Halloween 2018 Part Boo (I Mean Part 2)

 

Every year for my Halloween post, I usually list several horror films that I have seen over the year that needs attention. Most of them are movies that either flew under the radar, or are the classic older films that many have forgotten about. This year I decided to do something different, and I hope, entertaining. The past year I have been able to review many books and have contact with many authors and publishers, and have had the pleasure of emailing several of the writers on a normal basis. I thought that I would survey several people and ask them what films should they suggest you watch during Halloween. Keep in mind, I did not ask them to list their opinion of the greatest of all time, just what films they would suggest to be good to watch, along with choosing any category-they could list all vampire films, all slasher films; just whatever they wanted. Since I received several great responses, I decide to put it in two parts. Here is Part 2 of my Halloween special.

 

I am excited that Mike Perry agreed to submit to this year’s page. I am a fan of his webpage and Facebook page, called Mike’s Take On the Movies. He covers his love of film, including showing photos of his massive collection of movies and posters, not just horror films, but all films (Go to his site to see his movie room!). His page also informs people of films that some may never heard of, especially me, but he also shares a liking to one of my favorites in the past few years “Horror Express”. He decided to theme his choices with pairing actors Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Here is what he wrote:

       As Halloween approaches it seems everyone has a list of horrors to see and there’s usually very little that interests me when it comes to seeing the ones splashed about it newspapers or movie magazines you pick up in the lobby of the theater you’re attending. Why you ask? It’s simple. They generally cater to the masses. People who have no idea that movies existed prior to the current decade. I might be a bit harsh with that statement but go ahead and randomly ask a 20 year old at the office who Vincent Price is.

 

To be fair, some of these lists might have Rosemary’s Baby on it or maybe Robert Wise’s The Haunting and of course The Exorcist, but for the most part they are films of a more recent vintage. Which brings us to my pick for the top five Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing duets. I’m not going to get critical on these but rather base it on the ones I enjoy the most. If we were going to base it on critical praise then I would suggest the top two would be 1948’s Hamlet and 1952’s Moulin Rouge. Yes for the uninitiated, the legendary icons of horror cinema were attached to both the Oliver and the Huston films. Lee to a lesser degree than Cushing.

 

Now on to my five faves though I’ll admit I hate narrowing the field to just five and before I start I am listing these in order of their release dates as opposed to a favorite on down.

The Horror of Dracula   (1958)

Is there really any doubt? This one is the best that Hammer has to offer in my mind and made Lee an international star. Not only is Lee the best of all Draculas’ but Cushing is by far the screen’s greatest Van Helsing. A Coles Notes version of Stoker’s story but it’s a classic that gets better with age and tops many historian’s list of the best horror film ever made period. Saw it as a kid on late night TV and rarely does a year go by I don’t give it another look. Great score from James Bernard adds to the thrills.

 

The Hound of the Baskervilles   (1959)

Cushing as Holmes is really an extension of the physicality and the energy he brought to the Van Helsing role. He’s perfectly suited to the Sherlock character and I’ve always mourned the fact that the studio never continued the series with Peter taking the lead joined again by Andre Morell who made an excellent Dr. Watson. Joining in the fun is Lee as Sir Henry Baskerville. marked for death it’s up to Dear Peter to save him not only from the Hound but also who is behind the beast and controls who it kills. Like Dracula, this is another effort from the great Terence Fischer.

 

The Mummy   (1959)

Again it’s Terence Fisher breathing new life into the Universal Monsters of old. Who better than Peter to play the archaeologist and Chris to take on the role of Kharis. The two are pitted against each other when Peter unlocks the tomb of the Princess Ananka. The color photography is a welcome addition to the tale when we compare this film to the Chaney films of the 40’s. Lee’s powerful performance as Kharis is not to be overlooked and his size is most intimidating as is his speed that must have been a surprise to those in ’59 accustomed to the slow walk of Chaney. Don’t get me wrong, I love Lon’s film’s as well. Once again Peter delivers a wonderful performance and as usual is playing with props throughout. Hence the nickname Props Peter.

Horror Express   (1972)

What really makes this fantastical plot of Sci-Fi and Horror work is that Lee and Cushing begin as adversaries yet must team up to battle a demon from outer space on board a snowbound train. The fact that they appear on screen together for the majority of the film gives fans a chance to see them interact throughout. Not something we’re used to seeing. No one plays arrogant on screen like Lee did and Peter’s man of science is hoping to get a look at what Lee has found in the ice and is transporting aboard the train. It’s a bloody affair and Telly Savalas only adds to the fun chewing up the scenery as only he can. Best scene in the film is when Lee and Cushing are mentioned as possible hosts to the alien being. Accused of being a monster, offended Peter states defiantly, “Monsters? We’re British.”

 

Dracula A.D.   (1972)

For years I believe this film was trashed but time has a way of changing opinions and as the years have gone by it’s finally found an audience who appreciate it for it’s campy fun, Cushing’s return to the series as Van Helsing and Lee’s vampire looking more menacing here than in perhaps any other film that he essayed the role. Stephanie Beacham and Caroline Munro appearing has to be considered a major plus as well. Not only do we get one battle to the death between the two titans of horror but TWO. The film is bookended between their first battle in 1872 and their final one 100 years later. Cushing carries the film and Lee’s Dracula remains in a Gothic setting where the blood flows freely. Very under appreciated but thankfully time has I believe begun to change that opinion.

 

The list called for just five titles so left by the wayside are a pair that I love to revisit but decisions had to be made. From Amicus, The House That Dripped Blood which is more of an ensemble piece with the two never sharing the screen together and Hammer’s The Gorgon. A film I revisit often thanks to my two sons enjoying the film as much as I do.

I’m sure I’ve ticked off someone by omitting their favorite choice but surely Scream and Scream Again or Arabian Adventure are not the reasons why.

 

 

I contacted writer S.L. Baron, who writes vampire books, and likes horror style writings, as well as movies. S.L. Baron isn’t a full-time writer but keeps wishing she could quit her day job. She’s been scribbling down stories since she was a small child, and she’s glad the evidence of those stories no longer exists. After reading Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire, she found her Muse. She’s been obsessed with vampires and other types of immortals ever since. When she’s not writing about her own Children of the Night, she reads all she can get her hands on about these and other supernatural creatures.

 

S.L. grew up near the shore in the New Jersey Pinelands but lives in West Virginia. She graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. Keeping her company is her partner in crime, Tim.

 

Her picks are the following:

 

1.What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

I’m going to start out with a goofy one here. I love and write about vampires, but I can’t pass up a movie that takes a swing at them either. What We Do In The Shadows is a mockumentary following the exploits of a group of vampires— Viago, Vladislav, Deacon, and Petyr—who share a house in a suburb of Wellington, New Zealand. A crucifix-wearing film crew follows the vampires as they try to adapt to life in the 21st century. We get to see how the vampires cope with day-to-day life and past relationships, which, as an immortal, could get pretty complicated.

I love how this movie took supernatural/paranormal creatures and incorporated them into the mundane world…because, honestly, who hasn’t wondered how an 8,000 year-old would react to cellphones?

2.Let Me In (2010)

 

Let Me In is an American-British remake of the Swedish film Let The Right One In from 2008. It follows the story of Owen, a bullied twelve-year-old boy, and Abby, the young girl who moves in next door to him. The two become close friends and communicate through Morse code on the walls of their apartments, but Abby has a dark secret: She’s a vampire. Abby becomes the only one he trusts enough to confide in about his treatment at school, and she encourages him to retaliate and vows to protect him. After finally revealing her true nature to Owen, she tearfully leaves town. But, despite her departure, she returns to save Owen from the bullies who finally go far enough to try to kill him.

The idea of child vampires intrigues me! How would they mature and behave being locked in such a youthful body? I think Let Me In explores the idea quite well.

 

3.The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

When nineteen-year-old Emily Rose dies of malnutrition and self-inflicted wounds following an attempted exorcism, the Catholic priest who performed the rite, Father Richard Moore, is arrested and put on trial. Though the diocese wants Father Moore to plead guilty, he refuses, instead hoping his lawyer, Erin Brunner, will let him tell the truth behind Emily’s death. The story of Emily’s possession and failed exorcism are told through flashbacks and evidence presented by witnesses at the trial. Though Brunner doesn’t believe demonic possession is possible, she begins to experience terrifying supernatural phenomena at her home, making her question her own beliefs and begin to see that the priest is telling the truth, a truth she will risk her job to prove in court.

There are a few things about this movie that appeal to me. The first is exorcism. I was raised a Roman Catholic, but exorcisms are one of those taboo subjects never discussed in our studies. I think that gives it a certain mystery that makes me want to delve deeper into it. The next thing that draws me to this movie is that it’s based off the exorcism of Annaliese Michel, which took place in Germany, 1976. The thought that a real person experienced what Emily Rose did is a chilling one. Finally, the thought of losing control over one’s self to demonic forces is a psychologically disturbing, making it a great horror movie to me.

 

4.A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014)

While Arash, a young Iranian man, works hard to take care of himself and his heroin-addicted father, a mysterious, young woman clad in a chador roams the streets, skateboarding and bedeviling the less desirable residents of Bad City. One of these undesirables happens to be Arash’s father’s drug dealer who learns too late that the young woman is a vampire and he her meal. As the vampire leaves the the dealer’s apartment, she passes Arash who has come to pay money his father owes. Seeing the dealer dead, Arash takes his stash of drugs, hoping to earn some money to make his living situation better. At a costume party, he attempts to sell ecstasy pills. A young wealthy woman he had worked for convinces him to take a pill, and, as he wanders the streets alone and high, he encounters the vampire. The vampire takes Arash to her apartment, but resists the urge to feed from him. Arash becomes infatuated with the woman, but she isn’t the innocent he imagines.

I think what I love most about this movie is the idea of a female vampire in a Middle Eastern country. Almost every country and culture has a vampire myth of their own, but we don’t often see movies explore how they would behave in areas outside of Europe and North America. This movie does just that with a brilliant dose of dark humor, horror, and romance.

 

5.Zombie Strippers (2008)

Bear with me on this one. Zombie Strippers is campy, raunchy, and full of nudity, so it’s not for everyone out there. Despite all that, it’s also a political satire that takes a stab at George W. Bush’s presidency, which I won’t give away here. In it, a Marine, Byrdflough, who is a member of the “Z” Squad tasked with destroying test subjects in a failed government experiment to bring back the dead, gets bitten by a zombie. Upon waking as a one, he finds his way to a strip club and attacks the club’s star dancer, Kat. When the owner, Ian Essko—played by none other than Robert Englund of Nightmare on Elm Street fame—sees how much money his undead dancer is raking in, he encourages others to get bitten. Essko tries to keep the zombies in cages, but when they break free, the remaining humans in the club must fight to survive.

 

LIke I said, this one isn’t for everyone! I, however, am not one of those people. I couldn’t stop watching, but I was an exotic dancer and I have a twisted sense of humor (possibly from said job). I enjoyed how well the writers portrayed the rivalries that develop between dancers and how greedy the owner is to let his employees get infected for profit. This is an utterly ridiculous movie, but one I can watch over and over.

 

 

I thought a Halloween poll would be fun this year as well. Here are the final results, from those that voted via Facebook, Twitter, and those I asked in person. Some of the tallies were very interesting.

 

Halloween Poll Results:

Best Horror Actor of all Time

  1. Vincent Price   90% 2. Bela Lugosi 10% 3. Boris Karloff 0% 4. Peter Cushing 0%
  2. Christopher Lee 0%

Best Horror Villain:

  1. 1. Michael Myers   45.45% Frankenstein Monster 18.18% 3. Dracula 27.27%  
  2. Freddy Kruger 9.09% 5. Leatherface 0%

Best Series:

  1. 1. Friday The 13th 30%   2. Halloween 30% Nightmare on Elm Street 20%    
  2. Saw 10%     Texas Chainsaw Massacre 0%

Most Classic Film:

  1. 1. Frankenstein 28.57%   2. The Wolfman 28.57% Psycho 14.28%   4. The Shining 14.28%       5. The Exorcist 14.28%     Bride of Frankenstien 0%   Halloween 0%

 

 

As for me, I chose to theme films that are seem bad, whether from the effects some other odd aspect, but are actually good films that I enjoying watching. In no order, here are a few choices:

 

  1. Suck (2009).

            This is a black comedy/Canadian Indy about a rock band that hasn’t made it big in Canada. While touring, the female bass player (Mad Men’s Jessica Paré) gets turned into a vampire, and needs to feed. The music is pretty bad, but the jokes are funny (especially if you were ever a musician). It has appearances by Rush’s Alex Lifeson, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, Malcolm McDowell, and Alice Cooper.

 

  1. Kiss Meets The Phantom of The Park (1978)

            I remember anxiously awaiting this TV movie to be shown as a kid like many Kiss fans at the time. After seeing it, we wondered “what did I just see?” What better way to captialize the band in a movie, like The Beatles did, than have Hannah-Barbara produce the film? Even though some Kiss fans (and band members) hate the film, it is a guilty pleasure film, which debut on October 28, 1978. The cartoonish effects, bad stunt men, and cheesy one -liners makes this film a cult favorite. If you really want to get an extra feel to the film, listen to Chris Jericho’s podcast episode from July 2018, where he and his friends decided to watch it.

  1. The Strangers:Prey At Night (2018)

            I never saw the first Strangers movie, but I thought the cover looked cool when I got it at my local library. The plot is a simple slasher film, where a vacation at a mobile home park goes wrong for the family visiting, when three masked people start attacking. Even though the theme has been worn out, this was enjoyable, especially with the placing of the music in the film with 1980s hits by Air Supply and Bonnie Tyler. If you liked the placing of the music in Marvel’s Deadpool movies, this is very similar, and becomes more humorous than scary. When’s the last time you laughed during a slasher film?

 

  1. The Gorgon (1964)

            Mentioned earlier by Mike’s picks, this Hammer film is one I watch several times a year , not just for Halloween. The Christopher Lee/Peter Cushing film is a what films used to be about; a plotline, suspense, and a climax. No CG effects, just some rubber type masks, but it still is a great film. Although many film fans discovered the myth of the Gorgon through 1981’s Clash of The Titans, this older film builds up the story of the creature turning people into stone when looking at them. This is a horror film that can be watched as a family film (about age 7 I’d say) without much gore and adult themes like most films are about today. This film is not mentioned enough when Hammer films are discussed.

  1. The Wasp Woman (1959)

            Also known as The Bee Girl or Insect Woman, this Roger Corman film stars Susan Cabot who runs a cosmetic company and is trying to keep the company relevant, although she is aging as the spokesperson. She meets a fired scientist who can extract enzymes from bees to keep her young. However, there are side effects to the experiments. Corman was known for his Edgar Allan Poe movies with Vincent Price, but this one is like The Gorgon, where it is not long in length (73 minutes), and although today’s fans may laugh at the effects without CG, it is a good family horror film.

 

A few other films that I recommend this season is 2018’s Winchester (if you like suspense/supernatural themes instead of action horror) and Insidious: The Last Key, and the 1970 Spanish film The Wolfman vs The Vampire Woman. Of course, you can always serach the archives here for my past Halloween picks too (just type in “Horror Films” or “Halloween” in the serach engine, or scroll down the “Archives” link to the past year’s October month.)

Thank you to all the contributors for Parts 1&2, and those that voted in the poll as well!

Happy Watching!

 

Mike Perry’s pages can be found at: https://mikestakeonthemovies.com/

and https://http://www.facebook.com/mikestakeonthemovies/

 

You can find S.L. Baron’s books on Amazon, and at https://twitter.com/AuthorSLBaron facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSLBaron/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorslbaron/

 

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Halloween 2018 Part One

Every year for my Halloween post, I list several horror films that I have seen over the year that needs attention. Most of them are movies that either flew under the radar, or are the classic older films that many have forgotten about. This year I decided to do something different, and I hope, entertaining. The past year I have been able to review many books and have contact with many authors and publishers, including having the pleasure of emailing several of the writers on a normal basis. I thought that I would survey several people and ask them what films they suggest you watch during Halloween. Keep in mind, I did not ask them to list their opinion of the greatest of all time, just what films they would suggest to be good to watch, along with choosing any category-they could list all vampire films, all slasher films; whatever they wanted. Here are some of the responses I received. This is the first of two parts.

One of the first people I contacted is an author who has been featured on this page several times. Gary A. Smith gave me a great Q&A after reviewing his book “Vampire Films of the 1970s” (both you can find in the archives section). He has been a contributor to the magazine Little Shoppe of Horrors from 1980 -2013, and has written several books about various aspects of films. Smith and I started emailing each other frequently discussing the films we have seen in the past months. Smith, like me, makes it a habit to watch at least one horror film a night in October leading up to Halloween. Here are his picks when I asked him:

 

     Every year I watch a horror movie a day during October. My one rule is no science fiction, just horror. Here are a handful of movies that I seem to include every year for a variety of reasons.

1.) Halloween– I know, what could be more cliche but the original is, in my opinion, one of the best and most frightening horror movies ever made. It’s simple. It’s scary. And it has seldom been equaled. 

2.) Carrie– This movie holds a special place for me as I first saw it at a Halloween midnight sneak preview before it was officially released. As the remakes prove, you can’t top Brian DePalma’s brilliant direction. And that final scene! Wow!

1943’s Universal film “Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman” featured Lon Chaney and Bela Lugosi.

3.) Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man– More than anything else, Halloween means the original Universal monsters to me. In this film you get two of the best. It’s hard to pick just one Universal horror during Halloween but this one always is on the top of my list. 

4.) Brides of Dracula– What’s Halloween without Hammer? My favorite of all the Hammer Horrors is this film. Not your run of the mill vampire movie by any means. Tops in every department…acting, direction, story, sets, costumes. This one has it all. 

5.) Ghost Story– Sure, it’s not a patch on the original Peter Straub novel with it’s shape-shifting spirits, but don’t let that stop you from watching. This is a genuinely creepy film with the wonderful Alice Krige as a ghost bent on revenge. 

 

 

Who better knows what’s good for Halloween than horror hosts? I contacted the hosts of The Mummy and The Monkey‘s Janet Decay and Grimm Gorri from Cleveland, Ohio, and they picked these films:

 

Janet Decay’s Halloween Flicks:

Halloween 3 Season Of The Witch ( seems fitting) it has nothing to do with Michael Myers, but it gives you those Halloween “feels”

Hocus Pocus, a great 1990s family friendly Halloween movie about the Witches of Salem.

 Dracula, Starring Bela Lugosi. Classics never go out of style, and Bela was a dashing Drac. 

Trick R Treat, a more modern horror film with a nostalgic Halloween feel, that’s on the gory side. Make sure you leave Sam some candy.

The Great Pumpkin. Because, I have this stuck in my skull for all eternity. 

A family classic for youngsters and young at heart. 

Janet also stated that:

“3 things I learned to never discuss, religion, politics, and The Great Pumpkin” 

Horror hosts Grim Gorri and Janet Decay of “The Mummy and The Monkey.”

Grim Gorri responded by stating:

What’s buzzin’, cousins?! Grimm Gorri, here, wishing everybody a Happy Halloween! There are too many great scary movies that would make for good watching on Halloween, but my top five are a great start! I chose 5 newer flicks that I found refreshingly frighteningly fun! 

  1. Trick r Treat
  2. Get Out
  3. Cabin in the Woods
  4. The Orphanage
  5. Drag Me To Hell

 

Eric Walker is a fan of not just horror films (and movies in general), but also runs a comic book store in Columbiana, Ohio, called Watchtower Heroes Comics LLC.   He has attended several comic conventions for his business (where horror celebs and comic icons are usually present). His favorite Halloween films to watch features comedy, family, and slashing:

Lon Chaney in 1941’s Universal film”The Wolf Man.”

       1.Young Frankenstein: This movie is by far my favorite movie to watch around Halloween. The nostalgia mixed with timeless comedy make this a “must-watch” every year

            2. Disney Halloween: This is just good old fashion family fun. The combination of the talking mirror, timeless characters, and catchy music are what truly make this a favorite.

            3. The Wolf Man: All of the classic Universal Monster movies are absolutely masterful. This movie, along with Frankenstein have that little extra bit of terror that put them above the rest.

            4. Frankenstein: See #3

            5. Friday the 13th Part 3: This movie serves up the usual dose of teenage angst and graphic murder scenes. This also marks the beginning of Jason’s trademark hockey mask.

 

Thanks to all the contributors that helped me.

For information on The Mummy and The Monkey Show at themummyandthemonkey.com or http://www.facebook.com/themummyandthemonkey

For comics and collectibles, visit http://www.watchtowerheroes.com , the facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/WatchtowerHeroesComics, or stop in the Columbiana, Ohio store at 6 S. Main St, Columbiana, OH 44408

You can find Gary A. Smith’s books at amazon.com, http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com, and at http://www.bearmanormedia.com

 

PART TWO COMING SOON!!

 

Author Q&A: Author Gary A. Smith Talks Horror Films and Writing.

Cover of Gary A. Smith’s “Vampire Films” book. Cover photo Robert Quarry in “The Deathmaster”, 1972, R.F. Brown Productions/World Entertainment Productions.

 

One of the great things about doing this page is that not only do I get some great books from awesome companies, but I get to interact with some of the authors as well. A while back I wrote a review on a book by Gary A. Smith, entitled “Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between” (MacFarland, 2017) Not only was it a great book, but Mr. Smith and I got to emailing each other after the post, discussing our love for horror films.

Gary A. Smith was a regular contributor for Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine from 1980 to 2013, and has authored 7 books on various aspects of film history. He was also generous to agree to a Q&A for me on not only horror films, but some of the book writing process.

 

Q: What made you become a horror film fan, and also, what motivated you to write books on the genre?

A: I’ve been a fan of horror movies since I was about seven years old. That’s when they started showing the old Universal films on TV. I wrote a paper for a college film class comparing the Universal horror films to the Hammer remakes and my professor said I should consider writing books on similar subjects some day. 

 

Q: Do you have favorite horror actor (s) and why?

A: I would have to say Vincent Price. I love him in anything, especially the Corman/Poe films. 

 

Q: Do you have a preference in studio films (aka Universal, Hammer, AIP), if so why?

A: I love them all but I have to say “my heart belongs to Hammer.” The first Hammer films I saw was a double bill of Horror of Dracula and Revenge of Frankenstein. I was eight years old and I was instantly smitten. Why? Even at eight I was an anglophile. 

 

Q: What is your “Top 5” horror films that you think everyone should see?

A: Yikes! That is a tough one. It’s easier to say which are my top 5 favorites. There are better horror movies out there I’m sure, but these are my favorites. Not necessarily in any order: Brides of Dracula, The Mummy (1959), Pit and the Pendulum, Circus of Horrors, and Son of Dracula. 

 

Q: What (in your opinion) are the qualities that make a great horror film?

A: The actors must approach the material seriously. Tongue in cheek ruins a horror movie for me. Stylish direction can make a horror movie, even if the material isn’t that strong. I watched Baron Blood the other day and that was certainly a triumph of style over substance. Most of Mario Bava’s films are.

 

Q: In your book “Vampire Films of the 1970s” you list many different genres of vampire films, such as comedies, odd films, and even mention wrestler El Santo’s films. Do you have a favorite part in the book that you cover?

A: The Hammer films, of course. But the movie I most enjoyed writing about was Nocturna. I still haven’t recovered from that one! 

Compass International Pictures’s 1979’s Vampire Disco film “Nocturna,” stars Nai Bonet, John Carradine, and Yvonne DeCarlo, and Anthony Hamilton, with music by Gloria Gaynor.

 

Q: What is the most difficult part in the writing process that occurs for you in getting a book published?

A: Getting the publisher to do it the way I want it done. Some are very intrusive and want to change everything. McFarland was very good about the Vampire book but I have had trouble with them on past projects. 

 

Q: Do you have a regular writing process for your work? Do you write everyday?

A: When I am writing a book I do write every day. My most recent project is now at the publishers and I was fairly obsessed when I was writing it. I love doing research and this new book involved a lot of it.

 

Q: In the “Vampire Films” book, you discuss some odd films that are just guilty pleasures (for me it was “Love at First Bite” growing up as a kid seeing it all the time. Another is 1986’s “Trick or Treat” with Gene Simmons of Kiss for me.). Do you have a guilty pleasure film that is just fun to watch? Why?

A: Actually most of my favorite movies are probably guilty pleasures to other people. I suppose The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is my guiltiest pleasure. I never get tired of seeing it. Why? Because it is deliriously awful in every way. 

 

Q: Is there a film that you would like to see, but for some reason, have not been able to get a copy of? And why?

A: Without a doubt that would be the Italian film The Pharaohs’ Woman. I haven’t seen it in decades and, to my knowledge, a decent copy of it isn’t available anywhere. 

Q: In your opinion, which is the most scariest creature in horror, the slasher (Jason and Freddy), the vampire, or the monsters like Frankenstein and Wolfman?

A: The slasher types are the scariest because they are closer to reality. Michael Meyers in the Halloween films is terrifying to me, especially in the first film in the series. Now that’s a great horror movie! 

 

Q: Do you follow current horror films? If so, opinions on them, or what they lack?

A: I do see current horror films and, more often than not, come away feeling disappointed. All the fuss over The Shape of Water this year baffled me. Best Picture? Really? It was a B movie dressed up in A movie clothing. I’d rather see Creature from the Black Lagoon any day. The other horror movie up for Best Picture was Get Out; a retread of The Stepford Wives.  

 

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?

A: The book now at the publishers is about best selling novels that were made into films. No horror movies, I’m sorry to tell you. Some of the movies I write about are The Egyptian, Captain from Castile, and The Foxes of Harrow. These are books and films which are largely forgotten now and shouldn’t be. I hope my book helps to remedy that situation.

 

Q: Do you have any advice for those that are writers that want to write about film or writing in general ?

A: My way has always been to provide a detailed framework that I can send to prospective publishers prior to sitting down to write the entire book. I always include an Introduction to the project and several sample chapters. This eliminates the heartbreak of writing an entire book only to discover that nobody wants to publish it. And please do your research and provide the facts to the best of your ability. It seems that errors abound in film books in particular and these mistakes tend to be perpetuated. 

        

A very special thank you goes out to Gary A. Smith for taking the time to this Q&A.

 

My review on “Vampire Films of the 1970s: Dracula to Blacula and Every Fang Between” (McFarland, 2017 ISBN: 978-0-7864-9779-9 eISBN: 978-1-4766-2559-1) can be found here in the archives.

For information on ordering a copy of the book, visit McFarland’s site at http://www.mcfarlandbooks.com

2017 Halloween Movie Picks

Even though I have recently been focusing on book reviews lately, thanks to the many publishers that have sent me review copies (more to come), it’s always been my annual topic on this page to focus on horror films during Halloween. My last post , if you missed it, was a book review on 1970s Vampire Films. I always like to pass along a few rarer, or missed films, that people should check out during the month of October, because I like watching a least one horror film a day during the month. If you want to check out some of my older posts for more suggestions, click on the link at the side of the page, or type in the search engine “Horror Films,” and you will find some great suggestions. The following is some films that I suggest that I have recently seen from the last time I posted movie picks.

  1. “The Black Room.” (1939). This film, starring Boris Karloff, is more of a mystery/suspense film, but it is really underrated. I saw this film when I purchased a DVD Collection from WalMart called ” Boris Karloff 6 Movie Collection.” This film has Karloff playing the roles of twin brothers in the 1800s.

The film starts out years earlier, when two sons are born in a castle where a prophecy is stated that the younger brother will kill the older brother in the Black Room of the castle. Years later, the older brother becomes the baron of the castle and murders women in the land. The younger brother, who can not use his right arm, returns after traveling, and becomes popular among the villagers in the land. Jealousy ensues (I don’t give spoilers), and things go from there.

Karloff’s acting skills are unique here playing both brothers, especially for an early film like this. Today, and even in the 1960s, this is not a big thing, having the main actor playing two roles, but this is in the 1930s. The ending is a little predictable, but the film is still one Karloff fans do not talk about much. If you are not a horror fan, this film is still one to check out if you like medieval setting films. The run time is only 69 minutes, so it will not take much of your time.

The Karloff DVD cover that “The Black Room” and “Man They Could Not Hang” were on. This is a good buy for Karloff fans.

2. “The Man They Could Not Hang” (1939 re-released in 1947). This is another film from the same Karloff DVD. Karloff plays Dr. Henryk Savaad, who is convicted to be hanged after the death of a student during an experiment. The doctor was studying a way to bring people back to life, and before his execution, he allows another doctor to try the experiment on him. Months later, the jurors who convicted Savaad start to get murdered. Lorna Grey plays Savaad’s daughter in the film, who worked with John Wayne, The Three Stooges, and was in the 1944 Captain America serials. This film had a suspense feel to it, although the ending seems quick, it is still a film that deserves viewing.

Even though the poster looks scary, this film is pretty comical.
  1. “The Blood of Dracula’s Castle” (1969). If you would like a more comedic feel to your horror films, this one may be for you. The film is about a young couple who inherit a castle, only to find out that the people currently living there are kidnapping young women who need their blood in order to stay young. There is a butler, a hunchback ogre-like man (named Mango), and a friend who is a criminal in the area. The couple living in the castle, under the name Count and Countess Townsend are actually Dracula and his bride. This B-Movie is actually funny, whether it was meant to be, directed by Al Adamson, who is mentioned in my book review about vampire films, who was known to just piece together parts of other films and throw it into one full movie. This is one of the films that you may find of Mystery Science Theater, but it is still enjoyable.
The DVD cover that I have of “The Gorgon.”
  1. “The Gorgon” (1964). This Hammer movie’s billing says that it stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but Lee has a minor role in the film for the first hour. He appears as a major player in the last part of the film, but it is still a great film considering the time period.

A son goes to a village where his brother and father died. The father leaves a letter stating that he, and others in the past few years, have died by being turned into stone. Due to the local legend that the lurking of one of the Gorgon Sisters from mythology scares the townspeople, the local authorities refuse to investigate. Lee shows up as a professor, to help his friend look into these murders, while Cushing plays a local doctor who tries to keep his assistant from leaving him (who he is in love with) especially during the full moons.

Lee is humorous in the film, wearing a brown trenchcoat/cape that makes him look more like Sherlock Holmes than a professor. The music in the film helps build the suspense throughout the film, which is only 83 minutes long. This film was part of the two-disc DVD package “Hammer Film Collection,” and is the best film in the collection. Even though the look of the Gorgon may look cheesy for today’s standards, keep in mind the time period it was released in. Also starring in the film is Barbara Shelly, who was Hammer’s #1 female actress.

Madhouse-one of Price’s underrated films.
  1. “Madhouse” (1974). I can not suggest any horror films without mentioning at least one by Vincent Price. Although I love “Theatre of Blood” and “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” (which is mandatory Halloween watching), “Madhouse” is a lesser known one later in his career.

Price plays Paul Toombs, who is a famous movie actor, known for his character Dr. Death. When his wife dies at a premiere party for his latest film, he ends up having to go to a mental hospital for several years. When he gets out (this is off screen), he is not sure if he had anything to do with the murder or not, even though he was acquitted by the courts. His friend, played by Peter Cushing, convinces him to bring back Dr. Death for television, since Cushing’s character was the head writer for the films. Several deaths start happening on the set of the movies, and some are based on his films, by a masked man. The ending is one that the viewer may or may not see coming, but it is an underrated film in the Vincent Price collection. Plus seeing Price and Cushing together in a movie is worth the viewing just to see two of the most known horror actors of all time.

The DVD cover is a little less interesting than the original movie poster, but still an all time favorite of mine.
  1. “Trick Or Treat” (1986). This film is not to be confused with the other horror film 2007’s Bryan Singer’s film “Trick R Treat.” I watched this movie many times growing up, which features cameos by Gene Simmons of Kiss, playing a radio deejay, and Ozzy Osbourne, who plays a preacher that appears on a television talk show.

Marc Price (who was known as Skippy on the show “Family Ties”) plays Eddie, a high school outcast who gets bullied at school and takes refuge in his Heavy Metal Music, especially his favorite singer, Sammi Curr (played by Tony Fields). When Curr dies in a hotel fire, a local deejay (Simmons) gives Eddie an upcoming album of Curr that the station will play on Halloween night. When Eddie plays the record, he hears messages (when played backwards) to take revenge on his classmates that have bothered him.

This movie is interesting for many reasons. First, it was released during the time of the PRMC , which was a council lead by Tipper Gore to put labels on music due to the lyrical content in 1985, that summoned artists like Dee Snider of Twisted Sister and John Denver to appear in front of Washington Senators. Second, there were many artists being sued and accused of having hidden messages in their music, which many would listen to the records backwards to get hidden messages (also known as backmasting).

The music in the film is by the band Fastway, who had success with the song “Say What You Will,” and featured Motorhead member Fast Eddie Clarke and UFO’s Pete Way. The film was the first film directed by Charles Martin Smith, who played Toad in the movie “American Graffitti.” Fields, who played Sammi, was a Solid Gold Dancer, and appeared in Michael Jackson’s videos “Thriller” and “Beat It.”

Besides this film being a good movie, it is now filled with many Pop Culture themes from the 1980s; the PRMC had to been an influence on the film, backmasting, transferring albums onto cassette tapes, and the theme of Heavy Metal fans being outcasts in normal society at the time. Some people goof on the cheesy 1980s film making of the time, but I enjoy this movie, and watch every year in October. The fact that Gene Simmons does a good job with his Wolfman Jack-inspired character, makes the movie a Kiss collector’s must have, as well as the humorous casting of Osbourne playing a preacher who is against rock music, which was the exact type of people he was against in the 1980s . This film is hard to find, but is worth it. I am glad I found it in a bargain bin years ago. It also brings childhood memories of watching this movie with friends, and seeing the soundtrack album cover in stores.

These films are suggestions for those that want to see something more deeper into the horror genre that is not drawn out for 2 hours, like most of the horror films are today. Enjoy them and enjoy your own Halloween movie selections!

Halloween 2016- Movie Picks!

In previous years here for Halloween, I have discussed older or rarer films that Horror fans should check out (search the title “Horror Films” on the page’s archives for the past posts). This year I want to share movies again, but this time, they are more recent (with the exception of one). Although I feel the Horror Genre has been lacking in past years, as opposed to the classic ones, here are a few that I enjoyed that you may want to check out for your movie fest-don’t worry, these are all spoiler free!!

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1.The Boy (2016).  Lauren Cohen (Maggie Greene from “The Walking Dead”) plays Greta, a girl from Montana who takes a job as a nanny in England for an elderly couple who needs help with their “son.” The other nannies were not suitable and were “rejected.” The odd thing is the son is a porcelain doll. When the couple leaves for a vacation and leaves Greta with a list of things to do to keep the son happy (sing to him, change him etc), that’s when strange things happen.

I enjoyed this because as in previous doll movies, this wasn’t cheesy (although the plot may have been) like the Chucky films where a doll is running around killing people. There is great suspense buildup until the end, and the acting is quite good with Cohen (although I have only seen maybe 2 episodes of “The Walking Dead” and could not get into it). The ending of the film is a great horror ending.

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2.The Conjuring 2 (2016). I was not a huge fan of the first Conjuring film (it was OK, but not great), so this film was a surprise for me. The characters Ed and Lorraine Warren from the first 2013 film are back as they go to Britian to cover a home with what seems to be a haunting. It is based on a 1977 case called the Enfield Poltergeist.

The film is scary and has a great use of music in it. There are times where the lack of music is perfect because you do not know what’s coming. The movie very well in the U.S. and is a good film, even if you didn’t like the first one.

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3.The Cave (2005).  This film stars Lena Headey, who is in HBO’s “Game of Thrones.” A group of cave explorers go to Romania to search for a cave with an underground river that may have cave species that have never been exposed to the outside world. When they go into the cave after one of the explorers hears noises as they video chat with him, the species are discovered.

I liked the film for its suspense of not showing what the species are immediately to the audience, and the film has a 97 minute run time. Other movies like this may draw out the story for over 2 hours, or show what is going on right out of the box. Granted this film had horrible reviews and did awful (I agree it’s probably a B- at best), but it is a movie that I overall enjoyed and made it all the way through. I also liked the ending of the film, which has a twist to it.

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  1. The Man Who Turned To Stone (1956). This film is also known as “The Petrified Man.” A group of doctors learn to extend their lives by draining vitality through transfusions, with without the process, they petrify. The doctors become staff members at a girl’s reform school, where they take bodies after several mysterious deaths that are claimed to be heart attacks. Investigations are started and that’s when the fun begins.

This film was in a 4 pack DVD Set I found at Walmart, with the films “The Mad Magician” (with Vincent Price-another great one), “Five,” and Christopher Lee’s “Terror of The Tongs”(which is more a Kung Fu type film than horror. I liked the film because of the run time (I love the films that are 70 minutes long-you can watch more in a day and not have extra dragged out segments). Even these cheesy films that end of on Mystery Science Theater have entertaining values to it, so if you are looking for an older film, check this one out. It has more a Sci-Fi theme to it, but still a good horror film.

 

Maybe these suggestions, or my previous ones in the past, will make a good horror night for you and friends this Halloween.

 

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The Scarce Scares

 

Since Halloween is less than a week away, I thought I’d give out some suggestions for those, like me, that like good horror films. I can always suggest the normal picks, like any of the Universal Monster films, but I decided to list a few rare ones that some people may not have seen or even heard of in the genre. Keep in mind; I do not like the gore films (such as the SAW series) or any other of the torture films. I also will not give out the spoilers so I won’t ruin anything. I also listed the year (because there are other movies with the same title) along with if it is color or black and white. Some can be found at your local library and some are in those 50 movie collections (where I got some of them). With that said, here’s some of my picks as some of the Underrated Horror Films.

devil's hand

1. The Devil’s Hand (1962- Black and White). This film involves a man that makes dolls in a shop and is also the head of a cult that follows a God named Gamba. The lead character Rick (Robert Alda) ends up becoming a member of the cult while trying to protect his finace. This movie is a good pick because the doll shop leader is played by Neil Hamilton, who went on to play Commissioner Gordon on the TV Show Batman just a few years later. At a run time of 71 minutes, there is not much filler in the film and is straight story.

 

 

stonehearst

2.Stonehearst Aslyum (2012-Color). I stumbled on this at the local library and was so glad I did. Most of the horror films recently are either competely stupid or gore filled. This film stars Kate Beckinsale (who I love especially in the Underworld series), Michael Cane, Ben Kingsley, and Jim Sturgess. Based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe, the story deals with a doctor (Sturgess) that works in an aslyum and his attentioned is turned to a young lady (Beckinsale). This is a great physcological horror film, with a great twist in the end.

 

the raven

3.The Raven (2012- Color). John Cusack plays Edgar Allen Poe and is asked to help solve some murders that are occurring just like the characters in his stories. Even though this is a Hollywood story, there are many topics dropped in the film that are rumored to happen in his real life, including the mystery of his last days.

phibes

4. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971 Color) and Theater of Blood (1973 Color). The reason I list these two together is because of the similar plots, both starring the great Vincent Price. A man gets revenge by killing off several people (in “Phibes” they are doctors by the inspiration of the plagues in the Bible, in “Blood” it is theater critics killed by Shakespearian plays). These two are also good history lessons. Being a big Price fan, these are some lesser known , but just as good. “Phibes” is getting a remake but check out this one.

theater of blood
Vincent Price as Edward Lionheart in Theater of Blood

 

 

 

 

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5.The Lazarus Effect (2015 Color). This movie was great because it’s a throw back to the films I like but yet not outdated. The run time is only 83 minutes. Olivia Wilde is a medical researcher who, along with her team, creates a serum called “Lazarus” that helps comas patients but ends up bringing the dead to life, as tried on a dog. Then the fun begins. The reviews were not great, but I liked it, especially with the run time and it was not really gory.

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Hitchcock starring Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren

6. Hitchcock (2012 Color). This film may not be scary, but what’s watching horror without Alfred Hitchcock? This film is a biography (of sorts) that stars Anthony Hopkins as the director and his wife, played by Helen Mirren, as he creates the movie “Pyscho.” This movie was only in very limited release, but worth seeing, especially Hopkins acting.

 

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Maniac 1934

7. Maniac (1934 Black and White). This film has several different titles, but is based on Poe’s “Black Cat” and a few other tales. A vaudeville actor works with a mad scientist who tries to bring back the dead. The actor murders the doctor and “becomes” him in looks and actions and starts to go insane. I got this collection from a 50 pack horror dvd collection and is only 51 minutes long. That’s shorter than a TV show on air today!!!

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The Embalmer 1965

8. The Embalmer (1965 Black and White). This Italian film has also different names depending on the collections, but is good cheesy, almost comedical horror. Think of something that may be on Mystery Science Theater 3000. A man in a wet suit goes around Venice killing young ladies and embalming them to keep their beauty and adds to his collection. The film also has a Phantom of the Opera type feel to it, as the mystery man runs into the bottom canals and tunnels of Italy.

 

 

 

Most of these films are easy to find, so hopefully they will spark some interest if you are tired of seeing the same old films and would like to see something different. Some have a short run time, so you can watch a few at a time, like I like to do. Happy Watching!!