Santo & The Treasure of Dracula: Film Review

I have a soft spot for the El Santo movies. They are corny and campy, but universally sincere. No one in the films has any doubt that El Santo has the Doc Savage skill set he demonstrates over the series. There is no question that a professional wrestler can be a detective, an occultist, and a science hero. That said, the films are not without their flaws, and sadly Santo & the Treasure of Dracula is no exception.

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Three of the cast members of Cast a Deadly Spell - including Fred Ward as H. P. Lovecraft

Cast a Deadly Spell: Film Review

Cast a Deadly Spell is interesting as a historical artifact. While the film wears the trappings of the Cthulhu mythos, with the Necronomicon being the focus of the plot, and the protagonist bearing the name of H. P. Lovecraft (though with a different first name than the spectacularly racist author), it has almost more in common with the Hardboiled Detective variety of Urban Fantasy that we now associate with books like the Harry Dresden series. It’s not by any stretch the first urban fantasy work – Mike Resnick’s John Justin Mallory novels and War for the Oaks pre-dates it, with Resnick’s series also being hard-boiled detective fiction. But by being a movie made for HBO, it provided the genre a level of visibility that it had never before seen. But is it good?

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It Came From Beneath The Sea: Film Review

It Came From Beneath The Sea is the kind of giant monster movie I can enjoy mostly guilt free. No appliances glued or stapled onto animals – just good old fashioned, cruelty-free Ray Harryhausen stop-motion. It’s how Willis O’Brian did it – it’s how the movie industry had done, and at that point in the ‘50s it had worked pretty well so far.

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Scream and Scream Again: Film Review

Amicus Films greatest strength as a studio has been, in their films I’ve previously reviewed (like Tales from the Crypt and Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors) has been their anthology films. Their films were always fairly low budget, but the short form anthology film format allowed them to get good actors in for short narrative works. Scream and Scream Again shifts things by doing a more ambitious narrative, but one which stumbles out of the gate and is fumbled in its execution.

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A cropped portion of the movie poster for Body Bags featuring stills from the first and second stories, along with the frame narrative.

Body Bags: Film Review

One of the genres where horror thrives is the Anthology film, and by “thrives” I mean that pretty much the only anthology films being made these days are horror films. Often, they take the framing narrative from EC Comics and it’s like – horror stories book-ended with a narrative by a ghoulish presenter of some form or another – you know, the classic Tales From the Crypt formula. Well, when HBO launched their Tales From The Crypt anthology TV series and films, Showtime filmed a pilot for their own, to be titled Body Bags. They didn’t decide to go forward, but did take the three filmed stories and turned them into their own anthology film.

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Movie poster for The Haunted Palace depicting scenes from the film with the tagline "What was the terrifying thing in the PIT that wanted women?"

The Haunted Palace: Film Review

The Haunted Palace is, ostensibly, another of Roger Corman’s Edger Allen Poe adaptations, in this case doing a story based on one of Poe’s poems. However, it’s not that at all. Indeed, Poe’s poem barely shows up in the story in the first place. Instead, The Haunted Palace is more of an adaptation of one of the stories of H.P. Lovecraft – specifically, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, with a screenplay by Charles Beaumont (who I reviewed a documentary about a while back).

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Movie poster for Count Yorga, Vampire

Count Yorga, Vampire: Film Review

Horror films about vampires in the present day are kind of interesting to me. We live in a time where the concepts of how vampires “work” are common knowledge enough that on the one hand, you don’t need to explain the concepts to an audience. That said, we also are in a world of skepticism, so characters generally shouldn’t buy into the idea of vampires being real at first glance either. Count Yorga, Vampire is probably one of the earlier films I’ve seen that takes on this concept, even pre-dating Hammer’s attempts at the concept.

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The Gate: Film Review

I haven’t watched a lot of “Kids on Bikes” movies and fiction – I’ve seen ET, Explorers, and The Goonies, and as of this writing am currently in the middle of reading IT (which is something of a Kids on Bikes story for the flashback sequences) but I haven’t seen or read any of the other works that really feed into subsequent works like Stranger Things. I haven’t seen Monster Squad, and until recently, I hadn’t seen The Gate – a lesser-known work in the genre that I hadn’t heard about until Giant Bomb did a “Film and 40s” commentary for it with the Giant Beast crew. Well, this oversight has, at long last, been rectified.

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From left, Lila and Lemora

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural – Film Review

Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural is a vampire film that’s been on my watch list for a while. I’ve seen it praised for its theme and tone, but due to the film’s cast and how relatively unknown the director was – and it’s limited DVD release – never really bumped it up my list. Why do a little known vampire film from a director known more for co-writing Eating Raoul than anything else, and starring an actress known for myriad sexploitation films over, say, a film by Amicus? On a whim, I bumped this to the top of my DVD Netflix Queue and gave it a try – and it wasn’t exactly worth the wait.

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