Friday, November 18, 2011

Lust For A Vampire



Well...LUST FOR A VAMPIRE was my least favorite in the Hammer Karnstein Trilogy. I won't take much time with it.

It's plot is a bit messy. Carmilla Karnstein is basically hanging out at a girls school and running through the ladies like a hungry man at a sushi boat restaurant. One man pines away for her love while the other pines away for being a vampire himself.


Girls go missing, man go missing, and cover up operations abound, but I found that I didn't really care about anyone in the film much.

Yutte Stensgaard tosses her Denmark blonde hat onto the Hammer Glamor list and doesn't seem to have a problem baring her...soul...for the role.


Ralph Bates does well as the driven school teacher who wants to be a vampire and the wooden performance of Michael Johnson is fun to watch as he bumbles about. But, the real awesomeness of the film comes from Mike Raven doing his best Christopher Lee impersonation. His booming voice and over the top "I'm a bad man" presence is a joy to watch. It's fun stuff.

Watch LUST for the trilogy aspect, but feel free to do something else while it's playing in the background. :)


Twins of Evil

The HAMMER FEST continues with TWINS OF EVIL from 1971.

Here we have the return of the Karnsteins in the final film of the Karnstein trilogy...of evil. Frieda and Maria Gellhorn - adorable twins - come from Vienna to stay with their uncle Gustav (The most awesome Peter Cushing) after their parents pass away. They are proper young ladies, but not proper enough for their witch burning, bible loving Uncle - the leader of THE BROTHERHOOD of witch hunters. And we soon find out that the young twins have very different personalities, too. One is good...and the other has the touch of evil. This makes her most desirable to Count Karnstein, especially after he gives his soul to the devil and becomes a vampire. Can Gustav and the townspeople reach the Count before he and the wicked Frieda escape?


This film is in line with the others in the trilogy. I'd say this is my second fave of the three behind THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and before LUST FOR A VAMPIRE. We hear about Mircalla Karnstein (I believe she even makes an appearance) and the Karnstein line and their wicked deeds. We see the Karnstein devil influences. All in all, it's an enjoyable addition.

We get the usual Hammer cleavage as well, but it pales compared to THE VAMPIRE LOVERS. The Collinson twins are very cute and work well as the films leads. They don't have the same presence as Ingrid Pitt or Yutte Stensgaard, however, but it is hard to keep that level of screen presence. Especially casting true twins.

The film has some nice gimmics in it. When Karnstein signs his soul away, he can not be seen in mirrors. They did a simple trick where the mirror was taken out and a duplicate of the room was created so that it looked like there was no reflection. Simple, but effective. There were several "witch burning" scenes with the classic "fire in front of the camera" routine. Again, effective. This was another almost bloodless vampire film. When someone is bitten, small dribbles of blood are shown on the neck. It was truly a more simple time when it came to horror.

The story is simple, but the real fun comes from the relationships between characters - one of my favorite parts of Hammer films. I don't watch them for the "horror" (they are really tame) , but LOVE their character interactions. TWINS has some fantastic interplay.

Cushing as Gustav Weil is not a nice guy here. He's horrid, driven and blind to anything but leading the Brotherhood in their witch hunt. He hunts down and burns several women in his hunt for evil with no trial or mercy all in the name of good. Karnstein is his main enemy even before he's changed. He represents the impure nature of man - full of lust and impropriety. Karnstein, in turn, loves provoking Gustav because he has political ties that prevent Gustav from doing anything to him. Very handy especially after he's made into a vampire.

The twins run the same - Frieda wanting to escape the tyrannical uncle and Maria wanting to remain the good girl. They love each other, but there is a great tension between them as well. Maria is so kind that she even pretends to be her sister when her uncle checks in on them so her sister won't get into trouble.

There's also a rather forgettable love interest in the story, but the only thing I liked about him was a scene where he thinks about launching a spear into the chest of Count Karnstein even though he happens to be holding Maria in his arms...at chest level...up on the second floor. A villager stops him and says, "You can't! You might hit Maria!" and the love interest lowers the spear with a "Oh yeah, I guess you're right" look on his face. Comical.



TWINS OF EVIL is a fun little gothic horror drama and is well worth checking out.

80s Video Night




It's Friday in the 80s and you and your horror fan friends are planning on running out directly after school, hitting the video rental store, stopping by the Safeway to pick up sodas and snacks, then going to the designated home of the eve to watch movies all night until sunrise.

Ah...those were the days!  :) 

Movies for the night might have included...





I re-watched THE VIDEO DEAD recently and, I have to say, it's still a guilty pleasure of mine. Silly fun. What were some of your faves as a teen? Have you seen them recently? Still like them?

Let us know in the comments! 
~~

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Black Sabbath


This 1963 gem is "trilogy of terror" type film - three stories with a loose (and sometimes rather silly) hosting by Boris Karloff himself. The great Mario Bava (Black Sunday) is credited as Director, but Salvatore Billitteri shares directing credit. While the whole film looks the same artistically for the most part sporting Bava's amazing color pallet, the time periods and quality of story vary greatly.

The first and strongest segment is The Drop of Water and it's by far the most chilling of the three tales. It tells the story of Helen Chester (Jacqueline Pierreux) - a woman tasked with helping prepare the body of a medium for burial in what looks like a time period around the early 1900s. We're told by the servant that the woman must not touch anything in the room because the medium said a horrible curse would befall anyone who did. Heavy handed and clunky, true. Let's move on. :) Of course, the woman sees something she just has to have...and the ensuing nightmare conclusion is friggin' horrid and so damn creepy it gives me chills just thinking about it!  I wish the film ended with this segment - it's the strongest of the three tales and packs the biggest punch. It also plays with shadows and light very well. It has deep, dark areas that push things back while bright and colorful lights illuminate the foreground and add to the nightmare look it has.

The second, more modern segment is called The Telephone and I think I enjoyed it for all the wrong reasons. :::grin:::  I think I got a little caught up with the delicious curves and beauty of Michèle Mercier who plays Rosy in the segment. I kept thinking, "Man...she's really gorgeous" and "Ah, that's when women looked like WOMEN" as I watched her dive deeper and deeper into the terror of...phone calls. Yes, poor Rosy is getting calls from someone who definitely should not be calling her. Disturbing from a stalker standpoint for sure, but the segment pales in comparison to the Drop of Water tale.


The last story is a tale based further back in time again - around the 1800s. We've been shepherded along by Karloff, remember, so the switching of time periods isn't as jarring as it could have been. Plus we have Bava-color to tie everything together nicely. Now we hear about The Wurdalak  - a vampire, basically - and how it has a VERY adverse affect on it's family. Will Sdenka (Susy Andersen) make it to safety with her boyfriend? Maaaaaaybe. We get Karloff being very "Karloff" and a series of passionate deaths, but most of this tale fell flat to me. All but one scene in particular where a family member comes back...walks toward the family home...and calls out...that it's cold. So cold. :::shiver:::  That moment rang through me and was the closest to capturing the chills the first tale had. However, that's where the chills ended for me. The tale even wraps with a strange, comical scene with a horse running away in "comical fast motion" with a wacky, dark musical score. Similar to the "Da da da - da da da - DA!" wrap up, punchline tune used for jokes. Jarring. 

I might have enjoyed this film a bit better if I had not just finished watching a bunch of Hammer films recently. I hold them in high regard and it was hard to see the Bava version of gothic afterward. However it's worth watching - available via Netflix streaming as of the time of this posting. The Drop of Water alone is worth the price of admission! (And, the triple bill of Pierreux, Mercier and Anderson is easy on the eyes!)


A DROP OF WATER



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Belong to Me

One of my favorite movies is GHOST STORY. (Sadly, I tried to read the book and didn't like it as much as the movie....)

My wife was listening to the song "You Belong To Me" and a shiver ran down my spine. It's kinda creepy if you listen to the lyrics. Especially when it's sung by Patience & Prudence. 

So, why not combine the creepy song and some creepy GHOST STORY visuals? :)

Let me know what you think!

The Gate


95% of the human genome is composed of redundant gene sequences. They appear to have no known biological function. Could a chance event reactivate them? Genetic freaks wander the streets courtesy of irresponsible pharmaceutical companies.

I love this. Not only is it top notch storytelling (STORY telling), but it also has some deliciously creepy 3D visuals to back it up. Fantastic. 

Like sci fi horrors? You'll love THE GATE.


Horror Show Promo 2010





The 2010 HORROR SHOW PROMO
Comments welcome!

video


Operation Raccoon City






Some delicious 3D work from BLUR for RESIDENT EVIL: Operation Raccoon City

Also on their site:
http://vz3.blur.com/work/detail/resident-evil-raccoon-city-2#movies/1

Amazing 3D. I could watch a whole movie with this look with no problem at all. I love it. E3 video below. 



Helldriver



The great and powerful Yoshihiro Nishimura (involved in various ways in TOKYO GORE POLICE, MACHINE GIRL, SUICIDE CLUB, VAMPIRE GIRL v. FRANKENSTEIN GIRL) is back with more gore madness - HELLDRIVER.

These films make me happy. They are pure stupidity on some levels, but also a lot of fun and hyper-kinetic on dangerous levels. There are times I think they might give me a seizure or some other sort of brain damage. But, the gore and over the top, comic style is very enjoyable. If you're into that sort of thing.

And "That Sort of Thing is what it really boils down to. I've seen movies like MACHINE GIRL in a theater with people howling, screaming and laughing all the way through, then clapping wildly at the end. It's a lot like being on a roller coaster. You know that you're basically going to be doing the same things - up up up, screaming down into a series of flips and turns and curves, then peacefully back into the station to continue your day. You are not disappointed when that's all you get. Unless you're 5 years old or something.



These films basically tell you "So, we're going to have nudity, blood spraying all over the place, insane action, even more insane weapons, head and limb chopping and various other items that will have you whispering What the HELL was that?!"   
I'm all in. :)

TWITCH Review found here:  http://twitchfilm.com/reviews/2011/11/helldriver-review-2.php


328 Stories Christmas Story







A Christmas Story from 328 Stories
Something dies.  Very interesting.



Sunday, November 13, 2011

Vampire Lovers

THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970) is a fantastic film.

Don't get me wrong, it's a film made in the 70s, so it has 70s pacing and 70s acting, but there's a charm in that. A charm that works so very well with the gothic vampire theme. Ideal for a cold winter night.


Ingrid Pitt the lead in the film - the mysterious Marcilla. But, is she who she says she is? She slips into the homes of families as an invited guest and the beautiful daughters of the homes start dying. Slowly.




Now, there is really nothing to spoil here - it's a vampire story. So, there are vampires. The story itself is classic. Vampire anemia making young girls waste away while strapping young men and noble older men try to find the vampire or vampires and do away with them before the young innocent dies. The Hammer Studios stamp is all over this film. Fantastic, gothic sets with fog and candles all around. Men ride horses through forests while lovely ladies with cleavage abound.   It's lovely.

The film poster above is not for the film I saw. This poster would have you believe there are women ravaging men in chains. "Not for the mentally immature." Hilarious. In truth, this film has more of a lesbian twist. Pitt makes the young, sweet ladies swoon as she drains them of their life essence. And man, it has scenes of smoldering passion, that's for sure. (Again, 1970s style) NETFLIX even has it with a Gay and Lesbian tag.  Whatever it is, it's sexually charged and fun to watch.

The pace will through a few people off, I'm sure. The story itself is sound and moves along like you're reading a novel. However, people with modern day pacing sensibilities will hate this film, I believe, kicking their feet and clawing the arms of their chairs as they wait for a car chase or explosion. Even the "gore" - little as there is - is far more tame than today's films. (I just saw PIRANHA and the first 10 minutes was more gore filled than Vampire Lovers.)


If you need another reason to watch this film, it's Peter Cushing. While he doesn't have a lot of screen time, the time he does occupy is golden as usual. He is serious as ever and his performance is top notch.

 There's another character that I wasn't 100% sure about. If someone knows who he is, please let us know in the comments below! He's a vampire who is in on the charade of Pitt and who seems to be the leader of the vampire house guest plan, yet the story never says who he is or who he could be. I read that this film is part of a Karnstein Vampire Trilogy: VAMPIRE LOVERS, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE and TWINS OF EVIL. I'll have to see if the character reappears in those films. They are on my list.

So, if you're a fan of the fantastic HAMMER HORROR films of the 70s and have somehow missed this film, check it out and play along with the Karnstein Vampire Trilogy! If it's been a while since you've seen the film and remember liking it, revisit it and let us know if you still approve.

And, as always, let us know if you didn't like the film and why and maybe we can have a...dialog?






YouTube has these movies available. While not the best viewing experience, it's great for "instant grat" people like myself.

Woman in Black


HAMMER HORROR returns yet again with THE WOMAN IN BLACK!

The engaging WAKE WOOD was a fine return for HAMMER and I hope The Woman in Black finds a hold and manages to be even better.  I think the biggest hurdle for the film is Daniel "Harry Potter" Radcliffe in the starring role. Depending on the rating, it could help the movie - sending flocks of teen girls swooning towards the theaters. However, it can also send horror fans screaming away from the theater and away from Potter.

I'm looking forward to the film, personally. It looks like a great horror ghost story. 

Wat are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

ParaNorman

This Is looking fantastic. Can't really go wrong with the troop that made CORALINE. What a fun look and feel! I dig it. According to IMDB, A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse. It's nice to see some more original items coming out of this studio. In 2005, Laika Entertainment came out with CORPSE BRIDE. While it was filled with buzz thanks to Johnny Depp and Tim Burton, I'm not sure it was a huge hit. Moongirl and Slacker Cats followed. Yeah, I didn't hear about those either. :) Coraline was amazing, I hope ParaNorman follows it's lead.


It has a great look. The lighting and character designs are grand.
I can't wait!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Piranha

So, I finally got around to seeing PIRANHA today. I had planned to see it in the theater when it came out after I heard a lot of good things about it post-production 3D and action, however life with a new baby doesn't always allow for such luxuries. So...DVD it was.

My review: HOLY CRAP! I LOVE THIS FILM!

They managed to get the "old timey" feel of 80s gore cinema while keeping today's pacing and sense of action. They got Greg "The F/X God" Nicotero to do the effects work. And, they got a director (Alex Aja) who not only knows how to direct, but who also takes the time he needs to make a good film. This includes the monster task of casting for leads AND extras as well as making sure the best of the best were involved in the films production. The resulting shockrific, monster gore fest was so much fun I found myself bouncing on the couch and giggling from time to time and I clapped at the end of the film.

I admit it - I clapped. Alone. In my living room. I even nodded and muttered, "Nice work." (Nerd)

I won't say much more about the plot than Piranhas on the loose in a lake at Spring Break. No more really needs to be said. The beauties dance on party boats and do the usual Spring Break madness.  Aja doesn't shy away from nudity or bikinis like many other 80s style remakes have done recently. I mean, that was the 80s. Skin was in and part of the chemistry of an 80s horror film. So, if you're not a fan of girls in bikinis, don't bother with this film.

The acting is fantastic. Everyone does what they are supposed to do. Ving Rhames, Elisabeth Shue and Steven "Grandson of" McQueen all turn in fine performances. The top shelf folks like Christopher Lloyd and Richard Dreyfuss even treat this like real work, not some toss away favor. Eli Roth even stretches his acting chops to play a wet t-shirt douche bag. (Did you know he KNOWS Quentin and Brad. You know...from when he was in Inglourious Basterds. Sorry...he mentions this ALL the time and had to do it again in the films extras. :)  )  The casting of extras (not an open cattle call, but one-to-one, face-to-face casting) REALLY made a huge difference. Everyone on camera is acting and taking things seriously and it shows.

But the real star of this film is the gore. DEAR LAWD! there is a LOT of gore in this film. And the visceral, nasty kind, too. All in the daylight and in your face. The F/X in this film are so much fun. They are a real throwback to old school gore-fests. No punches are pulled and there are some creative and wicked scenes - especially in the "ATTACK THE LAKE" madness that ramps the blood and guts up to 13! Some of the best I've seen in a long time. And...so much of it!

I think I've gushed over this film enough. If you have not seen it, do so at once. I regret not seeing this in a theater - 3D aside. It would have been fun to see this in a packed theater with a crowd of cringing, whooping fans. Check it!


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hammer Horror: Sexy Vampires

I've been on a Hammer Horror trip of late. Hammer represents some of my first outings in horror. When I was a boy, I used to watch them on Saturdays with a giant bowl of popcorn (thanks, Mom!) and just eat up every aspect of them. The Gothic nature of the stories and scenery had a strong effect on me.




Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were fantastic leads in the Hammer World, but the women in the movies were just delicious. The studio presented a bevy of beauties who ran the range from innocent to evil. I have a memory burned into my brain of watching TWINS OF EVIL on Creature Features (R.I.P. Bob Wilkins!) and someone had forgotten to cut or crop a breast out. There on my TV...was a breast. It hovered there softly and my young brain swooned. :) And strong female leads like Ingrid Pitt were fantastic to see on screen.


The Hammer Glamour [Book] by Marcus Hearn came out recently and the fun 1951 Down Place Podcast has been rekindling my desire to see some of these awesome Hammer Horror films again. The cold weather and the winter darkness make it a perfect Hammer viewing time. I figured that I'd jump into the marathon with the sexy Hammer Vampires. (Of course!)


If you choose to play along, leave a comment below and let me know what your Hammer memories are - old or new!

The Vampire Lovers


Twins of Evil


Brides of Dracula


Lust for a Vampire

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countess Dracula (Updated)




Man...they don't make them like Ingrid Pitt anymore. Sure, we have various "haut" actresses hanging about, but they just don't have the charisma of Pitt.

The Hammer Movie Queen is featured in the classic Countess Dracula from 1971. The Countess needs blood to stay young. And, blood she shall have!

I'm glad Hammer is back, but I'm just not sure they will ever regain what they had in the 70's. Their films were so basic and gothic and...slow. I loved the slowness, however. They are just fun films.

YouTube was kind enough to share Countess Dracula with us for free. Take a look!







UPDATE after seeing it again: 
I think this might be one of the weakest of the Hammer vamp movies.  Oh, it's still fun and still gothic, but I think it really should have been called COUNTESS BATHORY or something to that effect. They slip in some villagers calling Pitt Countess Dracula at the end, but that's really the only spot the name comes up. She's not really a vampire, she just uses blood to keep herself young. 
That being said, it's a fun film with some grand, over the top performances. Pitt is evil, however. She's self possessed and doesn't care about anyone except herself and her new lover. 

It's well worth watching. Just don't expect a be-fanged Pitt hissing around the place. :)

~~~~

The Asphyx


The Asphyx (1973) is a film that has a fantastic storyline, but lacked budget and tech to really make it what it could have been. I HATE remakes, but I'd actually love to see this film remade properly with a good budget and A List F/X team. If you have not seen it, you might want to check it out.

The story involves capturing the spirit as it leaves the body when death occurs. Scientists manage to successfully capture the soul, but the results are less that pleasant.

Terror Is A Man

TERROR IS A MAN (a.k.a. Blood Creature)

Full movie here, evidently.
http://www.hulu.com/watch/151122/terror-is-a-man

Loosely based on the Island of Doctor Moreau - 1896 science fiction novel written by H. G. Wells - this old classic was filmed in the Philippines on the cheap, but it looks like a ton of fun.

TERROR was featured in Machete Maidens Unleashed! and looks like it was put together well. It also had a great gimmic where a bell would sound to warm people so they could avert their gaze for particularly gruesome scenes. Ah, I miss the days of fun gimmicks and awesome FILMED IN SCARE-O-VISION-like tags. People like William Castle were masters at that sort of thing. We just don't have that today.

And, we don't have films like TERROR IS A MAN. Gorilla style films shot quickly in foreign countries. But, films like this are still available. Watch 'em! :)


Preview

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

"Dallas?"

Dallas should have stayed THE HELL outta that air shaft! :)

I look back on 1979's ALIEN fondly. I had tried to sit through JAWS in 1975 or 1976 and...well...it didn't work out. It ended badly. My friend's father had to sit out in the lobby with me watching the last 25 minutes through a small porthole in the door at the Novato theater. (The funny thing is that JAWS is now one of my favorite movies ever. Go figure.)

So, flash forward to 1979. I'm 10 years old. Another friend and I convince our mothers to take us to see ALIEN in an afternoon show. They cave to our begging and take us. This always brings a smile to my face. I WAS FRIGGIN 10 YEARS OLD and sat watching ALIEN like a CHAMP. I remember watching this film unfold like the titular Alien itself - staring at the screen and wondering what was going to happen next.

ALIEN had a realness to it. Things looked dirty and used. Really, everything in the film looks like it could exist. I love that. While STAR WARS was definitely mind blowing and amazing, it looked like fantasy while ALIEN looked like it was the future on celluloid. We loved it. No nightmares. No lobby time. Just sitting...watching...and LOVING this film to death.

Speaking of death...like I said...Dallas should have stayed THE HELL out of that shaft....

Spoiler much?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Inside: Second Mention


I think I've already covered the insanity and mayhem that is INSIDE, but with LIVIDE winging it's way to us, I figured it was worth a second mention.
INSIDE is a boneshaker. It rattles the soul. It slaps the face. It's so good.

My wife was 6 or 7 months pregnant when I saw this film and that made it very hard to watch. The subject matter and visuals are striking. The pack a punch that is just hard to shake. Here I am thinking about the film a long while after I saw it originally and it still makes me shiver when I think about some of the content and visuals.

Film makers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury were being considered for a HELLRAISER reboot and I think it would have been amazing. Unfortunately, it seems that the studio has had second thoughts and have taken the offer back. I don't think they were ready to have something as intense as INSIDE for their reboot, but I think Hellraiser fans would have loved it.







Be afraid.
Be very afraid.

Livide

Film makers Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury bring us a dark fairytale that looks like it won't be as dark and nasty as INSIDE, but something that will be sure to do SOMETHING to disturb and entertain. These two men have a fantastic chemistry. The work they produce seems to be charged with creative and violent energy that makes their horrific efforts a joy to watch for horror genre fans. LIVIDE will make or break them in the horror realm. They only have this film and INSIDE under their belts, so if this hits as hard as INSIDE did, it will lock them into a course for French Horror Masters. Fingers crossed.

Check out the TWITCH trailer below.




Unflinching Eye found this behind the scenes making of on CANAL+
LIVIDE BEHIND THE SCENES ON CANAL+