Monday, October 26, 2020

NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND [1972]

 "NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND WILL KILL THEIR LOVE, NOR THE WIND TAKE IT IN ENVY FROM THEM." 


Ah, 1972:  the height of all things gothic . . . .particularly gothic romance.  Look at that post I did a few weeks ago of all those Gothic romance novel covers!  Gothic romance was everywhere.  I know.  I lived through it.  The impact of DARK SHADOWS on the zeitgeist mixing romantic soap opera with horror and monsters for the previous 5 years still resonated even after it's 1971 cancellation.  Even the comic book world saw an explosion of gothic romance books like HAUNTED LOVE, DARK MANSIONS OF FORBIDDEN LOVE and the like.  And here we have the 1972 film based on a novel written by a TV news reader!  I mean, just LOOK at that poster.  You would never even know it was a horror movie; looks like a wind-tossed sea-swept romance novel with maybe some gothic overtones.  But this is, believe it or don't, a zombie movie more than a little bit inspired by "THE MONKEY'S PAW". . . .except without the paw.  


Anna Robinson is stuck in a loveless marriage.  She meets Byronic Hugh Dabernon by a lighthouse on the isle of Jersey.  They don't meet cute; it's not that kind of movie or that kind of era.  It's 1972.  They meet "gothic romancey" with the wind and the dark clouds and the crashing surf.  It is really love at first sight and soon they are involved in a passionate affair. 

Hugh takes Anna back to the family house which offends his blue-nosed brother George, who demands that she be gone before he comes back that evening.  Hugh and Anna decide to go off together for a romantic romp in Scotland; they rent a cottage from Mr. and Mrs. MacKay and spend an idyllic time . . . . until while mid-romp, Hugh drops dead of an unsuspected heart aneurism.  More devastated than she's ever known, with all her hopes of happiness dashed, and in a state of shock, Anna is sedated and the local doctor fills out Hugh's death certificate.  Waking in the middle of the night, Anna hears footsteps scuffling around the cabin.  She opens the door to find Hugh standing there!  Anna is ecstatically happy . . . .but there is something odd about Hugh.  He doesn't speak and is cold to the touch.  In fact, he communicates mentally with Anna without speaking and she hears his voice in her head.  Hugh is dead but it seems the overwhelming love for each other has brought him back as a silent, shuffling zombie. 

Anna believes that Hugh is alive and the doctor made a mistaken diagnosis; but when she returns with Hugh (who has a habit of staring endlessly at her to the point of unnerving her) to the Danernon homestead, George insists that Hugh is really dead and that Anna is some kind of evil witch in league with the Devil and plans to have Hugh exorcised by a priest.  Anna is none too happy about this and doesn't go along as George drives Hugh to meet the priest.  Hugh suddenly grabs the steering wheel and causes the car to go over a cliff killing George.  Anna is waiting at the front door as Hugh slowly shuffles back to her.  It is slightly suggested by the movie that Anna may have mentally made Hugh do this but, nicely, the mystery is never blatantly cleared up.  Anna has an idyllic time fixing meals for Hugh which he never eats and fussing over him.  Unfortunately, Hugh is physically deteriorating . . . . in fact, rotting slowly . . . .and what's worse, he wants Anna to join him in death.


This movie is one odd duck.  It's the definition of a slow-burn and very much character-driven.  The unease and eventual dread in Hugh's rotting form is subtley portrayed and there is no outright horror set-pieces that usually appear in zombie movies.  I believe Gordon Honeycombe, the author of the original novel, had quite a bit of input into the making of the film; I've never read the novel but I assume it's pretty close to what we see in the film.  Director Fred Burnley didn't direct another film but worked primarily in television and, in fact, died only three years after making this film.  Susan Hampshire (BAFFLED!, THE TRYGON FACTOR), the present day Lady Kulukundis, is very good in the role of Anna; she runs the gamut of the character's emotions with sadness, passion, devastation and possible madness all effectively portrayed.  Owing to the script (and presumably the novel), there are no heroes or villains here but everyone is drawn in shades of gray.  Anna is sympathetic as a character but is also no saint and possibly commits murder through her "control" of Hugh.  Michael Petrovich (TALES THAT WITNESS MADNESS, TURKEY SHOOT) as Hugh is pretty wooden and it's difficult to understand what Anna sees in him; however, this works well after Hugh is dead since that's exactly what's called for in the role.  Always wonderful Frank Finlay (SITTING TARGET, LIFEFORCE, the Louis Jourdan DRACULA, MURDER BY DECREE, A STUDY IN TERROR, THE DEADLY BEES) is wonderfully outraged as prim brother George.  Also in the cast as Hugh's friend Collie is DOCTOR WHO's own Michael Craze (SATAN'S SLAVE, TERROR) who doesn't have a lot to do but is quite good doing it.  This is, as I said, an odd, quiet little zombie movie which is worth a watch if that's where your mind is at.

CURSE OF THE UNDEAD [1959]

LOOK!  A WESTERN WAMPIRE MOVIE! 


Not the first movie to combine westerns and horror by a long chalk (the 30's and 40's poverty row oaters were full of them), but this was something kinda new and refreshing for the next generation.  An epidemic of death among the young girls of a western town has broken out; leaving the dead girls with two puncture marks on their necks.  Doc Carter is trying to figure out what's going on while a land-grabbing local rancher named Buffer is trying to take over his land by any unscrupulous way possible.  Young Tim Carter (Doc's son) is severely beaten by Buffer's goons and Doc Carter goes to confront the bully along with the sheriff.

  The doctor leaves Buffer and his goons but when his wagon returns home, Doc Carter is dead at the reins.  After the Doc is buried, Tim goes to confront Buffer and ends up being shot dead in a duel with him.  After losing both her father and brother, the Doc's daughter Dolores posts reward posters around town offering $100 for someone to kill Buffer.  A wandering bounty hunter named Drake Robey decides to take up the bounty.  It's no spoiler, since the film makes it clear quite early, that Drake Robey is a vampire.  Dolores' beau Preacher Dan Young tries to disuade her from going through with the murderous bounty and, after a big argument, Dolores invites Robey to stay on the Carter Ranch.  That night, Robey puts the slow bite on Dolores and the next morning she agrees to cancel the bounty but to keep Robey on as a hired hand.  Preacher Dan slowly comes to realize that Drake Robey is a vampire and battles him for the safety of the town and his beloved Dolores.


CURSE OF THE UNDEAD is a fairly routine late-50's horror film with the nice twist of a cowboy vampire.  The great Michael Pate is the coolest cat around and his portrayal of Drake Robey is sharp and a touch otherworldly; his is (super)naturally the best role in the film.  It is a little disappointing that Robey is quite often seen walking around in broad daylight; the only effect sunlight has on the vampire is that it hurts his eyes!  The rest of the cast is perfectly fine with old-genre-favourite John Hoyt (ATTACK OF THE PUPPET PEOPLE, THE BLACK CASTLE, WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE, X: THE MAN WITH X-RAY EYES) as Doc Carter always reliable in a short-lived role.  Director Edward Dein (THE LEECH WOMAN) does an unspectacular but competent job.  The real star of the film is the gorgeous lighting and cinematography (shown to best effect on the new Kino Lorber blu-ray) filmed in beautiful expressionistic chiaroscuro by genre vet DP Ellis W. Carter (THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, THE MOLE PEOPLE, THE MONOLITH MONSTERS, TWICE-TOLD TALES).  No classic but much better than it has a right to be.  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

WE INTERRUPT THIS COUNTDOWN TO HALLOWEEN TO SAY OMG!

 SO WE KNOW WHAT THE NEXT DC ANIMATED MOVIE IS GONNA BE AND IT'S CALLED BATMAN:  SOUL OF THE DRAGON!  It features the return of Bruce Timm to animated Batman and it's 1970's all the way.  Bruce Timm himself calls 1973 his "sweet spot" for comics, movies, cars, music, kung fu.  And that's all gonna be the foundation of BATMAN:  SOUL OF THE DRAGON, can ya dig?  This one I'm really excited about  --  because I've got the exact same sweet spot for 1973 as Bruce Timm.  And everything described about this movie sounds like heaven to me!  We've got Batman


We've got Lady Shiva


We've got Bronze Tiger


We've got Richard Dragon


Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!? Early 70's Batman kung fu action with all these martial arts headliners AND with a wakkachikka wakkachikka guitar????!!!!!  AND Kobra?!?!?!?!



AND James freakin' Hong as Sensei?!?!?!?  



I can't wait until 2021!!!!!!!!!

SCARE PACKAGE [2019]

 "HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS . . . . AND THE HEART IS WHERE THE BLOOD IS." 


Joe Bob Briggs always tells it like it is and when he showed this horror anthology on his Shudder series THE LAST DRIVE-IN, he quite rightly and quite accurately said that all horror anthologies have good segments and not so good segments and with SCARE PACKAGE he would probably cut out 2 or 3 segments.  And Joe Bob himself is IN this movie (which I don't think is a spoiler because he's right there in the credits).  I would agree with Joe Bob and say 2 or 3 segments could indeed be cut and improve the movie because, hell, the movie has 5 segments AND TWO wraparound stories.  Besides that there IS actually another segment called LOCKER ROOM Z which if fact WAS cut!!!  Having said all this, every segment/story in the film is worthwhile to some degree and none of them are bad.  The common opinion on SCARE PACKAGE that I've seen is that the film starts great and finishes great but sags in the middle and again, boringly, I'll agree with that.  



SCARE PACKAGE does indeed have 5 stories and 2 wraparound stories/frame narratives which dovetail into each other.  That's novelty enough in itself. The film opens with a man named Mike Myers (get it?!?) altering a sign leading to an insane asylum which will lead a car full of dopey teenagers into the beginning of a horror movie in which they'll probably all be killed.  Mike is then seen complaining to his friend Wendy (who is the stock horror movie police officer who can't seem to hit anything vital when firing a gun at a crazed serial killer) that all he's ever allowed to do is set up the circumstances which will lead the main characters into the horror movie . . . and then he's dropped from the film.  Wendy tries to comfort Mike by explaining that he's just the 'Cold Opener' and that's his job; he's not main character material.  Later, while Mike is fulfilling his role by snipping a wire causing the power to go out in a house in which two women are babysitting on Halloween,

Mike rebels against his function and directly interacts with the women; hoping that he will be able to be a hero or at least a main character in the horror to follows.  Of course, none of this works out the way Mike is intending.  I won't say any more other than to say that we eventually switch to Mike who has hitchhiked a ride with Rad Chad.  When Mike is dropped off, Rad Chad drives to work at his video store "Rad Chad's Horror Emporium" for the second framing story where a movie know-it-all named Sam  applies for a job and Chad rejects him apparently for the umpteenth time because Sam is so unlikeable.  Another man named Hawn applies and quickly gets the job.  Sam recommends a 'must-see' horror film to Chad called "ONE TIME IN THE WOODS" and we then cut to the actual movie "ONE TIME IN THE WOODS" where two couples are camping in the woods.  A man comes running out of the woods claiming to be 'dangerous' and starts to transform into a gooey mess and begs them to kill him with silver.  Besides this goo monster, a 'Back Woods Slasher' also appears.  I'll say no more about the plot of this one but this, along with the wraparound stories "COLD OPEN/RAD CHAD'S HORROR EMPORIUM/HORROR HYPOTHESIS",  is the best and funniest of the segments.  I frequently laughed out loud which is not usual for me.

The next story is called "M.I.S.T.E.R." which concerns a men's group and werewolves.  Not great, not bad, kinda incoherent. 

Next story is "GIRLS NIGHT OUT OF BODY" which concerns 3 women having a get together (they're too old for a slumber party but that's kinda what it is).  One of the women shoplifts an orange skull lollipop marked 'not for sale' from a convenience store.  Licking the lollipop transforms your face into a replica of the orange skull face.  Again . . . not great, not bad, kinda incoherent. 

The next story is "THE NIGHT HE CAME BACK AGAIN!  PART IV: THE FINAL KILL" which finds a group of twentysomethings encountering a masked killer who is seemingly impossible to kill; this segment parodies that trope.  Not great, not bad. 

Next story is "SO MUCH TO DO" which finds a man driven in the trunk of a car to an open grave by two mysterious men wearing black gloves.  One of the 'baddies' removes his glove to reveal a glowing omega symbol on his hand; he burns the symbol into the 'victim/marked man's' forehead then they bury him alive.  Smoke emerges from the grave and drifts to a parked car in which Francesca sits talking to her friend on the phone.  She inhales the smoke and sees the 'marked man' in the mirror; apparently he has taken over her body.  The 'marked man' and Francesca then fight over who will control her body.  Not great, not bad, reeeeeeeeeeeeeally incoherent.  When Joe Bob screened the film on his THE LAST DRIVE-IN, he even states how he 'just doesn't get' these middle stories and they are head-scratchingly confusing; however, they are short enough and have just enough to them as to keep them from sinking into the 'bad' category.  Especially "SO MUCH TO DO" which features a stand-out performance by Toni Trucks as Francesca; i'd like to see her kickass character in a whole movie to herself! 

After "SO MUCH TO DO", the two wraparound stories return and sort of meld together into a segment called "HORROR HYPOTHESIS" in which Rad Chad is captured and taken to a scientific facility under the video store which is conducting experiments on a masked serial killer named "The Devil's Lake Impaler" and a bunch of seeming 'horror character stereotypes' that represent such horror staples as the slut, the jock (yes, wearing Johnny Depp's costume from A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET!), the token black guy, the final girl, the 'monster fighter'. . . and Rad Chad himself as the 'know-it-all horror movie expert'.  This segment pointedly makes fun of the meta on meta horror movies from SCREAM to CABIN IN THE WOODS with razor-sharp insight. All this melding of two wraparound framing stories is hilariously excellent and leads to a very satisfying conclusion to the film.

Joe Bob Briggs, Jeremy King, Zoe Graham, Chase Williamson

Jeremy King as Rad Chad, Hawn Tran as Hawn and Byron Brown as Sam are all excellent in the "Video Emporium' scenes as are Jon Michael Simpson and Haley Alea Erickson as Mike Myers and Wendy respectively in "COLD OPEN".   The entire cast of "ONE TIME IN THE WOODS" plays it just perfectly with expert comic timing.  All the other middle segments feature performances which are just fine with, as mentioned, the one standout performance being Toni Trucks in "SO MUCH TO DO".  The final wrap-up "HORROR HYPOTHESIS" also features the meda-awesome Joe Bob Briggs as himself, veteran wrestler Dustin Rhodes as The Devil's Lake Impaler and the wonderful Chase Williamson (JOHN DIES AT THE END, BEYOND THE GATES, VICTOR CROWLEY) as Pete (the stoner); everyone else in the film's finale are equally excellent.  The movie has a passel of directors with the best sequences directed by Aaron B. Koontz (RAD CHAD'S HORROR EMPORIUM/HORROR HYPOTHESIS), Emily Hagins (COLD OPEN) and Chris McInroy (ONE TIME IN THE WOODS).

Dustin Rhodes as The Devil's Lake Impaler

So basically what do we have here?  What we have here is a very enjoyable horror anthology movie which I will probably be rewatching around Halloween each year.  But what I'll probably be doing is skipping over the middle stories M.I.S.T.E.R., GIRLS NIGHT OUR OF BODY and maybe THE NIGHT HE CAME BACK AGAIN although half the time I'll probably watch that one . . . or all of them.  Like I said, none of them are bad so I feel no great need to skip them.

THE SCREAMING WOMAN [1972]

 THIS ONE'S ODD. 


I've seen plenty of 70's made-for-TV horror movies in my time but this isn't like any of them.  Indeed, it's only tangentially horror in the climax of the film.  Olivia de Havilland stars as a rich woman named Laura Wynant who has just been released from a mental institution and has come back home to her extensive estate for a rest.  Awaiting her there are here rather-sniveling son Howard (Charles Robinson) and his rather-shrewish wife Caroline (Laraine Stephens) who both want her to sell off her land for the money.  On the property is the remains of a levelled smokehouse of which nothing remains but the basement which has been filled in with earth.  Laura hears a small, weak voice crying for help and, through a small hole, sees a woman buried alive.  Laura spends the rest of the movie trying to convince someone of what she's seen.  Meanwhile, a local man named Carl Nesbitt (Ed Nelson) has done his best to cover up that self-same spot where he has buried his wife. Apparently Laura suffers from arthritis in her hands which is why she can't dig up the woman herself.  

Now, I watched this on the new CREATURE FEATURES so it's very possible that some parts of the film were cut out.  However, there's a LOT that appears too convenient or just plain doesn't make sense.  First the title.  The only "screaming woman" in the film is Olivia de Havilland when she sees Mrs. Nesbitt through the hole in the ground; Mrs. Nesbitt herself barely speaks above a whisper when she utters a sound at all.  And conveniently, she never utters a sound when anyone else is around except once when a little boy is with Laura and that just scares him away.  Then there's the burial itself.  As depicted in the movie, Mrs. Nesbitt can't be down more than a foot.  She is not an old lady so she should be able to work her way easily up to the surface.  Later, it is obliquely shown that the Nesbitts had an argument and there is blood on the hearth of the fireplace; implying that Mrs. Nesbitt fell and hit her head.  If the blow didn't kill her (as it obviously didn't) in what way could it incapacitate her to such a degree that she can't yell and scream or even push her way out of a foot of loose dirt with an already established hole in it?!?!?!  And that hole Laura saw her through; after that, Mr. Nesbitt comes along and brushes some dirt over the hole to cover it up.  And that's all.  And no one is able to find the hole again although Laura, her son AND a police deputy all "look" for it.  It's kinda a LOT for a viewer to swallow but if you allow yourself to go along with it, it's a fine enough time-waster (especially if you watch it on CREATURE FEATURES with Vincent, Tangella and Livingstone along for the ride).  Small roles for Hollywood leading men Joseph Cotten and Walter Pidgeon as the family lawyer and doctor respectively pep things up as well.  It's also startling to find John Williams in the credits for the music and Edith Head for costumes!  Director Jack Smight has done some films I quite like (HARPER, FRANKENSTEIN: THE TRUE STORY, AIRPORT '75) and some clunkers (MIDWAY, the 1973 remake of DOUBLE INDEMNITY) but here he does the best job he can with a rather thin and incredulous screenplay which features most of it's running time with Olivia de Havilland frantically running around.  For what he's got to work with, Smight does an admirable job.     

Saturday, October 24, 2020

INCIDENT AT LOCH NESS [2004]

 WHAT WOULD HALLOWEEN (OR THE COUNTDOWN) BE WITHOUT A CRYPTID OR TWO. 



This time we have the grandmommy of all cryptids:  the Loch Ness Monster! We also have maverick filmmaker Werner Herzog going on an expedition to find Nessie.  Or not.  This is an hilarious mockumentary which is so true to life in it's wackiness that it could stand for every movie ever produced.  I'm sure this stuff goes on on every production ever made!  Screenwriter/Director Zak Penn is absolutely wonderful as a typically asshole producer who tries to force his dopey ideas on everyone;

from the boiler suits he tries to make everyone wear (with "Expeditition Crew" misspelled on the back of every one

to the bikini-model (Kitana Baker)he tries to pass off as a sonar expert

to the dopey fake Nessie head he tries to get Herzog to film.  Everyone in the movie plays themselves and, unusually for these things, come off as totally believable in their performances!  I suppose we owe that to Herzog who is an old master at this.  Of course, there's no real horror here. . . .but there also kinda is . . . . either way, though, it does concern a monster and that's good enough for me to watch during the Countdown for Halloween.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Slaughterhouse (1987) - "NO SMOKING" PROMO

SLAUGHTERHOUSE [1987]

 "YOU'RE BEING PIG-HEADED, LESTER!" 


Absolutely takes for it's starting point TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE but combines it with any 80's "teens" get offed one by one slasher and just a soupcon of humour.  Lester Bacon & Sons (see what they did there?) is a hog slaughtering business that has fallen on hard times and is moments for being condemned. 

Lester has a son (he's a BIG boy) named Buddy who is one weenie short of a full pack and speaks only in pig-snorts.  When local teens (the usual slasher "teens" that appear to be pushing 30) disturb Buddy's precious pigs, he hacks them to pieces and hangs them up on meat hooks.  Priceless moment number one is when Dad comes in and sees the murdered teens:  "I buy you a new cleaver for your birthday and THIS is how you repay me?!?!?!  Sometimes you REALLY piss me off!"   Good stuff!  It is kinda confusing though how Buddy seems to identify with pigs and loves them and cuddles them but doesn't seem to have a problem with slaughtering them for a living???  Conflict of interest or what?   Lester tells Buddy they don't have anything to fear from these kids; it's those no good so-and-so's that are trying to take their property away that he'd rather see up on those meat hooks.  Well, guess what idea THAT puts in Buddy's head.  So, there may not be any new ground broken here and you get exactly what you think you're going to get but it's kinda fun. 

The film has a palpable griminess to it but at the same time oddly has a lightness as well; owing to the subtle tongue-in-cheek humour in the script (written by director Rick Roessler) and the performance of the actors who somehow bring an easy competence to their roles; much more professional than you might expect to get in this kind of slasher.  Joe B. Barton (who also appeared in the masterpiece known as BLOOD DINER) as our "hero" Buddy Bacon is particularly good.  One scene after he has hacked up a local deputy, Buddy Bacon sashays (and he DOES sashay) out to the dead deputy's patrol car proudly wearing the victim's mirrored shades and police uniform -- which is naturally covered in blood and worn under Buddy's overalls!  Bubby proudly dons the deputies hat and gets into the patrol car and goes for a joy ride and has the greatest time!   A "Hot Rod Lincoln"-type song plays on the soundtrack with lyrics such as "He's a real gone daddy, he's a shooting star, and they can't touch him with his hot rod car!" He's got the siren and lights going as he tools around the town and even picks up the car two-way radio mike and piggy-squeals into it to the confusion of the dispatcher back at the precinct office. You can't help but love the guy!  He's the most lovable piggy-snortin' serial killer you're ever gonna find.  It's also fun that Lester, his father, goes bonkers and pretty much directs Buddy on his killing spree.  And then there's the ending which I liked a lot.  Here I go with yet another of my recent broken record of "this was way better than I expected it to be!".


Of course, the best way to watch SLAUGHTERHOUSE is on that wonderful Vinegar Syndrome blu with the limited edition slipcover which opens by pulling the left and right sides of the slipcase and having it open like slaughterhouse doors.  How freakin' cool is dat?!?!?!?!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

NURSE WILL MAKE IT BETTER [1975]

 SATAN IN A MARY POPPINS HAT. 



Another in the superb Brian Clemens THRILLER programme which, similar to THE NBC MYSTERY MOVIE, would bring us mini-movies weekly set in the thriller or horror genres (much like the eponymously-named early 60's BORIS KARLOFF'S THRILLER programme did). Brian Clemens' THRILLER for British TV began in the early 70's and was always very entertaining; occasionally producing a classic like the airing of SOMEONE AT THE TOP OF THE STAIRS that I caught on late night cable in the mid-80's and was haunted by for 20 years because I missed the first 15 minutes of it and never knew what it was called.  I previously wrote about that THRILLER movie here.  But this time around, we have another supernatural THRILLER entitled NURSE WILL MAKE IT BETTER starring the incomparable Diana Dors whom I love in her 1970's horror output.  The face and figure which has made her the British Marilyn Monroe had faded by then and Dors was finally in a place where she could take interesting character parts which showed her true range as an actor.  


Our film finds diplomat Edgar Harrow's daughter Charley having a riding accident which breaks her back and leaves her paralyzed.  Surly and self-pitying, Charley goes through half a dozen nurses before the family tries Bessie; a portly grey-haired woman with a wart on her chin.  Bessie goes up to meet Charley, who is carrying on as usual.  When the other family members leave and Charley keeps carrying on , Bessie clocks her with a solid right.  Not the run of the mill nurse!  She tells the family Charley's now sleeping soundly.  Yeah, I'll bet she IS!  Whatever strange influence Bessie has transforms Charley into an obedient, hopeful patient -- apparently by having Charley read a strange, old book.  Before you know it, Charley is walking again against all odds.  But something's odd about her now as she laughingly forces her boyfriend's car into almost running over a bicyclist and then scratching his face with her nails.  Bessie then begins having an odd influence on the youngest Harrow daughter:  16 year old Susy.  Turns out, good ole Bessie is a witch who is turning the Harrow women towards 'the collector of souls'.  Elder sister Ruth is on to Bessie and tries to thwart her evil designs but Bessie might be more powerful than she can imagine.


Diana Dors is, needless to say, excellent as the demonic Bessie; a character very much like one she would play a few years later in the HAMMER HOUSE OF HORROR episode THE CHILDREN OF THE FULL MOON.  The almost impossibly beautiful Andrea Marcovicci (THE STUFF, VELVET BUZZSAW) is also quite good as the determined sister Ruth who will do anything to protect her family.  The cast also features Cec Linder (LOLITA, GOLDFINGER) as the diplomat Edgar Harrow, Michael Culver (THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE) as boyfriend Simon and Ed Bishop (Gerry Anderson's UFO, JOURNEY TO THE FAR SIDE OF THE SUN, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY) as Harrow's bodyguard Carson. 

Linda Liles makes her only screen appearance here as Charley and youngest daughter Susy is nicely played by Tiffany Kinney; whose only other film appearance was in THE EXORCIST II:  THE HERETIC.  Ouch!  Most notably to DOCTOR WHO fans is the small role of Patrick Troughton as the scruffy, alcoholic priest Lyall who is brought in to dispense with the satanic nurse.  This is interesting because this was only a year before Troughton would appear as a priest in THE OMEN and here he looks exactly the same as he would in that film!  Another DOCTOR WHO connection is the brief appearance of Wendy Williams (Vira in DOCTOR WHO: THE ARK IN SPACE) as the totally bonkers Mrs. Fuller, who is Bessie's previous patient.  NURSE is directed by Shaun O'Riordan who helmed several other THRILLER episodes including SCREAMER, THE EYES HAVE IT and I'M THE GIRL HE WANTS TO KILL as well as the abyssmal return of CALLAN:  WET JOB.  All O'Riordan's THRILLER work is better than that awful return of CALLAN, sadly.  This (and many other THRILLER episodes) makes some perfect October viewing.

THE EYE CREATURES [1965]

 "NOBODY BUT THIS SPECIAL UNIT AND THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES KNOW WHAT REALLY HAPPENED HERE TONIGHT!" 


OK, so Larry Buchanan (our jolly director) obviously saw INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN because this plays like a much worse version of that.  A military department that checks out UFO activity takes some outer space footage of a tacky flying saucer (that even Ed Wood would've sent back for a refund) loitering around their space station and then heads towards earth. 

They dispatch one of their lieutenant's (Lt. Robertson) to the scene and he promptly lounges around not doing much of anything.  But first, he reports to a general who is wearing leopard-print jammies!  The flying saucer lands in the woods nearby a local teen "makeout point" and the military spends a great deal of time eavesdropping on the smooching.  Stan and Susan are there too and when they drive off they managed to hit one of the lumpy, bumpy alien creatures.  Meanwhile, some of the aliens kill Carl Fenton, a guy who saw the UFO land and came to check it out, and apparently tries to frame Stan by banging on his car fender and leaving Carl's dead body in front of the car.  The police hold Stan for vehicular manslaughter after they find Carl's body under Stan's bumper.  They certainly don't believe any story about hitting a space monster.  Of course, the VERY SAME POLICE are at that very moment surrounding the UFO and attempting to acetyline torch their way into it . . . causing a big boom!  Maybe I'M crazy but it seems to me that if some of your local police force (along with the military) is currently surrounding an obvious flying saucer, maybe the police back at the station MIGHT be a little more likely to believe that Stan hit an alien creature.  Nah.  A later scene DOES show a cop arriving on the scene after the boom and our intrepid Lt. Robertson tells him that one of their jets crashed to put him off the scent -- but I SWEAR I saw police uniforms in the crown around the UFO in that earlier scene.  Maybe I didn't . . . but it's certainly not worth watching it AGAIN to find out!!!


Amongst the unknown Larry Buchanan "stock company" we find really the only famous face playing Stan:  John Ashley who, after making a string of Frankie & Annette "beach party" movies appeared in this Larry Buchanan special a couple years before he would head for the Philippines to star in Eddie Romero's "Blood Island" movies as well as others like BEAST OF THE YELLOW NIGHT, TWILIGHT PEOPLE, BEYOND ATLANTIS, BLACK MAMBA and SAVAGE SISTERS.  Here he gamely gives it his all but hey, you're in a Larry Buchanan movie, John, you can't save it no matter WHAT you do!  Truly dull and pretty terrible, the best part of watching THE EYE CREATURES was that I watched it on the new CREATURE FEATURES and this episode saw host Vincent Van Dahl interviewing the great and glittering Jackie Kong:  director of those classics NIGHT PATROL and BLOOD DINER!  Worth sitting through Larry Buchanan's movie for, definitely!  I'll have to admit, though, that I have a strange affection for those goofy, lumpy monsters.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BODY PARTS [1991]

 DIS-ARM-INGLY FANTASTIC! 



Come on, like you weren't expecting that.  BODY PARTS is a really terrific semi-body horror flick by director Eric Red (whose BAD MOON I watched during last year's Countdown to Halloween) which benefits from excellent performances and solid direction. Criminal psychologist Bill Chrushank is a successful doc with a lovely wife and son who loses an arm in a car crash (spectacularly filmed by Red).  While being wheeled into the operating room, he woozily glimpses another operating table surrounded by a lot of people including armed police.  Before losing consciousness, Bill sees the other man's head being severed.  Turns out this was a convicted serial killer and this was his death sentence; his arms and legs will be used in a radical new transplant method performed by the brilliant Dr. Agatha Webb.  Not knowing this at first, Bill becomes suspicious when his arm begins to act of its own volition and sneaks around uncovering the truth.  He also discovered two other men have also received transplants (the other arm and two legs respectively) from the serial killer as well.  All three men begin experiencing an alarming loss of control with their transplanted limbs and it appears the evil is in the body parts themselves.


Absolutely top notch psychological horror meets body horror film features as excellent lead performance by Jeff Fahey (LOST, PLANET OF TERROR, MACHETE, PSYCHO III) as Bill Chrushank.  But as I stated, everyone in the film gives stellar performances.  The wonderful Lindsay Duncan (UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN, THE REFLECTING SKIN, DOCTOR WHO:  THE WATERS OF MARS) as Dr. Agatha Webb is magnificent ranging from a nurturing warmth to icy coldness throughout the movie.  Kim Delaney (MISSION TO MARS, THE DELTA FORCE, DARKMAN II) as Bill's wife Karen is equally good; especially in the scene where Bill's evil arm backhands their son and Karen flies into a white hot indignant rage and whollops the hell out of Bill.  And one of the recipients of an evil arm is the always superb Brad Dourif whose attitude of "just roll with it" doesn't turn out so well for him.  In addition to the car crash which results in the loss of Bill's arm, there is a second spectacular car chase in which Bill is handcuffed to the villain driving another car; the entire car chase happens with the men handcuffed to each other out the window of their respective cars! 

A really terrific movie I can't recommend highly enough!  Besides, this is the only movie that answers the question:  "Wait a second.  This arm's not going to Guam, is it?"