventurer in the remote regions of Asia. A snake people cult, and a poison chalice to bear  in living purgatory.

There's more than an authentic air of people paranoia and adverse ignorance to strangers, along with some great outdoor natural settings and structures for the viewer to take in. The reveal of The Reptile is unspectacular but effective enough for its minimal screen exposure. The film is reliant on stylish settings and solid character performances to carry this otherwise fairly standard, and evidently low budget pot boiler off.

The Reptile doesn't then quite scale the heights of Hammer greatness, but in shedding its otherwise streamline skin the film is not without its snake themed reptilian charm !.

The Reptile Trailer

Movie Details IMDB

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Hammer's Hidden Horror Haven ...

The Lost Continent

A beleaguered captain of a battered old freight ship sets sail with an illegal cargo, and a small quota of well paying passengers, all with a past that they are running away from. The journey ahead is beset with stormy weather, and what transpires on the horizon is even bleaker !.

Highly revered Shakespearean actor Eric Porter takes the helm as Captain Lansen, his retirement fund tied up in his uninsurable rust bucket of a vessel, and the contents within the bilge of his ship. He is transporting a large quantity of an explosive compound, contained within large sealed canisters. The volatile composition is reactive to water !.

The Lost Continent is a very taught, dark thriller, that develops into a survival film, and throws in some pretty darned cool creatures as well. Based upon the novel by horror author Dennis Wheatley. There is a neat brief observational moment towards the beginning of the film where one of the ships estranged passengers sits reading the Wheatley book.

Evading the harbour commissioners call to board and search the ship Captain Lansen proceeds full steam ahead to the open ocean. His second in command is anxious as to his skippers actions, and the crew become very jittery upon their discovery of what the ship is transporting. With the journey well under way Captain Lansen has nihilistic passengers to contend with and a disgruntled compliment to appease, as well as an even bigger storm front that cannot be avoid.

When the ship runs into trouble negligent deck hands let the anchor flail into the freighters side, breaching the hull and taking on board water into the bilge where the cargo is stored !. Lansen has a mutiny on his hands as the crew seek to abandon ship. It ends in tragedy, leaving the captain and his shady ship guests to secure the bilge and dry contain its combustible contents.

With the storms intensity increasing the Captain Lansen and the survivors have no alternative but to abandon ship themselves. They helm the lifeboat and leave the ship to contest the weather without its compliment. Both spend the night contesting with the elements. The occupants of the lifeboat spend an uneasy night battling for their lives against the conditions and each other !. As dawn breaks they meet with an uneasy quiet calm, shrouded in mist and dense with sea weed and ocean vegetation. This sea foliage is not only all around them but seems to have a life of its own, drawing the lifeboat along in its purposeful wake and displaying threatening signs of vicarious intent !. Captain Lansen has to contend with a flailing sea vine as it embroils itself around his exploratory outstretched arm reaching into the water. It draws blood as the startled Lansen rips it free from his limb.

The rag tag ensembles spirits are lifted as they are surprisingly reunited with their freight ship, itself drawn into the mysterious environment by the pull of the waters thriving landscape. The ships steward greets them. He had chosen to remain on board rather than abandon ship with the rest during the storm. Buoyed by their more familiar surroundings it is not long before they realise that they are not alone in this lost continent !.

After an intriguing and very well fleshed out first half The Lost Continent really comes into its own in the action packed, monster rife, foreboding second act. Captain Lansen and his compatriots are attacked by marauders, themselves marooned in the mire of this pernicious milieu. They are descendants of their Spanish conquistador forefathers, themselves stranded in this hellacious haven for seemingly centuries. Forced to forage the terrain and fight the elements, as well as the insidious harbingers seeking their own sustenance, these fellow survivalists want whatever the newcomers have for themselves !.

Not only do Lansen and company have to contend with inhospitable intent from the Spanish inquisitors, but the savage intent of evolved sea molluscs, killer kelp and a giant crab that can’t wait to get its claws into some human titbits. All of the monstrosities on display literally fill the screen with their size, and are a delight to behold. Old school, created by hand, colourfully scaled creatures worth the price of admission all on their own. Excellent stuff that more than holds its own even in comparison to the advancements in effects technology of today !.
The most recent arrivals to this carnivorous continent receive guidance from a beautiful and buxom young woman named Sarah (Dana Gillespie), an indigenous inhabitant of this uncharted land. Saved from the scurrilous inquisitors by Lansen’s party, she is integral to the marooned newcomers survival. She introduces them to an ingenious method of conveyance across the volatile terrain. An ingenious device of waist harnessed balloons and oversized moccasins for the feet. The balloons supporting the weight of the wearer and the shoes expanding the platform of the person in their advancement across the unstable platform. It is an incredible visual and a must have item for any fancy dress party.

With impressive monsters, malicious sea weeds and cult worshipping conquistadors, as well as the production banner of Hammer Studios, everything about The Lost Continent is in the positive. It is one of those old school movies that actually not only stands the test of time but improves with it !.

The Lost Continent Trailer
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