Brainee's 2008 DVDTalk Horror Movie Challenge List
First Time Views
= first time viewing
1. ☼ The Ghoul
(1933) - A bit creaky and slow-moving, but delivers some nice atmosphere and spooky shots (especially those involving the decayed-looking Karloff). Got a little too "Scooby Doo" near the end, and the explanation given seemed to contradict what we (the audience) saw. And what's up with the romantic sideplot - between two characters who state they're blood relatives at the start?
I'm not usually a big fan of classic horror comic relief, but I have to admit one moment made me laugh out loud. When the annoying girlfriend is hitting on the Egyptian guy, and he tells her to close her eyes for 10 seconds. She shuts them and puckers up for a kiss ... while he runs like hell
2. ☼ The Ghost Train
(1941) - And if "The Ghoul" wasn't Scooby Doo enough, that was nothing compared to this offering. I suppose one's enjoyment of this is determined by how well you can stomach comic Arthur Askey. Me ... I wanted to reach through the tv and strangle the guy. And it's not like he's comic relief - instead, this movie is mostly Askey in your face with teeny bits of a ghost story on the side. Too bad, because even though it's awfully familar stuff, I found the story to be entertaining. Though I predicted the "twist" right at the start (and I'm pretty sure most of DVDTalk would too):
3. ☼ The Living Ghost
(1942) - You just know you're in good hands with a director whose nickname is "One-Shot"
William Beaudine has made so many movies that even Jess Franco would look at his credits and say "Holy shit ... that's a lot of movies!" Not a bad poverty row genre flick. Despite having the word "ghost" in title (and a "living ghost" to boot) there's precious little horror here. It's hard to hate too much on a movie that ends with the hero not kissing the girl, but chasing her around trying to smack her ass.
4. ☼ The Most Dangerous Game
(1932) - Now we're talking. Amazing that I've never seen this, despite seeing countless movies that rip it off. Once we get past a clunky foreshadowing conversation, this just roars along. It's neat to see much of the "King Kong" crew (and sets - can't miss that giant tree over the chasm). And there's also some pre-code nastiness: a bloody shark attack, gruesome severed heads, and I think I saw a bare breast on one of the Count's hanging paintings. And yes ... Ivan is MUCH friendlier-looking when he smiles.
5. ☼ I, Monster
(1971) - It's Jekyll and Hyde - Amicus style (which means super duper cheap)! But you've got Lee and Cushing, which makes this worth any horror fan's time. Awfully familiar story, but Lee (in the Jekyll/Hyde role) makes it very watchable, seemingly having great fun when acting as the evil alter ego (unfortunately Cushing has very little to do until the end). The movie does suffer from a disappointly abrupt final battle. And the DVD had really crappy video quality.
6. ☼ Death at Love House
(1976) - Ah, the 70's. Disco was king, bell-bottoms were fashionable ... and you had great made-for-tv horror. Despite mediocre reviews, I rather liked this one. Robert Wagner and Kate Jackson are fine leads. And I like the general idea of using the backdrop of a long-dead Hollywood star with skeletons in the closet, and weird goings-on at a rambling Hollywood mansion.
7. ☼ Saints-Martyrs-des-Damnes
(2005) - This is a tough one to categorize ... maybe why it doesn't have a US release. Starts as a campy horror-mystery, drifts into sci-fi, and then tries to be a serious arthouse movie. Some striking moments and interesting ideas, but it all seems rather muddled. It seemed like weirdness for weirdnesses sake. I'd love to read some analysis of the movie, but all I can find is stuff in French.
8. ☼ Nightmare Detective
(2006) - Surprisingly mainstream film from Shinya Tsukamoto. Like a mish-mash of J-Horror like "One Missed Call" and "Suicide Club" with "Nightmare on Elm Street". Pretty decent, and not afraid to spray the red stuff. One thing had me puzzled: if the police knew the phone number of the nightmare killer, shouldn't they have been able to track him down?
9. ☼ L: Change the World
(2008) - Even though it's tied in with the "Death Note" movies (which I loved), this is an action-thriller with a plot that seems closer to "24" than J-Horror. Except instead of Jack Bauer we get a slouching thin young Japanese guy with a sweet tooth. Nothing really special story-wise. What makes it worthwhile is Ken'ichi Matsuyama's "L". One note - you really need to see the "Death Note" movies first, since this pretty much spoils what happens in that.
10. Frankenstein vs. Baragon
(1965) - I prefer this title over the American "Frankenstein Conquers the World". Because as cool as that sound, Frankenstein doesn't conquer the world. He doesn't even try. Mostly he's just trying to keep his stomach full, keep an eye on his lady friend, and protect villages from giant monsters (pretty much the opposite of conquering the world, in fact). I'd seen this as a kid, but this was my first time seeing the Japanese version. And I've got to say ... that ending ... what the hell were they smoking?!?
11. ☼ The Wall Man
(2006) - Things don't get much scarier than walls ... err ... actually, I suppose they probably do. Actually this was kind of interesting, and I think another movie unfairly judged at imdb because viewers were expecting something else. Namely, if you go in expecting a J-Horror ghost story, you probably won't be happy. I saw it as more of a surrealistic drama with touches of comedy. I thought the direction was very impressive, and I appreciate movies where I don't know where they're going (even rarer in the horror genre).
12. ☼ Slumber Party Massacre
(1982) - With all the slashers I've seen, it's probably surprising I've never seen this. Especially since it seems to be held in such high regard by many. Can't really see what the fuss was about. Seemed to be a by-the-numbers slasher, and even cheaper than norm for the sub-genre. I know this is supposed to be some ironic feminist statement - but doesn't seem very different from a zillion other slashers. Oh, it's ok for what it is ... gratuitous nudity, high body count, a bit of gore, fast-moving. But it's far from a masterpiece IMO.
13. ☼ Hannibal Rising
(2007) - Oh, poor Hannibal ... it was all because of his love for the little blonde moppet Mischa. How touching
Actually, the movie was pretty well made. Just the whole thing with the Hannibal prequel feels a little unnecessary - more of a cash grab than something with artistic intentions. And the basic problem with prequels ... it's tough to have much suspense when you know how things will turn out.
14. ☼ All the Boys Love Mandy Lane
(2006) - I like the idea of a slasher story done in indie young-adult drama style. I kind of wish the opening credits weren't so garish (with a scream and blood splattering over the title), so viewers might start watching this and get caught by surprise when everyone starts dying. I'm not really sure I bought the twist (and the characters motivations for doing what they did). But without it, the story probably would've been too formulaic.
15. ☼ Venom
(1981) - The mystery of "The Birds", The danger of "Psycho", The evil of "The Omen", The terror of "Jaws", Now, the ultimate in suspense.
Wow! I've gotta see that movie!
Wait ... they're talking about "Venom"?!?
I guess a more appropriate description would be this is like "Snakes on a Plane" ... except only one snake ... and no plane. Like SoaP, this has a completely preposterous explanation for involving the snakes. Evidently, the world's most incompetent pet store accidentally mixed up the boxes, and sent a little boy off with a Black Mamba. Oops!
Actually, this movie is about 10% animal horror and 90% hostage thriller. Pretty amazing cast for such an average movie. That must've been nuts with Klaus Kinski, Oliver Reed, and Nicol Williamson all on the same set. Maybe that's part of the reason the original director (Tobe Hooper) and DoP quit midway through filming. I love that the replacement director commented that the Black Mamba was the nicest person there
16. The Watcher in the Woods
(1980) - It's been ages since I've seen this, so it practically feels like a first-time viewing. I remember a bit of a stir over this at the time of release, being a non-G Disney horror movie. Pretty decent movie, though not as good as I remembered. The "sparkly" special effects have aged terribly - in retrospect, the movie would've been better served by a subtle approach. I'd forgotten how adorable Lynn-Holly Johnson was ... too bad her career tanked after playing a pubescent skating nympho in "For Your Eyes Only". I'd also forgotten about the silly ending to this:
17. Dexter: "Finding Freebo"
(2008) - Wildcard #1
18. True Blood: "Sparks Fly Out"
(2008) - Wildcard #2
19. ☼ Aenigma
(1987) - Fulci has clearly lost his early 80's mojo by this point. It's even surprisingly tame (at least by Fulci standards) as far as gore is concerned. I think it was a mistake to make the possessed girl so horribly unlikable (in her un-possessed form). Unlikable girl killing other unlikable people in non-gory ways = dull movie. Fulci does deliver on some of his trademake unintentional hilarity. My favorite scenes involved those with the posters on the girls walls. One shot has a poster of Tom Cruise from "Top Gun" in teen heartthrob pose - but Tom's face gets superimposed by the possessed girl!
And during the infamous snail attack there's a shot of a Sly Stallone poster (as Rocky) ... with a menacing snail on his shoulder
Ah, that snail attack. If anyone remembers anything from this movie, it's that. What a silly movie monster. If you're threatened by snails, wouldn't you just ... walk away? Still, if only there was a movie that focused on killer snails for the whole time ...
20. ☼ Slugs: The Movie
Apparently, the "The Movie" part of title was to prevent confusion with "Slugs: The Musical". From J.P. Simon ... the man who brought us "Pieces" and "Pod People" (Trumpy, you can do magic things!). You just KNOW this is going to be good! Actually ... I found "Slugs" to be entertaining. If you have to make a movie about killer slugs, you could do worse. Over-the-top gore, a bit of gratuitous sex/nudity, fast pacing. Compared to Simon's other movies, this one was almost competently made (even has the score done by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, instead of Simon's usual "some dude with a keyboard in a basement"). You even have a taste of classic monster movies, with city officials and a scientist racing to save the day. And there's some laughably bad dialog and situations ... hey, it's still a J.P. Simon movie.
21. ☼ The Midnight Meat Train
(2008) - So Ryuhei Kitamura can
make a movie without a single matrix-y kung fu fight. I thought this was pretty good ... stylishly made, and wisely sticking to the strengths of Barker's short story. Some fun cameos too, including "Rampage" Jackson and a good bit by Brooke Shields. Though I thought the story suffered when it strayed from the short story by adding stuff with a meddling girlfriend and best friend. This could've been a killer hour-long (like "Masters of Horror"), but maybe comes up a little short on material for a feature. Overall, it's still quite good ... and a shame the studio just crapped on it (though it's hard to imagine this appealing to the mainstream horror group).
22. ☼ Crowhaven Farm
(1970) - Another great made-for-tv horror from the Golden Age. Evil children, witchcraft, Satan worship, menacing pilgrims ... this has it all! And it's a bit surprising (and refreshing) that it ends
23. ☼ Beyond Re-Animator
(2003) - Make no mistake ... the first movie in this series is in it's own class. But Brian Yuzna's two follow-ups are solid if you're looking for more of the same. The story kind of reminds me of some of the Frankenstein movies - where the good doctor is forced to relocate to less-than-ideal locations, but still manages to work on his re-animating experiments. Bonus points for a scene where a re-animated rat does battle with a severed re-animated penis.
24. ☼ I Vampiri
(1956) - Kind of a landmark movie, kicking off the modern era of Italian horror movies (horror had been banned in Italy up until then) and marking the (uncredited) directorial debut of Mario Bava. You can see the influence of classic Hollywood horror, with the sets and mad-scientist plot (yes, despite the title this isn't a vampire movie). It's pretty good too ... I was particularly impressed with the
25. ☼ Grindhouse: Planet Terror
(2007) - Watching the "theatrical" double-feature here (not the expanded DVD releases). I have to say the first part certainly delivered what was promised - 90 minutes of gory campy balls-out zombie action. Seeing this makes me appreciate how much the MPAA has loosened up for horror. If something like this was up for review in the late 80's, it wouldn't have had a snowball's chance in hell at an "R".
26. ☼ Grindhouse: Death Proof
(2007) - By no means am I a QT hater ... my responses to his movies have ranged from "liked" to "loved". Unfortunately, this is the first movie of his that get's an outright
It started out ok. As annoying as the first group of women were, Kurt Russell's Stuntman Mike was making things worthwhile. But the movie just lost me in the second half. I wasn't crazy about the new group of women, and I certainly wasn't happy about having to put up with 30+ minutes of them chattering about trivialities. Sure, the final chase scene was well-done. But QT lost me as a fan of the movie by that point, and it couldn't make it up. I can't believe there's a new version of this with 30 more minutes of chatter ... I certainly won't be watching it. BTW, I loved the trailers. Too bad Edgar Wright or Eli Roth didn't get a chance for the 2nd feature - I think they would've nailed it.
27. ☼ The Devil
(1972) - If there ever was a "not for everyone" director, it's Andrezej Zulawski. "Possession" is probably his most seen movie, and I think it's a good litmus test. About a third of viewers get so repulsed they hate it. At least another third hates it for other reasons - like the arthouse pretentions, non-sensical story, and/or over-the-top performances. And then there will be a minority that thinks: "What the hell was that?!? And where can I find more movies by this guy?" If you're in this last group (like I was) then "Diabel" is essential viewing. "Diabel" is lot easier to follow than "Possession" ... essentially following a freed political prisoner, Jakub, in 1700's Poland and his troubles as he discovers his previous life shot to hell. The "devil" of the title is the mysterious man who freed Jakub, pushing him to commit atrocities (many of them with a nasty razor). Part historical drama, part allegory (the Soviet oppression of Poland at the time is clearly on Zulawski's mind, and helps explain why the movie was banned for 15 years), and part slasher movie ... it's an ambitious mix. Though challenging, my attention was kept. The movie has a barren feel to it appropriate for the setting, and while the acting is over-wrought at times the bizarre and disturbing scenarios seemed to suit the performances. But like "Possession", this is certainly not for everyone.
28. ☼ Bug
(2006) - One of those movies that I think is well made, well acted, and effective at what it's trying to do. But I'd be hard-pressed to say I enjoyed or want to rewatch. It's nice to see William Friedkin do something of substance, though. The man's filmography is maddeningly inconsistent. I enjoyed his interview on the DVD. I love the story of how he would personally call every theater that was showing "The Exorcist" to make sure all of the audio and visual settings were optimal.
29. ☼ Macabre
(1980) - Nothing says love like standing by your man, even though he's a head in a freezer
This is an odd one. They seemed to be aiming for Southern Gothic - like "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" and some of Tennessee Williams' darker works. Unfortunately the lack of talent on both sides of the camera made it miss the mark. Though I can't be too hard on them. After all, it was Lamberto Bava's first movie (and he'd go on to do better work, though nowhere near his father's level). And I'm not sure what was going on with the actors. The lip movements really looked like English (at least for the main roles). But the voices sounded like awful dubs - with some of the worst Southern accents I've ever heard. Anyway, despite a story that sounds like it will at least deliver sleazy entertainment (involving decapitation, necrophilia, cannabilism, and evil children) this doesn't seem to get going until the very end. And even then, the final scene has one of the dumbest excuses for a cheap jump scare that I've ever seen
30. ☼ The Witch's Mirror
(1962) - I've just been getting into some Mexican horror recently. Aside from the cheesy stuff (like lucha libre vs monsters), there were some surprisingly well-done movies ... reminds me of the Italian gothic horror movies that were popular at the same time. This isn't the best gothic Mexican horror that I've seen, but it's pretty good. Everyone seems game, and director Chano Urueta throws everything in his arsenal onto the screen. Only during a scene involving disembodied hands (where the actor's body is clearly visible) do the technical limitations distract from the story. It's interesting how they threw a haunting story and a "mad scientist kills to cure his wife" story together.
31. ☼ The Braniac
(1962) - I would've never guessed this was from the director of "The Witch's Mirror" (from the same year no less). While TWM was serious atmospheric gothic horror, "Braniac" was schlock of the highest order. This had to have been intended as a comedy, right? This is hilarious stuff - you don't even need an MST3K crew to have fun with it. I love the Baron's reactions to the charges read against him at the beginning: when they get to his seduction of married women and deflowering of young virgins, he breaks into a "Yeah baby!" grin. And I love the bug-eyes that people make when confronted with the Braniac (especially the professor with a daughter). And there's the completely inept "intelligent" conversations, where it seems like the script writer is just pulling long words out of the dictionary at random in order to make the character sound smart. And what's not to love about the monster ... with his pulsing head, clumsy tube fingers, and flicking tongue. How he manages to suck out an intact brain through a 1-inch hole will just have to remain one of life's mysteries.
32. The Wrath of Daimajin
(1966) - Finishing up reviewing of the Daimajin trilogy (I watched the first one before the challenge). Funny that there's no continuity between any of them, and you could watch them in any order. For example, Daimajin has relocated from a mountain (in the last movie) to an island in a lake. These movies are beautifully shot (you really need to see them in 2.35:1 "Tohoscope"). And it's a nice idea, mixing period piece action/adventure with kaiju
. The story here is familiar ... evil lord attacks good lord, whose people worship Daimajin. And after about 60 minutes (movie time) the big guy has had enough, and wakes up to take names and kick ass. In addition to his previous powers of controlling the weather and good old-fashioned stomping, Daimajin pulls a Moses and parts water too! I've always wondered ... why doesn't Daimajin wake up and kick ass when his people are first attacked? He always waits until after they've been beaten and many lives have been lost. I mean, is there a reason besides the obvious ... that the movie would be too short otherwise.
33. ☼ The Return of Daimajin
(1966) - A poor village is enslaved by an evil warlord who uses them to mine sulfur (for gunpowder). Who ya gonna call? Daimajin! Seeing the main characters are four boys is worrisome. Little boys always drag down kaiju
, especially when wearing super short shorts. Fortunately this is a period piece, and they haven't invented super short shorts yet. But it shapes up to be another solid entry in the series, and the kids are put in legitimate danger. In fact,
34. Supernatural: "In The Beginning"
(2008) - Wildcard #3
35. The H-Man
(1958) - First time seeing the uncut Japanese-language version. It's like a Japanese "Blob" mixed with a noir crime drama ... with musical numbers! A nice variation is the blobs (or liquid men, as this movie prefers to call them) seem to have human intelligence. This is one those movies that makes an impression on you if you saw it as a kid. The way the H-Men ooze up to someone and with a single touch makes the person dissolve into a puddle is just creepy.
36. ☼ The Human Vapor
(1960) - Time for an Ishiro Honda double-feature! Ever had a movie kick your ass by going against your expectations of it? I expected this to be a typical sci-fi/horror of the era. Something fun and not very serious. This started out like that, with a series of robberies/murders being investigated by a odd couple pairing of a policeman and a sassy female reporter. It's kind of like a cross between "The Invisible Man" and "Phantom of the Opera" (but with a dancer instead of a singer). But it surprised me by getting serious, and extremely sad and moving. Reportedly this is one of Honda's favorites among his own movies, and I can see why he felt that way. I watched the uncut Japanese-language version. Be warned ... I've read that the English version is an atrocity. With scenes drastically rearranged robbing the movie of mystery and suspense, outright removal of character development moments, and awful dubbing that destroys the serious mood and performances.
37. ☼ Vampire
(1979) - This 70s made-for-tv horror movie doesn't beat around the bush with its title. Strong cast and some impressive horror scenes (my favorite was the vampire resurrection scene). You know Jason Miller and EG Marshall would be solid, but I was particularly impressed with Richard Lynch. His Prince Anton Voytek was a fantastic vampire villain - regal, intelligent, charismatic, and utterly evil. That said, this movie has one enormous flaw - there's no ending. Supposedly this was a pilot for an ungoing series (though I can't really see how a show about two guys hunting one vampire could have long legs - maybe the network thought the same thing?). Still, having this just end knowing there's no more - quite a downer, even though the movie was solid up to that point.
38. True Blood: "Cold Ground"
(2008) - Wildcard #4
39. Dexter: "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"
(2008) - Wildcard #5
40. ☼ Spectre
(1977) - Another one of Gene Roddenberry's failed tv-series pilots in the 70's. A shame, because this is really good. Really off-the-wall stuff, especially compared to other made-for-tv occult horror. I don't think the version I watched was what the US audience saw - somehow I doubt the naked satanic orgy would've passed the censors. You also have hairy demons, succubi, S&M house-servants, menacing midgets, voodoo curses, and a lizard-demon that looks a lot like the Gorn from Star Trek.
41. ☼ Nude for Satan
(1974) - Now THAT'S what I call an eye-catching title! How's the movie? Ehhhh ... well, it delivers on the nudity (and the version I saw had hardcore sex scenes). Outside of that, it's really really bad. Extremely amateur (even by the standards of 70's Euro-horror). You do get an unbelievable scene where a giant spider sexually molests the main actress. But there's a lot of dull nonsense conversations, characters just wandering around, and awful music.
42. ☼ The Iron Rose
(1973) - I was in the mood for something from a master of Euro-horror sleaze - Jean Rollin. This movie's not so well known as his vampire movies. Probably because it's so low key ... there's really nothing supernatural going on, and the only nudity is a long-shot of a girl dancing on the beach. But it's undeniably a Rollin movie, with a dreamlike surreal atmosphere, carefully composed shots, and a random encounter with a female clown. I quite liked it. Like all Rollin, it's not for everyone. I like the central idea - where a couple locked in cemetery are unable to find their way out, and gradually become obsessed by the concept of death.
43. ☼ Demoniacs
(1974) - Double-shot of Rollin! This one I didn't care for so much. Sure, it's got all the Rollin trademarks: mysterious waifish girls, loads of nudity, dreamy pace, interpretive dancing, random female clown. But it didn't sweep me up in it's atmosphere the way the best Rollin movies do. The setting was unconvincing and the acting was awful, even by the standards of these things.
44. ☼ Steel and Lace
(1991) - I agree with the imdb comment that this looks like it sat on the shelves for a few years - the look has "80's" written all over it. Not as much fun as it sounds (scientist rebuilds dead sister as a robot to hunt and kill her rapists), thanks to a surprisingly serious tone and dull stretches in between murders.
45. ☼ The Haunting of M
(1979) - Extremely prim and proper British ghost story. Very well made, but it may try the patience of viewers looking for a horror movie. It felt like "Pride and Prejudice" without the humor ... with a subplot of a ghost thrown in for good measure.
46. ☼ Death Smiles on a Murderer
(1973) - Time for some Euro-sleaze ... something you can always count on Joe D'Amato delivering. This movie throws a lot at you in a short running time. Incest, lesbian sex, reanimated corpses, vengeful murders, Klaus Kinski, a rip-off from Poe's "The Black Cat". Kinski's role is too brief, but the lead actress is cute - important when she has so much sex. D'Amato actually isn't a bad filmmaker when he's not doing movies that are pure exploitation.
47. ☼ Absurd
(1981) - Dare I attempt back-to-back D'Amato? What the hell ... it's October. This has a bit of a reputation for its nasty murder scenes. Yeah, there are some rough scenes. But like D'Amato's earlier "Antropophagus" (to which this is sometimes mismarketed as a sequel), if you're expecting wall-to-wall gore you'll be disappointed. It's ok. There are some memorable murder set-pieces, and D'Amato manages some decent slasher-suspense. The plot comes across as a "Halloween" rip-off - unkillable boogeyman hunted by a man of science, with a show-down stalking some babysitter.
48. ☼ Something Creeping in the Dark
(1971) - I was hopeful for this one. Great opening credits, with startling freeze-frames. And the movie was looking stylish, though the set-up (people from different walks of life stranded at scary mansion) has been done to death. And ... not much happens. Oh, there are some deaths which may or may not involve something supernatural. And there are some good creepy moments. But by the end I was left thinking "Is that it?"
49. ☼ Orgasmo
(1969) - No, not "Orgazmo" by the South Park guys. This is an Umberto Lenzi giallo, whose title was changed to "Paranoia" in the US (wonder what problem they had with "Orgasmo"?
). And Lenzi had to make things difficult by calling his next giallo (with the same star) "Paranoia". Anyway, this isn't a good movie by any stretch. Unlikable lead actress (who does nothing but bully, belittle, and complain). Very dated camera tricks. An annoying soundtrack. Especially that awful "love theme". You'll hear it on piano ... you'll hear with jazzy horns ... you'll hear it with a psychedelic guitar ... you'll hear it sung with words ... you'll hear it sung with meaningless "doo doo do doo"s ... you'll hear it after you turn off the movie. You'll learn to hate it. But through all this, the movie has entertainment value. There are two beautiful women, and they get naked and have sex a lot (with a title like "Orgasmo" they better). It's mostly bad in a fun way (especially if you like movies of this genre and era). It's short and doesn't overstay it's welcome. And I liked the ending.
50. Supernatural: "Monster Movie"
(2008) - Wildcard #6
51. ☼ The Etruscan Kills Again
(1972) - I love the names they come with for some of these gialli. Pretty mediocre movie. The set-up is good, with murders taking place around an Etruscan archaelogical site which may be related to an ancient evil portrayed on the walls. The "hero", the professor in charge of the dig, is an incredibly unlikable bastard: he's arrogant, he drinks, he fools around with other guy's wives, he smacks around his girlfriend. Other characters are even more unlikable. And this giallo is rather tame as far as sex and violence is concerned. The "mystery" and subsequent explanation is rather silly. The movie is competently made though, and has a really nice score. Beware: the US version has been renamed "The Dead Are Alive" and it's misleadingly marketed as a zombie movie.
52. ☼ Caltiki, The Immortal Monster
(1959) - Like "I Vampiri", this credits Riccardo Freda as director and Mario Bava as DoP - but Bava is reported to have done a significant amount of the directing. Even more than that earlier movie, Bava's touch shines through - the B&W cinematography is beautiful. This is a wonderful 50's monster movie - I completely agree with DVDTalk's review of the R2 DVD
. It is "The Blob" crossed with "The Quatermass Experiment" done in the style of film noir. And it is extremely gruesome for it's time - with scenes of Caltiki melting the flesh off various victims. The effects are also quite good (although the scene with the tanks rolling to the rescue are obvious miniatures). If you like Bava and/or 50's sci-fi monster movies, this is worth the effort tracking down.
53. ☼ Satan's Slave
(1976) - This is no Hammer movie, that for sure! Even considering Hammer's more risque later movies, none of them had gore and sleaze like this. Though besides that, this isn't that different. Gough is no Lee or Cushing, but he's a veteran of the genre. And the setting of an isolated British mansion, with a story about a cute girl gradually suspecting something bad is up with her relatives, is familiar. I'm rather surprised at the extremely low imdb rating (3.2). This was reasonably well-made and entertaining, and much more interesting than Hammer's own Satanic feature of 1976 (To the Devil A Daughter).
54. ☼ Prey
(1978) - Humans are high in protein and easy prey.
Damn you, arrogant alien vampires! Think of this like ET. But if ET sprouted fangs and ate people. And if instead of Elliot, he was befriended by a couple of bickering vegetarian lesbians. Come to think of it, I guess this isn't very much like ET after all. Though it does have a scene where the alien is forced to wear a dress. Not as gory or sleazy as the director's earlier "Satan's Slave", though it has it's moments. And there's more silly interactions between the oddball characters than horror movie stuff. Still not bad, and mercifully short.
55. ☼ Seed
(2007) - Uwe Boll has stated that his intention was to make a movie that was no fun. Congratulations Uwe ... you've succeeded! I won't deny that the movie manages to be disturbing at times (though it's incredibly low to use the animal atrocity stuff). But moments of effectiveness were undermined by various problems. Instead of being believable, the killer was laughable - like something Vince McMahon would've rejected for being too silly. The acting is spotty. Word about Boll must've gotten out - in the past I've been amazed at the name actors who signed up, but here the best star power he can muster is Michael Pare. The timeline of the story is unnecessarily jumbled. And Boll destroys several key sequences by the inability to properly light a scene. The short on the DVD, "Criticized", was pretty good though - managing to do in 18 minutes what "Seed" couldn't in 90.
56. ☼ Severance
(2006) - I suppose anything following Uwe Boll would seem pretty good. Regardless, I think this is solid stuff. I like the basic concept - of mixing "The Office" on a field trip with a slasher movie. The deleted scenes were interesting - they really toned done the comedy by cutting some stuff out.
57. ☼ Hatchet
(2006) - And here we are with another horror comedy - I suppose a good thing to completely wash the taste of Boll's "Seed" out of my mouth. More overtly comic than "Severance". What Adam Green did very well for me was establishing the characters. Instead of an Eli Roth movie, with these long preludes with unbearably obnoxious characters, I really enjoyed the set-up here. If it didn't turn into a slasher movie, this could be a straight-up comedy that I could enjoy. But it is a slasher movie, and slash (and stab ... and rip ... and poke ... and sand) it does. Because it's so silly and over the top, it's not the least bit scary. But this movie does perfectly fine as a comedy, and for horror fans it's fun to see the crazy kills (with no CGI!) they come up with. Very unsatifying ending though - it almost seems like the movie cuts short accidentally.
58. ☼ Wicked, Wicked
(1973) - Duo Duo Vision Vision is is annoying annoying!! Though without the gimmick the movie would've been unwatchably bad. Really tame (only PG rated) with very little mystery (the killer's identity is revealed early, though you could guess who it was even earlier) or suspense. There are a few moments where the Duo-Vision is fun - like when you see in one screen the fantasy that's going through a character's mind in the other. Using one screen for an annoying organ player (as a way of incorporating a soundtrack) seems cute at first, but gets old fast.
59. ☼ The Black Cat
(1941) - The second "Black Cat" movie with Bela Lugosi, and by far the inferior one. Oh, this is ok (the first one is a masterpiece). Very familiar mixing of genre cliches - a spooky old mansion with greedy relatives squabbling over a will, and a murderer on the loose. Even in 1941 this must've been old hat. But it's well-made and has a fine cast. I quickly grew tired of Hugh Hebert's comic relief. But comic relief has been done much more annoyingly in other movies of the time, and the movie has the good sense to keep him out of it when things get serious.
60. Man Made Monster
(1941) - Solid sci-fi/horror for it's time. Chaney's first horror movie, and he and Lionell Atwill (the mad scientist) do a fine job. Chaney in particular. He doesn't have the menace of other horror stars. But he's an incredibly sympathetic figure on-screen (despite his size). I don't think anyone does the "tragic monster" better than him. "Man Made Monster" is a familiar story, though the concept of an "Electrical Man" was probably novel at the time. And at less than an hour, this just rips along. In fact, it rips along too fast - I think things would've been improved with a little more development. Especially disappointing is that the movie completely skips (in the movie, characters only describe it afterwards) what should've been the highlight:
61. ☼ Horror Island
(1941) - A fun little genre programmer. Hidden treasure, a spooky castle, a peg-legged pirate, a caped phantom, a building body count ... what more could you ask for? I really like how they did the comic relief here. Instead of a having a single annoying comic relief character, they spread it out throughout the cast. It felt like a live-action Scooby Doo ... and I loved Scooby Doo.
62. ☼ Night Monster
(1942) - Another solid oldie in the "Universal Horror Classic Movie Archive" DVD set. Lugosi and Atwill are back on hand, so you're already set for the sinister potential villains. Seems like the standard deal ... spooky mansion, motley crew of houseguests, and a killer on the loose. But this really does have some good scare scenes (especially when people are walking through the foggy swamp). The mystery is actually pretty interesting, and unlike most movies of this ilk there's an honest-to-god supernatural element. One big question that I had regarding the revelation of the killer:
63. ☼ Captive Wild Woman
(1943) - Another good horror cast with John Carradine and 40's Scream Queen Evelyn Ankers. They just loved movies about apes in the 40's, didn't they? Acquanetta makes a cute ape girl - it was probably wise to not give her any lines and just ask her to stare expressively. I could've done with a little less lion and tiger action - it felt like it took up half the movie.
64. ☼ Terror in the Midnight Sun
(1959) - The first (and last?) Swedish giant monster movie! If you like lots of scenes of people skiiing, then I have the movie for you! And if that's not enough, you get to hear the theme song ("Midnight Sun") sung in Swedish with xylophone accompaniment! The filmmakers were probably wise not showing the monster until 2/3's of the movie was done, and location shooting looks nice. Am I a perve when after reading imdb comments about a surprising nude shower scene, I was pissed that I never noticed such a scene? Probably. I didn't quite get what was going on at the end:
65. ☼ Porno Holocaust
(1981) - Time for another classy horror offering from Joe D'Amato! Word is that D'Amato and friend George Eastman threw this movie together on a lark to get a paid vacation to the Carribean out of the financiers - and it shows. This is a full-blown porno movie - most of the running time devoted to the sex with the barest of plots holding things together. It's a little surprising (with D'Amato doing legit horror features) that the sex part is stronger than the horror. Not that the sex is great, but it's passable. I've read some comments trashing the looks of the women, but I didn't have a problem with it. I prefer the realistic looking women of the 70's and early 80's over the heavily made-up surgically enhanced porn stars of today. Of course, the zombie sex is hard to watch (especially the one scene where he rapes the woman after killing her ... but still bothers to manuever her dead body into all the standard porn positions). As a horror movie, this is awful. Not even sure if you can call the monster a zombie, instead of just a skinny ugly horny guy. It's laughable D'Amato tries to play the "sympathize with the monster" card at the end - after all the raping and killing. At nearly 2 hours, this was a chore to get through - if it wasn't for me trying to play honest for the challenge, I'm sure I would've used my fast-forward button.
66. Doctor Strange
(1978) - In the name of Rael, Scourge of Demons, I command you, begone!
Haven't seen this since I was a kid. It's hokey, dated, and suffers from needing to devote so much time for the set-up - but entertaining and fine for what it is. It's too bad a series never developed from this - a decent horror/fantasy/action series in the late 70's would've been very welcome. And the set-up had potential: with Strange (still learning his powers), Merlin (oops ... I mean Lindmer), and Wong combating the evil plans of demonic cult-leader Morgan LeFay and other supernatural threats on a weekly basis. It would be nice to see that rumoured Neil Gaiman scripted feature of Doctor Strange develop into something.
67. ☼ Ghost of Chibusa Enoki
(1958) - Shortish (50 minutes) Japanese ghost story. Pretty standard stuff - bad guy kills man, man comes back as ghost to get revenge. But well-made, and gets points for being such an early J-Horror and not trying to bloat the story beyond what is needed. Like other Japanese movies that I've seen, it has an odd and rather reprehensible societal attitude towards women. Specifically
68. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
(1920) - An oldie but a goodie. The bizarre visuals and plot twists still make this work today - I can only imagine how much it knocked people on their asses back when it was new. I know it's not the fault of the movie, but I didn't like the music on the DVD version I saw - far too overbearing.
69. ☼ Chloe, Love is Calling You
(1934) - Well that's a scary title for a horror movie, isn't it? This is one of those roadside-showing super cheapies. Similar to what was done for exploitation movies like "Reefer Madness" and "Maniac". What must've made this movie so shocking is that has ... prepare yourself ... black people. On the surface, this had potential. A young woman of mixed race caught between love and racial prejudices of the day, with a mother who's a Voodoo queen looking to avenge her lynched husband. For a short while, I was fooled into thinking that this was going to be a progressive movie for its time dealing with the stereotypes of race. Oh how wrong I was! This is one of the most jaw-droppingly racist movies I've seen. Forget the fact the supposedly mixed race Chloe and her supposedly black suitor are as white-as-white-can-be. Chloe's "black blood" is referred to like it's a disease. The other black men in the movie are shown as ready to drag a woman away and rape her at a moment's notice. Oh, there's one "good" black man. He's the servant of the local Colonel - he serves a great drink, always smiles, and always obeys orders. When the Colonel explains the story of the lynching, it's just so casual - oh well, I fired this lazy black and walking home some good 'ol boys hunted him down and lynched him ... what's his widow so mad about? And regarding Chloe's "black blood":
There's a great write-up of this movie here
: breaking down the levels of rascism from "Abercrombie and Fitch" all the way up to "Third Reich". Having said all this, it was kind of an interesting movie to watch. I wasn't familiar with the name, but lead actress Olive Borden was supposed to be one of the top stars of the silent era (she has a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame). But this was her last movie (at only 28), and her life fell apart afterward before dying on Skid Row at age 40. And the director, Marshall Neilan, was one of the top directors of the silent era until a feud with Louis Mayer (the second "M" of MGM) doomed his career. I watched the DVD that was part of the 50-pack "Tales of Terror". Be warned ... between the horrible sound quality, hillbilly accents, and mumbled deliveries it was a great struggle to understand what was being said.
70. ☼ Erotic Nights of the Living Dead
(1980) - I was wary of Joe D'Amato porno zombie movies after "Porno Holocaust", but this was supposed to be better. Of course, being a Joe D'Amato porno zombie movie "better" still only means a 3.0/10 at imdb
One thing that struck me is that this isn't really a porno movie. There are some hard-core scenes, more soft-core (glad to see writer/star George Eastman wised up and wrote himself into the sex action), and there's a real horror movie here. Way too long at nearly 2 hours - I hate to say it, but I think the movie would be better trimming some of the non-plot-relevant sex scenes to get down to a more reasonable 90 minutes or so. D'Amato manages some effective scenes (like when the zombies rise) but I was hoping for a little more story development about what the deal was with the zombie island. But thank god there's no zombie sex action in this one.
71. ☼ Terror at Red Wolf Inn
(1972) - Awfully familiar story (quaint family brings in girls to their Inn ... and if you can't guess what they're really up to within 20 minutes than you haven't watched enough horror movies), though for 1972 it preceeds most of the more well-known movies with the same plot,
The lead actress is cute, and there are a few memorable WTF moments: especially SHARK!!! and that out-of-left-field ending.
72. ☼ The Devil's Messenger
(1961) - Not sure why this anthology has such horrible comments on imdb. Yeah, Lon Chaney looks like hell, but anyone familiar with his career should expect that seeing him in anything later than the 40's. The three stories were solid. The gimmick of the 1st is familiar to later things: a photographer takes a picture of a girl who he later kills ... only to find that the picture keeps changing with the girl getting closer and closer. The 2nd story had an interesting set-up - an ancient girl embedded in ice is found, and a scientist finds himself becoming obsessed with her. Disappointing ending though. The last story is familiar, but does it's job - a fortune teller tells a man he will die at midnight at her hand. The linking material is kind of goofy, especially the "explosive" finale. And when your name is Satanya, aren't you kind of fated to become of servant of Satan?
73. ☼ Murder Obsession
(1981) - A bit surprising to see Riccardo Freda do a blood and boobs giallo, considering he kicked off Italian horror with restrained gothic affairs. But still, this is pretty good. It has as an interesting story with an actor who may (or may not) be suffering from murderous blackouts, good music and direction, hints of the supernatural, and Laura Gemser (the other
Emannuele) gets naked. Like a lot of these, the hero is rather an unlikable bastard and the less you think about the plot the better. It picks up steam at the end with a crazy ending.
74. ☼ Knife of Ice
(1972) - And here's a giallo whose director surprises in the opposite direction. I thought Lenzi was a sleazemeister, but this is an intelligent, restrained, classy affair. Another familiar giallo story - a mute woman is terrorized by a killer who seems to be striking at everyone close to her. Needless to say, the Satan-worshipping British hippy is suspect #1. But how often does the obvious suspect turn out to be the real killer in these things? Like most of these things, crap dubbing of some characters really hurts any attempt at serious dramatic moments. But the good outweighs the bad, and there's an interesting (if maybe not logical) finale.
75. ☼ Vampire's Night Orgy
(1973) - Well ... there are vampires ... and there is night ... BUT WHERE'S THE ORGY?!?!?
Outside of that, this is pretty decent. The vampire attacks are a lot more like Romero-zombies. Good oppressive atmosphere (spooky run-down cloudy isolated village) and the way some of the stranded people are picked off is pretty creepy. What isn't good is a horrible upbeat jazzy score that does its best to destroy the mood at every moment.
76. ☼ A Dragonfly for Each Corpse
(1974) - Not a fan of Naschy's werewolf movies, but I'll give him a shot in a giallo. With the focus on Naschy's no-nonsense detective, this plays a lot more like a police thriller than a horror-giallo. I think the filmmakers had the Dirty Harry series in mind when doing this, even down to the plot of a loose cannon detective on the hunt for a serial killer that kills other criminals. But fear not giallo fans - there's more than enough gore and nudity (some hilariously gratuitous).
77. ☼ Forbidden Siren
(2006) - I didn't know before that this was based on a PS2 game. And I wouldn't have guessed afterward, since it plays nothing like a video-game movie. Much more of a slow-burn psychological horror story. Very well-made, and I liked the idea of the mysterious island and siren. The ending ... yeah, if you check the comments at imdb it doesn't sit well with everyone. I think the basic idea of what they did was fine, was the handling was a little clunky (and it doesn't really explain all the mysteries that were built up).
78. ☼ The Norliss Tapes
(1973) - Another classy and scary made-for-tv horror by Dan Curtis. The "monster" is fearsome and vicious, and I was glad it didn't up being a vampire story (despite the plot of a dead husband draining people of blood). Too bad the series (or even another movie) never developed. Even though the plotline of the vampire-killer was wrapped up, you're left hanging on a lot more.
79. ☼ The Slit-Mouthed Woman
(2005) - Not to be confused with "A Slit-Mouthed Woman" (aka "Carved"). Mostly a soft-core sex movie, with a generic ghost story filling in the gaps. Though I guess the slit-mouth ghost has some potential - hopefully the other movie did more with it.
80. ☼ Corpse Mania
(1981) - Very odd offering from Shaw Brothers. Fortunately there wasn't so much necrophilia horror (which doesn't really float my boat), as straight-up slasher mystery. In giallo fashion, logic doesn't always prevail. But the killer has a cool look, and the movie entertains.
81. ☼ Visible Secret
(2001) - Stylishly made but do we really need another take on "The Sixth Sense" (young man starts dating a strange girl who sees dead people). The performances are winning, and this works a lot better as a romantic comedy/drama than a horror movie. Scenes with a headless ghost are pretty cool, but there's some possession stuff that pretty laughable.
82. ☼ Woods are Wet: A Woman's Hell
(1973) - A pinku take on De Sade's "Justine". A woman is on the run accused of murdering her mistress. She's taken in by a kind woman, and her husband offers a deal: she can stay as long as she plays their games. Then some guests arrive, and things get very nasty. Japanese exploitation of this era can be pretty nasty - this movie lulls you into a false sense of security in the first 20 minutes. Then the rape/torture/gore kicks in. Like other De Sade adaptations, the story doesn't go anywhere in particular and seems to serve no point other than chronicling depravity.
83. Vampyr - Der Traum des Allan Grey
(1932) - Second time I've tried to watch this. First time I fell asleep. Since everyone says this is a masterpiece, I figure I owed it a second shot
I stayed awake this time, though to be honest I didn't really enjoy it. Some striking moments, but awfully dull. Everything was slow. People walked slow, talked slow, read slow. On the plus side, I suppose I save some money from having this be one Criterion DVD I won't need to pick up.
84. ☼ Werewolf Woman
(1976) - Time for a real
First thing to get out of the way for prospective viewers - there's not a lot of werewolf woman action in this one. So before you become a disgruntled reviewer saying "Waaaah ... where's the werewolf woman?!?" ... you should know this. This is a really crappy movie - but crappy good. I can see why Quentin Tarantino loves this - it's pretty much the quintessential grindhouse movie that he tried to recreate in "Grindhouse". You have multiple bases covered: rape-revenge story, women kicking ass, gratuitous nudity and sex, monster mayhem, Exorcist rip-off possession scenes. You also have an abrupt out-of-nowhere ending ... but that's par for the grindhouse course. In particular, I love the doctor character. He spouts out the silliest technobabble. He uses pool balls to illustrate complex psychological issues. Speaking of pool, every shot he does is a trick shot (though in one shot, he shoots an orange ball knocking the white ball in the corner pocket - not the object of the game as far as I know). And he tells us that werewolves are a scientifically accepted idea - and that anyone born on Christmas Eve becomes a werewolf. Wait a second ... wouldn't that mean there are about a million werewolves in the US alone?
85. ☼ Films to Keep You Awake: A Real Friend
(2006) - Silly entry in the series, but I found it enjoyable. I notice this divides viewers - I think the key is to approach this as a twisted child's fantasy, rather than a horror movie. Yeah, most of the time when movies pull out the cliche ending this one does it makes you mad.
But this really telegraphs the "twist" ... the story doesn't make sense without it. One disappointing thing was that we didn't see more more classic monsters on the loose - a lot more fun could've been had with it.
86. ☼ Films to Keep You Awake: Blame
(2006) - Fetus, don't fail me now! This gets my vote for worst of the series. It's well-directed and acted. But the story fails big-time by degenerating into right wing pro-life propaganda (and the right wing agenda clearly spills over into the agressive lesbian abortionist character). There doesn't seem to be enough story to fill the 70 minute running time. Things do pick up at the end, but it's a major let-down that
there's not really a murderous fetus on the loose
, but just a woman driven to murderous psychosis by the guilt from having an abortion.
87. ☼ Films to Keep You Awake: Spectre
(2006) - Stylishly done, this has the feel of a Spanish Stephen King or Peter Straub story (going back and forth in time between a coming-of-age story involving a tragedy, and the grown-up men haunted by their past reliving the memories). Don't expect much a horror movie though. And even with the subtle slow pace, the ending still manages to be disappointingly underwhelming.
88. ☼ The Terror Beneath the Sea
(1966) - It's Sonny "Street Fighter" Chiba versus Creatures From the Black Lagoon! What more needs to be said?!? Chiba's not quite yet in full ass-kicking mode. In fact, he seems to get knocked about and captured more than Aquaman in "Super Friends". And I think he has a hot blonde American girlfriend, but the movie seems to tip-toe around the idea of an interracial romance. Plenty of silliness, but that's par for the course for a 60's Japanese monster/sci-fi/action movie.
89. The Trollenberg Terror
(1958) - aka "The Crawling Eye". This is much better than its reputation (again - just because MST3K riffs a movie doesn't automatically mean it's crap). There are serious slow patches between the opening decapitation and eye crawling finale, but the script is literate for this genre and there are some spooky moments. And the ending is great, starting with the feeling of dread as the alien clouds roll in (like "The Fog" and "The Mist"). As silly as it sounds, I thought the eye monsters were well done (especially considering this is the 50's). I liked the pulsing sound when they were on the move, and I'm sure it was scary as hell in the day when they'd burst open a door revealing that big eye and the tentacles start slithering in. One thing I didn't get: the whole movie a big deal is made about how the psychic girl is dangerous to the aliens. But when it's all said and done, she doesn't do crap except cower and scream
90. ☼ The Bat
(1959) - It's Endora the Witch versus Vincent Price! Kind of a typical B&W murder-mystery: spooky house with secret passages, stranded women, killer-on-the-loose, hidden treasure. We've seen it plenty of times (in fact, I've seen it a few times just in this year's challenge). The star power alone makes this worth your time. And the killer's costume is great, with all-black cape/mask/hat and "Freddy Krueger" razor-fingers. In fact he's pretty nasty, not hesitating to rip out a woman's throat (without the slightest bit of blood of course). But you'd have to think it's hard for "The Bat" to break-and-enter and search for treasure with those hands.
91. The Thing From Another World
(1951) - Watch the skies!!!
Couldn't fall asleep and saw this was playing on TCM - and I couldn't help myself. This long after it was made, still a cracking good movie. No "filler" scenes, sharp dialog, good characters, great atmosphere - fully deserves its "classic" statis without the qualifier "for its time". I still get a jolt from that one scare when the door is opened only to have the Thing just standing there - I can't imagine how much that made people crap their pants in the early 50's.
92. ☼ The Gruesome Twosome
(1967) - And we go from the penthouse to the outhouse. Isn't that right, Napoleon? Really really bad, even by HG Lewis standards. Though it's so bad it's almost fascinating. A ridiculous amount of filler for such a short movie, some of it painfully obvious (like that manniquin-head dialog and the eating sequence). HG Lewis does score historical points for an early example of blatant product placement (KFC provided the food for the shoot). Yeah, this has the expected gore. Of course it doesn't make sense - if they're killing the girls for the hair, what's the point of cutting open her stomach and pulling out the intestines and liver?
93. The Plague of the Zombies
(1966) - Oh yeah! Hammer does an old-school (voodoo, not Romero-esque) zombie movie. Even though you have lesser Hammer talent on both sides of the camera, this is still really good. The first zombie murder and person coming back as a zombie are still great scare scenes, and the highlight is a fantastic scene where the zombies claw their way out of their graves in the cemetery. The mystery is easy enough to figure out, but that doesn't prevent this from being top entertainment.
94. ☼ L'Immoralita
(1978) - Think of this like being a cross between a giallo and "Lolita". You have a love triangle between a psychopath on the run who rapes and murders little girls, a sexually frustrated woman who wishes her invalid rich husband would just die already, and a precocious 11 year old girl. Yeah, that alone is probably enough to have most people bail on this movie. But for the brave that persevere, this is actually quite good. Fortunately the tone is that of an arthouse drama, not an exploitation giallo. While tough to watch at times, the character interactions are fascinating. As unbelievable as it might seem that the mother and daughter are friendly with the man despite knowing exactly what he is, the story makes a case for it by exploring their psychologies. The performances are strong, especially that of the girl (who never did another movie). Genre vet Mel Ferrer has a small but good role (as the husband). The movie makes an interesting decision by never portraying the rapist/murderer as a villain. Sure, the acts speak for themselves. But the character is almost sympathetic, wanting to get close to people while consumed by a clear mental illness. When the mother asks why he kills the girls, he flatly responds "I wanted to help them stay young forever". So you have this trio interacting, along with the husband, and the police and angry townspeople hunting for the killer ... things eventually build to a shocking yet fitting conclusion. There's also a fantastic beautiful score by the maestro Ennio Morricone. Not surprising this never had a US release, and I doubt it ever will.
95. The Haunted Palace
(1963) - Or "Edgar Allan Poe's The Haunted Palace", as the title screen tells us ... Corman has a nice bit to say on the DVD about that (though HPL got a co-adaptation line later in the opening credits. Good, but there were better Poe/Corman movies. Doesn't really get into the Lovecraftian horror you'd be hoping for (and the blurry monster in the pit is rather silly). The foggy Arkham looks great though. For my money, the best version of this story is the rather neglected "The Resurrected".
96. Die, Monster, Die!
(1965) - Talk about your dramatic titles - especially considering at no point in the movie does someone try to kill a monster (they mostly seem to die on their own). Nice to see Nick Adams take a breather to battle monsters that aren't trying to stomp Tokyo. And wait a second ... did they just move the city of Arkham to England?!? Which Old One is responsible for this catastrophe? Karloff is always great, but it makes me sad to see him wheelchair bound (he seemed in such great health just a couple years earlier in "The Raven"). Like "Haunted Palace", a solid movie that feels like it could've been better if the filmmakers just went the extra mile.
97. The Shuttered Room
(1967) - This one I haven't seen for ages. Last viewing was when I was a kid - and I think I was pissed off because the "monster" was lame and too much emphasis was put on Oliver Reed and his gang of white trash hooligans. Ah, what do kids know?
One thing this movie does really well is establish that feeling of run-down New England familial paranoia that HPL's stories have. Though I kind of agree with my earlier assessment - the "monster" reveal was underwhelming, and seemed inconsistent with how ferocious a killer it was shown to be earlier in the movie. And Gig Young's karate chops are just silly looking - all he needed were some exagerated "Hi Ya"s. The one hoodlum had a great response: "Don't you be bringing me that imported fightin'. Here's a good ol' American punch for ya!" I really didn't like the music either. The acid-jazz score is intrusive and just doesn't fit the atmosphere you're going for in a Lovecraft movie (not to mention that it horribly dates the movie).
98. The Dunwich Horror
(1970) - It's not a good sign when the best thing in a movie is the opening credits (along with a great musical theme). One of the few HPL adaptations to really dive faithfully into the mythos. And considering how bad it came off here, maybe there's a reason for that. I'd be tempted to say that the acting was lousy. But when fine actors like Dean Stockwell, Ed Begley, and Sam Jaffe all suck, I think the blame lies elsewhere (like with the script and/or direction). Stockwell, in particular, is amazingly bad - looking and sounding like a slightly older version of Napolean Dynamite. That doesn't cut it when the character is supposed to be a charismatic menacing villain. And the final confrontation between Stockwell and Begley is a riot - with Stockwell holding his pinkies to the side of his head, both shouting Lovecraftian gibberish at each other. I'm even willing to give the movie a pass for how the monster looked (and to be fair, you only saw it in one quick shot). There are sporadic effective moments, but I mostly found the entertainment to be found from so-bad-its-good moments.
99. Blood Feast
(1963) - Why am I watching this crap again? At this point, I'm questioning my choice to go with TCM on Halloween instead of digging up some all-time classics from my DVD collection. There's one reason to watch this - the historical use of gore. Beyond that, it's almost painful. The intentional humor that HG Lewis would use later in his career isn't really here. The music is headache inducing. Everything between the murders is dull as dirt. And even the gore isn't up to HG's later standards - too cheap to even have make-up effects for the stabbings/cuttings/choppings, all you get here are post-murder close-ups of the killer holding bits of animal gore. But I do like the idea that a film could be so inept on every level ... but because HG Lewis had the balls to use blood, it became a hit.
100. 2000 Maniacs
(1964) - Yee Haaaa! The South's gonna rise again!
Light years better than "Blood Feast". The idea of a Civil War horror version of "Brigadoon" is a good one. While not scary, or even particularly gory, by modern standards, "2000 Maniacs" entertains by a sharp sense of humor and likable enthusiastic performances (especially by the maniacs). And you have to love the banjo music that plays throughout.