The Devil’s Rain: Film Review

The Devil’s Rain, like Scream and Scream Again, is not a good movie. It is a more competently shot film. However, its story is barely comprehensible and the dialog is painful to listen to, in spite of its solid cast.

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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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Body Bags: Film Review

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

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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The Haunted Palace: Film Review

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 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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The Beyond: Film Review

The last Lucio Fulci film I watched was The Black Cat, and while it was a pretty decent horror film, I will say it didn’t quite get into Fulci’s reputation as an extreme gorehound. The Beyond, part of his “Gates of Hell trilogy” and one of the films to make the Video Nasties, on the other hand, definitely fits that criteria.

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Count Yorga, Vampire: Film Review

Movie poster for Count Yorga, Vampire

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

From left, Lila and Lemora

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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Film Review: Haxan (1922)

When it comes to horror and documentaries, in the sense of horror films that are deliberately planned to be documentaries, you have two main stripes represented by two big names. On one hand, you have Legend of Boggy Creek, a historical reenactment heavy documentary about a Texarkana cryptid that effectively recounts a variety of local myths and legends in an uncritical manner. On the other hand, there’s Haxan, the film I’m covering today, which is not only a very early work in the documentary genre, it’s also a work that is also very critical of historical accounts of witchcraft.

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Film Review: Humanoids From The Deep

Roger Corman is widely recognized as a producer who launched the careers of numerous writers, actors, and future directors. He’s also widely recognized as a producer who churned out numerous exploitation films of a wide variety of stripes almost like clockwork, on the cheap, and without much concern about the craft.

This leads to the problems with Humanoids from the Deep. Part of this film is a very well done horror creature feature, with incredibly suspensefully shot sequences, and is a film that is willing to straight up kill off a kid and several dogs very early in the film. It’s also a film where Roger Corman decided to fire the film’s original director, Barbara Peeters, because he wanted the film’s rape scenes to be more explicit – so he handed those sequences off to the second unit director, and the film is lesser because of this. Read more

Film Review: The Visitor (1979)

The Visitor is a very different animal where Italian horror films are concerned. It’s not a giallo or an offshoot of giallo like The Black Cat or Argento’s Three Mothers series. It’s not a zombie film at the least. I’d describe it as fitting closer to Italian Satanic horror films – films inspired by or seeking to mimic Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, The Omen, and other similar films. These films rely less on plot cohesion and more on mood and tone. It doesn’t quite matter if the motivations of the characters are clearly spelled out or the narrative beats are coherent so long as the emotional beats are. Read more

Film Review: Don’t Breathe

One of the issues with modern horror films, particularly those with a human antagonist, is the filmmakers feel the need to give a grounding to their villain’s methods that they feel believable, and they have the same need to make the protagonists just unlikeable enough that when bad things happen to them, things don’t feel overly cruel. The problem is that when this goes wrong it comes across to a degree like victim-blaming – and leads to a toxic message like the one put forward in your standard ’80s slasher film. Don’t Breathe manages to avoid that – barely. This review will contain a few spoilers. Read more