Friday, October 20, 2017

Pit and the Pendulum (1961)


American International Pictures
Directed by Roger Corman
My rating: 3 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, Shout! Factory)

A man travels to the remote castle of his brother-in-law to investigate the death of his sister. He finds Vincent Price and his younger sister living alone with vague answers as the cause of her death. The younger sister reveals through a flashback a traumatic event in Price's past that may explain his actions. Strange events lead to the opening of the dead wife's tomb and sends Price over the edge of insanity. The second entry in the Corman Poe Cycle is just as good as the first. The eerie castle setting perfectly complements the Gothic melodrama, with superb performances by Price and  Barbara Steel as his "dead" wife. Score by Les Baxter and cinematography by Floyd Crosby seal the deal as a horror classic.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

House of Usher (1960)


American International Pictures
Directed by Roger Corman
My rating: 3 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, Shout! Factory)

A young man travels to a desolate mansion to find his fiance. However, her brother, Vincent Price, tells him she is going insane and refuses to let him see her, much less marry her. The young man manages to bully his way into the house and convince  the girl to run away with him and start a new life. Her brother has other ideas and will resort to extreme means to keep her from leaving. The first entry in the famous 8-film Corman Poe Cycle is one of the best. Colorful sets and moody atmosphere elevated the Gothic melodrama to new heights and firmly entrenched Vincent Price as a horror icon.

Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory (1961)


MGM
Directed by Paolo Heusch
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(YouTube)

A pretty intern is murdered at a girl's reformatory school. The police suspect an animal, but others think it is a werewolf. As more bodies turn up, the list of suspects grows to include the hunky new science teacher, a lecherous older teacher being blackmailed by a student, and others. Italian-made feature belies it's American exploitation title, and is actually a rather good werewolf film, with a bit of an early giallo feel.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Spell (1977)


NBC
Directed by Lee Philips
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb
(Blu-ray, Shout Factory)

Overweight teen conspires with her gym teacher to get revenge on taunting classmates. Her parents struggle to understand her, eventually deciding to just send her away to England. She lashes out at them, only to find an unexpected adversary. Other than a couple of scenes, this is mostly a family melodrama, featuring a young Helen Hunt as the "good" sister and Lee Grant as the tormented mom, a year before she played a similar character in Damien Omen II.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

The Monster Club (1981)


ITC Entertainment
Directed by Roy Ward Baker
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, Scorpion Releasing)

Horror anthology hosted by Vincent Price and John Carradine. The "club" is a nightclub where "monsters" meet to listen and dance to bad new wave music. Price tells three stories: a woman who works for a strange, reclusive man at his country estate; a boy who discovers his father is a vampire and the vampire hunters who are after him; and the final, and best, story with Stuart Whitman playing a film director scouting locations, ending up in a remote village filled with cannibalistic ghouls. The connecting segments are embarrassingly bad, but the stories are entertaining enough.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Bell from Hell (1973)



Mercurio Films (Spain)
Directed by Claudio Guerin Hill
My rating: 1.5 stars out of 4
IMDb
(DVD, Pathfinder)

Man released from an insane asylum returns to the remote country home of his aunt and her three daughters. He plans to seek revenge on them for plotting to send him to the asylum to get his inheritance. He tries to kill the aunt with bees, then rapes the girls and ties them up by their ankles. They manage to escape, capture him and seal him up in a wall with a rope around his neck tied to the new church bell. However, he has one last trick up his sleeve. Long, unpleasant film containing disgusting, real footage from a slaughterhouse that makes it impossible to watch at times. The director notoriously died during production, falling off the bell tower.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Satan's Slave (1976)


Crown International Pictures
Directed by Norman J. Warren
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(DVD, Scorpion Releasing)

19-year-old Candace Glendenning travels with her parents to the country estate of an uncle. An automobile accident leaves her parents apparently dead, and she is taken in by the elderly uncle and his son. She is sedated and drugged, causing her to have dreams/visions involving satanic rituals at the estate. She falls in love with the son, but their uneasy romance ends when he turns violent. On her 20th birthday a few days later, she discovers the family's real intentions: human sacrifice. Unpleasant little thriller with multiple rapes and explicit violence, undermining the otherwise atmospheric rural setting and story.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Sammy- the Way-out Seal (1962)


Buena Vista Distribution
Directed by Norman Tokar
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb
(DVD, Walt Disney)

Two kids on vacation with their family find a friendly, wounded seal on the beach. They nurse it back to health, then sneak it back home with them when the vacation ends. They manage to hide it from their parents for awhile, first in the bathtub of their bedroom then in the shed outside. However, when their dad accidentally turns off the water, the seal heads to a nearby house for the swimming pool, also wreaking havoc on a party. Innocuous Disney entertainment, but good performance by the seal.

Mutant (1984)


Film Ventures International
Directed by John "Bud" Cardos
My rating: 2.5 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, Code Red)

Two brothers get stranded in a redneck Georgia town after crashing their car. They hang out in a local bar looking for a mechanic. After one of them goes missing, the other one gets help from a friendly teacher and less friendly sheriff to find him. It turns out the town is overrun by zombie-like humans due to a toxic vapor released by a local factory. They spend the rest of the film fending off the creature's relentless attacks. Entertaining if entirely predictable, anchored by the attractive Jody Medford as the teacher and Bo Hopkins as the sheriff.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Warlock Moon (1973)


Enchanted Filmarts
Directed by William Herbert
My rating: 2 stars out of 4
IMDb Wikipedia
(Blu-ray, Code Red)

College student Laurie Walters goes on a "picnic" with new boyfriend Joe Spano, who takes her to an abandoned California spa. They find an elderly woman living alone, or so it appears, who welcomes them with open arms. Exploring the dilapidated building alone, Walters sees a woman in a bridal gown and other strange things. They hurriedly leave and return to the college. Later, Spano convinces her to revisit the spa for a newspaper story and she belatedly agrees. This time, events get out of hand as not only does the old lady appear, but two homicidal rednecks with an axe. Entertaining independent, regional horror that makes good use of the abandoned building where most of  it takes place, but the plot is frequently incoherent and characterization dependent solely on the charm of Walters, who can only do so much.