Archive for the Necrofiles Category

THE URANIUM CAFE NECROFILES/VALDEZ IS COMING/THE DEVIL DOLL/THE GRANNY/WOMAN EATER/MOTHER OF TEARS

Posted in Cowboys and Desperados, Eurohorror, Necrofiles on October 11, 2011 by Bill Courtney
VALDEZ IS COMING

1971/Director: Edwin Sherin/Writers: Roland Kibbee, David Rayfiel

Cast: Burt Lancaster, Susan Clark, Frank Silvera, Jon Cypher, Richard Jordan, Barton Heyman, Hector Elizondo   

I love a good western. I saw this at a cinema matinee actually when it first came out for like .35 cents if you can believe that. The film has the edgy violence a lot of action films had at the time and seems influenced not only by Sam Peckingpah but spaghetti western directors as well. In fact the film was shot in Spain using some of the same locales that Sergio Leone used for his westerns. Bob Valdez is played by Burt Lancaster and is a local constable who feels driven to collect a small amount of money to pay the widow of a man he was tricked into killing. The ruthless rancher Frank Tanner (Jon Cypher) will not hear of it and has Valdez essentially crucified. What tanner does not know is that the life weary and soft spoken Valdez was once a skilled tracker, marksman and Indian hunter and he is now pretty pissed off and is out to get even. Richard Jordan does good as the big mouth coward Davis and forgotten beauty Susan Clarke is Tanner’s wife Gay Erin who gets kidnapped by Valdez and is drug through the mountains and wilderness as Tanner’s posse pursue them and are picked off one by one with Valdez’s Sharps long rifle. All this over $100. From the book by Elmore Leonard.

THE DEVIL DOLL

1964/Director: Lindsay Shonteff/Writers: Ronald Kinnoch, Frederick E. Smith

Cast: Bryant Haliday, William Sylvester, Yvonne Romain,     Sandra Dorne, Karel Stepanek, Francis De Wolff   

Most ventriloquist movies, like Magic with Anthony Hopkins, have the dummy as the villain who drives the ventriloquist insane. In the not too bad Devil Doll the dummy is actually the victim and the ventriloquist the tormentor. The great Vorelli (Bryant Haliday) is not only a gifted ventriloquist but a master hypnotist as well who has earned some degree of success with a stage act. On top of all this he also dabbled in the black arts at one point in his life and learned how to transfer souls from a human body to his dummy, which he did n the case of his old assistant Hugo. A spat of murders is happening in London and American reporter Mark English (William Sylvester) soon suspects Vorelli though he always has an alibi. Vorelli becomes infatuated with rich girl Marianne Horn (Yvonne Romaine) and sets out to so some soul transferring with her but first needs to get rid of his clingy assistant and former lover Magda (Sandra Dorne). There are some spicy scenes of Dorn that revel more butt cheek than you were used to seeing in those times, especially from plump near middle aged gals. In the middle of this is the tormented dummy Hugo who has to do the bidding of Vorelli but has his revenge in the end of course. The movies is not great but, as I said, is not too bad. I saw the MST3K version and it was pretty funny. Not sure how it should stand up with on the comedic onrunning commentaries.

THE GRANNY

1995/Director: Luca Bercovici/Writers: Sam Bernard, Luca Bercovici

Cast: Stella Stevens, Shannon Whirry, Luca Bercovici, Brant von Hoffman   

Granny stars former sex kitten Stella Stevens (The Nutty Professor) as an aging and rich woman whose family is hovering her like a bunch of vultures waiting to collect on her will. She is close to one of her granddaughters Kelly (Shannon Whirry) whom the rest of family ridicules and mocks. Kelly has tended compassionately to Granny in her last years and asks for and expects nothing in return. Which is good since that is what she gets later. Granny drinks an elixir of youth that was exposed to direct sunlight and thus goes bad. Rather than regaining her youth Granny turns into a demon that set abut exacting revenge on all her family members, including nice girl Kelly for some reason. The action and acting is pretty campy but this is a fun little piece of trash. The movie went to VHS pretty fast and there is ample nudity and violence to make up for the whacky script and direction. Everyone seems to playing it tongue in cheek.

WOMAN EATER

1958/Director: Charles Saunders/Writers: Brandon Fleming

Cast: George Coulouris, Robert MacKenzie, Norman Claridge, Marpessa Dawn, Jimmy Vaughn   

Probably the horror sub-genre I have always had the hardest time with is the man-eating plant one. I had some of the same issues with this film but it is pretty good. The problem I have is the plant is usually immobile and some evil doctors has to continually lure victims to feed the plant. The doctor here is Dr. James Moran (George Colouris) who discovered a plant in South America that produces an elixir that will return the dead to life but the plant, naturally, must be fed a diet of beautiful girls to produce the proper serum which he finds in plentiful supply in a quit London suburb. The obligatory odd assistant is Tanga (Jimmy Vaughn) who plays bongo drums with a frenzied look on his face which hypnotizes the gals allowing the doctor to escort them to the tree of doom. Lots of complications after the doctors hires a new and attractive keeper he gets the hot for upsetting his former housekeeper and, we assume, lover. I wound up liking the film and my only complaint might be that the tree creature looks cool but in only on the screen for a total of about five minutes. Great to watch the socially inept and unattractive Dr. Moran pick up some female plant food in a pub with all the ease of a Casonova.

MOTHER OF TEARS (LA TERZA MADRE)

2007/Director: Dario Argento/Writers: Jace Anderson, Dario Argento

Cast: Asia Argento, Cristian Solimeno, Adam James, Moran Atias, Udo Keir, Jun Ichikawa

 Mother of Tears is supposed to be the final part of a Dario Argento trilogy that began with Supirira and then continued with Inferno. I have Inferno but have never watched it and hope it succeeds in tying the films together as I see no connection to Suspiria in this film yet. Aregento struggles to make a single coherent film and I have doubts about his pulling off a trilogy story that spans three decades. Asia Argento plays an American studying art restoration in Rome. She and her and her friend decide to forget the boss’s rules and they open an ancient urn and then figure reading some ancient inscriptions in the dark would be nice as well. Of course this moves the plot along as a ridiculously fast pace and we are treated to demons and a brutal death in less than ten minutes into the film. Soon Rome is plunged into a crime and suicide wave and Sarah (Asia Argento) must work alone to save the world from some sort of apocalyptic nightmare that I never quite understood. Udo Keir has a brief role as a priest and the deaths are fairly explicit. A woman tosses her baby over the railing of a bridge in one strange scene that rated a replay or two. The usual Argento confusion for the most part but filmed nicely with enough good moments to get a recommendation from me it but it is mostly for Argento fans.

All Necrofile selections are candidates for a more thorough article at a later point in time.

THE URANIUM CAFE NECROFILES/VIOLENT MIDNIGHT/CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR /FROGS/BAMBOO SAUCER

Posted in AIP, Barbara Steele, Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough, Necrofiles, Ray Milland, Sam Elliott on September 2, 2011 by Bill Courtney
VIOLENT MIDNIGHT (aka PYSCHOMANIA)

1963/Director: Richard Hilliard/Writers: Richard Hilliard, Robin Miller

Cast: Lee Philips, Shepperd Strudwick, Jean Hale, Lorraine Rogers, Dick Van Patten, James Farentino

This is a really decent early slasher/stalker style film produced by Del Tenney, who would go on to direct films like The Horror of party Beach, I Eat Your Skin (Zombies) and Curse of the Living Corpse. The direction by Richard Hilliard is stylish and atmospheric. It came out at a time when a spat of films where showing the influence of Hicthcock’s 1960 masterpiece Psycho. But the film is a cut above the rest in terms of story, acting and imagery. We have a pretty decent police style mystery (with none other than Dick Van Patten, from prime-time’s Eight Is Enough, as the tough talking detective who has two men suspected of some slashing murders in the local college town. There is the tortured artist type (Lee Philips) who paints nude women and has anger issues and a incorrigible punk (James Farentino) who seems the logical suspect but we are thrown a surprise ending that seems more like a Giallo style ending. In fact the film has a few Giallo elements, including a black leather gloved stalker and lots of strange camera shots but the film in fact predates the Giallo genre by a year or two. Bava’s trend sitting Black and Black Lace had yet to be released. Shot in sharp b/w with a good music score it is a must for any fan of stalker/slasher styled films but before they became an actual film genre.

CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR (aka THE CRIMSON CULT, THE CRIMSON ALTAR)

1968/Director: Vernon Sewell/Writers: Mervyn Haisman, Henry Lincoln

Cast: Boris Karloff, Christopher Lee, Mark Eden, Barbara Steele, Michael Gough, Virginia Wetherell, Rosemarie Reede

Barbara Steele plays the evil witch Lavinia who has placed a curse on the descendants of the small village where she was executed centuries before during the witch trial of Europe and Britain. She looks great all painted green and wearing some sort of horned witches hat. Of course the curse has finally found it way down the line to last of the descendants Robert Manning (Mark Eden) who has come to the village, during the time of the year when it celebrates its wicthy history, to find his missing brother. He attempts to enlist the help of Christopher Lee and Boris Karloff in his search and I think you can imagine how that turns out. The film has that psychedelic feel of the period with mod dances and groovy parties. Sexy women run around in skin tight clothes and the acting is great, of course, but the film over all is not what you might have wanted from all the talent involved. Karloff was ill during the production and I am not sure if his character being confined to a wheelchair was part of the script or was necessary for the ailing actor. Torture chambers and scenes bordering on S/M make this a must see for fans of the 60’s and 70’s witch films.

FROGS

1972/Director: George McCowan/Writers: Robert Hutchison

Cast: Ray Milland, Sam Elliott, Joan Van Ark, Adam Roarke, Judy Pace, Lynn Borden

One of the first eco-horror or animal attack films API’s Frogs is not really that spooky in any real way and the Frogs themselves pose no threat to anyone except to a wheelchair bound Ray Milland at the films end. Millionaire Jason Crocket (Milland) is not going to let anything ruin his annual 4th of July celebration on his plantation style mansion in the Florida swamps. The celebrations are joined by a recently boatless, and sometimes shirtless, Picket Smith (Sam Elliot). Smith was knocked into the swampy lake waters by Crocket’s typically drunken son Clint, played by Adam Rourke who made some of the better biker films of the late 60’s like Hells Angels on Wheels with co-star Jack Nicholson. Also running around in an extremely tight little yellow 70’s style suit is Jason’s daughter Karen (Joan Van Ark of the Dallas spin-off Knot’s landing). While nothing much ever happens in the film I still found it fun to watch. Sam Elliot is good in his super-macho way in this early role. The deaths actually occur by rebelling against destructive mankind animals like snakes, spiders, alligators and even lizards who can somehow figure out the right combinations of poisons to knock over to kill one party-goer in the hothouse. An interesting synthesizer score that sounds like someone just a new Moog or Arp and was pluncking around on the keys and turning the dials to see what would happen. Strangely interesting film overall.

BAMBOO SAUCER

1968/Director: Frank Telford/Writers: John P. Fulton, Frank Telford

Cast: Dan Duryea, John Ericson, Lois Nettleton    , Bob Hastings, Vincent Beck

Not one of those films too many people have ever heard of and so all the more deserving of a mention here at the Cafe. A cold war period sci-adventure that is mostly for cheese lovers. While the film is campy from the get-go the film makers were trying to make a real science fiction with a message. The American military has information that the Red Chinese are holding onto a downed alien space craft which they are keeping in the super secure location of a run down old church in the undeveloped countryside. A team led by Hank Peters (Dan Duryea in his last role) sneaks into China with little trouble and there run into a team of Russians who are on the same mission. The film focuses not so much on the threat of the aliens but on the message that we have to cooperate as a species in order to survive (too bad, I wish a big bug had jumped out and eaten a Red myself) and the Ruskies and Yanks unite to use the UFO escape the more evil of the three Chinese. The acting is pretty bad and the camera work and editing are worse, but I enjoyed this one anf recommend it.

THE URANIUM CAFE NECROFILES: THE LIVING DEAD GIRL/THE GRAPES OF DEATH/BEAST FROM HUANTED CAVE/NIGHT OF THE LEPUS

Posted in Necrofiles on July 10, 2011 by Bill Courtney

THE LIVING DEAD GIRL (La Morte vivante)
1982/Director: Jean Rollin/Writers: Jacques Ralf, Jean Rollin

Cast: Marina Pierro, FranCoise Blanchard, Mike Marshall, Carina Barone, Fanny Magier

Some arty, sexy gore from Eurosleaze master Jean Rollin. Not really sure if this a vampire or zombie film that has some sort of environmental message running through it. In this case if you do not handle toxic waste properly while storing in the underground tombs of a French Chateau it could spill over and revive some luscious babe that has been resting in her coffin for the last couple years. Like a most of RollinIs film the attempt is at some sort of beautiful gore but like many French horror films from the 70’s the story drags most of the time. I watched it over three settings really. Catherine and Helene are childhood friends who will not let a little thing like death keep them apart. Catherine is constantly goring up her sheer white dress only to return in the next scene with sparkling white again. Some of the gore is simply overdone and there is not enough nudity to keep your eyes open. Some pesky American tourists get fried and axed respectively but not one of the better European horror offering from the time. The film titles was the inspiration for the rob Zombie song.

THE GRAPES OF DEATH (Les Raisins de la Mort)

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1978/Director: Jean Rollin/Writers: Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, Christian Meunier
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Cast: Marie-Georges Pascal, FElix Marten, Serge Marquand, Mirella Rancelot
Another one from Rollin a few years before The Living Dead Girl and a little more entertaining over all. Another zombie theme with an environmental message again, this time about the dangers of pesticide. Grapes from a local vineyard become contaminated from said pesticide and turns the person who drinks the wine slowly into what can be called a zombie though some zombie purists may debate this point. Not any major emphasis on nudity or sex in the film as a young woman runs through the small wine making community fleeing the outbreak and running into one violent situation after another. Again it is the style of the film-making in that some scenes are unnecessarily drawn but it works well over all and there a couple unexpected twists. The effects are a little low budget but effective. A blind girl gets crucified and plenty of oozing, necrotic flesh on the victims. Sit down with a fine Burgundy and enjoy this better example of French horror.    

BEAST FROM HAUNTED CAVE
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1959/Director: Monte Hellman/Writer: Charles B. Griffith/
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Cast: Michael Forest, Sheila Noonan, Frank Wolff, Richard Sinatra, Wally Campo   
The actual beast here has little screen time as the bulk of the film is essentially a heist film set during winter in South Dakota. In many ways this is a pretty good film and as a low budget crime caper it may have worked better without the horror element but the addition of the mysterious blood sucker makes the film a real B-movie treat. There is some tough dialog between the gangster and the handsome hunk ski instructor Gil (Michael Forest) and lots of slurred quips from lush moll Gypsy (Sheila Noonan). This movie is not unwatchable at all though I wish the monster had been done a little better. In some scenes it looks like a super-imposed image as it is transparent. The gangster/heist/monster movie is an under explored genre. Again, for cheese lovers most likely but I recommend it. Taliesin the vampire hunter did a good review of the film over at Taliesin Meets the Vampires with lots of his typically well chosen screen captures.

NIGHT OF THE LEPUS
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1972/Director: William F. Claxton/Writers: Russell Braddon, Don Holliday
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Cast: Stuart Whitman, Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, DeForest Kelley, Paul Fix
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I just giant rabbits just aren’t that scary. Not as scary as the posters for this “animals attack” make it out to sound. This came out in 1972 so actually predates the killer animal movie craze that followed Jaws. Not really a terrible film but damn it rabbits just aren’t scary, especially domesticated looking bunny rabbits. To control rabbit over population Dr. Roy Bennett (Stuart Whitman) injects a rabbit with some sort of hormone that is supposed to stop the animals mating drives. After the rabbit is released by his daughter because it is her favorite the hormone somehow leaps into all the other rabbits and soon there are stampedes of bunny rabbits in the deserts of the southwest. Jack rabbits would have looked a little more menacing. And for some reason that is never explained the bunnies become carnivorous. Of course or it would not really be too scary a film right? Janet Leigh plays Whitman’s wife and tough guy Rory Calhoun is a rancher trying to save his grazing pastures. DeForrest Kelly (Dr. McCoy from Star Trek) plays a university scientist and sports a moustache. I can recommend it for cheese lovers. I enjoyed it if that is any sort of sound recommendation. My poor wife was stunned speechless.

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THE URANIUM CAFE NECROFILES: STRANGE BEHAVIOR/EQUINOX/BRIDE OF THE GORILLA/HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY

Posted in Gorillas-Yetis-Bigfoot, Italian Films, Lon Chaney Jr., Lucio Fulci, Necrofiles, Raymond Burr on June 17, 2011 by Bill Courtney

 This is a new category I have meaning to launch for sometime now. I simply watch way more films than I can write an in depth article on. I like to explore information on a film from several sources and, along with my own personal opinion and anecdotes, make it available here in one place. But I cannot do that with every film. I have already forgotten a lot of films I have seen over the summer. The Necrofiles category will present about four films with short summaries, basic credits and no images other than a poster. This not mean that some of these films will not wind up with a more in depth post with more images one day but this way at least some of these jewels will be commented on and made known to the public.

STRANGE BEHAVIOR
1981/Director: Michael Laughlin/Writers: Bill Condon, Michael Laughlin/Cast: Michael Murphy, Louise Fletcher, Dan Shor, Fiona Lewis, Arthur Dignam  

A mad scientist long thought dead by the local citizens of a small Illinois town exacts his demented revenge on the towns’ leaders by controlling the minds of some of the teenagers through experiments in his laboratory. The kids are turned into homicidal maniacs with no recollection of their deeds later. Over all well filmed and acted. The violence and death scenes are effective. Nice soundtrack by Tangerine Dream that is, as far as I know, unreleased. The action unfolds in rural Illinois but was filmed in Auckland New Zealand.

EQUINOX
1970/Director: Jack Woods/Writers: Mark Thomas McGee, Jack Woods/Cast: Edward Connell, Barbara Hewitt, Frank Bonner, Robin Christopher, Jack Woods

The thing a lot of people enjoy about this odd little film is the stop-action animation sequences by Dennis Muren and David Allen. While not perfect the sequences are pretty interesting. The rest of the story could be forgettable expect for the fact the dialog, acting and camera work is so bad that it makes the film unbelievably fun to watch.  A group of college kids looking for the cabin of their professor are given an evil book of curses and charms by an old man in a cave. They are soon fighting off monsters and demonic possessions. Original tagline was “Begins Where Rosemary’s Baby Left Off”. Forrest J. Ackerman was helpful in bringing the project together and promoting it. A Jack H. Harris and director/writer Jack Woods is classic as park ranger Asmodius.

BRIDE OF THE GORILLA
1951/Director: Durt Siodmak/Writer: Curt Siodmak/Cast: Barbara Payton, Lon Chaney Jr., Raymond Burr, Tom Conway, Paul Cavanagh

Produced by RKO horror film producer Val Lewton with assistance from Herman Cohen this is a man-in-an-ape suit film that actually does not have a man-in-an-ape suit. Raymond Burr is put under a spell after he kills a plantation owner, Paul Cavnaugh,  who has become jealous of Burr’s feeling toward his wife, the shapely Barbara Payton. Lon Chaney, Jr. is supposed to a local member of an Amazon Indian tribe who is now the police chief, but he still looks and sounds like Lon Chaney, Jr.. George Sanders’ brother Tom Conway is a doctor who has romantic interests in Payton as well. A pretty watchable movie but it would have been much better had there been a real ape rather than hallucinations. Originally to be titled The Face in the Water and you will understand why if you check it out, which you should.

HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY
1981/Director: Lucio Fulci/Writers: Elisa Briganti/Lucio Fulci/Cast: Catriona MacColl, Paolo Malco, Ania Pieroni, Giovanni Frezza, Silvia Collatina

Also known as Quella Villa Accanto al Cimitero, House by the Cemetery is one of the new style films Fucli began making in the United States after the Giallo-Horror genre lost steam in Italy in the late 70’s. While I tend to like Fulci’s work overall it is rather confusing at times as is most Italian horror-suspense cinema. I watched a few Luci films back to back with this one andto honest I have the stories all mixed in my mind now and had to put House by the Cemetery back in to remember exactly what the hell happened in it. The films he made in the States lost some of the visual quality his Italian productions had such as Perversion Story and Don’t Torture a Duckling. They simply became average exploitation and gore fare. In House By the Cemetery supernatural goings-ons in a small New England have plenty of people dying off in less than typical grisly Fulcian fashion with way too much dialog in between the action. The deaths are not nearly as gory as The New York Ripper or The Beyond. There is also some pesky kid who seems to have a power like the boy in The Shining and communicates with the spirit world. Probably for die hard Fulci enthusiasts only. Did a earn a Video Nasty from the British censors.