Thursday, December 16, 2010

Home For The Holidays (1972)

3 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: N/A
Directed by: John Llewellyn Moxey
Written by: Joseph Stefano
Actors include: Jessica Walter, Sally Field, Julie Harris
Genre: Horror, Mystery
Length: 73 minutes
Banned: Nope

An impressive cast and reasonable (though unsurprising) ending make this tolerable, but the wooden dialogue and the fact that they tried to cram too much into a tv movie work against it. The plot is about a sickly Father and his Daughter Alex (Eleanor Parker) who suspect his new Wife is poisoning him. They call all of his other daughters home to assist even though they aren't too eager. See their Mother committed suicide but they believe their Father pushed her to it for the most part so they aren't too eager to forgive. Daughter Christine (a young Sally Field) is the young sweet one, Jessica Walter is hilariously over the top as the alcoholic pill popping sister Frederica, and Jill Haworth plays the sister of many failed marriages Joanna. Step mom Elizabeth (Julie Harris) seems rather evil, and when the daughters start getting knocked off could she be responsible? It's a silly little murder mystery that is low on the murder scale (at one point someone is tapped with a pitchfork and does that work exactly?) that takes place over the holidays. There are definitely worse made-for-tv movies but there are better ones also.

Availability:  Not currently on DVD

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Il Coltello Di Ghiaccio aka Knife Of Ice aka Detrás Del Silencio (1972)

2.5 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline:   N/A
Directed by: Umberto Lenzi
Written by: Luis G. de Blain, Umberto Lenzi
Actors include: Carroll Baker, Alan Scott, Ida Galli
Genre: Horror, Giallo, Thriller
Length: 91 minutes
Banned: Nope

Meh...I'm actually usually rather fond of Umberto Lenzi movies but this one did nothing for me. It's a giallo indeed but it's missing the excess flair and nudity and violence. It involves a young Woman named Martha (relatively well acted by Carroll Baker) who is mute because of a railway tragedy that occurred when she was 13. She lives with her Uncle in the countryside, but when her cousin Jenny arrives things turn disastrous. Jenny turns up dead and soon they realize there is some sort of maniac killing young women around and maybe Martha could be next! It is a rather dry and humorless effort which didn't help with moving things along either. I also hate to say that there weren't really any surprises with this, I predicted what would happen and I was right, not too much fun in that. I really had expected more from this one but they can't all be winners!

Availability:  Not on DVD currently

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Night Of The Eagle (1962) aka Burn, Witch, Burn!

3.5 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: Witch or Woman, What Was It?
Directed by: Sidney Hayers
Written by: Fritz Leiber Jr., Charles Beaumont
Actors include: Janet Blair, Peter Wyngarde, Margaret Johnston
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 85 minutes
Banned: Nope

This is actually a charming little film even though at times it's rather dry and talky and it's not exactly scary though I'm sure at the time the subject matter creeped a few out. Norman Taylor is a charming young teacher, his students adore him and he has everything life could offer, even an adoring wife (played by singer Janet Blair). When he discovers his Wife has been engaging in the practice of witchcraft (he doesn't believe in it) he burns all of her protection gear. Well let's just say burning voodoo style stuff isn't exactly the best plan as they are sort of doomed from that point on. This has some pretty neat scenes and the visuals are positively lovely, even though parts are less than interesting the bigger picture is engaging enough to keep following it. If you are looking for straight up horror you might be disappointed but if you are looking for a neat little story that has horror elements than this is more for you.

Availability:  On DVD

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Antichrist (2009)

3.5 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: When nature turns evil, true terror awaits.
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Actors include: Willem DaFoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Storm Acheche Sahlstrøm
Genre: Drama, Thriller, Horror
Length: 105 minutes
Banned: Nope

For me this was a rather hit and miss film, the ending I quite enjoyed...okay well maybe "enjoyed" isn't the made me uncomfortable. The beginning I found to be rather dry and up it's own ass (although very well acted) it was rather boring. It begins with the death of a couple's infant while they are having sex (I was shocked at how much we see here honestly), from there it's a downward spiral of guilt, shame and despair. It's a depressing film, and some of the creepy imagery is quite well created (especially the woods and dead animals). The ending was surprisingly demented and entertaining though people watching this as an art film will be disappointed, I thought it had good payoff. It does "cross the line" a few times into silly territory...I mean a talking fox? What was up with that? Oh well it's a strange hybrid of art film, disturbing gross out fest and well acted was worth watching but not something I'd probably watch again.

Availability:  On Blu-Ray & DVD

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Turkey Shoot (1982) aka Escape 2000

3.5 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: N/A
Directed by: Brian Trenchard-Smith
Written by: Jon George
Actor include: Steve Railsback, Olivia Hussey, Michael Craig
Genre: Science Fiction, Action
Length: 93 minutes
Banned: Nope

Quite a bloody dystopian picture from Australia that has some parts in common with Mad Max but it mostly mimics The Most Dangerous Game. The idea is that in the future there are reprogramming and punishment camps for "deviants" (those who commit minor offenses it seems like). There they are forced to work, sexually abused and forced to learn to obey at all costs. When a group of new entries (and one old worker) to the camp are given the option to be part of a hunting game in exchange for their freedom. Since they are told that they'll never get out otherwise, they agree and so they are thrown into the woods. Shortly after a bunch of evil rich jerks are out on the prowl with various weapons. From there it's loads of fun and excitement and it's very bloody (some of the effects are cheesy) but it's well worth it for any action or horror fan. Not the most original film ever but it is a rather fun take on an old idea.

Availability:  On DVD

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Witch's Mirror (1960) aka El Espejo de la Bruja

4 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: N/A
Directed by: Chano Urueta
Written by: Alfredo Ruanova
Actors include: Rosa Arenas, Armando Calvo, Isabela Corona
Genre: Horror
Length: 75 minutes
Banned: Nope

Even though Carlos Enrique Taboada was only the screenwriter on this film, it's got his mark of quality all over it, what a wicked Mexican director. This film is very stylish (albeit cheap) and it's borrows from several popular stories like Les yeux sans visage [Eyes Without a Face], Frankenstein and Orlacs Hände [The Hands of Orlac] to name a few. It's about a Witch who has a mirror, she finds out that the Lady of the house Elena is doomed to die and nothing she begs the black arts for can save her. Her husband is responsible for her death, and shortly after he brings home a new Lady Deborah. Deborah isn't the nicest girl and she definitely disapproves of anything that reminds her of Elena in the house. Let's just say Elena has her revenge destroying the face of Deborah which is sort of where the next segment leads. I don't want to give more away here but it's cruel, sadistic and surprisingly exciting for the last bit. They may not have had much in the way of budget but they sure managed to make an entertaining and wonderfully satisfying horror film out of what they had.

Availability:  On DVD

Dark Tower (1987)

2 / 5 Dec '10
Tagline: In a city that never sleeps... this building is a nightmare.
Directed by: Freddie Francis, Ken Wiederhorn
Written by: Robert J. Avrech
Actors include: Michael Moriarty, Jenny Agutter, Carol Lynley
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Length: 91 minutes
Banned: Nope

This was a rather predictable ghost story with beyond stupid effects and lackluster straight to video acting (even though Jenny Agutter is usually very good). She plays the widow of a apartment building that her husband had built. He's now around in ghost form attacking those who peep at her changing or those who try to get in her way. Some of the deaths were kind of fun, towards the beginning of the film I had higher hopes but as it dragged on and on it became painfully obvious that they just gave up. Such an unoriginal concept and it was truly impossible to even care what the resolve was (what was with the mask by the way?). Oh well it's really not worth digging out of any vault, leave it hidden where it is or be bored to tears.

Availability:  Not on DVD